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Showing posts with label The Legend Of The White Squirrel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Legend Of The White Squirrel. Show all posts

Friday, December 9, 2016

A DECADE OF MOUNTAIN BIKING MICHAUX, Pt. 3: SIMPLICITY 2011-2012

It's a word that Mikey loves to use...SIMPLICITY.  Mountain biking stripped down to it's basic form. For four years, I'd had been riding a full suspension bike...and dealing with the mechanical problems that come with full suspension bikes. Early in 2011, I sold my 26 inch, full suspension Stumpjumper and purchased my first 29 inch mountain bike. Gone were the small wheels and rear suspension...replaced with a bike that I would ride the heck out of for next five years.  I was the last 26 inch hold out in our group...but simply stated...making the switch was one of the best mountain biking decisions I've made. 

My first ride in Michaux State Forest with my brand new 2011 Stumpjumper 29er.  An incredible ride which ended with an amazing view from the top of Pole Steeple -- July 4, 2011

My time in Michaux during 2011 and 2012 was spent mostly with Kevin Hardy, Tim Sindlinger and Chris Keller. Chris and I had met a few years before (my son and his daughter were in the same grade) and we quickly became friends.  Although his gentle and kind demeanor is what really sets Chris apart everybody else...there is no denying that the man has serious mountain biking skills.  He and I would spend the next few years riding and competing in adventure races together as TEAM WHITE SQUIRREL.


Left to right:  Chris Keller (April 7, 2012), Kevin Hardy (July 4, 2011), Dave Raymond & Kevin Hardy (July 4, 2011), Tim Sindlinger & Dave Raymond (May 5, 2012), Chris Keller (April 7, 2012), Chris Keller & Tim Sindlinger (April 7, 2012) -- All pics taken in Michaux State Forest

For the most part, I was just loving life again...and loving how my new bike handled the trails (and the rocks) in Michaux State Forest.  After years of depending on my rear suspension to get me over the technical stuff, I was now, with my new bike, just simply (there's that word again) rolling over everything in my way.  As for our rides...I was keeping things simple and focusing on the trails that I already knew.  Michaux is so damn big...and even though I knew that there had to be other stuff out there waiting to be ridden...I made up my mind that, for the time being, I would stick to what was already mapped out in my head.  The only difference now was that I had decided to do everything possible to maximize our fun...piecing together trails in an order and direction that gave us the most bang for our buck.


My 2011Stumpjumper rolling, with ease, over everything in it's path -- April 7, 2012

Descending off of Pole Steeple -- July 4, 2011

During these two years, there was one ride in particular that sticks out to me.  It's the only ride that deviated from my "maximizing fun" philosophy. For the past two years I had been dating  my now amazing wife, Robin.  Earlier in the month I had purchased a ring and planned to propose to her at the top of Tumbling Run...one of the most beautiful and scenic places in the forest.  But first, I needed to check something out.  Five years prior, when we first began riding in Michaux, Mark, Tim, & I had explored Dead Woman's Hollow Trail...which eventually wound it's way to a big rock outcropping with a nice view.  I hadn't been there for years and I wanted to make sure that Tumbling Run really was the place I wanted to propose to Robin.  On the morning of June 23, I picked Chris up at his house and explained that, unlike our recent rides at Michaux, this time I had a mission...and it wouldn't be easy.  Our ride took us out GRAVE RIDGE and then up Dead Woman's Hollow Road...a 600 foot climb in just over ONE mile!  After all that effort...and despite the nice view from the rocks at the end of Dead Woman's Hollow Trail...I decided to stick with Tumbling Run.  The ride down was pretty damn steep.  Near the bottom, Chris and I couldn't find any SIGNS OF MAINTENANCE and we had to bushwhack our way through the forest until we found Mountain Creek and trails we were familiar with.  Mission accomplished.  On the way home, we enjoyed some well earned ice cream and, the next day, I ended up with an amazing future wife.
Simply awesome.

To be continued...


Taking a well deserved rest at the top of Dead Woman's Hollow Road before turning onto Dead Woman's Hollow Trail -- June 23, 2012

Riding Dead Woman's Hollow Trail.  I forgot my gloves that day...which made a challenging ride even more difficult -- June 23, 2012

Dave Raymond & Chris Keller at the end of Dead Woman's Hollow Trail.  It's all down hill from here! -- June 23, 2012


Life is a journey...not a destination.



