2018 Soapstone Mountain Trail Races

After 34 Soapstone Mountain Trail Races, 20 of which Debbie has run and/or directed; and of which, at least 10, that I’ve blogged about…I’m thinking of something interesting or provocative to write that wouldn’t be redundant.

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I guess the best thing I can come up with is that my eight-year-old daughter, affectionately known as Little D, had to poop for the entire length of the 6 kilometer Jerry Stage Sampler. I knew this because we discussed her, or rather our, options; and I think the feat of the race was that she insisted she could “hold it” to the finish. And she did. However, it made her miserable, (and slow) and it pained me to watch.

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If any runner has suffered a similar intestinal malady, then you know. This is not something that can be described. Only the shared experience of doubling over as you inch your way towards the finish, or your destination, is enough to comprehend what she went through. The gift certificates and cow bells (our new unique age group awards) may have went to others, but she gets my “run of the day” award.

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“I don’t have to go,” she declared before the race, which is typical of her morning regimen. This sounds like one of our ordinary every day conversations, but this time it had consequences, and she paid the price. She vowed to not make the same mistake next race. Time will tell whether or not her prognostication holds true.

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Hopefully, none of the other 207 finishers shared her misfortune. From the looks on the faces of those finishing the 24 kilometer main event, they were suffering, but it wasn’t from bowel problems. It was the new, longer course; the humidity, and the muddy trails that took their toll on the legs (and bodies) of these runners.

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For the first time in several years, the 24 kilometer course had significant changes. Last year, the Shenipsit Striders noticed that a landowner whose property the course traversed, was posting “No Trespassing” prior to the race. We set a plan to reroute the course so that it would avoid the controversial property.

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This meant that we had to introduce a longer (more true to the stated distance) route that had a short overlapping section, more hills, and more singletrack. It also allowed us to make the first 5 kilometers (or so) of the course, the same as the “Sampler.” One of the key features of the Sampler has always been the infamous “sandpit.”

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This meant that all runners got to do the sandpit with its 45% gradient and loose footing. One improvement for next year is that we will increase the time between the two race starts. 10 minutes didn’t prove to be enough, as the front-runners in the 6K caught up to the back of the packers in the 24K. Still, everyone appeared to enjoy the challenge of the sandpit whether it was their first time or not.

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Last year, the Sampler was renamed to honor the late Jerry Stage, the only other Race Director that Soapstone has ever had. Debbie was Jerry’s understudy for several years, and she gradually assumed more duties, eventually taking over the race from him around 2003.

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She ran her first Soapstone in 1999, the same year that we met, and she has been a devoted trail runner ever since. In addition to succeeding Jerry as Race Director, she inherited the club presidency from him too, and with the help of others, revived the Shenipsit Striders to welcome a new family friendly generation of trail runners.

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Debbie kept the Soapstone gig, but passed the leadership of the club to John Agosto. John led the club for several years and then was succeeded by David Merkt. This new version of NipMuck Dave (the younger), is still the dedicated Race Director of the NipMuck Trail Marathon, having taken over from the original, NipMuck Dave Raczkowski.

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Dave subsequently passed the torch of the presidency to Emma Palmacci, who is doing a fantastic job leading our club. Yesterday, she was at the finish line congratulating all of the runners.

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Truthfully, Soapstone, like all Shenipsit Striders races, has always been a team effort, and this year, our beloved running club supported her more than ever. It is not a secret that she is in the early stages of a succession planning process to ensure that this legendary race continues long into the future. Only its sister race, the aforementioned NipMuck (currently at 35 years and counting), has more seniority amongst New England trail running races.

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In addition to all of our club mates, thanks goes to race sponsors who offered varying levels of support: Horst Engineering, Tailwind Nutrition, Rein’s Deli, Bevin Brother’s Manufacturing Co., HAE Now, and Nature’s Grocer.

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There were many volunteers, especially our fellow Shenipsit Striders, and some stalwarts from the Northern Connecticut Land Trust. In recent years, proceeds from the race have benefitted the land trust, the Reddington Rock Riding Club, and the Connecticut Forest & Park Association (CFPA).

