Seven Cycles Tour

Today I returned to Seven Cycles for another fun tour of their Watertown, MA factory. This time, I was joined by friends from Team HORST Sports and the CCAP Team HORST Junior Squad, including my son Shepard. Earlier this year, our bicycle shop sponsor (and recently new Seven Cycles dealer) Bicycles East, hosted a fantastic open house with several custom bikes on display.

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I periodically write about Seven Cycles because I’ve had a long affiliation with the custom bicycle frame builder. They are one of my favorite bicycle industry companies. Taking the kids from our mountain biking/cyclocross squad was an awesome idea. They were thrilled. We had mountain bike practice last night at Rye Street Park, and regrouped today to see how custom mountain bikes are made.

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One of the coolest things we saw was Seven’s new Mobius full suspension mountain bike. I ride I rigid singlespeed Seven, and even I though the Seven Suspension Technology was cool.

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I’ll never turn down a shop tour, and even though I’ve been through the Seven plant on multiple occasions, I always learn something new. It was a real treat for Shepard to see where his parents’ bikes were built.

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He and I had a good day trip to the Boston area. I had to swing by my regular hotel in Danvers to pick up an item that I left in my room last week. Then, we visited HORST Sterling Machine, our MA Operations, for more metalworking excitement. It was great to see the crew. Our CT Operations were closed today, and that is what made the Boston area trip possible. We were open in MA because that plant site gets Presidents Day off instead. He and I were back on the road by 3:00 P.M. and he got a taste of what Boston traffic is all about. I frequently talk about the pain and suffering of the Mass Pike. He got to experience it first hand.

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Anyway, it was a fun day. Thanks goes to the folks at Seven Cycles for hosting us. Anytime I see something neat Made in USA, I get pumped and you could tell that the kids felt the same way.

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2019 Traprock 50K+ (and 17K)

I returned to run the Traprock 50K for the first time in five years. I did the race in 2011, 2013, and 2014. Debbie has done the race many more times. Today, we both ran, and ran together. Shepard also completed his first ever 10+ mile trail race–he did the one lap 17K.

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This was my first ultra since breaking my leg in January 2018, so it was  a real test. My last ultra was in April 2017 at the Promiseland 50K++. This + and ++ thing is worth noting. At Promiseland, the distance was definitely more than 50K. At Traprock, the revised course (my first time doing this tougher loop) is longer than 17K. Also today, I made a wrong turn on the first lap that added some mileage to my day.

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At the time of my error, I was in front of Debbie, but I ended up behind her, and it took two hours to catch up with her. Once I did, we stuck together as we were fairly evenly matched. I was stronger on the climbs, and she was much stronger on the descents. That gave her the advantage because the finish of the loop is a wicked rocky and rooted descent. She scorched it and I was a half a minute back. We finished in just over 6 hours and 35 minutes. She was 2nd placed woman and she joked that she was the first “old woman.” This is her 20th year of ultramarathon trail running.

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My best time on the shorter/easier version of the Traprock course is under five hours, but that was years ago at the tail end of my 30’s. I’m definitely a master runner now and I lack the endurance (and flexibility) to run these distances as fast as I used to. It hurts (my legs) too much.

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We were really proud of Shepard. Both Debbie and I got to see him on his run. He finished in a little more than two hours for the one loop and was happy. He had a young running companion and they stuck together. Dahlia hung out at the aid station. She is an old pro at crewing and apparently she had a lot of “sweets” because when we finished, one of the other aid station captains took pleasure in “snitching” on her. It was all good fun.

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My GPS had more than 6,300 feet of elevation gain. The trail was a real mix. Some sections were dry. Other sections were absolute quagmires. The mud bogs were intense because we had heavy rain overnight. It was still drizzling when we arrived at Penwood State Park around 7:30 A.M., but by the start an hour later, it was just misting. It remained overcast for the first four hours or so, but then the sun came out and it really warmed up (for April). I actually got a little sun.

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The heat took its toll on the runners as there were quite a few DNF’s. I had my moments where I thought, “Uh oh,” and was worried about not finishing too, but I persevered and got it done. My fastest lap was the second lap because I was running hard to make up the 10-15 minutes that I lost with the wrong turn. It was my error. I totally missed an arrow. pointing right. The course has several overlapping sections and it is narrow so you are often on a parallel trail. I saw yellow flags and followed them, but after three-quarters of a mile I hadn’t seen anyone in front or behind. I ended up on the return direction of the trail. I turned back and collected three other runners about five minutes later. They had also missed the turn, but they insisted the were going the right way, and I couldn’t convince them otherwise. I heard they may not have turned around until they reached the next aid station. For laps two and three, there was a course marshal at that spot, but no one was there on lap one and it cost me!

