Wednesday, September 28, 2016


I've had FRESH 'N TWISTY on the brain since Brent, Tim, Kristian and I rode Rocky Ridge County Park last Friday.  Yeah...that new trail on the southern side of the park really got my juices flowing and turned an ordinary afternoon ride into SOMETHING AWESOME.  I was hoping to be able to get out on the trails again this week for an after school ride before the weather took a downward turn...but neither Mark nor Kristian were able to get out.  So... with CRYSTAL BLUE SKIES overhead on  Tuesday...and with the local weather guys predicting a wash out for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday...and even though I had been planning on just doing an afternoon road ride...I threw my Stumpjumper up on top of the Cruz and headed over to Rocky Ridge.  I just couldn't help myself!

Instead of a road ride I threw my Stumpjumper on top of the car and drove out to Rocky Ridge to enjoy a perfect September evening -- September 27, 2016

This would be my second SOLO RIDE in just as many weeks.  My plan was simple...ride FRESH 'N TWISTY.  Not once...not twice...but at least three times.  I wanted to pay attention to it.  I wanted to see if it flowed just as well in both directions.  I just wanted to play on it.  Last week, when Brent showed me the trail, we rode it counter clockwise.  That's how I started out yesterday.  I had seen this part of the park before.  Way back in 2009, Jay Zech & Gung Ho Bikes sponsored an orienteering event at the park.  I remember taking my son, Alex, on his first orienteering of which covered the area that is now the new trail, FRESH 'N TWISTY.  Even then, I thought this section of Rocky Ridge was unique and had a different feel than the rest of the park.

My son, Alex, on his first orienteering adventure -- April 5, 2009

Last week, when riding the trail, I brought up the rear of the group.  While riding it on Tuesday, I got a new perspective.  It is still fresh and soft, but I can't imagine that...considering the number of people who are riding it..the ground will stay that way for long.  I think, what I love most about this new trail, is how it snakes back and forth and fits right into the contour of the rocks and hills on the ridge.  In total, it's 1.2 miles of new trail packed into such a small area.  It's almost like one of the fun house rides at an amusement park in which you constantly see and pass other people who are on the same ride as you but who are also a significant distance ahead of you or behind you.   

Hammering through FRESH 'N TWISTY in Rocky Ridge County Park.  Check out this ultra kool photosphere to get an idea of what the park and the trail look like -- September 27, 2016

Having fun on FRESH 'N TWISTY.  I love, love, love how this trail uses the natural the huge rock that you see make the trail just flow -- September 27, 2016

My 2016 Stumpjumper -- September 27, 2016

Looping back around I turned up FRESH 'N TWISTY again...this time clockwise.  Except for a brief hiccup exactly a tenth of a mile into the trail (there is a difficult rock section that is significantly easier when riding the trail counter clockwise) I had just as much fun.  Yep...then I looped around once again to ride it one more time.  In less than an hour I rode the same trail...three times...and managed to get in nearly 7 miles of mountain biking fun!  My only regret is that Mark & Kristain's schedules didn't work out with mine.  Regardless, I smiled the whole way home....I just couldn't help myself!

Life is a journey...not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- September 28, 2016
All pics courtesy of SQUIRRELS WITH CAMERAS

Well...let's be honest...I didn't smile the whole way home.  My plan was to head to the BOBCAT CREAMERY in Manchester for a post ride milk shake...then I realized I had forgotten my wallet.  So, today after school, I got my shake...I just couldn't help myself -- September 28, 2016 

Saturday, September 24, 2016


I might anger a few of local mountain bikers in York County by saying this...mountain biking at Rocky Ridge, at least for me, is kind of like eating frozen pizza:  it's never my first choice, but it's convenient when in a pinch.  And it's not that Rocky Ridge County Park isn't is.  I always tell people that, if I lived far away from York, I would drive hours to ride there.  It's some of the most technical and challenging riding around.  If you like rocks and hills and single track...Rocky  Ridge is your place.  If you can mountain bike can mountain bike anywhere!  I really believe that.

Friday's ride introduced a completely new was the first that this group...Brent, Kristian, myself, and Timmy...had ever ridden together.  It was a great afternoon on the trails at Rocky Ridge County  Park -- September 23, 2016

Why is it never my first choice?  I guess it's because...after 20+ years of mountain biking...I pretty much have every trail, every turn, every hill, and every rock garden of the 750 acre park blazed into my memory.  It's become so monotonously familiar to me.  It's become that place to ride when I'm short on time (the park is only 7 miles from my house and from where I teach in Manchester) or when I just want to get a quick ride in after school.  Then, yesterday's ride happened...

