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Sunday, October 11, 2020

PEDALING WITH THE PRESIDENTS

Back in July, my wife, Robin, and I visited the city of my birth...Cumberland, Maryland...and spent some time riding on the C & O Tow Path.  It was a really neat experience.  I was born there and grew up thirty miles north in Bedford, Pennsylvania...but the extent of my time in Cumberland was limited to hanging out at the mall when I was a teenager.  Robin and I had a great time...riding south out of Cumberland and then turning off of the C & O Tow Path, through Knobley Tunnel...straight into West Virginia and then crossing back into Maryland.  Our ride got super nerdy when as we passed the spot of Fort Ohio and Fort Cumberland...both French and Indian War outposts...and then to an old wooden house that served as the headquarters for Colonel George Washington while he was stationed in Cumberland during the French and Indian War.  Not far away, on the sight of what was once Fort Cumberland I paused for a photo with a statue of young Washington.  It was a great experience...spending time with my wife...exploring new places...riding my bike...and just getting really nerdy.


Riding on the C & O Tow Path in Cumberland, Maryland with Robin. -- July 21, 2020



Welcome to Cumberland, Maryland. -- July 19, 2020



I took this picture of Cumberland, Maryland during my ride on the C & O Tow Path. -- July 21, 2020


Knobley Tunnel...the border between Maryland & West Virginia. -- July 21, 2020


Standing on the porch of the headquarters of George Washington, Colonel of the Virginia militia in the French & Indian War. -- July 19, 2020


Recently, I've been thinking about those two rides in Cumberland with my wife.  With the start of the new school year one of first things that I cover with my students is the exploits of young George Washington during the French and Indian War.  Between 1754 and 1758, He made three separate journeys from Virginia into the wilderness of what we now call western Pennsylvania...but they then called, the Back Country...surviving harsh and freezing weather, unreliable guides, friendly fire, unpredictable terrain, even falling into the icy Allegheny River.   This is not the image that most people have of our first president...but is is who he was....an athletic adventurer who physically was able to tolerate extreme conditions.  


While riding my bike in Cumberland, Maryland I found this ultra cool statue of young George Washington standing at the site of Fort Cumberland. -- July 21, 2020


Mr. Washington isn't the only leader of the free world who understood the physical and mental benefits of exercise.  Thomas Jefferson prescribed to the belief that a "vigorous body helped to create a vigorous mind."  Each day, with no concern of the weather, he would walk or ride (a horse...not a bike).  

"No less than two hours a day should be devoted to exercise, and the weather should be of little regard."

He actually believed that the colder and wetter the weather was, the better.  

"A person not sick will not be injured by getting wet.  It is but taking a cold bath, which never gives a cold to anyone.   Brute animals are the most healthy, and they are exposed to all weather, and of men, those are healthiest who are the most exposed." 
Thomas Jefferson

You may think Mr. Jefferson to be a little extreme, but exercise is important...especially if you are the leader of the free world.  Here are a few ways that our presidents have kept themselves in shape...both physically and mentally.




President Clinton was an avid jogger.  He was often seen jogging around Washington with his Secret Service.  





President Trump isn't the only POTUS who finds comfort hitting the links.  Golfing was the the activity of choice for President William Howard Taft.  





President Eisenhower was also an avid golfer and had a putting green installed on the White House lawn.  It has been said that he ordered Secret Service officers to shoot any squirrels that randomly wandered onto the green.  There is a similar putting green right next to his farmhouse in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania...complete with a five-star flag.  I took this picture on a visit to the Eisenhower National Historic Site. -- September 30, 2017.





Our sixth president, John Q. Adams, loved his daily exercise.  He walked almost every day....no matter if it was in Washington, back home in Massachusetts, or while he was ambassador to both Great Britain and Russia.  As a member of the Senate (and then later as a member of the House of Representatives) he would compete against himself and time his daily walk from his boarding house to the United States Capitol Building.  John Quincy also famously skinny dipped every morning in the Potomac River.  What a sight that would be today!





Abraham Lincoln's favorite sport was wrestling.  His large, muscular body allowed him to excel at the sport.  Lincoln wrestled a style of wrestling known as Catch-As-Catch-Can...where basically ALL holds were permitted. 