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This was race number two in the 2018 Connecticut Blue-Blazed Trail Running Series.

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The race saw many top performances. Check out the results link for details. Tim Van Orden was the first male finisher of the 24K. Bonnie Lathrop was the first woman. First place overall in the 6K was Mary Johnson, which is pretty cool.

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Once again, we held the kids race and had some eager participants. Like our kids, many of them are sure to graduate to the Sampler as they gain the stamina and confidence to run longer distances.

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Our son, Shepard, was 5th in the 6K. He was only 33 seconds off the pace of his uncle, Steve Simko, (my sister’s husband), which is a gap he should close by 2019. If it wasn’t for a wrong turn, he may have closed that gap this year. Steve actually thought Shep was in front of him because he didn’t see him go the wrong way. While Shep and Steve were waging their battle up front, I was at the back, with Dahlia, enduring her “epic” struggle.

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I can’t imagine a year when we aren’t at Soapstone, but that day is bound to come. It won’t be in 2019, as Debbie accelerates the succession plan, but some day, maybe. In the meantime, we will continue to thrive off of the community that we have built.

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The feedback has been mostly positive. There were some wrong turns. There were bumps. There were bruises. There were a lot of muddy shoes. I even saw some muddy faces, but that mud wasn’t hiding the smiles. They shown through.

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If you love your trail running, then show up for race number three in the Blue-Blazed Trail Running Series, the Goodwin Forest Trail Runs on 03 June. Goodwin also happens to be race number four in the New England Grand Tree Trail Running Series.

Lastly, registration is almost full for the Livingston Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run Adventure at REI in West Hartford this Thursday the 24th of May, which will recount  Debbie’s amazing run in the San Juan Mountains.

Race Results

Race Photos (SmugMug Gallery)

Singapore & the Luisella H. Cosulich

It’s been a few months since Debbie and I returned from our Hong Kong/Singapore trip, but I’m still sorting through photos. The reason for the trip was to attend the YPO Global Leadership Conference/EDGE in Singapore.

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It was our second time visiting Singapore. We also visited in 2012, the last time the YPO conference was in Asia. That time, we brought our young children, but this time, we were on our own.

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I already wrote about the Metasprint Duathlon, but I wanted to share some other highlights, including the incredible visit we made to a tanker fueling ship. That trip was arranged by our friend, Tim, from the sixth generation of the business owning Cosulich Family.  Their firm, Fratelli Cosulich, are leaders in maritime industries and have a significant Singapore operation. Refueling other ships, particularly tankers, is one of their business operations.

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We joined a group of friends from the USA and Italy (where Tim is from, and where Fratelli Cosulich is headquartered), on an amazing adventure to the Luisella H. Cosulich, the ship named after Tim’s mom.

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We boarded two small tenders at the Port of Singapore for the 15 minute ride to the Luisella. She was anchored off-shore amongst a fleet of other ships. She was tied to the larger tanker that she was refueling. I was in the first tender to board, and Debbie was in the second.

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One of the amazing things about Singapore is its maritime prowess. From the roof deck of our hotel, the Marina Bay Sands, you could see ships anchored all the way to the horizon.

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One of those ships ended up being the one that we boarded, which was a harrowing experience. Tim had some previous experience taking other small groups to the ship, but they were able to mount a ramp along side of the ship and you could easily walk up from the tender.

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On the day that we went, a stiff breeze was blowing and the sea was choppy. This meant that we had to board from a rope ladder that was lowered from the deck. The fact that the Luisella was tied to the the larger tanker in addition to being anchored, meant that she was stable.

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It was the the tender that pitched wildly. Boarding proved to be a fun, but nerve wracking challenge. Debbie was fine with it, but I was recovering from my broken leg, had only been walking without crutches for two weeks, and didn’t want to get hurt.

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In the end, everyone in our group did fine and we all successfully boarded the ship. The crew were fantastic. They looked out for our safety. Once aboard, we split into two smaller groups and toured the vessel. It was really cool. I asked a ton of questions. We saw the deck, the crew quarters, the engine room, and the bridge.

