Showing posts with label Swatara Gap State Park. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Swatara Gap State Park. Show all posts

Saturday, February 25, 2017


It's no secret that I love mountain biking.  It's also not a secret that like to ride in Michaux State Forest and that ultimately, no matter where I ride, all trails will lead me to ice cream.  Not just me though.  SOLO RIDES are few and far between...I love riding with friends. They are the ones that make every ride special...and over the years, their friendship, their personalities, their love of the outdoors, and their love for mountain biking have helped turned a hobby into a passion.  I'm so fortunate and privileged to have them in my life and out on the trails with me.

All the links of the chain:  Mark Lentz, Kristian Hains, Glenn Medice, Timmy  Sindlinger, Mikey Nardelli, Kevin Hardy, Bill Graves, Mike Alicea, Matt Linnane, Brent Shirk, & Chris Keller

Without my friends I'm not sure I would mountain bike nearly as much as I do...I'd be just one link of the chain. All of us, together, keep this thing moving.  I love Michaux, I love my Stumpjumpers, and I love going for ice cream afterwards...but I thought I'd get their input on a few questions and see what it is that they love.  Here are their responses in the order in which I received them.  Thanks for the assist on this one, guys!


I've known Bill for over 15 years.  He and I started mountain biking together in 2006.  Top to Bottom//Left to Right:  Riding in Michaux State Forest (2009); Bill's "Frankenbike" at the M.A.S.S. Relay (April 3, 2010); Bill relaxing at the M.A.S.S. Relay (April 3, 2010); Riding Rocky Ridge County Park (August 10, 2011)

CURRENT BIKE:  Frankenbike built on a Sette frame. 29inch Cross Max wheels and a host of used/donated parts.

FAVORITE BIKE: The one I own.

FAVORITE PLACE TO MOUNTAIN BIKE or FAVORITE TRAIL: Crested Butte, CO. Hard, fast single track, beautiful mountain scenery, high altitude lung burn.

FAVORITE POST RIDE MEAL or TREAT: Ice cream, of course.


Glenn was introduced to our group by Mikey Nardelli.  Glenn, the eldest statesman of the group, was the first in the group to switch to 29 inch wheels loves to set mountain bike fashion trends!  Left to Right//Top to Bottom:  Glenn in Marysville, PA (April 4, 2009); Glenn on top of some God forsaken fire road in Rothrock State Forest (August 2007); Glenn in Michaux State Forest (June 2016); Glenn in French Creek State Park (March 14, 2009)

CURRENT BIKE:  Specialized Epic Hard Tail

FAVORITE BIKE:  Surly Karate Monkey 29er

FAVORITE PLACE TO MOUNTAIN BIKE or FAVORITE TRAIL: Rattling Creek, north of Harrisburg.  It's a challenging ride with a mix of rocks, rock gardens, and more.  An occasional fast, mossy single track provides a smile and some relief, but by the end of the ride I'm spent!  Great ride, though, and one of my favs.



Tim and I  met Matt while riding in Swatara State Park back in 2015.  He fits right in with the group!  Left to Right:  Matt in Michaux State Forest (August 4, 2015); Matt riding in Swatara State Park (September 5, 2015)

CURRENT BIKE:  Cannondale F29

FAVORITE BIKE:  Specialized Fuse plus size (don't tell my Cannondale)

FAVORITE PLACE TO MOUNTAIN BIKE or FAVORITE TRAIL:  Mt. Gretna/Governor Dick because it's an amalgam of adventure from rail trail to technical hard rock gardens.  I can take anything from an easy recovery ride with my daughter to a kick butt challenging technical ride that I feel the need to pad up for.

FAVORITE POST RIDE MEAL or TREAT:  Tie betwen sticky buns and BBQ.  Tough to choose because I really like to eat.


Mike is my next door neighbor and loves to ride when he can.  He and I have been riding together for about three years.  Top to Bottom: Mike in Michaux State Forest (January 2, 2016); Mike in Rocky Ridge County Park (September 18, 2014); Mike in Michaux State Forest (June 14, 2014)

CURRENT BIKE:  2014 Excaliber 6

FAVORITE BIKE:  My 1991 Gary Fisher Tassajara was my all-time favorite bike.  I had it for 18 years and it never let me down.  I put that bike through hell!  Haha!

FAVORITE PLACE TO MOUNTAIN BIKE or FAVORITE TRAIL:  I love riding at Rocky Ridge County Park due to the close proximity to my home and the vast number of trails that really test one's riding ability.

