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Saturday, March 9, 2019

TRAIL TIPS

I almost titled this post TRAIL ADVICE but decided against it.  Far be it from me to consider myself some sort of expert who ought to offer cycling advice to anyone.  As far as I'm concerned, there is no right or wrong to anything when it comes to mountain biking.  Everybody has their own preferences and opinions in style and gear. So whatever works best for you..and feels best to you...is what you should do.   I will, every once in a while, offer some basic tips to people who are interested in biking (especially mountain biking) for the first time.  I think that, after 25 plus years of riding, I can at least do that.  These tips have nothing to do with what kind of bike to ride, how wide your handle bars should be, or how high your saddle should be.   The tips I sometimes offer tend to be more generic and grounded in the overall experience as opposed to the technical side of riding.  So...if you are interested in mountain biking for the first time...here are a few nuggets of knowledge that I can throw your way.

Navigating the rocks of Michaux State Forest -- September 16, 2018


KNOW WHERE YOU ARE GOING

Literally...unless you are in a small localized park where it is impossible to get lost...use a map.  One of the most fun parts of working at the bike shop is when we pull the larger than life map of Michaux State Forest out from under the front counter and begin piecing together rides.  Make sure that the trails you choose are approved for mountain biking...and, if your aren't sure, ask the friendly people at your local bike shop.  Maps are not overrated and getting lost sucks.

Map of Michaux State Forest.  

HAVE BASIC GEAR

Besides a bike...a helmet and gloves are a must for any new rider.  In my case, my "must have" gear include my helmet, gloves, riding glasses, and mountain bike shoes.  As for what brand and style...that is totally up to you.  Whatever fits the best, feels the best, and makes you happy.

The railing of our cabin in Ohiopyle State Park was a perfect drying rack for my gear after a rainy mountain bike ride -- June 21, 2018

LEARN HOW TO DO BASIC REPAIRS

Most of the tools I carry in my camelbak are there because I needed them at one point or another.  For any ride longer than an hour I carry a spare tube, small pump, CO2 canisters, tire levers, and an appropriate tool to make minor adjustments while riding.  It took me a while to feel comfortable enough doing my own repairs...but it's a skill that comes in very handy.  Bring what you need with you. Relying on a friend to have what you need to fix your bike isn't just not cool...but it's not realistic either.

Pausing to repair a flat tire in Michaux State Forest -- August 9, 2016

DO NOT EXCEED YOUR SKILL SET

My healthy sense of fear has served me well.  It keeps me from doing something stupid and prematurely exiting the gene pool.  Even if you don't have enough riding experience to know exactly what you can and cannot do...you can tell if something isn't right or if it scares you.  If that's the case, pick up your bike and walk over-around-through the obstacle in question.  The object is to keep enjoying the trail...you can't do that if you are injured.

Playing on the rocks that make up Grave Ridge Trail in Michaux State Forest -- July 25, 2017

KEEP YOUR EYES FOCUSED ON THE TRAIL AHEAD

When driving we don't stare at the hood of our car...we focus on the road ahead.  Same goes for the trail.  It's important to know what is ahead of us before we get to it.  Stay laser focused about fifteen to twenty feet head of where you are at any given point.

One of my favorite twisty single tracks in Michaux.  Always stay laser focused on what is ahead of you. -- August 14, 2018


PAUSE TO APPRECIATE NATURE

It's probably safe to say that if you are outside mountain biking then you also like being in nature.  The two go hand-in-hand.  Pause and enjoy nature's beauty all around you.  Don't ever feel guilty for soaking it in...for taking a lot of photos...and for enjoying the beauty that is the planet Earth.

Getting a huge dose of Vitamin N in Michaux State Forest -- August 14, 2018


RIDE WITH FRIENDS

I call it group therapy.  Mountain biking is something that is suppose to be a shared experience.  Ride with people who add value and joy to your life.  It's a great way to bond while doing something you love.  Besides...there is safety in numbers.  Friends can help find the way when you are turned around, fix a problem when something is broken, and provide assistance if someone gets hurt.  

