Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015 YEAR IN REVIEW -- December 30, 2015

I managed to get out for a quick ten mile ride today in between a doctor appointment and a marvelous lunch date with my wife at the Accomac Inn.  I'm pretty sure that I'll get out for a ride at some point tomorrow...and, if I do, I don't know where that ride will take me...but I couldn't help thinking that today's short ride could possibly be the last ride of 2015.  All things considered, 2015 has been a pretty good year for me on the bike.   I managed to get in 2,207 miles of road and mountain biking.  I've ridden more miles in other years...but considering some challenges I faced this year...I'm proud of those 2,207 miles.  

Swatara Gap:  David Raymond, Tim Sindlinger, Matt Linanne, & Brent Shirk--September 15, 2015
I tend to be one of those people who is very "past" oriented.   I guess, being a history teacher, that is a good quality to have.   But until my wife brought it to my attention, I never realized just how "past" oriented I really am.    One quick look at how meticulously organized my photographs are is enough proof for anyone to verify that she is right.  So...without anymore is a quick look at my favorite five rides of 2015...

#5  RIDING WITH THE RIVER--August 10, 2015

31 miles of incredible scenery along the Susquehanna River in York, County--August 10, 2015

#4  FIRST ROAD RIDE OF 2015--January 2, 2015

A 30 mile ride through York City...which also gave me a view of the city that I had never seen--January 2, 2015

#3  SWATARA GAP WITH TIM--August 1, 2015

Swatara Gap is a fun place to mountain bike anytime...but on this ride, Tim and I met Matt Linnane, who quickly became new addition to our mountain biking circle--August 1, 2015

I had to add this ride.  28 miles of beautiful weather and beautiful beaches--December 2, 2015

#1  MICHAUX LESS TRAVELED--October 12, 2015

ALL rides at Michaux are fun...and all rides with Mark Lentz are an adventure.   This ride, however, combined fun, adventure, scenery, and friendship...and that's what it's all about--October 12, 2015

Yes....2015 was a good year...but now it's time to to look ahead to the new year.   
Here's to the rides, the scenery, the fun, and the friends coming down the road in 2016.  Remember...

Life is a journey, not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- December 30, 2015

Lunch at the Accomac with my beautiful wife, Robin -- December 30, 2015

Monday, December 28, 2015

A LITTLE MUD, A LITTLE MUCK, A LOT OF FUN -- December 28, 2015

It's become a tradition for my neighbor, Brent, and I, to head down to Potapsco Valley State Park in Maryland to hit the trails for some post-Christmas mountain biking.  We've been planning this ride for a few weeks and have been watching the weather closely.   It's been very warm on the east coast the past few weeks...but also extremely wet and rainy.   Today was the only day of the week that didn't include raindrops in the forecast.

The suspension bridge at Potapsco Valley State Park -- December 28, 2015
Brent and I planned to leave home around 7:30 today...which gave me plenty of time to get up and make breakfast for Robin.   Coffee with my wife is my favorite way to start each day.   Heading down Interstate 83, Brent and I stopped at the South York Diner for breakfast.   As I ordered my typical two eggs (over-medium), bacon, home fries, and toast, I felt very unhealthy next to Brent who ordered his veggie omelet. Brent commented, "How are you going to ride after eating all of that?"  Ironically, his omelet was twice the size of my breakfast....and I believe it was around mile seven in our ride today that he was regretting his big breakfast!  

Breakfast at South York Diner -- December 28, 2015
Potapsco has always been one of my favorite places to ride.   It has over 70 miles of identified trails that are open to mountain biking.   It is a gem of a park located right outside of Baltimore, Maryland.  Like all other Maryland State Parks, there is a fee to use the trails at Potapsco.   Four dollars is required for out of state residents.   At first this bothered me, because, in Pennsylvania, the state parks are free...until I saw how incredibly well maintained the trails and facilities are at Potapsco.   I always choose to park at the Avalon area of the park.   There is access to the trails on both sides of the well as a big restroom and changing area.   We started today by crossing the suspension bridge and then climbing up Vineyard Spring Trail.  

