Backtracking is something that use to bother me...especially when mountain biking.  I'm not sure if it was a sense of failure..."Crap...we went the wrong way...we need to head back"...or if I just simply liked looking at my Garmin and Strava maps and seeing a big loop tracing my route.  Backtracking, however, can be helpful.  By teaching me where NOT to ride, that sense of "failure" that I mentioned earlier can also serve as a learning tool...or, in some cases, it can even introduce a whole new path that can be taken on future rides and hikes.  As of recently, backtracking has become increasingly part of my rides.  Riding the same trail in opposite directions changes everything about it...the view is different, the ups and downs are reversed, and the twists and turns flow differently...completely altering the usual dynamic of the trail.

Taking a break during an incredibly peaceful solo ride at Rocky Ridge County Park. -- December 23, 2019

As 2019 slips into the past I can't help but backtrack and reflect on what and incredibly awesome year it has been.  My theme for the year was Opt Outside. I had decided, no matter what the weather, that I would head out as much as possible...setting the goal of 2,019 all-purpose miles for the year.  At the outset, I thought this might be a little ambitious seeing that I only managed 1,500 miles in 2018...but as it turned out those 2,019 miles in 2019 flew past pretty quickly.  By November 23 of this year every mile I added was another mile past my goal...eventually adding up to 2,226 total miles for this year (with a few more to be added tomorrow).  All purpose miles typically means mountain biking, road cycling, or hiking...but this year more than a  few of those miles couldn't be put into one of those three categories.  Some additional miles were added over the past twelve months in a variety of ways and activities...which just couldn't be classified as road cycling, mountain biking, or hiking.  Alex, Devin, Mia, Jackie, and I took with our annual white water rafting trip on the Youghiogheny in Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania.  Mike Graham guided me on my first ever kayaking adventure in Gifford Pinchot State Park.  I rode my Roubaix a number of times to Central Market in York via the new Heritage Rail Trail extension.  There were a couple snow day bike rides around the neighborhood streets.  And... I participated with the guys from Gung Ho in my first mountain bike relay race since 2010.  

Our annual white water rafting trip on the Youghiogheny River in Ohiopyle State Park (courtesy of the good folks at White Water Adventure)  Left to right:  Dave Raymond, Jackie Raymond, Mia Arnold-Scott, Devin Seiger, and Alex Raymond -- June 18, 2019

I had asked Mike Graham to take me out of my comfort zone and show me the ropes of kayaking.  What an amazing time we had on the lake at Gifford Pinchot State Park -- October 24, 2019

My Roubaix resting outside of York's Central Market  -- October 12, 2019

The roads haven't been plowed yet...but Mike Alicea and I made perfect use of our mountain bikes during one of our many snow days this year.  -- February 11, 2019

It had been a while since I last races (officially in 2013) but I was completely stoked when the guys at the shop asked me to participate in this year's Mid Atlantic Super Series Marysville Relay Race.  The shop put together two teams.  Ben Kelly, Jay Zech, and I had a really good showing...and a lot of fun.  -- April 7, 2019

1,494.  That's how many road miles I put on my 2012 Roubaix this year.  For sure, it was enough to warrant a new drive train and a new set of tires.  My rides have typically gotten shorter (averaging about 15 miles a ride) but they have been more frequent...again "Opting Outside" as much as possible. This year I've ridden along the Savannah River in Augusta, Georgia, along the coast line in both North Carolina and Florida, through National Parks, and a million different routes in and around Manchester, Pennsylvania.  Here are my five favorite road rides of the 2019...


Chris and I put on our cold gear to do a 20+ mile, early Spring ride on the back roads of York County.  Our ride took us onto the hillsides north of York Haven overlooking the Susquehanna River and Three Mile Island nuclear power plant. Dave Raymond and Chris Keller -- March 23, 2019


In 1995, I moved to York County.  Since then, I've lived in five locations.  So, naturally I thought it would be a cool idea to take a bike ride and visit each of my homes (former and current).  This 42+ mile ride took me from my home in Manchester past my first apartment (from hell) in Emigsville.  From there I rode over the ridge to Cool Creek Apartments in Wrightsville and then on to the first home I bought, 252 North Seward Street in West York.  Three miles away I then found myself at 2340 Sunset Lane and then back home to Manchester.  -- July 23, 2019


I'm counting this amazing 10 mile ride as a road ride even though half of it was a paved nature path.  This ride through Jonathan Dickinson State Park in Florida was backtracking at it's best.  Robin and I started at the visitor center, rode the nature path as far as we could and then continued on the road to the entrance of the park.   Along the way we took in the vibrant Florida colors and saw some wildlife including a deer and an alligator (seriously). David and Robin Raymond  -- December 5, 2019


I unexpectedly had a Saturday all to myself, so I loaded my Roubaxi on top of the Cruze and drove an hour and a half to Valley Forge National Historical Park.  I rode the park twice that day...the first time stopping to take my nerdy pictures and the second time I just rode.  A fun (and nerdy) 20+ miles.  Dave Raymond and Baron Von Steubon -- September 7, 2019