Riding (and chatting) with friends!  Dave Raymond, Tim Sindlinger, and Brent Shirk in Michaux State Forest -- August 14, 2018

It's nice to have friends.  They even helped me with this post. After all, all of us collectively are smarter than any single one of us. Before I get to my last tip... here are the tips that  Ben, Chris, Glenn, Brent, Matt, Mike, and Tim have to offer for anyone who is just starting out.  

TIP FROM BEN KELLY:  Ride with someone you know who can help teach you the tricks of riding.
  Photo taken in Michaux State Forest -- July 10, 2018


TIP FROM CHRIS KELLER:  Wear padded shorts!
  Photo taken in Michaux State Forest -- September 16, 2018


TIP FROM GLENN MEDICE:  Don't over think it...just enjoy the experience. 
 Photo taken in Michaux State Forest -- July 26, 2016

TIP FROM BRENT SHIRK:  Know your limits...Don't try something you're not comfortable doing.
  Photo taken in Patapsco Valley State Park  -- December 27, 2018


TIP FROM MATT LINNANE:  Don't look at what is directly below you, look 10 feet ahead and let your body react to the rest.
  Photo taken in Michaux State Forest -- August 31, 2018

TIP FROM MIKE ALICEA:  Know how to do basic bike repairs and do not ride a trail that exceeds your skill limit.
Photo taken in Rocky Ridge County Park -- March 13, 2016

TIP FROM TIM SINDLINGER:  Go with someone who knows the trials.
 Photo taken at Rocky Ridge County Park -- September 21, 2018

FINALLY...REWARD YOURSELF!

Yes...reward yourself.  Indulge yourself with something special after each ride.  For some people it might be a pint of beer, a big stack of pancakes, or an extra burrito.  For me, it's ice cream.  I joke that ice cream is my favorite flavor.  If I had to really nail it down, my favorite variation would be alternating scoops of vanilla ice cream and orange sherbet in a waffle cone.  It reminds me of those Flintstone push-up pops from my childhood.  Yeah, that tastes good and brings a smile to my face....even when I'm covered in muck and mud and sweat from the ride.  

The ice cream tasted amazing after the mud and muck that I rode through in Ohiopyle State Park -- June 21, 2018


Life is a journey...not a destination.



David A. Raymond -- March 9, 2019


Ultimately, some of the best advice comes from YOUR TRUE NATURE.  Here is their ADVICE FROM A TRAIL. 


Feel free to FOLLOW me on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM 

@mountnbiker73

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













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

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


Saturday, February 23, 2019

GEARING UP

I'll admit that I've spent a lot of the winter window shopping at the bike shop.  Fortunately for me (and my wallet) there really isn't anything major that I need to purchase this year for mountain biking.   Currently, I'm three years into a four to five year commitment with my bike (which I still love).  Likewise, no new helmet this year...I can't yet seem to part ways with the florescent green helmet I purchased in 2017.  I'm at the point where a new pair of mountain biking shoes wouldn't be unreasonable...but besides the typical small stuff that needs to be replenished (CO2 cartridges, orange energy chews, and a few extra tubes) I think that I'm pretty much set for Spring riding.

The snowy hillside and low sun angle make for a cool background in this pic.  My Stumpjumper on the trails behind the Hershey Medical Center.  No need to replace it yet!  -- February 16, 2019

It's February in Pennsylvania...statistically, the coldest and snowiest month of the year.  I've been riding as much as possible...but I can't hide the excitement in knowing that March is right around the corner and with it comes more sunshine, warmer weather, and the yearly reunion of all of my mountain biking friends.  Sure, we keep in touch over the winter...but it's the Spring time when we start getting together for rides...and nothing can replace a good dose of GROUP THERAPY.  In anticipation, not only have I been window shopping...I've been planning and mapping out new adventures for the guys in the crew.  It really should be a great year.  So...only one more week until my unofficial start of Spring...and I'm more than ready.  I thought I'd see how some of my friends are getting geared up for riding this year.  Here are their responses in the order in which they replied back to me.  Thank you, gentlemen, for your input...and I'm glad to see that you all are gearing up, in your own ways, for the Spring!  I'll be seeing all of you on the trail really soon.


BEN KELLY

Ben Kelly riding in Michaux State Forest. -- July 10, 2018

HAVE YOU BOUGHT ANY NEW EQUIPMENT FOR BIKING THIS YEAR?  --  I bought a new bike.  2018 Specialized Fuse Comp Carbon.

