Translate

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

FIRST TRACKS

Back in August, while visiting my family in my hometown of Bedford, Pennsylvania, I took a hike on the trails near the Bedford Springs Hotel...the same trails that I use to explore as a kid.  I made a promise to myself that I would revisit the trails around the historical resort with my mountain bike as soon as possible.  The opportunity came around this past weekend when I travelled solo to Bedford to visit my dad who recently underwent knee surgery.  

Pausing in front of an ice covered Davey Lewis' Cave. -- January 14, 2018

When I woke up in Bedford, PA on Saturday morning there was a fresh coat of snow on the ground and the air temperature hovered in the single digits.  Nevertheless, I pulled on the cold weather gear and headed out on my Stumpjumper for, what I estimated would be, an hour.  My ride Saturday would be a first for a number of reasons....it was my first ride of the new year, it was the first time I ever mountain biked in Bedford, and (because there weren't many people out in cold air) my tracks would be the first in the fresh snow!  Leaving my father's house I had to ride only a mile on the paved streets to reach a trail head on the Bedford Heritage Trail...a walking and biking trail that connects downtown Bedford, PA with the Bedford Springs Hotel...which would provide the perfect conduit to the trails I wanted to explore near the Bedford Springs.

To get to the trails at the Springs I rode, for the first time, on the Bedford Heritage Trail which connects the Springs Hotel to historic downtown Bedford, PA. -- January 13, 2018

To get to Davey Lewis's Cave you have to cross this small stream (which flows off of the hillside and into Shobers Run).  The morning sun shining on the untouched ice and snow was absolutely beautiful. -- January 14, 2018




The first hill I climbed in 2018!  In the distance, off to the right, you can see another trail which winds back towards the trailhead near Shobers Run and the Bedford Springs. -- January 13, 2018

Kneeling near the limestone springs. -- January 13, 2018

I paused at an intersection to orientate myself and decide which direction I wanted to ride.  Typical of me...I chose to head up the snow covered trail visible in the picture.   A good climb is the best way to stay warm in the cold.  -- January 13, 2018

Taking in the morining sun and admiring the view of the numerious trails that are on either side of the valley.  -- January 14, 2018

 I rode both Saturday and Sunday.  The extreme cold limited my time and my willingness to explore too far away from the trailhead near the Hotel.  The only knowledge of the trails I had was from a handful of short hikes I had taken there over the years.  Saturday, I just retraced some of the trails I have previously hiked...only to deviate once.  The trail I took led me down the ridge and towards Springs Lake....not far from the Heritage Trail.  On Sunday, I set out to explore a trail I noticed while hiking back in August that apparently leads to a scenic overlook on top of th ridge...but the extremely icy conditions made the journey up the ridge impossible.  I'll get there next time for sure.  

Nearing the end of my ride on Saturday, the trail dumped me off near a frozen Springs Lake.  -- January 13, 2018

Three days later I can't seem to stop thinking about these two rides near the Bedford Springs.  Sure, there's the novelty of riding somewhere new and there's the coolness factor of riding trails that I explored when I was a kid...but I don't think either are the reason I keep revisiting the weekend in my head.  I think it was the beauty of the whole thing.  I'm not a fan of winter and I usually only like snow for 5 minutes...then plow comes down the street and turns it gray.  But what I experienced while mountain biking this past Saturday and Sunday was completely different.  Away from the main roads, and almost as soon as I headed into the woods, the winter sun melted through the trees and glistened off of the snow...all around me, icicles dangled off of rocks and caves...the air was crisp and clean...and for those two hours, on those two days, I experienced a landscaped seemingly untouched by anyone other than me and the local deer population.  The whole experience was really quite beautiful and, yeah...it was super cool.

Riding back from the Springs, I decided to take an alternate route and pass through the alley behind the house that I grew up in.  The same alley that we would ride our bikes on as kids.  What an awesome surprise to run into  my childhood bud, Rob Clark.  Great to see you, man! -- January 13, 2018

After my super cold ride on Saturday, I drove to Pittsburgh to have dinner with my son, Alex.  We were joined by my good friend and college roommate, Chris Lowe.
After some of the best wings in the 'Burgh we headed to the Milk Shake Factory for dessert. -- January 13, 2018


Life is a journey...not a destination.



David A. Raymond -- January 17, 2018


The day before my arctic rides in Bedford, Mark was riding at Tuckahoe enjoying the 70 degree weather that temporarily brought a "Spring like" feel to south-central Pennsylvania.  70 degrees one day...single digit temps the next.  Crazy! Pic taken by Mark Lentz. -- January 12, 2018

Here are the GARMIN maps and data from the rides featured in this post...