David A. Raymond -- December 9, 2016


I'm happy to say that, at the top of the rocks near Tumbling Run, she said "YES!" -- June 24, 2012

Friday, October 21, 2016

MY FASCINATION WITH SQUIRRELS

I have ADD.  Hell, at this very moment, I can feel my attention being pulled in about six different directions.  (I literally had to delete and retype that last sentence four times!)  Now...I didn't know I had ADD until my lovely wife, Robin, suggested that I go see the doctor.  Apparently I had the incredibly annoying habit of looking at everything around me ("Oh, look!  Squirrels!) instead of the person who was talking.  Even though I may be completely paying attention to the conversation, my behavior gave the appearance to others that I really didn't give a sh*t.  Not a good impression to leave.  

This pic, which shows the positive effects that exercise has on the human brain, is in The Atlantic's article "Exercise Is ADHD Medicine."  (Hillman et al, Pediatrics/The Atlantic)

 I survived childhood with a lot of structure...a very loving (but strict) mother, Catholic school up to and through 8th grade, then football, track & field, and musicals in high school.  All these things helped to keep me focused.  It's probably why...actually I KNOW it's why...I love structure in my life.  I figured out, at an early age, that, for me, life is so much better when I'm either mentally or physically engaged in something.  All this was validated, the other day, when I was reading an article in The Atlantic called "Exercise Is ADHD Medicine." (I love to remind my wife that the doctor DID NOT add the H to my ADD diagnosis!) 

My 8th grade class at St. Thomas Catholic School in Bedford, PA.  Yep...that's me in the front left.  I still wonder how that kid grew up to marry such an amazing, successful, & beautiful woman like my wife, Robin  --  May 1986

Bedford Bison's 1990 Seniors.  I'm #51 third from the right in the front -- August 1990

I spent four fun track and field seasons throwing javelin with my best friend in high school, Aaron Housel. That's me on the right -- May 1991


I'm on the far left playing the role of Lazar Wolf in the musical Fiddler on the Roof.  The "bald" wig turned out to be a pretty good look for me! -- 1991

I do take, what I like to call, my "concentration candy" every day.  My boss loves that I no longer glaze over when he puts a spread sheet in front of me during a team meeting.  But, in my opinion, no pill can ever replace the benefits of activity.  For me, nothing brings me back into focus like riding my bike.  It doesn't even have to be a long ride.  Just the other day I took my bike up to Rocky Ridge and only rode 4 miles.  It doesn't seem like a lot..and to some not worth the short drive to the park..but, at that moment, it was just what I needed to quiet my head and pull me into focus. It was enough to break a sweat, get the heart pumping,  and get those chemicals flowing  in my brain.   Just me, my bike, and a quiet head...with nothing to distract me but..."Hey look...squirrels!"

Enjoying Rocky Ridge County Park -- October 16, 2016

Life is a journey...not a destination!



David A. Raymond -- October 21, 2016
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Thumbs up from my principal, Mike Alessandroni.  He knows I took my concentration candy before our field trip to Gettysburg National Military Park.  No squirrels up here!  -- May 24, 2016

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

GET A GRIP -- August 3, 2016

"I love this place!"  The exact words muttered over and over again by my good friend, Kristian Hains, as we navigated the Allegrippis Trails near Raystown Lake in Huntington County, Pennsylvania on Tuesday.   Ranked as Pennsylvania's #1 mountain bike destination by Singletracks.com...the Allegrippis Trail system was created by the Army Corps of Engineers in tandem with the International Mountain Biking Association.  All this is possible because the land around Raystown Lake (which was created in 1973 for the purpose of controlling floods, providing electricity, and supporting recreational activities) is owned by the Army Corps of Engineers and has never been privately developed.  Literally, it's 30+ miles of trails that are a series of stacked loops (which can provide for seemingly endless trail combinations ) created BY mountain bikers FOR mountain bikers!  

