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Thursday, March 1, 2018

SURROUNDED BY BEAUTY

 We all have our "thing."  That one thing you love to do and helps form your identity.  Personally, my "thing" is mountain biking....but it's not my only "thing."  There are so many interests and likes that make up who I am.  People who know me well are fully aware that I'm a complete nerd when it comes to history and visiting historical sites.  I love to read (non-fiction).  I love to hike, camp, and just spend time outdoors.  Coincidentally, there are some passions I've outgrown...collecting comic books and (people who knew me prior to 10 years ago will find this unbelievable) watching football are two that come to mind.  Just as I've outgrown some things...I've also discovered  new "things" that bring me enjoyment.  Often, it's completely unexpected...like what I found out about myself when Robin and I went on our honeymoon to Montreal in 2013.


Robin and I at the top of the Montreal Tower observatory in Olympic Park.  Right below us, and to my left, is the Montreal Botanical Gardens.  -- July 28, 2013

The Montreal Tower observatory viewed from the Montreal Botanical Gardens. -- July 28, 2013.

Being a history and sports nut....the only things I knew about Montreal prior to our honeymoon are the role it played in 18th and 19th century North American conflicts, it was the site of the 1976 Summer Olympic games, and the home of the now defunct Montreal Expos.  On the third day of our honeymoon, we had plans to visit Olympic Park (which I was very excited about and Robin tolerated....she's amazing).  On the way there, she mentioned to me that the Montreal Botanical Gardens was nearby and that she hoped to go there after we visited the Olympic facilities.  I will openly admit that I pretended not to hear her.  I had no clue what a "Botanical Garden" was...but I was pretty sure it had to do with flowers...and it wasn't something I ever envisioned myself visiting.

The first display I came across at the Montreal Botanical Gardens was from Madagascar.  I was hooked! -- July 28, 2013

Any doubts I had while walking to the Botanical Gardens after visiting Olympic Park were squashed completely as soon as we entered the gardens and were greeted by beauty that was absolutely mind-blowing!  Robin and I just happened to visit while an exhibit entitled Mosaiculture Internationales was on display...featuring more than fifty creations from 20 countries with the theme "Land of Hope."  The purpose of the exhibit was to raise awareness of the importance of preserving the beauty of life on Earth.  I took many pics that day as Robin and I traveled from county to county within the exhibit.  Here are a few of my favorites.


The exhibit "Mother Earth" from Canada was Robin's favorite. -- July 28, 2013

This exhibit was entitled "Nature in the City."  The phone I had at the time had a super cool filter on the camera that only captured blues. -- July 28, 2013

The United States was represented with the exhibit "Farmers.  The People Who Feed the World." -- July 28, 2013

A Canadian exhibit called "Meeting of the Four Nations." -- July 28, 2013

The exhibit "The Living City" used a ride share bicycle as part of the display. -- July 28, 2013

Another United States exhibit entitled "Fragile Frogs." -- July 28, 2013

"The Man Who Planted Trees" was another exhibit representing Canada. -- July 28, 2013
Representing Hiroshima, Japan..."A Dove For Peace." -- July 28, 2013

"A True Story" representing China. -- July 28, 2013


Visiting the Chinese Gardens in the Montreal Botanical Gardens. -- July 28, 2013

This quickly became a classic example of stepping out of a comfort zone and discovering something really, really cool.  I also had to acknowledge that I would never have stepped foot there if it wasn't for my amazing wife.  Ever since our honeymoon, one of the first things we look for when we travel to a new city is the local Botanical Garden.  Each time we visit one of these gardens she points out how much she loves being surrounded by beauty.   I never thought this would be something I'd love to do...but it is.  More specifically, I really enjoy visiting them with my wife.  It's become "our thing" to do.  Since my first visit to the Montreal Botanical Gardens in 2013, Robin and I have made them destinations on many of our trips...Surrounding ourselves in beauty everywhere we go.  Here are some of the pics I've taken on our visits to the different gardens.*
Enjoy!

