2019 Santa’s Run

Today we returned to the Glastonbury Santa’s Run for the first time since 2011. It was my 9th time running this local 3.5 mile race. I first did it back in 1989. This year’s race had 912 finishers. The low entry fee and community vibe have always made this a fun one for runners and walkers of all abilities.

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This was the first time for the kids, though I’ve pushed them in the jog stroller before. I knew that my legs would be heavy after yesterday’s NBX G.P. of CX, but I still pushed hard. I had to stretch my legs on the final 1/2 mile uphill to hold off Laurel Manville who went out hard. She finished second behind Lindsey Crevoiserat who had a strong run. Olivia Mondo was hot on Laurel’s heels, finishing only two seconds behind. In recent years, Melissa Stellato has had a lock on the top spot, but she didn’t run this year as she is pregnant with her second child.

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The top men were Philip Mitchell, Pat Dennen, and Nick Blanchard. Special mention goes to Brett Stoeffler who was 5th. At 52, I’m still chasing him! He runs such a smooth pace, its maddening. I kept him at 15-20 seconds for the first two miles but then he pulled away. Of course, he didn’t speed up at all. I just slowed down!

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Debbie and Shepard each won their age groups. Shepard had to hold off hard charging age grouper. His legs were a bit weary after giving it his all at NBX yesterday, but he too persevered and had a strong run. Todd Brown and Debbie had a great battle up the final climb and all the way to the line. Debbie needed 10 more feet to beat him, but he survived. Dahlia also had a strong run, breaking the 10 minute per mile barrier for the second race in a row.

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We saw a lot of other friends. Now that cyclocross season is coming to a close, we will likely return to running more races, though I expect we will focus on trails. The Santa’s Run always gives an ornament to each finisher, so we plan to get our Christmas tree this afternoon and now we have four more ornaments to decorate it with.

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Race Results

2019 NBX Gran Prix of Cyclocross, Day 1

I’ve always got mixed feelings when the cyclocross season winds down. On the one hand, I’m so ready to be done. Normally that is because I’m not tired of racing, but because I’m tired of packing for the races, traveling to the races, and cleaning up after the races. I do tire of the crashing, which seems to be common in cyclocross, at least for me. On the other hand, when it is over I will miss the excitement, camaraderie, intensity, and competition. I’ll also miss the New England parks, schools, and other neat places that we visit throughout the fall.

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Yesterday was Day 1 of the NBX Gran Prix of Cyclocross. We aren’t returning for Day 2 like we have in recent years. Shepard and I were able to manage one more race day, but we opted not to do another double/full weekend. He culminated his CX season at NBX whereas I’ll get in one more event at next Saturday’s The Ice Weasel’s Cometh. Some friends will be headed to Tacoma, Washington for the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships, but that’s a long way to go for a cross race. We have done Nats before, but 2019 is a year to skip. Next year, the Nats will be outside of Chicago, so there is the possibility that we will go.

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Shepard went out on a high note with a strong ride in yesterday’s Cub Juniors race on a cold, blustery, and icy day at Goddard Memorial State Park in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. The early season snow made for a challenging track as it didn’t melt in time for the race. Between the icy corners, sand, and leaves, the course was very slippery. I had a couple of hard falls on my pre-ride of the course. That made me cautious and tentative for the actual race. NBX is one of the more technical courses we do.

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It’s always been real trouble for me. I perpetually underperform on this course and haven’t yet figured out if that is a mental issue or if my bike riding skills just don’t match up well with Goddard State Park. I’m not able to get my heart rate up and not able to maintain my speed through the tough technical corners. I also usually have a handful of mistakes (e.g. falls, bobbles, etc.) and yesterday was no exception. I biffed it in the sand on a couple of occasions and that cost me valuable time. Nevertheless, I had a blast.

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Since I raced the Masters 40+ race we didn’t have to spend ALL day at the event. They don’t do a singlespeed race at the series/UCI events. Shepard’s race was at 8:47 A.M. so we were up early and on the road by 6:00 A.M. That is one aspect of cross season that has grown tiresome and I won’t miss it even if I continue too get up early. We have packed our van and trailer late on Friday nights many times this fall, and I’ve had enough of that for now.

