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Friday, January 24, 2020

ADVICE FROM A TRAIL

Life is one step in front of the other.  For those of us who mountain bike life can be described as the the continuous cranking of the pedals.  No matter if you choose to take a hike or to ride a bike...it's that sense of beauty, exhilaration, fun, and inspiration that propels us forward down the trail.  But...what about that trail that passes beneath our feet and disappears under our rolling tires?  I can't believe that I'm the only person who has ever paused to wonder who originally blazed it?  Who maintains it?  What historic figures may have traveled on it?  And...if the trail could talk...what would it say?... what stories could it tell?... and what advice would it give?

Possibly something as simple as this:

WALK INTO BEAUTY
STAY ON YOUR PATH
FIND INSPIRATION AROUND EVERY TURN
TREAD LIGHTLY
PACK LIFE WITH GOOD MEMORIES
EVERY DAY HAS IT'S UPS AND DOWNS
WATCH YOUR STEP!

Enjoy!

WALK INTO BEAUTY

 Whether it be the colors of Fall, the sounds of waterfalls, the sun glistening off of the snow pack, or the fresh smell of Mountain Laurel in early summer...beauty is all around us.  Submerge yourself by walking forward on the trail and allow yourself to be enveloped with the bountiful beauty of nature.

In this picture I was riding into beauty.  On a solo ride at Rocky Ridge County Park I paused to take this amazing photo of the the sun shining through the autumn foliage.  -- November 8, 2019

Walking into beauty can sometimes mean walking over it, too.  In this picture I am helping my daughter, Blythe navigate a downed tree in order to cross Mountain Creek in Michaux State Forest.  -- August 1, 2018

My wife, Robin, and I literally walking into, and behind, Cucumber Falls in Ohiopyle State Park.  So beautiful! -- July 5, 2019

STAY ON YOUR PATH

Staying on your path preserves the integrity of the forest and allows others to experience and enjoy the trail.  Using signs and maps are the best means for following your path.  Understanding and using landmarks can be vital to a success hike or mountain bike ride.   Small deviations from the marked path can easily lead you away from a planned destination, cause unnecesary stress, or throw you over your handle bars!

I'm so fortunate to have have Mike Graham in my life.  He is an amazing friend and colleague.  I enjoy our adventures together outside of the classroom....adventures like this hike on a section of the Appalachian Trail that passes through Michaux State Forest. -- August 14, 2019

Some trail markers are obvious...some like this carved tree near the Appalachian Trail...could easily be missed.  -- November 2, 2019

Following stacked rocks, or cairns, which mark the trail while hiking in Sedona, Arizona. -- February 15, 2015

I don't care what anyone says...maps are not stupid and they are not overrated...especially if it is your first time on a trail system.  It doesn't matter if it is an old fashioned paper map, a trail book, or even a sign like this one in Hershey, Pennsylvania...maps keep you on the trail.-- November 3, 2018

Brandon Shirk learned the importance of staying on the trail the hard way after taking a spill of of the trail and into mountain creek.  Somehow his phone survived the experience. -- June 25, 2019

Just inches off of the trail my front tire caught on a branch sticking off of a stump...flipping me off of my bike.  Thank goodness the landing was soft.  -- August 13, 2019

Always be a good steward of the trails.  Me and my bike in Shawnee State Park.  -- March 30, 2018


FIND INSPIRATION AROUND EVERY TURN

While touring Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, Robin and I decided to find a trail head so that we could hike and watch the sunset.  Little did we know that the trail head that we chose, Black Rock Summit, would lead us to one of the most beautiful and inspirational views I've ever seen.  It started as any typical trail...but as we began to move into an open area the most amazing view of the Shenandoah Valley came into focus in front of us.  We truly found beauty and inspiration around each turn.

