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Thursday, December 28, 2017

THREE COOL RIDES

It's cold outside right now.  Really cold.  The kind of cold that, regardless of whatever "cold weather" gear I put on, pretty much limits any ride to just about an hour...which is about how long it takes my toes to freeze.  Once my toes freeze...I'm done riding.  I usually go riding once or twice during the week between Christmas and New Year's Day.  This week I managed to ride three days in a row.  Three extremely cold days...and three very cool rides!  

Wrapping up a super cool urban mountain bike ride in the city of York, PA. -- December 26, 2017
On Tuesday morning I sent Mark a text to see if he wanted to take a cold ride.  He suggested that I meet him at his house in York City for an "urban" ride.  What I was treated to was a ten mile ride zipping in and out of the city of York...which was split evenly between pavement and off road.  I've lived in York County since 1995, but I've never seen the city from this perspective.  

Mark Lentz and Dave Raymond on Old Farm Trail in Gifford Pinchot State Park. -- December 27, 2017

My Stumpjumper at the intersection of Ridge Trail and Old Farm Trail in Gifford Pinchot State Park. -- December 27, 2017
Yesterday, Mark and I pull on our cold weather gear for another ride.  He suggested that we head over to Gifford Pinchot State Park.  Again...I've lived here since 1995 and I've never mountain biked at Pinchot.  I've always been told that the riding there was minimal and not worth the trip.  Not the case at all...at least not yesterday.  In a very cold hour of riding, Mark and I pedaled nearly eight miles of ultra cool single track.  It was fast, fun, and so much more than I expected.

Cold fun on the Parkway Trails in Harrisburg, PA.  Dave Raymond,  Mike Alicea, and Brent Shirk. -- December 28, 2017
Today, I had a planned ride with my neighbors Brent and Mike.  We originally were going to head to Patapsco State Park in Maryland...but the extreme cold made this trip not practical.  Instead, we took a twenty five minute drive up to Harrisburg to bike on the Parkway Trails.  The air temperature was around 12 degrees when we began and peaked at a balmy 14 degrees by time we ended!  We managed about seven total miles of riding before calling it quits.  Those seven miles included some of my favorite trails on the Paxton Street side of the trails...PAX  1, 3, and 4.


GoPro footage taken by Brent Shirk on PAX 1 -- December 28, 2017


Mike Alicea,  Brent Shirk, and Dave Raymond on the Parkway Trails in Harrisburg, PA. Toes are frozen and time to head home. -- December 28, 2017


Three very cold days...three very cool rides...with all of our toes intact.  You can't ask for any more than that!

Life is a journey...not a destination.



David A. Raymond -- December 28, 2017


14 degrees!  It 14 degrees in Harrisburg, PA when we ended our ride.  It takes a special kind of crazy to mountain bike when it is 14 degrees outside.  -- December 28, 2017


Here are the GARMIN maps and data from the rides featured in this post...










Interested in biking or hiking some of the trails featured in this post?  Check out the TRAIL MAPS and TRAIL HEADS tabs on the ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM website.   

All of my posts are available at ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM and, if you get the chance, be sure to visit HIGHPEAKSHIKING.COM and

"WRITE SOMETHING WORTH READING OR DO SOMETHING WORTH WRITING..." Ben Franklin

Monday, December 18, 2017

PRESERVING THE AWESOMENESS (My Favorite Pics of 2017)

I take thousands of pictures every year.  It's kind of my thing...along with mountain biking, hiking, and  teaching history.  I have absolutely no formal training in the art of photography...so when I take (what I think is a really cool photo) it is simply by chance.  Picture taking while mountain biking and hiking serves the duel purpose of allowing me to slow down and rest my "recently operated on" back while also helping me to preserve some really awesome memories. 

After looking through all of the pictures that I've taken while biking and hiking over the past year I found a baker's dozen that I am particularly proud of.  These thirteen pictures, in my opinion, are the ones that best highlight and preserve the beauty and awesomeness of the outdoors in which I love to spend so much of my time.  So...here are (in no special order) my favorite pictures of 2017.
Enjoy!