Kristian Hains riding Ray's Revenge -- August 2, 2016
"I'm sure I've had more fun in my life...but right now I can't think of when!" -- Kristian Hains//August 2, 2016

Raystown Lake is unique in that the land around the lake is owned by the Army Corps of Engineers.  There is very little built along side of the lake allowing for the treeline to come right down to the water.  Covering 8,300 acres, it is the largest lake fully contained in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania -- August 2, 2016

Map of the Alligrippis Trail System (thank you Rothrock Outfitters)

A screen shot of our ride as recorded by my Garmin.  You can compare it to the map of the trail system above -- August 2, 2016

"CAUTION DIPS" can be found posted in a number of places on the trails.  If your going to ride the trails at Allegrippis you definitely need to get a grip and hold on tight.  It's almost like being on a roller coaster.  The trails just flow in a way unlike any other trail system in Pennsylvania...allowing you to reach speeds that can be completely unexpected.  If you're not careful, the trails have the ability to launch you right off your bike....or worse yet down the embankment towards the lake.  From the trail head off of Bakers Hollow Road we began riding clockwise starting on Buck trail and included Allegrippis Trail, Ridge Trail, Ray's Revenge, Sidewinder, Osprey, Hydro Loop, Eagle Trail, Sleek Dog, and Fawn Trail...constantly making left turns at each intersection in order to ride as much of the perimeter of the system as possible.  

CAUTION DIPS can be founded posted along the trails -- August 2,  2016

Kristian captured this pic of me on Eagle Trail -- August 2, 2016

Glenn getting into the action on Ray's Revenge -- August 2, 2016

Dave Raymond, Kristain Hains, Glenn Medice at the base of Hydro Loop -- August 2, 2016

At first, Kristian was nervous about coming out with Glenn and I.  I got a text from him a few nights before the ride.  He was concerned that he would "hold us back."  My response to him was that "Glenn orders his meals from the 55+ menu at Denny's and I just had back surgery....who are you holding back?"  With that, the tone for the day was set.  


Glenn & Kristain at the intersection of Allegrippis and Ridge Trail -- August 2, 2016

Kristian and Glenn taking a moment to admire each other's bikes -- August 2, 2016

After riding Kristain's bike for a while  Glenn broke one of the most sacred mountain biking commandments:  THOU SHALL NOT COVET THEY BUDDY'S MOUNTAIN BIKE.  The smile on his face says it all! -- August 2, 2016

Kristian Hains on Eagle Trail -- August 2, 2016

Dave Raymond wrapping up Hydro Loop -- August 2, 2016

Along the way Kristain and I fixed Glenn's front derailleur -- August 2, 2016

Kristian, Glenn, Dave on Allegrippis Trail -- August 2, 2016

Post ride pic (Glenn, Dave, Kristian) -- August 2, 2016

Glenn found the ice cream a few miles away at Eats 'N Treats near Raystown Lake -- August 2, 2016

When all was said and done, we covered about 17 miles of trail in just a few short hours of ride time.  This was the first time that the three of us had ridden together since 2009.  It's great to have Kristian back in the fold.  So far...within the past few months, the original group has gotten back on the trails....Mark, Timmy, Mikey, Glenn, Billy, and now Kristian.   Now we just all need to get together for a some "group therapy."  The summer of 2016 has shaped up to be one of the best...but get a grip and hold on tight...looks like the best rides are still ahead of us.

Life is a journey, not a destination.



David A.  Raymond -- August 3, 2016

You can capture lightning in a bottle twice!  -- Kristian Hains 2008 (Ridgeline Trail) 2016 (Ray's Revenge)

Here are my GARMIN stats from my ride on the Allegrippis Trails with Glenn and Kristian...



Tuesday, July 26, 2016

TRAIL TALK -- July 26, 2016

It's hard to say what's going to be discussed (if anything) when a group  goes mountain biking.  This morning while riding in Michaux State Forest with Mark, Glenn, Timmy, and Matt,* I found myself in the middle of the pack which gave me access to all kinds of conversations.  Mark led the ride because...well...Mark can (as Tim says) find a trail anywhere.  Matt and Glenn brought up the rear because they had never ridden on this particular trail.  Mark and I really wanted to take Glenn up to our favorite vista overlooking the forest.  After a quick ride down the "rail trail" near Fuller and Laurel Lakes we began our nearly 3 mile climb up the the ridge.  It's not the shortest way up...but, as far as we know, it's the easiest way to ride up (yes, you can choose a shorter "hike-a-bike" trail.)  