Walking towards the sunset on Black Rock Summit Trail (part of the Appalachian Trail) in Shenandoah National Park. -- July 20, 2019

Coming out of the tree line on Black Rocky Summit as the sun begins to set in Shenandoah National Park.  -- July 20, 2019

When we began our hike on Black Rock Summit Trail, Robin and I had no idea of the spectacular view we would have of the Shenandoah Valley.  -- July 20, 2019


TREAD LIGHTLY

Enjoying the trail also implies the responsibility of being a good steward of the trail.  Taking care of the trails, knowing what the trail conditions are, and...if caught in a mucky mess...treading lightly around it.  Enjoying nature also entails preserving it for future generations...so, go on and tread...but tread lightly.

Treading lightly, and carefully, on the newly fallen foliage on Trail #7 in Rocky Ridge County Park. -- November 3, 2017

Robin and I treading carefully on a snow covered trail in Ricketts Glen State Park. -- November 16, 2019

Jackie, Robin, and Shalice treading carefully through a swampy section of trail on Rocky Gap State Park. -- May 26, 2019


PACK LIFE WITH GOOD MEMORIES

Some of my best memories were forged in the woods and on the trail with my family and friends.  It's the memories created on the trails that my mind goes to when I day dream.  They are the stories that get swapped at the bike shop.  Those memories born on the trail are the moments in which the sense of family, love, friendship, and nature intersect.

Not just a good memory...but one of the best!  On a Sunday morning, eight years ago, I took Robin on a hike in Michaux State Forest and proposed to her on the rocks overlooking the forest.  -- June 24, 2012

Spending time with my son, Alex, and creating memories prior to his first year of college.  David and Alex Raymond in Michaux State Forest -- August 17, 2017

Creating memories with Mike Graham as we climbed Tumbling Run Trail in Michaux State Forest -- August 1, 2018

Every Tuesday in the summer, Matt, Tim, and I create memories while mountain biking in Michaux State Forest.  -- July 9, 2019

Creating memories with my nieces and my nephew on a hike across Round Top located in the Gettysburg National Military Park. -- July 26, 2019

EVERY DAY HAS ITS UPS AND DOWNS

Peaks and valleys.  For just about all of us...life is defined by peaks and valleys.  We all have our ups and downs.  No one gets through this life unhurt.  It's how we deal with our successes and failures that define us. The scenery from the top is always amazing...but the strength we gain from the climb out of the valley is invaluable.

Climbing up the last few feet of Pole Steeple Trail in Michaux State Forest. -- November 4,  2017

Mike Graham pausing to determine the best path up Sunset Rocks Trail in Michaux State Forest.  -- August 14, 2019

Ups and Downs on the Hershey Trail System.  Ben Kelly, Dave Raymond, and Tim Sindlinger  -- December 21, 2019

Decending a trail in Michaux State Forest. -- June 25, 2019

WATCH YOUR STEP!

This can be true no matter where you are but, on the trail, every step has to be deliberate and careful.  Nature, can be beautiful; yet, deceptively dangerous and unpredictable.  Respect the terrain, take proper precautions on the trail, and watch your step.

Having some fun with Alex while hiking in Gifford Pinchot State Park. -- January 1, 2019

My neice, Jackie, using rope and the exposed rocks and roots to navigate the final 40 feet of Jonathan Run Trail in Ohiopyle State Park. -- June 20, 2019

A black snake hiding in the green along the trail at Rocky Ridge County Park. -- September 15, 2017

Devin Seiger, Alex, and I on top of Pole Steeple vista in Michaux State Forest (as seen from Alex's drone). 

A special thank you and shout out to the good folks at YOUR TRUE NATURE for allowing me to use ADVICE FROM A TRAIL.  Their mission of honoring our beautiful planet by inspiring people to live their own true nature is something that I completely buy in to.  They inspire me to continue my commitment to spending as much time doing the things I love, in the places that I love, with the people that I love. I hope to see all of you on the trail soon.


Passing on ADVICE FROM A TRAIL... My mother and I in Ohiopyle State Park (1980) and my son, Alex, and I on the same rock in Ohioyple (2018)





Life is a journey...not a destination.




