Showing posts with label Adventure Racing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Adventure Racing. Show all posts

Friday, February 17, 2017


The moment you get on your bicycle it becomes an extension of your body.  It becomes a natural part of you...and you a part of it.  A connection and a bond is formed.  Your bike personifies your personality and becomes part of your identity.  Heck, most of us even  name our bikes.  Which is why it feels so incredibly weird, awkward, and foreign when you, for one reason or another, ride someone else's bike.  I accidentally rode Mark's bike once.  We had matching 2006 Stumpjumpers.  His was a small frame and mine a large.  We didn't make it more than ten feet down the trail before realizing the switch...and sharing a laugh.

Dave Raymond, Mark Lentz, and our matching Stumpjumpers after the Terror At Teaberry Race -- September 2006

There have been times when I've been "between bikes" and needed to borrow someone else's bike for an event (thank you, Billy & Kevin!).  Once I even rode my son's bike in an adventure race because a teammate needed to ride mine.  Working at GUNG HO BIKES I rode a myriad of bikes...some were significantly "nicer" than mine...but none of them ever felt quite right to me.  Riding someone else's bike could ultimately have financial implications...just ask Glenn!  Kristian allowed Glenn to ride his bike on a section of the Allegrippis Trails.  Glenn ended up with a significant case of "bike envy."  Glenn's currently in between bikes!

Thank you, Kevin, for allowing me to muddy up your bike during the 2009 Wildlands Adventure Race! -- September 27, 2009

Thank you, Billy, for loaning me your bike for the 2009 French Creek Fling Adventure Race....and thank you, Butch Ulrich, for making me carry it half of the race! It was my first ever taste of a 29er! -- October 11, 2009

I needed to borrow my son's Rockhopper for a five mile section of the 2012 Wildlands Adventure Race.  Thanks, Alex! -- September 30, 2012

The look on Glenn's face is one of "bike envy" after he rode Kristian's bike for a short stint on the Allegrippis Trails -- August 2, 2016

There are some things that I DO like about getting the chance to ride someone else's bike...Tim and I rode our first recumbent cycle while fixing a mechanical in Patapsco Valley State Park...we met a nice gentleman, struck up a conversation, and he allowed us to test out his bike.  I rode my first tandem bike with Mikey after the two of us tuned it up on an evening that we were both working at the shop.  I was the last in my group to make the switch from a 26 inch bike to a 29er...borrowing Billy's bike for an adventure race played a big part of that.  
So yeah...I guess I could say riding someone else's bike ultimately put me on the bike that I'm on now...the very bike that's become an extension of me.

While Mikey and I fixed the brakes on my bike...Timmy and Mark took turns riding a kind stranger's recumbent bike.  Super cool! -- August 16, 2011

Life is a journey...not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- February 17, 2017

Mikey and I had a great test riding a tandem bike we fixed while we were working at Gung Ho Bikes -- August 2013
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Here's the GARMIN stats and map from a ride featured in this post:

August 2, 2016 -- Mountain biking the Allegrippis Trails with Kristian and Glenn

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


Sometimes the ride gets tough...and often virtually impossible.  Mark often says that it's not a ride unless there's at least one "hike-a-bike."  Yeah...that part of the trail that just can't be ridden ( least by me!)  That part of the trail that requires you to get out of the saddle and push.  Over the years, as my skill level has improved, the trails have to be more steep and more difficult to coax me off of my bike...but, sometimes it just can't be avoided.  

On our annual Columbus Day "exploration ride," Mark and I rode some pretty awesome stuff.  We also hiked quite a few the one behind me! -- October 10, 2016

Often, the hike-a-bike isn't caused by some obnoxious hill...but instead, it's the result of the unexpected obstacles thrown into our path.  It could be debris from a storm, a rock garden that just CANNOT be navigated, or mud pits that sink your bike "bottom bracket deep."  It's obstacles like these which, after looking unsuccessfully for some sort of SIGNS OF MAINTENANCE around them, cause us to throw our bikes over our shoulders and do our best to hike through.