DESERT BOTANICAL GARDEN--PHOENIX, ARIZONA

On one of our visits to see my brother's family in Arizona, Robin and I went out of our way to visit the Desert Botanical Gardens.  I've lived my entire life in Pennsylvania and, to me, the desert landscape seems so surreal.

Robin and I at the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix, Arizona. -- February 17, 2015

Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix Arizona. -- February 17, 2015

My favorite pic from the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix Arizona. -- February 17, 2015


Say what you want...these are some really cool looking plants. -- February 17, 2015

Sizing myself up next to the Cacti in the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix Arizona. -- February 17, 2015

Yeah...I touched that.  Hurt like hell.  Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix Arizona. -- February 17, 2015

GARDEN OF THE GROVES--GRAND BAHAMA ISLAND

On our second wedding anniversary, Robin and I took a cruise to Grand Bahama Island.  For our excursion, we decided to check out the Garden Of The Groves Botanical Garden.

Robin and David Raymond.  Garden Of The Groves on Grand Bahama Island. -- July 22, 2015

Garden Of The Groves on Grand Bahama Island. -- July 22, 2015

Garden Of The Groves on Grand Bahama Island. -- July 22, 2015

Garden Of The Groves on Grand Bahama Island. -- July 22, 2015

Looking out for spiders at the Garden Of The Groves on Grand Bahama Island. -- July 22, 2015

Garden Of The Groves on Grand Bahama Island. -- July 22, 2015


UNITED STATES BOTANICAL GARDEN -- WASHINGTON, D.C.

For a birthday present, Robin took me to Washington, D.C. for the weekend.  I got to tour the U.S. Capitol, visit the National Archives, and spend time at the Jefferson Memorial.  In between all of the nerdiness, Robin and I made a stop at the United States Botanical Garden.

United States Botanical Garden in Washington, D.C. -- October 1, 2016

United States Botanical Garden in Washington, D.C. -- October 1, 2016

United States Botanical Garden in Washington, D.C. -- October 1, 2016


UNC CHARLOTTE BOTANICAL GARDEN -- CHARLOTTE, N.C.

Every year, Robin and I spend the week after Thanksgiving at our timeshare in West Palm Beach, Florida.  We make the trip from Pennsylvania to Florida in our car and stay the night in a different city on the way down.  This past November, we stayed in Charlotte, North Carolina.  After breakfast, and before we hit the road, Robin and I toured the Botanical Garden at the University of North Carolina Charlotte.  We got to experience the beautiful colors of the late-season fall folliage.

Robin and David Raymond.  UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens. -- November 26, 2017.

UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens. -- November 26, 2017.

UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens. -- November 26, 2017.

UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens. -- November 26, 2017.

UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens. -- November 26, 2017.



UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens. -- November 26, 2017.

UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens. -- November 26, 2017.

This plant is called Flying Dragon Trifoliate Orange.  So cool looking!  UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens. -- November 26, 2017.

LONGWOOD GARDENS -- KENNETT SQUARE, PENNSYLVANIA

Happy birthday, Robin!  A few weeks ago, I surprised my wife with a weekend trip to Philadelphia which included at stop at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania to experience the Orchid Extravaganza!

Robin and David Raymond experiencing the Orchid Extravaganza at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA. -- February 17, 2018

Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA. -- February 17, 2018

Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA. -- February 17, 2018

Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA. -- February 17, 2018

Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA. -- February 17, 2018




Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA. -- February 17, 2018

Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA. -- February 17, 2018

Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA. -- February 17, 2018

Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA. -- February 17, 2018

The clock and bell tower at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA. -- February 17, 2018

Yes!  A tree house!  Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA. -- February 17, 2018




Bird watching from the tree house at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA. -- February 17, 2018


BARTRAM'S GARDENS -- PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA

On Robin's birthday, we had a little time to kill before we went on a Ethnic Food Tour in South Philly.  I heard about a Botanical Garden right in Philadelphia called Bartram's Gardens.  We drove through a pretty sketchy neighborhood to get there...but I'm glad we made the stop.