David A. Raymond -- January 24, 2020


My nieces were pleasantly surprised that when they go for a hike with Uncle Dave that all trails really do lead to ice cream.  David and Jackie Raymond after a hike at Rocky Gap State Park in Maryland --  May 26, 2019


Feel free to FOLLOW me on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM 

@mountnbiker73

Here are the GARMIN map and data from the rides and hikes featured in this post.  #OptOutside2020







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 30, 2019

BACKTRACKING 2019

Backtracking is something that use to bother me...especially when mountain biking.  I'm not sure if it was a sense of failure..."Crap...we went the wrong way...we need to head back"...or if I just simply liked looking at my Garmin and Strava maps and seeing a big loop tracing my route.  Backtracking, however, can be helpful.  By teaching me where NOT to ride, that sense of "failure" that I mentioned earlier can also serve as a learning tool...or, in some cases, it can even introduce a whole new path that can be taken on future rides and hikes.  As of recently, backtracking has become increasingly part of my rides.  Riding the same trail in opposite directions changes everything about it...the view is different, the ups and downs are reversed, and the twists and turns flow differently...completely altering the usual dynamic of the trail.


Taking a break during an incredibly peaceful solo ride at Rocky Ridge County Park. -- December 23, 2019

As 2019 slips into the past I can't help but backtrack and reflect on what and incredibly awesome year it has been.  My theme for the year was Opt Outside. I had decided, no matter what the weather, that I would head out as much as possible...setting the goal of 2,019 all-purpose miles for the year.  At the outset, I thought this might be a little ambitious seeing that I only managed 1,500 miles in 2018...but as it turned out those 2,019 miles in 2019 flew past pretty quickly.  By November 23 of this year every mile I added was another mile past my goal...eventually adding up to 2,226 total miles for this year (with a few more to be added tomorrow).  All purpose miles typically means mountain biking, road cycling, or hiking...but this year more than a  few of those miles couldn't be put into one of those three categories.  Some additional miles were added over the past twelve months in a variety of ways and activities...which just couldn't be classified as road cycling, mountain biking, or hiking.  Alex, Devin, Mia, Jackie, and I took with our annual white water rafting trip on the Youghiogheny in Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania.  Mike Graham guided me on my first ever kayaking adventure in Gifford Pinchot State Park.  I rode my Roubaix a number of times to Central Market in York via the new Heritage Rail Trail extension.  There were a couple snow day bike rides around the neighborhood streets.  And... I participated with the guys from Gung Ho in my first mountain bike relay race since 2010.  


Our annual white water rafting trip on the Youghiogheny River in Ohiopyle State Park (courtesy of the good folks at White Water Adventure)  Left to right:  Dave Raymond, Jackie Raymond, Mia Arnold-Scott, Devin Seiger, and Alex Raymond -- June 18, 2019

I had asked Mike Graham to take me out of my comfort zone and show me the ropes of kayaking.  What an amazing time we had on the lake at Gifford Pinchot State Park -- October 24, 2019

My Roubaix resting outside of York's Central Market  -- October 12, 2019

The roads haven't been plowed yet...but Mike Alicea and I made perfect use of our mountain bikes during one of our many snow days this year.  -- February 11, 2019

It had been a while since I last races (officially in 2013) but I was completely stoked when the guys at the shop asked me to participate in this year's Mid Atlantic Super Series Marysville Relay Race.  The shop put together two teams.  Ben Kelly, Jay Zech, and I had a really good showing...and a lot of fun.  -- April 7, 2019

1,494.  That's how many road miles I put on my 2012 Roubaix this year.  For sure, it was enough to warrant a new drive train and a new set of tires.  My rides have typically gotten shorter (averaging about 15 miles a ride) but they have been more frequent...again "Opting Outside" as much as possible. This year I've ridden along the Savannah River in Augusta, Georgia, along the coast line in both North Carolina and Florida, through National Parks, and a million different routes in and around Manchester, Pennsylvania.  Here are my five favorite road rides of the 2019...