Interested in biking or hiking some of the trails featured in this post?  Check out the TRAIL MAPS and TRAIL HEADS tabs on the ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM website.   

All of my posts are available at ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM and, if you get the chance, be sure to visit HIGHPEAKSHIKING.COM and

"WRITE SOMETHING WORTH READING OR DO SOMETHING WORTH WRITING..." Ben Franklin

Monday, January 8, 2018

WINTER MOUNTAIN BIKING

Winter is a fact of life if you if you live in Pennsylvania.  The coldest and snowiest months tend to be January and February...but I've seen snow on the trails as late as mid-April.  I'm not a skier...and I'm not a fan of snow or cold...but I do like winter mountain biking. Without the foliage on the trees, it's possible see much more of the landscape, making the forests seem much more immense.  The frozen trails make the riding fast, fun, and downright exhilarating!

Riding the Parkway Trails in single digit wind chills. -- December 28, 2017

Mark Lentz and I riding Gifford Pinchot State Park in full winter gear.  -- December 27, 2017

Years ago...when I first started riding...mountain biking was seasonal for me.  I rarely (if ever) hit the trails during the winter months.  As my passion for mountain biking grew...so did my desire to keep turning the pedals no matter what time of year it is.  I've always had limits to what I would ride in.  Ice is a deal breaker for me.  But as long as I have my head covering, winter gloves, GORE jacket, and toe warmers I can tolerate below freezing temps for about 90 minutes.  I've learned quite a lot while mountain biking in the winter.  For instance, it's easier to ride on frozen trails when it's 25 degrees outside as opposed to riding on cold muddy trails when it's 35 degrees outside.  Experience has also taught me that if I plan on sipping from a camelbak while riding, the nozzle will freeze over unless I blow the remaining water back into the the bladder.   Finally, I now know (and all my friends love to remind me of this) if your derailleur freezes over and you can no longer shift gears, the best way to thaw it out is by urinating on it!

The Blizzard of 2016 led to multiple snow days.  I was able to venture out of the house and take a ride to check out a snow encased Northeastern Middle School. -- January 23, 2016
So...with the arctic winter air firmly entrenched over south-central Pennsylvania I thought I'd enlist the help of my friends and ask them to share their own winter riding knowledge and advice.  Here are their responses in the order that I received them.  Thank you, Mark, Mike, Glenn, Tim, and Matt.
Stay warm everyone!

MARK LENTZ

Mark Lentz "thumbing his nose" at the Bomb Cyclone that hit the Northeast.  Photo by Mark Lentz. -- January 4, 2018

WINTER RIDING THRESHOLD:  Below 30 degrees F. 1 hour 15 min  

ADVICE FOR WINTER RIDING:  Just try it.  Experiment with clothing.  You will most like not get it right the first time.  Layer so you can peel off...sweating is not good.

WINTER RIDING GEAR YOU CAN'T DO WITHOUT:  Winter shoes.

MOST MEMORABLE WINTER RIDE:  Two hour delay rides at Rocky Ridge...then going to work.


MIKE ALICEA

Mike Alicea taking a break during a frigid January ride in Michaux State Forest. -- January 2, 2016

WINTER RIDING THRESHOLD:  Extreme wind and cold rain will definitely halt any planned ride.

ADVICE FOR WINTER RIDING:  Always consider and prepare for all the elements you are going to endure prior to riding in the winter.  Sometimes it's just better to postpone the ride for another day.

WINTER RIDING GEAR YOU CAN'T DO WITHOUT:  Ear covers, full finger gloves, & wind proof socks.

MOST MEMORABLE WINTER RIDE:  My most memorable ride was last year...a few days before Christmas.  I was riding at Rocky Ridge and I was the only one riding at the time.  It was very peaceful, but at the same time, eerie...due to Christmas music being played slower than normal over the loudspeakers near the Christmas lights display.  It gave me a "Jason Vorhees" type of Halloween feeling. 



GLENN MEDICE

Glenn Medice in Rothrock State Forest. -- February 2008

A picture of the snow covered trails in Michaux State Forest.  Taken by Glenn Medice on a recent winter hike. -- January 5, 2018

WINTER RIDING THRESHOLD:  30 degrees, I guess.  Below that, too much work and too much clothing to stay warm and dry.