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That’s not a knock. The volunteers were amazing and particularly that woman at that spot. I wish I knew her name, but we saw her twice a lap and she was so cheerful and encouraging, yelling and cheering for us as we passed by. I loved it. The aid stations were stocked, but I did the whole race with water, Tailwind, and Skratch. I brought the Tailwind with me, but when I ran out, I used the Skratch that they supplied. I didn’t eat any solid food. I took four salt capsules over the course of the race, and generally felt good about my fueling strategy.

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They had some good vegan pizza at the finish, so after my body calmed down and after I drank some Vega for recovery, I ate a LOT of pizza…and chips too. It was fun to see many of our trail running friends. The Shenipsit Striders were out in force. This was the first race in the 2019 Connecticut Blue-Blazed Trail Running Series.

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I carried my iPhone, but only got a few photos because it was wet, slippery, and I couldn’t get the touch screen to work very well. I wish I got some photos of the mud. Just imagine shin deep muck for a 50 meters. There were many sections like this. It was shoe sucking mud and there was no avoiding it. By the end of the race, I was just trudging through. I was too tired to look for a rock or two to step on.

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I’m sure my legs will be wrecked for a few days, maybe more. I needed a long day in the woods. It was therapeutic. The suffering helps me reconnect and the mind games are always fun to play. I was thinking about one of my favorite recent books: Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance. I loved the book and it helped me get through a tough Traprock 50K.

Race Results (50K)

Race Results (17K)

2019 Hop Brook MTB Race

The Hop Brook MTB Race kicked off the 2019 season. It was the first race in the CCAP Spring MTB Series. It was my first mountain bike race since last year’s Vermont 50. However, I rode a full cyclocross season from August through December, so I was ready to go.

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The CCAP Team Horst Junior Squad kicked off their season in style with seven of our riders competing on the demanding course. Hop Brook is known for rocks. There are several descents that can be terrifying.

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It was a family affair for us. Dahlia came to watch while Debbie, Shepard, and I competed. Debbie and Shepard each scored 2nd in their age groups. They were on the course at the same time, and at one point Shepard caught up to his Mom and before he left her in the dust, I got a good photo of the two of them together. I did fine in the competitive singlespeed division. I kind of have my own division because I also ride a fully rigid bike (no suspension).

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I’ve been hemming and hawing about replacing my stiff carbon fork with a cushy suspension fork. It would certainly take the edge off as my shoulders, neck, and back suffer some serious pounding with my current setup. I looked to be the only one riding rigid, but that’s how I roll, at least for now.

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We had nice weather. It was cool, but sunny and the course was only wet in a few spots. The trails were in good shape, but as noted, very rocky. When we race at Winding Trails in two weeks, the course will feel easy compared to what we just experienced.

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Once again, the Laurel Bicycle Club and the crew from D’Aniello’s Amity Bicycle did a fine job at promoting this event. The only drag was the race results. They simply got botched and there is no reason for that in 2019. The technology exists to inexpensively produce spot on results within minutes after a race. Some events now have real-time results. Contrast Saturday’s adventure with Sunday’s. On Saturday, we did the Finally Spring 5K and with chip timing, we had flawless results literally seconds after the race was complete. On Sunday, the manual results were slow and they were wrong.

It’s no fun to end a post on a sour note, so kudos to the volunteers and racers for a fun day on the trails.

Race Results (will be posted when online)

2019 Finally Spring 5K Trail Race

Yesterday we launched our spring athletics campaign at the Finally Spring 5K Trail Race. The Manchester Running Company puts on some fun local events and this one was less than 10 minutes from our house.

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We have done it several times. It’s at the Porter/Howard Reservoir. Most of the course is on trails. Dahlia ran the one mile kids race and had a blast. Debbie, Shepard, and I did the 5K and had an equally good time.

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We saw several friends from the Shenipsit Striders and Silk City Striders. We brought home some age group awards, which was nice. I haven’t run hard in a long time. I missed last year’s race because of my broken leg. My left ankle still isn’t right, but the more activity I do, the more it should loosen up. It’s good that it is finally spring.