Gerald Ford attended the University of Michigan and was a stand out on the football team...playing center, linebacker, and long snapper.  Ford helped the Michigan Wolverines to two undefeated seasons and national titles in 1932 and 1933.  In 1935, after graduating from the University of Michigan, he turned down offers from the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers of the National Football League in order to enroll in Yale Law School.  Gerald Ford remained interested in football for the rest of his life.





John F. Kennedy began sailing with his family at a young age.  As a racer, John Kennedy won several events...including Nantucket Sound Star Class Championship Cup in 1936, and the MacMillan Cup and East Coast Collegiate Championships in 1938.  As president, John F. Kennedy took time to sail in the waters off Hyannis, Palm Beach, and on the Potomac.  Sailing proved to be a respite from the heavy burdens of the office of the presidency. 





It would be hard for anyone to match the energy and intensity of Theodore Roosevelt.  In his youth, Roosevelt was a very sickly child.  As a young man he dedicated himself to making his body and mind stronger through intense exercise regiments...ranging from boxing, horseback riding, and hunting.  After his presidency, Teddy Roosevelt nearly lost his life on an expedition of the River of Doubt deep in the Amazon basin.  The river was eventually renamed Rio Roosevelt in honor of the former president.



Bicycles have a place in presidential history, too.  More than one POTUS has been photographed either with, or on, a bike.  




Any trip to watch the Washington Nationals play baseball includes an excitement packed presidential race...sometimes even on bicycles!





President Warren G. Harding greeting a group of Boy Scouts who made a bicycle trip to the White House from Columbus, Ohio. -- June 29, 1921





Richard Nixon loved bowling and famously had a bowling alley installed in the White House but as a new Congressman from California he could be seen touring Washington, D.C. on a bicycle. 





Jimmy Carter has traveled the world on multiple humanitarian and environmental endeavors in the decades since he left the Oval Office.  I'm pretty sure it wouldn't surprise anyone to see former President Carter making his way from point A to point B on a bicycle. 





In between movie rolls and serving as the president of the Screen Actor's Guild, future 40th president, Ronald Reagan, could be seen pedaling around California on a tandem bike.





In the 1970s, our 41st President, George H.W. Bush, served as the head of the United States Liaison Office in Beijing, China.  He, and his wife, Barbara, were often seen cycling on the streets of Beijing.





Bill Clinton using a bicycle to make his way around the White House.





Barack Obama seems a little more natural on the basketball court and wind sailing than he does on a bike...but it's still ultra cool to see him out there turning pedals!





Our 43rd President, George W. Bush is, like myself, a mountain bike enthusiast!  I can remember, during his presidency, riding the trails in Michaux State Forest with my friends and discussing how cool it would be to have the president riding with us...possibly debating the NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND law.  



I've also tried to imagine what kind of bikes some of our Founding Fathers would have ridden if given chance.  The bikes that we ride highlight our needs and personalities.  With that in mind here is what I believe Mr. Franklin, Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Madison, and Mr. Washington would have ridden if given the chance.




I know...Ben Franklin wasn't a president...but I just had to include him in this list.  Benjamin Franklin, the author of POOR RICHARD'S ALMANAC, the inventor of bifocals, and statesman extraordinaire, is best known for his scientific exploits...especially his work with electricity.  Considering that he spent the latter part of his life living like a celebrity and being carried around Philadelphia on a sedan chair...I believe the Dr. Franklin, if given the chance, would own and proudly ride an electric assist bike.  It's the logical choice.




Thomas Jefferson was incredibly influenced by his time in France.  This can be seen in the architectural design of his home, Monticello.  It was also evident by his choice of food and wine...even opting to have his enslaved chef trained making French cuisine.  Mr. Jefferson also loved all the finer things in life...ultimately paying for it all with credit...leaving his descendants with the bill.  My best guess is that he would ride a bike manufactured in France...possibly a carbon fiber Time Alpe d'Huez...maxing out his credit card in the process.




James Madison was NOT athletic.  His gigantic sized brain was housed in a body that was small in stature racked with anxiety.  I imagine that Mr. Madison would ride something a comfort bike....maybe a Giant Sedona...equipped with a bell and a basket large enough to carry all of his books.




It is said that George Washington  was considered to be the best horseman in all of Virginia.   It is also true that he was such an amazing ballroom dancer that ladies would line up around the block for a dance with the General.  He was a no-nonsense kind of guy and would want to ride something that was simplistic and as no-nonsense as he was.  I envision him on a completely rigid, steel frame, single speed, 29" mountain bike...probably out-riding everyone around him.