The railroad tracks pass over the entrance to Vineyard Spring Trail -- December 28, 2015

Years ago, when I first started riding at Potapsco, I ended each ride coming down Vineyard.   The trail, however, flows up just as well as it comes down.  Besides, on a cool day like today, starting a ride with a climb is a great way to get the blood moving.   Our ride on the east side of the river amounted to a total of six miles of up and down, smooth and technical, twisty and windy trials.  Coming around Charcoal trail, and turning down the hillside towards the creek, Brent and I paused to take a break near a random tree decorated for the holidays.    Just another one of those cool things you come across while mountain biking!

A random Christmas tree in the woods at Potapsco -- December 28, 2015
Crossing the suspension bridge again, Brent and I headed toward Ridge Trail...probably the most difficult trail in the park.   Ridge Trail climbs and drops continuously for about a mile and a half.   All the way you will cross streams, ride though rock gardens, dodge tree branches, and pass abandoned structures that are remnants of the old flour mill that one stood in the area.  

Abandoned structures litter the landscape at Potapsco Valley State Park -- December 28, 2015

Taking a break.  Sometimes it is easier to build a trail around a rock instead of moving the rock.  -- December 28, 2015
Probably the most famous, and most populated trail in the Avalon area, is Cascade Falls Trail.   I love riding this trail...but I do so with extreme caution.  The worst biking accident I ever experienced was on this trail.   As a  matter of fact, I'm pretty sure that the trail was rerouted because of me.  A park ranger witnessed my epic crash back in 2012.   I'm sure there are plenty of stories told between the rangers of  "that moron" who tried to ride the massive boulder near the water fall.   That crash taught me a lot.  Mostly it reinforced that there are some things just are not worth getting hurt for.   Now, there is a very mountain bike friendly path around the spot where I crashed.  

A stop at the Ice Cream Cottage is a must -- December 28, 2015
Brent and I ended our ride today with a short hike down to the falls....then a fun little downhill back to the parking lot.   A little mud, a little muck, and eleven miles later, we ended up right where we started.   All that was left was a stop at the Ice Cream Cottage in Arbutus.  The Ice Cream Cottage is my all time favorite place to stop for ice cream after a ride....and a trip to Potapsco wouldn't be complete without it.   The ice cream is great, the service is awesome, and today I found out that they also brew an awesome cup of coffee. 

  Life is a journey, not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- December 28, 2015

Cascade Falls -- December 28, 2015

Friday, December 25, 2015

THE HEAT MISER MUST BE IN TOWN -- December 25, 2015

Who would have thought that Pennsylvania, on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day,  would be blanketed, not with snow and ice, but with 70 degree heat.  The calendar says it's winter....but the temperature is saying something else. between cooking holiday hams and turkeys...and in between visits from family...I was able to steal away and get a couple holiday rides in.   

The decorations are up and the calendar says it's Christmas...the weather is saying something else -- December 25, 2015
Because I didn't want to be away from home too long...and because of a seriously dense fog...both rides kept me from venturing too far.  To be honest, considering the deep freeze that we've experienced around here the past few years, it just felt really good to get out in some warm weather and get some exercise.  I'm not sure when the temperatures will finally turn cold this season...and no doubt they will...but I plan on enjoying the ride as long as it lasts.  Merry Christmas!

Life is a journey, not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- December, 25, 2015

Saturday, December 19, 2015

WINDS OF CHANGE -- December 19, 2015

From 1998 to 2010, I was a PIAA high school football official.  Growing up, I had a passion for football.   Both my mom and my dad ingrained in me a love for the Pittsburgh Steelers.  I couldn't wait until I got to high school and be part of the Bedford Bisons football team.   I had the privilege to play on the 1989 of the best in the school's history.   I also had the privilege to play on the 1990 this day, statistically the worst team in school history.   I say privilege, because this team truly came together as a team...and as a team, a lot of character was built and many life lessons were learned.  

The seniors on the 1990 Bedford High School football team.  I am #51, 5th from the left in the first row -- August 1990
My love and knowledge of the game far surpassed my playing ability.  I guess, that is why I made a pretty good official.   A weird thing began to happen, though.   Around 2006, my interest in mountain biking began to overtake my interest in officiating. 2010, my interest in spending time my now wife, Robin, and spending time on my bike, completely eroded away any interest I had in football.  Now, like I tell my students in school, all my stories do eventually circle back to a point I want to make:  all that cold weather gear I had to wear under my officials uniform on late November Friday nights makes great cold weather cycling gear.  Perfect for a day like today.

