Friday, December 9, 2016


It's a word that Mikey loves to use...SIMPLICITY.  Mountain biking stripped down to it's basic form. For four years, I'd had been riding a full suspension bike...and dealing with the mechanical problems that come with full suspension bikes. Early in 2011, I sold my 26 inch, full suspension Stumpjumper and purchased my first 29 inch mountain bike. Gone were the small wheels and rear suspension...replaced with a bike that I would ride the heck out of for next five years.  I was the last 26 inch hold out in our group...but simply stated...making the switch was one of the best mountain biking decisions I've made. 

My first ride in Michaux State Forest with my brand new 2011 Stumpjumper 29er.  An incredible ride which ended with an amazing view from the top of Pole Steeple -- July 4, 2011

My time in Michaux during 2011 and 2012 was spent mostly with Kevin Hardy, Tim Sindlinger and Chris Keller. Chris and I had met a few years before (my son and his daughter were in the same grade) and we quickly became friends.  Although his gentle and kind demeanor is what really sets Chris apart everybody else...there is no denying that the man has serious mountain biking skills.  He and I would spend the next few years riding and competing in adventure races together as TEAM WHITE SQUIRREL.

Left to right:  Chris Keller (April 7, 2012), Kevin Hardy (July 4, 2011), Dave Raymond & Kevin Hardy (July 4, 2011), Tim Sindlinger & Dave Raymond (May 5, 2012), Chris Keller (April 7, 2012), Chris Keller & Tim Sindlinger (April 7, 2012) -- All pics taken in Michaux State Forest

For the most part, I was just loving life again...and loving how my new bike handled the trails (and the rocks) in Michaux State Forest.  After years of depending on my rear suspension to get me over the technical stuff, I was now, with my new bike, just simply (there's that word again) rolling over everything in my way.  As for our rides...I was keeping things simple and focusing on the trails that I already knew.  Michaux is so damn big...and even though I knew that there had to be other stuff out there waiting to be ridden...I made up my mind that, for the time being, I would stick to what was already mapped out in my head.  The only difference now was that I had decided to do everything possible to maximize our fun...piecing together trails in an order and direction that gave us the most bang for our buck.

My 2011Stumpjumper rolling, with ease, over everything in it's path -- April 7, 2012

Descending off of Pole Steeple -- July 4, 2011

During these two years, there was one ride in particular that sticks out to me.  It's the only ride that deviated from my "maximizing fun" philosophy. For the past two years I had been dating  my now amazing wife, Robin.  Earlier in the month I had purchased a ring and planned to propose to her at the top of Tumbling of the most beautiful and scenic places in the forest.  But first, I needed to check something out.  Five years prior, when we first began riding in Michaux, Mark, Tim, & I had explored Dead Woman's Hollow Trail...which eventually wound it's way to a big rock outcropping with a nice view.  I hadn't been there for years and I wanted to make sure that Tumbling Run really was the place I wanted to propose to Robin.  On the morning of June 23, I picked Chris up at his house and explained that, unlike our recent rides at Michaux, this time I had a mission...and it wouldn't be easy.  Our ride took us out GRAVE RIDGE and then up Dead Woman's Hollow Road...a 600 foot climb in just over ONE mile!  After all that effort...and despite the nice view from the rocks at the end of Dead Woman's Hollow Trail...I decided to stick with Tumbling Run.  The ride down was pretty damn steep.  Near the bottom, Chris and I couldn't find any SIGNS OF MAINTENANCE and we had to bushwhack our way through the forest until we found Mountain Creek and trails we were familiar with.  Mission accomplished.  On the way home, we enjoyed some well earned ice cream and, the next day, I ended up with an amazing future wife.
Simply awesome.

To be continued...

Taking a well deserved rest at the top of Dead Woman's Hollow Road before turning onto Dead Woman's Hollow Trail -- June 23, 2012

Riding Dead Woman's Hollow Trail.  I forgot my gloves that day...which made a challenging ride even more difficult -- June 23, 2012

Dave Raymond & Chris Keller at the end of Dead Woman's Hollow Trail.  It's all down hill from here! -- June 23, 2012

Life is a journey...not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- December 9, 2016

I'm happy to say that, at the top of the rocks near Tumbling Run, she said "YES!" -- June 24, 2012