Every year, I invite all of the former presidents to come on our annual 8th grade field trip to Gettysburg.  Typically, I get the standard "thank you...but no thank you" responses.  Three years ago, I was surprised to find, enclosed with the "no thank you" letter from Mr. G. W. Bush a signed 8 X 10 picture signed by president Bush and addressed to my students.  What a cool surprise. It is proudly displayed in my classroom.  And yes...Mr. President, the invitation to go mountain biking with me is still on the table.  Just let me know next time you are in south central Pennsylvania.  We could hit up the trails in Michaux together.


LIFE IS A JOURNEY...NOT A DESTINATION


David A. Raymond  --  October  11, 2020




A little post ride ice cream along the C & O Tow Path in Cumberland, Maryland -- July 19, 2020


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


MARYLAND // WEST VIRGINIA // MARYLAND -- JULY 19, 2020


C & O TOW PATH // GREAT ALLEGHENY PASSAGE // CUMBERLAND, MD -- JULY 21, 2020


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

Friday, August 28, 2020

85,000

85,000.  That's roughly the number of acres that make up Michaux State Forest in Central Pennsylvania.  One would think that after 15 years of mountain biking in the forest that it would be hard to find something new to ride, but the 85,000 acres makes Michaux a big place.  Actually...really big!  There are certain spots that I love where the forest seems to just engulf everything.  I know that there are cars and roads and buildings and telephone poles down there...but the forest just swallows it all up.  The sensory experience...the breeze blowing through the trees, the green that stretches as far as the eyes can see, and the fresh smell of the blossoming mountain laurel...is so rejuvenating.  Nothing man-made or unnatural.  Just the forest.

From 800 feet up the forest seems to engulf everything. -- July 7, 2020

85,000 acres allows for so many possibilities.  Even so, it can be easy to fall into the routine of riding the same familiar trails.  I wanted this summer to be different, unique, and even a little bit special.  There are just so many trails camouflaged from view when looking down from the rock vistas in the forest.  Trails that I wanted to discover for myself.  So armed with an updated Purple Lizard Map, a segment finder, and a little bit of hearsay I set out to ensure that, this summer, every single Michaux ride would include at least one "new to me" trail.

MONDAY, MAY 25, 2020 -- MEMORIAL DAY RIDE WITH BRENT SHIRK



"NEW TO ME" TRAIL

A newly logged area of Dead Woman's Hollow Trail, 3 Mile Trail, and a small section on top of Woodrow Road that is called Purgatory Rocks on the Purple Lizard Map.

WHAT MADE THIS RIDE JUST A LITTLE BIT SPECIAL

Nothing easy about this one! On this first ride of the summer we climbed over 2,100 feet in just over fifteen miles!  Our Memorial Day extravaganza included, not just the "new to me" trails listed above, but Grave Ridge and my first ride UP Dead Woman's Hollow Road in eight years. 

Dave Raymond and Brent Shirk. -- May 25, 2020


Brent Shirk on Grave Ridge Trail. -- May 25, 2020


All smiles at the bottom AND the top of Dead Woman's Hollow Road. -- May 25, 2020


3 Mile Trail really is three miles long! -- May 25, 2020


State Forest Boundary marker on a tree along 3 Mile Trail -- May 25, 2020


Navigating a log build up in Michaux. -- May 25, 2020

JUNE 9, 2020 --  A TON OF CLIMBING WITH BRENT SHIRK AND TIM SINDLINGER


"NEW TO ME" TRAIL

A super cool switchback that veered off of Purgatory Rocks and down to Sunset Rocks Trail.

WHAT MADE THIS RIDE JUST A LITTLE BIT SPECIAL

What was short on miles was made up for with a massive 650 foot climb between miles four and six.  Then we got lost.  I literally got turned around and couldn't orient myself in the correct direction.  Ultimately we got ourselves straightened out and back on the correct path.
Tim ended up taking a short cut out...but Brent and I really enjoyed descending down the other side of that 650 foot climb. 

Making our way to the top of Woodrow Road.  Dave Raymond, Brent Shirk, and Tim Sindlinger. -- June 9, 2020


Playing on the rocks near the top of Woodrow Road. -- June 9, 2020


JUNE 13, 2020 -- EPIC RIDE WITH CHRIS KELLER



"NEW TO ME" TRAIL

We rode the entirety Ridge Trail until it eventually connected to Buck Ridge Trail.

