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Sunday, January 15, 2017

ADVICE FROM A SQUIRREL (or...THE MOUNTAIN BIKER MANTRA)

With new cycling socks in hand, and heading for the checkout at Hunters & Gatherers, I spotted a brown sign on the wall.  "ADVICE FROM A SQUIRREL." It wasn't the only sign of the kind...apparently you can get advice from just about any from any furry, four-legged creature...but, seeing that I was in Brevard, North Carolina, a mecca of mountain biking (and the home of the White Squirrel), this sign, in particular, grabbed my attention.


These seven simple sentence, provided by a squirrel, could be called "The Mountain Biker's Mantra." They reminded me of why I love mountain biking and it instantly became obvious to me how each of them are relevant to my passion.  Seven pieces of wisdom that I believe...if adhered to...could have the ability elevate an ordinary ride into something extra special.   So...without any further delay...here is some advice I accidentally learned from a squirrel.  

LOOK BOTH WAYS BEFORE CROSSING THE STREET

Not something you would think of when mountain biking...but trails often intersect with main roads.  This simple advice, which we all learn in kindergarten, will keep even the best mountain biker from ending up as what squirrels fear becoming most...road kill.

Taking a break to look both ways before crossing the main road at the Lakes.  Mark Lentz, Kristian Hains, Mike Nardelli, Brent Shirt, & Tim Sindlinger -- November 26, 2011

There's no way for Tim to avoid a highway crossing while riding the 30 mile look around Blue Marsh Lake -- September 2009

PLAN AHEAD

Even Mark believes in maps...especially in unfamiliar territory.  Planning ahead also means having what you need to keep your bike MOVING FORWARD.  No one wants their ride to turn into an all day HIKE-A-BIKE.

After a long day a riding near State College, PA, Mark gets out the trail book to prepare for tomorrow's ride -- June 28, 2014

Mark taking time to make sure we are still on the correct path on a "new to us" section of trail in Michaux State Forest -- July 16, 2014

Planning ahead also means bringing what is needed to keep your bike moving forward -- August 2, 2016

I always carry plenty of CO2, extra tubes, and just anything else needed to keep my ride from turning into a hike-a-bike -- August 9, 2016


STAY ACTIVE

Tim and I once wondered if we would still be doing this when we hit the age of 30.  Over 15 years later we all are going strong.  In my mind, staying active is the key to life.  Every day you just have to keep on moving.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that exercise increases brain activity and is beneficial in so many ways.  Mountain biking is just one of the ways that I combat my massive case of adult ADD.

More than a decade of riding together and no signs of slowing down...top left, Glenn Medice; top right, Mark Lentz; center, Kristian Hains; bottom right, Dave Raymond; bottom left, Tim Sindlinger -- All pics taken in 2016

EAT PLENTY OF FIBER

I love food.  I try to eat it at least three times a day.  That includes while riding.  Whether it's FINDING SUSTENANCE on the trail, packing plenty of beef jerky, or taking time for a picnic afterwards...meals bring people together.  Even while mountain biking.

Mikey and Mark taking time to eat the wild strawberries in Raymond B. Winter State Park -- July 2011

There is something super kool about picnicking after a ride.  Our usual parking area near the furnace stack in Pine Grove Furnace State Park offers an awesome place to hang out and relax -- July 24, 2014

Count on Kristian to carry bacon jerky with him.  Yes...bacon jerky!  So freakin' amazing! -- October 30, 2016


SPEND TIME IN THE WOODS

Spending time in the woods and mountain biking go hand in hand...but the best trips are the ones span multiple days.  There's nothing like a good  meal and relaxing around a campfire with friends after a day of hard riding.

Relaxing by a campfire in State College, PA with Mark after an amazing day of riding -- June 28, 2014

Bill Graves and I managed to snag one of my favorite tent sites (Hickory Loop site 180) in Ohiopyle State Park -- April 2009

A week of camping and mountain biking in Pisgah National Forest,  NC with Mark, Glenn, & Kristian -- August 2-5, 2008

Our first mountain biking/camping trip as a group.  Mark, Mikey, Glenn, Billy, and I spent 4 adventurous days mountain biking around Blackwater Falls, West Virginia -- June 2007


GO OUT ON A LIMB

Literally...climb a tree.  What was fun when we were ten still is fun as an adult.

Bill Graves in Ohiopyle State Park -- April 2009

Go out on a limb...even if you look ridiculous.  Dave Raymond, Kristian Hains, Glenn Medice, and Mark Lentz in Dupont State Forest, NC -- August 2008


IT'S OK TO BE A LITTLE NUTS

Mountain biking affords me the opportunity to do what 99% of the human race (more than likely) would never attempt...so let loose, hang on tight, and enjoy the ride!

Going nuts!  Clockwise starting top left: Dave Raymond (2016), Mark Lentz (2006), Kristain Hains (2016), Glenn Medice (2008)

A below freezing December ride in Patapsco Valley State Park, MD ended with a ride down Cascade Falls Trail.  With only half a mile to go I did my own "polar plunge".  Brent Shirk thought I was a little nuts! -- December 28, 2015




Glenn Medice "Going A Little Nuts" trying a stream crossing above Triple Falls in Dupont State Forest, NC -- August 2008


Mikey didn't just GO nuts trying to ride this log in Patapsco Valley State Park, MD...he ended up CRUSHING his nuts.  Love you, Mikey! -- August 9, 2011


The only things in my bag when I walked out of Hunters & Gatherers that day were multiple pair of white squirrel socks.  I had decided against purchasing the sign (I did; however, take a pic of it).  The advice, though, wasn't left in the store.  Those seven sentences...

LOOK BOTH WAYS BEFORE YOU CROSS THE ROAD
PLAN AHEAD
STAY ACTIVE
EAT PLENTY OF FIBER
SPEND TIME IN THE WOODS
GO OUT ON A LIMB
IT'S OK TO BE A LITTLE NUTS...

provide a mantra not just for mountain bikers and mountain biking...but for just about anyone regardless of their passions.  Sometimes the best advice can come from the least expected source...in this particular case...it came from a squirrel.

Life is a journey...not a destination.



David A. Raymond -- January 15, 2017
If you've enjoyed reading this...please feel free to TWEET IT


 Left: the ADVICE FROM A SQUIRREL sign hanging in Hunters & Gatherers in Brevard, NC which provided me with so much inspiration.  Right: One of the three pair of white squirrel socks I purchased.  You can never have too many pair of white squirrel socks! -- July 22, 2016
ADVICE FROM A SQUIRREL is credited to Your True Nature.  Check out their website:  yourtruenature.com


Here is a list of GARMIN maps and stats from a few of the rides featured in this post:

Riding Rothrock State Forest with Mark -- June 28, 2014
Riding Michaux State Forest with Mark -- July 16, 2014
Riding Patapsco Valley State Park with Brent -- December 28, 2015


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