#5. MARCH RIDE WITH CHRIS KELLER

Chris and I put on our cold gear to do a 20+ mile, early Spring ride on the back roads of York County.  Our ride took us onto the hillsides north of York Haven overlooking the Susquehanna River and Three Mile Island nuclear power plant. Dave Raymond and Chris Keller -- March 23, 2019


#4.  RIDING HOME

In 1995, I moved to York County.  Since then, I've lived in five locations.  So, naturally I thought it would be a cool idea to take a bike ride and visit each of my homes (former and current).  This 42+ mile ride took me from my home in Manchester past my first apartment (from hell) in Emigsville.  From there I rode over the ridge to Cool Creek Apartments in Wrightsville and then on to the first home I bought, 252 North Seward Street in West York.  Three miles away I then found myself at 2340 Sunset Lane and then back home to Manchester.  -- July 23, 2019

#3. JONATHAN DICKINSON STATE PARK

I'm counting this amazing 10 mile ride as a road ride even though half of it was a paved nature path.  This ride through Jonathan Dickinson State Park in Florida was backtracking at it's best.  Robin and I started at the visitor center, rode the nature path as far as we could and then continued on the road to the entrance of the park.   Along the way we took in the vibrant Florida colors and saw some wildlife including a deer and an alligator (seriously). David and Robin Raymond  -- December 5, 2019

#2. VALLEY FORGE NATIONAL MILITARY PARK

I unexpectedly had a Saturday all to myself, so I loaded my Roubaxi on top of the Cruze and drove an hour and a half to Valley Forge National Historical Park.  I rode the park twice that day...the first time stopping to take my nerdy pictures and the second time I just rode.  A fun (and nerdy) 20+ miles.  Dave Raymond and Baron Von Steubon -- September 7, 2019

1. COROLLA TO KITTY HAWK (and back)

Again...a ride that completely backtracked. My favorite road ride of the year had it all...warm weather, a lot of sun, a random thunderstorm, nerdy history, and a tail wind on the way home.  During my week in Corolla, North Carolina I had gotten used to riding down to the town of Duck and back.  I noticed on the map that the Wright Brothers National Memorial was relatively close...28 miles away.  Along for the ride that day was Julien Linne who...to his credit...pedaled the whole way on my wife's bike which was much too small for him.  Out and back was just over 57 miles!  Julien Linne and Dave Raymond -- June 10, 2019


A year ago, my wife, Robin, made a New Years Resolution to hike more.  The two of us set aside a day of the week, usually Sunday, to head out...get some Vitamin N...and hike as many trails as we could.  Along the way I purchased my first ever pair of hiking boots (I got sick of snow and mud soaking through my trail shoes).  Over the course of 2019, we hiked over 70 miles together in every season and in all kinds of weather.  We were lucky enough to be joined on some of our hikes with our son, Alex and his girlfriend, Emma, my step-daughters Mia and Blythe along with their boyfriends, Kevin and Julien, our nieces, Jackie, Sophie, and Shalice and nephew, Isaac, our neighbor, Jon Senko, and the Dorward family.  This "resolution" has now become habit.  I'm so glad she suggested it.  Here are my five favorite hikes of 2019.


#5. GRANDVIEW TRAIL AT RICKETTS GLEN STATE PARK

When most people think of Ricketts Glen State Park they think of waterfalls.  No waterfalls for Robin and I on our first ever trip to Ricketts Glenn, though.  By mid-November, the ice season and taken over and only people with ice gear were allowed to hike near the waterfalls.  We did, however, find a super cool trail near the entrance to the park called Grandview Trail.  We barely noticed the late autumn snow and the cold weather as we hiked this loop.  Robin and David Raymond  -- November 16, 2019

#4. KITCHING CREEK TRAIL IN JONATHAN DICKINSON STATE PARK

On our first visit to Jonathan Dickinson State Park, Robin and I chose to hike Kitching Creek Trail.  This ranked as one of my favorite hikes just because of the novelty of hiking somewhere completely different from the mountains and forests of Pennsylvania.  The flat, green landscape, along with the slash pines and saw palmettos which populate the park made this experience absolutely beautiful.  Robin and David Raymond -- December 3, 2019

