2017 Manchester Road Race

The weather for today’s 81st running of the Manchester Road Race was spectacular. It was cold at the start, but he brilliant sunshine warmed things up just enough to make it a great Thanksgiving Day on the roads of Manchester. This was my 28th MRR and my 23rd in a row.

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A few weeks back, Fox 61 News interviewed me as part of  a series that they did on longtime MRR runners. The premise was to share your favorite part of the course and talk about your MRR experiences. Naturally, the hill, near the top, is my favorite part of the course. It’s closest to my house in Bolton a few miles up the road and a pivotal point in every race.

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I really do love this race. Today, I shadowed my son, Shepard. It was only the third time that I haven’t “raced” Manchester. It was tough to hold back because I entered a new age group (45-49) this year, and my previous times would have had me on the podium (likely 2nd) for that division.

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That’s OK, the race has become a family affair for me. I’ll get a chance to run it again in the future. I’ve been doing a lot of cyclocross, but counting today, I’ve only run six times in the past month for a total of 25 miles. I would have had to race on guts today, which isn’t a problem for me, but it was smarter to keep an eye on Shep and save my legs for tomorrow’s (Black Friday) March Farm Cyclo Madness.

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Shep runs better on his own, so I started with him, but hung five seconds behind him the whole time, monitoring his progress and make sure he didn’t get tripped in the crowd of 12,000+ runners. I didn’t want to influence his race for better or worse. In the past, the presence of Debbie and I has resulted in meltdowns, especially when the effort got hard. Today, he ran a smart race, all on his own, with good pacing, and a strong finish. He had an Under 38 minutes seed card, and his goal was to break 35 minutes. He has improved every year and this year was no exception. He smashed his personal best, running 32:52 (gun time) for 8th in the 13 and under age group. He was very happy. He has two more years in this age group, so there is opportunity for improvement.

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He is into the stats, but I reminded him that the important thing is to continue to love to run. Right now, he is having a blast. I’ve seen a lot of kids burn out, but given our family passion for endurance sports, that is unlikely, especially if we balance the running with cycling, triathlon, hiking, and other fun activities. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t curious how much he and our daughter can improve.

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Debbie and Dahlia ran together and achieved their goal of breaking one hour for the event. They finished in 57:56. Dahlia’s legs hurt. Debbie taught her how to use a mantra, “strong and steady, strong and steady,” to get through the 4.748 mile course. I’ve heard that mantra a lot this year, and especially at the Hardrock 100 Mile Endurance Run and Cascade Crest 100 Mile Endurance Run.

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Shep’s legs are going to hurt too, so he has to relax before tomorrow’s cyclocross race. I think mine will be OK. I ran in Central Park in Manhattan on Tuesday, to soften them up a bit before today’s race. Early this morning, I went for a road bike ride and scouted the course in reverse. It was fun to see all the volunteers setting up the course and to see all the police involved with the pre-race security measures.

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We saw lots of friends, which isn’t hard to do in Manchester, and had a blast. Deb’s mother, Barbara Schieffer, is a superfan. She joined us to watch our bags and cheer us on. The Silk City Striders and Shenipsit Striders were out in force. I heard Shepard get some cheers from spectators and that motivated me too. It’s too soon to tell if I’ll run hard in 2018. I have to keep my streak going, and if I’m serious about running fast again, I’ll have to run more and ride less.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Race Results

2017 Supercross Cup

Team Horst Sports had a tremendous time at the Supercross Cup in Rockland County, New York. Both our Masters riders and the Team Horst Junior Squad did great rides on Day 1 (Saturday) and Day 2 (Sunday).

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The team behind Supercross Cup, led by Myles Romanow, deserve a lot of credit for putting on a fine event. My only wish is that more riders will pick this race weekend and put it on their calendar. The course is one of the best, if not the best, that we do in the Northeast.

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The crazy weather conditions (just like 2016) added to the epic nature of the event, but it has also made it hard on the organizers. With last year’s snow and wind, the course took a beating on Day 2. This year, Day 1 ended wet and muddy and it only got crazier from there. Today’s races actually got drier as the day went on, but the wind never let up. It was impossible to keep the course tape, stakes, and fencing from blowing away. Everything was blowing away, including our team tents, which got destroyed overnight when we left them unattended.

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Until today, I had never seen a garbage can blow across a cyclocross course, but there is always a first time for everything. The wind was nuts. It nearly blew some of the Junior riders off of their bikes. Speaking of Juniors, Myles and the team didn’t charge the Juniors a penny. At Supercross Cup, Juniors race free! That is a huge commitment to the future of our sports and that is another reason why we showed up with our squad.