A blustery and cold day for a bike ride -- December 19, 2015
Yep, a day like today...cold, blustery, & wind gusts of 25 miles per hour.   For the first time this year,  I needed to break out the "longs" for a ride.   Decked out in my cold weather under armor, heavy gloves, and Gore jacket, I headed westward into the wind.    I'm not dumb...I definitely want that wind at my back on the way home.  For the short time I was on Canal Road I don't think I was moving faster than 14 mile per hour.  Pedaling into the wind was like pedaling in peanut butter.  I was more than happy to turn left onto Greenbriar Road.  With those gusts at my back, I seemingly flew all the way back towards Cousler Park.  In my brain, I began piecing a route back home that would give me as much mileage as possible without freezing my hands, nose, and feet.  

Red Tailed Hawk near Locust Lane -- December 19, 2015
Turning onto Locust Lane, and headed towards Interstate 83, I cruised past barren farm fields that, in 6 months, will be green with corn stalks.   I passed trees without any foliage, which gave me a perfect view of a Red Tailed Hawk perched twenty feet above me.    Passing through Emigsville, and headed towards Manchester, I began to think about home.   My toes were getting cold...and yes, call my a wuss... but I hate when my toes get cold.  Thank goodness, according to the weather guys, by next week the winds will be changing again...ushering in uncommonly warm weather for the week of Christmas.   

Locust Lane -- December 19, 2015
It's funny how some things in life change as time moves on.  Circumstances take you from place to place, friends come in and out of your life, and I surely never would have thought that I would be this completely indifferent to football.   What is more amazing though, is that even as the winds of change blow though your life, the most important things remain constant no matter what....things like the lessons learned with friends and teammates 25 years ago, the passion I have for riding my bike (no matter what the weather),  and the love I have for my wife and family.  

Life is a journey, not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- December 19, 2015

Sunday, December 13, 2015

"OH, THE WEATHER OUTSIDE IS..." -- December 12, 2015

.....Delightful!   Yes, the weather outside is absolutely delightful!   With Christmas less than two weeks away, who would ever have thought that I would leave the 70 degree temperatures of West Palm Beach, Florida for the 70 degree December temperatures of south central Pennsylvania?!  With all the decorations out, houses lit up, and Christmas carols on the airways it sure is looking and sounding like just doesn't feel like it...and that's alright with me.

No sleigh for Santa this year....He can use my bike -- December 13, 2015
I've been looking forward to today all week.   The weather guys have been saying that we could possibly hit a record high today.  I don't know if we did that....but it sure was a great day for a bike ride.  Twenty five miles of summer time fun in December...flying down Canal Road, a quick tour of Mount Wolf, and a big climb up Hill View Drive, an amazing descent down Jerusalem School Road,  down past Central York High School, into Emigsville, back up the Susquehanna Trail, and then home.  All this with no long sleeves and no full finger gloves.  Oh, the weather outside definitely is delightful today.   I do know though, if the past few Pennsylvania winters are any indication of what could be coming our way, it's possible that by next week, we could be smack in the middle of a frozen tundra....but while the air is warm, and while the temperatures are mild, I plan to enjoy the ride as long as I can.

Life is a journey...not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- December 13, 2015

Friday, December 4, 2015

LEARNING HOW TO RELAX -- December 4, 2015

My wife, Robin, says that I never sit down.   Actually, just the other day, she asked me to come up with one word that describes me.    After the typical whimsical and sarcastic answers I came up with "RESTLESS."  I think that nails it.   I have a hard time relaxing.   I have a hard time just being. 

The view of the Atlantic Ocean from the balcony of my suite in West Palm Beach, Florida -- November 30, 2015
Which may explain why I've never been a "beach" person.    I love the ocean (it mesmerizes me) and I love playing in it...for 15 minutes.    But the idea of just sitting or lying on the beach for an extended period of time has never appealed to me.   This week, however, I've done a pretty good job of just being.  Even Robin was impressed.   We both took this week off....her from her job in the business world...and mine from "teacher world."  We learned a long time ago that we travel well together.   Very rarely do we disagree when traveling...and when we do it is usually just a simple miscommunication (on my part). So, to the disbelief of a lot of people, I don't mind the 15 hour drive from Manchester Pennsylvania to West Palm Beach, Florida.   We talk...we laugh...and we enjoy each other's company.   (We have to....or else it would be a very long ride in our little Chevy Cruz!)