I took this ultra cool pic of my Stumpjumper while riding Ridgeline Trail in Michaux State Forest with Mark Lentz. -- July 31, 2017

The first of two pics from an epic ride Mark Lentz and I took in Tuscarora State Forest.  I took this pic from Bower Mountain Road as Mark (faintly visible on the road) made our way up the mountain and above the fog. -- July 6, 2017

The Fall foliage was pretty amazing this year.  I took this super cool picture of my Roubaix and the Conewago Creek when I was on one of my after school bike rides. -- November 2, 2017

This year, on our wedding anniversary, Robin and I took a hike through Watkin's Glen in New York.  The entire hike was something out of a story book.  I took this picture as we approached Rainbow Falls.   If you've never been...go hike Watkin's Glen.  It's absolutely beautiful!  -- July 21, 2017

I took this picture of my Stumpjumper leaning against the South Harrisburg Wall Project during a ride with Mark and Glenn on the Parkway Trails in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  Urban mountain biking at it's best! -- July 26, 2017

Michaux State Forest from Pole Steeple Vista.  Robin, Alex, and I climbed to the top of the ridge to see the amazing Pennsylvania foliage. -- November 4, 2017

Just before I made my way down Baughman Trail in Ohiopyle State Park, I took this pic of the view from Baughman Rock Overlook.  What an amazing view of Pennsylvania's Laurel Highlands.  This pic has been featured as the header on my blog ever since I took it in June. -- June 13, 2017

With a massive thunderstorm approaching York County, Mark and I decided to cut our ride at Rocky Ridge short.  As we made an abrupt turn back towards the vehicles I took this picture of Mark riding towards the storm.  -- September 5, 2017

A few hours into our trip to Florida, Robin and I took a slight detour off of Interstate 81 and drove a short while on the Blue Ridge Parkway....just in time for the sunset.  What an amazing sight! -- November 25, 2017

This late fall picture of the sun shining at a low angle through the nearly depleted foliage was taken at Rocky Ridge County Park. -- November 3, 2017

Shortly after we were married, Robin and I discovered that, when traveling, we enjoy visiting...and hiking through...local Botanical Gardens. I took this surreal picture of a plant called Flying Dragon Trifoliate Orange when we visited the Botanical Gardens at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. -- November 26, 2017

Yeah...I love this pic. I took it on my only ride of the year in Swatara State Park.   I entered this picture into a photo contest sponsored by Pennsylvania Parks and Forests.  It won one one of the Critic's Choice Awards.  My prize...a gift card to Pennsylvania State Parks.  I've already used it to book a future camping trip with my wife. -- June 6,  2017

Hands down...in my opinion, one of the best photographs I've ever taken.  The second of two pics from our epic ride in Tuscarora State Forest,  I picked my head up as I followed Mark Lentz up a fire road though the fog.  I was in awe of  the scene surrounding me.  Without Mark knowing, I stopped and capture the moment. -- July 6, 2017



Life is a journey...not a destination.



David A. Raymond -- December 18, 2017


The best ice cream pic of the year...I love Vaccaro's in Baltimore's Little Italy! -- March 25, 2017

Here are the GARMIN maps and data from the rides featured in this post...















Interested in biking or hiking some of the trails featured in this post?  Check out the TRAIL MAPS and TRAIL HEADS tabs on the ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM website.   

All of my posts are available at ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM and, if you get the chance, be sure to visit HIGHPEAKSHIKING.COM and YOURTRUENATURE.COM!

"WRITE SOMETHING WORTH READING OR DO SOMETHING WORTH WRITING..." Ben Franklin

Friday, December 8, 2017

PEDALIN' WEST PALM

There's a novelty to riding your bike in places far from home.  I've taken my bike with me on a trip  to the Jersey Shore, to St. Augustine, and on many trips to my home town of Bedford.  I'm still looking forward to the day that I take it on a trip to visit my brother in Mesa, Arizona.  Cycling is such a cool way to explore and experience other parts of the country.