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Sean, Shepard, and Lars raced the Junior 9-14 year old race both days. The girls and boys started a minute behind the Category 4/5 Women. It was great to see so many women on this course. They also had a Masters Women’s field and an Elite Women’s field. I knew it would be hard to draw the Massachusetts (and north) crowd, especially with the Shedd Park race in Lowell today; but I do wish they would travel south for a race at least once in a season! I also figured that the greater New York/New Jersey cross community was larger than it appears to be. With such a huge population center, we need more people to race cyclocross. Yesterday, there were 379 registered racers.

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I expected more for a Vittoria Northeast Cyclocross Series event (race five and six). Last week’s series race in Northampton drew 620 on Saturday and 572 on Sunday. With an 8:45 A.M. start for the Juniors on Saturday morning, we drove down after work on Friday night. That left me feeling a little tired. I pushed really hard at last weekend’s even in NoHo and was a bit under the weather this week. So, I came into the race with heavy legs and a scratchy throat. Arriving at the hotel 10:00 P.M. on Friday night didn’t do much to help me prepare for the race, but that’s how it goes.

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Saturday morning was freezing cold. Still, the kids did great. They course was mostly dry with a few slick spots. It is one of the hilliest courses in the Northeast, so you have to work for your result. The punchy climbs and steep descents are demanding. Yesterday’s course had beautiful flow, and you could really hammer some of the descents. A new expanded woods section added a nice section to the course.

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Our Masters team was well represented. Keith Enderle and Dave Geissert raced the Men’s 50+ event. Joining me in the Masters 40+, were Wade Summers, Art Roti, and John Meyerle. Tim Rourke raced the Men’s Category 4/5 race.

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I struggled the entire race. I never had any oomph. My legs literally felt like wood and the guys I normally stay with just rode away from me on the climbs. I hung tough, but spent the second half of the race in no man’s land. I was fairly frozen at the finish and just happy to have pushed hard.

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We hung out all afternoon. We had a heater in the tent, which took the edge off of the cold. Our tents were set up at the top of the hill by the only set of barriers on the course. We had a great vantage point and cheered for everyone loudly. By early afternoon, the rain had started to fall, turning the course into slippery muck. It was great to watch the Elite Women and Elite Men. We had many Cross Spikes™ ambassadors at the race. Cassie Maximenko had a great ride in the women’s event, finishing second. Horst Engineering’s toe spikes were all over the podium of the Elite Men’s race. Kerry Werner, Curtis White, and Cooper Wilsey were 1, 2, 3. It was great to see Jeremy Powers racing. He finished sixth. We had some inventory with us and helped out several riders who never used spikes before. They needed them today!

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Tim and Sean camped at the race venue, and they got to experience the wind storm as it rolled in. I awoke this morning to a texted photo of our mangled tents. We weighted them down before leaving the venue, but it wasn’t good enough. We should have known better and will have some work to do to repair them. That was a tough way to start the day, but at least it was warmer. We got back to Rockland Community College by 6:30 A.M. to help clean up the tent mess. The wind continued to roar, so we disassembled the remaining tents and stowed everything.

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It stopped raining by 8:00 A.M. when the first race went off, but the wind picked up. The course, which was being run in reverse, was waterlogged, and was very slippery. The thick mud was caking on gears, brakes, and tires. It was heavy too! The Juniors went at 8:45 A.M. again and they were super-heroes in the tough conditions. There were multiple off-camber sections that required a combination of delicate riding and intense running. It was great to watch them.

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Our same crew raced on Sunday, with one exception. Wade sat this one out. The rest of us were covered in mud, but everyone was smiling. Even Art, who thought about skipping, enjoyed the challenge. I had a better race, and felt that my legs were coming around by the last lap. The wind was fierce. In some spots, it threatened to blow me sideways. Even though I was going better than yesterday, I was still off the pace. I’m planning to rest a bit this week. I’m only going to jog the Manchester Road Race on Thanksgiving, because March Farm CX is on Black Friday.

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Cyclocross remains my favorite family friendly event. It was great to see both the Mattern and Grimm Families, who drove down from Rochester. When our boys weren’t racing, they were playing in the woods, building forts, jumping dirt piles, and playing games. The community college is a great venue. It was too bad that the organizers had to deal with today’s windstorm. The podium signage literally blew away. Everything blew away. If it wasn’t for the muddy track, you wouldn’t have been able to follow the course. The mud was a major factor, so navigation was a non-issue!

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We had a lot of cleanup. We first washed our bikes at the race, but then we really washed them at home. We decided to not stay for the afternoon races. We were home by 3:00 P.M. and it took a few hours to clean all our gear. We need to do laundry too.

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Race Results (Day 1)

Race Results (Day 2)

2017 Northampton International Cyclocross

We just wrapped up a hard weekend of racing at the 27th annual Northampton International Cyclocross in Massachusetts. This was the second back to back race weekend in the row. This was the second round of the Vittoria Northeast Cyclocross Series. The third round is next weekend, another double race weekend at the Supercross Cup in Rockland County, New York.