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Race Results

Bolton Land Trust Event: Plant-Based Snacks on the Go

Today Debbie hosted a Bolton Land Trust event at the Bolton Congregational Church. It was titled: Plant-Based Snacks on the Go

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I’m pretty fortunate to live in a household where my partner takes healthy cooking and eating seriously. The benefits extend to our kids, other family, and the community. She is putting even more effort into healthy cooking and nutrition as it becomes a bigger part of her career. Over the next few months, her website will evolve to include more resources related to culinary nutrition.

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Last fall, she went back to “school,” and graduated from the Academy of Culinary Nutrition. The Culinary Nutrition Expert Program was demanding, and she put a lot of effort into it. After more than four months of online coursework, live webinars, and lots of homework, she went on to become a certified instructor.

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The food at our house has been awesome. Her new skills are benefiting our entire family and we have learned more too.

Today, she taught three recipes to a group of 35 participants who attended the free event. She made Roasted Chick Peas, Strawberry Chia Pudding, and Chocolate Nut and Seed Energy Balls. These are three of her original recipes and are part of a regular rotation of both sweet and savory snacks at our house.

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She uses the best ingredients, which means mostly organic and locally sourced when possible. She offered practical information about how and where to find these items at the grocery store, at the co-op, or online.

We are almost exclusively plant-based at home. Our entire family is vegetarian. Debbie has been vegetarian for more than 25 years. I’ve been vegetarian for more than 20 years. The kids have been vegetarian since they were born. Nine years ago, I also gave up dairy and eggs, so my diet would be described as vegan. Debbie only cooks with plants, though we don’t restrict the kids from dairy and eggs if they consume them outside of the house, and ideally if they know the source of the food.

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This isn’t as easy with kids when they eat at school, at friends’ home, at restaurants, and at events. We aren’t militant about it, but they know that meat, fish, poultry or any other animal are not part of their diets. The dairy is particularly hard to police and we are understanding about it, especially when pizza is being served.

The answer to a common question is, “I feel great.” I’ve been plant-based for a long time now and if you are a follower of this blog, I’m pretty active. My diet is a key to my health, my strength, and my consistent athletic performance. I’m proud of my lifestyle which also benefits animals and the environment.

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I’m glad that Debbie was invited to share some of her wisdom with members of our community.

CULTRA Trail Running Podcast

I just finished listening to Episode 13 of the CULTRA Trail Running Podcast. The guest was Debbie Livingston, my spouse. The host of CULTRA is Art Byram, a longtime friend from the running community.

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I had nothing to do with this interview. About a month ago, she asked me to stay with the kids while she went to Art’s house to record the episode. I didn’t know anything about CULTRA prior to her episode. I’ve been a little out of touch and spending less time on social media.

She returned, told me it went well, and that was that. After Art published the episode, it took me a few weeks to remember to listen. I finally got to it yesterday. I jumped on the spin bike after work and cued up the episode. I didn’t finish until my outdoor bike ride this afternoon.

It was really good and I highly recommend it. I’m biased but Art was a good host and Debbie was a good guest. Last fall, I posted about her appearance on episode 4 of the Trail Running Women Podcast. That was also a good interview.

Art covered a wide range of topics with Debbie and it made me smile. I knew all the stories that she shared, but it was fun to hear them through my AirPods. Art and I have a had a few adventures together in the past. One notable adventure was mentioned on the podcast. Nearly nine years ago in 2010, he and I did the second half of the annual Shenipsit Striders–Shenipsit Trail End-to-End Run. We got to know each other better over the course of 25+ miles on one of my favorite trails.

So if you want to learn a bit more about trail running, the ultra community, mental strength, healthy eating, family relationships, women in sport, and a variety of other topics, then check out the episode.

Check out the main CULTRA Trail Running site for all past and future episodes.

Killington, VT

Last weekend, we squeezed in a great family ski/snowboard trip to Killington, Vermont. At three days, this was our longest ever winter alpine adventure. We had been skiing/riding two days in a row a few times, but never three.

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The conditions were pretty good for New England in February. The kids did half day lessons on Saturday and Sunday. Both of those days, the weather was cold and windy (particularly in the morning), but the sky was clear and the sun shone brightly. We rented a condo right off the main Killington access road. We were able to walk to Snowshed and Rams Head base lodges in the morning and we could ski/ride back in the afternoon as a trail went right to the complex.