Cycling in Florida.   The city of West Palm Beach is in the distance.  -- November 30, 2015
I brought my bike this year.   In the past...when I would travel...I would only bring my running shoes.  Those days are over for me now.    I've learned recently that I have a pretty messed up spine.   Probably the result of not taking care of myself the way I should have years ago.   According to the doctor, running didn't cause my back to hurt...but running sure won't help it either.  Biking, however, makes me feel great...which is totally awesome.     I didn't like running at all....but I LOVE cycling.   It makes me feel clears my head...and as I'm getting older it keeps me moving and keeps me feeling alive.

One of the many drawbridges in my way -- November 30, 2015
On Monday, I left for my ride without any plan...and it showed.   With no thought into where I was going I ended up leaving at the wrong time of day and took every wrong turn imaginable.   The result was too much traffic, drawbridges, and the sudden disappearance of the, what seemed to be endless, bicycle lanes.  Don't get me wrong....I surely am not complaining about riding my bike...I just came to the realization that I needed to a least look at a map before I took off on Tuesday.   

My rides on Tuesday and Wednesday took me north to the town of Jupiter, Florida.  This is what I was looking for.   A seven mile stretch on route A1A with an incredible view of the ocean.  The words of Meriwether Lewis echoed in my head, "Ocean in view!  O the joy!" (I am a complete nerd.) These are sites that I just don't get to see often and they do bring an incredible sense of awe and happiness to me.  

An incredible view of the ocean from route A1A in Jupiter, Florida -- December 1, 2015
My ride on Wednesday was a little longer than Tuesday's ride.   On Wednesday, I crossed over to Jupiter Inlet to check out the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse.  The light house sits at the junction of the Indian River and Jupiter Inlet.  For thousands of years, the land it now sits on was a meeting place for ancient Indian tribes.   In 1854, President Franklin Pierce signed an order to set aside the 61 acre site for for a lighthouse.   Construction was interrupted from 1856 to 1858 due to the Third Seminole War.   Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse was finally lit for the first time in 1860.  

Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse -- December 2, 2015
This trip has been so much more than biking for me.    I've been able to spend a week of uninterrupted time with my wife...and I have been able to relax.   Usually, when Robin and I travel, we like to go site see and visit places.   This week we decided to just to stay put, hang out, and decompress.   Our week has consisted of walks on the beach, playing in the ocean, reading, relaxing, and a GAME OF THRONES marathon.   We checked out the movie, CREED.   Had some incredible Thai food, went for some delicious ice-cream at Sloan's Ice Cream, and had coffee with an amazing couple, Audra & Steve Hoover.   Audra and Steve lived across the street from me before I married Robin.  They moved to Jupiter, Florida about four years ago.   It was so nice to meet up with, and get reacquainted with, such good friends.  

Sloan's Ice Cream -- December 2, 2015
So many decisions at Sloan's Ice Cream -- December 2, 2015
Audra & Steve Hoover // David & Robin Raymond -- December 3, 2015
On Thursday, I planned to just go out for a short ride.  After four straight days of riding I should have just rested...but I had a goal.  I was eleven miles away from reaching 2,000 cycling miles for the year.   I rode just over eleven and a half miles.    I set this goal at the beginning of 2015 because I needed to.   2014 was a tough year for me in a lot of ways.    Setting this goal was important...and accomplishing it was a necessity for me both mentally and physically.   Feeling good about yourself is important.   I felt good about myself yesterday.

Mile 2,000 for 2015.  Blue Heron Blvd crossing over to Singer Island -- December 3, 2015
Robin and I woke up this morning, our last day in Florida, to sounds of rain pouring outside.   No ride today....just relaxation.    When I sat down to write this the rain was coming down in buckets....since then the clouds have pushed out to sea.  Looks like I get to go out and enjoy the beach one last time.   One more day of nothing but enjoying my time off with my wife...the woman that I love, and the woman who has, with great pains, taught me how to relax.  