BESIDES HELMET, SHOES, AND GLOVES, WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU ALWAYS PACK FOR MOUNTAIN BIKING?  WHY? -- A tube, tire lever, and Co2....just in case of a flat.  I also carry a shock pump in case I blow out a pump.

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO THE MOST ABOUT BIKING IN 2019? -- Going to different parks and riding new trails.


CHRIS KELLER

Chris Keller riding in Michaux State Forest. -- September 16, 2018

HAVE YOU BOUGHT ANY NEW EQUIPMENT FOR BIKING THIS YEAR? -- No.  I have kids in college.

BESIDES HELMET, SHOES, AND GLOVES, WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU ALWAYS PACK FOR MOUNTAIN BIKING?  WHY? -- A grin.  It's just fun.

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO THE MOST ABOUT BIKING IN 2019? -- I hope to get out much more than 2018.


TIM SINDLINGER

Tim Sindlinger riding on the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center Trail System. -- December 2, 2018

HAVE YOU BOUGHT ANY NEW EQUIPMENT FOR BIKING THIS YEAR? -- A new bike (first one in 7-8 years).

BESIDES HELMET, SHOES, AND GLOVES, WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU ALWAYS PACK FOR MOUNTAIN BIKING?  WHY? -- A chain tool (I've broken a few chains), patch kit (thorns love my tires), and friends (rides are more fun when they're shared!)

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO THE MOST ABOUT BIKING IN 2019? -- Trying the new bike and seeing the friends I miss over the winter!


MIKE ALICEA

Mike Alicea on a winter adventure. -- February 11, 2019

HAVE YOU BOUGHT ANY NEW EQUIPMENT FOR BIKING THIS YEAR? -- I recently bought 5 ten rider mountain bike shoes which I really like, as well as a small hydration pack.

BESIDES HELMET, SHOES, AND GLOVES, WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU ALWAYS PACK FOR MOUNTAIN BIKING?  WHY? -- Of course...my smart phone just in case of an emergency.

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO THE MOST ABOUT BIKING IN 2019? -- I'm definitely looking forward to trying new places to ride that test your skill lever and make you want to go back for more.


GLENN MEDICE

Glenn Medice riding in Michaux State Forest. -- July 25, 2017

HAVE YOU BOUGHT ANY NEW EQUIPMENT FOR BIKING/HIKING THIS YEAR? -- Hiking boots.

BESIDES HELMET, SHOES, AND GLOVES, WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU ALWAYS PACK FOR MOUNTAIN BIKING OR HIKING?  WHY? -- Shorts...I'm modest that way.

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO THE MOST IN 2019? -- Hiking and biking in 2019.


BRENT SHIRK

Brent Shirk riding in Michaux State Forest. -- August 14, 2018

HAVE YOU BOUGHT ANY NEW EQUIPMENT FOR BIKING THIS YEAR? -- I bought a new wheel set during the summer of 2018.

BESIDES HELMET, SHOES, AND GLOVES, WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU ALWAYS PACK FOR MOUNTAIN BIKING?  WHY? -- Phone for emergencies.  Multi tool...just in case.  Hydration...usually water.

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO THE MOST ABOUT BIKING IN 2019 -- Hopefully getting out to ride at least once a week.  I would love to get to some places I don't get to often.


MATT LINNANE

Matt Linnane taking a break during our "Ugly Sweater Ride" in Hershey, PA. -- December 2, 2018

HAVE YOU BOUGHT ANY NEW EQUIPMENT FOR BIKING THIS YEAR? -- Handlebar mounted speaker to let bears know I'm coming around the corner.

BESIDES HELMET, SHOES, AND GLOVES, WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU ALWAYS PACK FOR MOUNTAIN BIKING?  WHY? -- Self stick white medical mesh tape.  I was able to apply pressure and stop a gaping elbow slice with it once and I've had it on board ever since.

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO THE MOST ABOUT BIKING IN 2019? -- Seeing the SUN again!  Hopefully it will come out more frequently than ever 6 days this year!



Life is a journey...not a destination.



