Litchfield Hills Trip

This weekend, Debbie and I traveled to the Litchfield Hills in northwestern Connecticut for a one night trip. My parents were kind enough to look after our kids so that we could spend some time together. We used to get there more often, but it had been a while since we were out that way. We were married in Litchfield back in 2001, so that part of the state is meaningful to us, especially in our favorite month of October.

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We stayed at the Interlaken Inn in Lakeville, which is almost in the northwest corner of the state. Salisbury, which is just north and borders Massachusetts, and Lakeville, both border New York. Yesterday, we visited Hillrock Estate Distillery in Ancram, New York. It was a short drive from Lakeville.

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Last night, we had dinner at Serevan in Amenia, New York. It was an excellent meal. This morning, we did a 43 mile loop on our bicycles. We had crazy New England weather today with a mix of clouds, sun, rain, and wind. Changeable is the best way to describe what we experienced. It was raw. The temperature peaked in the low 50’s Fahrenheit, and it was damp. The loop was gorgeous. We started in Lakeville and went north into Salisbury.

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We stopped briefly at the Salisbury Winter Sports Association ski jump, when we came across the signs. We asked a walker for directions and she pointed us towards Satre Hill which is a little ways from Route 41, the main street. We found the hill and it was a thrill. I can’t wait to return with the kids when the snow flies. I first read about the jump a few years ago in a Yankee Magazine storyI was intrigued then and was very happy to see the hill with my own eyes.

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We didn’t linger long and continued north on 41 into Massachusetts. We crossed the Appalachian Trail for the first of several times during the day. We stopped at the Undermountain Road trailhead when we spotted multiple Springfield College vehicles in the parking lot. It looked like the Outing Club was on the trail. Debbie got nostalgic because she had taken the Springfield Outing Club on that trail several times when she led the group in the mid-1990’s.

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In Massachusetts, we headed west towards Mount Washington State Forest. We had a fair amount of climbing as we crossed the AT again on our way to the other side of the ridge. When we headed south, the road turned to dirt. We were happy to have good tires for those conditions. The road was packed and smooth for a while, but then when we got on to East Street headed up land over Mount Riga, it was very rocky all the way back down in to Salisbury.

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The foliage was fantastic. The views were spectacular. We saw so many lovely farms and houses. The northern Litchfield Hills and southern Berkshires are a beautiful part of southern New England. The descent into Salisbury was pretty sketchy. On the rough road, an Allen bolt worked loose and my rear rack was vibrating badly. Debbie had trouble with her brakes because the pads are a bit worn. We made it down alive and I was happy to get through the ride unscathed. My shoulder is feeling better and the rough road was a good test. I still haven’t ridden off-road. I plan to stick to smoother surfaces until I’m fully recovered from my fractured scapula.

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It was an awesome ride. We didn’t go fast at all. We took in the sites. We got to spend time outside together. After we washed up, we drove over to the New York side of the border and had lunch at The Millerton Shop of Harney & Sons Fine Teas. Lunch was excellent. I’ve always been a Harney fan because they are members of 1% For The Planet, just like Thread Rolling Inc.

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We took Rt. 44 most of the way home and got to sightsee a bit more. We made a quick stop at a farm stand in Canton on the drive back to Bolton and put a wrap on the weekend by cleaning a bit around the house before the kids arrived back and chaos ensued. This trip is a reminder that Debbie and I have to do more of these getaways together.

Hillrock Estate Distillery

This weekend, Debbie and I escaped to the Litchfield Hills in northwestern Connecticut for a one night getaway. We hadn’t been out that way in quite some time, so it was a thrill to see the beautiful countryside during our favorite month of October. We stayed at the Interlaken Inn in Lakeville. It was a short trip, but we packed it full of fun.

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We only had a loose agenda. When we checked in at the hotel lobby, I picked up a flyer for Hillrock Estate Distillery. I had never heard of Hillrock, but it was located in Ancram, New York, about 25 minutes away. We checked out the website on my iPhone and called them to see if they were doing tours. No one answered, so I left a message, but as soon as I hung up, they called back. I learned that they do tours on Saturday’s by appointment, which was perfect for us. We booked our tour for 4:30 later in the afternoon.

