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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, 2018
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


Feel free to FOLLOW me on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM 

@MOUNTNBIKER73

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

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

CAPTURING THE EXTRAORDINARY

There is a folder on my computer titled PICTURES. Currently, it contains (as of this writing) 1,919 sub folders which house (again...as of this writing) a total of 41,307 photographs...the oldest of which are some old family photos that I'd inherited from my mother.  Heck...just in the sub folder named 2018 there are 6,049 pictures! I love pictures and the memories that they contain.  Cell phones and muliple gig memory cards have made capturing memories easier than it has ever been.  Every once in a while, I'll manage to take a picture that really resonates with me. Not that I think that any of my photos are worthy of winning any photo contest...but because, by blind luck, I managed to do justice to what I was actually seeing, and feeling, in that moment as I pulled out the cell phone to capture the beauty surrounding me.  So...out of the over 6,000 pictures I took this past year...I think I found the twenty best from the past twelve months. Only one of the pics features another human being...the other nineteen capture ordinary places and objects in, I think, extraordinary ways...making these, in my opinion, my 20 best photographs of 2018. Enjoy. 

This picture was taken near the Visitor Center and underneath the bridge (that makes up a section of the Great Allegheny Passage) that crosses over the Youghiogheny River in Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania.  I had just finished an amazing ride down Baughman Trail and was celebrating with an ice cream cone.  I thought that my bike, all covered in mud, looked super cool (and very appropriate) leaning against the mural of a mountain biker.  -- June 21, 2018


This pic of, the now drained, Lake Williams was taken from the Water Street bridge which  crosses over Lake Williams in York County, Pennsylvania.  I was most impressed with the man made structures (which are below the normal water lever of the lake) that can be seen in the extreme left and right of this photograph.  -- October 26, 2018


Normally, the view from the TOP of Pole Steeple in Michaux State Forest provides the best pics...but I love this pic of the early morning summer sun shining through the forest on our way up to the  Pole Steele Vista. -- August 1, 2018


Chris Keller and I rode in Swatara State Park shortly after a major wind storm ripped through the area...making the landscape look almost surreal.  --  April 7, 2018


A number of people have told me that this is my best pic of the year.  I'm not sure if it is the best, but this picture of  Tom's Run in Michaux State Forest...with the morning mist rising off of it...is super cool. -- August 7, 2018


The view from Cucumber Falls in Ohiopyle State Park looks like this...a glistening sheet of water pouring off of the cliff above you.  -- June 30, 2018


The Hershey Medical Trail System was especially muddy on the day the Matt, Tim, Adam, and I chose to do our first (and hopefully annual) Ugly Sweater Ride.  I took this pic of my drive train after the ride.  I didn't expect it to be anything out of the ordinary...but it does a great job showing just how "peanut butter-like" the trails were on that particular day. -- December 2, 2018


While pedaling up Park Street in Manchester, Pennsylvania, I caught this glimpse of the the Autumn sun poking through the clouds hovering over the farm fields.  -- October 31, 2018


I find the desert captivating and incredibly beautiful.  I was fortunate enough to be able to take my brother's old Cannondale out for a ride while on my brief visit to Arizona this past summer.  Superstition Mountain can be seen in the background. -- June 10, 2018


In our little corner of the Earth, the Fall foliage is usually at it's peak during the first weekend of November.  This year didn't disappoint.  I took this pic of the forest...covered in yellows, oranges, and reds...while hiking at Rocky Ridge County Park  with Robin, Alex, and Emma. -- November 4, 2018


Ohiopyle State Park is known for it's waterfalls and the rapids of the Youghiogheny River...but after a torrential rainfall, the entire landscape  became a seemingly endless string of waterfalls.  I took this picture while hiking Beech Trail with Alex, Mike Graham, and Devin. -- June 20, 2018


The overcast skies couldn't dampen the colors of the fall foliage on either side of the Conewago Creek  near York Haven, Pennsylvania. -- October 28, 2018


One of my favorite pictures of 2018...I took this picture of a rhododendron plant in full bloom while riding on Gargamel's Trail in Michaux State Forest with Tim and Ben.  Mountain Creek is in the background. -- July 10, 2018


I honestly didn't think that the florescent orange color of my bike was also a color that naturally occurred in nature...but this large amount of orange fungi at Rocky Ridge County Park proved me to be incorrect. -- September 21, 2018


This is...in my opinion...the best picture I took in 2018.  The forest surrounding McCune Trail in Ohiopyle State Park was totally engulfed in a heavy fog after an evening of heavy rain. -- June 21, 2018


Rocky Ridge County Park is known well in York County for it's Christmas Magic light display...but this festive tree was found deeper into the woods near trail #5. -- December 8, 2018


On what was possibly the coldest ride of 2018, I took my mountain bike on the trails behind the Bedford Springs Hotel in the single digit temps.  This picture of the frozen landscape was taken near Davey Lewis' Cave. -- January 14, 2018


Ben Kelly and I took a ride on the Parkway Trail System in Harrisburg to celebrate the Winter Solstice.  My helmet and Stumpjumper seem to blend right in with the winter colors. -- December 21, 2018


December means short days in south central Pennsylvania.  I'm usually able to squeeze in an hours worth of riding after school before the the sun sets for the day.  I took this pic of the December sun setting just as I was wrapping up one of my afternoon rides. -- December 19, 2018


The only pic on  my top 20 list that another person in it...I took this picture of my niece, Jackie Raymond, on her first trip to Ohiopyle State Park.  I love her look of excitement and amazement as she experienced Cucumber Falls for the first time. -- June 30, 2018


Life is a journey...not a destination.



David A. Raymond -- December 26, 2018


As far as ice cream goes...the best surprise of the year was when I found out that the Bobcat Creamery had begun making their own homemade ice cream!  The black raspberry is amazing! -- December 8, 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