ADVICE FOR WINTER RIDING:  Plan ahead.

WINTER RIDING GEAR YOU CAN'T DO WITHOUT:  For me...an extra pair of socks and gloves.

MOST MEMORABLE WINTER RIDE:  Jim Thorpe, 2001.  First-ever winter ride.  Very cold, lots of snow.  More work than fun...but lesson learned!  Came back  later that Spring and had a blast!



TIM SINDLINGER

Tim Sindlinger in Rocky Ridge County Park. -- January 19, 2013


WINTER RIDING THRESHOLD:  30 degrees.

ADVICE FOR WINTER RIDING:  Cover your ears and make sure your hands & feet are warm enough!  Everything else will warm up during the ride.

WINTER RIDING GEAR YOU CAN'T DO WITHOUT:   Ear covers, full finger gloves, and wind proof socks.

MOST MEMORABLE WINTER RIDE:   I rode in a blizzard once.  It was stunning to look down and see the snow piling up on my thighs!  


MATT LINNANE

Matt Linnane loves to build snow caves with his kids.  It doesn't get much more cool than that! 


WINTER RIDING THRESHOLD:  90 minutes at 15 degrees...with toe warmers.

ADVICE FOR WINTER RIDING:   Layer correctly...balaclava to keep your face warm.

WINTER RIDING GEAR YOU CAN'T DO WITHOUT:  Balaclava, toe warmers.

MOST MEMORABLE WINTER RIDE:   Mt. Gretna.  Leaves off the trees and fresh tracks made it easy to find some hidden gems that I otherwise would have passed up.  Whether it be riding, ice climbing, or teaching my daughter to ski -- I LOVE WINTER!


Life is a journey...not a destination.



David A. Raymond -- January 8, 2018
What advice do you have for winter mountain biking?  Feel free to post it in the comments.

What's the best dessert you can find during the winter months in Pennsylvania?  Take a trip to the PA Farm Show in Harrisburg.  The milkshakes are unbelievable! -- January 8, 2017


Here are the GARMIN maps and data from the rides featured in this post...










Interested in biking or hiking some of the trails featured in this post?  Check out the TRAIL MAPS and TRAIL HEADS tabs on the ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM website.   

All of my posts are available at ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM and, if you get the chance, be sure to visit HIGHPEAKSHIKING.COM and

"WRITE SOMETHING WORTH READING OR DO SOMETHING WORTH WRITING..." Ben Franklin

Saturday, December 30, 2017

BACKTRACKING 2017

This past week really has been "like Christmas" for me.  Mark and I both have the week off for Christmas vacation and, even though the wind chills have been in the single digits, we've managed to get out on our mountain bikes for a couple of very cold, but equally amazing, rides...both of which were in locations I had never ridden before.  Two super cool, and unexpected, presents.

The intersection of Old Farm Trail and Ridge Trail at Gifford Pinchot State Park. -- December 27, 2017 

That's been a theme for me in 2017.  Since April, when I was cleared by my doctor to begin riding my bike again, I've mountain biked in six new places:  Codorus State Park, Stony Valley RR Trail, The Parkway Trails in Harrisburg, Tuscarora State Forest, Gifford Pinchot State Park, and even in the City of York.  Over the past eight months I've also revisted trails that I haven't ridden for almost a decade...like the York County Heritage Rail Trail and Ohiopyle State Park.  When you add in one trip each to the Allegrippis Trails near Raystown Lake and Swatara State Park...six trips to Michaux State Forest...twenty nine combined local rides at Rocky Ridge County Park and the Lakes...and thirty plus rides on my road bike...2017 was full of memorable rides.  Most importantly, throughout this past year, I've continued to be blessed with an amazing group of friends to share these trails and rides with...Mark Lentz, Glenn Medice, Timmy Sindlinger, Matt Linnane, Chris Keller, Brent Shirk, Mike Alicea, and yep, Mikey Nardelli...all of whom helped make every ride memorable.

So...with the year quickly coming to an end (and with much anticipation of all the rides and trails coming our way in 2018) I thought it would be fun to backtrack over 2017 and take a look at my ten favorite rides of the past year.  Enjoy!

#10.  TWO SUPER COLD WEATHER RIDES

(Riding York City and Gifford Pinchot State Park with Mark Lentz)  --  DECEMBER 26/27, 2017


Two rides...not one...are combined for the tenth spot on my list.  With the air temps hovering around 20 degrees, Mark and I set out on two rides that were completely new to me.  The first was a ten mile urban ride in the city of York, PA that consisted of about 60 percent pavement and 40 percent off road.  The second ride was in Gillford Pinchot State Park.  I've always been told that the riding there was minimal...but Mark and I spend a very cold hour riding single track that was incredibly cool.  