A storm the night before caused this mess in Patapsco Valley State Park.  As Tim and Mikey found out...the only way around this mess was to hike through it! -- July 3, 2012

While riding at Mount Penn, Mark and I found no way around this mess.  Grab your bike and start your hike! -- July 2, 2014 

Yeah...Bill Graves and Chris Keller had only one option, "hike-a-bike," in this section of Butch's 2010 Wildlands Adventure Race at Blue Marsh Lake.  Hey!  We finished as the 1st place Male Team.  Nice job, guys! -- September 26, 2010

Ironically, sometimes...not often..but sometimes, you may actually CHOOSE the "hike-a-bike" over another trail.  Maybe it's a ride when you're body is saying "No Más" or possibly it's a ride in which your watch is telling you that you need to get home.  It's those times that the "hike-a bike" actually is your best option and becomes the shortest distance between you and the ice cream at the end of the ride!  

"No Más!" says Mark in Michaux State Forest -- April 19, 2014

"Hike-a-Bike" by choice.  After a fantastic ride in Michaux, Mike Alicea and I were ready for the ice cream at Mountain Creek Campground -- June 14, 2014

On this particularly hot day in Michaux State Forest, and what was for me the best mountain bike ride of 2013, Mark and I decided to take a trail we'd never been on.  We pass that trail often now...and just keep going!  It's not a ride without a "hike-a-bike!" -- August 21, 2013

We did enjoy our rest on top of that hill...until I realized I was sitting on  a colony of red ants!  See...even the toughest "hike-a-bikes" end with a great story! -- August 21, 2013

If you haven't figured out by now...mountain biking is, for me, a metaphor for life.  Often, in life, like on the trails...unexpected sh*t is thrown in front of you with no way around it...except to go through it.  Or, maybe, life might seem like you're pushing your way up a hill that seemingly has no end.  Life's journey, like the contour of the trails I ride, will, at some point, force you to take a deep breath and slow down.  Which is really difficult  for me.  I've written here often that I'm at my worst when I'm inactive...and, as I'm now only two weeks into a long recovery from back surgery, I'm feeling pretty damn inactive.  Right now, for me, life's become one long hike-a-bike.  With an amazing wife (and my great boss) correctly claiming that I have "one serious case of ADD"...I'm very aware that inactivity isn't the best thing for my brain.  Oh...I've got plenty to occupy my writing this blog, a little advance lesson planning for my classes, and plenty of nerdy books to read...but physically, for someone who loves the ride, I've been forced to get out of the saddle for a while. The thing to remember matter how long or difficult the "hike-a-bike" long as you keep moving (one foot in front of the other) it's only one small part of the ride. And, when it's over, the "hike-a-bike" provides important lessons learned ("I'll never go that way again!"), a sense of accomplishment, a fun story to tell (usually in hindsight), the top of the hill...a pretty damn good view.

Life is a journey...not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- November 16, 2016

Be sure to check out ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM website for trail maps, directions to trail heads, our favorite ice cream shops, and ALL of our ride pics!
HIGHPEAKSHIKING.COM is also worth your while!

The first time Mark took me to my favorite view in Michaux State Forest, the only way he knew to get there included a pretty significant "hike-a-bike."  But, it was worth it.  Once at the top, the view was spectacular! -- June 13, 2016

Monday, November 7, 2016


It's a term that Mark and I use when the trails get sloppy, muddy, mucky, or just all around difficult.  It's a term I also use on the road when I have to ride straight into a head wind.  "It's like pedaling through peanut butter!"  I can remember a ride, probably back in '08 or '09, when Mark, Glenn, Mikey, and I went to Blue Marsh Lake on a January morning...a morning that was so damn cold we really had no good reason to be there.  The temps were in the low teens when we started out.  It was so cold that I couldn't talk....I mean jaw was so frozen I couldn't form words!  Funny thing about that day was, by the the time we were two-thirds of our way through the 30 mile loop, the temps had risen to a balmy 40 degrees.  Those trails that were frozen solid at the beginning of our ride were now a melted muddy mess. There's no such thing as a bad mountain bike ride...but I look back on the end of that ride and all I can think of is that, for the last ten miles to the truck, I felt like I was pedaling through peanut butter!  