Life is a journey, not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- December 4, 2015

Playing in the ocean -- December 2, 2015

Monday, November 30, 2015

WELCOME TO ST. AUGUSTINE -- November 30, 2015

For me, there is a novelty in exploring places far from home.  Just the thought of..."Hey!  I'm riding my bike in Florida!" is really cool.   I've never, in my life, been to St. Augustine, Florida.   I've seen signs for it on I-95 the few times I've driven though the "Sunshine State."  Just the nerdy fact that it is the oldest permanent European settlement in North America made me want to go there.   

Founded in 1565, St. Augustine is the oldest permanent European settlement in North America.   This year, the city is celebrating it's 450th birthday -- November 29, 2015
Each year, my wonderful wife, Robin, and I take a trip someplace warm when the temperatures in Pennsylvania begin to plummet.    The last two years we flew out West...spent some time in Pheonix and Sedona.  This year we decided to drive to West Palm Beach in Florida...and a stop in St. Augustine to site see and visit a friend of Robin's from grad school was a must!   Robin's friend, Carolyn, offered so much warmth and hospitality. It was a pure joy to meet her.  While the ladies chatted and caught up with each other, I took a tour of route A1A through St. Augustine.  Riding along the ocean is so different than riding in Pennsylvania.  No hills....but a stiff ocean wind.   Riding out of Carolyn's neighborhood the ride seemed almost effortless.   An omen that my ride back, into the wind, would be a little more difficult.    

The bridge crossing the Tolomato River.   I think this is where I did all of my climbing today!  -- November 29, 2015
 I crossed the Vilano Bridge I hooked onto Route 1.  Robin and I have a joke about Route 1.   Two years ago, she planned our first anniversary trip.   She took me away to an awesome bed and breakfast in Richmond, Virginia.   She wanted to do a special "nerdy" and history laced get away.   To get there, we took "Historic" Route 1.   Let me say that parts of the road may be historic...but not the section we took.   Now....every time we go somewhere...we just can't seem to escape the road!  
 Cruising into the historic district of St. Augustine, my main goal  was to just ride.   I wanted to save the site seeing for when I was there with my wife later in the afternoon.  I passed the and old Spanish fortress, Castillo de San Marcos.  So super cool.   It is the oldest masonry fort in North America.   Completed in 1695, it replaced a series of wooden forts constructed by the Spanish, and, for many years, was the northernmost outpost of Spain's vast New World empire.  
Exiting the historic district, I rode across the Bridge of Lions to the other side of the Matanzas River.    Not knowing exactly where I was going, and with the knowledge that I told Robin I would only be gone an hour, I just pedaled on the main roads until I was out for thirty minutes.

Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fort in North America.   Completed in 1695, it's location on the west bank Matanzas Bay allowed the guns to protect not only the harbor entrance but the ground to the north from a land attack.  -- November 29, 2015
I had ridden as far as 7th Street on Anastasia Island when it was time to turn around.   I knew going back would take a little longer.   That ocean wind that was so helpful the first half of my ride added a bit of a workout on the way back....a different kind of work out.   I'm used to climbing hills in Pennsylvania.   Not here.    I think that, in total, I only climbed 38 feet!   Amazing.    Yep, there is a novelty in it for me.  Next stop...West Palm Beach and  a week of ocean breeze, warm temperatures, and most importantly...time spent with my wife.

Life is a journey, not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- November 30, 2015

Thursday, November 26, 2015

BE THANKFUL -- November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday.  As a child, I remember the smells coming out of my mother's kitchen and my father carving the turkey.   My wife and I prepare the meal now.    I look forward to it every year.    We've begun a tradition of having our family Thanksgiving meal the day after Thanksgiving.   Might sound weird, but this way we don't have to schedule around other family's meals which allows everyone to come here for a large gathering of both family and friends.   
My father carving the Thanksgiving turkey.  I am on the far left.  My younger brother, Jake, is to the right of me.  -- 1978
All that being said....Thanksgiving day is extremely relaxing for me.  I slept in until 7 this morning...had breakfast and coffee with my wife and my son...and then headed to Rocky Ridge for a quick mountain bike ride with my neighbor across the street, Brent.  The rest of the day will be consumed with a 007 marathon on the Syfy channel, a movie with my wife, a good book, and the chance to reflect on all the things I am thankful for....