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It was great to see Jon Gallagher from ONe2Go Results. Jon is a dear old friend, fellow Boston College alumnus (though he never raced on the BC Cycling Team) and someone I raced with many times in our younger days. He is based in Utah, but spends a lot of time on the road, timing cycling events all over the world. This fall, he has been to New England on a few occasions, but this was my first (and last) chance to catch up with him face to face in 2019. We had a meaningful conversation in the cold finish line trailer, but it was awesome. It’s been 25 years since we spent the summer of 1994 racing our bikes in Belgium.

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A few of our Team HORST Sports and Team HORST Junior Squad teammates will return for Day 2 today and we wish them luck along with all of the other racers whether they are there for a final Nats tune up, or if this is their last race too. The Ice Weasels Cometh will be my Nats and I’m looking forward to it.

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Shepard and I have spent some special time traveling to these races. NBX was my 14th cross race of the season and it was his 13th. On the way home, we passed through Providence and grabbed lunch at Plant City. On Sunday, we will spend some time with Debbie and Dahlia, do a little running, get a Christmas tree, and reminisce about our most recent cyclocross adventure.

Race Results

2019 Secret Squirrel CX & Bishop’s Orchard Cyclocross

Our four-day Thanksgiving Holiday weekend culminated with the Bishop’s Orchard Cyclocross in Guilford, Connecticut. The penultimate event was yesterday at the Secret Squirrel CX in Raynham, Massachusetts. We proceeded those races with a low-key hike of Mt. Holyoke in Massachusetts, and a kicked off the weekend on Thanksgiving at the Manchester Road Race. IMG_0279

Bishop’s was a fitting end to the weekend as I did the last race of the day and the last race of the 2019 CT Series of CX as the snow was flying. It was a spectacular ending to this awesome little series. Last year’s Bishop’s was equally as epic as it took place after a heavy snowmelt and the course was waterlogged. Today, in the morning, the course was like tundra, but by early afternoon, the flakes were falling. By the time my race started at 2:30 P.M., the snow was falling heavily and it only intensified over the next hour as the Elite Men and Singlespeed (Men and Women) fought their way around the tough (and hilly) orchard course.

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It was another long day of cyclocross for our family. Yesterday was just as long but I’ll come back to Secret Squirrel later in this post. As good as that race was, it can’t come close to today’s spectacle in Guilford, so that is where I will focus. It wasn’t just the weather that made today special. The race is part of our home state series and we had strong participation from Team HORST Sports and the CCAP Team HORST Junior Squad.

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The kids have been the highlight of this CX season again. CCAP has done a remarkable job at building a cyclocross community and getting so many juniors involved. In addition to my son Shepard, our juniors included Boden Chenail, Lars Roti, Owen Lezon, Ethan Lezon, Sean Rourke, and Alexandra Miller-Davey. Our Masters racers included Wade Summers, John Meyerle, Brett Chenail, Rich Frisbie, Arthur Roti, and Andris Skulte. That was a wonderful turnout for the CT series finale.

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Team HORST Orange was on the podium many times. Awards were given for:

  1. The race
  2. The USA Cycling Connecticut State Championships
  3. The CT Series of CX

I won’t list all our series winners and podium finishers because the the final results aren’t posted yet. However, finishing on the podium today were Wade (2nd in Men’s 50+) and Alexandra (2nd in Junior Girls 12-14.

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I noted that we spent the whole day at the race. Shepard raced at 9:47 A.M. so we were out of the house by 7:15 A.M. Dahlia joined us. Both kids were troopers for spending the day outside in harsh conditions. My father, Stanley, also came to watch the Junior races, which was cool. We had use of the Team HORST tent (which had a little heater) and the Bishop’s Orchard barn which had some heaters too, but they still had to brave the elements. They will sleep well tonight. Debbie did the Shenipsit Striders Shenipsit Trail End-to-End Run, so she skipped the race. She spent all morning in the woods. She left the house at 5:10 A.M. The run started in East Hampton and she did the first “half” finishing in Bolton Notch at 12:15 P.M. She thought about coming to Guilford afterwards, but with the bad weather, wisely opted to stay home and prep dinner for us as all three of us were quite “hangry.”

