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Wednesday, June 5, 2019

FAMILY, TRADITION, AND ROCKY GAP

It's impossible for me to forget my first camping trip.  I mean, it's literally impossible...I still have the scar on my left ankle where I embedded my father's hatchet when I was 8 years old!  Yeah...irresponsible, eight-year-old, me missed the log my dad told I could practice on and gave my ankle a pretty good whack.  I waited almost two hours until my mother went up the the bathhouse to tell my dad out of concern that both he, and I, would get in trouble!  As much as I like to tease my dad about that incident...I have a lot of memories of those first camping trips to Rocky Gap State Park, which include a lot of firsts:  my first time sleeping in a tent, my first mountain pie, my first canoe ride, my first evening campfires...and yes, my first "hatchet incident."

One of our first camping trips to Rocky Gap State Park.  My father enjoying some dinner with my brother, Jacob, and I in the background. -- 1981

Taking a canoe ride on Lake Habeeb with my dad, Uncle, and cousins.  Ed, Josh and Lucas Rendulic with David (me) and Dave (Dad) Raymond. -- 1984

My dad checking on us while fishing of the dock at Rocky Gap. -- David and Jacob Raymond with Beau Henderson. -- 1983

Evening campfire at Rocky Gap.  Reese Smith and David Raymond. -- August 1986


It's these amazing memories are the reason why I return to Rocky Gap State Park each Memorial Day weekend for a camping trip with my wife, Robin...and I try as much as I can, to share the experience with others as much as I can.  In 2012, Robin and I took Alex there for the first time.  Each year since then, my dad and Mary Jane, make the thirty mile drive across the Mason/Dixon Line to spend time with us and have dinner.  Four years ago, Robin and I invited our friend, Lynn (a recent cancer survivor) to come visit and take a hike with us.  Two years ago, my cousin, Mariaelena, and her family, spent a memorable weekend camping with us.  


David, Alex, and Robin Raymond camping at Rocky Gap. -- July 21, 2012

David, Robin, Dave (dad) and Mary Jane Raymond at Rocky Gap. -- May 26, 2013

Lynn Nichols and Robin Raymond crossing the Mason Dixon Line while hiking at Rocky Gap State Park. -- May 24, 2014

Enjoying an evening campfire with my cousin Mariaelena and her family along with my dad and Mary Jane. -- May 28, 2017

This year was no different.  Robin and  I always look forward to our annual trip to Rocky Gap, but this year we were especially excited because my brother, and his family, came with us for the weekend.  We were eager to spend time camping, and share our love of the outdoors, with our nieces, Jackie, Sophie, and Shalice, and our nephew, Isaac.  Aunt Robin and Uncle Dave made campground dinner and breakfast for the kids and provided all the fixings for smores and mountain pies...trying to give them the same experience that my mother and father gave me.


Robin and David Raymond relaxing at Rocky Gap State Park. -- May 25, 2019



Site 150 in the Fur Loop at Rocky Gap State Park -- May 25, 2019


Dinner time! -- May 25, 2019

Breakfast around the campfire. -- May 26, 2019

Evening campfire.  Shalice Gull, Robin, Jackie, and David Raymond.  -- May 26, 2019

A weekend of camping at Rocky Gap wouldn't be complete without at least one hike...so Robin, Jackie, Shalice, and I set out Sunday afternoon for a hike along the Lakeside Loop.  Along the way, teaching the girls how to skip rocks, and pointing out different aspects of the landscape around us.  Jackie proved to be like her cousin, Alex, wanting to climb on just about everything.  This was one of the first hikes Shalice ever went on...and she did extremely well.  The four of us made it to the dam at the far end of Lake Habeeb before turning back to the campground.  After returning from our hike, Robin and I took the girls down to the beach area and gathered up Sophie and Isaac so we could treat them to some ice cream.  Shalice was amazed that "All Trails Lead to Ice Cream" was an actual real thing!


Shalice Gull and Jackie Raymond getting ready for a hike. -- May 26, 2019

Hiking with my niece, Jackie. -- May 26, 2019

Jackie Raymond at Rocky Gap State Park. -- May 26, 2019

Hiking the Lakeside Loop at Rocky Gap State Park. David Raymond, Jackie Raymond, Shalice Gull, and Robin Raymond -- May 26, 2019

The bridge above the Lake Habeed at Rocky Gap State Park.  David, Robin, and Jackie Raymond and Shalice Gull. -- May 26, 2019



The trail above the dam at Lake Habeeb in Rocky Gap State Park. -- May 26, 2019


A great day of hiking.  Shalice Gull, David, Robin, and Jackie Raymond -- May 26, 2019

A tree on the trail?  Uncle Dave to the rescue! -- May 26, 2019

  I'm not sure if my parents realized, at the time, that they were sparking, inside of me, a serious love for the outdoors inside of me...but they did.  When we went camping as a kid, family was often involved...my Aunts, Uncle, cousins, and even my grandmother would come along with us.  Mom and Dad also allowed Jake and I to bring friends along.  I'm glad I can continue this tradition of family, friends, and Rocky Gap.


