Friday, April 27, 2018


Recently, an article I was reading in a cycling magazine grabbed my attention.  It was all about the "why?"  Why do you ride your bike?  I read on as people from all over the country chimed in and shared their own personal "why."  It really got me thinking about all the reasons why I ride.  Narrowing it down to one overriding reason as to WHY I love to ride my bike...has proven difficult.  Some reasons why, like overall health, have been a constant and others, like training for races, have ceased to be important to me.

Enjoying the view at the top of Baughman Trail from Baughman Rock Overlook in Ohiopyle State Park. -- June 13, 2017
I have this internal desire to ride my bike all of the time.  My brain is always trying to find a time slot in the day for me to turn the pedals.  Just this morning, prior to coming to school, I was in the rain putting my bike in the back of my truck, with the optimistic feeling that the weather would clear and the trails at Rocky Ridge would be open at 3PM.  But that "internal desire" doesn't answer the "why" question.  So, I sat down and made a list of all the reasons I ride...hoping to come up with a theme.  The list looks like this...

-Riding my bike makes me happy.
-Riding my bike keeps me focused.
-Riding my bike helps me to explore and enjoy nature.
-Riding my bike keeps me from getting too fat.
-Riding my bike allows me to enjoy time alone.
-Riding my bike allows me to enjoy time with friends.

I know I missed a few...but just creating that small list brings into focus the bigger "WHY."  It's clear that I ride my bike because it positively affects me both mentally and physically.  Cool...but what about my biking friends?  I wondered what their "WHY" was and I asked them to complete this sentence:

"I ride my bike to..."  

Here are their responses in the order in which I received them.  Thanks to all of my friends and family who helped me out with this one.  Enjoy!


Mike Alessandroni riding at the Gettysburg National Military Park. -- August 3, 2016

"...experience freedom." 


Jay Zech at the conclusion of the Cradle of Liberty Adventure Race. -- June 28, 2009.

" more happy."


Matt Linnane in riding in Michaux State Forest. -- August 15, 2017

" push my body and to work out OUTSIDE.  Oh...and I ride to pick up chicks, they love the spandex!"


Hanging out and riding the trails around Camp Tuckahoe with my fellow homo sapien, Mark Lentz. --  February 3, 2018

" have fun, hang out with other homo sapiens, and to be by myself."


Tim Sindlinger doing his best to avoid "cabin fever" by riding at Rocky Ridge County Park. -- October 14, 2016

" escape the indoors!  I catch cabin fever easily and I don't handle it well."


On  a ride with my beautiful wife, Robin, in West Palm Beach, Florida. -- December 1, 2017

"...for the pure joy I experienced in my youth--the freedom, the wind on my face, and the thrill of a downhill ride."


David Raymond and Chris Keller riding in Swatara State Park. -- April 7, 2018

"...exercise, relieve stress, and hang out with cool people."


Mike Alicea in Michaux State Forest. -- June 14, 2014

"...relieve stress.  When riding my mind is clear and the trails are wide.  In that moment, I leave behind the bustle of daily life."


Alex Raymond riding his bike through Point State Park in Pittsburgh, PA. -- October 2017

" get from point A to point's a fun way to do so.  It's a lot more challenging than driving and far more exciting because you have more time to think to yourself and get an awesome workout.  It also gives me the opportunity to sing to myself because I know that no one on the road will hear me."

Why do Mark and I ride?  So we can get back into shape! Mark Lentz and David Raymond at the Lakes. -- April 13, 2018

Life is a journey...not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- April 27, 2018
What is your "WHY?"  Feel free to post it in the comments below.  

One of the biggest reasons I ride is so that I don't feel so guilty going out for a deep-fried PBJ at Todd Conners in Fells Point, Maryland!  Left to right:  David M. Raymond, David A. Raymond, Robin Raymond, & Mary Jane Raymond -- April 21, 2018

Here are the GARMIN maps and data from a few of the rides featured in this post.   Happy riding!

Interested in biking or hiking some of the trails featured in this post?  Check out the TRAIL MAPS and TRAIL HEADS tabs on the ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM website.   

All of my posts are available at ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM and, if you get the chance, be sure to visit the good folks at YOURTRUENATURE.COM and PA PARKS and FORESTS FOUNDATION.


Monday, April 2, 2018


In 1758, George Washington, commanding the rear guard of British general John Forbes's army en route to capture Fort Duquesne, slept in a field just ten miles west of Bedford, Pennsylvania.  Today, those very fields make up Shawnee State Park.  Named for the Shawnee tribe who, in the 18th century, were forced from the Potomac to Ohio Country, Shawnee State Park (opened in 1951) was a mainstay of my childhood.  When we were kids, my parents, on hot summer days, would drive my brother and me to Shawnee in our old 1975 Pontiac where we would spend countless hours swimming, playing in the sand, picnicking, and hiking (what seemed, to an eight year old, and endless trail) around the lake.

Shawnee Lake as seen from Field Trail on the Northwest side of the lake. -- March 30, 2018

This past weekend was a "homecoming," of sorts, for me.   Please don't get me wrong...I come home to visit often...but I can count on one hand the number of times I've been to Shawnee State Park since I graduated high school. Twice to be precise.  On the Fourth of July weekend, in 2014, Robin, Alex, Dad, Mary Jane, and I took a hike along the lake and, in 2015, I took a ride on my road bike through the park.

