As the saying goes..."We all have to start somewhere..." and for me, it was with a 1995 GT Timberline mountain bike that I purchased with my first couple paychecks from my new teaching job at Northeastern Middle School. I had no idea what kind of bike I wanted....and I had no idea what I was looking for. I walked into Gung Ho Bikes (located at that time on White Street near West York) and met Jay Zech. I told him that I wanted "middle of the road." I wasn't even sure I would like this mountain biking thing. That first bike cost me a little less than $500 dollars in 1995 (which was $300 more than my first car...a 1979 Fiat Strada.) It had no front suspension (although I would upgrade to a RockShox front fork after massive crash in 1996 that mangled the my bike!), it had platform pedals (although I would eventually upgrade to toe clips), and I insisted on bar ends...the bigger and longer the better. I had absolutely no clue. My bike was blue with some black splashed on it and it had orange writing. Jay even threw in a free water bottle and a Bell helmet (blue to match the bike.) After a quick test ride around the shop (in which I pretended that I knew what I was testing it out for), checking all the boxes on the papers (that I didn't read), and plopping down the cash...I walked out the proud owner of my first mountain bike!
|My first bike selfie...with my brand new 1995 GT Timberline! Anybody recognize "Forbidden Four" at Rocky Ridge? -- 1995|
I didn't know what the hell I was doing back then...and, by writing this now...I'm going out on a limb and really making myself pretty damn vulnerable. I know my riding buds (once they see this) will NEVER let me live these pics down. But...you've got to start somewhere. At the time, I knew of only two places on the planet Earth that you could mountain bike....Rocky Ridge County Park and Lake Redman...so, from 1995 until I began riding with Mark Lentz (who opened my eyes to a whole new world of trails) in 2006, that was pretty much the extent of my mountain biking world. I didn't even know how to dress for the occassion. Back then, I was still stuck in the whole early 90's grunge era...so I went with that. Multiple layers of t-shirts, cut off flannels, cargo shorts (or even jeans), work boots, and...bandanas (yes, plural. One for my head and one for my neck). I was ready to ride.
|Rocky Ridge County Park. Even back then they set up the Christmas Lights in October! -- October 23, 1995|
|Where the hell is my helmet?! The Lakes -- May 31, 1996|
|By 1998, I had upgraded to a RockShox front fork, toe clips, and massive bar ends! My clothing style seems to have just gotten worse, though. Rocky Ridge -- November 11, 1998|
I found myself, on those first rides, pretty much alone. It wasn't until about 2000, when I met Tim Sindlinger, that I had a steady riding partner. And even once we began riding together, our riding was contained to Rocky Ridge, the Lakes, and occasionally...the Rail Trail. I think what blows me away the most is...considering how much I now document and photograph everything...I have zero pics of Tim and I riding together prior to 2006! The few pics I have from those early years were taken on an old Fugi 35mm camera which was a gift from my parents. It was just small enough to fit into the saddle bag underneath my seat (or in the aforementioned cargo shorts.)
|The Lake Redman sign, seen from I-83, remains pretty much unchanged in the past 20 years -- May 22, 1996|
I didn't always ride alone prior to meeting Tim. A friend of mine, Dennis Rastatter, moved to York with me in 1995. He also was hired to teach at NMS. Dennis brought a mountain bike with him and, maybe...looking back on it now...that may have been the catalyst for my purchase. He and I would go out and ride every so often. But...by the beginning of 1997...Dennis and I were both in relationships and no longer roommates (he had taken a different teaching position.) Dennis moved to Colorado in 1998.
|Dennis Rastatter at Rocky Ridge -- October 23, 1995|
|Dennis Rastatter at the Lakes. Again...where are our helmets? -- May 31, 1996|
My brother, Jake, and I had the opportunity to ride at the Lakes together, twice, while he lived in the area. He was attending York College in 1996 and had a bike. Of the few pics I have from back then...I do have two from the rides we went on at Lake Redman. That's pretty cool.
|Jacob Raymond at the Lakes -- March 30, 1996|
|Riding with Jake at the Lakes -- May 5, 1996|
Sometime prior to 1998, I met a great guy named Rick Brubaker. He was subbing in my building and; coincidentally, was living just three houses down the street from me. He too, owned a mountain bike. Rick became the closest thing to a steady riding partner I would have before meeting Tim. He was an all around great guy, the two of us had a lot in common, we had great conversations, and we just plain old had fun together. Rick worked part time at the local Dick's Sporting Goods store as a bike tech. Early on, he helped me fix quite a number of mechanicals. He even helped me replace the cantilever brakes on that 1995 GT with the new V-brakes. I was moving up in the world! Rick and I are still friends (but mostly through Facebook.) He still lives in the area with his wife, Tanya, and their family. Only one pic of us riding together survives. I really hope he gets to read this.
|David Raymond & Richard Brubaker -- November 11, 1998|
There is a big gap (as far as mountain biking goes) in my old scrap books between the years of 1998 and 2006. Even though I know I went riding many times with Tim...I can't find a single mountain biking pic from that eight year span. I guess mountain biking wasn't, during those years, quite the passion that it would eventually become for me. But...you got to start somewhere...and I got my start in 1995 when I walked into Gung Ho and walked out with that first bike...when I rode with that first group of guys...and when I rode those first trails. I've been pedaling ever since.
Life is a journey...not a destination.
David A. Raymond -- November 20, 2016
Be sure to check out the ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM website for trail maps, directions to trail heads, and all of my ride pics!
|No laughing allowed! This was the first time I ever hired the SQUIRRELS WITH CAMERAS to try to take an action pic. This area of the Lakes is now a housing development...but in 1995, it was a fun place for mountain biking newbies...who had no clue...to try to get some "air." All reflectors onboard! -- 1995|