FAVORITE POST RIDE MEAL or TREAT:  I usually eat a banana topped with natural peanut butter.


Mark has been one of my best friends for a long time.  He and I both teach in the same school district and he and I share a brain about a long list of topics.  Mark's also been quite the mentor to me...I've learned a lot about mountain biking and the outdoors from Mark.  Thanks, bud!  Top to Bottom//Left to Right:  Mark in Swatara State Park (January 16, 2012); Mark riding in Michaux State Forest (October 30, 2016); Mark and his "dirty" bike in Michaux State Forest (October 12, 2015); Mark on one of his all-time favorite trails: Ridgeline in Dupont State Forest, N.C. (August 2008)

CURRENT BIKE:  Niner Carbon Air 9 & Steel Sir 9

FAVORITE BIKE:  A dirty bike

FAVORITE PLACE TO MOUNTAIN BIKE or FAVORITE TRAIL:  Any gnarly single track. Rothrock State Forest or western North Carolina or Wharton State Forest, NJ.  My favorite trail is Ridgeline in Dupont State Forest, NC because if flows like no other trail.  It is sex on two wheels.



Brent lives across the street from me.  He's an awesome guy and a great family man.  Brent get's out whenever he can and as long as it doesn't interfere his two boy's sports schedules.  Brent and I have been riding together for almost seven years now!  Left to Right:  Brent in Rocky Ridge County Park (September 23, 2016); Brent in Patapsco Valley State Park (December 30, 2013)

CURRENT BIKE:  Specialized Stumpjumper

FAVORITE BIKE:  My current one.

FAVORITE PLACE TO MOUNTAIN BIKE or FAVORITE TRAIL:  Rocky Ridge County Park.  With my busy schedule it is where I usually ride.

FAVORITE POST RIDE MEAL or TREAT:  Nothing in particular.


Tim's my original riding partner and one of my very best friends.  He and I have been riding together since the year 2000!  Top to Bottom//Left to Right:  Tim riding Rocky Ridge County Park (November 26, 2011); Tim riding GRAVE RIDGE in Michaux State Forest (August 9, 2016); Tim in Michaux State Forest (August 9, 2016); Tim showing off in Michaux State Forest (June 21, 2016)



FAVORITE PLACE TO MOUNTAIN BIKE or FAVORITE TRAIL:  Michaux--the terrain makes you feel like you are down South with the foliage and creek crossings to the Midwest with the sandy soil and pine trees...all within just a few miles!

FAVORITE POST RIDE MEAL or TREAT:   Ice cream never tasted so good! (pretty much the only time I eat it)


Both of my children had Mikey as their second grade teacher.  He's a great teacher, great mountain biker, and great friend!  Mikey began riding with me in 2005.  Top to Bottom//Left to Right:  Mikey at the M.A.S.S. relay (April 3, 2010); Mikey in West Virginia (June 2007); Mikey in Patapsco Valley State Park (August 9, 2011); Mikey with his new bike in Michaux State Forest (July 5, 2016)

CURRENT BIKE:  State Pulsar SS 29er

FAVORITE BIKE:  Misfit Dissent

FAVORITE PLACE TO MOUNTAIN BIKE or FAVORITE TRAIL:  American Standard in Jim Thorpe, PA.  A good day ride and a variety of trails.



Kevin and I have known each other since 2003.  Kevin's a super good guy.  Left to Right: Kevin riding at the Lakes in York County (November 7, 2009); Kevin taking on a see-saw in the Lehigh Valley (August 7, 2010)


FAVORITE BIKE:  Trek Fuel EX6 (only my second bike--but it's been heavily modified over the years)

FAVORITE PLACE TO MOUNTAIN BIKE or FAVORITE TRAIL:  Lehigh Mountain south of Bethlehem, incredible amount of climbing rewarded with a lot of gnarly downhill.

FAVORITE POST RIDE MEAL or TREAT:  Roadside pulled pork and potatoes.


Chris and I have been riding together since 2010.  He's also been a great partner and  a vital member of team WHITE SQUIRREL!  Top to Bottom//Left to Right:  Chris in Rocky Ridge County Park (August 9, 2015); Chris in Rocky Ridge (August 10, 2011); Chris riding the Lakes (November 26, 2011); Chris riding through one of the tunnels that travels under interstate 83 at the Lakes (June 4, 2011)


FAVORITE BIKE:  One newer than mine.

FAVORITE PLACE TO MOUNTAIN BIKE or FAVORITE TRAIL:  I will take any dirt trail at this point.  My ride time is so minimal.  I'll take what I can get.

