2018 Northampton International Cyclocross

Our family made a joyous return to Look Memorial Park for the 28th Northampton International Cyclocross. I’ve done half of them (14) dating back to 1995 when the race used to be on the UMass Amherst campus. Years ago, the race relocated to beautiful Look Memorial Park in the village of Florence, and also became a UCI two-day event. I’ve done a total of 21 NoHo CX races when you count the Saturday and Sunday races.

IMG_8604

This weekend, I was able to do both races even though earlier in the week, it didn’t look like Saturday was going to work out. I had a hectic week and even went to the work for a few hours on Saturday morning before the race. I had packed my gear figuring that if things were smooth at work and more importantly, I felt up to it, then I would shoot (solo) to NoHo, do the race, and then get home in time to pick Shepard up following his Boy Scouts Troop 25 hike on the Shenipsit Trail. He only raced on Sunday this weekend. Debbie and Dahlia had a full day of activities planned together.

IMG_8599

I was glad I raced yesterday because it got me ready for today. I hadn’t raced in three weeks, skipping the last two weekends with conflicts, so I felt a bit stale. I’m better at cross when racing regularly, especially if I’m not training much during the week. The racing keeps my speed high and my skills sharp. Typically after a layoff, it takes a race or two to get back my groove.

IMG_8547

Yesterday went as expected. I had no pop and was disappointed in my result, finishing about 10 spots behind where I wanted to. However, I did have fun on the wet and challenging course, and was glad to be racing again after my short break. When I’m off, it’s very typical for my average heart rate to be low. I only held 168 beats per minute and maxed at 174 beats per minute. The average was about 6 below a good race and the max was 10 below a typical race when I’m going good.

IMG_8559

For comparison, today went better with a 173 average and a 182 max. The numbers don’t lie. They still don’t represent peak form, but I’m looking forward to the Supercross Cup next weekend and will build on this weekend’s races.

IMG_8556

I love the Look Park courses. Both days were in their typical layout with Saturday and Sunday differing a bit. There were some changes in direction. Today’s race was much faster. Yesterday was windy, damp, and the course was muddy in several spots. Today, it was colder, also breezy, and most of the mud had gotten tacky. Today’s track was a bit shorter, so the lap times were quicker.

IMG_8536

Today, Debbie and the kids were with me, which was fun. We had to leave the house at 6:15 A.M. to get there in time for Shepard’s 8:46 A.M. start. Thankfully, we packed everything last night. The Junior 9-14 year olds had a good race and the Team Horst Junior Squad was well represented with Boden Chenail, Lars Roti, and Shepard. All three boys had good races. There were a lot of kids in Look Park today. Our friends, the Grimm’s came from Rochester, New York, and brought their kids too. Look Park is full of playgrounds and other cool areas to check out. A kid can run wild and be safe.

IMG_8586

In today’s races, I was riding strong, but was surprised that my result was still worse than yesterday in a smaller field. Today’s field must have been stronger because I was riding well and still not as far up as I expected. I had a decent start and latched on to a large group including rivals Brian Girard, Keith Gauvin, and Dan Coady. All three of those guys are stronger than me, so I was happy to be the caboose on their group. The problem with being last is that you have to work harder when sprinting out of every corner. You are also at a disadvantage in the technical sections as you are forced to follow other riders’ lines and deal with their mistakes.

IMG_8535

By lap three, I was “yo-yoing” off their group and half way through, I got popped, ending up in no-man’s land. That didn’t last long. I had to recover, looked back and saw several chasers gaining on me. They happened to be a couple of Junior riders that I know well. In the Vittoria Northeast Cyclocross Series events, the Masters 40+ racers compete with the Junior 15-18 year old boys. This makes for interesting racing with the high horsepower juniors rubbing elbows with the savvy and technically skilled Masters.

IMG_8544

I don’t mind it. I’ve gotten used to racing with these “kids” and like the challenge of battling with boys who are 30 years younger. Sometimes there are complaints about their aggressive tactics and the lines they take in the corners, but I race alertly and have been able to avoid tangling with them. It’s a matter of pride to take these kids on and beat (some) of them.