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Day 1

We drove up early in the morning to get to the Junior Boys and Girls 9-14 year old race. They were the second race of the day. Originally scheduled for 8:45 A.M., all of the races were pushed back 30  minutes because of the frigid temperatures. That helped us out because we drove from Bolton. It also helped the course soften up, a bit. Even still, the kids were frozen solid after 30 minutes on the Look Park course.

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The Team Horst Junior Squad was well represented. In addition to our son, Shepard, the field included Sean Rourke, Boden, Chenail, and Cole Ricardi. All of the boys had good races on the fast course.

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In the Masters 50+ race later in the morning, Team Horst Sports was represented by Dave Geissert, Keith Enderle, and Tom Ricardi. All three men rode strongly in the field of talented veteran racers.

I did the Masters 40+ race, which was combined with the 15-18 year old Juniors. This made for a very strong field. It was one of the most talented line-ups of the year. I had a good race, though it could have been better. I felt strong for a Saturday race, and after a good start, I pushed really hard. I was so close to breaking the Top 20, but couldn’t close the gap to a group of six riders who took places 15-21. I was pushing so hard on the last lap and felt like I was going to close the gap.

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I had attacked fellow Master Brian Girard and Junior Tommy Servetas and gotten a nice gap. It looked like I had a chance at getting on to the back of the group that was up ahead. I was counting the seconds and the gap to the last rider was between five and eight seconds. However, when I came into the fast twisty ball field section that had some muddy corners, I was definitely at my limit. I was taking a sharp right hand turn in the mud and cut it too close. My right shift/brake lever hooked a course stake and it jerked my handlebars to the right, which swept out my front wheel and sent me sliding in the mud. I had untangle my bike from the course tape, and get going again.

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In the process, Brian and Tommy shot past me. I worked hard for the rest of the lap to catch back up to them. There was no chance that we would catch the group in front of us, so I focused on staying with them. After I reconnected with Brian and Tommy, I went to the front and pulled them along. In the wide open field section that led to the finish, Tommy went past me and I grabbed his wheel to stay out of the wind. He led me into the last corner and then I came around him. It looked like I was going to take the sprint from them, but I didn’t shift up into a hard enough gear and Brian came up on my right and pipped me on the line. It was a photo finish. I was disappointed in my crash and then bummed about getting beat on the line, but 23rd was still a fantastic result.

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I was joined in the 40+ race by teammates Art Roti, Wade Summers, John Meyerle, Andris Skulte, and Brett Chenail. They all had fun on the classic course. We all went for a cool down on the rail trail and exchanged stories about our race. Afterwards, we spent the afternoon watching the rest of the races, including the kids race. Horst Engineering had two tents in the Race Expo and we met a lot of Cross Spikes™ customers.

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There was some great racing in the Elite Women and Elite Men’s races. The Juniors explored every corner of Look Park. Afterwards, several of us went to dinner in Northampton, before retiring for the night. Debbie, the kids, and I stayed at a local motel, which saved us the drive back to Bolton and set us up for a short commute this morning.

Day 2

Sunday was quite a bit warmer than Saturday. It was still a lot colder than it has been this fall, but it was better than yesterday. The race schedule was not altered, so the Cub Juniors went off at the scheduled 8:45 A.M. The course was reversed for Sunday’s races and it had a few more technical features, including a steeper run-up and a very steep (and gnarly) descent.

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Sean, Shepard, and Boden had good races. They were joined in the Junior 9-14 year old race by Team Horst Junior Squad members Lars Roti, Owen Lezon, and Ethan Lezon; who didn’t race on Saturday, but came out to battle on Sunday. The kids did great. It’s so much fun to watch them having fun before, during, and after the races. Look Park is such a great venue.

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Only Dave and Keith raced the 50+ race for us on Sunday. They improved on their Saturday results. Art, Wade, John, Brett, and I returned to do the 40+/15-18 Juniors on Sunday. I had a terrible start. 50 meters after the whistle blew, in an all out sprint, I “blew out” of both pedals. I’m not sure what happened, but I unclipped from both simultaneously, which resulted in my falling to my top tube. I nearly lost control of my bike, and came to a dead stop before getting my feet back on my pedals.

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More than 20 riders got past me, which was a real bummer. I lost more ground throughout the first lap as I pushed to make up ground. My heart rate skyrocketed and I was “all over my bike,” which means that I was not handling it well. Several other times, I was forced to get off my bike and navigate around downed riders. Being at the back of the field is a real disadvantage. I could have quit, and thought about it for a split second, before reminding myself that this is how some races go. I had an opportunity to recover from a bad start and still have a good race.