Talk about riding through peanut butter!  In the 2010 Wildland's Adventure Race (which we finished first in the Men's division) Butch sent us riding, wading, and practically swimming through this mess.  That's one of my teammates, Kevin Hardy, behind me -- September 26, 2010

The 2009 Wildlands Adventure Race was probably the muddiest I've ever been while riding.  Again, this was Butch's form of punishment.  I was in between bikes at the time so I had to borrow Kevin's bike for the race -- September 27, 2009

Even though Blue Marsh Lake has been the sight of some of the sloppiest rides I've ever been part of...thanks in no small part to the "suffering" that my friend, Butch Ulrich, plans for the participants of his adventure races...we've pedaled though peanut butter in plenty of other places.  From West Virginia, to North Carolina, to Jersey, to Maryland, to the local parks in our home county, we've navigated our fair share of muck and mud.  Here are just a few of my favorite peanut butter pics...

Mark and I taking a break from riding Plantation Trail near Blackwater Falls, West Virginia.  What a muddy, wet, mess!  I think this was Mikey's idea.  Love you, Mikey! -- June 2007

Our bikes after riding Plantation Trail in West Virginia.  Many bottom brackets had to be replaced after this trip! -- June 2007

Back in my racing days...plowing though a horrible mess at Fair Hill, Maryland -- April 2008

The drive train on my brand new 2008 Specialized Epic looked way too much like Sasquatch after the Marysville Relay Race -- April 2009

It was a toss up for Timmy and I on how to dress for this snowy, mucky, muddy ride in Swatara State Park.  He chose shorts...I stayed with the longs -- January 12, 2013

Packing up after a mud fest in Patapsco Valley State Park, Maryland -- July 2, 2013

"My machine she's a dud...I'm stuck in the mud...somewhere in the swamps of" Michaux State Forest.  Yes....this IS the trail -- October 12, 2015

...and Mark navigated that trail! -- October 12, 2015

I even got mud in my eye at Marysville!  That always boggles can I get mud in the eye with my glasses on?  -- April 2009

Matt, one of the newest members of our crew, is apparently one of the smartest.  He brings his own pressurized shower with him in the back of his truck.  He's not cheating...he's just creatively winning!-- June 21, 2016

There have been plenty of road rides that also were "peanut butter-like."  Times I've raced storms home...times that, no matter which direction I turned, I was riding into the wind...and one road ride, in particular, that I will never forget.  It was Easter weekend 2012.  My wife, Robin, and I had been dating for more than a year and  half.  She was away for the part of the weekend with her girls so I decided to take an ambitious road ride.  I've always loved the sugar cookies at the Historic Round Barn west of Gettysburg, off I went.  Forty miles into a steadfast and obnoxious head wind with nothing but the thoughts of sugar cookies dancing in my head.  Forty miles of road cycling through peanut butter just to find out that the Round Barn wouldn't be open for the season for another two weeks!  Part of  me felt like the south end of a horse headed north...but the other part of me was pretty darn proud of myself for pedaling against the wind for that long.  I came home, that day, through the Gettysburg National Military Park and then stopped for lunch at a Sheetz outside of town.  No sugar cookies...but never had an MTO tasted that good!  

Yes, 40 miles riding into the wind and all I got was a pic of my bike in front of a "closed for the season" Round Barn! -- April 6, 2012 

Living in Manchester, PA, the steam rising from the stack at PPL Power Plant serves as my wind gauge.  -- October 2012

A Wednesday evening road ride with a good friend whom I don't see nearly enough, Terry Nace.  We barely managed to beat late summer thunder storm back to the vehicle -- August 4, 2010

As any of you who read my stuff know...and believe me, I never thought that anyone would ever take time to read what I write and I'm so appreciative and honored that you do...biking is, for me, a metaphor for life.  Currently, as I'm sitting on my couch writing this instead of teaching my students about the Constitution (on the day before the presidential election), I feel as though I'm pedaling through peanut butter.  My brain is a little fuzzy from the meds I'm taking (Mark called me yesterday and jokingly said that he could have had a more coherent conversation with Cheech & Chong!) and my back is pretty sore from my days old eight inch incision.  Life, like the trails we ride, can get muddied and messy and difficult.  Just last week I had my second back surgery in less than six months.  I knew that there was a possibility that this was coming...but I didn't  anticipate it so soon.  This one was a little more significant which, in turn, makes the recovery (and pain) more significant.  I now have four wonderful titanium bolts holding my spine together like an erector set!  Yep...I can literally say that I'm screwed.  I got to tell you though, Dr. Salotto was fantastic and the nurses (as well as everyone else who took care of me at Wellspan) were absolutely amazing.  They brewed me coffee in the wee hours of the morning and brought me all the grape Popcycles I could eat (even at 1 AM).  Heck my pre-op nurse was the mother of one of my current students.  Kind of makes me feel fortunate that my students like me!