First and foremost...I am thankful for my amazing wife Robin who is not only the love of my life, but my best friend.    Without her, I am incomplete.   I love her so much.

I am thankful for my children Emma, Alex, and my step daughters, Mia & Blythe.   They bring so much laughter, joy, and pride to our family.

Alex Raymond, Emma Raymond, Robin Raymond, David Raymond, Mia Arnold-Scott, Blythe Arnold Scott -- July 21, 2013
I am thankful for my father and my step mother, Mary Jane.   My father has become so much more to me as I've grown older.   He has become one of my best friends.  I love him so much.   We lost my mother almost thirteen years ago.   No one can ever replace her, but Mary Jane is the perfect person to have in our lives and as part of our family.  She is loved dearly by all of us.

Robin, David, Mary Jane, & Dave Raymond -- March 2014
I am thankful for my brother, Jake, his wife, Kristi, my two beautiful nieces, Jackie & Sophie, and my nephew, Isaac.  They are 3,000 miles away in Arizona and we miss them so much.  Especially during the holidays.

I am thankful for my job at Northeastern Middle School.  I am one of those rare people whose job is also my passion and hobby.     I am also thankful that my team mates are also my friends and that my boss is a great guy to work for.   It makes going to "work" everyday so much easier.  

The Green Team of Northeastern Middle School:   Lori Wilson (math), Mike Ritts (science), David Raymond (history), Leah Ilgenfritz (LA), Sarah Dorward (LA), Lisa Schiel (LS), and Heather Knappenberger (IA)  -- GANG GREEN 2015
Now...besides my health and the hope for world peace....I am thankful for...all of my friends, past and present.  In particularly those who have helped me through tough times in my life.   Names come to mind....Mark Lentz, Tim Sindlinger,  Chris Keller, Brent Shirk, Jon Senko, Pat De Garay, Mike Ritts,  Mike Alessandroni, and so many more. 

My 2011 Specialized Stumpjumper -- Rocky Ridge County Park, November 26, 2015
I am thankful for my 2011 Stumpjumper that survived a horrific crash this morning at Rocky Ridge.   I guess, I should be thankful that I survived the crash.  I don't crash often...but when I do, it's pretty epic. I would like to thank Brent for asking if I was OK before he laughed.   The trails this morning were a little slick and covered covered with foliage.   I hit a ditch that was covered up and I ended up going ass-over-handle bars.   No pics are available of the crash...I do need to maintain my pride.  My bike has served me well....but, I think there may be a new one in the near future.   

David Raymond & Brent Shirk -- November 26, 2015
I'm thankful that Brent was able to get out on the trail today.  He's a great family oriented guy and is always busy coaching and/or attending his son's events.    He also has had more recent bad luck than most people.    Surgeries, recoveries, and let's not mention the time, last May, when he nearly sliced his nose off his face in a snow blower accident (yeah...wrap your brain around that one!)  

Looking north from Rocky Ridge County Park -- November 26, 2015
Looking south from Rocky Ridge County Park -- November 26, 2016
I am thankful for the beauty and nature all around us...I am thankful for my health and fitness that allow me to enjoy it...and I am thankful not just for life, but for the ability to live.   
Which is more than I can say for the turkey that is currently sitting in a tub of brine in my kitchen.   

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Last year's bird -- Thanksgiving 2014

Life is a journey, not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- November 26, 2015

Sunday, November 22, 2015

FITTING IN-- November 22, 2015

Last year, the week of Thanksgiving, south central Pennsylvania got it's first significant snowfall.   Once that happens, it puts a serious damper on any road cycling.   It's not just the snow that keeps me off of my bike.  When Penn DOT is through clearing the roads they are covered with gravel, cinders, and salt...which make for treacherous riding and unhappy drive trains.   
One of the many stone, one-lane bridges you will find in York County -- November 22, 2015
All the more reason for me to enjoy the weather so far this year.    No snow yet...and according to the local weather guys...none in the near future.  With the outside temperatures holding steady at 40 degrees, I pulled on the amazing GORE jacket that my wife bought me four years ago, and down the driveway I went.  There was a time when I thought that every road ride had to be "epic."  Every ride had to take me somewhere far from home.   Today, without going any further than Emigsville, I was able to get 15 miles in.    To a lot of cyclists, fifteen miles isn't very far....but this is my idea of a "lazy" day.    A chance to turn some pedals, enjoy the outdoors, and then relax the rest of the day with my family. 