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Debbie isn’t a whiskey drinker like me, but she appreciates farming and the distillery was located at Hillrock Farm in the “bread basket” of Hudson River Valley. The drive to Ancram was beautiful. The weather was perfect for an October afternoon. The foliage was probably just past peak, but it was still stunning. It has been a great year in the northeast for colorful leaves. We arrived at the farm shortly after 4:00, which was earlier than expected, and were greeted by Tyler, who was our guide.

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Tyler is a Gung ho 22-year old former plumber who hooked up with the Hillrock team while working on the facilities with is father’s plumbing and contracting firm. He is learning the whiskey craft from master distiller, Dave Pickerell. Pickerell consults for several craft distillers, including Hillrock. Over the course of 110 minutes, Tyler gave an excellent tour. Clearly, he has learned a lot about whiskey in the past 12 months.

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Hillrock is unique because they are a complete “field-to-glass” distiller. They grow most of their ingredients on their owned or leased land. That includes the rye and corn. I gathered that one of the key (and only) items that they import, is the peat for their smoking process. That comes from Scotland. Everything about Hillrock’s process appears to be well though out. The facilities were purpose-built for this task.

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Their website tells the story better than I could, and in three paragraphs:

In the early 1800’s, New York produced more than half the young nation’s Barley and Rye and the Hudson Valley was the country’s breadbasket. With abundant high quality grain, local craft spirits flourished and over 1000 farm distilleries produced Whiskey and Gin reflecting the unique terroir of the region. In the 1930’s, Prohibition forced these distilleries to shut their doors and this wellspring of American spirits was left dry.

Hillrock Estate Distillery is changing this. Our mission is to produce the finest hand-crafted spirits made with our own grain, floor malted, craft distilled in our copper pot still, aged in fine oak and hand bottled at our estate in the Hudson Valley Highlands. Crowned by a fine 1806 Georgian house built by a successful grain merchant and Revolutionary War Captain and meticulously restored to its original beauty, Hillrock Distillery overlooks our rolling barley fields and the distant Berkshire Mountains. Like our premier spirits, every detail refined, no expense spared, quality steeped in the tradition of 200 years of rich history.

Hillrock is proud to be one of the few “field-to-glass” whiskey producers in the world and the first USA distillery since before Prohibition to floor malt and hand craft whiskey on site from estate grown grain. Hillrock’s commitment to quality embodies the rich history of artisanal distilling in the Hudson Valley. By controlling every aspect of production from planting & harvesting heirloom grains, to smoking our malt, to crafting whiskies in our copper pot still, to aging in small oak barrels and hand bottling, we are able to create the highest quality whiskies reflecting the unique local terroir.

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I love a good business story like this, and I love a good shop tour. I enjoy start ups, marketing, organic farming, old school technology, mechanics, craftsmanship, chemistry, the environment, and history. This little business has it all. Oh, and I love whiskey, which they have in a big time way! I learned that the founder/owner, Jeff Baker, has done well in a variety of farming, restaurant, and real estate ventures. He manages a New York City based real estate investment firm. I learned that he studied architecture and that skill was handy when designing Hillrock’s facilities. There is a large farmhouse on the property that has historical value. We were told that it was moved from its original location to Hillrock and then restored.

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The tour started with just the two of us, which was great. Then, like out of a movie, five minutes after Tyler started his spiel, a limousine pulled up and 11 people climbed out. The group was a mix of men and women, and judging how they were dressed, they came straight from a chic part of Manhattan. We soon confirmed where their trip originated, and we were right. It was kind of funny. They spilled out of the car and then joined us. Tyler was patient, so we gave them a few minutes to sort themselves out. They had made tour reservations earlier in the week.