IMG_8598

Anyway, soon after 15-year-old Nicolas Villamizar and 14-year-old Kevin Mullaly caught me, we were joined by two more riders, who turned out to be a father/son duo. I should say son/father duo because it was 13-year-old Frank O’Reilly, Jr. who ended up being the class of our group. Another racing dad, Pierre Gervez, was chasing hard and dangling off the back of our quintet. Nic promptly went to the front and drilled it. He and Kevin traded pulls on and off for the final two laps. Our group changed order several times as we all took turns pushing the pace.

IMG_8572

On the last lap, I was pretty gassed and was in fifth spot heading to the upper section of the course. That’s where Frank, Jr. pushed up the hill and then rode the technical muddy woods section. I ran it the first two laps, rode it the third, and opted to run it again for the final two. That was costly as I lost some ground. Nic was running it too, so we worked together to stay in touch. Frank got a few seconds on our group and after time trialing away, it grew to six by the finish. It’s worth noting that this was his second race of the day–he won the Junior 9-14 year old race. “Wow,” that’s all I can say. On the final section of road, his dad also attacked us and bridged up to his son. It sucked to give up those two spots, but I didn’t have much left.

IMG_8577

That left Kevin, Nic, and I to duke it out for pride. Kevin was strongest in the open ball fields that lead to the final hairpin turn and then the long straightaway to the finish. Cross is all about these intra-race battles. I was banking on the fact that he had been pulling into the windy sections and that I could come around him. Kevin led and Nic was on my wheel. He appeared to be suffering.

IMG_8613

Coming into that greasy final hairpin, Kevin and I took the wide line that we had been hitting every lap. I don’t think either of us expected Nic to make a bid by diving to the inside. He ended up chopping both of us pretty good and there was even some contact as he forced us even wider than we expected. He got to the front and hammered the final section. I slid a bit in the corner but eventually got traction. It took me 50 meters to get up to speed and by then, Kevin was surging past Nic on the right. I followed his wheel and then jumped left just be for the line. It took a bike throw to pip him, with Nic finishing third in our group.

IMG_8609

I have to say I was pleased. That’s despite the fact that it took everything I had to beat a couple of teenagers. It’s only a matter of time before they crush me in races like this, but for today, I got the upper hand. I was toast after the finish, but as I said earlier, efforts like this (when followed by rest) pay dividends. The results show Kevin and me with the same time, and Nic one second behind us. That’s racing!

IMG_8606

I cooled down with my teammates on the lovely Norwottuck Rail Trail. It was a good weekend for Team Horst Sports. In addition to our junior riders (the three mentioned already plus Owen and Ethan Lezon), over the course of two days, our Masters athletes performed well. They included Rich Frisbie, Arthur Roti, Brett Chenail, Andris Skulte, Wade Summers, John Meyerle, Dave Geissert, Paul Nyberg, and Keith Enderle. Even our mate, Matt Domnarski, showed up to cheer today.

IMG_8594

We were packed up and out of the park by 1:30 P.M.. We visited downtown Northampton for a late lunch at Paul & Elizabeth’s. We did a circuit of the town, stopping at Hungry Ghost Bread to pick up some items, before returning to the van for the trip home. Success.

Race Results, Day 1

Race Results, Day 2

2018 Connecticut Middle School State XC Championship

After a week filled with rain, we had a beautiful autumn day for the 2018 Connecticut Middle School State XC Championship at Wickham Park in Manchester. It started out cold, but a bright sun warmed the air and it was set against a deep blue sky. Cross Country at Wickham Park is a magical experience.

2018_CT Middle School State XC Championships-9

IMG_8427

This is Debbie’s first year coaching the Bolton Center School (BCS) Boy’s and Girl’s XC teams and it has been a fantastic one. XC is just another reason why I love fall. If I were to rank my favorite months of the year, they would be October, September, and November–in that order. Being a spectator at these races, and watching the girls and boys progress, brought back so many rich memories from my youth.

2018_CT Middle School State XC Championships-2

2018_CT Middle School State XC Championships-10

On Friday night, the Doyle Family hosted a pot-luck pasta feed at their home, which was great fun. All of the kids were invited. Debbie and her awesome assistant, Donald Rowe, were honored for their roles. It was great to hear how the kids have bonded as their friendships have grown stronger in only eight weeks of practices and meets.