Bartram's Garden in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. -- February 18, 2018

The oldest surviving Ginko tree in North America.  Bartram's Garden in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. -- February 18, 2018

Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson all enjoyed tea here at Bartram's Garden in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. -- February 18, 2018


Life is a journey...not a destination.



David A. Raymond -- March 1, 2018

*Botanical Gardens that Robin and I visit after I post this will be added to the bottom.  Be sure to come back  and check out other gardens that I know we will eventually get to!


Yes....I was pretty excited to see Olympic Park in Montreal.  Thanks, Robin, for tolerating it with me!  I love you! -- July 28, 2013

Here are the websites for the Botanical Gardens featured in this post...


 Check out the TRAIL MAPS and TRAIL HEADS tabs on the

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

Friday, February 23, 2018

OPTIONS

My first option is ALWAYS mountain biking.  It's my passion...but, especially during the late winter months, not always an option.  The days are too short and, most likely, the local county parks are closed to mountain bike riding because of the conditions.  Due to the limited daylight hours, and the distance needed to travel, the local state parks are still out of the question for afternoon mountain bike rides.  Normally, if mountain biking is off of the table, I'll default to my road bike.  Unfortunately, during this time of year, snow and ice and winter muck tend to creep onto the Pennsylvania roads.  Along with the rock salt and gravel spread across the asphalt by PennDOT, road cycling, in my neck of the woods, becomes sketchy (at best) during the winter months.


Out for a road ride with my mountain bike in York County, Pennsylvania. -- February 8, 2018


Ten years ago, during this time of year, I would have hung up my bike and just went jogging.  Nothing against running,  but it's not my thing anymore (especially after two back surgeries).  I never loved it anyway.  It was just an "option."  A few years ago, I purchased a trainer so that I could "spin" in the garage.  Again...no offense to those who like to do spinning classes and such...but I just can't seem to find the same motivation and I'm not provided with that dose of Vitamin N that I so desperately crave. Recently, however, I've begun to explore (and be open to) other options that seem so simple, but have have, up until now eluded me.  The gravel covered roads may be too much for my road bike...but not my mountain bike.  The nubby mountain bike tires that I normally wouldn't think of road riding with proved to be just what was needed for the winter road conditions.


Mark showing me some "off-road options."  -- February 18, 2018

Arriving back at Northeastern Middle School after my off-road ride with Mark.  My Stumpjumper was caked in mud. -- February 18, 2018

For two days...we had record breaking February heat in PA!  Temps his nearly 80 degrees on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.  I took advantage on both days.  On Tuesday I road up Starview Road and past the same ridge and orchard that Mark and I had ridden over and through last week. -- February 20, 2018

Just last week, Mark showed me options that I never even knew existed.  He told me to bring my mountain bike to school and meet him at the football field press box at 3PM.  I figured we were heading down along the railroad tracks that separate the towns of Manchester and Mount Wolf.  At first, I was correct...but then Mark does what he does best...the unexpected.  We turned up a lane (which I believed was a dead end) and climbed to the top of the wooded ridge just east of Manchester, PA.  Using established paths, some single track, a few dirt lanes, and very little paved road, Mark and I rode nearly twelve mud filled miles through the orchards and fields on top of the ridge...eventually ending up in Rudy Park before turning around and heading back towards Manchester.   Off-road cycling at it's best!  It wasn't the ride, or the option, that I expected...but a perfect option for the conditions at the time.


A ride on the York County Heritage Rail Trail is often a good option in the winter time...but two weeks ago, the normally easy and flat surface of the trail would have been better off used for Olympic Curling.  -- February 9, 2018

Life is a journey...not a destination.