Supervising my wonderful wife and making sure that she doesn't have her own "hatchet incident." -- May 25, 2019


Life is a journey...not a destination.



David A. Raymond -- June 5, 2019


Celebrating our hike with a chocolate milkshake from the snack bar near the camp store at Rocky Gap State Park.  David and Jackie Raymond -- May 26, 2019


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Here are the GARMIN map and data from our hike in Rocky Gap State Park.  #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

Thursday, May 30, 2019

A SENSATIONAL SPRING

Spring is, believe it or not, is the most difficult time of the year for me to get out and mountain bike and hike.  A lot of factors...the inevitable rainy weather, muddy trail conditions (which end up closing the trails at the local county parks), and the end of the school year activities and field trips that all happen in April and May...are in play here and, especially last year, put a damper on the amount of time I'm able to enjoy the outdoors the way that I would like to.  I'm almost embarrassed to say that (for all the reasons previously listed) I didn't ride my mountain bike even once in May of 2018.  This Spring, thankfully, has proven to be much more "trail" friendly than last.

Yes...I took a pic of my bike surrounded by wildflowers (Dame's Rockets) at Lake Kain County Park. -- May 18, 2019

 My wife, Robin, and I have continued our commitment to at least one hike a week.  Rocky Ridge County Park is our default location to hike if we are pressed for time...but this Spring we've spent time hiking on the Gettysburg National Military Park, near the Bedford Springs Hotel, and at Nixon County Park.  Family is always welcome on our hikes...Alex has come on a number of them (most recently at Nixon Park)...but now we are able to include our nieces and nephew who, just recently, moved back to Pennsylvania from  Arizona.  Their energy is high and their imaginations are boundless...making our time together in the woods something extra special.  

Hiking at the Bedford Springs with my niece, Sophie. -- April 27, 2019

Hiking (and pretending to be Thor) at the Bedford Springs with my nephew, Isaac. -- April 27, 2019


Hiking at the Bedford Springs with Robin, Jackie, Sophie, and Isaac. -- April 27, 2019

Hiking the top of Big Round Top at the Gettysburg National Military Park with Robin. -- May 4, 2019

Exploring Union fortifications built by Joshua Chamberlain and the 20th Maine at the top of Big Round Top at the Gettysburg National Military Park. -- May 4, 2019

Hiking and exploring the rock outcroppings at Nixon County Park with Alex and Robin. -- May 19, 2019

My mountain bike has made more than a few appearances over the past few months and so have some of my riding partners.  Just like for my hikes, Rocky Ridge makes a perfect place for me to ride after school if I'm limited on time (Tim and Chris have met me there for a few rides)...but I've also managed to ride some of my other "not so far away" destinations.  Back in April, Jay Zech and I made a trip to Harrisburg so I could introduce him to the super cool single track that makes up the Parkway Trail System.  Last week, Chris Keller and I explored the back side of William Kain County Park which includes the two drainage tunnels underneath Interstate 83.  I know I'm stating the obvious when I say that I love riding my mountain bike...and it was so refreshing to be able to get out the few times that I could and not have a repeat of last May.

One of the best perks of working at the bike shop is that I've acquired a whole  set of friends to ride with.  Jay and I have known each other for many years...it's really cool  having him as a riding partner.  Dave Raymond and Jay Zech enjoying a Spring ride on the Parkway Trails in Harrisburg, PA -- April 19, 2019

Riding Trail #8 at Rocky Ridge County Park. -- May 3, 2019

Exploring a "not so often explored" section of trail at Rocky Ridge County Park with Tim & Adam. -- May 3, 2019

Saturday afternoon ride at Rocky Ridge County Park with Chris, Jay, and our young friend, Josh. -- May 11, 2019

About to enter the northern tunnel under Interstate 83 at William Kain County Park...one of the more unique rides in our neck of the woods. -- May 18, 2019

Chris Keller and I riding William Kain County Park. -- May 18, 2019
With the exception of the mass quantities of pollen that drive everybody around here crazy it has been a great Spring!  Everything is green, the wildflowers are in full bloom, and the temperatures are getting warmer and warmer.  The conditions alone aren't what has made this Spring so sensational, though...it's the family and friends that I've been able to enjoy it with.  Summer time is just around the corner and, if this Spring is any indication of what to expect, with it there are going to be plenty of trails to hike and bike along with plenty of family and friends to explore it with.  Here's to wishing for a safe, fun, and adventure filled summer everyone.  See you on the trails.