2018_CT Middle School State XC Championships-13

I started running as a 7th grader at Vernon Center Middle School (VCMS) and continued at East Catholic, where the pinnacle of my XC career was reached as a senior when we won the Class MM State Championships and finished third in the State Open. Nine years ago, I wrote about the 20th anniversary of that 1989 season. That was so long ago, but being at Wickham brought back so many good memories.

2018_CT Middle School State XC Championships-11

Some of those good vibes may have helped the BCS boy’s team as they claimed third place in the small school division (less than 400 students per school–6th through 8th grade). They were the 19th team overall out of 49 overall in the A race. The six boys who ran today gave it their all and that is what Coach Debbie asks for. The girl’s team has also progressed nicely and improved all season long. In addition to the kids that ran in the A races, Bolton fielded boys and girls teams in the B races, which were run earlier in the day.

2018_CT Middle School State XC Championships-12

There were a LOT of people at Wickham Park. More than 2,600 boys and girls finished! That’s amazing. There were 400 starters and 391 finishers in the boys A race alone. Each of the schools was permitted to start seven runners and there were many individuals (without teams) mixed in. Each school was allowed to start 15 runners in the B races, so to ease congestion, the B races were split into two so there were CT East races in the morning, and CT West races in the afternoon with the championship races in between. Factor in all of the coaches, parents, and spectators and it was a full crowd. It was wonderful to see so many people running.

2018_CT Middle School State XC Championships-4

The course itself was in decent shape given how bad the weather has been and how many races have been run between in the park between October and November. There were several muddy spots, including the start/finish stretches, and the “sledding hill.” Many kids had their shoes “sucked off” despite warnings to tie them tighter.

2018_CT Middle School State XC Championships-5

The park has withstood months of above normal rain, and it has rained a lot in the last few weeks. There has also been a lot of foot traffic on the course, with the high school class meets 10 days ago, the high school State Open last Thursday, and the middle school championship today.

2018_CT Middle School State XC Championships-6

In the middle of today’s six races, they squeezed in a first ever Mom & Pop Charity XC Race in support of a group that collects shoes for those in need. That put another 50+ people on the soggy course. That race went off at 11:30 A.M., and both Debbie and I competed. It was only 1.8 miles, and it was the first time I’ve run hard in nearly a year. It was great fun and gave us a chance to scout the course and offer tips to our girls and boys who followed us at 12:15 P.M. and 12:45 P.M.

2018_CT Middle School State XC Championships-8

Back in August when Debbie told me she took the assistant coach role, I was supportive, but curious about how this would go. I asked who the head coach was, and she said they were still searching for one. Then, a week later, she told me that she was the new head coach and that they were searching for her assistant. I became even more curious about how this was going to go!

2018_CT Middle School State XC Championships-7

In the end, it was awesome. I couldn’t think of a better coach for these kids, including ours. She didn’t just teach them running skills. They learned about focus, mental strength, yoga, and goal setting.  If asked, I’m sure she will return in 2019. She is interested in building a stronger program with the goal of recruiting more kids and sending more of them on to Bolton High School (BHS) with running as their sport of choice.

IMG_8423

IMG_8406

BHS has a long tradition of XC running and this year, the boy’s team won the Class S State Championship and qualified for the State Open. Several strong 8th graders will graduate from Debbie’s squad and head to BHS next fall. Hopefully those kids will replenish a strong team that is losing several seniors to graduation.

IMG_8416

 

The future remains bright for Bolton XC. Go Bulldogs!

IMG_8419

Boys A Team Small School Results

Girls A Team Small School Results

Boys Overall Race Results

Girls Overall Race Results

Mom & Pop Race Results

Trail Running Women Podcast Episode 4

Debbie was featured on the 22 October 2018 episode (E4) of the Trail Running Women podcast with host Hilary Spires, and this blog got a nice shout out. The least I could do was write about it and give this new podcast series a shout out back.

She met Hilary through a social media group for women trail runners and recorded this back in early August. Like Debbie, Hilary is a coach, though she is based in British Columbia. The focus of this episode was pregnancy and trail running, but their conversation covers a wide range of trail running, ultrarunning, and health related topics.