David A. Raymond -- February 23, 2018


70 degree weather in February allowed me the opportunity to enjoy a rare winter fire pit in the back yard.  My wife and I enjoyed mountain pies for dinner.  What an awesome treat this time of year!  -- February 20, 2018


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

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

SNOW DAY

As a kid, I loved snow days...they were a chance to hang out with the kids in the neighborhood and earn a little extra cash by shoveling sidewalks.  As an adult, I'm typically not a fan.  I like school, I like my job, and I like my summer vacation (which snow days eat into).  Last week, Mark and I were both taken by surprise when we received the call from our school district cancelling school for the day because of the weather.  We had talked the previous evening about the possiblity of a day off...and even decided that, if school was cancelled, we would get out and ride...but neither of us really expected it to happen.


Mark and I pausing at the top of Reservoir Park overlooking York City before descending down the hill and wrapping up our snow day ride. -- January 30, 2018

Mark was already at school before he knew we had the day off.  To keep things easy (and relatively safe) I met him at his house in York City...figuring we could do a little urban mountain bike riding.  With the wind whipping around and the temps in the upper teens, the two of us headed throught the campus of York College and to the York Heritage Rail Trail.  The great thing about riding with Mark is that he always has something new to show me.  We didn't stay on the Rail Trail for long.  Before I knew it we were riding a path though a frozed golf course, we climbed to the summit of Hilltop Place (providing us with an amazing view of the city of York), and then we navigated some snowcovered trails in Reservoir Park that I didn't even know existed.


Figuring it was a safe bet that we were the only two crazies out in the cold and wind...Mark led me off of the York Heritage Rail Trail for a beautiful ride though the golf course. -- January 30, 2018

My Stumpjumper after climbing to the summit of Hilltop Place.  Even though the road up was paved...the hill would be challenging on a road bike in normal conditions.  -- January 30, 2018

The most amazing part of our ride (and the part that I keep reliving in my head) was the descent off of Reservoir Park.  Usually, this huge and grassy hill is used, on days like this, by sled riders...but on this particular day, the only tracks in the snow belonged to our bikes.  When all was said and done, Mark and I had pieced together a seriously fun 12+ mile snow day mountain bike ride.  Like those snow days of my childhood, our surprise day off of school was full of fun, adventure, and a big dose of nature.  This is a day I won't mind making up for in June. 


Enjoying a snow day when I was 10 years old. -- January 1984


Life is a journey...not a destination.



David A. Raymond -- February 7, 2018


Yep...you know it's cold outside when there are icicles dangling from your bottom bracket after a ride! -- (Mark Lentz) January 30, 2018


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

Sunday, January 28, 2018

TRAIL ACCOMPLISHMENTS

There's a fire road over in Michaux State Forest named Dead Woman's Hollow Road.  It's tough.  I'll never forget the first time I rode up it with Mark.  It seemed impossible...but I just put my head down and pedalled. To this day...I always approach Dead Woman's Hollow with the mindset that "this hill will NEVER end."  As long as I do that...I don't get disappointed with each false horizon.  I don't hate the hill...actually, I love riding up it.  An incredible sense of accomplishment engulfs me each time I conquer that road.

Taking a breather at the top of Dead Woman's Hollow Trail -- June 23, 2012
I've accomplished a number of goals and passed a lot of milestones while biking and hiking.  Most of them personal and relatively small...but each had their own special meaning to me.  Sometimes those goals are things I set out to do at the beginning of the calendar year...such as distances I want to ride or hike.  Sometimes I simply set a goal to ride or hike a certain hill or trail or obstacle.  A good example was when I made it a point to climb Ohiopyle Road between the main falls in the state park and my campground last summer.  It is the absolute most obnoxious hill I know...ascending 700 feet in less than two miles!  I managed to do it...on my mountain bike.  I'm still pretty stoked about that.   