WHAT MADE THIS RIDE JUST A LITTLE BIT SPECIAL

I told Chris that I had an ambitious ride planned...that it would include a little bit of everything...and that it would be around 18ish miles.  Well, it did include a little bit of everything...rock gardens, fire road descents, single track, vistas with amazing views, and a ton of mountain laurel in full bloom...but I was a little off with the mileage.  What I predicted would be 18 miles turned out to be over 25!  Such an epic ride.


Appreciating the mountain laurel in Michaux State Forest. -- June 13, 2020


Taking flight in Michaux. -- June 13, 2020


A perfect day and a very long ride with Chris Keller. -- June 13, 2020


JULY 7, 2020 -- RIDING  IN THE FOG WITH MATT LINNANE AND TIM SINDLINGER



"NEW TO ME" TRAIL

We rode a super cool connector trail that leads from Buck Ridge Trail, through an area labeled on the map as the Black Swamp, and up to Ridge Trail just south of Ridge Road.

WHAT MADE THIS RIDE JUST A LITTLE BIT SPECIAL

This thirteen mile ride through Michaux State Forest, which was front loaded with "new to us" trials, a ton of single track, a descent down Vista Trail, a field trip off the beaten path to check out the remains of a 1930s Girl Scout Camp swimming pool...all while riding through a thick, low hanging fog...was super fun. Heck, even if we didn't do all that stuff...just the fact that we were graced, for the first time this summer, with the presence of Red Beard, himself...Matt Linnane...made this ride special.  


Finding my way through the fog. -- July 7, 2020


Matt pausing for a selfie. -- July 7, 2020


This orange butterfly hitchhiked down Vista Trail on my Camelbak. -- July 7, 2020


Riding rocks in Michaux. -- July 7, 2020


Finishing up our ride with a descent down Vista Trail. -- July 7, 2020



A photo of the 1934 Girl Scout Camp swimming pool. -- July 7, 2020



Remains of the 1934 Girl Scout Camp swimming pool.  Michaux State Forest. -- July 7, 2020


JULY 14, 2020 -- UP WOODROW ROAD WITH MATT AND TIM



"NEW TO ME" TRAIL

Various single tracks that zigzag up Woodrow Road and a section of Camp Michaux (which I have hiked before...but never ridden.)

WHAT MADE THIS RIDE JUST A LITTLE BIT SPECIAL

"Hey...let's, for fun, climb to the top of Woodrow Road," said very few people ever.  Our goal was to ride the super fun and rocky single track off of Purgatory Rocks again.  In the process we zigzagged our way up Woodrow Road on various single tracks...a few of which I had never been on.  Ultimately, we had no choice but to ride the top part of the gravel road in the summer heat.  A tough climb...but very rewarding.  The back side didn't disappoint us...especially when we took an unplanned detour on the trails through Camp Michaux.


It was a long, hot haul...but I made it to the top!  -- July 14, 2020


Navigating Purgatory Rocks. -- July 14, 2020


Taking the trail through Camp Michaux. -- July 14, 2020


Matt descending single track. -- July 14, 2020


Pausing in Purgatory Rocks.  Dave Raymond, Tim Sindlinger. Matt Linnane. -- July 14, 2020


JULY 28, 2020 -- DEAD WOMAN'S HOLLOW WITH TIM



"NEW TO ME" TRAIL

An unmarked trail connecting the top and bottom of Dead Woman's Hollow Road.
 

WHAT MADE THIS RIDE JUST A LITTLE BIT SPECIAL

Earlier this summer a hiker mentioned to me that there was an unmarked (in the woods and on the map) trial that led from the top to the bottom of Dead Woman's Hollow Road.  To get to it, Tim and I climbed Dead Woman's Hollow Road.  What started as a steep single track descent morphed into beautiful combination of streams, waterfalls, roots, and rock build ups. Our shortest ride of the summer (only 11+ miles) included over 2,400 feet of climbing!  That's a lot of uphill riding.  


Dead Woman's Hollow Trail -- July 28, 2020


Dave Raymond and Tim Sindlinger at the vista on Blueberry Trail. -- July 28, 2020


My Stumpjumer overlooking Michaux State Forest. -- July 28, 2020


Enjoying a trail through an area of the forest that was recently logged. -- July 28, 2020


Dave Raymond and Tim Sindlinger. -- July 28, 2020


Tim wrapping up the ride. -- July 28, 2020


AUGUST 2, 2020 -- SOLO IN MICHAUX

PARTNER IN CRIME

All by myself!


