REI Mothers in the Wild Speaker Series

Debbie participated in the REI Mothers in the Wild Speaker Series at the West Hartford store. It was a tough time slot at 1:00 P.M. on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, and she deserved an audience 100 times the size, but there were a handful of folks there and if she made an impression on ONE person then it was worth the effort.

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I couldn’t think of a better mother to talk about the joys of raising children with a love for the environment and outdoor adventure. She as joined by another fantastic adventurer, educator Kae Zaino.

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Here was REI’s description of the event:

Join us with ski instructor and wilderness trip leader Kae C. Zaino and competitive runner Debbie Livingston: inspirational women who use their unique skills and passions to inspire people to bring their whole family on their journeys and to persevere as mothers in the wild. Kae fell in love with camping/hiking on family trips as a child and as fostered her passion to a point where she now inspires individuals through development of her perseverance and cognitive flexibility with the outdoors even with facing the unpredictability of Mother Nature and demands and sacrifices of the human body. Kae has suffered 3 early pregnancy losses, even miscarrying on a 4,000 footer in the Presidential Ranges. Debbie has spent countless hours running through the wilds and competing in ultra-distance races, fostering a dedication and support group from her family while teaching yoga and coaching running to both children and adults. Motherhood became its own force of nature in her life pursuing the outdoors. This event will help provide inspiration and a greater connection to motherhood, family and loss in the great outdoors. Registration is required, all are welcome.

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Of course, I was thrilled to hear Debbie speak, but I was moved by Kae’s talk, which covered her highs and lows. She has quite the inspirational story to share and it is admirable that she spends so much time giving back to children as a teacher, camp counselor, guide, ski instructor, and outdoor educator. She and Debbie have a lot in common.

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Kudos to REI for putting on this series. I enjoyed helping Debbie create a highlight reel of photos to share. I’ve got 150,000 more images, but there is only so much she had time for!

2019 Trails to a Cure (Cockaponset Trail Race)

Today we returned to the Trails to a Cure at Cockaponset State Forest for another crack at this gnarly little race. There aren’t too many races left on the schedule like this one. $10 for the 4-miler and $20 for the 8-miler. It’s almost too cheap. For that money, you got a great course/venue, a t-shirt, handmade wood-fired pizza, and lots of prizes (plants or hand baked breads). On top of that, proceeds went towards curing prostrate cancer.

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This was race number nine or 10 in the 2019 Blue-Blazed Trail Running Series. The reason for the uncertainty is that another series race, the Macedonia Trail Race was also today. That was a scheduling error as both races deserve to have their own date. The participation numbers at Trails to a Cure should and could be bigger.

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September is such a prime time for races of so many types. It’s the end of triathlon season. It’s the start of cyclocross season.  Mountain biking is still going on. Trail running, and road running are year round sports. Today was also the Josh Billings Runaground Triathlon. It’s been 10 years since I last did “the Josh” and it would be great to go back.

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If I do return, it means I’ll have gotten my kayak back in the water. Last weekend was the Survival of the Shawangunks Triathlon. I haven’t done that race since 2013, but returning to the Gunks for this classic race is one of my 2020 goals. So, it’s unclear if I’ll do Trails to a Cure next year. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the fact that I did it today.

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This race has been kept alive by the Iselin Family and their devoted volunteers. Cockaponset is a great state park and the course is super-challenging. It may be short, but it is packed with ups and downs and enough rocks and roots for a race four times the distance.

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The lakeside venue is gorgeous and in the last half mile you have the option to take a “shortcut” across the corner of the lake. This isn’t clear and beautiful water, but rather is a mucky and weedy traverse. That makes it even more fun. You choose. If you go around, you will be at least a minute slower. If you take the direct route, you get wet. It’s a blast.

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In the 8-miler, Debbie didn’t have much competition and she got the win. Shepard wasn’t far behind her. Dahlia did the 4-miler with her friend Clara, who spent part of the weekend with us. I went out hard but couldn’t hold the pace and faded after the first four miles. Even still, I was happy to be running hard. My back remains tweaked, but I’m pushing onward in an effort to maintain my fitness as cyclocross season kicks in.