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Art had a strong start, so I marked him for most of the first lap, as I picked off one rider after another. Eventually, I settled down, got my heart rate under control, and started moving up through the field. Things opened up a bit more for me on lap two and I put on a huge charge, eventually passing another 15 riders between laps two and four. One of those riders was my friend and “nemesis,” Stan Lezon, who I always race hard. I was definitely exhausted from all of the effort, and nearly got into the top 30 with two laps to go, but on the steep technical descent, I took a bad line, grabbed too much brake, and went “cartwheeling” down the hill. I got some applause from spectators and compliments from Sean Goguen and Jaymz Lipinski, the two Junior riders who I was battling with.

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I had just passed Sean and Jaymz and was ready to put on one more charge, but the crash set me back. I had to work hard just to get back to them and I never made it. I stayed in front of the group behind me, but over the last half lap, I spent way too much time in the wind on my own. I didn’t get caught, and ended up 33rd, 10 spots behind yesterday. Tommy and Brian, my two foes from Saturday finished 17th and 25th respectively, so I was disappointed with my result, but still happy that I didn’t quit and made up a lot of ground after my awful start. What could have been!

I’ll get another shot at a clean race next weekend in New York. We hung out for most of the afternoon. It warmed up a bit under a strong (for November) sun. My Dad drove up to say hello, which was pretty cool. We had more Cross Spikes™  customers come by the tent. It took a while to pack everything up, but we were on the road by 3:00 P.M. This race deserves the attention it gets as the longest continuously running event in New England. Adam Myserson, Alec Donahue, J.D. Bilodeau, and all of their volunteers and crew hosted another excellent event.

The muddy course left me with a muddy bike, so when we got home tonight, Shepard and I cleaned our bikes. It’s always nice to go to bed knowing that you have a clean bike.

Race Results (Day 1)

Race Results (Day 2)

2017 Newtown Cyclocross p/b the CCAP and Team 26

Today’s Newtown Cyclocross p/b the CCAP and Team 26 was total radness. The new course at the Second Company Horse Guard Stables was short, but excellent. If they add a few more turns, this track will be even better. Just watch out for the horse poop!

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We had an awesome contingent from Team Horst Sports and the Team Horst Junior Squad. Since the race was co-promoted by The Connecticut Cycling Advancement Program (CCAP), there was a fantastic junior racer turnout. CCAP kids raced “free.” CCAP is an organization whose goal is to improve the lives of Connecticut’s youth and young adults through the sport of cycling. With the help of more experienced riders, the CCAP supports young people in cycling from our state’s high schools all the way to the top of the sport.

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Team 26 is another important part of this race. The team is a group of cyclists affected by the tragedy at Sandy Hook School who support common sense gun safety legislation. They inspired the Nation with their courageous ride from the Sandy Hook School to Washington D.C.

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In prior years, the race was held across the street at Fairfield Hills, but race promoter Monte Frank told me that the horse farm is the preferred venue for the future. I liked the course. “Undulating” would be a good description. It was also grassy, which in the constant drizzle, became a very challenging surface to navigate. I tasted a bit of that grass in my first head first slide on lap one of the Masters 40+ race.

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Once again, I had a super battle with my Bolton neighbor, Stan Lezon. I think he has 8 inches on me (height wise), but we are evenly matched when it comes to cyclocross. Yesterday’s battle at the Cheshire Cross was another classic in our long running series, and I came out on top. Today, he took advantage of my first lap fall, and held the gap to the finish. I nearly closed the gap with three laps to go, getting up to his rear wheel, only to see my chances go away with another fall on a hairpin turn. He pulled away again. I spent the last three laps chasing furiously and was wishing for one more lap because I was gaining on him. The race ended up short at 39 minutes, but after the first of six double race weekends over the next six weeks, I’m not complaining. I have to nurse my nose back to health!

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I wasn’t the only one to suffer a mishap. Joe Kubisek, was in the top three when he rolled his rear tire. I actually made a tire mistake today. I warmed up with my TUFO Flexus Cubus tires with are for muddy course. It wasn’t raining and I felt they were slow in the grass, so I switched to my TUFO Flexus Primus tires and I paid a steep price. They are OK in mud, but when the rain intensified, the course became treacherous and I was wishing for more grip. I ran relatively low pressure around 26 psi, but still had trouble. Thankfully, I didn’t have the problems that Joe had. I feel bad for him, but I’ve had my fair share of mechanical trouble this season. Hopefully that is behind me.