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25 minutes later, before we had even left the building where the rye is malted, the group of Manhattanites decided that they had enough. They said good-bye, piled back into the limo, and drove off down the dirt driveway, leaving Debbie, Tyler, and me to ourselves. We were happy to regain our private tour and it was even better that it was the end of the day. We had a blast. We got a crash course in whiskey making, and I’m ready to go back to learn more. Tyler was assisted by Lauren, the Distillery and Sales Manager. She was covering for him in the still room while he was with us.

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We learned how they harvest the grains. In one building we saw the floor malting process and the smoking/drying process. We checked out the kiln and got to handle the different grains and the peat. We saw where they age the barrels. Back in the main building, we spent a lot of time checking out the still. We learned about “happy yeast” and the other nuances of the craft. We watched Lauren use a refractometer. We learned that their barrels are made by local coopers. The copper still was manufactured by a Kentucky firm. The quality of the water is critical to making good whiskey. Hillrock taps into an aquifer that supplies that key ingredient used throughout the process.

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We moved from the still room to the tasting room, which was pretty cool. I was imagining holding a private event on the premises, though they said that they haven’t done that at the young venture. I think they started in 2011, but have really just got their production going in the past few years. They are only distributed in New York and a few other states. I’ve got an idea on how to bring them to Connecticut. They make three types of whiskey: Solera Aged Bourbon, Estate Single Malt, and Estate Rye. They also distill George Washington Rye Whiskey for the folks at Mount Vernon. It was interesting to learn about Solera. After the process was described, Debbie likened it to sourdough bread. The idea is that each batch of bourbon has a bit of the original batch in it.

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We got to try all four whiskeys while standing at the whiskey bar. It was a fun end to a great tour. Tyler and Lauren worked their magic on us because we left there with four bottles, an empty five liter barrel, an empty 25 gallon barrel, and smiles on our faces. After we loaded the barrels in our Subaru, we headed back towards Millerton as the sun was setting. The farms and foliage were picturesque. It was a very cool afternoon. Lauren had given us a solid restaurant reference, and it worked out great. We dined at Serevan in Amenia. The location, the ambience, and the food were fantastic.

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Chef Serge Madikian had several dishes that worked for our vegan/vegetarian diets. We were fortunate that they were able to get us a table without reservations because after we were there for 30 minutes, the place filled up. Chef checked on us several times, which was welcome. The restaurant was founded in 2006, and it was great to see them going strong in 2014, which is saying a lot. Restaurants come and go, but Serevan looks to be a solid establishment. We had a great meal. It was fitting that behind the bar, a bottle of Hillrock Solera Aged Bourbon was dead center on the counter. It stood out from all the other bottles.

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2014 LEGO Family 5K Road Race & Children’s Fun Run

Yesterday we did the LEGO Family 5K Road Race & Children’s Fun Run for the first time. This was the fourth year for the Enfield, Connecticut based LEGO Group’s run, but the first time for the Livingston’s. We were tipped off by several friends that this was a well run event with some really neat swag. “We” meant that Debbie and our son did the 5K and our daughter (and son) did the one mile kid’s race.

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We are definitely fans of LEGO and the LEGO brand. When our son first started collecting them when he was three or four years old, I connected with my mother and we pulled out my 35-40 year old LEGO sets that had been kept in great condition in my parents’ attic. It is so cool to build your own LEGO with your kids. Now, they have a ton of their own LEGO and if all goes to plan, they can build their LEGO and my LEGO in 35 years with their own kids.

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The LEGO Group is a fantastic family business based in Denmark and LEGO Systems, Inc. in Enfield is the base of their North and South American operations. This video offers a pretty good history of LEGO. It has been watched a few times in our household. We appreciate family business in a big way.

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Well, the race was really well done. We got to the sold out race early and there was still a line for packet pick up. 467 runners finished the 5K and there were hundreds of children in the un-timed one mile and 1/4 mile races. This truly was a fun run with runners of all types out there doing something healthy on a Saturday morning. The race was held on the flat roads near the headquarters and finished right in front of the building.

