There wasn't anything normal about 2018. It's been a year of extreme humidity, single digit temperatures, and more rainy days than I can remember in my lifetime. Even on the "dry" days riding conditions were challenging, at best. Mud and water and more mud seemed to be the recurring theme of the the past year. With the exception of a ride I took in Mesa, Arizona, I don't recall a single time this year when the trails were dry and dusty. Regardless, the conditions didn't stop me (or my riding partners) opting outside to turn some pedals. As a matter of fact, I rode (and cleaned my drive train) quite regularly and quite often.
|My Stumpjumper nestled in low hanging clouds and resting on the sign in Michaux State Forest marking the border of Cumberland and Adams Counties. -- July 31, 2018|
Throughout the course of 2018, I rode my mountain bike in, at least, sixteen different places...making my normal trips to places like Michaux State Forest, Swatara State Park, and Rocky Ridge County Park and returning to Patapsco Valley State Park and Camp Tuckahoe for the first time in a few years. I also rode, for the first time, on the trails behind the Bedford Springs Hotel, the Bedford Heritage Trail, the Milton Hershey Medical Center Trail System, and in Shawnee State Park. This year is the first year that I began to explore other riding options...using my mountain bike for road cycling when winter conditions just weren't cooperating. Joining me this year were Mark Lentz, Chris Keller, Tim Sindlinger, Matt Linnane, Adam Zeigler, Ben Kelly, Brent Shirk, Mike Alicea, and my son, Alex. No ride is a bad ride and all rides are fun in their own unique way...but the following ten rides stand out to me as the best of 2018. I didn't list them in any particular order except that the ride I have in the #1 spot really was my favorite ride of the past year. I wish a safe and happy New Year to all...and I hope to see all of my riding friends out on the trails again in 2019. Enjoy!
#10. DESERT BIKE RIDE -- JUNE 10, 2018
On a brief visit to Arizona to see my brother and my nieces and nephew, I slipped out for morning ride (on my brother's 1990s Cannondale) in the Arizona desert. The early morning temperatures had already reached 95 degrees and, about five miles out, I realized that my water bottle had fallen off of the bike. Not willing to risk anything, I turned back for my brother's house. This was, by far, the driest ride of 2018!
|Taking a break during my morning ride in Mesa, Arizona. -- June 10, 2018|
|My brother's old-school Cannondale. Superstition Mountain is visible in the distance. -- June 10, 2018|
#9. WRAPPING UP THE SCHOOL YEAR
ROAD RIDE WITH ALEX -- JUNE 7, 2018
Alex and I didn't ride far...but any ride with my son is special. The fact that it was also the last day of the school year made it even more memorable. This is the only ride on my Roubaix that made my top 10 list this year.
|Celebrating the last day of the 2017-18 school year with a road ride with my son, Alex. -- June 7, 2018|
#8. WET and MUDDY MICHAUX
MOUNTAIN BIKING WITH TIM and MATT -- JULY 31, 2018
This late July ride in Michaux State Forest
came the morning after a torrential rain (as did most of the rides this year). The humidity was thick and the clouds were hanging extra low...completely surrounding the forest. This ride included the best rock garden in Michaux, fun descents, twisty single track, and multiple stream crossings.
|Taking a break after Tim, Matt, and I finished riding one of my favorite rock gardens in Michaux State Forest. -- July 31, 2018|
|The wet weather turned minor streams in treacherous crossings. -- July 31, 2018|
#7. HOMECOMING RIDE
MOUNTAIN BIKING SHAWNEE STATE PARK -- MARCH 30, 2018
So much of my childhood was spent at Shawnee State Park
in Bedford County...but up until this past March, I had never ridden the trails there...making this "homecoming
" ride super special. I'm looking forward to going back and riding the trails in drier conditions.
|I began, and ended, my first-ever ride in Shawnee State Park on Field Trail. -- March 30, 2018|
|This section of "trail" near Route 30 in Shawnee State Park was a massive mud pit. -- March 30, 2018|
|Field Trail overlooking Shawnee Lake. -- March 30, 2018|
#6. YORK CITY PAINTED SIGN RIDE -- MARCH 31, 2018
Mark showed me that not all "road" rides need a road bike. Helping me channel my inner nerd, Mark took me on a super cool tour of York City to check out all of the old painted signs on the brick structures in the city. Some were easy to read, like the Pullman's sign below, and some where not...but the ride ranks as one of the best of 2018.
|Super cool graffiti and painted sign ruled the day. -- March 31, 2018|
|In the top right you can see the sign for York's Pullman's Automobiles. -- March 31, 2018|
#5. WINTER SOLSTICE CELEBRATION
MOUNTAIN BIKING THE PARKWAY TRAILS WITH BEN -- DECEMBER 21, 2018
This year, the Winter Solstice happened to fall on the last day of school prior to Christmas break. Because of my early dismissal from school, I was able to meet Ben Kelly at my house at 1:30 to drive twenty miles up to Harrisburg for a ride on the Parkway Trails
. Even though it was extremely muddy, this ride was my favorite ever on this trail system. Ben and I rode as much as we could in the 2 hours we had before the sun set on the first day of winter.