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Getting back into the tenders proved to be only slightly less challenging. The effort was successful in raising my heart rate. Once back on shore, I was happier. We had to show our passports when we entered the country again. Technically, we were in international waters, and we needed to pass through security before entering Singapore again.

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In one afternoon, I soaked in the nuances of the shipping industry and the role of the Luisella in refueling the much larger tanker ships that transport oil on the ocean. It was a great way to see the grittier industrial side of Singapore, a stark contrast from the glitzy retail of Marina Bay. Debbie and I were both thrilled with the experience.

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The ship adventure was on Saturday and the duathlon was on Sunday. We returned home on Monday.

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While we were in Singapore, we had two fantastic meals. The first was at Meta Restaurant, where we had an amazing seven course (plus two “snacks”) vegan meal. Meta turned out to be on of the best fine dining experiences I’ve ever had. The restaurant was awarded a Michelin star in 2017. The service was awesome.

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Our second Singapore date night was at EMPRESS, one of the Privé Group’s restaurants. We had a beautiful table and another vegan feast to celebrate the last night of our trip.

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The service was also fantastic. Afterwards, we took a leisurely stroll around Marina Bay on our way back to the hotel. It was a fun way to wrap up our two weeks in Asia.

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Gillette Castle State Park

A few weeks back, I visited Gillette Castle State Park for the Connecticut Forest & Park Association (CFPA) Board of Directors/Staff retreat.

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Gillette Castle is a real gem. The State of Connecticut DEEP prides itself on the acquisition of this stunning property (in 1937) and its various renovations. My friend, Christine Woodside, wrote this great piece about the restoration, for the New York Times in 2002.

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I hadn’t been to the park in a long time, so it was great to return for this strategic planning meeting. It was a rainy Wednesday night, but that didn’t dampen our spirits. We got a private tour compliments of the Friends of Gillette Castle State Park. Our guide was informative and witty.

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This is one amazing 99 year old building with so many special detailed design features. The setting on a bluff high over the Connecticut River is also spectacular. William Gillette’s Seven Sisters estate cost $1.1 million when built between 1914 and 1919. That’s like $30 million in today’s dollars. Gillette was the eclectic entrepreneur and actor who first portrayed Sherlock Holmes on the stage, and became world-renowned for playing the character in more than a thousand shows. 

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After he died in 1937, the estate was purchased by the state with help from nonprofit CFPA for a total of $29,000. The Great Depression dealt a serious blow to its value. It really is one of the crown jewels in the state park system. 

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At a time when budget cuts threaten state parks and trails, CFPA is doing incredible work to preserve the places that we love. Check out this post on SJ 35, an important bill that will help protect public lands.

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If you have never been to Gillette Park, you should plan a visit.

Monadnock Hike & Bike (and the Scouts BSA)

 

Last weekend’s trip to Mount Monadnock and Monadnock State Park was awesome. It was the “capstone” trip/event of Debbie’s career as our son’s Den Leader.

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We have been involved with Bolton Cub Scouts Pack 157, and Den 5, for the last five years. Our involvement in Scouts won’t stop. Next month, Shepard will earn his Arrow of Light and move on to Boy Scouts Troop 25 in Manchester. He will start his journey towards Eagle Scout. Two of my first cousins, Brian and Tim Nelson, are Eagle Scouts/alumnus from Troop 25.

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I’m also an Eagle Scout (1988) and am a product of Troop 11 in Vernon. It’s likely that our daughter will continue with Scouts, but transition from the Girl Scouts of the USA  to the “boy’s side.” I’m a step or two behind on the new rules of the Boy Scouts of America (now known as Scouts BSA), but I’ll get up to speed soon. They made some big moves in the past 18 months to get with the times. It will be interesting to see if the Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts (Scouts BSA) remain relevant for the next generation and beyond.

