Last weekend, completely unexpectedly, I found myself putting my Roubaix on top of the car and driving 70 miles east to Valley Forge National Historical Park. I've always wanted to take my bike there and ride through the park...and, with my Saturday completely wide open, I snagged the opportunity. Granted...I wish my wife could have been with me...or, for that matter, any of my riding friends...but I was perfectly content to be there by myself. Just me and my bike and a whole lot of nerdiness. I've been to Valley Forge quite a few times...but never on my bike. The thing that amazed me about my bike ride through the area used as a winter encampment by General George Washington and the Continental Army in 1777 and 1778 was how much of more of the park I was able to see by riding my bike as opposed to driving through. I saw entrenchments, land formations, and smaller monuments and markers that I had never noticed. So cool...and yes, very nerdy. All in all...it was a perfect Saturday...allowing me to combine my love for cycling and history.
|Standing with a statue of Baron Von Stueben at Valley Forge National Historical Park -- September 7, 2019|
|Valley Forge National Historical Park -- September 7, 2019|
|My Roubaix leaning against one of the reconstructed soldiers cabins at Valley Forge National Historical Park. -- September 7, 2019|
|Standing proudly next to a monument, dedicated in memory of the Continental Army, placed at Valley Forge by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. -- September 7, 2019|
I've always been fascinated by how much I can see and explore on my bicycle. It is, hands down, the best way to see a National Park like Gettysburg....no getting in an out of cars or looking for parking spaces. Sometimes these rides are planned...like my recent trip to Valley Forge and my many excursions to Gettysburg Military Park. Sometimes they happen because I'm able to take my bike along on a road trip...like my awesome ride to Kitty Hawk this summer to visit the Wright Brothers Memorial. But most of the times, they happen by chance because of the close proximity of so much incredibly nerdy stuff within biking distance of my driveway in York County, Pennsylvania. I've completely channeled my inner nerd as I've pedaled through the Old Gates in Saint Augustine, Florida...as I cruised down the streets in my home town of Bedford, Pennsylvania...as I stopped to admire 17th century anchors on display in Jupiter, Florida...and visited random grave sites of lesser known signers of the Declaration of Independence.
|Riding the Gettysburg National Military Park with my friend, Eric Sweitzer. (unknown photographer) -- Summer of 2005|
|Spending a completely nerdy day with my son, Alex (11 years old at the time) on our bikes at the Gettysburg National Military Park -- July 22, 2010|
|Riding past the reconstructed Fort Bedford in Bedford, Pennsylvania. -- July 6, 2016|
|Riding past the Bedford Springs Hotel...once the summer vacation spots for Presidents Polk and Buchanan. -- July 6, 2016|
|Standing next to the Espy House in Bedford, Pa. This building was used by President George Washington as a headquarters during the Whiskey Rebellion. -- July 4, 2019|
|Stopping to check out the massive mural of George Washington located on Pitt Street in Bedford, Pa. -- September 20, 2014|
|On this particular morning, my bike ride took me past the grave of James Smith, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. -- September 7, 2015|
|The remains of Codorus Furnace. Once owned by James Smith (signer of the Declaration of Independence) the furnace was used to make ammunition for the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War -- September 26, 2015|
|This monument marks the Battle of Hanover,which was fought on June 30, 1863 just prior to the Battle of Gettysburg, in Hanover, Pennsylvania -- October 18, 2015|
|Checking out the Cape May Lighthouse in Cape May, New Jersey. -- April 11, 2015|
|I came across this statue while riding in York City. It was erected in memory of the citizens of York who served in the Revolutionary War. -- March 31, 2019|
|Getting super nerdy at the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument in St. Augustine, Florida -- November 29, 2015|
|My bike parked at the Old City Gates in St. Augustine, Florida -- November 29, 2015|
|Examining an old Spanish anchor in Jupiter Lighthouse Park -- November 30, 2017|
|My bike sitting in front of the York Colonial Courthouse. The structure is a reconstruction of the building that housed the Continental Congress while they were in exiled from Philadelphia in the Revolutionary War. It was during this time that the Congress drafted the Articles of Confederation, our nation's first working Constitution. -- August 22, 2015|
|Happily posing with my bike at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. -- June 10, 2019|
|Julien Linne and Dave Raymond at the Wright Brothers National Memorial -- June 10, 2019|
History isn't just found along the road side, nor is it strictly found in urban areas. More often than you think, I stumble across nerdy historical places in the forests while mountain biking. Sure, I've yet to find a civil war cannon setting along the trail...but there are plenty of remains of 18th and 19th century iron furnaces all along the mountain sides. Nestled in the mountains of Michaux State Forest you can explore the remains of Camp Michaux which was first used as a CCC Camp, then a secret German and Japanese prisoner of war interrogation camp, and then, in its final form, a church camp. On my mountain bike I've found historical survey markers, monuments to historical people and events, remnants of canals which are no longer in use, and even the remains of a long forgotten 19th century resort for the affluent and wealthy of the city of Harrisburg.
|Exploring the ruins of Cold Spring Resort located in State Game Lands northeast of Harrisburg, PA -- June 5, 2017|
|This marker along the trails in Patapsco Valley State Park indicates the spot where Captain John Smith left a Maltese Cross during his exploration of the Chesapeake between the years 1607 and 1609. -- December 27, 2018|
|Showing Ben Kelly the remains of Camp Michaux in Michaux State Forest. -- July 10, 2018|
|Our mountain bikes resting on the remains of the fountain at Camp Michaux in Michaux State Forest. -- July 10, 2018|
|My bike leaning against the iron furnace (once owned by Pennsylvania abolitionist and congressman, Thaddeus Stevens) in Caledonia State Park. -- October 12, 2015|
|While mountain biking near State College, Pennsylvania I took a detour and explored Greenwood Furnace State Park. -- June 28, 2014|
|I know it is hard to see, but this under grow of trees is growing inside of the remains of the Pennsylvania Canal which once connected the cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Construction of the canal began in 1826. The canal opened in 1840 and was in use until the year 1900. This picture was taken while I was mountain biking in Swatara State Park. -- April 7, 2018|
|Riding past the remains of the Landisburg Civilian Conservation Corps camp in Tuscarora State Forest. The camp was in operation from 1933-1937 -- July 6, 2017|
Sometimes it's really hard for me to believe how many places I've been able to explore while on my bike...I've ridden across battlefields, past cemeteries, down the streets of historical towns, around the remains of once great structures, and even to the front steps of Independence Hall in Philadelphia. These rides have not only helped me meet my need for exercise, satisfied my cravings for as much Vitamin N as possible, and fed my my inner nerd...but, my hopefully help me share my love of history (and maybe even the outdoors) with the students in my history classes...our next generation. All of this because of my nerdy bike rides. Cool.
|The statue of the Marquis de Lafayette located on Market Street in York, Pennsylvania. He looks great with my biking gear. -- July 11, 2019|
Life is a journey...not a destination.
David A. Raymond -- September 17, 2019
David A. Raymond -- September 17, 2019
|You never know who you will run into while on a bike ride. I was so stoked to take this selfie with Dr. Franklin. -- July 11, 2019|
Here are the GARMIN maps and data from some of the nerdy rides featured in this post. #OptOutside
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