Again...a ride that completely backtracked. My favorite road ride of the year had it all...warm weather, a lot of sun, a random thunderstorm, nerdy history, and a tail wind on the way home.  During my week in Corolla, North Carolina I had gotten used to riding down to the town of Duck and back.  I noticed on the map that the Wright Brothers National Memorial was relatively close...28 miles away.  Along for the ride that day was Julien Linne his credit...pedaled the whole way on my wife's bike which was much too small for him.  Out and back was just over 57 miles!  Julien Linne and Dave Raymond -- June 10, 2019

A year ago, my wife, Robin, made a New Years Resolution to hike more.  The two of us set aside a day of the week, usually Sunday, to head out...get some Vitamin N...and hike as many trails as we could.  Along the way I purchased my first ever pair of hiking boots (I got sick of snow and mud soaking through my trail shoes).  Over the course of 2019, we hiked over 70 miles together in every season and in all kinds of weather.  We were lucky enough to be joined on some of our hikes with our son, Alex and his girlfriend, Emma, my step-daughters Mia and Blythe along with their boyfriends, Kevin and Julien, our nieces, Jackie, Sophie, and Shalice and nephew, Isaac, our neighbor, Jon Senko, and the Dorward family.  This "resolution" has now become habit.  I'm so glad she suggested it.  Here are my five favorite hikes of 2019.


When most people think of Ricketts Glen State Park they think of waterfalls.  No waterfalls for Robin and I on our first ever trip to Ricketts Glenn, though.  By mid-November, the ice season and taken over and only people with ice gear were allowed to hike near the waterfalls.  We did, however, find a super cool trail near the entrance to the park called Grandview Trail.  We barely noticed the late autumn snow and the cold weather as we hiked this loop.  Robin and David Raymond  -- November 16, 2019


On our first visit to Jonathan Dickinson State Park, Robin and I chose to hike Kitching Creek Trail.  This ranked as one of my favorite hikes just because of the novelty of hiking somewhere completely different from the mountains and forests of Pennsylvania.  The flat, green landscape, along with the slash pines and saw palmettos which populate the park made this experience absolutely beautiful.  Robin and David Raymond -- December 3, 2019


On the third anniversary of my second back surgery Robin and I opt to take a hike in Michaux State Forest.  The remnants of the last of the seasons foliage still clung to the trees.  We hiked up and over Sunset Rocks, through Camp Michaux, and returned to the trail head via the Appalachian Trail.  What an awesome way to celebrate the gift of health.  David and Robin Raymond -- November 2, 2019


The biggest surprise of the summer came when Robin and I decided, while touring Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, to park the Silverado and look for a trail to hike on.  By shear luck we began hiking Blackrock Summit Trail...which also happens to be a small segment of the Appalachian Trail.  The late evening view of the Shenandoah Valley that greeted us was one of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen.  Robin and David Raymond -- July 20, 2019


Jonathan Run Trail in Ohiopyle State Park tops my list of favorite hikes of 2019 for a couple reasons.  There was a sense of adventure...I was in an unfamiliar location in a familiar park.  There were obstacles, bridges, some rope rappelling, and mud (oh, the MUD!)  the ultimate destination on this hike was a series of waterfalls that make up the beauty of Jonathan Run.  Unlike the other waterfalls in Ohiopyle State Park, this is definitely a little more hard to get to and less populated.  I had so much fun on my first hike to the falls with Alex, Jackie, and Devin that Alex and I returned two weeks later to do it all gain with Robin and Emma.  So fun! -- June 20, 2019

Alex and Jackie sliding their way down Jonathan Run Trail in Ohiopyle State Park. -- June 20, 2019

David Raymond rappelling down the final 40 feet to the base waterfall on Jonathan Run Trail.  -- June 20, 2019

Devin Seiger, Alex Raymond, Jackie Raymond, and David Raymond visiting the waterfalls on Jonathan Run Trail. -- June 20, 2019

Two weeks later, Alex brought Emma Sadowski with him to see the falls. -- July 6, 2019

Enjoying the complete sensory experience of the waterfalls near Jonathan Run Trail with Robin. -- July 6, 2019

There was no rest for my Stumpjumper this past year.  Since last January, I've ridden the trails in ten different places...Codorus State Park, the Heritage Rail Trail, the Hershey Trail System, the Parkway Trails in Harrisburg, Ohiopyle State Park, Swatara State Park, Lakes William, Redman, and Kain, Rocky Ridge County Park, Marysville, and Michaux State Forest.  All combined adding up to 425 miles of mountain biking bliss.  The usual cast was back...Matt, Tim, and I rode in Michaux as much as we could over the summer.  I met Brent and Chris for weekly "Happy Hour" Rides each Friday afternoon at Rocky Ridge.  Ben Kelly joined me on more than a few occasions.  Jay Zech and I visited the Parkway Trails together.  Two young men, Brandon Shirk and Josh Coleman, came along on Michaux rides.  With so many rides to choose from it was really tough picking out my favorite of the year.  I've narrowed it down to these five.