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The building was open and the company cafeteria was selling food. Many of the volunteers were LEGO employees. It was neat to go into the building and see the space. It was very nice. It looks like a really cool place to work. I know that jobs at LEGO are coveted. They have their own child care facility on-site and the company store (which was open to runners after the race) is a great benefit.

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Master Builders displayed many of their unique creations on the lawn in front of the building. Several LEGO play areas were set up and there was even two giant bounce houses. This was very family focused. There were tents with a handful of other company’s (including Fleet-Feet) displaying their running related items. The race benefited a number of area charities including Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters. The race brought in some excellent sponsorship, but it was clear that the sponsorship of LEGO led the way.

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At packet pick-up, each runner got their number and then was directed to a second pick-area where they received a wonderful LEGO gift. This year’s gift was very generous. Each registered 5K runner got a large yellow bag with a large LEGO kit. We were blown away by the value of our two kits. We got the Star Wars Red Five X-wing Starfighter and the LEGO Movie MetalBeard’s Sea Cow. We made a pact that we will build these as a family.

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At the finish of the kids fun runs, each child got to pick from one of four kits. Our son chose the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Baxter Robot Rampage, and our daughter chose the LEGO Friends Heartlake Flying Club. There was a tasteful notice in each gift bag that stated:

The LEGO Race planning committee would like to thank you for joining us today. It is truly a pleasure seeing so many runners and families come out for this event. 

We hope you enjoy your gift bag. Each year, our planning committee works hard to secure product samples for this event. This year proved to be pretty amazing. The product we secure, however, varies from year to year. It’s very likely that next year, will not be as substantial. 

Additionally, we are not able to ensure that everyone will receive the same set in terms of monetary value but we trust that what you did receive was a nice addition to a great day. 

As far as the Livingston’s are concerned, we got some very nice gifts that far exceeded the cost of entry fees. The 5K was $35 pre-registration (only) for each runner and the children’s fun run was free. That is expensive for a 5K, but when you look at what we got, it was a bargain. We had a little family meeting afterwards to explain to our kids that this was a very special event and the proceeds went to a good cause that helps other kids who might not have as the same two-parent household and opportunity.

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Thank you LEGO, and we appreciate the appropriate disclaimer. I bet this race sells out every time they hold it in the future, regardless of the value of the gifts. Hopefully it continues to raise money for good causes. It was a nice notice that pointed out that LEGO’s business is cranking. The LEGO movie was a great success and it appears that product is flying off the shelves of stores and distribution centers worldwide.

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Now, there actually was a race and the runners ran hard! The men’s race was won by our family friend, Henry Domnarski, from Palmer, Massachusetts, who is a very fast up and coming high school runner. This kid is fast! He had a huge gap, and crossed the line in 17:25. I would love to give him a run for the money (or LEGO), but he is getting faster. Regardless, I want to do this race next year! Henry is the son of my longtime Horst Engineering Cycling Team mate, Matthew Domnarski, so he has good genes. He was followed by Morgan Anderstrom and Carl Mills.

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The women’s race was won by Jennifer McHale in 19:36, and she was fourth overall! Debbie was second place and Brielle Curtis was third. This wasn’t the fastest field of 5K runners, but these were still fast runs for a local race. Debbie isn’t typically a 5K runner and certainly not a road runner, but she was rewarded for her speed workout with a very nice plaque. It is a unique award that is one of the coolest she has received.

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I think the only glitch was that no one could hear the start of the race. I was taking photos and I could barely hear the announcer 500 feet behind me, so I instructed the runners to “Go.” There was a hesitation, but then one or two trusted me and the pack started moving. Our son had a very good race, pushed hard, and set a personal best. He is growing up and getting stronger, but the most important thing is that he enjoys the activity. What could be more fun than the combination of LEGO and running?

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The kids races were chaotic, as you would expect, but there were a lot of smiles. After the races, people lingered for a long time. We saw several of our Shenipsit Striders friends. They had the awards ceremony and then a series of raffles that included some amazing LEGO prizes. We didn’t win (the Death Star was our goal!), but we were happy to donate additional funds to the cause. We left this event smiling and grateful.