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One series result I’m positive about is my own. My race was nuts. As mentioned, we were the last to go off. The Elite Men started one minute in front of the singlespeeders and the race was slated for 50 minutes. It was snowing steadily at the start but by the half-way point, it was coming down extra heavy. The course conditions deteriorated quickly and it got very slippery. I stayed on my bike, which was goal number one.

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My Seven Cycles Mudhoney SL has been a beast all season. I just love this bike. On the start line, I realized that my front Tufo tubular had lost a little air during the day. I put 25 psi in it early in the morning, but it softened up. I yelled for Shepard to go to the pit and get my other bike and wait for me should I need it, a geared Mudhoney Pro (with zip ties locking out the shifting). The kid was awesome, he spent the entire seven lap race in the double-sided pit moving my bike 14 times. A friendly stranger gave him some hand warmers for his gloves as he was frozen solid standing there in the snow.

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The good news is I actually like the low tire pressure and decided to just keep riding my dedicated SS bike. It was probably 20 psi and it was ideal for the conditions. Bishop’s is as hilly as it gets. We gained nearly 1,000 feet in 10.6 miles and it was up and down. The course is also almost exclusively on grass (other than the asphalt finishing stretch) and is quite bumpy, so you have to constantly pedal. There were many tight turns and several technical off-camber sections. It was an excellent track. I was forced to get off for the barriers and then on one of the steepest climbs.

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I opted to ride all of the orchard climbs even tough I could have run faster. The strategy there was that my cleats were getting caked with ice and mud which made it very difficult to clip in. So, I wanted to minimize my dismounts. That meant that I rode some of the hills at an extremely slow pace and I was even forced to tack back and forth a few times to get up the hills. It was hilarious. I loved it.

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It was a small field and I spent the first half of the race battling with Eric Wyzga for 4th place. He and I battle every week and we finished 9th and 10th yesterday at Secret Squirrel. So, we know each other well. To his credit, the SS race was his second of the day. He also did the Men’s 3/4 race and rode well. So, despite doing three races in four days, I had the advantage this afternoon and I took it. I eventually distanced him and held on to my 4th spot. I also stayed on the lead lap which took a big effort since the Elite Men started one minute in front of us and just as I crossed the finish line for start of my 7th and final lap, the two leaders were sprinting behind me. I got there first which meant I had another 8+ minutes of suffering and fun in the snow.

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That was OK because I wanted to keep riding. I ended up with 58 minutes, which was long. Shepard brought my pit bike back to the car/trailer and I rode straight there to meet him. I let him jump inside and I started the car to get some heat going. Our tent had been packed up when the rest of the team departed. Dahlia was staying warm in the barn, but she eventually joined us. I didn’t even change. I packed our four bikes in the trailer and then we drove up to the store as Dahlia had to use the restroom. We are lucky she did because while we were waiting for her, my phone rang and it was Jake Kravitz calling from the barn.

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He asked if we were still at the race. I replied yes and asked why. He said I placed in the series. That was a pleasant surprise. I knew that I was sitting 4th coming into the race, but didn’t realize that Donny Green (despite winning today in fine style) didn’t complete the minimum number of races. He came into the race in 3rd place, but the series also rewards participation and consistency. He got some nice prizes for winning, so I didn’t feel bad about beating him out on participation.

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Since Donny hails from Massachusetts, I also got bumped up to third for the Connecticut State Championships. I earned a nice medal. First went to Connor Walsh and second to Anthony Vecca. For the series, it was Anthony on the top step and Connor in second. For third, I got a sweet handmade Ukrainian goblet. I was thrilled. Shepard was a good sport, joining me in the barn and taking photos.

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I mentioned Jake, who did was a big help to the race promoters. The Bishop’s staff and volunteers did a fine job. So did Rob Stiles who pulled together all the results and hosted multiple award ceremonies in the barn. Between Jake and Rob, they kept the energy high all day long. This was a great finale.

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We got back in the car and then had a wild drive home. I was so glad that we took my Subaru Outback rather than our Volkswagen Eurovan. I actually had the van packed and trailer attached by 6:30 A.M., but checked the weather and made the switch. It paid off as it was white-knuckle driving with post-holiday traffic and nasty weather. It took us 90 minutes to get home and we were quite thankful that Debbie had made a hot meal for us.  Everyone was cooked after four days of intense outdoor activities. I’ll have some bikes to wash and gear to clean, but it was worth it. Now for some rest. The work week starts tomorrow and it will be another busy one.