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Five years ago, I wrote about the Boy Scouts in this blog post, where I shared a letter that written to the corporate leadership challenging  them to be more inclusive. For more than 20 years, I kept my distance from the Boy Scouts and their exclusionary policies, but five years ago, my son’s involvement was on the horizon, and I was conflicted about getting involved. I wanted him to experience Scouting and the skills that it teaches. I attribute Scouts for my love of the environment, my role in conservation organizations including the Appalachian Mountain Club and Connecticut Forest & Park Association; and my zest for outdoor adventure.

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This post is less about the politics of Scouting and more about the joy of hiking (and biking). Debbie put together the Monadnock trip for her Den and in addition to our son and daughter, three other boys and their fathers participated. I hadn’t been to the summit of Monadnock in years, though we have been to the area many times. We were last there in 2016 for the Wapack and Back Trail Race. We (both of us) also ran it in 2014. In both cases, we were on Pack Monadnock, a nearby mountain, but didn’t make it to Grand Monadnock.

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I think the last time we were on Grand Monadnock was like 15 years ago. Maybe more. Prior to that, I had climbed the mountain a few times with friends from Team Horst Sports. Even before that, I climbed it solo when I was in college. It really is a great mountain. It’s one of the most frequently climbed in the world. It’s reported that Mt. Fuji in Japan is the only mountain climbed more often.

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We drove up on Saturday morning. The overnight showers cleared and by the time we started our hike, the weather was gorgeous. The summit was crowded, as you would expect for the best weather of this wet spring. The kids had a blast, and the parents were able to keep pace. We lingered on the summit and then returned to the state park where we set up camp. We spent the night, which was fun. It turned out to be a wet one as the rain moved in again.

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The four of us woke up in our tent with many leaks. Debbie has been talking about an upgrade, but our 20-year-old four person tent has done us well…until recently. After we got up, we didn’t linger. I had previously hatched a plan to ride my bicycle home from Monadnock, but the steady rain was a blow to my morale. I waffled about the ride, but eventually declared that I was doing it. We packed everything but the tent, saving it for last. I pulled my bike out of the car where I had stashed it for the night, and parked it under an overhang.

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Once we got the tent down, I changed in the car, working up the courage to start a long ride in the pouring (cold) rain. The temperature was in the low-40’s Fahrenheit, which can be the worst kind of weather to ride in. If you stop for a moment, hypothermia will set in. I think that risk is partially what motivated me to go for it rather than joining the family in the car for the 100 or so miles home.

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My math said I could get home in about seven hours if I averaged close to 15 miles per hour. The route would have more downhill than up, but there would be enough up and down to challenge me. I had my Seven Axiom SL super-commuter, which is my favorite bike. I took off the panniers, but kept the rear rack, fenders, and front pack. This is the bike I ride to/from work and I just love it. It isn’t the lightest road bike, but it’s my most versatile bike.

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In the end, the fenders only helped a little. The family rolled out of the parking lot five minutes before I did. I was on my own. I coasted down the hill to the entrance of the park. I stopped and took my only photo of the day. I turned my iPhone off to save the battery should I really need it. I tucked it in my pocket and that’s where it stayed until I reached Stafford Springs, Connecticut nearly six and a half hours later.

10 minutes into the ride and I was already soaked to the bone and chilled. Somewhere in that first segment of the ride, I missed a turn on to Rt. 119, which would take me to Rt. 32, the main route for the day. I was already cold and miserable, so I just kept riding until I recognized a road. I sensed that I was going the wrong way and that was confirmed when I saw signs for Keene, which is northwest of Monadnock. I needed to go southwest, and then due south on 32. I stubbornly rode towards Keene until I found the main drag. Eventually, I turned left, in the direction of south, and rode until I found the airport south of town. From there, I just used my gut to navigate. Eventually, I found 32.

Nearly 90 minutes had passed before I finally came to the 119 intersection. I figured I had added 20 miles to the ride and that was a real bummer. By the time I crossed the Massachusetts line, I was frozen and struggling to keep my handlebars straight on the steep descents. Some of the heaviest rain hit me in between Royalston and Athol. I was wearing my eyeglasses, but eyes were so cold and wet that I felt blinded and it was hard to see when descending. It was a bit sketchy, but I forged on knowing that if I stopped for even a minute that it could spell disaster. Long point to point rides with no support in these conditions leaves no room for mistakes. That’s why I was having “fun.”

