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