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We saw many good friends from the Shenipsit Striders and other clubs. The sun shone brightly and that made the day even better. Next up in the series is the NipMuck Trail Marathon. I’ve done it many times, but this year, I’m likely just volunteering and cheering on the other runners.

Race Results (will be posted here when online)

2019 Quad Cross

My 2019 cyclocross season kicked off today at the Quad Cross. This was the second time I’ve done the event hosted by the folks from QuadCycles at the Maynard (MA) Rod & Gun Club. This isn’t a new race. It’s been held 13 times, and nine at this venue. It was new to me in 2018 because it is part of the Zanconato Singlespeed Cyclocross Series.

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On my way to the race, I stopped at the Coventry Farmers’ Market. The theme today was Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten-Free – Part DeuxI had a good time walking the market and I grabbed a nice lunch for the road. I was well-fueled headed to the race.

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The Zank SSCX Series is my prime objective for this fall’s cross season. I had a set back to my run-up to the season with my hard crash four weeks ago. I figure I was only at 80% leading into the race today. I hemmed an hawed all week about competing. On Thursday I deleted the race from my Outlook calendar and then on Friday I changed my mind, but registration had already closed.

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I decided to go and was fortunate that they let me register on the day of the race because I drove 90 minutes to get there. Last year, I went to the race with the kids, but both of them were away. Yesterday I dropped Dahlia at my in-law’s house so that she could spend some time time with them. Debbie and Shepard have been gone since Friday afternoon. They went to Kingdom Trails in Vermont for two days of mountain biking fun. We were at KT back in June, but at that time, Shepard had a broken wrist. Debbie promised him that we would return. I haven’t mountain biked since my crash so it made more sense for Debbie to take him. They had a blast.

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Today, I was definitely not in top form but I knew that going into the race. I needed the speed workout and racing into shape is what I plan to do. I’ll need a few more weeks of racing with some intervals mixed in and I’ll be ready for the second half of the season. It was great to see several of my friends.

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I picked up where last season ended (at the Ice Weasels Cometh) where I battled with Eric Wyzga. At the last series race in 2018, I got the best of him. At this first race of 2019, he caught me on the last lap and we battled into the final corner. He was in front of me and chose to dismount (and run it) before the last uphill chicane. I should have gotten in front of him before the barriers, but I failed to make the pass and was blocked. When I tired to ride by him on the final hill, I bumped into his leg and lost all my momentum. I’m already looking forward to battling with him again. I’ll be feeling better soon. I’m excited that cross is here.

Race Results

The Cape & Martha’s Vineyard

For Labor Day Weekend, we returned to Cape Cod. Shepard and I visited in June 2018 for the Boy Scouts Troop 25 Trip, but we hadn’t been there as a family since the summer of 2017. I’ve been visiting the Cape ever since I was a kid. My Uncle Steven (and Aunt Susan) has been spending time in Falmouth since the mid-1970’s.

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Now they live there most of the time. They are always gracious hosts. On this trip, we also made it to Martha’s Vineyard for the first time in some time. The kids don’t remember the last time we took them to the island because they were so young. Debbie and I have been racing on the Cape and Vineyard for 25 years. I did the Tour of Martha’s Vineyard in 1994. The classic 100 kilometer road cycling race was always held the week after the Killington Stage Race. Sadly, they don’t hold either race anymore, but they were both fun events.

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Debbie and I ran the Martha’s Vineyard Half Marathon in 2003. I don’t think they hold that event anymore either. We ran the frigid Martha’s Vineyard 20-Miler in 2007 and 2010. She ran the Cape Cod Marathon in 2013. I did the Falmouth Triathlon in 2015. Amazingly, we have never done the Falmouth Road Race (running), but it is on our bucket list. I also want to do the Vineyard Triathlon. This year’s race is next weekend. We won’t be going back this year, but it’s on the list.