Screen Shot 2018-11-02 at 8.24.09 PM.png

Hilary’s intro from episode 1:

Yo! I’m Hilary, your host. Listen in for a tiny intro on who I am and what I’m doing here. I’m a retired NCAA hockey player turned trail runner. Each episode I interview an inspiring woman about her story as a runner. These badass ladies from around the globe get honest about everything from competing, motherhood, and trying to have it all. Get ready for training ideas, gear tips, and a healthy dose of inspiration. Bonus! Once a month myself and my guest host Tory Scholz are going to answer listener Q&A on training, mindset, racing, and more.

I listened to the podcast while spinning on one of my bikes. I enjoyed their discussion and the flashbacks that it triggered. She reference a few of my more interesting posts from my years crewing at her ultras. I figured I would publish my own “show notes” with some links:

Despite the title, the interviews with Debbie and other trail running women are sure to be education for anyone with an interest in endurance sports.

AMC Medawisla Lodge and Cabins Revisit

The Appalachian Mountain Club’s Maine Lodges offer amazing hospitality in gorgeous woodland settings that can’t be topped for their New England remoteness. After our family first visited Medawisla Lodge and Cabins on the opening weekend in July 2017, I wrote about our adventure.

IMG_8205

I returned this fall for the AMC Board of Directors annual retreat. I won’t hide my bias. I’m a huge supporter of not-for-profit AMC, and I am a big fan of our organization’s legendary mountain hospitality. Our historical strength has been in the mountains of New Hampshire, but we operate through the Appalachian region in New England and the mid-Atlantic. I’m an unabashed champion of the effort to grow our presence in Maine and New York. The resources generated by our lodging operations fund critical mission oriented efforts including conservation advocacy, climate science, outdoor education, land management, and youth opportunities.

IMG_8211

Medawisla is the crown jewel in AMC’s network of Maine lodges, but it isn’t necessarily better than the other two locations. All three, Little Lyford Lodge and Cabins, Gorman Chairback Lodge and Cabins, and Medawisla offer authentic Maine sporting camp experiences, though each one is unique.

IMG_8221

 

Medawisla is the newest and represents a more modern approach. One example is that each cabin has a propane stove rather than a wood stove. Though off-the-grid, the Medawisla cabins have electric power, including lights and outlets, whereas the cabins at Little Lyford and Gorman have propane lanterns and there is no electricity.

IMG_8230

It had been nearly 14 years since I visited Little Lyford. Back in February 2014 when Debbie and I skied into the camp with AMC friends, it was known as Little Lyford Pond Camps. That wasn’t long after AMC acquired the property, and prior to substantial renovations including the construction of a new lodge.

IMG_8235

Little Lyford was AMC’s  initial recreation hub in the middle of the Maine Woods Initiative, which at the time was a burgeoning broader land conservation effort.

IMG_8239

The AMC website offers a succinct description of our Maine efforts:

The Maine Woods Initiative is the Appalachian Mountain Club’s strategy for land conservation in the 100-Mile Wilderness region. The Initiative is an innovative approach to conservation that combines outdoor recreation, resource protection, responsible forestry, and community partnerships. To date, AMC has purchased and permanently conserved 70,000 acres of forest land, created over 120 miles of recreational trails, opened three sporting camps to the public, established an FSC®-certified responsible forestry operation, and developed a partnership with local Piscataquis County schools. 

IMG_8240

Debbie and I have been AMC volunteers dating back to the early 2000’s, and this is my third year serving as a director. I was thrilled to return to Medawisla and see its improved operations during my favorite season of the year. The foliage in west-central Maine peaked weeks ago, but there was still some color in the trees. Not all the leaves had fallen.

IMG_8241

There was snow on the ground when we arrived, and the Nor’easter that walloped New England on Saturday brought several more inches of the wet white precipitation on Saturday afternoon and evening.

IMG_8257

Last Thursday, I spent the day at work and then in the late afternoon, picked up Dalia at school, and then we went to Windham High School to cheer the Bolton Center School Cross Country Team (Boys and Girls) at their middle school league championships. Shepard is a 6th grader on the team and Debbie is the coach. I was home by 6:30 P.M., packed the car, and hit the road again. I was in Portland by 10:00 P.M. and stopped for the night at my Aunt Terry’s house.