After reaching our destination at the top of the trail today we took about 15 minutes to relax, cool down, and appreciate the vastness of Michaux State Forest  -- July 26, 2016

Riding in the front with Mark the two of us discussed how we were going to get around the newly logged area that we usually ride in.  Drifting towards the back I was privy to conversations that went from movie special effects, to the oppressive humidity, to wondering why Glenn didn't wear a shirt that unzipped, to Glenn comparing himself to a 1970s Volkswagon (I still not sure what that was all about.)  


Matt experiencing Glenn's humor for the first time -- July 26, 2016

Unlike Glenn, Mark dressed for the weather today -- July 26, 2016

It was too bad...but there was a short hike-a-bike included on today's ride -- July 26, 2016

Timmy took this pic of me appreciating the view below -- July 26, 2016

Looking good, Mr. Medice! -- July 26, 2016

Yep...a little fire road was necessary to get around the newly logged area on top of  the ride -- July 26, 2016

Thing is...regardless of if you like trail talk...or if you would just rather ride...the conversations mean that everyone is together, doing okay, smiling, and having fun.  That's what it's all about.


Life is a journey, not a destination.


David A. Raymond -- July 26, 2016

*Okay...today was the first time that Mark, Glenn, and I have ridden together since July of 2009.  How freakin' awesome!  Also, today was the first time that Matt rode with Mark and Glenn...and the first time he was exposed to Glenn's humor.  I sure hope he comes back!  

Sporting my newly purchased White Squirrel socks from Brevard, NC -- July 26, 2016

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

CROSSING PATHS -- July 12, 2016

I usually end my writing with the same sentence:  LIFE IS A JOURNEY...NOT A DESTINATION. The credit for this seven word statement goes to the band Aerosmith.  It's a brief lyric halfway through their 1993 song, AMAZING.  The phrase has always stuck in my head and I think it's appropriate because we never really know, for good or bad, what paths life has in store for us.   

Tim Sindlinger, Dave Raymond, & Mark Lentz soaking in the view on our new favorite rock vista in Michaux State Forest.  The view is astonishing!

Mark Lentz showing me the view from these rocks northwest of Laurel Lake -- June 13,  2016

I think it's also safe to say that none of us are on exactly the same journey and for reasons that no one understands we get pulled in different directions.  From my own experience, I know that I've chosen paths that differed from those of my friends thinking that, because of choices made, our paths would never cross again.  It funny how our lives twist and turn and meander (kind of like the trails in Michaux)...eventually bringing people back together.  Five years ago I'd have bet the bank that I wouldn't be mountain biking with Glenn and Mikey and Billy again.  I would have told you that the idea of all of us (Tim, Mark, Glenn, Billy, Mikey, & Kristian) getting together for a ride would have been impossible.  Too much had changed and we had all chosen paths that took our lives in very different directions.  


Bill Graves, Mikey Nardelli (with a very appropriate biking shirt), Glenn Medice, & Dave Raymond enjoying Tom's Run Trail in Michaux State Forest -- July 5, 2016

Then I had to get all nostalgic and start writing the THE LEGEND OF THE WHITE SQUIRREL.  I knew it would be difficult...because I knew how it ended:  with the original group no longer together.  But life's funny like that.  I chose to write it at a time when all of us seem to be in a better place.  A place where it became possible for our paths to, once again, come together.  We've not all gotten out together at the same time yet...but it's actually beginning to happen!  Two weeks ago, Timmy and I rode with Glenn for the first time in almost seven years.  Last week Billy and Mikey joined us for a great time in Michaux.  Today it was Mark and Tim and I.  We just have to find a way to make it all come together (and that will surely be a great story to tell) but for now it's nice to be in a place where we are crossing paths again.  Now we just have to find Kristian.  

LIFE IS A JOURNEY...NOT A DESTINATION.