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Both the Cape and the Vineyard have natural beauty that make them great venues for endurance sports events. Informally summer is coming to a close and we wanted to have one more weekend of adventure. It was only a week ago that we were in the mountains of New Hamphire and Maine.

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I’m still not feeling great after my bike crash (three weeks ago), but have remained active. We figured that a weekend on the Cape, visiting Steven and Susan, would be a fun family adventure and the salt air would do us all some good. After a full work week, we eased into the weekend. We packed the car and trailer on Saturday morning and drove through Providence, Rhode Island, stopping at Plant City.

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This hip vegan food court opened in June and we were happy to finally visit. The food and atmosphere were both excellent. There were so many options that we returned today on the trip home, for a second meal. We were “on Cape” by late Saturday afternoon and while the kids went for a swim, I took a spin down to Woods Hole and back.

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Sunday was our Vineyard day. Debbie and I arose early and did a short run in Falmouth, Then, the four of us took the Island Queen ferry at 9:00 A.M., arriving in Oak Bluffs before 10:00 A.M. We rode towards Edgartown, stopping at State Beach so that the kids could swim. It was a glorious morning and set the tone for a fine weather day. After drying them off, we continued on the bike path to Edgartown where we met up with our friend Joanne Raia (RAWJO) who has spent the summer working on the Vineyard. It was great to see her. She is a fantastic chef and has collaborated with Debbie on several plant-base cooking and catering events, including some at our house.

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We had lunch at a local deli and walked around. Debbie and Dahlia stayed in town while Shepard and I set off on an adventure with the plan of getting more miles on our legs. We ended up getting even more miles than planned. We also planned to find some trails to ride. He had his Islabikes Creig (MTB) and I had my Seven Evergreen XX “do everything” bike. On the way out of town, we stopped at the Edgartown Fire Museum and it was a real treat. There was some cool equipment on display showing off the great history of fire fighting on the island.

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We headed west on Edgartown-West Tisbury Road and then picked up the bike path. There are awesome paths all over the island. We took the path past the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest and over towards the airport. Then, we headed due south on the dirt Waldrons Bottom Road. We continued on the even more sandy seasonal Hughes Thumb Road all the way to Long Point Beach. The beach is part of Long Point Wildlife Refuge and one of seven properties that The Trustees of Reservations protects on the island.

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I was hoping to get over to the southwest corner of the island so that I could explore Aquinnah and the Menemsha Pond area, but I was more than happy to explore with Shep. Back in June, I read Wall Street Journal story about Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis’ compound in Aquinnah. It looked so beautiful. I knew we wouldn’t get close to the private compound, but I wanted to see the area. Christie’s has the listing for Red Gate Farm. It’s worth checking out. If you do click the link, make sure you watch the video–it’s well done. I’ll visit Aquinnah next time.

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I was thrilled to be exploring with Shepard. We left our bikes at The Trustees gate house and walked down to the beach to see the surf. I’ve been on the south shore of the island once before, but it was in the month of January.  He was excited to see the bigger waves. We didn’t have time to test the surf. He said he wanted to come back with a boogie board. We vowed to return.

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The problem is that I didn’t realize I would be returning so quickly! We retraced our route to the main road, but then continued west on the bike path paralleling the southern edge of the airport. We then went off-road again, taking an old jeep road across fields as we headed due north through the State Forest. We connected with another section of freshly paved bike path and headed east. That’s when I had an “uh oh” moment. I stopped my bike and told Shep that I left my messenger bag hanging on the bike rack at the Long Point Beach gate house. I knew something was missing. It was packed with all our stuff, including my wallet. I had my iPhone, so I called Debbie to explain the situation.

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I helped Shep navigate to the bike path that parallels Edgartwown-Vineyard Haven Road. It was  a few more miles north and east. I tore a page with a map from the guide book and sent him in the southeasterly direction back towards Edgartown with the plan to meet his mother and sister. I told Debbie I was returning to the beach to get my bag and then I would meet them at the bridge that connects Edgartown and Oak Bluffs.