|Ben and I racing the sunset and enjoying a muddy ride in Harrisburg City. -- December 21, 2018|
|My Stumpjumper leaning on Harrisburg City graffiti. -- December 21, 2018|
#4. BEDFORD SPRINGS -- JANUARY 13 and 14, 2018
My first two rides of 2018 were also the coldest of the year. While visiting my father in Bedford, Pennsylvania, I geared up for the single digit temperatures and headed over to the trails behind the Bedford Springs Hotel. I had hiked these trails as a child...and as an adult...but this was the first time I had ever been there with my mountain bike. The cold temps kept each ride down to about an hour in length, but the frozen landscape...and the coolness of riding someplace where I hiked in my youth...made these two rides some of the best of the year.
|Pausing for a picture next to the frozen limestone spring near the Bedford Springs Hotel. -- January 13, 2018|
|Posing near Davey Lewis' Cave. -- January 14, 2018|
|Taking in the frozen landscape while riding the trails near the Bedford Springs Hotel. -- January 14, 2018|
#3. FIRST ANNUAL UGLY SWEATER RIDE
MOUNTAIN BIKING THE HERSHEY MEDICAL TRAIL SYSTEM WITH TIM, MATT, and ADAM -- DECEMBER 2, 2018
Matt came up with the idea of getting together for an "Ugly Sweater" ride...and hopefully it is a tradition we keep going. Tim, Adam, Matt, and I got into the holiday spirit for what turned out to be the absolute muddiest ride of 2018. The unrelenting rainfall turned the normally sturdy trails of the Hershey Medical Trail System
into a peanut butter-like mess. Very memorable!
|First ever Ugly Sweater Ride. Left to Right: Matt, Dave, Tim, & Adam. -- December 2, 2018|
|Riding the Hershey Medical Trail System with my ugly sweater. -- December 2, 2018|
|This ride was, hands down, the muddiest ride of 2018. -- December 2, 2018|
#2. PATAPSCO VALLEY RIDE WITH BRENT -- DECEMBER 27, 2018
Brent and I have a tradition of heading out for a ride during the week between Christmas and New Years Day. This year we made our way down to Patapsco Valley State Park
. I thought I had this place completely mapped out...but in the 2+ years since I was last there...new trails have been built! Valley View Trail is one of the coolest trails I've ridden in a long time! I can't wait to get back there and ride it again.
|Brent and I riding Valley View Trail in Patapsco Valley State Park. -- December 27, 2018|
|Taking a break near abandoned houses now located in the heart of Patapsco Valley State Park. -- December 27, 2018|
#1. OHIOPYLE STATE PARK -- JUNE 21, 2018
My surreal solo ride in Ohiopyle State Park
ranks as my favorite ride of 2018. Alex dropped me off at the Sugarloaf trail head for the start of a crazy ride that took me around the Sugarloaf Area and then to McCune Trail. The forest was completely engulfed by low hanging clouds and streams of water from the down pour that soaked the area the night before. McCune trail, lined with enormous boulders, will be a must ride for me from now on. I took Baughman Trail (which was, at that point, a flowing river) down the mountain to the town of Ohiopyle. After pausing for some ice cream, I rode the Great Allegheny Passage to the the trail that acts as a connector between the GAP and Kentuck Knob Campgrounds. The whole ride was so perfect...making it my favorite of 2018!
|Riding McCune Trail in Ohiopyle State Park. -- June 21, 2018|
|The shear size of the boulders which lined McCune Trail in Ohiopyle State Park is amazing! -- June 21, 2018|
|My Stumpjumper at the base of the two-mile-long Baughman Trail in Ohiopyle. The trail was literally turned into a small river from the rain that fell the previous night! -- June 21, 2018|
|Celebrating my ride in Ohiopyle State Park with an ice cream cone from the Ohiopyle General Store. Photo by Alex Raymond. -- June 21, 2018|
|Hanging my soaked and muddy gear from our cabin's railing to dry in the June humidity. -- June 21, 2018|
Life is a journey...not a destination.
David A. Raymond -- December 31, 2018
|The best ice cream stop of the year was after my final mountain bike ride of 2018. Brent and I stopped at the Ice Cream Cottage in Arbutus, Maryland after riding Patapsco Valley State Park. Not only do they have some of the best ice cream...but the nice lady behind the counter makes amazing roast beef sandwiches! -- December 27, 2018|
Here are the GARMIN maps and data from my favorite rides of 2018. #OptOutside
"WRITE SOMETHING WORTH READING OR DO SOMETHING WORTH WRITING..." Ben Franklin