FAVORITE POST RIDE MEAL or TREAT:  As much as I enjoy eating ice cream with preference, by far, is a craft brew beer.

Life is a journey...not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- February 25, 2017

I cannot leave out Kristian!  Arguably the best rider of the group and a super good friend!  Left:  Kristian riding Ridgeline Trail in Dupont State Forest, NC (August 2008).  Right:  Kristian likes ice cream...but he LOVES Roburrito's (September 23, 2016)

If you enjoyed reading all means, please feel free to tweet it!  

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

August 9, 2016 -- Mountain biking in Michaux and Grave Ridge Trail with Timmy.

October 12, 2015 -- Columbus Day exploring in Michaux with Mark.

September 5, 2015 -- Mountain biking Swatara State Park

Wednesday, November 30, 2016


American Standard Trail, located near Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, is one of the most famous mountain biking trails in Pennsylvania.  Mountain bikers from all over the world make the pilgrimage to ride this rocky, twisty, 18+ mile single track just to see (and more than likely take a selfie with) the American Standard urinal that somehow managed to find it's way eight miles deep into forests of eastern Pennsylvania!

American Standard Trail.  Dave R, Glenn M, Mike N, Mark L, Bill G, & Kevin H -- 2008

Needless to's not everyday that  you find a "bathroom" in the middle of the woods...and it's the reason why I've come to appreciate trailheads that have public facilities.  Spending as much time as I do in the woods, I fully understand that the restrooms in state forests, state parks, & county parks can be sketchy at best.  My first memory of experiencing a DCNR (that's Pennsylvania Department of  Conservation & Natural Resources) bathroom was as a small child growing up in Bedford, Pennyslvania.  In the summertime my mom and dad would take my brother and I to Shawnee State Park.  We would spend long, hot days there swimming in the lake and playing in the sand.  At a very young age, I learned quickly, if at all possible, to avoid the cinder block bathroom up on the hill which emanated a smell that seemed unnatural.

That old cinder block bathroom at Shawnee Lake is on the left.  This pic was taken in 1973.  My mom (pregnant with me) is on the left.  I assume the little girl in the middle is my cousin, Kristen.  My Aunt Deb is on the right.

More than 30 years later I would come across that smell again.  This time at Pine Grove Furnace State Park.  We joked (half seriously) that you could SEE the smell surrounding the green "bathroom" located adjacent to the remains of the old iron furnace.  Whether the green hue was real or imagined...there was no denying that smell was real.  Adding to the charm, we entered the facility armed with our own paper, a flashlight, and a can of hornet spray to fend off dive bombing bees and wasps as we completed our business.  That structure is no longer there...replaced by a modern facility...which is much cleaner but somehow lacks the same character as it's predecessor.  

The facilities (old and new) at Pine Grove Furnace State Park.

Just down the road from Pine Grove Furnace State Park, located in the heart of Michaux State Forest, you will find the Big Flat parking lot.  The facilities there leave a little to be desired.  I have no idea why they even bother to label them male & female.  Does it really matter? -- August 12, 2016

Up until two years ago there were no public facilities at Swatara State Park.  To hit the trails, Tim and I would usually just park along side the highway and hope that nature didn't come calling.  Now, at the TROUT RUN TRAILHEAD, you will find a new restroom.  I have two comments...1. Thank you, DCNR.  2. The baby changing station is darn close to the hole. -- March 5, 2016

The facilities at the York County Parks range from this super huge restroom at Rocky Ridge to this outhouse tucked away underneath a wooden shelter at the Lakes.

Nothing but an old school outhouse at Mark's cabin near State College, PA.  It also came equipped with a ladle shower! -- August 2007

Wherever we go I just expect the worst...and frankly, I'm not sure if anything could ever be worse than that old green building at Pine Grove Furnace.  Ranging from old to new, filthy to "it's not so bad", cramped to "Hey! I can move around in here"...we've experienced it all.  Yes, every once in a while we find ourselves at a trailhead without a bathroom.  In that case, the old male saying "The world is our urinal" holds true.  And remember....if nature calls and more than a urinal is needed...the second tree to the left and out of sight usually works out just fine.*

Just be a bear in the woods.

Life is a journey...not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- November 30, 2016
*In all seriousness...if you need to do your business in the woods be sure LEAVE NO TRACE and follow the guidelines set up by the Center For Outdoor Ethics on how to properly dispose of your...uh...poop.