IMG_8262

Terry is always a great host. She didn’t visit Medawisla with us in 2017, but she was with us on the first part of that trip to Baxter State Park. After arriving in Portland, I didn’t stay up long. In the morning, we chatted a bit before I did my regular morning Huddles by phone. I had to answer some emails and do a little project work before we parted company.

IMG_8268

I drove to Greenville and got there in about three hours. I stopped a few times on the way, including once for gas. Each time, I checked my messages and did a little work knowing that once I got to Medawisla, my connection with civilization was going to be a bit weaker.

IMG_8271

Just past Greenville, I stopped at Lily Bay State Park. The gate was closed, but I parked at a turnout a little farther up the main road. I pulled out my bicycle and changed into riding gear. I rode 25 minutes back towards Greenville until I reached the high point where there were great views of Moosehead Lake.

IMG_8272

On the return trip to the car, I made a detour into the park and rode down to the lake’s edge. My ride took 65 minutes and then I hopped back in the car for the final 45 minute drive to Medawisla. I got there about 2:30 P.M. in time for the official start of the meeting.

IMG_8275

The lodge operations have come a long way since that first weekend in 2017. There is an established “croo” and they were awesome. The croo’s cooking was excellent–I’ve never had better food at an AMC facility. At the  Maine lodges, the food itself has become a draw. The staff was very accommodating of my vegan diet. They not only served me sides, but they made unique vegan offerings that mimicked each course served to the omnivores.

IMG_8276

The board meeting itself was very productive and educational. With the Maine theme, we talked a lot about the forest economy and the tourist economy. Both are key to the state’s fortunes. AMC has done a lot to spur economic development in Piscataquis County through sustainable forestry and through recreation. Both efforts are core to our mission.

IMG_8278

We got to hear from expert leaders involved with economic development, forestry investment, higher education, and the outdoor apparel/gear business. We also learned more about the evolution of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. AMC’s focus has been on the 100 Mile Wilderness, which is the last (or first) 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail extending to/from Mt. Katahdin in Baxter State Park.

IMG_8280

These lands have been heavily used as an industrial forest over the last two centuries. The timber, paper, and pulp industries are much smaller and the communities in this region have fallen on hard times. Many mills have closed. However, the remaining ones are seeing new investment. Folks in Maine realized long ago that the economy can’t just be dependent on logging, but needs a boost from other sectors, including tourism.

IMG_8281

Though I grew up in Connecticut, half of my family’s roots are in Maine, so I’ve always been an interested observer. My mother grew up in Upper Frenchville in Aroostook County, the northernmost part of Maine. I have many cousins, aunts, and uncles who still live in Maine. My grandparents are gone, but I always enjoyed visiting them. It was a long drive–500 miles–from my home to theirs, but it was through a beautiful landscape. I miss those days of piling in to the back of our family car and heading north.

IMG_8285

On Friday night, we got to look through the lodge’s telescope. It was a “homemade” model, but not a hack job by any means. It was made by a noted scientist and it was awesome. It was only a few days after the full moon and it was clear, so we got a great look at the surface and all its craters. AMC is working on International Dark Sky designation for our Maine project and facilities. This would be a great accomplishment as Dark Sky destinations are sought out by astronomy buffs.

IMG_8289

At Medawisla, I saw some of the local landscape. I got out early both on Saturday and Sunday morning for short runs on the nearby trails. They were cut with cross-country skiing in mind, so they were wide and easy to follow. There are many old logging roads in the area that are also used as trails, especially in winter. In the north country, there has always been conflict between motorized and non-motorized recreation. Both are important to Maine. I won’t wade into this debate, but it’s worth noting that there is a shift towards more non-motorized activities including hiking, cycling, skiing, paddling, and fly fishing. ATV’s and snowmobiles are still seen all over the state, but their popularity is reported to be waning as demographics change.

IMG_8199

On Saturday afternoon, some of us ventured out and toured the other two lodges. We first drove to Gorman Chairback Lodge and Cabins and walked around. Then we drove over to Little Lyford Lodge and Cabins. They are about eight miles apart, but separated by rough and unplowed logging roads. The entire trip took about three hours. By the time we got to Little Lyford, it was snowing heavily. These facilities close during the shoulder season as they prepare for winter and as the roads become impassable. Both Gorman and Little Lyford will reopen right after Christmas, whereas Medawisla (the access road is plowed) will remain open. Gorman and Little Lyford are a bit more rustic than Medawisla, have their own character, and are in beautiful spots. In the winter, you park about eight miles away and the only way to get to the camps is on your skis or snowshoes. Staff hauls in your extra gear using the snowmobiles.