32 goes from New Hampshire all the way through Massachusetts and then on to Connecticut, so once I was on 32, I knew where to go. All I had to do was pedal and keep on 32, which was by no means a straight line. It jogged left and right and cut through small towns as it worked its way south, skirting to the east of the Quabbin Reservoir. You can see the route on my Strava feed if we are connected. Speaking of the Quabbin, the last time I was this cold on a bicycle was seven years ago at the 2011 Quabbin Reservoir Classic, which I wrote about.  Excerpts from my post were published along with the stories of three other riders from that race, in the now defunct 9W Magazine, a literary/cycling journal.

Thankfully, the temperature was a bit warmer last Sunday, and despite the pouring rain, I hung in there. I didn’t eat much. I had a Clif Bar and a banana. Eventually, I stopped in Stafford Springs after the rain had stopped, but only had a coconut water and a Naked juice. I burned more than 3,000 calories while only taking in 600 or so. My only wardrobe issue was that I forgot my booties. My feet were very cold. The booties wouldn’t have kept them dry, but they would have added insulation. I also wished I had a warmer pair of gloves, but it likely wouldn’t have made that much of a difference. I carried a lighter weight second set of gloves, and eventually switched to them when the rain had tapered off.

The stretch through Massachusetts was diverse. As I rode south through Royalston, Athol, Petersham, and Barre; I enjoyed the solitude. That section of 32 is beautiful and less congested than the southern section. It brought back memories of some of the great western Massachusetts road races that I did in the 1990’s including the Hubbardston-Barre Road Race. My old teammate, Will Kirousis, hails from Petersham, and we visited his home many times in those years.

I pushed on. The stretch of road from Ware, through Palmer, into Monson, and then Stafford Springs, was the worst. The Sunday afternoon traffic was bad and unfortunately, I had several run-ins with motorists. I kept my patience, but was “coal rolled” three separate times. These huge jacked up pickup trucks pulled up next to me, and then jammed on their accelerators, belching putrid exhaust into my face as their engines roared and they pulled away. It’s such a cowardly thing to do, but sadly common for “boys” who I dub Swamp Yankees (a New England version of “yahoo”). There were many other inconsiderate motorists who left me with a lot less than the recommended/mandatory 18 inches of space.

In Stafford Springs, a huge GMC Suburban pulled up next to me and the passenger (a woman) hung out the window and yelled at me to “move over.” I completely understand if cyclists avoid roads altogether. The situation has clearly gotten worse and its dangerous.

By the time I got to Stafford Springs, I was cracked. Thankfully, a cool wind had blown the rain out of the area. It was still overcast and cold, but I was a bit warmer, so I stopped at a Cumberland Farms to message Debbie and buy the juice. I had gone six hours and not even drank half a bottle of water. I was fine, but still enjoyed stopping to hydrate. Amazingly, I avoided any serious chaffing on the whole ride. I hadn’t ridden that far since my 132 mile Vermont Six Gaps Ride in 2016, also on my Axiom SL.

Last Sunday’s ride ended up being 119.9 miles and it took me eight hours and four minutes of moving time to get it done. I was very happy to get home. Debbie asked me why I didn’t ride another .01 miles to get an even 120, but then I told her about the missed turn and 20 mile Keene diversion, and she understood why I was ready to be done. I doubt my GPS is that accurate anyway!

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Last weekend’s dual adventures were awesome. Every so often, I need these long solo rides to sooth my soul. It’s hard to explain the feeling, but I tune out and spend time with my own thoughts. I hatch business plans, think about goals, and zone out. My subconscious takes over and I enjoy the moment, even if it involves suffering.

Some of my first big adventures started when I was in the Scouts. It’s great to share my adventures with my own kids and their friends. I have no doubt that they will inherit my love for the outdoors, hiking, and biking.