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Eneas Freyre took the win, just like yesterday. Travis Burleson made amends for yesterday’s crash, and took the second step on the podium in front of Stan. I ended up 4th. My teammates Wade Summers, Art Roti, and John Meyerle all had good races on a course that favored bike handlers. In the Masters 50+ race, Mike Wonderly was 2nd, just like yesterday. He was in the lead when he caught me (they started one minute behind us), but he bobbled and crashed, which allowed another rider to sneak past him. Mike is an amazing bike handler, so this course was made for him. I followed him until he crashed and marveled at his skills. I even noted to Wade as we chased that we needed to follow Mike’s lead. He is so good at turning his bike in slippery corners. Tom Ricardi also raced the 50+ and was strong. Even Tim Rourke got into the fun, racing in the Men’s 4/5 event.

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Shepard and the boys on the Team Horst Junior Squad had a blast. He was joined in the 9-12 year old race by Boden, Lars, Owen, and Ethan. In the 13-16 year old race, Cole and Sean represented the team.

 

The CT Series of Cross pauses until the day after Thanksgiving when we head to March Farms Cyclo Madness in the Litchfield Hills. Next week, is a big New England race, the Verge Northampton International Cyclocross. This is a classic and an A race for me. It is part of the Vittoria Northeast Cyclocross Series

Race Results

2017 Cheshire Cross

Yesterday was the Cheshire Cross, which has become a favorite race. The course is very challenging with a tricky woods section that includes lots of singletrack, sharp rocks, and roots. There is also a sizable hill, called Heckle Hill, which I like.

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I had a good race and a fun day with the family, but still left the event frustrated because of how the Junior 9-12 race went. I’ll start with the frustrating part of the day. The Juniors started at 10:00 A.M. and the race was advertised (on BikeReg) as 20 minutes, but there was a note that said, “All riders will finish in 20 minutes or less.” In my mind, that is a contradiction. The way cyclocross should work, is that the lead rider should finish in the targeted time for the field. The riders that follow take longer.

So, it’s typical for a Masters 40+ race to be advertised as 45 minutes. After two full laps, the officials calculate the average lap time and then estimate how many laps there are to go. The next time around, you are given a lap card countdown. Today, I finished in just under 50 minutes, and I was a few minutes behind the winner. We completed seven laps. It’s important to note that the start was about a 1/4 mile behind the finish line, so the first lap was bound to be longer.

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Then, prior to the start of the Junior’s race, when the head official was giving instructions, he said that anyone finishing the first lap in more than 10 minutes would be pulled. I gather that he was merely reiterating what the promoter had decided, and what had been posted on the Internet. He added that they would be scored according to their place and that their points would count towards the series. I heard this, but I didn’t think much about it at the time. With all of the noise and chaos of getting our kids ready to go, it never dawned on me that this would affect EVERY one of the riders on the Team Horst Junior Squad. Boden, Shepard, and Lars have all been finishing in the top 15 of CT Series of Cross races, so I just assumed they would make it two laps. Owen and Ethan are the youngest boys on the team, and they have been lapped by older riders on short courses, so I knew that this rule might impact them.

There were more than 35 girls and boys on the start line, which is awesome. The officials didn’t do a good job lining them up and there was a bit of a crush (overlapped wheels), which resulted in a start line crash. Still, most of the riders got off the line cleanly and it was a fast beginning to what turned out to be a short race. We watched the boys on several parts of the course before we rushed to the finish area to cheer them at the start of their second lap. Boden was somewhere around 9th place when he came through and the official told him to stop. He missed the 10 minute cut-off by 20 seconds or so. I wasn’t paying attention to the time, and there was no clock, so this caught me by surprise. After Boden finished and after I realized what was happening, I yelled to Shep to sprint because he was with two other riders, but I didn’t get the word to him in time and their positions didn’t change in the final 50 feet. Shepard was about 15 seconds behind Boden and ended up a few places back. He was also told to stop, which brought a mix of anger and tears, before he calmed down.

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All of the boys coming through the finish at around this time were furious. I don’t think they heard the announcement at the start, and even if they did, they didn’t understand. Every other race this season has been two or three laps and 20-30 minutes, which gives them time to ride and improve their cyclocross skills. I shared my frustration with the official, arguing a bit, but eventually I walked away. I didn’t want to be “that parent” yapping at the referee, and like the official said, he was just following the promoter’s instructions. It just made no sense to let eight riders through and then stop 30 other riders after one lap of this course.

10 minutes was an arbitrary number to choose and shouldn’t be considered “half of the race.” The first lap is always longer with the finish line 1/4 mile back, congestion, and the crash. Only 8 riders were allowed to continue for a second lap. That’s a joke, which gave riders in the 9th through 15th spots no chance of making up time on a faster second lap. Some parents drove two hours to the race and they were more mad than I was. These kids are the future of our sport and we need to let them ride more than 10 minutes. Every kid should have gotten to do two laps, regardless of their speed and regardless of what the BikeReg page said. I bet most of those parents didn’t even see the “fine print.”