Tim, Brent, and Kristian getting acquainted with each other in the parking lot at Rocky Ridge County Park -- September 23, 2016

Kristian's first flat tire in years!  We weren't even a mile into the ride.  He wanted to just walk out and let us finish...but hey, "No Biker Left Behind!" -- September 23, 2016

Keep on pumping! -- September 23, 2016

I had been itching to get back out on my mountain bike since my SOLO RIDE last weekend.  It's been nearly a month since I've ridden with any of the guys.  Actually, I haven't seen Timmy since our last TUESDAY RIDE of the summer.  Tim's been texting me each weekend for a month trying to get us out on the trials together...but schedules just haven't been aligning.  So, I figured, that...again, even though it wasn't my first choice...Rocky Ridge would be perfect on Friday.  It was easy for each of us to meet there after work...and it took very little convincing to get Brent and Kristian out, too!

Brent Shirt taking on the single track at Rocky Ridge County Park -- September 23, 2016

I haven't been to Rocky Ridge since I was there with Mark Lentz and Nate Hake back in June.  Brent, who happens to live across the street from me, has been telling me about a new trail he's been riding at Rocky Ridge.  In my mind, I was having a hard time pinpointing exactly where he was talking about...but hey...if it's there, I want to ride it.  Less than a mile into the ride we had our first flat.  Amazingly, it wasn't mine!  Kristian's rear tire was the victim of the relentless rocks that live in the park.  Not even half a mile from the parking lot, he was ready to do a "hike a bike" back to the car and head home.  Totally unkool.  Literally, I told him that I had been looking forward to riding with him all week and I wasn't about to let him walk out of the woods alone.  When riding at Rocky Ridge, we rarely carry a lot of tools with us.  At any point in a ride there you're never more than a mile or two from the parking lot...but between the four of us we managed to produce a tire lever, tube, Park Tool, and pump...everything needed to get him moving forward again.  

The new trail that Brent introduced us to was totally awesome.  On STRAVA (which, trust me...I have zero KOMs), the trail has been named FRESH AND TWISTY.  Fresh it was...and it never seemed to end.  I was 1.2 miles of extremely fun single track that twisted and turned and looped naturally through the top of the ridge.  It was just as fun as Brent described it.  I brought up the rear of the group on this trail.  It was really interesting to see the dynamics and different riding styles of this group.  Brent is such a determined rider.  His style of riding reminds me of my own.  Timmy...well, Tim is the steady rider.  He mostly rides in one gear...and it really works for him.  Kristian's so nimble on his bike.  Effortlessly bounding from rock to rock.  It was really fun to watch.

Kristian Hains -- September 23, 2016

Dave Raymond -- September 23, 2016

Yes...that expression on Kristain's face is the joy of mountain biking -- September 23, 2016

It was an amazing day to be out on the trails at Rocky Ridge County Park -- September 23, 2016

Left to right...Kristain Hains, Tim Sindlinger, Dave Raymond, & Brent Shirt -- September 23, 2016

This ride at Rocky Ridge, which at first was just convenient, was turning into something special and amazing.  A beautiful day, combined with a completely different group dynamic, and some really cool new trails (and yes...trails is plural...we ended up meandering around an area off of FORBIDDEN FOUR that was super fun) turned this ride into something special.  For all four of us...our Friday afternoon at Rocky Ridge ended up turning into something awesome.

Life is a journey, not a destination!

David A. Raymond -- September 24, 2016
All photos courtesy of SQUIRRELS WITH CAMERAS

No ice cream today...Kristian and I replenished some calories with a post-ride meal at ROBURRITOS -- September 23, 2016

Sunday, September 18, 2016

SOLO RIDE -- September 18, 2016

Usually, mountain biking provides me with a good dose of GROUP THERAPY.  Although I always road ride alone...I consider it my "me" time...I very rarely head out solo on the mountain bike trails.  Mountain biking for me has always been about sharing time and experiences with friends.  But sometimes schedules, calendars, and life just don't come together the way we would all like it too.

Taking a short break on a hill overlooking Lake Redman.  Nice view.  You can check it out HERE -- September 18, 2016

 So, when I sent the message out that I was going to ride at Swatara State Park this afternoon (which was the only time free riding time this weekend) Kristian was the only person who was able to give me the thumbs up.  Even that didn't turn out we expected.  My time frame got pushed back an hour and Kristian had family stuff that needed attention...which (in my book) is always much more important than mountain biking.  So...with my gear all packed...and no one available...I headed out solo for the first time in a long time.  Instead of Swatara, I just headed down to the Lakes to do an easy loop around Lake Williams.  