 

2018 Fat Tire Classic

Earth Day 2018 and we spent the day outside in glorious sunshine at one of our favorite places. The 24th annual Fat Tire Classic was held at Winding Trails in Farmington, Connecticut.

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We know Winding Trails well. We race there a lot. My records show that I’ve raced there 67 times since 1999.

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The Summer Tri Series is every Tuesday for 10 weeks in a row starting in mid-June. I’ve done the Tuesday night race 47 times since 2009. And of course, the Fat Tire Classic is every April. Records show that I’ve done 10 of them. My first was in 2000.  We have done a number of other races there over the years including the Chainbiter Cyclocross, the Hi-Tec Adventure Racing Series, and the Hartford Triathlon, which was my first ever race at Winding Trails.

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There is always something going on at Winding Trails. We love the place so much, we even had our Jack & Jill there in 2001.

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Today, I only watched the races, but I had a blast. Shepard did the Category 3 (9-12 year old) race and showed that his skills and fitness continue to improve. More importantly, he had a fantastic time.

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The weather was so much better than the Hop Brook MTB Race from two weeks ago. Today, the sun shone brightly. It was still chilly, especially in the shade, but without a cloud in the sky, the sun did it’s thing.

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Once again, the CCAP Team Horst Junior Squad had a fantastic turnout. We had seven boys and one girl race. There were several other Team Horst affiliated riders too. The Team Horst Sports Masters team also had a great showing with Art Roti, Joseph Dickerson, Brett Chenail, John Meyerle, and Wade Summers flying the team colors.

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We even had visitors. Arlen Zane Wenzel and Erik Emanuele showed up on their road bikes.  Tom Ricardi, Tim Rourke, and I just watched. Debbie also sat this one out. She went for a run on the course.

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Just like Hop Brook, there were so many kids. This is awesome. The CCAP continues to drive the success of junior cycling in Connecticut. Today’s race was the second event in the 2018 CBR (Connecticut Bicycle Racing) Offroad Series. The next event is 20 May at the Team Red Dragon MTB in Berlin.

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Today’s race was also the kickoff of the 2018 Bubba Mountain Bike Trophy Series. That series continues with the Bear Brook Classic on 12 May. The mountain bike season is rolling.

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Race Results (will be posted when available)

 

 

 

 

2018 Traprock 50K (and 17K)

We had glorious weather for yesterday’s Traprock 50K at Penwood State Park in Simsbury, Connecticut. After a spring with less than stellar weather, yesterday was a welcome respite. I’m wrapping this post up on Sunday morning, and I’ve already been out for a bike ride. The temperature is back in the low-30’s (Fahrenheit), the wind is whipping, and snow is in the forecast. So, was Saturday’s awesome weather an anomaly? The temperature was warm, the deep blue sky was cloudless, and brilliant sunshine shined through the still leafless trees. We want more of that.

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Our family hadn’t been to Traprock since 2014, a rare four year layoff from a race we love. Debbie first did this one back in 2010 when it was founded by friends Kevin Hutt and Steve Nelson. Kevin remains the Race Director, and he has a good team of volunteers to assist him.

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The Shenipsit Striders have always helped, whether it be directly or indirectly. Today, our club had a sizable turnout for both the three lap 50K (more like 33 miles) and one lap 17K (more like 11 miles).

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The hilly course got some modifications since we last ran it. Now, it has more singletrack, more hills, and it’s a bit longer. There is about 6,500 feet of elevation gain and 6,500 feet of loss. The changes mean that the course is quite a bit slower than it used to be, but it is still very runnable. This is the second year since the course was modified, and it was the first time running this version. for Debbie.

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We saw so many friends today. I think the sunshine drew them out. Some even came south from snowy New Hampshire. Great weather has a healing effect as evidenced by the shorts, short sleeves, and smiles.

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Traprock kicked off the 2018 Connecticut Blue-Blazed Trail Running Series.

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It was a long day for the kids and me. Dahlia helped out at the finish line aid station, and had a lot of fun sharing stories with her fellow volunteers. Shepard brought his mountain bike and explored the park. I took a lot of pictures.