Suitable for some serious  GROUP'll need to travel all the way to Jerome, Arizona to find this set of outdoor thrones -- January 21, 2014

Sunday, September 18, 2016

SOLO RIDE -- September 18, 2016

Usually, mountain biking provides me with a good dose of GROUP THERAPY.  Although I always road ride alone...I consider it my "me" time...I very rarely head out solo on the mountain bike trails.  Mountain biking for me has always been about sharing time and experiences with friends.  But sometimes schedules, calendars, and life just don't come together the way we would all like it too.

Taking a short break on a hill overlooking Lake Redman.  Nice view.  You can check it out HERE -- September 18, 2016

 So, when I sent the message out that I was going to ride at Swatara State Park this afternoon (which was the only time free riding time this weekend) Kristian was the only person who was able to give me the thumbs up.  Even that didn't turn out we expected.  My time frame got pushed back an hour and Kristian had family stuff that needed attention...which (in my book) is always much more important than mountain biking.  So...with my gear all packed...and no one available...I headed out solo for the first time in a long time.  Instead of Swatara, I just headed down to the Lakes to do an easy loop around Lake Williams.  

I brought my old primer gray helmet out of retirement for today's ride -- September 18, 2016

The Lakes were beautiful today -- September 18, 2016

Riding the ridge that parallels the power lines above the Lakes -- September 18, 2016

Crossing over the Lake Redman spillway I caught a glimpse of the geese lining the edge of the dam and playing in the water -- September 18, 2016

Nice easy ride around the Lakes today -- September 18, 2016

The Lakes were pretty low today.  I don't know why this surprised me.  After all, none of the rain that we hoped for the last few days has materialized for us here in York County.  Most of the trails are bone dry and almost seem to be crumbling apart in some places.   Lake Williams appears to be nearly 5 or 6 feet lower than usual.  At some places I could even ride on areas that would normally be completely submerged in several feet of water!

Kinda "stumped" as to why the Lakes are so low --  September 18, 2016

The trails were so dry that they seem to falling apart.  Central PA needs a little rain -- September 18, 2016

This pic give you a good idea as to how low Lake Williams is right now.  Left of the piece drift wood you can see my tire track in the lone section of  mud that I came across today -- September 18, 2016

I was able to ride my bike on dry ground that is usually under several feet of  water at Lake Williams -- September 18, 2016

From South George Street it is obvious that the upper part of Lakes Williams is pretty much drained -- September 18, 2016

For me, mountain biking alone is weird.  Yes, I missed my friends and I missed the TRAIL TALK.  I missed the jokes and laughter and conversation.  Neat thing did give me time to play around with the camera on my new cell phone.  I did hear all the chipmunks and squirrels running through the brush.  And I did get to stop and talk to an elderly couple who were just out for a walk around the lake.  So yeah...normally mountain biking is time with my friends...but today, my solo ride turned out all right. 

Life is a journey...not a destination.

David  A. Raymond -- September 18, 2016
All pictures courtesy of SQUIRRELS WITH CAMERAS

Why did my ride today get pushed back an hour?  I took my amazing wife to the train station in Lancaster.  I couldn't miss the opportunity to spend a little extra time with her before she left for New York City -- September 18, 2016

Friday, April 8, 2016


"Squirrels with cameras."  That's the tongue in cheek answer I sometimes give when asked who takes the pictures of my friends and I mountain biking.  The real answer is, most of the time, I do. I often wonder if the guys I ride with are annoyed with my constant picture taking.  Every ride will be interrupted at least once and documented with, at minimum, a group shot.  It's how I make connections and memories...but by no standards whatsoever am I a professional photographer.  I have no real concept of the science, dedication, and hard work that goes into professional photography.  All that being said, I love love I take a lot of them.

  Back in 2006, when I first started riding with Mark, Tim, and the rest of the guys, I had the brainiac idea to go to Wal-Mart, purchase a couple disposable 35mm cameras, and shove them into my Camelbak with the rest of my gear.   I did this for about a year.  The end product being a bunch of grainy, dark pictures of us riding in the woods. (Here's some proof!)  Then, in June of 2007, I purchased my first digital camera after seeing how well Mikey's worked on our trip to Blackwater Falls, West Virginia.   Now-a-days, I just use my cell phone.  I say all this to stress that there is significantly more luck than skill involved when I do happen to snag a cool picture of a friend on a moving mountain bike.  Honestly, I think most of the guys I ride with take better pictures than I do...they are the one's who took the pictures of me!