David A. Raymond -- February 23, 2019

It may be cold and snowy...but I've been riding.  Last Saturday the trails at Hershey Medical Center were a very interesting combination of snow, ice, and mud.  It made for some really interesting...and fun...riding. -- February 16, 2019


Feel free to FOLLOW me on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM 

@mountnbiker73

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
















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


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

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

RIDING HERE...RIDING THERE...

 January and February tend to provide a lot of sleet, rain, snow, ice, and bone chilling weather here in York County, Pennsylvania. For sure, not ideal conditions for biking...but, I made a commitment to opt outside as much as possible in 2019...and I'm sticking with it. Conditions and time have kept me from heading to the local county parks to mountain bike.  Likewise, gravel and rock salt have kept me (for the most part) off of my road bike.  Still, as I came to realize last winter, I have plenty of OPTIONS to get out and do what I love to do.

I took advantage of  the extra couple hours of daylight and rode my mountain bike along and around the train tracks in Manchester, PA after school let out early in anticipation of a pending snow storm. -- January 19, 2019

An Arctic blast hit the northeast late last month.  The first "snow day" I had this school year wasn't for snow...it was for the downright frigid temperatures.  Temps so cold that I had to balance my desire to be outside and ride my bike with the fact that being outside too long was just plain dangerous.  My go-to ride for a day like this is the northern section of the York County Heritage Rail Trail... providing a combination of proximity, scenery, and the the option to turn around and end the ride at any point.  Three miles into the ride I decided to head back. Even with all my cold weather gear...I began to feel the extreme cold on my skin.  A six mile ride on that particular day was perfectly fine by me.

Riding (in below zero wind chills) the Heritage Rail Trail along the Codorus Creek in York County. -- January 21, 2019


Completely covered in cold weather gear for my short, but exhilarating, ride on the Heritage Rail Trail. -- January 21, 2019


My Stumpjumper resting on a cascade of ice. -- January 21, 2019

Riding snow covered roads in Manchester, Pennsylvania. -- February 2, 2019

Making first tracks in a field below Orndorff Elementary School in Manchester, Pennsylvania. -- February 2, 2019

I took advantage of my second snow day of this school year with a ride around and above the town of Manchester, PA with my next door neighbor, Mike Alicea. -- February 11, 2019

I've also discovered that...when conditions aren't optimal for traditional road or mountain biking...I can create little adventures in my own my neighborhood.  By zipping in and out of the parks, fields, and alley ways near my house, I can piece together a 10ish mile snow ride.  In years past, these would have been the days that I just didn't ride.  Perhaps I would have gone running (those days are behind me now)...but I more than likely wouldn't have been riding.  So far this year, I unfortunately haven't yet made it up to Rocky Ridge, over to Michaux, or to any of the other places I typically mountain bike...but I am out there doing my thing.  I have been riding...a little here...a little there.  As much as I possibly can.


The snow and cold haven't kept me completely off of my road bike.  Last Saturday, I took an amazing ride into York City to pick up some things at York's Central Market.  I took the round-about-way home (riding through a tunnel under Interstate 83)...making for a super fun ride. -- February 9, 2019

Life is a journey...not a destination.



David A. Raymond -- February 12, 2019


I guess you could say that my wife and I have also been hiking here...hiking there...  We've gotten out for at least one hike every weekend this year.  It's becoming a nice habit.  David and Robin Raymond in Michaux State Forest. -- February 10, 2019

Feel free to FOLLOW me on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM 

@mountnbiker73

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








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


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

Sunday, January 13, 2019

OPT OUTSIDE

I first heard of REI's #OptOutside initiative back in November.  GUNG HO BIKES, the bike shop at which I work, followed REI's lead and decided to close its doors on Black Friday to host a series of rides.  What a great idea...encouraging more and more people to take a break from the stress of everyday life, disconnect from screen time, and enjoy time outdoors...reconnecting with nature and spending time with family and friends!  


The three inches of snow that fell overnight might keep me off my road bike...but it won't stop me from opting to be outside! -- January 13, 2019

The new year is a time for new resolutions.  Typically, I don't make them...but this year, at the suggestion of my wonderful wife, Robin, the two of us have one.  We are going to try to commit to doing 52 hikes in 2019.  That's at least one a week for the next year...and, as of right now, we are three for three:  three weeks in and three hikes in the book!  I don't want to stop there, though.  This year, I've decided to embrace "Opt Outside" as my theme and spend as much time as possible outdoors doing the things that I love with the people that I love!  So basically, my resolution for the new year isn't necessarily to do something drastically different with my life...it's just to commit to doing the things I love, in the places that I love, with the people I love more often!  For me...that means making it a priority...regardless of whether or not I have to dodge rain drops or face wind chills...to opt outside as much as my schedule will allow.