Taking it all in after climbing Ohiopyle Road in Ohiopyle State Park. -- June 15, 2017

Deep down we all have personal goals and achievements that we are proud of.
With that in mind I sought out the help of my friends and asked them these questions:  "What was the coolest, or most personally significant, goal or milestone that you have achieved while biking or hiking?  It could be a distance ridden, hill climbed, etc.  How did acheiving it make you feel?" 
A big shout out to Tim, Chris, Randy, Mike, Brent, Derrick, Glenn, and Alex for helping me out with this one....Thanks guys!


TIM SINDLINGER

My favorite pic of Tim.  Riding Rusty Chair Trail at Rocky Ridge County Park. -- November 12, 2011

"For me it was 'The Wall' on trail 9 at Rocky Ridge County Park.  I felt I could climb anything after conquering that!" -- Tim Sindlinger


CHRIS KELLER

Chris Keller and I trudging through the 2011 Wildlands Adventure Race -- September 25, 2011

"What comes to mind is the Wildlands race that we participated in right after a major flood.  The ride, even on the flat land, was grueling...like riding all day in quick sand.  And we kept a fast pace...I believe I was the 'old fart' of the team...but I dug in super deep to keep the pace.  We did a great job and I was super proud of that." -- Chris Keller


RANDY BENNETT

Randy Bennett near Washington Four, MD. -- October 26, 2017

"Every hike has a unique moment that adds to the breadth of experience I'm gaining as a section hiker on the Appalachian Trail.  Recently, I completed a section hike from the Pennsylvania border south through Maryland and into West Virginia.  Each State on the Trail has its unique challenges.  What was most challenging about Maryland was that it feels like you are hiking in a dry creek bed for 40 miles!  My most memorable day on this trip was my last.  I had initially planned to do the 43-mile hike over five days, as only 6 months ago I had ankle reconstruction surgery (and my 65-year-old dad was hiking with me).  The surgery corrected a service-connected disability from my service in the Marine Corps over 20 years ago.  My ankle often buckled whenever I made sudden movements, and was often re-injured.  I was concerned about how I might perform on a longer hike (as most of my hikes in the recent past were never longer than two days).  My reconstructed ankle held up great on this hike, and when combined with a weight loss of 90 lbs., allowed me to accomplish my first 16-mile day...finishing this hike a day early.  The last four miles of the hike I had to finish without my dad.  His back was in bad shape when we came off of the mountain.  We called an Uber, and once my dad was in the car I told him to order a pizza and I would be at the hotel in 2 hours.  The last four miles were beautiful as I hiked along the Potomac towards the sunset and crossing the footbridge into Harpers Ferry and finishing in front of the Appalachian Trail Headquarters.  The time I had alone was an opportunity to worship God and give thanks to Him for how He brought healing to my body and soul...and for the awesome time I had playing with my dad in the woods." -- Randy Bennett


MIKE ALESSANDRONI

Mark Lentz, Mike Alessandroni, and David Raymond.  A well deserved break after climbing Sky Top in York County. -- June 24, 2011

"One year to the date after having my left hip replaced, I successfully climbed Sky Top on my bike.  It was a beautiful day and I took a picture from the top and posted it on Facebook to share this milestone with family and friends.  It was an awesome experience." -- Mike Alessandroni


BRENT SHIRK

Brent Shirk riding Rusty Chair Trail at Rocky Ridge County Park. -- September 2, 2013

"Being able to conquer an obstacle like dropping off of the big rock at Rocky Ridge County Park for the first time.  I remember the fear I had of falling but afterward realized that you just need to have confidence, maintain your speed, and let the bike do the work." -- Brent Shirk


DERRICK RORRER

Derrick Rorrer riding (flying) at Patapsco Valley State Park, MD -- July 2, 2013

"I have a slight twist for you.  There isn't a particular goal or milestone that comes to mind.  For me, it's yearly...and how much better I get each year.  It's looking back at some of the longest rides, the hardest lines, or biggest jumps I did that year.  My goal is simply to improve and become a better rider." -- Derrick Rorrer