I am so fortunate to have so many people around me to support me.  Starting with my wife, Robin (top left).  She is my rock and always by my side.  My daughter Emma Kate (top right), my son, Alex (bottom left), and Timmy (bottom right).  Actually, he's going in for surgery in two weeks...his second in a year.  I would be completely neglectful not to mention my father and Mary Jane who came and  spent the day of my surgery with me.  Thank you...and I love you! -- November 2, 2016

Currently the entire NMS 8th grade social studies department is out at the same time for surgery.  My friend, mentor, and partner in crime, Charlie Lenhart, had his knee replaced the day after my surgery.  He's been teaching one year longer than I've been alive....combined we have 66 years of teaching experience.  Get well soon, my friend! -- November 2 and 3, 2016

Just so my students didn't worry too much about me I sent them this pic letting the know that I'll Be Back as soon as the holiday season is over! -- November 7, 2016

So yeah...for the time being life is forcing me to slow down a bit...a hard thing for me.  Sitting still is not my style.  It's kind of like I'm pedaling through peanut butter.  But you know...even though some of those trails got messy and tough it never made me stop moving forward.  I always finished the ride and look back on those peanut butter rides as character building and, ultimately, pretty damn fun.  The healing has begun and before I know it (as long as I listen to my wife, my doctor, and my body) I'll be back on the bike riding with Mark, Timmy, Kristian, Glenn, and the rest of the crew feeling like a new man...actually, maybe better than new.  I have titanium in me now!  Even Steve Austin, the Six Million Dollar Man, didn't have that!  Let's see if the guys can keep up with me then!

Life is a journey...not a destination!

David A. Raymond -- November 7, 2016

So...with 4 titanium bolts holding my spine together I can proudly wear the awesome shirt that my nurses made for me!  Thank you so much for everything! -- November 7, 2016

Friday, September 16, 2016

JUST RIDE (or...The Best Bike Shop Around) -- September 16, 2016

I've been pushing my luck on my road rides the past week.  After a string of flat tires I found myself completely out of spare tubes.  I figured that, until I could get to the bike shop, I would just ride and, if I  got a flat, I would either walk home or call my wife or son to come pick me up (which is kind of unfair to them).  So today, after school, my bike ride took me down the Susquehanna Trail to Gung Ho Bikes.  I figured that if I was going to ride...I'd ride there to get what I needed.  

Gung Ho Bikes in York, PA.  I took this pick the day I purchased my 2016 Specialized Stumpjumper. -- March 2016

I've first walked into Gung Ho in 1995 and I've never considered going to another bike shop.  Since then, I've bought 10 mountain bikes, 3 road bikes, a bike for my wife, and a BMX bike for my son. (After writing that last sentence I'm kind of amazed.  That's a lot of bikes!) The owner, Jay, is my longest continuous friend since I moved to York.  He's a great guy...and a "history nerd" like me.    When I walked in today he helped me with some mechanical stuff that was bothering me on some recent rides...and then let me test ride a new 2016 Roubaix that was sitting in the shop.  It was sweet.  I'm currently fighting off some "bike-envy." Damn....I don't need "bike-envy" right now.

A few years ago, Jay allowed to enter a couple adventure races under the name Team Gung Ho.  Both times I think I, and my racing partners, made the shop proud.   Heck...a few years ago he was kind enough to hire me part time to work in the shop.  I learned (and laughed) a lot!  