So, since I am still  not "doctor approved" to ride for at least a month or two, I picked (in no particular order) my twenty favorite "friends on mountain bikes" pics.  I have no idea how a professional photographer would grade these pictures...and for all I know they would think squirrels with cameras really DID take the photos... but each of these pictures bring back great memories and I'm proud of them.   Enjoy!

Dave Raymond--August 14, 2014--Michaux State Forest

Timmy took this pic of me in Michaux State Forest.  I really dig the red filter that highlights my helmet and the red trim on my 2011 Stumpjumper.  One of my favs, Tim!  

Chris Keller--August 10, 2011--Rocky Ridge County Park

I took this pic of Chris Keller on Rusty Chair trail at Rocky Rocky Ridge County Park.  I love the intensity on his face.

Dave Raymond--May 11, 2015--Rocky Ridge County Park

Turn around is fair play.  Chris Keller took this pic of me riding down trail 9 at Rocky Ridge County Park.

Mark Lentz--August 2008--Pisgah National Forest, N.C.

Mark leading the way on the first ride of an incredible four day trip to Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina.

Kristian Hains--August 2008--Dupont State Forest, N.C.

The first of three great amazing pics I captured on Ridgeline Trail in Dupont State Forest, N.C. 

Tim Sindlinger--October 25, 2015--The Lakes, York County Pennsylvania
Tim crossing under the power lines at the Lakes.  I tried using a red & green filter.  I thought the result was kind of cool.

Dave Raymond--June 7, 2014--The Lakes, York County Pennsylvania

A great ride at the Lakes with Tim Sindlinger.  I completely dig how the sun was highlighting the trail. 

Brent Shirk--September 2, 2013--Rocky Ridge County Park

My neighbor, Brent, taking on the trails at Rocky Ridge County Park.

Dave Raymond--August 16, 2011--Patapsco Valley State Park, Maryland

Mikey Nardelli captured this photo of me climbing a huge rock face at the base of Cascade Trail in Patapsco Valley State Park, Maryland.

Glenn Medice--August 2008--Dupont State Forest, N.C.

The second of three great shots on Ridgeline Trail in Dupont State Forest, N.C.  The blur in foreground is Mark Lentz.  

Kevin Hardy--August 7, 2010--Lehigh Valley, PA

Kevin had more guts than I did when he decided to ride the see-saw set up on the trails at Lehigh Valley.  I captured this shot a moment before it tipped downward.  

Dave Raymond--September 5, 2015--Swatara Gap State Park

Tim Sindlinger took the pic of me dodging low branches at Swatara Gap State Park.

Tim Sindlinger--November 12, 2011--Rocky Ridge County Park

My favorite pic to Tim.  It captures, in my opinion, the essence of Tim....riding with a grin on his face.  

Mike Nardelli--August 9, 2011--Patapsco Valley State Park, Maryland

Mikey had more balls than anyone else riding that day when he decided to ramp off of this log build up.  The picture doesn't do proper justice to scale of this stunt.  Nicely done, Mike.

Mark Lentz--August 16, 2011--Patapsco Valley State Park, Maryland

It's not every day that a recumbent cyclist rides past as you are waiting for a friend to fix a  mechanical.  It's also not every day that the recumbent cyclist offers to let you ride his bike will your friend continues to work on his mechanical.  Mark took advantage of it.   Looks like fun!

Dave Raymond--June 1, 2014--The Lakes, York County Pennsylvania

Tim Sindlinger took this straight on shot of me riding on trail 1 on the top of the ridge at the Lakes.

Chris Keller--August 25, 2015--Michaux State Forest

Chris Keller taking his turn on the rocks south of Woodrow Road in Michaux State Forest.

Derrick Rorrer--July 2, 2013--Patapsco Valley State Park, Maryland

Mild mannered bike shop service manager during the week...mountain bike daredevil on the weekend.  Derrick boldly goes where I choose not to.  

Dave Raymond--August 1, 2015--Swatara Gap State Park

Tim Sindlinger somehow shot this ghostly image of me riding trail D at Swatara Gap State Park.  Where the heck is the front of my bike?!  Amazing!

Kristian Hains--August 2008--Dupont State Forest, N.C.

In my opinion, the best mountain bike pic that I've ever taken.  Kristian Hains getting some massive hang time on Ridgeline Trail in Dupont State Forest, N.C.

Life is a journey, not a destination.

David A. Raymond--April 8, 2016
Be sure to check out the All Trails Lead To Ice Cream website for all of our ride pics!