Hiking at Rocky Ridge and enjoying a wonderful dose of Vitamin N with my beautiful wife, Robin. -- April 20, 2019



Life is a journey...not a destination.



David A. Raymond -- May 30, 2019 


One of the numerous school activities that I'm obligated to during the month of May is our annual field trip to the Gettysburg National Military Park.  This year was extra special because it was the last I'll organize and plan with my mentor and friend Charlie Lenhart.  Charlie and I have been teaching together for the past 24 years.  At the end of this school year, Charlie will be retiring after 45 years of  teaching.  A retirement that is well deserved!  I will miss you everyday at school, my friend.  You can check out my tribute below.  --  David Raymond and Charlie Lenhart -- May 17, 2019

NMS 8th Grade Recognition Night -- May 23, 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

Friday, April 19, 2019

BICYCLE RACE

In 1985, my brother and I entered a bicycle race in our home town of Bedford, Pennsylvania.  I'd bet the only reason I entered the race in the first place was because Jake did....back then he was significantly more into these types of events than I was.  Honestly, I have no memory of the race (let alone the outcome). It wasn't until I found an old pic of me (dressed in very 1980s sweats) standing on my tip toes over my Huffy Omni 10-speed bike that the vaguest memories of even being there came back to me.  

12 year old me prior to my first bike race.  It looks like the staging area was the old Bedford Primary School on  South Juliana Street -- October 1985

My younger brother, Jacob Raymond -- October 1985

Fast forward more than twenty five years...to 2007, 2008, and 2009...a three year period in which I was really into mountain bike racing.  It seemed like Mark, Glenn, Mikey, and I had a race almost each week during the Spring and Summer months.  Personally, I enjoyed the camaraderie and sense of being part of a team more than I ever enjoyed the race itself.  That's probably the reason why, by 2009, I stopped mountain bike racing altogether and began adventure racing.  For me, it was all about the friendships and teamwork.  By 2013, my desire to race was completely overcome by my simple desire to just ride my bike.  So, for the past six years, that's what I've been doing...just riding my bike.

Mike Nardelli, Mark Lentz, Glenn Medice, and Dave Raymond.  Marysville Relay Race. -- April 2008

About a month ago, while working at the bike shop, one of the guys mentioned entering a team in the Marysville Relay.   When asked if I would be interested in racing I was quite honored, yet at the same time...after not racing for over six years...cautious and nervous.  Of all the races that I would do, the relay...a team affair...was something that really peaked my interest.  Gung Ho entered two three-man teams in the 2019 Marysville Relay.  The team I was on consisted of Ben Kelly, Jay Zech, and myself.  It was neat to be on a team with Ben, a former student and now co-worker and friend, and with Jay, probably my longest continuous friend since I moved to York, PA back in 1995.  Jay and I also wanted to prove to Ben that the two "older" guys could still "hang" with everyone.  


Ben Kelly, Dave Raymond, and Jay Zech at the 2019 Marysville Relay Race -- April 7, 2019

Ben Kelly waiting for his turn to ride -- April 7, 2019

Ben Kelly making the sharp turn that looped back through the exchange area. -- April 7, 2019

Jay Zech riding in the Marysville Relay Race -- April 7, 2019

Dave Raymond finishing a lap and handing off to  Jay Zech -- April 7, 2019

As anxious as I was in the days prior to the race...any nervousness dissipated as soon as we arrived.  It felt good to be part of a team again.  For me, the social aspect of the event...hanging out and cheering for each other along the course...is just a fun as the event itself.  As for the race, the 3+ mile course was super fun.  A lot of twisty and turny single track crammed into a small area with plenty of places to pass (or in my case...be passed).  For five hours, Jay, Ben, and I took turns riding the course.  As far as I'm concerned, the three of us held our own.  We each managed to get in five rides in five hours...averaging about 20 minutes for each ride.  Jay was, by far, the most impressive...riding his fastest lap on his last lap.  At the end of the day, we had a really good showing...finishing in the top 20% of the 100+ teams in the race.  For me, now I'm back to just riding my bike...but it really did feel good to be out there with friends and be a contributing part of the team.  We've already talked about entering the relay again next year (and getting Ben out there for a sixth lap).  That's incentive enough to get me to commit to this bicycle race again next year.

The bike shop entered two teams in the relay this year.  Left to right:  BJ, Ben Kelly, Dave Raymond, Jay Zech, Ryan Martin, and Ed Billet. -- April 7, 2019


Life is a journey...not a destination.


David A. Raymond -- April 19, 2019


My post-race reward...a little surf & turf on the grill when I got home! -- April 7, 2019



Feel free to FOLLOW me on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM 

@mountnbiker73

Here are the GARMIN maps and data from the 2019 Marysville Relay Race.  #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, 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