In the past, my rides consumed my day.    Not anymore...they fit into my day....and that's perfectly fine with me.  Life is a journey, not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- November 22, 2015

Be sure to check out the website for ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM to see all of my ride pictures, favorite ice cream stops, and much more.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

TIMMY'S LAST HURRAH -- November 21, 2015

Tim and I have been mountain biking together for over fifteen years.  When we began, the only place that we knew to ride was Rocky Ridge and the Lakes.   It wasn't until we began riding with Mark Lentz in 2006 that my mountain bike world was really opened up.  In the beginning, It was just Tim and I.  No special gear, unimpressive bikes, and we definitely did not wear proper cycling clothes.  Heck...I would often ride in blue jeans.  There was even a time, back in those days, when we wondered if we would still be riding when we were 35.  Now, well into our 40s, our circle of biking friends has expanded, the list of places where we can ride has grown significantly longer, and Tim and I are still going strong.

My 2011 Stumpjumper next to the entrance to the small & narrow tunnel that passes underneath Interstate 83 -- November 21, 2015
Today's ride at the Lakes was special, though.   On Monday, Tim is having neck surgery and will be on the shelf until March or April of next year.  Yeah, we're still going strong....but I guess our bodies aren't what they use to be.   Long ago...when we started riding together...and neither of us had heard of places like Michaux, Rattling Creek, Potapsco, or French Creek...our favorite "epic" ride was the one that took us through the tunnels at the lakes.   For us, a journey under the interstate was just about as exciting as it got.  This is the ride we chose to do today.   

The beginning of Trail 7 at the Lakes -- November 21, 2015
Tim riding ahead of me on Trail 7.  Through the trees you can see Interstate 83 -- November 21, 2015
Crossing the dam, and climbing up Trail 1, we came to the "jumping off" point where trail 7 begins (or ends...depending on your direction).  Once you make this turn you are committed to the ride.   The narrow single track leads down a steep slope directly towards, and then underneath, Interstate 83.  This first tunnel is crazy narrow and dark.  Because it slopes slightly downhill, there is no need to turn the pedals the whole way through it.   The trickiest part is coming out the other side.   The trail turns abruptly to the right.   If you miss it you will go head over handle bars into a three foot deep pool of cold November creek water.   

The light at the end of our first water filled tunnel today -- November 21, 2015
Exiting the northernmost tunnel at the Lakes -- November 21, 2015
Coming out on the east side of I-83, Trail 7 winds back and forth up the hillside.   At times, the trail rides the ridge directly above the interstate...with only two feet of earth and a few trees preventing you from falling 50 feet down onto the highway.  

Three miles into our ride it became apparent to me that the long sleeve Under Armour that I put on this morning was overkill for the 40 degree temperatures.  Taking a break, I shed the unwanted layer and stuffed it into the rear pocket of my cycling shirt.  Tim and I then continued on towards the backwater of Lake Redman where we rode last week.    

One of the many wooden bridges covered with chicken wire to prevent your tires from slipping on the damp wood -- November 21, 2015
Hooking onto Trail 5, we retraced last weeks path through the often muddy and mucky areas around the back of the lake....hopping logs and crossing bridges covered with chicken wire.  Unlike last week, when we skipped the tunnels to avoid getting wet (ironically, it was colder today than a week ago), we made our way to the other side of the interstate through a much wider southern tunnel.  Even though I'm not required to duck in this tunnel, it is more difficult to navigate because of the numerous large rocks lurking just below the surface of the water.  

Tim's last hurrah...taking on the darkness, the cool water, and loose rocks in the southern most tunnel that passes under Interstate 83 -- November 21, 2015
Crossing over Hess Farm Road, we passed the boat docks and the Lake Redman sign that is visible to travelers on the highway on the other side of the lake....ending up back at the parking lot near the dam.   Even though this isn't Tim's last ride ever...I sure will miss riding with him the next few months.   We use to wonder if we would be doing this when we got to be 35 years old.   Now I can't imagine us not doing it.   Just as long as we keep on pedaling and keep on moving forward.

Life is a journey, not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- November 21, 2015
Be sure to check out the rest of today's ride pics on the ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM web site.