IMG_8292

AMC is fortunate to have an amazing team of full-time employees. The entire Maine Woods Initiative “croo” that hosted us were informative, helpful, inspiring, and gracious. They are passionate about their work and great representatives for AMC’s conservation, education, and recreation mission. A trip to Maine would be well worth your time and effort.

IMG_8209

I was disappointed to not get out on Second Roach Pond like we did in the summer of 2017. I wanted to paddle some, but the lake was already iced over and conditions weren’t good for water-sports. My only other regret from the weekend is that I didn’t have time to try the Medawisla sauna. Now I have another good reason to go back!

2018 Belltown CX

This past Saturday, we returned to the fantastic and grassroots oriented Belltown CX in East Hampton, Connecticut. This was the second time we have done Belltown as a family. This well-run event is hosted by the crew from the Stage 1 Cycling Team. They did a fabulous job with the race, leveraging community support for a fun prize list that had a local theme.

IMG_8137

It was an all-day affair for me. Dahlia and Shepard raced the Cub Juniors at 8:45 A.M., and 9:15 A.M. respectively.  I raced the Zanconato Single Speed Cyclo-Cross Trophy Series at 3:30 P.M. The race didn’t start until about 3:45 P.M., so it was a long day. I brought my laptop, made some phone calls, and did some work from the van in between the races.

IMG_8132

We had a large turnout from Team Horst Sports and the CCAP Team Horst Junior Squad, so in between the Livingston Family races, there were other teammates to cheer for.

IMG_8122

It was a beautiful fall day and though the foliage colors have been muted, the leaves were still nice to look at. The day started out misty and cool. The sun was poking out by afternoon, but it remained cool and breezy. The course that wound through Nelson’s Family Campground was fun and challenging. Last year, there were a few sketchy corners with high-speed turns on gravel. That resulted in some unfortunate crashes. This year, aside from one bad corner (that was fixed after the first races) the course was challenging, but safer.

IMG_8138

East Hampton is known as Belltown because of its long history of bell making. Bevin Bells is one of the last remaining manufacturers. They sponsored the race, providing some cool prizes. Earlier this year, Debbie worked with Bevin Bells to provide prizes for the Shenipsit Striders Soapstone Mountain Trail Races. They did a great job for that race too.

IMG_8090

Shepard and Dahlia both had good races and they liked the course too. I focused on the single speed race as I was chasing Zank Series points. My legs were still tired from last weekend’s Gran Prix of Gloucester, when I raced Masters all-out on both Saturday and Sunday. I even raced a Zank Series race at Crosstobeerfest on Wednesday evening, but that was more like a mid-week speed workout. At Belltown, I managed fifth place, after both gaining and losing a spot in the last two of six laps. I was happy not to flat.

IMG_8139

There was a set of logs on the upper part of the course that were easy to jump, but I still “chicken out” on the first three laps despite practicing it on pre-ride. That cost me some time. However, on the last three laps, I got up the courage (not a big deal) and was able to clear them without dismounting. I knew that Shepard had jumped them every lap, and I couldn’t let my kid get away with showing me up completely!

IMG_8136

Special thanks to Jacob Kravitz and the rest of the Stage 1 team. They did a great job. I’ve got a weekend free of cyclocross coming up, but I’ll be back at it with double Zank Series races at Cheshire and Putney. Until then, #crossisboss

Race Results

2018 Crosstobeerfest

At 5:50 P.M. last night, just as the Zanconato Single Speed Cyclo-Cross Trophy Series racers were staging, a wicked squall blew through Raynham, Massachusetts at Crosstobeerfest.

IMG_8059

This is one of three notable mid-week New England cyclocross events. In past years, I’ve done The Night Weasels Cometh and the Midnight Ride of Cyclocross (ironically moved to a Saturday in 2018), but this was my first Crosstobeerfest.