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Debbie didn’t need a whole lot of support, but we remained near the finish line to cheer her on during each of her laps. A few times, I walked up the Metacomet Trail to get a better vantage point.

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After a while, Charles Merlis joined me and we had a fun conversation about running, acting (another one of his passions), and life. Earlier in the day, Charlie had run a 5K race in Avon, and came out to Penwood to cheer on his son Josh, and Josh’s girlfriend Michelle Pratt. Charles always makes me smile. He is a member of the Run 169 Towns Society, joined Debbie for her 40th birthday run, and is a regular at Shenipsit Striders races. It’s hard to miss Charlie. He is usually shirtless, wearing a tutu, and wearing wings.

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It was nice to chat with friends new and old. Kevin’s Dad, Ernie Hutt, was the official starter. He got a nice ovation at the start, and revealed a surprise, that Kevin’s Mom was going to run the race. It was a joke, and he made everyone laugh.

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Brian Rusiecki took the win in 4:58:25. He was pretty toasted at the finish and took a few minutes to relax before he returned to chat about the race. He said that on his third and final lap, he was hot. I’m sure everyone was hot. The race claimed quite a few victims and the DNF rate was high. There were 68 finishers with the last person finishing in 9:54:43. That’s a long day on the trail! Brian was followed by Koby Nelson and Brandon Baker, but with a 16 minute difference between first and second, he was never seriously threatened.

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The women’s race was much tighter. Coming into the end of lap two, the aforementioned Michelle Pratt had a narrow lead over past winners  Kristina Folcik, and Stacey Clark. Kristina left the aid station first, but Michelle and Stacey were within a minute of her, but she extended her lead on the first major climb, and the gap grew from there.

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All three of them were running strongly, but things sorted themselves out over the last 11 miles, and Kristina took the win in 5:48:16. Michelle finished in 6:02:35. Stacey was only four minutes behind her, and looked strong despite the heat. Debbie had a decent race, finishing in 6:52:27. This was her second 2018 ultra, after last month’s Mt. Tammany 10 in Delaware Water Gap.

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Kevin and the Traprock crew have been strong supporters of the Connecticut Forest & Park Association, with a history of generous contributions to CFPA and other conservation organizations. CFPA is the nonprofit that created and maintains Connecticut’s 825+ mile Blue-Blazed Hiking Trails system, including the New England Trail, of which the Metacomet Trail is a key piece.

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Traprock lowered their fees for 2018, with entry only $35, a relative bargain in the fast-growing ultra segment of the running world. It was no frills with three adequately stocked aid stations, post-race pizza (including the vegan variety), and no swag. Nearly 300 runners registered for the sold-out event.

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Next up in the Blue-Blazed Trail Running Series is the Soapstone Mountain Trail Race on Sunday 20 May. This will be Debbie’s 15th year as Soapstone’s Race Director. It is also a great value, so if any Traprockers want to experience a race that is another great value ($25 pre-registration for the 24 kilometer long course and $12 for the 6 kilometer short course Jerry Stage “Sampler”), join us in Somers. The post-race feast features food from Rein’s Deli, and “cooking” by my mother-in-law, Barbara. How can you beat that?

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Soapstone isn’t an ultra, but it is one of the legendary New England trail races. This is year number 34 for the event, a stalwart in the New England Grand Tree Trail Running Series. Only the NipMuck Trail Marathon (which turns 35 in October) is older, and still continuously running.

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The Shenipsit Striders also promote NipMuck, and this year, to honor the 35th, there will be a 35 mile version of this classic. Sadly, this year, NipMuck conflicts with the Vermont 50 Mile Ride & Run, which is prone to happen every six years or so.

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I won’t lie. I’m partial to east coast trail running, and particularly biased to the northeast, and New England where we have the most challenging terrain in the country. Yes, I said I was a fan.

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We have a great community, great races, and awesome trails. The season just got started, and it’s already been memorable.