I brought my old primer gray helmet out of retirement for today's ride -- September 18, 2016

The Lakes were beautiful today -- September 18, 2016

Riding the ridge that parallels the power lines above the Lakes -- September 18, 2016

Crossing over the Lake Redman spillway I caught a glimpse of the geese lining the edge of the dam and playing in the water -- September 18, 2016

Nice easy ride around the Lakes today -- September 18, 2016

The Lakes were pretty low today.  I don't know why this surprised me.  After all, none of the rain that we hoped for the last few days has materialized for us here in York County.  Most of the trails are bone dry and almost seem to be crumbling apart in some places.   Lake Williams appears to be nearly 5 or 6 feet lower than usual.  At some places I could even ride on areas that would normally be completely submerged in several feet of water!

Kinda "stumped" as to why the Lakes are so low --  September 18, 2016

The trails were so dry that they seem to falling apart.  Central PA needs a little rain -- September 18, 2016

This pic give you a good idea as to how low Lake Williams is right now.  Left of the piece drift wood you can see my tire track in the lone section of  mud that I came across today -- September 18, 2016

I was able to ride my bike on dry ground that is usually under several feet of  water at Lake Williams -- September 18, 2016

From South George Street it is obvious that the upper part of Lakes Williams is pretty much drained -- September 18, 2016

For me, mountain biking alone is weird.  Yes, I missed my friends and I missed the TRAIL TALK.  I missed the jokes and laughter and conversation.  Neat thing did give me time to play around with the camera on my new cell phone.  I did hear all the chipmunks and squirrels running through the brush.  And I did get to stop and talk to an elderly couple who were just out for a walk around the lake.  So yeah...normally mountain biking is time with my friends...but today, my solo ride turned out all right. 

Life is a journey...not a destination.

David  A. Raymond -- September 18, 2016
All pictures courtesy of SQUIRRELS WITH CAMERAS

Why did my ride today get pushed back an hour?  I took my amazing wife to the train station in Lancaster.  I couldn't miss the opportunity to spend a little extra time with her before she left for New York City -- September 18, 2016

Friday, September 16, 2016

JUST RIDE (or...The Best Bike Shop Around) -- September 16, 2016

I've been pushing my luck on my road rides the past week.  After a string of flat tires I found myself completely out of spare tubes.  I figured that, until I could get to the bike shop, I would just ride and, if I  got a flat, I would either walk home or call my wife or son to come pick me up (which is kind of unfair to them).  So today, after school, my bike ride took me down the Susquehanna Trail to Gung Ho Bikes.  I figured that if I was going to ride...I'd ride there to get what I needed.  

Gung Ho Bikes in York, PA.  I took this pick the day I purchased my 2016 Specialized Stumpjumper. -- March 2016

I've first walked into Gung Ho in 1995 and I've never considered going to another bike shop.  Since then, I've bought 10 mountain bikes, 3 road bikes, a bike for my wife, and a BMX bike for my son. (After writing that last sentence I'm kind of amazed.  That's a lot of bikes!) The owner, Jay, is my longest continuous friend since I moved to York.  He's a great guy...and a "history nerd" like me.    When I walked in today he helped me with some mechanical stuff that was bothering me on some recent rides...and then let me test ride a new 2016 Roubaix that was sitting in the shop.  It was sweet.  I'm currently fighting off some "bike-envy." Damn....I don't need "bike-envy" right now.

A few years ago, Jay allowed to enter a couple adventure races under the name Team Gung Ho.  Both times I think I, and my racing partners, made the shop proud.   Heck...a few years ago he was kind enough to hire me part time to work in the shop.  I learned (and laughed) a lot!  