It was a lively event on an interesting night. I worked at Horst Engineering’s Massachusetts operations in Lynn (Sterling Machine) all day, and then headed south around 3:30 P.M. only to run into the teeth of Boston traffic. For a while, Google Maps was telling me that I might even miss the 6:00 P.M. start. Then, I did some alternative routing, and ended up arriving around 5:30 P.M. That didn’t leave me with much time to change, register, and warm up.

IMG_8064

I rushed and was ready to go at 10-of, when ominous clouds on the horizon made their way over the Borden Colony fields. In an instant, the wind kicked up with some huge gusts and rain pelted down. The force of the wind felt like a gale, and over a five-minute period, large sections of the course tape were blown down. Several tents were at risk of flying away, and people took cover. The organizers delayed the start of the singlespeed race. We eventually started at 6:23 P.M. and by then, the sun had set.

The darker sections of the course had temporary lighting from rental units, like what you would see on a construction site. The course itself was flat and fast with some significant mud. The mud was tacky and sticky. On the far side of the fields, the mud was so thick that running was a better option. My medium Cross Spikes were a perfect choice. I chose to shoulder my bike for the first section, briefly get back on and ride the in-between section, and then run again until I got through the worst of the mud. The course had a set of steps and three sets of barriers, so you were on and off your bike more than usual. I love this kind of course.

IMG_8062

With the singlespeed bike and all the twists and turns, I wasn’t able to get my heart rate up to high. It didn’t feel like much of a workout, but that was perfect because my legs are still smarting from last weekend’s smashfest in Gloucester. With a work day, a two-hour drive, and minimum warmup, I wasn’t on my A game, but I still pushed. I ended up in no-man’s land by the third lap and had no one to ride with. I worked my way through lapped traffic, but never closed the gap to the guys in front of me and finished in 10th place. That will help boost my series points, which is good.

There was a cool beer garden with food trucks and a live band, but I went straight to the car to change and depart. Thursday was another work day and I had another two hours in the car to get home. I got out of there early and made it home by 9:15 P.M. The elite men’s race wasn’t set to go off until 8:00 P.M. They were set to race in total darkness.

IMG_8065

Kudos to the organizers for putting together a fun event. The chip timing and intant results was appreciated too. Racing cross at night is a lot of fun and I love the vibe of these mid-week events. I hope to return to Crosstobeerfest in 2019 and take part in more of the festivities.

Race Results

2018 Gran Prix of Gloucester

Every year, the Gran Prix of Gloucester is the biggest cyclocross race in New England. It is occasionally referred to as the “world championships of New England.” It draws the best competition and with that, comes bragging rights in the region.

IMG_7976

Team Horst Sports and the CCAP Team Horst Junior Squad ventured to Cape Ann on the north shore of Massachusetts for the 20th anniversary of this classic. For me, it was a mixed bag. My form is reaching a peak, and I’m stoked about that, but on Sunday, misfortune hit me again as I flatted with 2.5 laps to go on the gnarly course. I was riding strong, just inside the top 40 overall, in a field of 105 Masters 40+ and Junior 15-18 year old racers. Since when is top 40 “riding strong?”

IMG_7955

When you are Gloucester. The competition was fierce and the racing was flat-out. I was a long way from the pit, and had to run more than half a lap to get to my bike, which is my singlespeed. So, the last two laps were like a parade for me, just trying to finish. With the singlespeed on this course, there was only so fast I could go. I couldn’t make up any ground and truthfully, lost two more spots even after I pitted. In total, I lost nearly 25 spots. Oh well.

IMG_8020

Alas, that was not the highlight of the weekend. Saturday went better for me, despite the extreme conditions. Our 11:30 A.M. race was cold, rainy, and very muddy. It made for some of the toughest cross conditions in memory. I managed 36th in the stacked field of 102 riders. I was the 21st Masters rider. There were 15 Juniors in front of me, and they were very fast. I was satisfied with this result because I often struggle in muddy and slick conditions. I hung in there and was able to beat all but one of the group of six that I was battling with over the last two laps.

IMG_8005

Most of them were juniors, including the one guy who got away from us with 1.5 laps to go. I gave it my all, and led our group for the entire last lap and a half, stringing them out in the process. I nearly caught that lone rider on the line too, and finished only one second behind him. On Saturday, I had good power and that is why Sunday’s result was so frustrating. I felt even better yesterday in the dry and cool conditions, and normally have a strong second day when we have a double race weekend.