Opting to start the year off with a hike at Gifford Pinchot State Park.  David Raymond, Robin Raymond, Alex Raymond, and Emma Sadowski. -- January 1, 2019

Despite the rain that fell all morning, Matt and I opted for some mountain biking at Swatara State Park. -- January 5, 2019

Matt riding in Swatara State Park. He shared with me, while riding last Saturday, that this year he plans to be on the bike as much as possible! -- January 5, 2019

Post ride pic of my bike at Swatara State Park.  -- January 5, 2019

Hiking Rocky Ridge County Park.  Alex, Robin, and David Raymond -- January 6, 2019

Alex, Robin, and bundled up and enjoy the sub-freezing temps for a fun hike at Chickies Rock County Park. -- January 12, 2019

David and Alex Raymond at Chickies Rock County Park. -- January 12, 2019

Love this pic of me at Chickies Rock County Park.  You can see the bend in the Susquehanna River as is snakes south between York and Lancaster Counties. -- January 12, 2019

The super cool thing is that I'm not the only person I know who is embracing this mantra.  Just yesterday, I got caught up in a text thread with Matt, Tim, and Glenn...sending each other pics of how we were spending this cold winter day.  Despite the sub-freezing temps we were all outside enjoying nature in our own ways.  My son, Alex, has joined my wife and I on our first three hikes of the year.  My neighbor, Mike Alicea, has set a goal of just getting out as much as possible to ride and enjoy natures best therapy!  Mike Graham, one of my best friends (and partner in crime at NMS) has committed to hitting the ski slopes at least seven times this winter.  He also has expressed interest in doing more and more hiking and exploring with me.  Ben Kelly (a former student and now a co-worker of mine) told me he would love to mountain bike as many different places as he can this year.  Randy Bennett, an old friend (who I haven't seen in a long time) mentioned to me that he has multiple hikes planned for the upcoming year....maybe one of these days we will run into each other in Michaux State Forest.  As long as we all opt outside as much as possible it is bound to happen sooner or later!  So...I'm proud to say that this year...I have a New Year Resolution that I hope will not only benefit me, but inspire others around me to put down their devices, turn off the screens, and make their own stories by simply opting to be outside.

With snow in the forecast, I opted for a quick road ride. -- January 12,  2019


Life is a journey...not a destination.



David A. Raymond -- January 13, 2019
To learn more about REI's #OptOutside initiative click HERE...feel free to share, in the comments, how you plan to Opt Outside this year.  


Yep...a happy boy.  Nothing beats the milkshakes at the Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg, PA.  -- January 11, 2018


Feel free to FOLLOW me on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM 

@mountnbiker73

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














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

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


Monday, December 31, 2018

BACKTRACKING 2018

There wasn't anything normal about 2018. It's been a year of extreme humidity, single digit temperatures, and more rainy days than I can remember in my lifetime.  Even on the "dry" days riding conditions were challenging,  at best.   Mud and water and more mud seemed to be the recurring theme of the the past year.  With the exception of a ride I took in Mesa, Arizona, I don't recall a single time this year when the trails were dry and dusty.   Regardless, the conditions didn't stop me (or my riding partners) opting outside to turn some pedals.  As a matter of fact, I rode (and cleaned my drive train) quite regularly and quite often.