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I had to haul back to the Trustees property and figured it would take 30 minutes to get there and then another 45 minutes to get back to the bridge where we would meet up. I was bummed that I had to go backwards, but there was nothing I could do. I hammered the whole way there. At one point, I was behind a pickup truck, choking in his dust cloud, but I was going faster, so he let me pass and I just pushed on. When I got there, The Trustees gate keeper was happy to see me. She figured it was my bag and had no way of contacting me. It was untouched, so I just slung it over my shoulder, said goodbye, and headed north again.

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When I got to the bridge, there was a big crowd. Jumping from this bridge is a rite of passage. In the scrum were Debbie, Shep, and Dahlia. Deb and Shep were amongst the jumpers. I soon joined them for a dip in the water beneath the bridge that connects Nantucket Sound with Sengekontacket Pond. The jumping part was fine. It was the balancing on the wet and sandy bridge railing that made me nervous. The good news is that we didn’t get hurt. That bridge is an accident waiting to happen!

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We did one final group jump and then changed back into our riding clothes with the intent of making the 5:15 P.M. ferry from Oak Bluffs back to Falmouth Heights. We got there more than 30 minutes in advance, but the line was long. An Island Queen staffer walked back to our spot in line and said that we “should” make it on the ferry. We were worried, but stayed positive. When the ship arrived and we started to board, it looked promising. Then, with about 10 people in front of us, the “counters” closed off the rope gate. That sucked. The next ferry would be at 6:45 P.M. and they were running late. We had to sit there for 90+ minutes with the sun going down. We had to remain to keep our spot in line.

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That was a long character-building-wait for the kids (and me). I stayed with the kids and our bikes. Debbie walked into town and returned with a bag of Cape Cod potato chips which the four of us promptly devoured. I had gone most of the day without much to eat. Thankfully we had extra layers as we needed them when the temperature dropped. When the Island Queen returned, we were thrilled. The line was long again but this time we were at the front. Just like before, a handful of folks didn’t make it. They had to wait for the final sailing of the day, at 8:00 P.M. There is only “one” Island Queen and she goes back and forth.

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We were back at Steven and Susan’s house just after dark. It’s only a short ride from the ferry. It was a long day and we were all hungry. Steven told me about another island nearby that is uninhabited. It’s not far from the Vineyard, and is called Nomans Land. We looked up a recent story about rabbits being introduced on the island. That was the feel-good-story of the day. Nomans Land sounds like a cool place.

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Everyone slept well last night. This morning, Debbie and I did one more short bike ride to Woods Hole and back and then the four of us joined Steven at the Falmouth Heights beach for a final swim of summer. Tomorrow, it is back to school and work and the busy fall season will arrive later this month. Our mini Cape and Vineyard adventure was the perfect way to end August and welcome September.

Roy Family Wedding Fun, Franconia Notch & the Mahoosuc Range

My last blog post was quite morbid, so this one is much more joyous. This past weekend we were in Maine for a wonderful family wedding. Billy (my first cousin) and Ashley married each other on North Peak at Sunday River in Newry. The bride and groom are dedicated hikers working on their New England 4,000 footers. The entire weekend brought back great memories of the adventures that Debbie and I had before kids, including our own assault of the 4,000 footers. It was an amazing event with a hiking theme that was unique and lovely.

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Debbie, the kids, and I drove up on Friday. We made a mini adventure out of the trip. It was my first time in the White Mountains this year. Debbie has been there four times in the past month. The kids each got to experience the hills of New Hampshire as well. Shepard did AMC Teen Wild Camp in July. He got to rock climb, hike, paddle and have a ton of fun. While he was away, Debbie took Dahlia to Joe Dodge Lodge and Madison Spring Hut.

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They climbed Mt. Madison, a hill the kids were thwarted from summiting on a prior trip. When she picked Shep up from camp, they did a short backpacking trip that included the summits of both Mt. Madison and Mt. Adams. Now, Dahlia is jealous. She has to bag Adams too. Then, the weekend before last, Debbie was at the Highland Center in Crawford Notch leading the AMC Women’s Trail Running & Yoga Retreat. She will reprise this event for the third time in 2020.

