This past week really has been "like Christmas" for me. Mark and I both have the week off for Christmas vacation and, even though the wind chills have been in the single digits, we've managed to get out on our mountain bikes for a couple of very cold, but equally amazing, rides...both of which were in locations I had never ridden before. Two super cool, and unexpected, presents.
The intersection of Old Farm Trail and Ridge Trail at Gifford Pinchot State Park. -- December 27, 2017
That's been a theme for me in 2017. Since April, when I was cleared by my doctor to begin riding my bike again, I've mountain biked in six new places: Codorus State Park, Stony Valley RR Trail, The Parkway Trails in Harrisburg, Tuscarora State Forest, Gifford Pinchot State Park, and even in the City of York. Over the past eight months I've also revisted trails that I haven't ridden for almost a decade...like the York County Heritage Rail Trail and Ohiopyle State Park. When you add in one trip each to the Allegrippis Trails near Raystown Lake and Swatara State Park...six trips to Michaux State Forest...twenty nine combined local rides at Rocky Ridge County Park and the Lakes...and thirty plus rides on my road bike...2017 was full of memorable rides. Most importantly, throughout this past year, I've continued to be blessed with an amazing group of friends to share these trails and rides with...Mark Lentz, Glenn Medice, Timmy Sindlinger, Matt Linnane, Chris Keller, Brent Shirk, Mike Alicea, and yep, Mikey Nardelli...all of whom helped make every ride memorable.
So...with the year quickly coming to an end (and with much anticipation of all the rides and trails coming our way in 2018) I thought it would be fun to backtrack over 2017 and take a look at my ten favorite rides of the past year. Enjoy!
Two rides...not one...are combined for the tenth spot on my list. With the air temps hovering around 20 degrees, Mark and I set out on two rides that were completely new to me. The first was a ten mile urban ride in the city of York, PA that consisted of about 60 percent pavement and 40 percent off road. The second ride was in Gillford Pinchot State Park. I've always been told that the riding there was minimal...but Mark and I spend a very cold hour riding single track that was incredibly cool.
My Stumpjumper leaning on one of the many murals that line the streets of York, Pennsylvania. -- December 26, 2017
My first ride in Gifford Pinchot State Park. Mark and I paused to check out the ruins of an old farm that is visible from Old Farm Trail. -- December 27, 2017
Mark was super stoked to show me the miles and miles of continuous single track in the Big Flat area of Michaux State Forest. It was a day of just continuous riding on some of the best trails that Michaux has to offer.
Astronomy Trail in Michaux State Forest. -- August 18, 2017
Mark and I are all smiles after our last summer ride in Michaux. -- August 18, 2017
I rode the extremely challenging trails of Ohiopyle State Park for the first time since 2009. Heading out solo, I tackled the Sugarloaf Trails and Baughman Trail (which descends 800 feet in nearly two miles). As an added bonus, I spend some leisurely time on the Great Allegheny Passage and just soaked in the amazing scenery of Pennsylvania's Laurel Highlands.
The last 100 yards of Baughman Trail. A wild and crazy trail that descends nearly 800 feet in two miles! -- June 15, 2017
My son, Alex, took this shot of me on the Great Allegheny Passage with his drone. -- June 15, 2017
#7. THE ROCKIEST RIDE OF THE YEAR
(Michaux State Forest with Glenn Medice, Tim Sindlinger, and Matt Linnane) -- AUGUST 1, 2017
The Rockiest Ride of the Year makes my top ten list simply because it was extremely fun to revisit (for the first time in nearly ten years) one of the most challenging trails near Piney Mountain Ridge in Michaux State Forest...Fender Trail. It also led us towards one of the more picturesque trails in the area...Bear Knob. It was just really fun ride.
Tim Sindlinger, Matt Linnane, Dave Raymond, and Glenn Medice taking a break on Bear Knob in Michaux State Forest. -- August 1, 2017
Descending Bear Knob in Michaux State Forest. -- August 1, 2017
(The Parkway Trails with Mark Lentz and Glenn Medice) -- JULY 26, 2017
The Parkway Trails in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania have proved to be one of the coolest "local" trail systems around. I've been there three times this past year...but the second of the three rides (with Mark and Glenn) was super amazing. We had a blast zipping in and out of the mountain bike friendly single track put in place by SAMBA. Urban mountain biking at it's best!
My Stumpjumper leaning on the South Harrisburg Wall Project. One of the super cool things you will see while riding the Parkway Trails. -- July 26, 2017
Mark and Glenn crossing over the rail road tracks while riding the Parkway Trails. -- July 26, 2017
All smiles after a twisty single track on the Paxtang side of the Parkway Trails. -- July 26, 2017
Mark Lentz, Dave Raymond, and Glenn Medice wrapping up our ride on the Parkway Trails. -- July 26, 2017
#5. OVER THE MOUNTAIN
(Michaux State Forest with Mark Lentz) -- July 31, 2017
Mark and I really did ride over the mountain in Michaux on the last day of July. Not purposefully. We were looking for a section of single track near Ridge Road. What we got was a ride we will never forget. After accidentally dropping down into King's Gap State Park, Mark and I did an impromptu road ride and then climbed fire road back up the mountain to Ridge Trail. Along the way we encountered a black bear and ultimately found some really awesome single track (none of which was the trail we were originally looking for).