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Despite the announcement at the start, most riders had no idea they would be pulled after one lap. They don’t wear watches or even pay attention to their pace. And if they did, they don’t know how to pace themselves. That’s why they are Cub Juniors! They are LEARNING how to do cyclocross and you can’t learn in 10 minutes. The race organizers, who are good volunteers and deserve support for a grassroots race, had so many other options. The Men’s 4/5 race ran long. The Masters races ran long. Later in the day, there were gaps between the races. It seemed like all the morning events were crammed together so tightly. I just don’t understand their position on this Junior 9-12 field. To be fair, a few other races have advertised one lap races and the parents have successfully petitioned to get at least two laps. Most of them also didn’t have any time to pre-ride the course because the 4/5 race ran so long. That meant that they were seeing the course for the first time on their first and only lap, which is another reason why first laps are often always slower than the remaining laps. One other option that race organizers have is to shorten the lap for the youngest Junior riders. It would have been easy to chop off a section or two of the course without much effort. A shorter lap would have been everyone a chance to at least do it twice. As it turns out, some of the adult riders in later races were riding NO faster than the Juniors who got pulled in the 10-12 minute mark.

I’m sure another important factor for parents is the cost of doing this sport. Between the gear, the travel, and the entry fees, it’s a big investment. One lap races are a very low return on investment. Four Livingston Family members raced today, so we were traveling to Cheshire anyway, but if you drove all that way just for just one race, I totally understand why you felt gypped. I think I said enough about this. It was frustrating for sure, and you can count on me and other parents to make sure that at the start of tomorrow’s Newtown Cyclocross, that we are clear about the rules. Tomorrow, I hope, and expect the kids get to ride at least two laps.

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Anyway, the rest of the day went better. My race, the Masters 40+ started a minute in front of the Masters 50+ and a few minutes in front of the Masters 60+. That made for a crowded course, but these are the same guys I race with every weekend, and we know how to ride with each other. The congestion is just part of cyclocross. We were catching some of the 60+ riders on the second lap. Knowing how to pass cleanly is an important skill and all of them were courteous. I did my best to call out what side I was going to pass on.

Within my race, there were some fun battles. It was unfortunate (for him) that the leader, David Hildebrand, punctured a little past the halfway point. That moved me up a spot. Then, Travis Burleson, who was one group in front of me, crashed on a technical descent. I came upon him just after he went down in the woods. He was fussing with his chain, trying to get it back on. I picked up another spot at his expense. That left four guys in front of my group, which included Stan Lezon, Laurence Merling, Joe Rodrigues, and at least one other rider who I didn’t know.

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I thought I was the strongest guy in the group, but didn’t want to wait for a sprint, so I didn’t show my cards until two to go. I pushed the pace in the first five laps, but the gap to the group in front of us was too big to get across without being chased by the group I was in. Late in the race, it was best for me to race smartly and at least finish in front of the guys I was with. I moved to the front after the last big descent on the penultimate lap and then attacked right after the barriers as we headed towards the upper field. I hammered through those hairpin turns, extending my gap. I held my gap, which was 5-10 seconds, through the start finish and into the woods. I rode the final climb of Heckle Hill cleanly, and kept my gap all the way to the finish. Each lap was 1.4 miles long.

The last time up Heckle Hill, I was within striking distance of third (Keith Gauvin) and fourth (Joe Kubisek) place. I got close, but not close enough. They held me off and I ended up fifth. The officials had a hard time with the results, which was another frustration. They were counting by hand, and with the mixed fields and all of the lapped riders, it was very difficult. I hate to say it, but for a $35 race, you really need to have some sort of timing and scoring system. A camera system costs money, but is necessary. Even chip timing would have worked today. Using our own GPS’s and Strava would at least capture the correct order and eliminate the risk of counting lapped riders. Every 5K road race with comparable registration fees, has chip timing. The results are usually flawless and they are published immediately. The mess that the officials were dealing with was reminiscent of the road bike races I did back in the early 1990’s where after the finish, there was always a scrum with every rider lobbying for his position. In 2017, every cyclocross race deserves to have good timing and scoring. Technology helps.

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Dahlia did the kids race, which was fun to watch. She had a good ride and got to stand on the podium. I’m looking forward to 2019, when she will be ready to compete in Cub Juniors. We got to see our cousin, Lucas Smallidge, race the Men’s 3/4 race. He had a great battle for second place with another rider and unleashed a powerful sprint at the finish to secure second. It was great to see him. He is in his second year at UCONN, so I hope to meet up with him for a ride. Debbie did the Women’s 4/5 race, which started with the Women’s 1/2/3 race. She was the only woman on a mountain bike, but she still had fun. She wasn’t last and learned a bit more about cyclocross. Hopefully she does another race and continues to improve. I bet that in 2018, she gets a cross bike.