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So they had all kinds of White Mountain fun and I missed out. That wasn’t the case during this wedding weekend as all four of us did a short hike on Friday afternoon to the top of Mt. Pemigewasset in Franconia Notch. We had a spectacular view. This split up our drive and avoided the nasty I-95 traffic on the alternative route. We got to Sunday River around 6:30 P.M. in time for a gorgeous sunset.

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On Saturday morning, I got out for a solo bike ride. I explored the Sunday River valley, riding parallel until the road turned to dirt, and then rougher dirt. When the road was about to turn to a trail and head straight into the mountains, I turned around. I saw some cool stuff on this ride including an old covered bridge, gravestones from the early 1800’s, Frenchman’s Hole (a lovely waterfall and pool), and lots of critters. It was nice to ride for two hours and only see five motor vehicles.

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After the ride, we held a mini-Roy Family hike up to Jordan Bowl. We were staying at the Jordan Hotel, so it was only 1.5 miles to the top of the nearest hill. We earned our view of the Mahoosuc Range, and it was spectacular. It brought back memories when Debbie and I did the Grafton Loop Trail (and Old Speck) 11 years ago. All weekend we were fortunate to have such great weather. It was cool and sunny. When there were clouds in the sky, it added texture, contrast, and beauty. Many members of our hiking crew hadn’t been together since our 2017 Mount Katahdin Adventure. That trip was awesome in its own right. We didn’t get to Katahdin on this trip, but the presence of that great mountain was felt.

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I’ve never skied at the Sunday River, but now I want to check it out. It’s a large resort with a lot of terrain. We got to see some of it on this hike. Some of us returned to the hotel to prepare for the wedding while Debbie, Shep, Alex (my nephew) and I made a five-mile loop before returning to the hotel. We had a great time and I think Alex discovered that hiking is for him. He previously hiked Mt. Washington with his Dad, and we told him we would take him on more trips as we go all of the time.

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The wedding was hiking themed, which was very cool. The ceremony was in the late afternoon outside the North Peak Lodge. We had to take the “chondola” to this sub-peak. Debbie and I were dressed up, but still elected to take a chairlift up. I think late at night after the reception, and for obvious reasons, everyone was required to ride inside a gondola on the way down. That’s OK. We had a blast doing both. The ceremony and reception were a blast. It was so good to see all our Roy Family and friends. Billy’s father Phil is my Mom’s younger brother. They are two of seven brothers and sisters that hail from Upper Frenchville in Aroostook County. “The County” was well-represented at this wedding.

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I could go on and on about the wedding. It was such an amazing production. Every little detail had a connection the outdoors. Even the speeches given by the Maid of Honor, the Best Man, and the Groom’s brothers featured nature and adventure. It was my kind of wedding!

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On Sunday morning, I got up really early and drove down the access road into Bethel, and west to Gilead. I parked at the picnic area just east of town and then rode my bike to Rt. 113 which is better known as Evans Notch Road. I took it south as it parallels the state line. I stopped a few times to take photos. The pavement was fresh, like a week old, and the weather was cold, but spectacular.

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It was chilly but refreshing. I didn’t have enough time to do a full Evans Notch Loop, but I’ll have to return. I settled for an out and back. When I got to the point where the road crosses into New Hampshire, I reversed my direction. As I made my way back towards Gilead, I took a detour on a dirt road that headed for a campground deep in White Mountain National Forest. I followed this for 10 minutes and then again turned back. My ride was about 27 miles and like the day before, I could count the number of motor vehicles encountered on one hand.

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I was back at the hotel in time for a late breakfast and to say goodbyes. We packed up and then made our way west across the top of New Hampshire. We took this route to avoid the crazy ME/NH/MA traffic. It was a wise decision. My only regret was that the high peaks looked magnificent and we didn’t have time to stop and hike. It is rare to see Adams, Madison, and Washington without a cloud in the sky. It would have been an awesome day to venture up high. Alas, it was not to be as Monday and work were the priority.