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Race Results

SmugMug Photo Gallery

2018 Hop Brook MTB Race

The 2018 mountain bike season kicked off in style at the Hop Brook MTB Race in Middlebury, Connecticut. Once again, the crew from the Laurel Bicycle Club and D’Anniello’s Amity Bicycles did a fantastic job organizing this early season event.

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The weather was kind of what you would expect for Southern New England in April in 2018. It was raw, cold, and blustery. The sun poked out from behind the clouds on a few occasions; but then the clouds covered it again, and the wind to kick up.

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By late afternoon, it was just plain miserable and no one could stay warm. It may have been harder to spectate than to race. Still, the racing was tough as most riders were competing for the first time in the new year.

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That didn’t stop a lot of people from getting on their mountain bikes and riding on the rugged Hop Brook Lake Recreation Area course. Team Horst Sports was well represented in the both morning events and the afternoon events.

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We had several Masters racers in the Category 1 and Category 2 fields.

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Later in the day, the CCAP Team Horst Junior Squad had five boys race in the Category 2 and Category 3 Juniors race. Sean Rourke led the way with a strong finish on the challenging terrain. Shepard Livingston, Cole Ricardi, Bodain Chenail,  and our newest junior teammate, Weston, all had great races.

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It was awesome to see so many kids out there. Many of the faces were familiar. We know many of them from the cyclocross community. We last saw some of them in December, when the Elm City CX, the last CT Series of CX race was held in New Haven, and also hosted by the Laurel Bicycle Club and D’Anniello’s Amity Bicycles.

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It was fitting that they promoted the last cross race of the season and the first mountain bike of the new season. I think the weather was better in December!

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Anyway, we will be back at it with the mountain biking in two weeks at Winding Trails for the Fat Tire Classic.

Race Results

SmugMug Gallery Photos


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From race directing to @thecubscouts directing. Proud day for our son, @trailrunningmom and the rest of #cubscouts Pack 157 Den 5 as they earned their Arrow of Light. Four of her boys are moving to @boyscoutsofamerica #scoutsbsa after five years of fun and learning.
Little D and I ran the @shenipsitstriders #soapstonemountaintrailrace Jerry Stage Sampler 6K with a bunch of other crazies! Tackling the infamous Sandpit with its 40% gradient and slick conditions was great fun. #trailrunning #shenipsitstriders #teamhorstsports 🏃‍♀️⛰
Start of the @shenipsitstriders 34th annual #soapstonemountaintrailrace This is the 15th year as Race Director for @trailrunningmom #trailrunning #shenipsitstriders #teamhorstsports ⛰🏃‍♀️
REWARD: Less likely to be $1 billion and more likely to have hops 🍺 or grapes 🍷 in it. Best suited for those in CT. On Monday at the end of my #carfreecommute to @horsteng I realized I lost one of my two custom orange/black @dillpicklegear panniers on the way. Within an hour, I retraced every pedal stroke in reverse. My route was Bolton to Manchester to S. Windsor with sections of @eastcoastgreenway and #wickhampark The only item in the bag was a brand new @lifeproof iPhone 6s nuud case in Hot Pink. That’s another story, but it was on clearance and I got a deal! It was in the unopened mailer/package ADDRESSED TO ME. I rode the route again on #biketoworkday today and no luck. At this point it is going to have to find me. So sad. I still can’t believe I couldn’t find it which means someone has it. Maybe they are a #goodsamaritan But no luck yet. Keep your eyes peeled!
After a full day at the CFM( Safran and @geaviation ) supplier conference, I explored the emerald green urban oasis known as #burnetwoods The sights, sounds, and smells (other than the dead possum) were delightful. @cincyparks #trailrunning #cincinnati
@trailrunningmom had a great week! She topped it off on #mothersday by spending some quality time with her favorite @disney character.
More #mountainbiking with the @the_ccap #teamhorstjuniorsquad at #rocklandpreserve So. Much. Fun. #teamhorstsports @horsteng #crossspikes #mountainbike 🚵‍♂️
#manhattan
#teamhorstjuniorsquad Wednesday night practice at Rye Street Park. @the_ccap @horsteng #teamhorstsports #mountainbike #mountainbiking 🚵‍♂️

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