This was probably the best group mountain biking pic of 2019.  Matt, Tim, and I spend the better part of the day navigating the unforgiving terrain that makes up Abigail Trail in Michaux State Forest....making this my fifth favorite ride of the year.  Matt Linnane, Tim Sindlinger, and David Raymond -- July 9, 2019

Matt Linnane riding Abigail Trail in Michaux State Forest. -- July 9, 2019

Wrapping up an awesome ride.  Matt took this pic of Tim and I finishing up our ride in Michaux with a much less rocking descent down a single track near the power lines.  -- July 9, 2019


I just recently saw that there was a bunch of new single track in Codorus State Park.  Brent and I (along with Brent's son, Brandon) decided to do our post-Christmas ride there this year.  What we found was astonishing...brand new trail that twisted and turned all up and down the forest above Codorus Lake.  This super fun ride was made even more memorable because the frozen early morning trails quickly thawed into a sloppy, muddy mess...making the ride just that much more interesting. For sure, Codorus State Park will be visited much more frequently!  Brent Shirk, David Raymond, and Brandon Shirk  -- December 26, 2019

Yes...hands down the muddiest ride of 2019.  There's a drive train in there somewhere. -- December 26, 2019


For our final Michaux ride of the summer I pieced together the best of everything I had ridden the previous six weeks.  This ride included single track, rocks, climbs, descents, and so much fun!  Ben Kelly, Josh Coleman, Brent Shirk, Tim Sindlinger, and David Raymond -- August 13, 2019

Josh Coleman effortlessly riding the rocks in Michaux State Forest.  The kid is good! -- August 13, 2019

It was a fun ride...but that damn stump got me twice this summer!  It's all part of the experience.  Thanks for the pics, Ben.  -- August 13, 2019


Last year, Matt had the idea to do an Ugly Sweater ride.  We continued the tradition (unfortunately without Matt) this year.  By chance, it also happened to be the Winter Solstice...making the ride even more festive.  Adam Zeiger, Tim Sindlinger, Ben Kelly and I donned our ugliest sweaters and headed out on the Hershey Trail System.  The 20 degree weather made the conditions perfect for riding.  The trails were dry and hard packed.  What this ride lacked in mileage it made up for in fun.  There were so many build ups and formations to ride (and re-ride).  What a blast!  Adam Zeigler, Tim Sindlinger, David Raymond, and Ben Kelly.  -- December 21, 2019

Ben Kelly playing in an old quarry which makes up part of the Hershey Trail System.  -- December 21, 2019

Taking a break and sporting my favorite ugly sweater  -- December 21, 2019


"More Butts on Bikes, more often."  That's the mission statement hanging in Gung Ho Bikes.  The shop lives up to it, too...sponsoring group rides of all abilities and styles throughout the year.  I'm so honored to be associated with the shop and work there part-time.  I was completely stoked to be able to lead the intermediate mountain bike ride for MICHAUX FEST 2019.  Jay and Penny, the owners of the shop, host a day of riding in Michaux State Forest with multiple rides planned.  The idea is to introduce more and more people to mountain biking in this beautiful State Forest.  I led fourteen people in my group for what turned out to be a 14+ mile ride that was 95% single track.  By all accounts everyone had a blast.   -- June 30, 2019

My good friend, Brent Shirk, was my sweeper on this ride.  As I led the group of 14, he made sure that no riders were left behind.  Thanks, Brent!  -- June 30, 2019

My MICHAUX FEST group.  We paused at Camp Michaux to take this group pic near the old fountain. -- June 30, 2019

"OptOutside" was a great goal for 2019...and the attitude and adventure (and hash tag) that comes along with it will once again be my mantra for 2020.  I've been asked by so many people what my resolution will be in new year and my answer has been consistent..."ride my my bike more."  The response usually elicits a weird look from people who don't think that I could possibly ride more than I already do.  I should probably be more specific with my answer and say that I want to ride more, hike more, and just over-all opt outside more.  A year from now 2020 will be hindsight.  Here's to hoping that I have even more miles behind me in a year's time than I currently have right now.  Happy New Year!

If you find a couch in the woods...sit on it, relax, and taking in the beauty that is around you.  That's exactly what Brent and I did at Rocky Ridge.  -- September 6, 2019

Life is a journey...not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- December 30, 2019

All trails DO lead to ice cream (or at least some other awesome dessert).  2019 was filled with plenty of PA Farm Show milkshakes, soft serve at PNC Park, cream filled cookies at the Ohiopyle Bakery, multiple Bobcat Creamery root beer floats, desserts the size of your plate at Vaccaro's in Baltimore's Little Italy, and just random ice cream stops in Florida.

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Here are the GARMIN map and data from the rides and hikes featured in this post.  #OptOutside

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