Driving south through Virginia, Robin and I took a short detour on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  We were treated to a beautiful sunset along the way. -- November 25, 2017

Each year, Robin and I spend the week after Thanksgiving in West Palm Beach, Florida.  I know that  flying would be easier...but I like the thousand mile drive!  I get to spend time with my wife, see the Country, and easily take my bicycle!  I really look forward to riding my bike along the Florida coast.  It's so amazingly different from riding in south-central Pennsylvania.   You can forget about hills...there aren't any.  Don't even think about packing cold weather gear and  "wind chill"...the temps are comfortably in the 80s.  Pine trees are replaced with palm trees and the seemingly endless Atlantic Ocean takes the place of  Pennsylvania's corn fields.  

Pedaling near Juno Beach, Florida. -- November 27, 2017

Pausing to view the ocean from Juno Pier. -- November 28, 2017

Florida's State Parks sure look different than they do in Pennsylvania.  No pine trees and mountains...just palm trees as far as you can see at John D. MacArthur State Park -- November 29, 2017

The longest ride during my stay in Florida.  I rode from West Palm Beach to the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse. -- November 30, 2017

Near Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse I came across this old Spanish anchor.  It is nearly 300 years old and was pulled out of the ocean near Jupiter Inlet. -- November 30, 2017

Happy December!  An easy ride near John D. MacArthur State Park with Robin.  We paused near the water to watch the pelicans, kingfishers, and other birds on the water near the park.  -- December 1, 2017

This is a first...I stopped for a pelican.  This not-so-little guy decided to take a rest in the bike lane! -- December 1, 2017

I passed this mermaid on each of my rides during my week in Florida. -- December 2, 2017

A new ice cream shop...Sweet Treats and Ice Cream is located just about 500 feet from where Robin and I were staying. -- December 2, 2017
Robin and I had fantastic weather while we were in West Palm last week.  It rained just once...but not enough to put a damper on any of our plans.  I was excited to get out for a ride each of the six days we were there.  My rides weren't all that long....the longest was just over 27 miles, the shortest just over 10 miles, and the others somewhere in between.  But the length of the rides didn't matter.  I was somewhere new and different.  I found that the wind along the ocean can be just as much of a challenge as the toughest hill climb back home. Riding in Florida proved to be a lesson in patience every time I came to a draw bridge...and I found that I don't enjoy riding my Roubaix over the open metal grate surface that makes up the "draw" part of the draw bridges. Probably the biggest challenge riding along the coast was the wind!   Even though my daily rides were almost completely flat ( I climbed a total of 210 feet in 120 miles of riding) the ocean wind was intense.  It was amazing to pass three separate flag poles...all within 100 feet of each other...with the flags flapping in three different directions!  I seemed to be riding into a stiff head wind no matter which direction I pointed my bike.

The wind coming off of the Atlantic Ocean was super intense!  John D. MacArthur State Park. -- November 29, 2017

I'm not making those comparisons to complain about my rides...actually, just the opposite.  The flatness of the rides and challenges of the wind added to the novelty I previously mentioned.  There were other things too...first, and foremost, the ocean.  I'm always in awe of how beautiful it is.  Riding through, and past, John D. MacArthur State Park I couldn't help but notice the drastic differences between Pennsylvania's and Florida's State Parks...both beautiful in their own way.  In Pennsylvania, I've braked countless times for deer, snakes, fox, wild turkeys, and the occasional black bear...but for the first time in my life, while riding in West Palm, Florida,  I had to stop and yeild to a pelican!  I've come across many fire towers while biking in PA...but lighthouses are rare....on my longest ride of the week I rode out to Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and took in some of the local history.  What was my favorite part about pedalin' the West Palm Beach area?  I guess I would have to say the countless miles of "bike friendly" bike lanes (which shouldn't be a novelty, but unfortunately they are)...which made all of my rides that much more enjoyable.


Robin and I headed to City Place in West Palm Beach for dinner and a movie.  A stop at Sloan's Ice Cream capped a nice evening out. -- November 30, 2017

Life is a journey...not a destination!



David A. Raymond -- December 8, 2017

Back home, back to reality, and back riding in the frigid 30 degree air!  Yesterday, I paused at a friend's house to take a pic of his 20 foot Santa Claus.  As far as Bob's concerned, either go big...or go home!  -- December 7, 2017


Here are the GARMIN maps and data from the rides featured in this post...