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Debbie and the kids grabbed some lunch on the way home. I rode my bicycle from Enfield to work in East Hartford. I took many beautiful farm roads through Somers, Ellington, East Windsor, and South Windsor. The foliage is peak.

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What a great way to start the weekend!

Race Results

2014 Monroe Dunbar Brook Trail Race

Yesterday, we returned to the Monroe Dunbar Brook Trail Race after a one year absence. Since 2000, we have been to this race more than 10 times. It’s one of our favorite New England Grand Tree Trail Running Series races and is part of the WMAC’s Trilogy.

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The other two races in the Trilogy are Greylock and Savoy, though I recently learned that 2014 was the final year for Savoy. Participation has dwindled. The turnout at Monroe was good, but much lighter than years past. The traditional mid-distance races just don’t draw the numbers anymore as more and more runners flock to the ultra distance and to new racing formats.

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Oddly, next month, more than 10,000 people will jam Fenway Park for a 3 mile Spartan Race, and pay dearly. If you registered back in February, it was $75. If you register the week of the race, it is double that number at $150. The kids race is $25 pre-reg. They are making a big deal that spectators are FREE at this race if they sign up in advance, but the spectator fee at a typical Spartan Race is $20 pre-reg. Imagine that, the spectators have to sign up in advance to save $5. I just find that to be ridiculous. Of course I’m making judgments here, but it just seems so silly.

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By contrast, the 10.5 mile Monroe was $20 pre-reg and the 2 mile sampler was $12 pre-reg. Spectators were free and there was no cost to park. The post-race food was excellent. That is a simple, brilliant, and time-tested; but apparently dying, formula. I can’t help but think it is the novelty of obstacle course racing that is a big part of the draw. The irony is that a race like Monroe has so much natural beauty and obstacles of its own. We had a stunning day in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, with peak foliage and an incredibly blue sky. We have been to this race when it was raw, blustery, and cold. Yesterday, it was picturesque.

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I only hope that enough people go to these races so we can keep them going for a long time. I’m actually happy to have the woods to ourselves. Obstacle races are held at already ski resorts and similarly degraded venues for a reason. We wouldn’t want the impact of the organizers, racers, and spectators on fragile environment anyway. Well, I couldn’t help myself with a little commentary. A week after NipMuck and a day after Monroe, I’m feeling a little nostalgic for the Grand Tree and what it has meant to Debbie and me during the last 15 years.

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It was nice to see some old friends at Monroe, including the legendary Richard Busa. Dick Hoch was there too. Still, I miss some of the characters from past Monroe’s. Being in that grove along the Deerfield River brought back excellent memories. Debbie and I are part of the old guard now. Thankfully, there is an older guard than us!

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Debbie ran the 10.5 miler and had a blast. Several Shenipsit Striders joined us at the race. Our son ran the 2 miler and love it. Our daughter frolicked in the woods with me. I took some nice photos. Top honors in the 10.5 miler went to Greg Hammett (men) and Kehr Davis (women). Joe Melillo won the 2 miler. There were 91 finishers in the 10.5 miler, with another legend, Laura Clark, crossing the line to close out the 2014 race and cap the Trilogy for now.

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We lingered for a while after the race, enjoying the company of friends. WMAC post-race spreads are always a smorgasborg. Afterwards, we met up with Tom Schieffer (Debbie’s brother) and his friend, Heather. We visited the Hick’s Family Farm corn maze, and then had an early supper in Shelburne Falls at a fine vegan restaurant called Hearty Eats. If it wasn’t for the southbound holiday weekend traffic on I-91 that slowed our return home, it would have been a perfect day.

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Race Results

2014 NipMuck Trail Marathon

Today we celebrated the 31st NipMuck Trail Marathon with some fine New England fall weather. After yesterday’s deluge, the trails were soft, but today the sky was cloudless and a brilliant blue. After last year’s 30th anniversary monsoon, today’s weather was awesome.