Jay may be my longest continuous friend since I've lived in York but this is, I believe, the only pic I have of Jay and I together.  This picture was taken at the conclusion of the 2009 Cradle of Liberty Adventure Race.  From left to right,  Team Gung Ho consisted of Dave Raymond, Kristian Hains, & Jay Zech -- June 2009

I handled the mountain biking duties for Team Gung Ho in the 2 man 2013 Rustic Rage Off Road Duathalon -- June 2013

Anthony Wallick and I won first place as Team Gung Ho in the 2013 Rustic Rage Off Road Duathalon -- June 2013

Chris Keller and I made the shop proud as Team Gung Ho in the 2013 Cushion Peak Adventure Race -- April 20, 2013

In the summer of 2013, one of my best bud's, Mikey Nardelli, and I were hired to work at the shop.  Sometimes we had too much fun!  -- July 2013

Gung Ho's motto is "JUST RIDE."  They're all about getting people on bikes....and all about taking care of those people once they have a bike.  Their service is second only to the friendly and welcoming atmosphere that is created by the staff.  That's what makes, in my opinion, Gung Ho the best bike shop around.  It's been a while since I've been to the shop.  A few months, I think.  So yeah...I thought today, instead of driving to get the stuff I needed...I'd JUST RIDE.

Life is a journey...not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- September 16, 2016

Gung Ho's service is awesome.  Derrick Rorrer is a fixture at the shop.  Derrik's got me out of more binds than I can count  -- September 16, 2016

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A DRY SPELL -- September 14, 2016

We're in the middle of a dry spell here in central Pennsylvania.  I haven't cut my grass in over three weeks (to be more son hasn't cut the grass in more than three weeks)...the local farm fields are turning brown...and the Susquehanna River is pretty darn low.  I've been in a dry spell too.  It's been over two weeks since I've been out on the trails on my mountain bike and, yesterday, I finally managed to break a ten day hiatus from my road bike.  

This has been my luck recently...road closures and flat tires.  No worries...every bike ride is a great ride! -- September 14, 2016

It's not that I like to leave my bikes hanging in the garage as wall decoration...and it's not that I don't want to ride...but it's been nearly impossible for me to get out and ride the past few weeks.  After school appointments, quality family time, and the fact that I've been just plain tired have played a role.  Other things, like the Springsteen concert at Citizens Bank Park in Philly last Friday, pushed my bike riding to the back burner.  It's just been hard to get out and turn those pedals.

"Baby We Were Born To Run!"  The Boss played for over four hours in Philly on Friday night!  Robin and I had a great time with Mark & Kim Lentz -- September 9, 2016

Yesterday I promised matter what...that I was going to get out on my bike.  My after school rides are never far...usually 10-15 miles...but they really energize me after a tiring day at school (I'm not one of those teachers that sits down a whole lot!)  Once I got home I took off my teacher costume and got ready for a ride.  I was really close to bagging it when I went into the garage and found a flat front tire on my Specialized Roubaix.  My 9th flat in the past two months.  After a little grumbling I pulled myself together, fixed my flat, and headed out on my last good tube. 

This is the lowest I've seen the Susquehanna River -- September 13, 2016

I took this pic from the middle of the Susquehanna River near Saginaw, PA -- September 13, 2016

The corn in the fields in Manchester is pretty much dried up -- September 14, 2016

The Conewago Creek looks more like a dry river bed -- September 14, 2016

 Yesterday's ride took me down to the Susquehanna River near Saginaw, PA.  Today's ride followed the Conewago Creek near Manchester.  Both rides showed just how dry things are around here.  Mark mentioned to me that he's NEVER seen the trails at Rocky Ridge as dry as they are.  Yesterday, I was literally able to walk, on dry ground, to the middle of the Susquehanna River!   Back in the spring, when we replaced the month of May with the month of "Gray," I thought that the sun would never come, things around here could use a little precipitation.  Thankfully, the weather guys say that there's a cold front pushing through tonight that's suppose to bring a little relief...and an end to this dry spell.  That's good news all around.

The clouds gathering on the horizon west of Manchester are the beginning of a cold front that's about to push through the area -- September 14, 2016

Life is a journey...not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- September 14, 2016

Some boroughs have weird rules....NO PEDDLING.  Damn. -- September 14, 2016

Monday, September 5, 2016


In final days of June 1863, four Confederate brigades...under the command of General Jubal Early...occupied the city of York, Pennsylvania demanding $100,000, shirts, hats, meat, & more.  Leaders in the city were able to come up with all of General Early's requests except for the money.  Approximately $28,000 was eventually handed over.  Far short of what the confederate general wanted...but enough to satisfy him and prevent the city from be torched.  The fact that York, Pennsylvania is the northernmost city in the United States to surrender to the Confederate army is overshadowed by the events of the next few days...the largest battle to happen in the history of the Western Hemisphere...the Battle of Gettysburg.'s a cool story...and one I like telling to the students in my history classes.

