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Sunday, November 20, 2016

THOSE FIRST TRAILS

As the saying goes..."We all have to start somewhere..." and for me, it was with a 1995 GT Timberline mountain bike that I purchased with my first couple paychecks from my new teaching job at Northeastern Middle School.  I had no idea what kind of bike I wanted....and  I had no idea what I was looking for.  I walked into Gung Ho Bikes (located at that time on White Street near West York) and met Jay Zech.  I told him that I wanted "middle of the road."  I wasn't even sure I would like this mountain biking thing.  That first bike cost me a little less than $500 dollars in 1995 (which was $300 more than my first car...a 1979 Fiat Strada.)  It had no front suspension (although I would upgrade to a RockShox front fork after massive crash in 1996 that mangled the my bike!), it had platform pedals (although I would eventually upgrade to toe clips), and I insisted on bar ends...the bigger and longer the better.  I had absolutely no clue. My bike was blue with some black splashed on it and it had orange writing.  Jay even threw in a free water bottle and a Bell helmet (blue to match the bike.)  After a quick test ride around the shop (in which I pretended that I knew what I was testing it out for), checking all the boxes on the papers (that I didn't read), and plopping down the cash...I walked out the proud owner of my first mountain bike!

My first bike selfie...with my brand new 1995 GT Timberline!  Anybody recognize "Forbidden Four" at Rocky Ridge? -- 1995

I didn't know what the hell I was doing back then...and, by writing this now...I'm going out on a limb and really making myself pretty damn vulnerable.  I know my riding buds (once they see this) will NEVER let me live these pics down.   But...you've got to start somewhere.  At the time, I knew of only two places on the planet Earth that you could mountain bike....Rocky Ridge County Park and Lake Redman...so, from 1995 until I began riding with Mark Lentz (who opened my eyes to a whole new world of trails) in 2006, that was pretty much the extent of my mountain biking world.  I didn't even know how to dress for the occassion.  Back then, I was still stuck in the whole early 90's grunge era...so I went with that.  Multiple layers of t-shirts, cut off flannels, cargo shorts (or even jeans), work boots, and...bandanas (yes, plural.  One for my head and one for my neck).  I was ready to ride.

Rocky Ridge County Park.  Even back then they set up the Christmas Lights in October!  --  October 23, 1995

Where the hell is my helmet?!  The Lakes -- May 31, 1996

By 1998, I had upgraded to a RockShox front fork, toe clips, and massive bar ends! My clothing style seems to have just gotten worse, though.  Rocky Ridge -- November 11, 1998

I found myself, on those first rides, pretty much alone.  It wasn't until about 2000, when I met Tim Sindlinger, that I had a steady riding partner.  And even once we began riding together, our riding was contained to Rocky Ridge, the Lakes, and occasionally...the Rail Trail.  I think what blows me away the most is...considering how much I now document and photograph everything...I have zero pics of Tim and I riding together prior to 2006!  The few pics I have from those early years were taken on an old Fugi 35mm camera which was a gift from my parents.  It was just small enough to fit into the saddle bag underneath my seat (or in the aforementioned cargo shorts.)  


The Lake Redman sign, seen from I-83, remains pretty much unchanged in the past 20 years -- May 22, 1996 

I didn't always ride alone prior to meeting Tim.  A friend of mine, Dennis Rastatter, moved to York with me in 1995.  He also was hired to teach at NMS.  Dennis brought a mountain bike with him and, maybe...looking back on it now...that may have been the catalyst for my purchase.  He and I would go out and ride every so often.   But...by the beginning of 1997...Dennis and I were both in relationships and no longer roommates (he had taken a different teaching position.)  Dennis moved to Colorado in 1998. 


Dennis Rastatter at Rocky Ridge -- October 23, 1995 

Dennis Rastatter at the Lakes.  Again...where are our helmets? -- May 31, 1996 

My brother, Jake, and I had the opportunity to ride at the Lakes together, twice, while he lived in the area.  He was attending York College in 1996 and had a bike.  Of the few pics I have from back then...I do have two from the rides we went on at Lake Redman.  That's pretty cool.   

Jacob Raymond at the Lakes -- March 30, 1996

Riding with Jake at the Lakes -- May 5, 1996

Sometime prior to 1998, I met a great guy named Rick Brubaker.  He was subbing in my building and; coincidentally, was living just three houses down the street  from me.  He too, owned a mountain bike.  Rick became the closest thing to a steady riding partner I would have before meeting Tim.  He was an all around great guy, the two of us had a lot in common, we had great conversations, and we just plain old had fun together.  Rick worked part time at the local Dick's Sporting Goods store as a bike tech.  Early on, he helped me fix quite a number of mechanicals.  He even helped me replace the cantilever brakes on that 1995 GT with the new V-brakes.  I was moving up in the world! Rick and I are still friends (but mostly through Facebook.)  He still lives in the area with his wife, Tanya, and their family.  Only one pic of us riding together survives.  I really hope he gets to read this.  

David Raymond & Richard Brubaker -- November 11, 1998 

There is a big gap (as far as mountain biking goes) in my old scrap books between the years of 1998 and 2006.  Even though I know I went riding many times with Tim...I can't find a single mountain biking pic from that eight year span.  I guess mountain biking wasn't, during those years, quite the passion that it would eventually become for me.  But...you got to start somewhere...and I got my start in 1995 when I walked into Gung Ho and walked out with that first bike...when I rode with that first group of guys...and when I rode those first trails.  I've been pedaling ever since.

Life is a journey...not a destination.


David A. Raymond -- November 20, 2016
Be sure to check out the ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM website for trail maps, directions to trail heads, and all of my ride pics!

No laughing allowed!  This was the first time I ever hired the SQUIRRELS WITH CAMERAS to try to take an action pic.  This area of the Lakes is now a housing development...but in 1995, it was a fun place for mountain biking newbies...who had no clue...to try to get some "air."  All reflectors onboard! -- 1995