My Stumpjumper leaning on one of the many murals that line the streets of York, Pennsylvania. -- December 26, 2017

My first ride in Gifford Pinchot State Park.  Mark and I paused to check out the ruins of an old farm that is visible from Old Farm Trail. -- December 27, 2017


#9.  SINGLE TRACK HEAVEN

(Michaux State Forest with Mark Lentz)  --AUGUST 18, 2017


Mark was super stoked to show me the miles and miles of continuous single track in the Big Flat area of Michaux State Forest.  It was a day of just continuous riding on some of the best trails that Michaux has to offer.

Astronomy Trail in Michaux State Forest. -- August 18, 2017

Mark and I are all smiles after our last summer ride in Michaux. -- August 18, 2017


#8.  MOUNTAIN BIKING OHIOPYLE -- JUNE 15, 2017


I rode the extremely challenging trails of Ohiopyle State Park for the first time since 2009.  Heading out solo, I tackled the Sugarloaf Trails and Baughman Trail (which descends 800 feet in nearly two miles).  As an added bonus, I spend some leisurely time on the Great Allegheny Passage and just soaked in the amazing scenery of Pennsylvania's Laurel Highlands.

The last 100 yards of Baughman Trail.  A wild and crazy trail that descends nearly 800 feet in two miles! -- June 15, 2017



My son, Alex, took this shot of me on the Great Allegheny Passage with his drone.  -- June 15, 2017



#7.  THE ROCKIEST RIDE OF THE YEAR

(Michaux State Forest with Glenn Medice, Tim Sindlinger, and Matt Linnane) -- AUGUST 1, 2017


The Rockiest Ride of the Year makes my top ten list simply because it was extremely fun to revisit (for the first time in nearly ten years) one of the most challenging trails near Piney Mountain Ridge in Michaux State Forest...Fender Trail.  It also led us towards one of the more picturesque trails in the area...Bear Knob.  It was just really fun ride.

Tim Sindlinger, Matt Linnane, Dave Raymond, and Glenn Medice taking a break on Bear Knob in Michaux State Forest. -- August 1, 2017

Descending Bear Knob in Michaux State Forest. -- August 1, 2017

#6.  URBAN MOUNTAIN BIKING

(The Parkway Trails with Mark Lentz and Glenn Medice) -- JULY 26, 2017


The Parkway Trails in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania have proved to be one of the coolest "local" trail systems around.  I've been there three times this past year...but the second of the three rides (with Mark and Glenn) was super amazing.  We had a blast zipping in and out of the mountain bike friendly single track put in place by SAMBA.  Urban mountain biking at it's best!

My Stumpjumper leaning on the South Harrisburg Wall Project.  One of the super cool things you will see while riding the Parkway Trails. -- July 26, 2017

Mark and Glenn crossing over the rail road tracks while riding the Parkway Trails. -- July 26, 2017

All smiles after a twisty single track on the Paxtang side of the Parkway Trails. -- July 26, 2017

Mark Lentz, Dave Raymond, and Glenn Medice wrapping up our ride on the Parkway Trails. -- July 26, 2017


#5. OVER THE MOUNTAIN

(Michaux State Forest with Mark Lentz) -- July 31, 2017


Mark and I really did ride over the mountain in Michaux on the last day of July.  Not purposefully.  We were looking for a section of single track near Ridge Road.  What we got was a ride we will never forget.  After accidentally dropping down into King's Gap State Park, Mark and I did an impromptu road ride and then climbed fire road back up the mountain to Ridge Trail.  Along the way we encountered a black bear and ultimately found some really awesome single track (none of which was the trail we were originally looking for). 

Ridge Trail in Michaux State Forest is made up of super technical single track. -- July 31, 2017

Dave Raymond and Mark Lentz on Ridge Trail in Michaux State Forest. -- July 31, 2017

Looking west from the top of the mountain in Michaux State Forest just before accidentally dropping down into King's Gap State Park.  -- July 31, 2017

With the mountain  range off to our left, Mark and I had to ride about 6 miles of road to eventually get back over the mountain. -- July 31, 2017

Nothing like sharing the trail with a black bear. -- July 31, 2017


#4.  STONY VALLEY RAIL TRAIL

(With Mark Lentz) -- JUNE 5, 2017


The Stony Valley Rail Trail turned out to be the perfect ride for Mark and I the first week of summer vacation.  With a steady rain coming down for the enter 28 mile journey, Mark and I experienced, what I consider to be, the most visually stimulating ride of the summer.  Along the way we explored limestone diversion wells and the ruins of Cold Spring, a 19th Century resort town.