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Bishop’s Orchard Race Results

OK, so a little bit about Secret Squirrel. Shepard and I spent Saturday in Raynham. His race started at 8:30 A.M. so we had to get up very early and make the two-hour drive. There is no fast route to Raynham as it is due east. We just made it in time, but he missed call-ups and had to start in the back row. He was a good sport about it and used an adrenaline surge to move up to 6th in the combined junior field. He held his spot and ended up third in his age group earning a nice scarf as a prize. We had to hang around all day as my race didn’t go off until 2:45 P.M. It was a Zanconato Singlespeed CX Series event, so it was a full field that also included some fat-bikers. I had a decent race, but my legs were still hammered from the road race on Thursday. As mentioned Eric and I fought the hard fight and I came out on top. The Zank Series finals are in two weeks at The Ice Weasels Cometh.

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Race Results (will be posted when available)

2019 Manchester Road Race

“This is Thanksgiving in Manchester!”

That’s the same refrain that I’ve heard Race Director Jim Balcome proclaim 30 times since 1985 when I ran my first Manchester Road Race at the age of 13. This was the 83rd edition and his 43rd as RD. This year was also my 25th in a row since I returned to the race in 1995 after a four year layoff.

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Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and the MRR has played an integral part in making that so. I love milestones and 30 years of doing anything is a substantial one. I’m proud of my consistency and the fact that I’m literally and figuratively running strong at 47 years-old. I’m not unique in having a long streak. Amby Burfoot did his 57th MRR today. Todd Brown did his 43rd. Janit Romayko has done more than 50, and so have many others.

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Even more special is that Shepard did his 7th and Dahlia did her 4th. Who knows if the kids will maintain a streak, but the fact that we do this event as a family makes the day even better. Debbie doesn’t keep track of records like this, but she has probably done it close to 20 times.

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I haven’t run fast in several years as I’ve been shadowing Shepard in recent MRR’s. This year he was ready to run on his own and push himself. I got the green light to give it my all. Debbie ran with Dahlia. Both kids smashed their personal bests. Shepard really wanted to win the 13 and under age group as he was 3rd last year. He figured that breaking 31 minutes would put him in range of the AG win. He did 30:13, exceeding his own expectations, but three boys went faster and he ended up 4th, the harshest position to finish in when the awards go three deep.

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He took it fine, which was impressive to witness. For a moment he was bummed out, but then I saw that fire that burns inside of him was stoked even more. He is a goal setter, and has amazing self-motivation. I know where he gets that from. The balance and understanding comes from his Mom, so I would say that the blend of character that he exhibits is a winning combination. He was very happy with his performance and as long as he can stay positive and keep progressing, he his wonderful endurance sports career will continue to develop. The most important thing is that he continues to have fun.

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Dahlia is our little tiger. She knocked 12 minutes off of last year’s time and pushed hard to achieve that result. Debbie says she ran the entire 4.748 mile distance which is remarkable since she occasionally stops (in protest) during races and says she can’t take another step. Today she took quite a few steps (she has small legs!), and in a field of 12,000 or so runners, it was wise that she kept moving.

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Unlike last year’s frigid temperature, this year was much more seasonable. It was around 42 degrees Fahrenheit at the 10:00 A.M. start but it was windy and raw. The breeze was a stiff one and hit me hard in the face as a head/cross-wind around the 4-mile mark. My worst suffering came between miles 3.5 and 4.5. This has always been my toughest section and this year, I was just “meh” on that section of the course. I had a fast first mile, ran the hill fairly well, and then started to lose ground on the group in front of me as we descended Porter Street. Brett Stoeffler was up ahead and he was a good gauge. I kept him in view for a long time. He was only 10 seconds up, but I failed to close the gap and eventually his lead was extended as he held his pace and I slowed a bit.