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Our original plans had us headed to Providence for the KMC Cyclocross Festival, but I didn’t race, so we stuck around and joined our Shenipsit Strider friends at this New England Grand Tree Trail Running Series classic. NipMuck was also the 9th (of 10) races in the inaugural Connecticut Blue-Blazed Trail Running Series. The finale is at Bimbler’s Bluff 50K on 19 October. 2014_NipMuck Trail Marathon 68

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Debbie didn’t have NipMuck on her schedule, but with the change of plans, she decided to run, and had a fun day in the woods. The weather really was the story of the day. It was cool at the start (about 40 degrees Fahreneheit) and never really warmed up. NipMuck is wooded the entire way and the shade kept the leaf covered trail moist.

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There were some fine performances. The men’s winner was Samuel Jurek in 3:26:43 and the women’s winner was Kehr Davis in 3:52:43. She ran a fine time. Jurek was followed by Justin Bentley and Jonathan Hammett. Davis was followed by Stacia Broderick and Liz Sherman.

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The first Shenipsit Strider was Sean Greaney, who finished 6th in his virgin NipMuck. This has been a wonderful breakout season for Sean. NipMuck Dave Raczkowski had a fine run, improving on last year’s time by 59 minutes. The Shenipsit Striders had a great turnout and got awesome volunteer support from members of the Silk City Striders and Willimantic Athletic Club. 2014_NipMuck Trail Marathon 218

More attention may be paid to the ultra distance races and newer races, but this race is truly a classic and should be on everyone’s bucket list. 2014_NipMuck Trail Marathon 409

Race Results

Christopher Moore from Connecticut Outdoor Guide will post photos here.

2014 New England Builder’s Ball & Horst Spikes

Last night was the New England Builder’s Ball at the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center in Providence, Rhode Island. The event was a celebration of bicycle framebuilders and an exhibition of their work.  It was in partnership with this weekend’s KMC Cyclocross Festival and benefited the East Coast Greenway Alliance.

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Horst Engineering and Team Horst Sports were thrilled to have a booth to display and share our Horst Spikes product line. Special thanks to Arthur Roti, Max Accaputo, and Trent Sullivan who manned the booth with me for the four-hour event. The botanical center was a really cool venue that was made all the better by the amazing collection of bespoke bicycle builders.

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We were in the company of some talented craftsman. The good news is that we may not make bicycles, but our Horst Spikes AND our precision machined aerospace components are every bit as cool as what we saw at the show. Of course, I’m biased, but coming off of Family Day 2014 last weekend, and MFGDAY (yesterday), I’m pretty high on our manufacturing capabilities.

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Horst Spikes is an idea that we hatched in 2007. We recognized that the commercially available cyclocross shoe toe spikes were inferior to what we could produce. Since our roots are in bicycles, we designed a fresh take on the product, which developed into our large spikes. For several years, we only sold them to teammates, friends, and family. Then, we started selling a handful through select distributors, including www.cyclocrossworld.com.

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For the past few years, we talked about a direct marketing campaign to raise awareness of the product. This year, we finally took up that challenge and also set up a website to sell online. The direct to consumer marketing has been a lot of fun. We have learned a lot with this project and are excited about the prospects of doing more work in the bicycle industry.

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Like I said, Horst Engineering has a long history of supplying the bicycle products industry. Company founder, Harry Livingston (born Horst Rolf Liebenstein), apprenticed as a bicycle maker in Germany in the 1920’s and 1930’s. He learned many of his skills working in the bicycle trade. He brought those skills to the USA, when he immigrated in 1938, and subsequently when he founded our family business in 1946.

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Horst Spikes is proud to support an incredible line up of elite cyclocross racers. We had a chance to connect with several of them last night at the Ball. These riders are testing the spikes in all conditions and providing valuable feedback on the product design. Spikes may not be as complex as our aerospace components, but they they have that cool factor.

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Our lineup of sponsored riders includes: Jeremy Powers, Mo Bruno-Roy, Justin Lindine, Cassie Maximenko, Adam Myerson, and the Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com Team. We will announce more sponsored riders throughout the season.