Jay may be my longest continuous friend since I've lived in York but this is, I believe, the only pic I have of Jay and I together.  This picture was taken at the conclusion of the 2009 Cradle of Liberty Adventure Race.  From left to right,  Team Gung Ho consisted of Dave Raymond, Kristian Hains, & Jay Zech -- June 2009

I handled the mountain biking duties for Team Gung Ho in the 2 man 2013 Rustic Rage Off Road Duathalon -- June 2013

Anthony Wallick and I won first place as Team Gung Ho in the 2013 Rustic Rage Off Road Duathalon -- June 2013

Chris Keller and I made the shop proud as Team Gung Ho in the 2013 Cushion Peak Adventure Race -- April 20, 2013

In the summer of 2013, one of my best bud's, Mikey Nardelli, and I were hired to work at the shop.  Sometimes we had too much fun!  -- July 2013

Gung Ho's motto is "JUST RIDE."  They're all about getting people on bikes....and all about taking care of those people once they have a bike.  Their service is second only to the friendly and welcoming atmosphere that is created by the staff.  That's what makes, in my opinion, Gung Ho the best bike shop around.  It's been a while since I've been to the shop.  A few months, I think.  So yeah...I thought today, instead of driving to get the stuff I needed...I'd JUST RIDE.

Life is a journey...not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- September 16, 2016

Gung Ho's service is awesome.  Derrick Rorrer is a fixture at the shop.  Derrik's got me out of more binds than I can count  -- September 16, 2016

Friday, February 26, 2016


 With my new found sense of self worth, and a new sense of confidence in myself , White Squirrel emerged again in the fall of 2010.   The team; however, had a much different make up, which, over the next three years, would evolve and change even more.  

Between 2010 & 2013, Billy Graves, Pete Lobianco, Chris Keller, Tim Sindlinger, Kevin Hardy, and Dave Raymond were, at one point, members of Team White Squirrel -- French Creek State Park, July of 2010
In September of 2010, I entered Team White Squirrel in the Wildlands Adventure Race at Blue Marsh Lake with the expectation of having fun...and winning the race.   We had five experienced mountain bikers and an accomplished marathon runner on our team.   I realized in earlier races, that just having a team of good mountain bikers was not going to win the race...we needed runner.  Pete was that guy.  Two of my former brother-in-laws, Kevin & Billy, were with me...and so was Chris Keller.  I don't know where to begin with Chris....I think my wife puts it best.  When you look at Chris all you see is kindness.  He is, from what I've experienced, an amazing husband, father, family man, and friend.  He also is one of the best damn mountain bikers I've ever met.  White Squirrel was definitely back!  

Pre-Race fun.  Chris Keller, Billy Graves, David Raymond, Kevin Hardy, Pete Lobianco -- September 26, 2010.
Looking back on it, this race was special to me for so many reasons.  I felt good and I felt happy.  There is no substitute for that feeling...and it was nice to finally experience it again.  This race was also one of the muddiest races I ever participated in.  I remember arriving that morning and noticing that the lake looked as if it had just been drained.   I've seen this before at Lake Redman.  The surface looks as though you could walk across it...but trust can't.  I moment I saw it I said to Chris, "It's going to be a muddy mess today!"  We moved fast that day and worked well together.  Really well.  As a team we pushed on through whatever suffering and punishment that Butch Ulrich could dole out.  We crossed the finish line 3 hours, 35 minutes, and 24 seconds later and won first place in the Male 5 Man Team Division.  