GLENN MEDICE

Glenn Medice riding at the Lakes. -- April 19, 2017

"It's never been about distance.  I rode the Maximus series at Michaux twice (50 miles each), but never thought that was a big deal.  To me, getting better technically over time has been important to me.  I remember carrying my bike over logs in my early years.  So nothing real specific, just riding over many years, along with the new technology that's come my way, has made me a better rider.  Switching from a 26 inch bike to a 29er was HUGE for me.  I'm able to ride over, and through, obstacles I never thought possible in my 30s." -- Glenn Medice


ALEX RAYMOND

Alex and David Raymond -- April 16, 2017

"The day we went on the 30+ mile bike ride.  I had never ridden that kind of distance before...and I was getting tired toward the end.  I remember you telling me that I needed to eat during the ride...before I got hungry...and if I did get hungry during the ride I would stay that way.  I'm pretty sure that we went down a big hill during that ride and I reached 41mph!  That was the fastest I had ever ridden." -- Alex Raymond



2,640 miles.  It's the distance (along the 39th Parallel...which runs through York County, Pennsylvania) from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.  That's my goal for 2018.  Time to start riding.


Life is a journey...not a destination.



David A. Raymond -- January 28, 2018

15,000+ total miles on my road bike!  I accomplished that on November 14, 2017.  Super cool.


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

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

FIRST TRACKS

Back in August, while visiting my family in my hometown of Bedford, Pennsylvania, I took a hike on the trails near the Bedford Springs Hotel...the same trails that I use to explore as a kid.  I made a promise to myself that I would revisit the trails around the historical resort with my mountain bike as soon as possible.  The opportunity came around this past weekend when I travelled solo to Bedford to visit my dad who recently underwent knee surgery.  

Pausing in front of an ice covered Davey Lewis' Cave. -- January 14, 2018

When I woke up in Bedford, PA on Saturday morning there was a fresh coat of snow on the ground and the air temperature hovered in the single digits.  Nevertheless, I pulled on the cold weather gear and headed out on my Stumpjumper for, what I estimated would be, an hour.  My ride Saturday would be a first for a number of reasons....it was my first ride of the new year, it was the first time I ever mountain biked in Bedford, and (because there weren't many people out in cold air) my tracks would be the first in the fresh snow!  Leaving my father's house I had to ride only a mile on the paved streets to reach a trail head on the Bedford Heritage Trail...a walking and biking trail that connects downtown Bedford, PA with the Bedford Springs Hotel...which would provide the perfect conduit to the trails I wanted to explore near the Bedford Springs.

To get to the trails at the Springs I rode, for the first time, on the Bedford Heritage Trail which connects the Springs Hotel to historic downtown Bedford, PA. -- January 13, 2018

To get to Davey Lewis's Cave you have to cross this small stream (which flows off of the hillside and into Shobers Run).  The morning sun shining on the untouched ice and snow was absolutely beautiful. -- January 14, 2018




The first hill I climbed in 2018!  In the distance, off to the right, you can see another trail which winds back towards the trailhead near Shobers Run and the Bedford Springs. -- January 13, 2018

Kneeling near the limestone springs. -- January 13, 2018

I paused at an intersection to orientate myself and decide which direction I wanted to ride.  Typical of me...I chose to head up the snow covered trail visible in the picture.   A good climb is the best way to stay warm in the cold.  -- January 13, 2018

Taking in the morining sun and admiring the view of the numerious trails that are on either side of the valley.  -- January 14, 2018

 I rode both Saturday and Sunday.  The extreme cold limited my time and my willingness to explore too far away from the trailhead near the Hotel.  The only knowledge of the trails I had was from a handful of short hikes I had taken there over the years.  Saturday, I just retraced some of the trails I have previously hiked...only to deviate once.  The trail I took led me down the ridge and towards Springs Lake....not far from the Heritage Trail.  On Sunday, I set out to explore a trail I noticed while hiking back in August that apparently leads to a scenic overlook on top of th ridge...but the extremely icy conditions made the journey up the ridge impossible.  I'll get there next time for sure.  