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I was stuck without anyone to draft off of and my cadence slowed in the last part of the race. After making the turn on to Main Street, I was able to rally a little and on the last little rise I pushed myself to hit my highest heart rate of the race. I could see the clock ticking up. For a moment I thought I could break 28 minutes which was my goal. However, I’ve run the race enough times and knowing what kind of kick was left in my legs, the mental math told me that it wasn’t going to work out. I let out a little groan and pressed on. It was going to be close.

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Alas, I crossed the line with a net time of 28:01. Two ticks fewer and my time would have looked 10 times faster. Regardless, the time was good enough for 3rd in the 45-49 age group which was my second goal. I wanted to crack the top three. This was my first age group podium in 30 years at the MRR. I was 4th in 1989 and 2016, and 5th in 2013, so I know how Shepard is feeling having just missed out in the past.

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We saw so many friends and that is another reason why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and probably one of my favorite days of the year. I can’t list them all. There were so many fist bumps, high fives, and hugs. Willi Friedrich, our longtime Shenipsit Striders club-mate, did his 50th MRR. He had a whole crew with him to honor the occasion.

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My mother-in-law Barbara came to watch and she was a good sport looking after our backpack full of warm clothes and gear. My parents Lynn and Stan were at the start/finish and they got to see Shepard and me cross the line.

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Once again, HORST Engineering sponsored Veteran’s Row. It’s been awesome to be associated with the event on a deeper level and to contribute to the success. The race helps out so many causes. Several HORST colleagues ran the race and I’m sure we will have a lot to talk about next week when we return to work. Last week, I attended the annual Press Conference and last night, Debbie, the kids and I were at the Spaghetti Dinner. The kids got to meet many of the elite runners and collected a bunch of autographs including last year’s winner (and course record holder) Edward Cheserek (who finished 2nd today), and Edna Kiplagat who won today. Edna is an amazing runner and one of the best of all-time. She is a two time marathon world champion and has wins at the Boston, New York, and London marathons on her palmares. She is also an Olympian.

Her Wikipedia profile includes this wonderful info:

Kiplagat is a police woman in Iten, Kenya. “I am one of the role models in my town and country,” says Kiplagat. “I have mentored girls in school and I have empowered women to form community associations. I also support less fortunate kids to pay their school fees.” [19]

Kiplagat and her husband have five children – two of her own, two adopted from her sister who died of breast cancer in 2003, and one adopted from a neighbor who died in childbirth in 2013. Her children Wendy, 9, and Carlos, 13, were at the finish line and award ceremony for her victory in the 121st annual Boston Marathon.[23]

She started the Edna Kiplagat Foundation to raise awareness of breast cancer.[24] Kiplagat also volunteers to create awareness for garbage management toward keeping a clean environment.[19]

That’s awesome.

Manchester Road Race 2019 Veterans' Row graphic

My legs will be wrecked from this effort. The asphalt and downhill pounding always do a number on my quads. I just don’t do enough running to condition my legs to take a beating like this. It’s back to bike racing this weekend with the Secret Squirrel Cyclocross and then the Bishop’s Orchard Cyclocross. I’m excited about my fitness in 2019, and am only feeling residual back pain from my August bicycle crash. I’m  really just excited about being so strong for so long. I’ve broken 28 minutes on 11 separate occasions so this wasn’t close to my fastest MRR, but I’m happy. Next year it will likely be Debbie’s turn to run hard and see how fast she can go. I will probably run with Dahlia for a few years and then see about running fast again when I turn 50.

Race Results

2019 KMC Cross Fest

Shepard and I returned to the downsized KMC Cross Fest at Thompson Motor Speedway. KMC intentionally shrunk the scope and scale of the event after several years as a multi-day UCI event. This year, it was a one-day (non-UCI) race and part of the CT Series of CX. 293 racers showed up which isn’t bad given that the location is in the rural Quiet Corner of Connecticut. There was a race in New York that drew another 253 riders, so the northeast region had two options for a late-November Saturday event.

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The course was quite different from the last time I did it, but I still had fun. The motorsports track makes it a unique venue. There was a lot of wide-open riding. I would describe it as a “roadie” course. That made singlespeed tough. Only eight of us lined up for the SS class. We started two minutes behind the Elite Men.