#3. AUTUMN IN MICHAUX STATE FOREST

On the third anniversary of my second back surgery Robin and I opt to take a hike in Michaux State Forest.  The remnants of the last of the seasons foliage still clung to the trees.  We hiked up and over Sunset Rocks, through Camp Michaux, and returned to the trail head via the Appalachian Trail.  What an awesome way to celebrate the gift of health.  David and Robin Raymond -- November 2, 2019

#2. BLACK ROCK SUMMIT IN SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK

The biggest surprise of the summer came when Robin and I decided, while touring Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, to park the Silverado and look for a trail to hike on.  By shear luck we began hiking Blackrock Summit Trail...which also happens to be a small segment of the Appalachian Trail.  The late evening view of the Shenandoah Valley that greeted us was one of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen.  Robin and David Raymond -- July 20, 2019

 #1. JONATHAN RUN (twice) IN OHIOPYLE STATE PARK

Jonathan Run Trail in Ohiopyle State Park tops my list of favorite hikes of 2019 for a couple reasons.  There was a sense of adventure...I was in an unfamiliar location in a familiar park.  There were obstacles, bridges, some rope rappelling, and mud (oh, the MUD!)  the ultimate destination on this hike was a series of waterfalls that make up the beauty of Jonathan Run.  Unlike the other waterfalls in Ohiopyle State Park, this is definitely a little more hard to get to and less populated.  I had so much fun on my first hike to the falls with Alex, Jackie, and Devin that Alex and I returned two weeks later to do it all gain with Robin and Emma.  So fun! -- June 20, 2019

Alex and Jackie sliding their way down Jonathan Run Trail in Ohiopyle State Park. -- June 20, 2019


David Raymond rappelling down the final 40 feet to the base waterfall on Jonathan Run Trail.  -- June 20, 2019

Devin Seiger, Alex Raymond, Jackie Raymond, and David Raymond visiting the waterfalls on Jonathan Run Trail. -- June 20, 2019

Two weeks later, Alex brought Emma Sadowski with him to see the falls. -- July 6, 2019

Enjoying the complete sensory experience of the waterfalls near Jonathan Run Trail with Robin. -- July 6, 2019

There was no rest for my Stumpjumper this past year.  Since last January, I've ridden the trails in ten different places...Codorus State Park, the Heritage Rail Trail, the Hershey Trail System, the Parkway Trails in Harrisburg, Ohiopyle State Park, Swatara State Park, Lakes William, Redman, and Kain, Rocky Ridge County Park, Marysville, and Michaux State Forest.  All combined adding up to 425 miles of mountain biking bliss.  The usual cast was back...Matt, Tim, and I rode in Michaux as much as we could over the summer.  I met Brent and Chris for weekly "Happy Hour" Rides each Friday afternoon at Rocky Ridge.  Ben Kelly joined me on more than a few occasions.  Jay Zech and I visited the Parkway Trails together.  Two young men, Brandon Shirk and Josh Coleman, came along on Michaux rides.  With so many rides to choose from it was really tough picking out my favorite of the year.  I've narrowed it down to these five.


 5. UNFORGIVING MICHAUX RIDE WITH MATT AND TIM

This was probably the best group mountain biking pic of 2019.  Matt, Tim, and I spend the better part of the day navigating the unforgiving terrain that makes up Abigail Trail in Michaux State Forest....making this my fifth favorite ride of the year.  Matt Linnane, Tim Sindlinger, and David Raymond -- July 9, 2019

Matt Linnane riding Abigail Trail in Michaux State Forest. -- July 9, 2019

Wrapping up an awesome ride.  Matt took this pic of Tim and I finishing up our ride in Michaux with a much less rocking descent down a single track near the power lines.  -- July 9, 2019

4. MUD FEST IN CODORUS STATE PARK WITH THE SHIRKS

I just recently saw that there was a bunch of new single track in Codorus State Park.  Brent and I (along with Brent's son, Brandon) decided to do our post-Christmas ride there this year.  What we found was astonishing...brand new trail that twisted and turned all up and down the forest above Codorus Lake.  This super fun ride was made even more memorable because the frozen early morning trails quickly thawed into a sloppy, muddy mess...making the ride just that much more interesting. For sure, Codorus State Park will be visited much more frequently!  Brent Shirk, David Raymond, and Brandon Shirk  -- December 26, 2019