I’m still a fan of Cheshire Cross, and thank the volunteers, but I hope that they iron out the issues next time.

Race Results (will be posted when online)

2017 Wicked Creepy Cross

I love the Wicked Creepy Cross. It’s one of my favorite grassroots races on the New England calendar. Today, we returned with the whole family. It required us to get up at 5:05 A.M. and leave the house at 5:35 A.M., but it was worth it!

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We drove to Bennington, Vermont in a driving rainstorm, but the precipitation lessened (a bit) when we got on the western side of the Green Mountains. It was still a beautiful drive. On the way home, it was all rain.

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This was the first real muddy race of the 2017 cyclocross season. It’s been unseasonably warm and dry. Today, it wasn’t too cold, but the wetness made for a challenging course, with several muddy sections. It wasn’t too cold, and it certainly wasn’t hot. It was sort of “hypothermia weather” if you were standing around.

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The Livingston’s were joined at the race by the Chenail Family and the Roti Family. The Team Horst Junior Squad and Team Horst Sports were well represented. The fields were small, but that’s OK. Everyone’s morale was boosted by the results. Debbie did her first ever cyclocross race. Her goal was to hold off Shepard, who started one minute behind her, in the Cub Juniors 9-12 year old race.

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The Junior Squad had a great day, with a podium sweep. Boden Chenail chased Shepard all race, and pipped him on the line for the win. It was a good lesson for Shepard, who was a bit surprised by Boden’s surge. Still, a great day. Lars Roti wasn’t far behind, and took the third step on the podium. They were all smiles after the race.

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Debbie battled hard to finish 4th in the Women’s Category 4/5 race. It isn’t normal for her to go anaerobic in a 30 minute +/- race, so this was good. She used her Seven Verve mountain bike, which wasn’t ideal, but worked fine. She plans to race again next week at Cheshire Cross. Look out!

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Brett Chenail rode the Men’s Category 4 race, which had one of the largest fields. They softened up the course prior to the Masters races. Art Roti and I represented the team in the 45+ field. We started with the 35+ riders, which for some reason, I didn’t know until after the finish. The 55+ Men started a minute behind us.

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Until the National Championships, this is one of the few races I do with a 45+ field. Normally, I have to race the 40+ category, and sometimes the 35+ category when no 40+ is offered. It was nice to be one of the “younger” guys in my race!

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I had a really good start, and led the first lap. On lap two,  Jürgen Beneke surged past me, which I was expecting when I saw his name on the start list. He has been winning local races all season, and was top 15 at the GP of Gloucester, where I finished in the 30’s. He has real cycling pedigree. He won the 1993 UCI World Cup in downhill mountain biking, and is an X-Games gold medalist in downhill mountain biking. He can handle his bike and it showed on today’s course.

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After he went by, I stayed in front of the other riders for nearly the entire race. I battled with Ryan Conley for five more laps. I led Ryan for almost the entire lap each time. He would pass me on the road section that led up the major climb, but I would re-pass him before or during the technical (and slippery) upper section. I was stronger in all of the technical turns, and had better acceleration out of the corners, but he closed down the gap every time when he had open field or open road.

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It was a little frustrating, so going into he last lap, I was committed to attacking him every chance I got. I didn’t want to risk a sprint because he was stronger in the final 200 meters after the steep and sandy run-up. There were a few other riders chasing, but we had a comfortable gap so we only had to worry about each other. I wanted second spot and gave it my all, but he closed in on me before the final slippery left hand turn on to the road. He jumped past me, but then I was able to rebound and close back in on him before I ran out of road. He nipped me on the line. I wasn’t happy, but I accepted my defeat and thought about Shepard, who experienced the same disappointment after leading the entire race. I told him to stay positive, so I told myself the same thing.

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There was a silver lining because when the results were posted, I still got 2nd in the 45+ race. Ryan was 1st in the 35+ race. I race everyone hard and still wanted to win that sprint, but we sort of both won on this day.  Jürgen was stronger than both of us and was out of site, so our real goal should be to close the gap to him. I’ll be back at it next week at Cheshire Cross.

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Everyone at Horst Engineering was happy to see mud for this weekend’s races. It was muddy in New England today, which meant both Wicked Creepy and also Orchard Cross, were gnarly. It was also muddy in Sherbrooke, Quebec, which hosted the Canadian National Championships. The same storm system also hit Ohio, and the Cincy CX Festival.  We expect Cross Spikes sales to pick up now!

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Kudos go out to the volunteers who hosted Wicked Creepy, and also to the folks at NYCROSS who put together the series. If we lived closer, we might do a few more races in the series. Of course, Connecticut has its own series and we do those races before any others.

Debbie, the kids, and I celebrated at Hearty Eats in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts.