My Stumpjumper nestled in low hanging clouds and resting on the sign in Michaux State Forest marking the border of Cumberland and Adams Counties. -- July 31, 2018

Throughout the course of 2018, I rode my mountain bike in, at least, sixteen different places...making my normal trips to places like Michaux State Forest, Swatara State Park, and Rocky Ridge County Park and returning to Patapsco Valley State Park and Camp Tuckahoe for the first time in a few years.  I also rode, for the first time, on the trails behind the Bedford Springs Hotel, the Bedford Heritage Trail, the Milton Hershey Medical Center Trail System, and in Shawnee State Park.  This year is the first year that I began to explore other riding options...using my mountain bike for road cycling when winter conditions just weren't cooperating.  Joining me this year were Mark Lentz, Chris Keller, Tim Sindlinger, Matt Linnane, Adam Zeigler, Ben Kelly, Brent Shirk, Mike Alicea, and my son, Alex.  No ride is a bad ride and all rides are fun in their own unique way...but the following ten rides stand out to me as the best of 2018.  I didn't list them in any particular order except that the ride I have in the #1 spot really was my favorite ride of the past year.  I wish a safe and happy New Year to all...and I hope to see all of my riding friends out on the trails again in 2019.  Enjoy!


#10. DESERT BIKE RIDE -- JUNE 10, 2018


On a brief visit to Arizona to see my brother and my nieces and nephew, I slipped out for morning ride (on my brother's 1990s Cannondale) in the Arizona desert.  The early morning temperatures had already reached 95 degrees and, about five miles out, I realized that my water bottle had fallen off of the bike.  Not willing to risk anything, I turned back for my brother's house.  This was, by far, the driest ride of 2018!

Taking a break during my morning ride in Mesa, Arizona. -- June 10, 2018

My brother's old-school Cannondale.  Superstition Mountain is visible in the distance. -- June 10, 2018


#9. WRAPPING UP THE SCHOOL YEAR 

ROAD RIDE WITH ALEX -- JUNE 7, 2018


Alex and I didn't ride far...but any ride with my son is special.  The fact that it was also the last day of the school year made it even more memorable.  This is the only ride on my Roubaix that made my top 10 list this year.

Celebrating the last day of the 2017-18 school year with a road ride with my son, Alex. -- June 7, 2018


#8. WET and MUDDY MICHAUX 

MOUNTAIN BIKING WITH TIM and MATT -- JULY 31, 2018


This late July ride in Michaux State Forest came the morning after a torrential rain (as did most of the rides this year).  The humidity was thick and the clouds were hanging extra low...completely surrounding the forest.  This ride included the best rock garden in Michaux, fun descents, twisty single track, and multiple stream crossings.

Taking a break after Tim, Matt, and I finished riding one of my favorite rock gardens in Michaux State Forest. -- July 31, 2018

The wet weather turned minor streams in treacherous crossings. -- July 31, 2018



#7. HOMECOMING RIDE 

 MOUNTAIN BIKING SHAWNEE STATE PARK -- MARCH 30, 2018


So much of my childhood was spent at Shawnee State Park in Bedford County...but up until this past March, I had never ridden the trails there...making this "homecoming" ride super special.  I'm looking forward to going back and riding the trails in drier conditions.

I began, and ended, my first-ever ride in Shawnee State Park on Field Trail. -- March 30, 2018

This section of "trail" near Route 30 in Shawnee State Park was a massive mud pit. -- March 30, 2018

Field Trail overlooking Shawnee Lake. -- March 30, 2018



#6. YORK CITY PAINTED SIGN RIDE -- MARCH 31,  2018


Mark showed me that not all "road" rides need a road bike.  Helping me channel my inner nerd, Mark took me on a super cool tour of York City to check out all of the old painted signs on the brick structures in the city.  Some were easy to read, like the Pullman's sign below, and some where not...but the ride ranks as one of the best of 2018.

Super cool graffiti and painted sign ruled the day. -- March 31, 2018

In the top right you can see the sign for York's Pullman's Automobiles. -- March 31, 2018


#5. WINTER SOLSTICE CELEBRATION 

MOUNTAIN BIKING THE PARKWAY TRAILS WITH BEN -- DECEMBER 21, 2018


This year, the Winter Solstice happened to fall on the last day of school prior to Christmas break.  Because of my early dismissal from school, I was able to meet Ben Kelly at my house at 1:30 to drive twenty miles up to Harrisburg for a ride on the Parkway Trails.  Even though it was extremely muddy, this ride was my favorite ever on this trail system.  Ben and I rode as much as we could in the 2 hours we had before the sun set on the first day of winter.