Nearing the end of my ride on Saturday, the trail dumped me off near a frozen Springs Lake.  -- January 13, 2018

Three days later I can't seem to stop thinking about these two rides near the Bedford Springs.  Sure, there's the novelty of riding somewhere new and there's the coolness factor of riding trails that I explored when I was a kid...but I don't think either are the reason I keep revisiting the weekend in my head.  I think it was the beauty of the whole thing.  I'm not a fan of winter and I usually only like snow for 5 minutes...then plow comes down the street and turns it gray.  But what I experienced while mountain biking this past Saturday and Sunday was completely different.  Away from the main roads, and almost as soon as I headed into the woods, the winter sun melted through the trees and glistened off of the snow...all around me, icicles dangled off of rocks and caves...the air was crisp and clean...and for those two hours, on those two days, I experienced a landscaped seemingly untouched by anyone other than me and the local deer population.  The whole experience was really quite beautiful and, yeah...it was super cool.

Riding back from the Springs, I decided to take an alternate route and pass through the alley behind the house that I grew up in.  The same alley that we would ride our bikes on as kids.  What an awesome surprise to run into  my childhood bud, Rob Clark.  Great to see you, man! -- January 13, 2018

After my super cold ride on Saturday, I drove to Pittsburgh to have dinner with my son, Alex.  We were joined by my good friend and college roommate, Chris Lowe.
After some of the best wings in the 'Burgh we headed to the Milk Shake Factory for dessert. -- January 13, 2018


Life is a journey...not a destination.



David A. Raymond -- January 17, 2018


The day before my arctic rides in Bedford, Mark was riding at Tuckahoe enjoying the 70 degree weather that temporarily brought a "Spring like" feel to south-central Pennsylvania.  70 degrees one day...single digit temps the next.  Crazy! Pic taken by Mark Lentz. -- January 12, 2018

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, January 8, 2018

WINTER MOUNTAIN BIKING

Winter is a fact of life if you if you live in Pennsylvania.  The coldest and snowiest months tend to be January and February...but I've seen snow on the trails as late as mid-April.  I'm not a skier...and I'm not a fan of snow or cold...but I do like winter mountain biking. Without the foliage on the trees, it's possible see much more of the landscape, making the forests seem much more immense.  The frozen trails make the riding fast, fun, and downright exhilarating!

Riding the Parkway Trails in single digit wind chills. -- December 28, 2017

Mark Lentz and I riding Gifford Pinchot State Park in full winter gear.  -- December 27, 2017

Years ago...when I first started riding...mountain biking was seasonal for me.  I rarely (if ever) hit the trails during the winter months.  As my passion for mountain biking grew...so did my desire to keep turning the pedals no matter what time of year it is.  I've always had limits to what I would ride in.  Ice is a deal breaker for me.  But as long as I have my head covering, winter gloves, GORE jacket, and toe warmers I can tolerate below freezing temps for about 90 minutes.  I've learned quite a lot while mountain biking in the winter.  For instance, it's easier to ride on frozen trails when it's 25 degrees outside as opposed to riding on cold muddy trails when it's 35 degrees outside.  Experience has also taught me that if I plan on sipping from a camelbak while riding, the nozzle will freeze over unless I blow the remaining water back into the the bladder.   Finally, I now know (and all my friends love to remind me of this) if your derailleur freezes over and you can no longer shift gears, the best way to thaw it out is by urinating on it!

The Blizzard of 2016 led to multiple snow days.  I was able to venture out of the house and take a ride to check out a snow encased Northeastern Middle School. -- January 23, 2016
So...with the arctic winter air firmly entrenched over south-central Pennsylvania I thought I'd enlist the help of my friends and ask them to share their own winter riding knowledge and advice.  Here are their responses in the order that I received them.  Thank you, Mark, Mike, Glenn, Tim, and Matt.
Stay warm everyone!