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We made a few stops in Vermont, at a rest area and at the Putney Co-Op. Then, we stopped for an early dinner at Paul & Elizabeth’s in Northampton, MA. Chances are we will be back in Maine at this time next year. The venue hasn’t been chosen yet, but Billy’s brother Danny (Debbie’s “go-to” ultra pacer) is getting married too. That may not be our only Maine wedding as at least one other cousin (Andre) is slated to get hitched in the Pine Tree State. It was great to see so many Roy Family members and we are already plotting our return. Katahdin is calling. Katahdin is always calling.

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Crash! Part Trois: Unfortunately This Time a Motor Vehicle Was Involved!

The rib pain and back pain are terrible, but the x-rays were negative and showed no fractures, which is fantastic news. The feeling I have is frustration as my third serious bicycle crash (requiring medical attention) in five years occurred during my commute home from work on Monday night.

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Those feelings of frustration are fueled by all the news I read and hear about the challenges that cyclists experience all over the world. The story about the glass bottle thrown at one of my teammates on Wednesday night that resulted in double flats–the story also from Wednesday night about a cyclist killed in Connecticut in a head on collision–the crazy story about a chain reaction crash that claimed the life of a cyclist in Brooklyn earlier this week–the July hit-and-run of former Bicycling editor Andrew Bernstein in Boulder. I could go on and on. Every circumstance was different.

After visiting Boulder and Ft. Collins, Colorado last month, I wrote about them in this blog post. Both cities are cycling “Mecca’s” and hold Platinum Bicycle Friendly Community honors from the League of American Bicyclists. That’s great, but as mentioned, Boulder isn’t even a safe place to ride a bike. Nowhere on the roads of America appears to be safe.

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I’ll avoid casting generalizations and try to narrow my focus to my home roads. It’s dangerous out there. I admit it, I choose to take the risk every day. I’ve commuted to or from work 60 times this year and LOVE doing it. It checks all the boxes for me.

  • I value a car-free commute.
  • I lower my carbon footprint.
  • I get my exercise on my way to work, which is a very efficient way to accomplish two things at once.
  • I experience nature.
  • I identify with a community of like-minded riders.
  • I get to ride my bike.

I tell people all of the time that my best days are the days I ride to or from work. I find that morning rides are a great way to start the day and help me plan ahead for the items on my to-do list. Equally enjoyable are the evening rides when I get the chance to unwind before walking through the door at home. It gives me so much pleasure, but is it worth it?

Connecticut isn’t Ft. Collins, Colorado; Portland, Oregon; or San Francisco, California where there is a culture of bicycle commuting, a much larger community, better cycling infrastructure, and more motorist awareness. They have their problems too. The roads of Southern New England are filled with riders. Boston is a busy city and has a strong cycling community. I ride there a lot and have a long history with the city having gone to school there, but it has been plagued by deadly accidents in recent years as traffic increases and distractions abound. Last year, MassBike produced one of the most chilling videos a cyclist will ever watch.

Is it worth it? This is a rhetorical question that even I can’t answer. When I phoned my Mom on Monday night to tell her the news before she heard it from someone else, it bothered me. It was an emotional conversation, just like the calls I placed in 2014 when I crashed on Soapstone Mountain and fractured my scapula and in 2018 at the USA Cyclo-Cross National Championships crash when I broke my fibula. No motor vehicles were involved in those wrecks so even cycling without traffic has its risks, but I can manage that risk better. It’s the risk that is totally out of my control that I’m struggling to reconcile. She knows I don’t call her about the “little” crashes because we talked about that. She also sees me commute because we have worked together for 30 years. Sometimes she is at work when I arrive on my bike. She knows the roads I ride and she sees the way people drive. It’s a huge risk.