This WELCOME TO YORK monument, located on George Street south of the city, greets visitors as they come off of Interstate 83.  It's a safe bet that Jubal Early and his soldiers weren't welcomed with the same enthusiasm! -- September 5, 2016
This Pennsylvania historical marker is located on George Street in front of the York Hospital.  "Laid out in 1741,  by order of the Proprietors: the first Pennsylvania town west of the Susquehanna River.  Seat of the Continental Congress, 1777-1778: Birthplace of the Articles of  Confederation." -- September 5, 2016

Welcome to York, Pennsylvania.  With a population of approximately 44,000 people, the city doesn't even make the top 10 biggest cities in Pennsylvania...(we rank 12th behind Altoona)...but there's so much history to explore here.  So, with the day off for Labor Day...and the weather near perfect...I set off on my bike to check some of it out.  My true destination today was Reservoir Park just south of York City.  Anyone who bikes in York knows about Grantley Road.  From bottom to top you'll enjoy a 400 foot climb in less than a mile.  Halfway up the hill...on the left...I turned into the entrance for Reservoir Park which is part of the York Water Company.  The park itself was created in 1903 and opened to the public as a "public breathing spot" and a place to get away from the "strain of modern life."  I do believe that Reservoir Park offers the best view of the city that lays below...and it's a nice break from climbing Grantley Road.  

View of York City from Reservoir Park looking north towards my home in Manchester.  -- September 5, 2016

Reservoir Park -- September 5, 2016

Reservoir Park -- September 5, 2016

This gazebo, a gift from the Chinese government to the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, was eventually obtained by the York Water Company and placed at Reservoir Park.  The 1876 exposition also displayed the torch of the unfinished Statue of Liberty and was visited by many notable figures including future U.S. president James Garfield, an aspiring inventor named Alexander Graham Bell, and Joseph Lister a British surgeon & pioneer of antiseptic surgery.  Dang, I'm a nerd!  -- September 5, 2016

Taking a breather at Reservoir Park and soaking in the view of the City of York -- September 5, 2016

From Reservoir Hill I meandered my way a little further south before turning back towards the city and home.  Passing Apple Hill Medical Center I paused to check out another historical sign...which now explains why the medical center is named Apple Hill.  Way back in the 1820 a local Quaker nurseryman, Jonathan Jessop, developed a variety of apple on land in this area.  The York Imperial Apple was truly an "all purpose" apple because of it's excellence for both cider making and cooking.  Besides that, "it kept well."  The York Imperial Apple is now designated as an "antique apple" because it has been grown for over 180 years!   

This Pennsylvania historical marker is located near Apple Hill Medical Center on South George Street.  "Here, at a nursery located on Springwood Farms, a new variety of apple was propagated by Jonathan Jessop in 1820.  In 1855 it was named the "York Imperial."  It became a leading variety which was widely grown in the U.S." -- September 5, 2016

I began pedaling back toward the city on Starcross Road passing both a Hebrew and then a Catholic cemetery along the way.  I was headed home now...but not sure of  which way.  I ended up zig-zaging through a few neighborhoods in the city and then eventually rode upon what is probably the most recognizable area of the city...the York Colonial Complex.  Here you will find the Colonial Courthouse...a replica of the York Courthouse which was used for nine months by the Second Continental Congress in 1777 & 1778.  York became the home of notables such as John Hancock & John Adams.  It was here that the the Articles of Confederation (our nations first constitution) was adopted.  You will also find the Golden Plow Tavern, the Gates House, and who could miss the life sized statue of the "Soldier's friend" the Marquis de Lafayette.  

The York Colonial Courthouse located on the corner of West Market Street and Beaver Street in York City. -- September 5, 2016

The Marquis de Lafayette raising a glass to his "good friend, General Washington" -- September 5, 2016

Coming home, to avoid traffic, I turned down toward old Central York High  School and ducked through a tunnel that goes underneath Interstate 83.  To avoid my 8th flat tire this summer I carried my bike through the narrow tunnel avoiding the broken glass that litters the ground.  From there I was easily able to cross Route 30 and ride the hill up and past the incinerator, through Emigsville, and back home.  Yep...Bedford will always be my hometown...but York is now where I make my home.  After all...home is where you hang your helmet.

Life is a journey...not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- September 5, 2016

I so wanted to go to the Bobcat Creamery for a post ride milk shake...but they were closed today (as they should be.) I sit here in my writing this I celebrated with a cherry Italian ice.  Not quite the same...but like the $28,000 that Jubal Early will suffice.  -- September 5, 2016