"NEW TO ME" TRAIL

Nothing new except for the reason for the ride and how it began....

WHAT MADE THIS RIDE JUST A LITTLE BIT SPECIAL

A few months ago, my step-daughter asked me to help her find a location in the woods with a beautiful stream for her to take maternity pictures.  I couldn't think of any place more suitable than Tom's Run in Michaux State Forest.  Naturally, I took my mountain bike and had my son, Alex, drive me to to top of the Ridge.  My plan was just to ride down the mountain...but I found myself with a little extra time on the trails.  I find it amazingly cool that I ended up CLIMBING almost 600 feet in this ride even though I started it at the top of the ridge.  Michaux is awesome.

Mia and Kevin taking maternity photos in Michaux.  -- August 2, 2020

AUGUST 11, 2020 -- ATV TRAIL RIDING WITH MATT AND TIM



"NEW TO ME" TRAIL

Piney Ridge Trail and Huckleberry Trail

WHAT MADE THIS RIDE JUST A LITTLE BIT SPECIAL

I really tried to switch things up with this one and planned a ride solely centered around the ATV trails south of Pine Grove Furnace State Park.  I wasn't sure how this would be received by Matt and Tim...but our seventeen mile ride proved to be one of my favorites this summer.  The ride was highlighted by a 400 foot descent in less than a mile on Huckleberry Trail, a fun ride on Grave Ridge, and the huge black bear we saw crossing State Route 233!

A day of fire road riding! -- August 11, 2020


I'll be your Huckleberry! -- August 11, 2020


ATV trails are rocky and fun! -- August 11, 2020 




Dave Raymond, Matt Linanne, and Tim Sindlinger enjoying a ride that mostly consisted of ATV trails.  -- August 11, 2020

AUGUST 18, 2020 -- BIG FLAT WITH MATT


"NEW TO ME" TRAIL

The entirety of the Canada Hollow Trail. 


WHAT MADE THIS RIDE JUST A LITTLE BIT SPECIAL

Matt and I saved this ride for the final ride of our summer.  Big Flat is an area that I've ridden...but not on any kind of regular basis.  My knowledge of the area is minimal...requiring Matt and I to pull out our maps quite often.  I got to tell you, I really enjoyed mapping out the ride while we were on the go.  It made for quite the adventure.  Matt's main objective for the day was to ride Astronomy Trail and it's more than two miles of descending single track.  Half way through the ride we suffered our first major mechanical of the summer when my rear derailleur snapped in half.  We completed some single speed conversion therapy with my Stumpjumper so that we could make our way back up to the Big Flat parking lot.  Regardless of how it ended...this ride was quite the adventure!



Matt and I heading out to explore the area of the forest south of Shippensburg Road.  -- August 18, 2020


Making Matt's day by riding Astronomy Trail.  He's always wanted to ride it. -- August 18, 2020


Matt descending Astronomy Trail. -- August 18, 2020





Riding Astronomy Trail. -- August 18, 2020


Such a fun ride.  I loved pulling the maps out and planning our next trail. -- August 18, 2020



Matt and Wildcat Trail. -- August 18, 2020


A normal derailleur doesn't look like this!  -- August 18, 2020


Doing a little surgery on my bike!  -- August 18, 2020


I started my ride with eleven speeds and ended with one...but I finished!-- August 18, 2020


Descending the trail under power lines in Michaux on my newly converted "single speed." -- August 18, 2020

I've been riding in Michaux now for almost 20 years...and this year I saw more different parts of the forest than I have since I first started riding there.  Breaking our of our pattern of the same old- same old and going out of our way to find "new to us" parts to ride really rekindled, at least in me, a sense of adventure and excitement.  The great thing is that I know that there are so many other trails out there that I still need to find and ride.  85,000 acres is, after all, a large area to uncover.  


Matt took this pic of me after our final ride off of Big Flat.  It's was an amazing summer of riding! -- August 18, 2020


Life is a journey...not a destination.




David A. Raymond -- August 28, 2020


I enjoyed more than one post ride root beer floats at the Twirly Top this summer! -- July 28, 2020


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