Interested in biking or hiking some of the trails featured in this post?  Check out the TRAIL MAPS and TRAIL HEADS tabs on the ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM website.   

All of my posts are available at ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM and, if you get the chance, be sure to visit HIGHPEAKSHIKING.COM and YOURTRUENATURE.COM!

"WRITE SOMETHING WORTH READING OR DO SOMETHING WORTH WRITING..." Ben Franklin

Saturday, November 18, 2017

LONG SHADOWS AND SHORT RIDES

Time is the one resource that you can never get back.  Now that the clocks have been turned back, and Standard Time rules the day, time is an even more precious commodity...especially if I want to spend any time outdoors during the daylight hours.   I'm extremely fortunate to live and work within five miles of the trails at Rocky Ridge County  Park.  Even so, the the window of time I have to get on my bike and ride (either trail or road) gets shorter and shorter this time of year.  

The view from the observation area on the northern side of Rocky Ridge County Park. -- November 17, 2017
It was evident to me as I pulled into the parking lot of Rocky Ridge County Park yesterday afternoon that there were others trying to squeeze in some precious Vitamin N before the sun set and the gates of the park closed.  The parking lot was full and there were plenty of people out hiking and mountain biking.  I quickly pulled my bike off the top of the car and, with the sun already at a low angle and casting long shadows on the leaf covered trails,  headed out for what I knew would be a short ride.   At the far end of the park, and with day light quickly fading, I paused and took time to take in the late Fall scenery before turning back in the dirction of the parking lot...thankful for being able to spend time in the woods and go for a ride...even if it was just a short one.

At 4:15 in the afternoon the sun is just about to set at Rocky Ridge County Park. -- November 17, 2017

Life is a journey...not a destination.



David A. Raymond -- November 18, 2017



Here's the GARMIN map and data from the ride featured in this post...




Interested in mountain biking or hiking some of the trails featured in this post?  Check out the TRAIL MAPS and TRAIL HEADS tabs on the ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM website.   

All of my posts are available at ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM and, if you get the chance, be sure to visit HIGHPEAKSHIKING.COM!

"WRITE SOMETHING WORTH READING OR DO SOMETHING WORTH WRITING..." Ben Franklin

Sunday, November 5, 2017

FALL IN PA

The early November sun poking through the trees served as my guide while I was mountain biking at Rocky Ridge on Friday afternoon...highlighting the fallen (now flattened) leaves covering the single track.  At one point, I stopped to take in the scene in front of me...it seemed to be raining leaves, the temperature was unusually warm, and the air was filled with the sweet smell of Autumn.  Autumn is, by far, my favorite time to be outdoors.  It doesn't matter if I'm mountain biking, hiking, or on my road bike...I love the Fall...and Fall in Pennsylvania is really kind of special.

The sun helps to uncover the "hidden" trails at Rocky Ridge County Park. -- November 3, 2017

Tim got this great pic of me at Rocky Ridge County Park with the Autumn leaves in the background. -- November 3, 2017

Tim took this pic of me riding over the fallen leaves and down Trail #7 at Rocky Ridge County Park.  The beauty of the leaves also hid the loose rocks and gravel underneath...adding an extra element to mountain biking.  Caution always rules the day! -- November 3, 2017

Even as a child I loved jumping into the huge piles of leaves that my father would rake up in our back yard.  I also recall that, when I was young, my mom and dad would take my brother and I to Ohiopyle State Park for hikes to see all the colors of the forest.  I have no doubt that it was those trips are what grew into my love for the outdoors.  I have no doubt that it was those trips with my parents that inspired my love of being outdoors.  Here in South Central Pennsylvania, the foliage was at it's peak this week.  We are literally only one big rain or wind storm away from all the leaves being blown off of the trees.   But before that happens, I'm trying to enjoy every last minute of the Autumn colors.