Pulling Pete up the hill during the mountain bike iditarod -- September 26, 2010
I got sucked waste deep in the newly drained part of Blue Marsh Lake.  Thanks, Butch!  -- September 26, 2010
More team work -- September 26, 2010
First Place Male 5 Man Team P. Lobianco, D. Raymond, K. Hardy, B. Graves, & C. Keller -- September 26, 2010
For the next three and a half years, White Squirrel raced and performed pretty well...literally finishing first in 2011 & 2012 at Wildlands, making up some serious ground and finishing fifth in the 2011 French Creek Fling after suffering a horrible mechanical problem two minutes into the mountain biking section of the race, and three consecutive impressive showings at the Cushion Peak Adventure Race in 2011, 2012, & 2013.  The constant in all of those races, but one, was Chris Keller.  Like Kristian Hains before him, I found that he and I worked well together and raced well together.  I also began to include my family in a few of the races.  The Wildlands race, in particular, required a transition crew.  My wife, my father, my step-mother, Mary Jane, and my son, Alex formed the best transition crew ever!  Surrounded by my family...and doing the thing that I loved, made me feel so complete.
Team White Squirrel (Dave Raymond & Chris Keller) Cushion Peak -- April 17, 2011
Team White Squirrel Transition Crew (Robin Arnold, Alex Raymond, David M. Raymond) -- September 25, 2011
I love my wife, Robin, so much.  She insisted that I didn't have mud on my face during the 2011 Wildlands Race -- September 25, 2011
Dave Raymond of Team White Squirrel completing the boulder climb at Cushion Peak -- April 21, 2012
Butch with his bullhorn.  A common sight at one of his adventure races -- September 25, 2011
Chris Keller and Robin Arnold enjoying a post race victory meal after the 2012 Wildlands race -- September 30, 2012
Chris Keller and David Raymond.  Wildlands Adventure Race -- September 30, 2012
Team White Squirrel Transition Crew (Mary Jane Black, Robin Arnold, & Alex Raymond) -- September 30, 2012
David Raymond at Wildlands Adventure Race -- September 25, 2011
Butch overseeing the suffering that he is dishing out.  In the background you can see Team White Squirrel's transition crew:  Robin Arnold, Alex Raymond, and David M. Raymond -- September 25, 2011
Team White Squirrel (David Raymond & Chris Keller) at the 2012 Cushion Peak race -- April 21, 2012
David Raymond turning pedals at Cushion Peak -- April 21, 2012
Team White Squirrel (Chris Keller & David Raymond) getting pre-race directions at Cushion Peak -- April 20, 2013
Team White Squirrel (Chris Keller & David Raymond) at the conclusion of the 2013 Cushion Peak Race -- April 20, 2013
From the outset, I knew that telling the story of the White Squirrel would be difficult.  For me, it is a story of joy, excitement, and adventure....followed by despair, desperation, and searching.  But it also is a story of rediscovery, acceptance, connection, and love.  In the years since, people have asked me if I would ever go back and change anything...would I do anything different to avoid the heartache that I experienced.  The answer is always a quick NO.  Even though I do regret the way I handled some relationships, I wouldn't change it.   Those decisions, and the consequences of those decisions, have made me into the man that I am today.  

White Squirrel's last race was in 2013...for no other reason than the fact that we had all decided that we just wanted to ride our bikes.  That's what we do now.  Time with friends, on our bikes, having fun...that's why I started this blog in the first share that experience with whoever felt compelled to read about it.  Thank you, Butch Ulrich, for your work organizing and putting on the races.  I had an amazing time and will never forget it.

I don't get to see Kristian Hains too much anymore.  He has young children and he, rightfully, spends his time with his family.  Last I talked to him, he had sold all of his bikes.  I sent a link of these writings to his wife.  She emailed me and let me know that Kristian had read them and liked them.  I miss him and wish him and his family nothing but the best.  Maybe someday he'll get another mountain bike and head out on the trails with me.  

Mark Lentz and I are still best friends.  He and I don't get to see each other as much, but we still ride together often and our friendship has only gotten stronger.   He would give me the shirt off of his back.  Thank you, Mark.

Tim Sindlinger has been my riding partner from the beginning.  As of this writing, he is at the tail end of recovering from neck surgery and should be ready to get back out on the trails with me by April.  

Mikey Nardelli, who I mentioned in Vol. 1, no longer rides.  We've maintained our friendship and we still keep in contact.  He's happy...and that's all that counts.   

Like Kristian, I don't see Glenn Medice much anymore.  I regret the way I handled our relationship the most.  Glenn is a great teacher, father, and husband.  Every once in a while he and I will run into each other in passing.  Our conversations are pleasant and nice.  I have nothing but fantastic and happy memories of our escapades together.  

Chris Keller and I still ride together...but Chris, like we all should, keeps family first.  Oh...and hunting.  I don't see him much during hunting season.  

There are others who I didn't mention in my White Squirrel series that deserve a lot of thanks.  In particular, Jay Zech.  He is the owner of Gung Ho Bikes.  The shop became a hang out and then a sanctuary for me.  Jay, without even knowing it, reassured me while I was at the lowest points that things would get better and offered to help in any way.  Thank you, Jay.  

Finally, I need to thank my wife Robin, who saved me.  I need to thank my son, Alex, who has been by my side since the day he was born.  And I need to thank my father who has always been there and who has loved me unconditionally.  I love all of you so much.  (That means you, too, Mary Jane!)

Life is a journey, not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- February 26, 2016