Yes...hands down the muddiest ride of 2019.  There's a drive train in there somewhere. -- December 26, 2019

3. END OF SUMMER MICHAUX RIDE WITH BEN, JOSH, BRENT, AND TIM

For our final Michaux ride of the summer I pieced together the best of everything I had ridden the previous six weeks.  This ride included single track, rocks, climbs, descents, and so much fun!  Ben Kelly, Josh Coleman, Brent Shirk, Tim Sindlinger, and David Raymond -- August 13, 2019

Josh Coleman effortlessly riding the rocks in Michaux State Forest.  The kid is good! -- August 13, 2019

It was a fun ride...but that damn stump got me twice this summer!  It's all part of the experience.  Thanks for the pics, Ben.  -- August 13, 2019

2. UGLY SWEATER/WINTER SOLSTICE RIDE IN HERSHEY

Last year, Matt had the idea to do an Ugly Sweater ride.  We continued the tradition (unfortunately without Matt) this year.  By chance, it also happened to be the Winter Solstice...making the ride even more festive.  Adam Zeiger, Tim Sindlinger, Ben Kelly and I donned our ugliest sweaters and headed out on the Hershey Trail System.  The 20 degree weather made the conditions perfect for riding.  The trails were dry and hard packed.  What this ride lacked in mileage it made up for in fun.  There were so many build ups and formations to ride (and re-ride).  What a blast!  Adam Zeigler, Tim Sindlinger, David Raymond, and Ben Kelly.  -- December 21, 2019

Ben Kelly playing in an old quarry which makes up part of the Hershey Trail System.  -- December 21, 2019

Taking a break and sporting my favorite ugly sweater  -- December 21, 2019

1. MICHAUX FEST 2019

"More Butts on Bikes, more often."  That's the mission statement hanging in Gung Ho Bikes.  The shop lives up to it, too...sponsoring group rides of all abilities and styles throughout the year.  I'm so honored to be associated with the shop and work there part-time.  I was completely stoked to be able to lead the intermediate mountain bike ride for MICHAUX FEST 2019.  Jay and Penny, the owners of the shop, host a day of riding in Michaux State Forest with multiple rides planned.  The idea is to introduce more and more people to mountain biking in this beautiful State Forest.  I led fourteen people in my group for what turned out to be a 14+ mile ride that was 95% single track.  By all accounts everyone had a blast.   -- June 30, 2019

My good friend, Brent Shirk, was my sweeper on this ride.  As I led the group of 14, he made sure that no riders were left behind.  Thanks, Brent!  -- June 30, 2019

My MICHAUX FEST group.  We paused at Camp Michaux to take this group pic near the old fountain. -- June 30, 2019

"OptOutside" was a great goal for 2019...and the attitude and adventure (and hash tag) that comes along with it will once again be my mantra for 2020.  I've been asked by so many people what my resolution will be in new year and my answer has been consistent..."ride my my bike more."  The response usually elicits a weird look from people who don't think that I could possibly ride more than I already do.  I should probably be more specific with my answer and say that I want to ride more, hike more, and just over-all opt outside more.  A year from now 2020 will be hindsight.  Here's to hoping that I have even more miles behind me in a year's time than I currently have right now.  Happy New Year!


If you find a couch in the woods...sit on it, relax, and taking in the beauty that is around you.  That's exactly what Brent and I did at Rocky Ridge.  -- September 6, 2019


Life is a journey...not a destination.




David A. Raymond -- December 30, 2019

All trails DO lead to ice cream (or at least some other awesome dessert).  2019 was filled with plenty of rewards...like PA Farm Show milkshakes, soft serve at PNC Park, cream filled cookies at the Ohiopyle Bakery, multiple Bobcat Creamery root beer floats, desserts the size of your plate at Vaccaro's in Baltimore's Little Italy, and just random ice cream stops in Florida.


Feel free to FOLLOW me on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM 

@mountnbiker73

Here are the GARMIN map and data from the 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