Ben and I racing the sunset and enjoying a muddy ride in Harrisburg City. -- December 21, 2018

My Stumpjumper leaning on Harrisburg City graffiti. -- December 21, 2018


#4. BEDFORD SPRINGS -- JANUARY 13 and 14, 2018


My first two rides of 2018 were also the coldest of the year.  While visiting my father in Bedford, Pennsylvania,  I geared up for the single digit temperatures and headed over to the trails behind the Bedford Springs Hotel.  I had hiked these trails as a child...and as an adult...but this was the first time I had ever been there with my mountain bike.  The cold temps kept each ride down to about an hour in length, but the frozen landscape...and the coolness of riding someplace where I hiked in my youth...made these two rides some of the best of the year.

Pausing for a picture next to the frozen limestone spring near the Bedford Springs Hotel. -- January 13, 2018

Posing near Davey Lewis' Cave. -- January 14, 2018

Taking in the frozen landscape while riding the trails near the Bedford Springs Hotel. -- January 14, 2018

#3. FIRST ANNUAL UGLY SWEATER RIDE 

MOUNTAIN BIKING THE HERSHEY MEDICAL TRAIL SYSTEM WITH TIM, MATT, and ADAM -- DECEMBER 2, 2018


Matt came up with the idea of getting together for an "Ugly Sweater" ride...and hopefully it is a tradition we keep going.  Tim, Adam, Matt, and I got into the holiday spirit for what turned out to be the absolute muddiest ride of 2018.  The unrelenting rainfall turned the normally sturdy trails of the Hershey Medical Trail System into a peanut butter-like mess.  Very memorable!

First ever Ugly Sweater Ride.  Left to Right:  Matt, Dave, Tim, & Adam. -- December 2, 2018

Riding the Hershey Medical Trail System with my ugly sweater. -- December 2, 2018

This ride was, hands down, the muddiest ride of 2018. -- December 2, 2018


#2. PATAPSCO VALLEY RIDE WITH BRENT  -- DECEMBER 27, 2018


Brent and I have a tradition of heading out for a ride during the week between Christmas and New Years Day.  This year we made our way down to Patapsco Valley State Park.  I thought I had this place completely mapped out...but in the 2+ years since I was last there...new trails have been built!  Valley View Trail is one of the coolest trails I've ridden in a long time!  I can't wait to get back there and ride it again.

Brent and I riding Valley View Trail in Patapsco Valley State Park. -- December 27, 2018

Taking a break near abandoned houses now located in the heart of Patapsco Valley State Park. -- December 27, 2018


#1. OHIOPYLE STATE PARK -- JUNE 21, 2018


My surreal solo ride in Ohiopyle State Park ranks as my favorite ride of 2018.  Alex dropped me off at the Sugarloaf trail head for the start of a crazy ride that took me around the Sugarloaf Area and then to McCune Trail.  The forest was completely engulfed by low hanging clouds and streams of water from the down pour that soaked the area the night before.  McCune trail, lined with enormous boulders, will be a must ride for me from now on.  I took Baughman Trail (which was, at that point, a flowing river) down the mountain to the town of Ohiopyle.  After pausing for some ice cream, I rode the Great Allegheny Passage to the the trail that acts as a connector between the GAP and Kentuck Knob Campgrounds.  The whole ride was so perfect...making it my favorite of 2018!

Riding McCune Trail in Ohiopyle State Park. -- June 21, 2018


The shear size of the boulders which lined McCune Trail in Ohiopyle State Park is amazing! -- June 21, 2018


My Stumpjumper at the base of the two-mile-long Baughman Trail in Ohiopyle.  The trail was literally turned into a small river from the rain that fell the previous night! -- June 21, 2018


Celebrating my ride in Ohiopyle State Park with an ice cream cone from the Ohiopyle General Store. Photo by Alex Raymond. -- June 21, 2018

Hanging my soaked and muddy gear from our cabin's railing to dry in the June humidity. -- June 21, 2018


Life is a journey...not a destination.




David A. Raymond -- December 31, 2018


The best ice cream stop of the year was after my final mountain bike ride of 2018.  Brent and I stopped at the Ice Cream Cottage in Arbutus, Maryland after riding Patapsco Valley State Park. Not only do they have some of the best ice cream...but the nice lady behind the counter makes amazing roast beef sandwiches! -- December 27, 2018


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Here are the GARMIN maps and data from my favorite rides of 2018.  #OptOutside
























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