Hiking around Ohiopyle State Park with my mom, dad, and brother.  Left to right:  Jacob Raymond, David Raymond, Kathy Raymond.  -- November 1980

One of the perks of living withing three miles of the school in which I teach is that I can be home and on my bicycle before 3:30.  I'm blessed with the almost daily opportunity to unwind, get some exercise, and take in a good dose of Vitamin N.  My after school bike rides aren't very long...especially now that the seasons are changing and the clocks have been turned back...but they do the trick and the York County scenery is nothing short of spectacular!  

This pumpkin stand is located on Canal Road in Manchester, Pennsylvania.  I pass it often when riding my bike after school. -- October 17, 2017

This old bridge crossing the Conewago Creek is located between Manchester and York Haven, Pennsylvania.  I often ride past it on my after school bike rides.  -- October 17, 2017

In my opinion...one of the best photos I've ever taken.  My red Roubaix resting on a tree near the Conewaga Creek.  -- November 2, 2017

During the school year, I usually try to get all my mountain and road biking in after school and reserve the weekends for hanging out with (and usually taking a hike with) my wife, Robin.  This weekend was especially awesome because, my son, Alex, was home from college.  Yesterday was a picture perfect day for a hike...so the three of us headed over to Michaux State Forest to take in the sights of Autumn before they disappeared.  Apparently, I wasn't the only person who had this idea.  In all the years I've been visiting Michaux, I've never seen the Pole Steeple trail head parking lot filled beyond capacity.  Even though there was a lot of traffic on Pole Steeple yesterday, it didn't take away from the adventure of the trail or the beauty of the valley below.  Actually, part of me was very encouraged that so many people were taking time out to just be outdoors.


Alex took this picture of me just as I was making my way to the top of Pole Steeple Trail in Michaux State Forest. -- November 4, 2017

Michaux State Forest as seen from the vista on top of Pole Steeple. -- November 4, 2017

Alex and David Raymond on top of Pole Steeple. -- November 4, 2017

David and Robin Raymond on top of Pole Steeple. -- November 4, 2017

 Afterwards, we took a much more secluded hike through an area of the forest that I usually mountain bike in. We parked along Route 233 and hiked down towards Mountain Creek.  On this short hike we didn't climb up a mountain  and experience a vista with a grand view...but we were able to meander through the Mountain Laurel, walk along the rushing water of Mountain Creek, hear the sounds of nature all around us, and seemingly have the forest to ourselves for a few moments. 

Alex, Robin, and David Raymond near Mountain Creek in Michaux State Forest. -- November 4, 2017

Mountain Creek in Michaux State Forest. Notice the green Mountain Laurel lining the creek and the Autumn colors up above.  -- November 4, 2017

In between our hikes on Saturday, Robin, Alex, and I stopped to skip rocks in Fuller Lake.  -- November 4, 2017

The sun glistening on Fuller Lake -- November 4, 2017

Hiking past the creek and surrounded on all sides by Mountain Laurel, I almost forgot that it was Autumn.  At eye level, everything around me was green...and then I looked up.  The air was crisp, the sun sky was blue, the sun was shining, and the trees high above were filled with the oranges, yellows, and reds of the season.  It was a perfect Fall day in Pennsylvania...and I was loving every minute of it.

A cherry on top of a perfect day in Michaux State Forest.  After a day of hiking, Robin, Alex, and I visited the Twirly Top ice-cream stand on it's last day of operation for the season.  I forgot how good the food is there! -- November 4, 2017


Life is a journey...not a destination.



David A. Raymond -- November 5, 2017


One of my favorite childhood memories of Autumn.  In Bedford County we were allowed to burn our leaves.  Kind of dangerous...but one of the sweetest smells you'll ever encounter.  My mother took this picture of my Father and I watching the pile of leaves go up in smoke. -- November 1979


Here's the GARMIN maps and data from the rides featured in this post...













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@mountnbiker73




Interested in mountain biking or hiking some of the trails featured in this post?  Check out the TRAIL MAPS and TRAIL HEADS tabs on the ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM website.   

All of my posts are available at ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM and, if you get the chance, be sure to visit HIGHPEAKSHIKING.COM!

"WRITE SOMETHING WORTH READING OR DO SOMETHING WORTH WRITING..." Ben Franklin