While riding the Stony Valley Rail Trail, Mark and I took a short detour to explore the ruins of  Cold Spring, a 19th century resort town, which is located in State Game Lands No. 221. -- June 5, 2017






Mark Lentz riding the Stony Valley Rail Trail. -- June 5, 2017


#3.  FUN IN MICHAUX

(Michaux state Forest with Glenn Medice and Matt Linnane) -- JULY 25, 2017


This ordinary "Tuesday in Michaux" ride really turned into something out of the ordinary.  The July humidity disappeared and the temperatures were low.  Glenn, Matt, and I explored "new to us" trails south of Woodrow Road and then headed towards Grave Ridge.  Riding south to north on Grave Ridge was one of more memorable rides of the summer.  It was a great Tuesday in Michaux.

Dave Raymond, Glenn Medice, and Matt Linnane taking a break on Gargamel's Trail in Michaux State Forest. -- July 25, 2017

Glenn Medice riding Gargamel's Trail in Michaux State Forest. -- July 25, 2017

Dave Raymond riding Gargamel's Trail in Michaux State Forest.  -- July 25, 2017

Matt Linnane taking on Grave Ridge in Michaux State Forest. -- July 25, 2017


#2.  WHAT A DAY WE ARE HAVING!

(Tuscarora State Forest with Mark Lentz) -- JULY 6, 2017


Mark and I made a spur of moment decision to turn right towards Tuscarora State Forest instead of left towards Michaux.  The result was an epic, tropical, twenty nine mile ride that included a rattle snake sighting, an old CCC Camp, Doubling Gap Overlook, the grave of CCC worker who perished while creating the mountain roads on which we were riding, and nearly 4,000 feet of climbing!  Yeah...what a day we had!

Mark Lentz and Dave Raymond at the tail end of an epic, muddy, and tropical ride in Tuscarora State Forest. -- July 6, 2017

Mark Lentz riding in Tuscarora State Forest. -- July 6, 2017


#1.  FIRST BIKE RIDE AFTER SURGERY

(Manchester, Pennsylvania with Robin) -- APRIL 9, 2017


When I was given the green light to ride my back after my second back surgery within a year, I couldn't think of a better person to share my joy with than my wife, Robin.  I agree to take it easy.  We dropped my truck off at Northeastern High School for my son...and then Robin and I rode three glorious miles home!  It was the best three miles ever.

I have a look of excitement and my wife has a look of cautious happiness as we begin my first ride after back surgery. -- April 9, 2017

I couldn't hide my smile as I was about to embark on my first ride five months! -- April 9, 2017

This new year, I'm thankful for my family, my friends, and my health.  2018 presents me with the opportunity to ride all twelve months of the year for the first time since 2015.  Physically, I feel better than I have in a long time....in no small part to my surgeon (who fixed my back) and to my wife (who rightfully encourages me to slow down a little bit).  I already have a few ideas in mind for 2018.  Along with exploring new trails, I'd like to revisit places I haven't been to in a long time...places like Blue Marsh, Fair Hill, Rattling Creek, and French Creek.  I'm sure my friends will buy into that...and I'm sure, that by the end of the year, I'll have plenty of rides to backtrack on.
Happy New Year!

I can't leave out the road rides I had this summer with my son, Alex.  I'm so happy he enjoys his bike and loves to use it to explore the Pittsburgh area when he is away at school. -- August 20, 2017


Life is a journey...not a destination.



David A. Raymond -- December 30, 2017
What was your favorite ride or hike of 2017?  Feel free to post your comments below.  Happy New Year!

And...my vote for favorite ice-cream stop of 2017 is the Glen Dairy Bar in Watkin's Glen, New York! -- July 20, 2017


Here are the GARMIN maps and data from the rides featured in this post...























Interested in biking or hiking some of the trails featured in this post?  Check out the TRAIL MAPS and TRAIL HEADS tabs on the ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM website.   

All of my posts are available at ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM and, if you get the chance, be sure to visit HIGHPEAKSHIKING.COM and

"WRITE SOMETHING WORTH READING OR DO SOMETHING WORTH WRITING..." Ben Franklin