Showing posts with label Blue Marsh Lake. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Blue Marsh Lake. Show all posts

Sunday, January 15, 2017


With new cycling socks in hand, and heading for the checkout at Hunters & Gatherers, I spotted a brown sign on the wall.  "ADVICE FROM A SQUIRREL." It wasn't the only sign of the kind...apparently you can get advice from just about any from any furry, four-legged creature...but, seeing that I was in Brevard, North Carolina, a mecca of mountain biking (and the home of the White Squirrel), this sign, in particular, grabbed my attention.

These seven simple sentence, provided by a squirrel, could be called "The Mountain Biker's Mantra." They reminded me of why I love mountain biking and it instantly became obvious to me how each of them are relevant to my passion.  Seven pieces of wisdom that I believe...if adhered to...could have the ability elevate an ordinary ride into something extra special.   So...without any further is some advice I accidentally learned from a squirrel.  


Not something you would think of when mountain biking...but trails often intersect with main roads.  This simple advice, which we all learn in kindergarten, will keep even the best mountain biker from ending up as what squirrels fear becoming most...road kill.

Taking a break to look both ways before crossing the main road at the Lakes.  Mark Lentz, Kristian Hains, Mike Nardelli, Brent Shirt, & Tim Sindlinger -- November 26, 2011

There's no way for Tim to avoid a highway crossing while riding the 30 mile look around Blue Marsh Lake -- September 2009


Even Mark believes in maps...especially in unfamiliar territory.  Planning ahead also means having what you need to keep your bike MOVING FORWARD.  No one wants their ride to turn into an all day HIKE-A-BIKE.

After a long day a riding near State College, PA, Mark gets out the trail book to prepare for tomorrow's ride -- June 28, 2014

Mark taking time to make sure we are still on the correct path on a "new to us" section of trail in Michaux State Forest -- July 16, 2014

Planning ahead also means bringing what is needed to keep your bike moving forward -- August 2, 2016

I always carry plenty of CO2, extra tubes, and just anything else needed to keep my ride from turning into a hike-a-bike -- August 9, 2016


Tim and I once wondered if we would still be doing this when we hit the age of 30.  Over 15 years later we all are going strong.  In my mind, staying active is the key to life.  Every day you just have to keep on moving.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that exercise increases brain activity and is beneficial in so many ways.  Mountain biking is just one of the ways that I combat my massive case of adult ADD.

More than a decade of riding together and no signs of slowing left, Glenn Medice; top right, Mark Lentz; center, Kristian Hains; bottom right, Dave Raymond; bottom left, Tim Sindlinger -- All pics taken in 2016


I love food.  I try to eat it at least three times a day.  That includes while riding.  Whether it's FINDING SUSTENANCE on the trail, packing plenty of beef jerky, or taking time for a picnic afterwards...meals bring people together.  Even while mountain biking.

Mikey and Mark taking time to eat the wild strawberries in Raymond B. Winter State Park -- July 2011

There is something super kool about picnicking after a ride.  Our usual parking area near the furnace stack in Pine Grove Furnace State Park offers an awesome place to hang out and relax -- July 24, 2014

Count on Kristian to carry bacon jerky with him.  Yes...bacon jerky!  So freakin' amazing! -- October 30, 2016


Spending time in the woods and mountain biking go hand in hand...but the best trips are the ones span multiple days.  There's nothing like a good  meal and relaxing around a campfire with friends after a day of hard riding.

Relaxing by a campfire in State College, PA with Mark after an amazing day of riding -- June 28, 2014

Bill Graves and I managed to snag one of my favorite tent sites (Hickory Loop site 180) in Ohiopyle State Park -- April 2009

A week of camping and mountain biking in Pisgah National Forest,  NC with Mark, Glenn, & Kristian -- August 2-5, 2008

Our first mountain biking/camping trip as a group.  Mark, Mikey, Glenn, Billy, and I spent 4 adventurous days mountain biking around Blackwater Falls, West Virginia -- June 2007


Literally...climb a tree.  What was fun when we were ten still is fun as an adult.

Bill Graves in Ohiopyle State Park -- April 2009

Go out on a limb...even if you look ridiculous.  Dave Raymond, Kristian Hains, Glenn Medice, and Mark Lentz in Dupont State Forest, NC -- August 2008


Mountain biking affords me the opportunity to do what 99% of the human race (more than likely) would never let loose, hang on tight, and enjoy the ride!

Going nuts!  Clockwise starting top left: Dave Raymond (2016), Mark Lentz (2006), Kristain Hains (2016), Glenn Medice (2008)

A below freezing December ride in Patapsco Valley State Park, MD ended with a ride down Cascade Falls Trail.  With only half a mile to go I did my own "polar plunge".  Brent Shirk thought I was a little nuts! -- December 28, 2015

Glenn Medice "Going A Little Nuts" trying a stream crossing above Triple Falls in Dupont State Forest, NC -- August 2008

Mikey didn't just GO nuts trying to ride this log in Patapsco Valley State Park, MD...he ended up CRUSHING his nuts.  Love you, Mikey! -- August 9, 2011

The only things in my bag when I walked out of Hunters & Gatherers that day were multiple pair of white squirrel socks.  I had decided against purchasing the sign (I did; however, take a pic of it).  The advice, though, wasn't left in the store.  Those seven sentences...


provide a mantra not just for mountain bikers and mountain biking...but for just about anyone regardless of their passions.  Sometimes the best advice can come from the least expected this particular came from a squirrel.

Life is a journey...not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- January 15, 2017
If you've enjoyed reading this...please feel free to TWEET IT

 Left: the ADVICE FROM A SQUIRREL sign hanging in Hunters & Gatherers in Brevard, NC which provided me with so much inspiration.  Right: One of the three pair of white squirrel socks I purchased.  You can never have too many pair of white squirrel socks! -- July 22, 2016
ADVICE FROM A SQUIRREL is credited to Your True Nature.  Check out their website:

Here is a list of GARMIN maps and stats from a few of the rides featured in this post:

Riding Rothrock State Forest with Mark -- June 28, 2014
Riding Michaux State Forest with Mark -- July 16, 2014
Riding Patapsco Valley State Park with Brent -- December 28, 2015

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