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Shepard did the Junior 12-14 year old race with his CCAP Team HORST Junior Squad teammates Alexandra, Boden, Lars, and Owen. Ethan did the 9-12 year old race. Sean and Cole did the Junior 15-16 years old race. Sean also did the Men’s 3/4 race along with Brett. We were well-represented in the Masters races with Rich and Art in the 40+ race. Wade and Tom did the 50+ race. Dave and Keith did the 60+ race.

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Saturday races are always tough for me. I was a little worn out after a long week, but it helped that I had all day to get warm. My race started at 2:47 P.M. Shepard’s race was earlier in the day at 9:47 A.M. so we had some hanging around and cheering to do in between the events.

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With only eight riders, there was nowhere to hide. I was with the front three riders halfway through the first lap, but they came to an abrupt halt on one of the tricky off-camber sections and I slammed into the back of Anthony Vecca. That resulted in a big endo where I went over the handlebars. By the time I got up and sorted, they had a 10 second gap and were gone. I ended up with two other riders but eventually distanced them and spent the rest of the race in “no man’s land” coming across the line in 4th place.

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The drive to and from the race was nice. This part of the state is a great place to ride. Debbie and I were out there in August when we did a loop that included a lovely section of the Air Line Trail. It will be interesting to see what happens to KMC in 2020. There was talk that they were looking for a new venue, but that didn’t material for 2019. I have some small complaints about the race. One is the $5 parking fee that goes directly to the venue. I don’t mind paying a fee, like we did at Look Park, but they are  a nonprofit with a great mission. The cost seems high when you consider that adults paid $36 to race plus the Bikereg fees. The Club Row team tent fee was $75 plus the Bikereg fee, which was also stiff. For that amount of money the parking should have been included.

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Richard Fries and the race committee described this as a “reset” year. Like I said, we still had fun and the event was low key and despite the small complaints, the production of this mostly grassroots race was appreciated.

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Race Results

2019 West Hill Shop Cyclocross

It’s hard to believe that I hadn’t been to the West Hill Shop Cyclocross since 2015. This was the 29th annual race in Putney, Vermont and it was my 13th time doing it. It’s one of my absolute favorite all time events and I was trilled to spend the day with Shepard. Most of our Team HORST Sports and CCAP Team HORST Junior Squad teammates were at Supercross Cup in New York. After several years attending that event, we decided to skip. We heard the rest of the team had a blast, though we were happy for a day trip and we were happy to visit Vermont.

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It was a long and cold day. We left the house at 6:15 A.M. and didn’t get home until 6:30 P.M. after making the drive north. The challenge is that when Shepard races the Cub Juniors and I race the Singlespeed, they are usually the first race of the day and the last race of the day. When we arrived, it was 20 degrees Fahrenheit and that isn’t the most fun temperature to ride in. By the early afternoon, the mercury had climbed into the mid-30’s but then by the time the singlespeed race started at 3:15 P.M., the sun was already low in the sky and the temperature was falling again.

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What made today special was that Shepard did the two-lap (15 minute) junior race and then he joined me for the multiple lap (five or six? over 45 minutes) Zanconato Singlespeed Cyclocross Series race. The last race was the largest field of the day because it was also combined with the Men’s Category 3/4 race.

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It was great to some old friends. Craig Damaschi drove up from Connecticut. He and I went to East Catholic High School together and raced on the cross-country team. We were teammates on the 1989 State Championship squad that I wrote about a few weeks ago. When I met Craig in 1986, I had already started mountain biking, but he was my introduction to road cycling, which led to bicycle racing and eventually cyclocross. He was steeped in European cycling tradition. His Italian heritage was a huge factor. He had stacks of old Winning magazines and was a Velo News subscriber too. He and I spent hours riding and talking about riding. It’s great to see him back on a bike and pushing hard in cyclocross.

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Everything about this race is classic New England grassroots cross. The bike shop itself is a big part of what makes the race (or any event held there) special. The shop has lots of character. The entire town of Putney is neat and we love it there. We are members of the Putney Co-Op and that is where Shepard and I enjoyed lunch. It was only a short ride up the street from the bike shop.