At the ball, we had a chance to see Jeremy and Cassie. Both are fantastic riders. Jeremy is the reigning U.S. Cyclocross Champion, and hails from Niantic, Connecticut; so he is one of us. We are excited to get his feedback on the toe spikes. It was nice of he and his spouse, Emily, to visit with us, and we look forward to getting them to visit Horst Engineering for a plant tour and group ride. Cassie is one of the fastest improving elite woman riders in the country. She is also a Connecticut native and along with her spouse, Michael, has made her mark on the cycling and triathlon race scene here in New England.

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We saw a lot of friends from the cycling community. My longtime friend, Jon Gallagher, stopped by to visit with us. Jon and I spent the summer of 1994 racing the kermesse circuit in Belgium, both attended Boston College, and have raced all over the northeast together. Jon lives in Utah, but got back east because he is the official timer of the KMC Cyclocross Festival. Jon is the propietor of Sports Base Events and One 2 Go Event Services. He travels the world doing the timing at many top cycling events. Ted King also paid a visit to our booth. We saw Ted at last week’s Vermont 50, and is another one of New England’s top riders. His focus is on the road, though he gets on the mountain bike from time to time, like he did the last week. Ted is a true ambassador for New England cycling and spends most of the year racing on the European road circuit.

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It was also nice to catch up with Richard Sachs and his spouse, Deb. Debbie and I used to visit with Richie and Deb at their home/shop in Chester, Connecticut when they lived nearby, but we haven’t seen them as much since they relocated to Massachusetts. We occasionally see them at the cross races and it was nice that the Sachs and Horst booths were near each other last night. I’m proud to have my original 1989 Richard Sachs frameset hanging in my office.

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Seeing all the amazing bicycles and accessories in Providence last night was an awesome reminder that New England is home to many amazing craftsmen and crafts-women. We are happy to be part of the bunch.

2014 Vermont 50 Mile Ride & Run

For the first time since 1999, neither Debbie nor I competed in the Vermont 50 Mile Ride & Run. Her absence was by design but mine was unplanned. I was registered for the race, but didn’t start because of my shoulder injury. Last year we both race, as it was our 15th anniversary race.

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It was impossible to be at the race and not think about the recent passing of Chad Denning. He was frequently a presence at the VT50. There were some banners hanging in his honor, but those who knew him didn’t need the reminder that we were missing him.

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2014_Vermont 50  Mile Ride & Run 385

Despite not racing, it was an amazing weekend. We saw so many friends, and the weather was spectacular. Like every year, we had a large contingent from Team Horst Sports, including A. Zane Wenzel, Mike Wonderly, Ted D’Onofrio, Randall Dutton, Mark Hixson, and Arthur Roti. Along for the ride this year was an honorary member and fellow member of Team Pursuit Athletic Performance, Al Lyman. The entire Vermont 50 community is like an extended family to us.

2014_Vermont 50  Mile Ride & Run 137

2014_Vermont 50  Mile Ride & Run 168

2014_Vermont 50  Mile Ride & Run 181

Debbie and I may not have raced, but our children did. The kids races have become very popular. Like last year, they were held on Saturday afternoon during race registration. There were a 1/2 mile, 1 mile, and 5 kilometer races. Our daughter did the 1 mile and our son did the 5K. Both of them had a blast.

2014_Vermont 50  Mile Ride & Run 317

2014_Vermont 50  Mile Ride & Run 334

As awesome as yesterday’s weather was, it was topped by today. I’ve got sunburn. It was extremely warm for late September in south-central Vermont. The temperature soared into the low 80’s Fahrenheit. There was brilliant sunshine and a deep blue cloudless sky. There was a light breeze, which was very nice. The foliage is turning. The trails were in fantastic shape. I wish I could have ridden them as planned. Reports were that it was a bit dusty.