Ridge Trail in Michaux State Forest is made up of super technical single track. -- July 31, 2017
Dave Raymond and Mark Lentz on Ridge Trail in Michaux State Forest. -- July 31, 2017
Looking west from the top of the mountain in Michaux State Forest just before accidentally dropping down into King's Gap State Park. -- July 31, 2017
With the mountain range off to our left, Mark and I had to ride about 6 miles of road to eventually get back over the mountain. -- July 31, 2017
Nothing like sharing the trail with a black bear. -- July 31, 2017
The Stony Valley Rail Trail turned out to be the perfect ride for Mark and I the first week of summer vacation. With a steady rain coming down for the enter 28 mile journey, Mark and I experienced, what I consider to be, the most visually stimulating ride of the summer. Along the way we explored limestone diversion wells and the ruins of Cold Spring, a 19th Century resort town.
While riding the Stony Valley Rail Trail, Mark and I took a short detour to explore the ruins of Cold Spring, a 19th century resort town, which is located in State Game Lands No. 221. -- June 5, 2017
Mark Lentz riding the Stony Valley Rail Trail. -- June 5, 2017
#3. FUN IN MICHAUX
(Michaux state Forest with Glenn Medice and Matt Linnane) -- JULY 25, 2017
This ordinary "Tuesday in Michaux" ride really turned into something out of the ordinary. The July humidity disappeared and the temperatures were low. Glenn, Matt, and I explored "new to us" trails south of Woodrow Road and then headed towards Grave Ridge. Riding south to north on Grave Ridge was one of more memorable rides of the summer. It was a great Tuesday in Michaux.
Dave Raymond, Glenn Medice, and Matt Linnane taking a break on Gargamel's Trail in Michaux State Forest. -- July 25, 2017
Glenn Medice riding Gargamel's Trail in Michaux State Forest. -- July 25, 2017
Dave Raymond riding Gargamel's Trail in Michaux State Forest. -- July 25, 2017
Matt Linnane taking on Grave Ridge in Michaux State Forest. -- July 25, 2017
Mark and I made a spur of moment decision to turn right towards Tuscarora State Forest instead of left towards Michaux. The result was an epic, tropical, twenty nine mile ride that included a rattle snake sighting, an old CCC Camp, Doubling Gap Overlook, the grave of CCC worker who perished while creating the mountain roads on which we were riding, and nearly 4,000 feet of climbing! Yeah...what a day we had!
Mark Lentz and Dave Raymond at the tail end of an epic, muddy, and tropical ride in Tuscarora State Forest. -- July 6, 2017
Mark Lentz riding in Tuscarora State Forest. -- July 6, 2017
(Manchester, Pennsylvania with Robin) -- APRIL 9, 2017
When I was given the green light to ride my back after my second back surgery within a year, I couldn't think of a better person to share my joy with than my wife, Robin. I agree to take it easy. We dropped my truck off at Northeastern High School for my son...and then Robin and I rode three glorious miles home! It was the best three miles ever.
I have a look of excitement and my wife has a look of cautious happiness as we begin my first ride after back surgery. -- April 9, 2017
I couldn't hide my smile as I was about to embark on my first ride five months! -- April 9, 2017
This new year, I'm thankful for my family, my friends, and my health. 2018 presents me with the opportunity to ride all twelve months of the year for the first time since 2015. Physically, I feel better than I have in a long time....in no small part to my surgeon (who fixed my back) and to my wife (who rightfully encourages me to slow down a little bit). I already have a few ideas in mind for 2018. Along with exploring new trails, I'd like to revisit places I haven't been to in a long time...places like Blue Marsh, Fair Hill, Rattling Creek, and French Creek. I'm sure my friends will buy into that...and I'm sure, that by the end of the year, I'll have plenty of rides to backtrack on.
Happy New Year!
I can't leave out the road rides I had this summer with my son, Alex. I'm so happy he enjoys his bike and loves to use it to explore the Pittsburgh area when he is away at school. -- August 20, 2017
Life is a journey...not a destination.
David A. Raymond -- December 30, 2017 What was your favorite ride or hike of 2017? Feel free to post your comments below. Happy New Year!
And...my vote for favorite ice-cream stop of 2017 is the Glen Dairy Bar in Watkin's Glen, New York! -- July 20, 2017
Here are the GARMIN maps and data from the rides featured in this post...