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On the way back to the race venue, we stopped at another awesome local business, the Green Mountain Spinnery,  which is adjacent to the bike shop. He was wondering what was inside, so I said, “It’s open, let’s go take a look.” We have been there several times, but he didn’t remember because the last time was 10 years ago. For many years, Debbie and I went on the post-Thanksgiving Putney Craft Tour which often featured the spinnery. We haven’t gone in 10 years, but I wrote about the 2009 version. The spinnery hasn’t changed at all and he was thrilled when we were offered an impromptu tour. The old equipment is fascinating.IMG_5559IMG_5561

I left him to hang out at the bike shop and I went for a substantial warmup. I took the freshly paved Westminster Road out to the town line and back. It’s normally beautiful and on this late fall day it was lovely. The long warmup helped and I had a good race. My start was fantastic as I was in 4th for the first 1/4 lap, but I blew a turn on a very slick corner and drove my left knee into the ground. I recovered and only lost three spots, but that forced me to chase. It was unfortunate but that sketchy corner caught more than one rider off guard.

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I eventually settled into a group of three that was battling for 5th place. Anthony Vecca, Henry Lord, and I traded places throughout the race. Anthony had 10 seconds on us at one point but Henry put in a surge and I stuck with him. We eventually closed in on AV, and I thought I was the strongest going into the last lap. On the lower section of the course (which was different from when I last did it–I liked it, especially the numerous twists and turns) I pushed to the front and we fought hard on the double run-up.

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As we approached the final few turns, I sprinted past them to take the lead figuring it was my best shot to get to the finish line ahead of them. I didn’t think anyone could come by me on the fast final straight, but AV did and I was bummed. After we crossed the line and I cursed, he said, “You deserved that.” I wasn’t quite sure what he was referring too as we were racing cleanly, but then I figured it was “payback” from the 2018 West Rock Superprestige MTB Final (also singlespeed) when I beat him by mere seconds in a last lap surge. I think that demoralized him, so I guess he is right. He got me back today.

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Shepard rode well. It was his longest ever CX race and also the first time he raced twice in a day. Racing with the adults is going to make him faster. He said that he was good for three laps and then he bonked. Yesterday, he was outside in the cold with Boy Scouts Troop 25. They had an 8-mile hike. Today was another long day, so we have to make sure he recovers and stays healthy. After the race, I let him go into the shop where the wood stove was cranking. They also had a barrel fire going on the outside and it was a popular spot. While he warmed up, I packed the trailer and the van as the sun set. It was another great cyclocross weekend.

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Race Results (will be posted when online)

2019 Northampton International Cyclocross

The Livingston’s had a fantastic weekend in the Massachusetts at the 29th Northampton International Cyclocross. I’ve done 16 of them, including the last five years in a row. The Pioneer Valley has a lot of great culture and Look Park in Florence is a perfect place for a cross race.

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Team HORST Sports and the Team HORST Junior Squad had a strong presence at this weekend’s competition. We had a nice spot on Club Row made it a family affair. From the Masters squad, we had a great team of riders:

  • Dave Geissert
  • Keith Enderle
  • Wade Summers
  • John Meyerle
  • Arthur Roti
  • Andris Skulte
  • Brett Chenail
  • Rich Frisbie
  • And me!

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From the Junior squad, we also had a strong turnout:

  • Alexandra Miller-Davey
  • Sean Rourke
  • Boden Chenail
  • Lars Roti
  • Owen Lezon
  • Ethan Lezon
  • Shepard Livingston

Arlen Zane Wenzel and Erik Emanuele were a bit help on Saturday. They came up on Day 1 to support the team. We also had strong support from the family of our racers. With Club Row, the food trucks, the expo, and a great park–NoHo CX is a spectator friendly event.

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Debbie, the kids, and I stayed over on Saturday night at the Hampton Inn in Hadley. The Miller/Davey Family and Lezon Family joined us for dinner at Paul & Elizabeth’s in downtown Northampton. We enjoyed dessert at Herrell’s where they have some nice vegan ice cream options.

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My Day 1 race was a certified disaster, but I hung in their and finished. I hit the deck no less than three times including one spectacular last lap crash when I hooked my handlebars on a course stake. That sent me to the ground in a heap. I bounced back. I was super-strong, but was all over my bike and made a lot of costly mistakes. I was battling for 13th and ended up 19th off the back of the small group that I was with the entire race. It was frustrating because I squandered an opportunity for a nice top 15 result in a competitive field. The course was greasy and I was just “off.”