Race Results

2017 Belltown Cyclocross

Today was the inaugural Belltown CX in East Hampton. It was race number four in the Connecticut Series of Cross. Heading into the race, I wasn’t feeling to hot. I’m a little nicked up after several weeks of heavy racing. Plus, last night, I drove back from Crawford Notch, NH. Four hours in the car contributed to my legs feeling stiff.

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Yesterday, Debbie took Shepard to the third race in the series, the Brodie CX in New Hartford. I had to miss the race, which was disappointing, but fine. Last weekend was a double race, so this weekend, I was happy to only do one. We had another day of unseasonably warm weather. The course was dry and the sun was hot.

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Belltown turned out OK. My legs were definitely heavy. I’ve got a nagging right quadricep  issue that results in late race cramping. I had to measure my effort to keep the quad from  hurting too much. I ended up in a group with Stan Lezon and Joe Rodrigues. The three of us battle frequently.

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My teammate, Wade Summers, was with us for a good part of the race. The first four spots were out of reach, but we fought each other for 5th. Late in the race, Ernie Tautkus squeezed into our group. I don’t know the full story, but it would appear that he missed the start and chased all race, working his way up to our group.

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I held off the trio for 5th in the Masters 40+ race. Stan got pipped on the line by Ernie, and Joe and Wade dropped back a bit. It was a fun final last fracas. The course had lots of wide open riding, but many of the corners were on gravel, making it treacherous. There were a lot of crashes and a lot of skinned knees. After smashing my left knee last weekend at the Gran Prix of Gloucester, I was happy to stay on my bike for the entire race today. Unlike last Sunday when I botched the sprint in my little group, today, I executed it well, leading them the whole way.

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There was another great turnout for the Junior races. There were 37 boys and girls in the 9-12 year old race. There were another 18 riders in the 13-15 year old age group. They even had a kids race for 8 and under. Dahlia did the modified two lap course and had a blast. She can’t wait to do the real races when she turns 9.

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Team Horst Sports and the Team Horst Junior Squad had a great turnout and some good results. Mike Wonderly won the Masters 50+ race for the second day in a row. Dave Geissert had his best cross race ever, finishing second behind Mike after Bob Bisson in a sprint. He was thrilled.

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It was another good day of cyclocross racing. The crew from Airline Cycles did a great job with the race. The prizes were fun and cool. Bevin Brothers Bells is in East Hampton and they make the best Made in the USA cowbells. The Connecticut Series of Cross continues in two weeks at the Cheshire CX.

Race Results


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#blackfriday didn’t start so badly! Great day at the #manchesterroadrace @shenipsitstriders #shenipsitstriders #silkcitystriders #teamhorstsports #thanksgiving 🏃🏻 If I always had the option to commute by train 🚂, I would take it. #multitasking 1h45m each way if uninterrupted productivity and NO driving. I even squeezed in a lap of #centralpark with Tim. 🏃🏻#manhattan #newyork Fir @john.meyerle because I neglected to post earlier: @supercross_cup This video is the Cat 4/5 Men. Great start for @the_ccap boys Nick and Johnny. #supercrosscx #teamhorstsports #teamhorstjuniorsquad #horstengineering #crossspikes @horsteng #cyclocross #lifedeathcyclocross Another great day at the @supercross_cup The #teamhorstjuniorsquad did great on the tricky and challenging course that was left muddy by overnight rain. The wind was fierce. The Junior 9-14 year olds did battle with the Category 4/5 Women. #teamhorstsports @vittoriaseries #supercrosscx #supercrosscup #horstengineering @horsteng #crossspikes #cyclocross Good morning from the windy @supercross_cup The overnight wind destroyed many a tent. It’s supposed to get windier. The rain has turned the course to muck. It’s going to be off-camber insanity. Myles Mattern is warming up for the Juniors 9-14 year old Race and showing how it’s done. Second video is the Cat 4/5 Men. Great start for @the_ccap boys Nick and Johnny. #supercrosscx #teamhorstsports #teamhorstjuniorsquad #horstengineering #crossspikes @horsteng #cyclocross #lifedeathcyclocross Suffering in Suffern!! @supercross_cup Day 1 #supercrosscup #supercrosscx #teamhorstsports #crossspikes #horstengineering @horsteng @vittoriaseries #teamhorstjuniorsquad ☔️🚴🏽 Another great day at the @nohocx Day was marginally warmer, but the racing was even more intense. Even the Cub Juniors were throwing down! #teamhorstjuniorsquad #teamhorstsports #crossspikes #horstengineering #cyclocross #lifedeathcyclocross #nohocx @lutzmuseum Children’s #Poetry Night. Little D wrote and recited. A welcome Friday night arts and culture moment before a (cold) weekend full of intense #cyclocross racing! #lutzmuseum 📚 🚲

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