Hiking around Shawnee Lake.  Dave, Mary Jane, Alex, Robin, and David Raymond. -- July 5, 2014

Road ride through Shawnee State Park. -- July 10, 2015

This past Fall, I entered one of my mountain biking pics in a photo contest sponsored by the good folks at PA Parks and Forests Foundation.  To my excitement (and surprise,) my pic was one of the winners.  I was equally surprised when I found out that the winning photos would be on display this month at Shawnee State Park.  What a super cool coincidence...and how fortunate I was to be able to make the trip to my hometown to be present (along with my wife, Robin, my father, Mary Jane, Jane, and Galen) for the ribbon cutting ceremony opening the PA Parks and Forests photo contest gallery on display at Shawnee's Environmental Education Center.  I was so proud to share this honor with my wife, family, and members of the local community!

Participating in the Ribbon Cutting at Shawnee State Park. -- March 29, 2018

David and Robin Raymond in the Education Center at Shawnee State Park located in Bedford County, Pennsylvania. -- March 29, 2018

Seated:  Galen & Jane Black.
Standing: Robin, David, Mary Jane, & Dave Raymond
Shawnee State Park Education Center -- March 29, 2018
Robin and I planned on staying in Bedford for a couple of days and I knew that I would have a little bit of time to ride on Friday I brought my bike along, too.  In all honesty, I planned on heading back to the trails near the Bedford Springs.  I mountain biked that area for the first time back in January...but the snow and ice and single digit temperatures limited where, and how long, I could explore.  Those plans changed as I mingled around the Education Center on Thursday night and all of the memories of Shawnee State Park began to fill into my head.  I was inspired to come back to Shawnee the next morning for my first ever mountain bike ride in the very same State Park I knew so well as a child.

This sign for FIELD TRAIL is easily seen from the road as you turn off of Route 30 and into Shawnee State Park.  Field trail was the beginning (and ending) point of my ride. -- March 30, 2018

From the outset, I knew that this would be a mud-fest.  With that in mind, (and, even though I spent a lot of time at Shawnee as a kid) I was about to head out for a solo ride on "new to me" trails and I thought it prudent to map my ride ahead of time from a trail map I acquired from a Park Ranger the previous evening.  Mary Jane seemed to be impressed with my pre-ride preparation as I spread the map out on the coffee table in the living room.  I assured her that, no matter how much I may joke around, maps are a GOOD thing!  As for my plan...I decided to park the Cruz on a small pull off located where Field Trail intersects with the paved road in State Park.  The route I chose, in theory, would loop around the eastern section of the lake...and, if I was correct, would eventually end at the exactly where I began.

Field Trail...the first and last trail of my ride.  I knew that things were going to be slow and sloppy as I started off on the north side of the park.  The trail ran parallel to Route 30 and crossed over smaller streams that feed into Shawnee Lake. -- March 30, 2018

My plan had me riding Field Trail until it intersected at the far end of the park with Felton Trail. -- March 30, 2018

The route I had mapped out had me turning off of Felton Trail (which would have eventually looped me back to Field Trail).  Pigeon Hills Trail was a super cool ride that gained a lot of elevation as it made it's way along the ridge above the lake.   Probably the coolest part of Pigeon Hills Trail was when it made a sharp right down towards the dam.  That section of trail was part of the original Forbes Road cut by the British army in 1758!  --  March 30, 2018

Descending off of Pigeon Hills Trail I ended up at the dam on the southern end of the lake.  From there I pedaled Lake Shore Trail and began making my way back Field Trail and, eventually, looping back to my starting point. -- March 30, 2018

Pausing on Lake Shore Trail near the dam on the south end of Shawnee Lake. -- March 30, 2018

No doubt about it...this ride was a complete mud-fest...a sloppy, wet, mucky, amazingly fun, mud-fest.  Through it all,  I was able to rediscover a beautiful State Park in which I had spend so much time years a way that I never had before.  Robin says that Bedford is the only place she ever sees me relax.  I don't know how true that is...but I do love going home to visit.  Not just for the good memories that come rushing back to me...but also because of the new memories that are constantly being created there with the people, and places, I love.

The entrance to Shawnee State Park located on The Lincoln Highway (Route 30) just outside of Schellsburg, Pennsylvania.  The abandoned building on the other side of the street was once the Frosty Bear Ice Cream Drive-In and Gas Station.  It was a favorite place to stop after a summer day at Shawnee State Park. -- March 30, 2018

Life is a journey...not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- April 2, 2018

Summer of 1977!  My dad (holding my brother, Jake) packing the car to take the two of us and our older cousins (Bobby, Andy, and Kristen) to Shawnee State Park for the day.

Here is the GARMIN map and data from my solo mud-fest at Shawnee State Park...along with the maps and data from my 2014 hike and 2015 road ride.  Happy riding!

Interested in biking or hiking some of the trails featured in this post?  Check out the TRAIL MAPS and TRAIL HEADS tabs on the ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM website.   

All of my posts are available at ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM and, if you get the chance, be sure to visit the good folks at YOURTRUENATURE.COM and PA PARKS and FORESTS FOUNDATION.