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Today was a bit better and the combo Masters 40+/15-16 year-old field felt faster, but I was down in 22nd spot. I had a shot at 19th again, but just didn’t have the legs on the last lap when repeated attacks from my “new” rival Miles Mattern (age 13) finally broke me. He was hopping the barriers and railing every technical turn which forced me to chase him repeatedly. All of those big efforts to close the gaps that he was opening finally did me in. It wasn’t even his first race of the day! He won the Cub Juniors 9-14 year-old race earlier in the day (he won it on Saturday too). Even worse is a few guys snuck in between us in the last 1/4 lap. I could say I was frustrated again, but alas I rode better today and was actually happy with the result. Remember the name “Miles Mattern’ because you will read or hear it again.

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Unlike prior years, the 17-18 year -old boys started two minutes in front of us. The 40’s were combined with the younger juniors (ages 15 and 16), but they are nearly as fast. Frank O’Reilly Jr. won both days and he is only 14 years old. The young kids can really race.

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Speaking of young kids, Shepard did well. He did the shortish (only two laps) 9-14 Cub Juniors races both days and finished 13th on Saturday and 10th today. He was happy with how he raced and had a ton of fun hanging out with his friends at Look Park. It really is a fine venue.

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The Northampton International Cyclocross used to be one of the biggest races in New England, but it has shrunk in size and stature which is sad. With the loss of the Gran Prix of Gloucester from the race calendar, it still is the biggest race in the region (648 racers yesterday and 605 racers today), but is proof that cross participation is down. I did check and the NoHo participation numbers are generally comparable to the last five years, so I should be careful to comment without actually studying the data. The feeling is that there were less people, but I could be wrong. In New England, there used to be several big races per year, but like Gloucester’s loss in 2019, we lost the Providence Cyclocross Festival several years ago, which means that two of the big three events are now defunct.

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I wasn’t sure how I would feel after a double race weekend, but it’s Sunday night and I’m pleased with how things turned out. We had a lot of bicycles to wash, clothes to clean, and gear to unpack, but it was worth it.

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My father Stanley came up to watch this afternoon. He helped us pack all the gear at the park and then joined us for lunch at Pulse Cafe in Hadley, which is an awesome plant-based restaurant and farm store. We had a great brunch and even packed dessert which I’ll use to “refuel” after this weekend’s big effort.

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Race Results (Day 1)

Race Results (Day 2)


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#Cyclocross season is winding down. It’s time...but I will still miss it when it’s over. The race days/weekends spent with the @the_ccap #teamhorstjuniorsquad has been awesome. Yesterday’s @nbx_bikes G.P. of CX was another great day. The conditions were fun and challenging and the racing was fierce. @horstcycling #teamhorstsports #crossisboss #nbxgp
#optoutside
Another awesome @manchesterroadrace #manchesterroadrace #shenipsitstriders #teamhorstsports
I attended the @manchesterroadrace press conference. Less than a week to go. Getting pumped. @horsteng is a Veterans Row sponsor. #manchesterroadrace #teamhorstsports #shenipsitstriders
Great fun @nohocx with the Livingston Family and our #cyclocross family. @horstcycling #teamhorstsports #teamhorstjuniorsquad #crossspikes
Cross country #running is a platform to teach so many great lessons about fitness and life. It was great fun cheering the Bolton Bulldogs at the NEMSAC XC Championships. #trailrunning #crosscountry
Great day with #teamhorstsports at the Belltown Cross even if Wade had to put on his reading glasses to identify his prize! That’s the life of a Masters racer. #crossspikes @horstcycling #horstcycling #cyclocross
Good fun with the #teamhorstjuniorsquad at today’s @stage1cycling Belltown Cross. #crossspikes #horstcycling @horstcycling #cyclocross
Eneas Freyre from @ttendurance was proud of his lap one wreck and wanted the video posted. It helps that he recovered and went on to win the race (Masters 40+ @stage1cycling Belltown Cross). It’s a good lesson to get back up, straighten your bars, and start chasing. #crossisboss #lifedeathcyclocross #cyclocross

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