IMG_8001

The rest of the team also had a good weekend. Despite Saturday’s rain and cold, we enjoyed the beauty of Stage Fort Park. We did a few rides up the coast and around the point in East Gloucester. The cool down after yesterday’s race was another highlight because three of the Junior Squad members joined us for the coastal ride and we all enjoyed the ocean views.

IMG_8024

On Day 1, some of us hung around all day, and the weather improved. By late afternoon, the skies had cleared and the sun was shining brightly. We watched the Elite Women and then the Elite Men. The guys had a great battle and it was a very entertaining race to watch.

IMG_8052

It was a lot of work to pack up, but the entire team spent time together at a local hotel. We shared a fun meal and recounted the first day. Day 2 was all about the racing, and then we packed up again, with most of us leaving early in the afternoon before the racing was over. Two races 2.5 hours from home on an October weekend is a lot. However, for Gloucester, it was worth the effort.

IMG_8047

Shepard had a fine weekend, finishing 20th on Sunday and 19th on Saturday in a strong Cub Juniors 9-14 field that shared the course as the same time as the Category 4/5 Women. He got to ride in traffic and experienced the excitement of Gloucester for the second year in a row. Sean Rourke, Boden Chenail, Lars Roti, Owen Lezon, and Ethan Lezon all had good rides. So did the children of other Team Horst members: Nate Summers, Amanda Meyerle, and Johnny Meyerle (in the combined Masters/Juniors race with me).

IMG_8043

On the Masters side, Art Roti, John Meyerle, Brett Chenail, Wade Summers, Dave Geissert, and Keith Enderle all raced hard. Dave got the “flat bug” like I did. Other than our misfortune, the other guys were strong. Tim Rourke did yeoman’s work as a course marshal, with the awesome finish line location. His volunteer work was a symbol of our experience at Gloucester. It was all good.

IMG_7980

Race Results, Day 1

Race Results, Day 2


Horst Engineering Family of Companies

Cross Spikes™

Instagram

Three fun videos from the @nohocx Juniors 9-14 year old race this morning. These kids are all champs! @the_ccap #teamhorstjuniorsquad #horstengineering @victuscoffee @bicycleseastct #teamhorstsports #crossspikes #cyclocross #crossisboss
Last night’s @lutzmuseum Children’s #Poetry Reading was lovely. Our little #poet thrives in environments like this.
Good sunrise 🌅 ride. The extra sleep 💤 helped. The leaves 🍁 were lovely. #connecticut residents: Vote YES on Question # 2 #openspace #valleyfalls #boltonheritagefarm #cycling #hiking #trailrunning #sevencycles @ctforestandparkassociation 🚴‍♀️
🍁 ☀️ #october #autumn
On my drive to #Medawisla for an @appalachianmountainclub board meeting, I made calls until I lost cell service. Then I made a stop for a quick ride along #mooseheadlake #maine got snow yesterday and more is on the way. #sevencycles #appalachianmountainclub #cycling #bicycle 🚲
Despite recent headwinds impacting the #manufacturing sector (and the rest of the economy), I was happy to represent @horsteng and hear positive perspectives from three #Connecticut business leaders at the @ctsciencecenter The @shopfloornam hosted the heads of three stalwart businesses: @Unitedtechnologiescorp @barnesgroupinc and @stanleyblackdecker for a discussion about where manufacturing has come from, where it is headed, and how we are going to collectively solve the skilled workforce challenge. #precisionmachining #aerospace #horstengineering
Good fun at the #belltowncx with #teamhorstsports and the @the_ccap #teamhorstjuniorsquad #cyclocross #crossspikes Good work by the @stage1cycling crew. Much appreciated. @zanksscx #zanksscc
The @gpgloucester #gpgcx was a lot of fun. #teamhorstsports #teamhorstjuniorsquad @seven_cycles #sevencycles #crossspikes @bicycleseastct #cyclocross
Another great @vermont50 in the books. #vermont50 #teamhorstsports #shenipsitstriders #crossspikes #trailrunning #ultrarunning #mountainbiking

Follow me on Twitter

Categories

Archives

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 334 other followers