2014_Vermont 50  Mile Ride & Run 318

Zane and Mike had great races, which Zane prevailing by 45 seconds over his teammate and rival. Both rode cleanly on the dusty trails. Once again, Mark and Art were crowd favorites and first place in the tandem division. They got some stiff competition from their perennial rivals, Mark and Vicki Schow.

2014_Vermont 50  Mile Ride & Run 827

Ted rode on his own for most of the race and got it done as he works his way into cyclocross form. Randall and Coach Al met up on Garvin Hill at the 18 mile mark and rode the last 32 miles in each other’s company.

2014_Vermont 50  Mile Ride & Run 704

2014_Vermont 50  Mile Ride & Run 252

Debbie, the kids, and I were joined by Al’s friend, Terry Williams. Early in the morning, Randall, Al and I drove to the start from Shack Dutton in Chester. I watched all of the 50 mile start waves beginning at 6:15 A.M., and then hung out until Deb, Terry, and the kids drove over to pick me up. We watched the start of the 50 kilometer run at 8:00 A.M. From the start, we went to Greenall’s Aid Station, also the site of the Vermont 100 start/finish. Greenall’s is at the 31 mile mark of the 50 mile race.

2014_Vermont 50  Mile Ride & Run 476

At Greenall’s, we got a chance to watch Kyle Meyerrose, from Liquid Sky Cinema, pilot a drone called Cinestar 8. He was filming the mountain bikers. There was more carbon fiber parts on the drone than on the bikes that it was filming. Our son got a chance to watch the live feed from the drone mounted camera. It was very cool.

2014_Vermont 50  Mile Ride & Run 537

2014_Vermont 50  Mile Ride & Run 1853

I still can’t get over how amazing the weather was. One result was that most everyone registered started, which likely made it the largest VT50 ever. That also meant that it was a huge day for spectators. This race is already fortunate to have so many dedicated volunteers. It was downright crowded out there.

2014_Vermont 50  Mile Ride & Run 1189

2014_Vermont 50  Mile Ride & Run 1456

The VT50 has been slow to innovate. Debbie and I still have some criticisms and suggestions. With so many runners, they should develop a colored bib number system to tell the difference between 50-milers, 50 kilometers, and relay runners. It’s very confusing. At least after 21 years, they introduced chip timing to improve the accuracy of the results. I’m anxious to see how that worked out.

2014_Vermont 50  Mile Ride & Run 99

2014_Vermont 50  Mile Ride & Run 1835

This race is made possible by the volunteers, but also through the generosity of the land owners in Brownsville, South Woodstock, and the surrounding communities. These trails are special and race day is the only time you can officially ride or run on them. The course is one of the best in New England.

2014_Vermont 50  Mile Ride & Run 1881

 

2014_Vermont 50  Mile Ride & Run 2117

I’m sure the race raised a ton of money for Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sports. V.A.S.S. has benefited from the VT50 in so many ways.

2014_Vermont 50  Mile Ride & Run 106

I’m going to focus on my recovery before I think about 2015, but odds are I’ll line up for the VT50 again, and it will most likely be on my mountain bike. For now, I’ll keep my unused number plate close as a reminder of how much fun it was to watch this year’s race.

Race Results


Livingston Photo & Word

Horst Engineering

Thread Rolling Inc.

Sterling Machine

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#boston #pru #locks #miami @seven_cycles #sevencycles #americanflag #madeintheusa @hillrockestatedistillery @radioflyerinc #hillrock #radioflyer #whiskey #wagon @trailrunningmom getting in some "offseason" training. We stumbled across the jump during our Sunday ride. @swsa_jumpfest We have to return when the snow flies! #sevencycles #salisbury #autumn #october #jumpfest #skijump The historic Somersville Mill burned in 2012. I rode by it twice this weekend. #sevencycles #somersville Another fine #fall day. #sevencycles #autumn #october @spfldcollege 105th Annual Gymnastics Exhibition "Home Show." #springfieldcollege #gymnastics #homeshow #carfreecommute #sevencycles @seven_cycles Took the long way to #horstengineering today.

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