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On Monday, it snowed about five inches, so there was a layer of thin powder on the slopes. We had a lot of fun spending time going up and down the mountain together. Debbie and the kids ride and I ski.

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Both kids’ skills are progressing nicely. While the kids were in lessons, Debbie and I got a few long runs in together. It was great to be at Killington for the first time in a long time. I only skied there once, and that was 30 years ago. After that trip (my first ever), I didn’t ski for more than 10 years. Then, I had another long break before getting into skiing more seriously as a 40+ year old.

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Debbie is a Killington pro. When I met her in 1999, she was a snowboard instructor at Killington. It was her third season in Vermont. In those days, she spent a lot of time on the mountain. My relationship with Killington is more as a summer adventurer. I did the Killington Stage Race (road cycling) six times (1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, and 2000). That’s a lot of Vermont bicycle racing!

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Both of us did the Killington Klimb in 2003. That was a unique Memorial Day Weekend trail running race from base to summit. You were allowed to take any route you wanted and the winner was the first one to the top. Debbie and I also summited Killington during our Long Trail End-to-End hike in 2005. Each morning of our recent trip, she and I got out for a run/ruck. On the last day, we saw a great sunrise.

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We love the Killington area and have fond memories from all of these past adventures. It was great to share them with the kids.

 


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Yesterday, members of the @the_ccap #teamhorstjuniorsquad toured @seven_cycles It was a great experience for these young rippers! #sevencycles #horstengineering #teamhorstsports #mountainbiking #cyclocross #manufacturing #bicycle #titanium #madeinusa 🚲 🇺🇸
Lots of fun and suffering at today’s #traprock50K @trailrunningmom and I spent most of our 6 hours and 35 minutes in the woods together. Even Shepard got into the act...running the one lap 17K race. #shenipsitstriders @shenipsitstriders #teamhorstsports @ultraspire #ultraspire #bbtrs19 @blue_blazed_trail_series #trailrunning #ultrarunning
I was on an early morning run 🏃🏿in #blueash Ohio and came upon a town line sign indicating their sister city is #ilmenau 🇩🇪 Germany. My late grandfather, Harry Livingston (aka Horst Liebenstein) founder of @horsteng is an alumnus of @tu.ilmenau and native of #badliebenstein He earned bachelors and masters degrees 🎓in Mechanical Engineering from that school. Several years ago I visited his former home 🏠 but didn’t make it to Ilmenau. At least I’ve been to Blue Ash! #horstengineering
Sunday Livingston Family #quadrathlon #mountainbiking 🚵‍♂️ #trailrunning 🏃🏽‍♀️ #swimming 🏊‍♂️ #rockclimbing 🧗‍♀️ #teamhorstjuniorsquad #teamhorstsports #shenipsitstriders
Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but...I disagree. Build More Bike Paths! $$$$$$$$$ #carfreecommute #bikepath #railtrail #eastcoastgreenway #sevencycles #teamhorstsports #crossspikes #trails 🚴🏽🏃🏽‍♀️
@troop25ct held another successful annual Joining Night open house highlighting the learning, leadership, and adventure that define Scouts. #skiing 🎿#snowboarding 🏂#mountainbiking 🚵‍♂️ #hiking 🏃🏾 #camping ⛺️ #rockclimbing 🧗‍♂️ #firstaid #cooking #canoeing 🛶 #leathercraft #swimming 🏊🏽‍♀️ #cycling 🚴🏽 @boyscoutsofamerica @thecubscouts #boyscouts #cubscouts
Just happened to be walking by the restaurant where @trailrunningmom and I had our first date in 1999! We dropped off two-dozen old pairs of #trailrunning shoes next door. I eat a lot less pizza these days, and when I do, it’s #vegan so we are headed to @floraweha for dinner instead. 🏃‍♀️ 👠 ☔️
#happynewyear @shenipsitstriders #shenipsitstriders #trailrunning #teamlivingston 🏃‍♀️
So content after our first family #skiing and #snowboarding #adventure in nearly two years. I missed last season with a bum leg. It was great to see that the kids progressed nicely during my absence from the slopes. We are looking forward to more mountain fun. @jiminypeak #jiminypeak #jiminypeeks #familybusiness #berkshires 🎿🏂 🏔

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