David A. Raymond  -- July 12, 2016

Timmy wrecked today and...after making sure he wasn't hurt...I captured the moment.  Glad to see a smile on his face!  -- July 12, 2016

Sunday, May 15, 2016

BACK IN THE SADDLE -- May 15, 2016

This past week, I ventured out on my first bike rides since my back surgery in mid-March.  As road rides go...they weren't long rides...but they were fun!  I'll admit that I was just as nervous as I was excited.   I've tried hard to be a good patient so that I would heal as quickly as possible and I definitely didn't want to undo any progress...but, a few rides in now, I feel good.  The rides I've done so far have been about 10-ish miles (I don't want to over do it) and I've stayed relatively close to home...but yesterday I rode 13 miles.   I've got to tell you....it just feels good to be out in the fresh air doing what I love to do.  No mountain bike rides yet.  I'm going to give myself another week or two before I try some off road riding.

My bike rides, both yesterday and today, took me down near the Conewago Inn.  It was great to be out on my bike -- May 15, 2016
I seriously have to thank my family for helping me (and putting up with me) during the past two months.  First and foremost, thanks to my wife, Robin.  She loves me and takes care of me in a way no one ever has.  Thank you for being next to through all of this and making sure that I was comfortable, taken care of, and  most importantly, loved.  I love you so much, honey!  Thanks to my dad and Mary Jane for making the trip to our house to help with things the first week I was home.   Thank you to my sister-in-law, Mary, for helping me take care of stuff around the house...and a special thank you to my son, Alex, who took care of all the house work and chores that I normally take care of...all the while earning a top 25 class ranking, playing varsity baseball, and holding down a part time job at Subway.  I love you, son.  

My wife, Robin, busted me out of the house a few times to go out for dinner.  This pic was taken at Sydney in  East Berlin on Valentine's Day a few weeks prior to my surgery -- February 14, 2016
My son, Alex, playing third base for Northeastern High School's varsity baseball team -- March 2016 

Mary Jane & Dave Raymond in Alexandria, Virginia -- April 2016
So many of my friends have stopped in to check on me and hang out.  Thanks to all of you.  I'm afraid that if I start listing you all I'll miss someone...but I'll try (and apologize ahead of time to those that  I miss).  Thanks to Mike & Julie Ritts, Mike Alessandroni, Mike Graham, John Senko, Chris Lowe, Brent Shirk, Mike Alicea, Tim Sindlinger, my brothers-in-law Donny, Jimmy, Dave, and my neighbor, Becky, who made me some pretty incredible soup!  I appreciate all of you!  

Mike & Julie Ritts came for a visit to present the NMS Pep Rally trophy.  Nicely done, Green Team!  -- April 2016

Chris Lowe, Dave Raymond, Donny Arnold, & Alex Raymond at Vaccaro's in Little Italy, Baltimore, Maryland.  You won't get a bigger portion of ice cream (or in this case, gelato) anywhere! -- May 14, 2016

Tim Sindlinger, Dave Raymond, & Chris Lowe -- May 15, 2016
Something amazing and unexpected happened during my time off.  I had to change what I write about in this blog and instead of focusing on the rides I am currently taking I was forced to write about friends, events, and rides taken over the years.  Some of those entries...in particular THE LEGEND OF THE WHITE SQUIRREL series...focused on some of my friends who were no longer out riding with me for one reason or another.  Those stories were very therapeutic for me because I still blamed myself for why some of those relationships ended. I had no idea that those friends from the past would be touched by those stories.  A dialog was opened and a fire was rekindled in each of us.  Both Mikey and Glenn went out and purchased new bikes.  Billy Graves pulled his out of storage.  The plan is for us all, along with Mark, Tim, and everyone else who rides with us, to be out riding together once school lets out in June.  

Both Glenn & Mikey have purchased new bikes and have begun turning the pedals again -- April 16, 2016

Billy's SETTE is getting some long overdue TLC -- May 9, 2016
Who'd of thought that my time off because of  back surgery would have helped put the band back together?  I cannot wait to be back on the trails with the whole group and see what adventures we come across together.  Looks like I'm not the only one back in the saddle again.

Life is a journey, not a destination.


David A. Raymond -- May 15, 2016

My students were happy to have me back.  This gave me a warm fuzzy -- May 11, 2016