MARK LENTZ

Mark Lentz "thumbing his nose" at the Bomb Cyclone that hit the Northeast.  Photo by Mark Lentz. -- January 4, 2018

WINTER RIDING THRESHOLD:  Below 30 degrees F. 1 hour 15 min  

ADVICE FOR WINTER RIDING:  Just try it.  Experiment with clothing.  You will most like not get it right the first time.  Layer so you can peel off...sweating is not good.

WINTER RIDING GEAR YOU CAN'T DO WITHOUT:  Winter shoes.

MOST MEMORABLE WINTER RIDE:  Two hour delay rides at Rocky Ridge...then going to work.


MIKE ALICEA

Mike Alicea taking a break during a frigid January ride in Michaux State Forest. -- January 2, 2016

WINTER RIDING THRESHOLD:  Extreme wind and cold rain will definitely halt any planned ride.

ADVICE FOR WINTER RIDING:  Always consider and prepare for all the elements you are going to endure prior to riding in the winter.  Sometimes it's just better to postpone the ride for another day.

WINTER RIDING GEAR YOU CAN'T DO WITHOUT:  Ear covers, full finger gloves, & wind proof socks.

MOST MEMORABLE WINTER RIDE:  My most memorable ride was last year...a few days before Christmas.  I was riding at Rocky Ridge and I was the only one riding at the time.  It was very peaceful, but at the same time, eerie...due to Christmas music being played slower than normal over the loudspeakers near the Christmas lights display.  It gave me a "Jason Vorhees" type of Halloween feeling. 



GLENN MEDICE

Glenn Medice in Rothrock State Forest. -- February 2008

A picture of the snow covered trails in Michaux State Forest.  Taken by Glenn Medice on a recent winter hike. -- January 5, 2018

WINTER RIDING THRESHOLD:  30 degrees, I guess.  Below that, too much work and too much clothing to stay warm and dry.

ADVICE FOR WINTER RIDING:  Plan ahead.

WINTER RIDING GEAR YOU CAN'T DO WITHOUT:  For me...an extra pair of socks and gloves.

MOST MEMORABLE WINTER RIDE:  Jim Thorpe, 2001.  First-ever winter ride.  Very cold, lots of snow.  More work than fun...but lesson learned!  Came back  later that Spring and had a blast!



TIM SINDLINGER

Tim Sindlinger in Rocky Ridge County Park. -- January 19, 2013


WINTER RIDING THRESHOLD:  30 degrees.

ADVICE FOR WINTER RIDING:  Cover your ears and make sure your hands & feet are warm enough!  Everything else will warm up during the ride.

WINTER RIDING GEAR YOU CAN'T DO WITHOUT:   Ear covers, full finger gloves, and wind proof socks.

MOST MEMORABLE WINTER RIDE:   I rode in a blizzard once.  It was stunning to look down and see the snow piling up on my thighs!  


MATT LINNANE

Matt Linnane loves to build snow caves with his kids.  It doesn't get much more cool than that! 


WINTER RIDING THRESHOLD:  90 minutes at 15 degrees...with toe warmers.

ADVICE FOR WINTER RIDING:   Layer correctly...balaclava to keep your face warm.

WINTER RIDING GEAR YOU CAN'T DO WITHOUT:  Balaclava, toe warmers.

MOST MEMORABLE WINTER RIDE:   Mt. Gretna.  Leaves off the trees and fresh tracks made it easy to find some hidden gems that I otherwise would have passed up.  Whether it be riding, ice climbing, or teaching my daughter to ski -- I LOVE WINTER!


Life is a journey...not a destination.



David A. Raymond -- January 8, 2018
What advice do you have for winter mountain biking?  Feel free to post it in the comments.

What's the best dessert you can find during the winter months in Pennsylvania?  Take a trip to the PA Farm Show in Harrisburg.  The milkshakes are unbelievable! -- January 8, 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

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