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I’m a dedicated commuter and was thrilled when the East Coast Greenway was expanded from Manchester to Bolton Notch. A new section of paved bike path (it’s actually a multi-use path) now connects with the Hop River State Park Trail, a rail trail that is right out my front door. I ride that trail all of the time. I can now ride to East Hartford with even less time spent on the roads that are shared with motor vehicles, but that hasn’t stopped me from riding with vehicular traffic.

On Monday, I called home at 5:28 P.M. and told Debbie my plan. I left HORST Engineering’s South Windsor plant site at 5:47 P.M. I rode towards Prestige Park to meet up with Mike Reilly, a friend from the cycling community. We both commute regularly but had never ridden together. He messaged me in the morning to see when we could ride and I told him I brought my bike and that today would be the day. I was late as usual, but five minutes after I rolled out.  We intercepted each other on Long Hill Rd., chatting amiably on the descent, and then headed towards Wickham Park. Tolland Street was under construction. The top layer of asphalt had been skived, but we have gravel bikes and managed. Dealing with road repair is another challenge for cyclists. We cut through the park where they were setting up for the Monday Night Summer XC Series (running) and then got on to the Greenway at the Burnside Avenue intersection.

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Burnside has a bike lane now, but there were three cycling deaths on that road during an 18-month time frame in 2010-2011. I ride Burnside a LOT. It’s sketchy, but much better after the improvements. It used to be a four lane road without a divider and the speeds were high. They removed the second lane headed in both directions, narrowing the flow of traffic and reducing the speeds. Sadly, much of the paint markings for the bike lane are fading and there has been little maintenance. Mercifully, there has not been a “Ghost Bike” placed on Burnside since 2011. If I can avoid that road, I seek an alternative route, but that is not always the case. The paved bike path is a huge help. Mike and I spent time chatting about our love of cycling and the risks involved. He was surprised to learn that I was a bicycle messenger during college back in 1991. I gave that job up after my third big crash involving motor vehicles and thankfully have pursued other career options. We had to briefly get off the path where there is a missing section in Manchester between Bidwell Street and McKee Street. We got back on the path and rode to Charter Oak Park where we split up. He headed towards Mount Nebo Park which is closer to his Manchester home, and I stayed on the Greenway headed towards Bolton.

In June of 2018, I had a bad incident during a commute home. This episode didn’t involve a crash, but did result in a citation to a motorist and an arrest of a passenger in the offending car. They tried to “door” me on East Center Street in Manchester. I wrote about that incident too and described it as “The Perils of Bicycle Commuting.” Is it worth the risk?

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After splitting with Mike, I hemmed and hawed about which route to take. I mix it up a lot, but on Monday I decided to take the bike path all the way to Bolton Center Road. Before the extension, I used to always ride up Camp Meeting Road, but the shoulders have deteriorated and are no fun to ride on. They are full of cracks and debris. Plus, cars travel at a high rate of speed and there are some blind corners. Again, I ride that road all of the time, but Debbie refuses to go on it and I’ve heard from others that they avoid it too. Now that the bike path continues through Bolton, there are better options depending on where you are headed.

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It’s nice to have the Greenway, but it’s worth mentioning that the path parallels sections of I-384 and also I-84. That subjects you to the exhaust fumes from all the vehicles on the highway. There are some nice spots, but there are also spots covered in glass and debris that gets tossed from vehicles on the highway. Plus you are always subject to the highway noise. It isn’t; very peaceful. One of my favorite spots is where the path actually crosses under the highway and you ride along the Hockanum River. You can hear the vehicles above you, but I often imagine what this area looked and sounded like 300 years ago. Periodically I will see a Great Blue Heron in the water. Other sections have wide cracks with long weeds growing up from the openings in the pavement. My newest bike has extra wide 42 cm high volume tires and they do a great job soaking up the road shock, but I shouldn’t have to resort to that option. Sadly, no one maintains these paths. Last week, I rode the spur between Tolland Turnpike and Burnside Avenue and was dismayed to see the memorial and dedication plaque overgrown with weeds with the nearby benches crumbling. It isn’t the prettiest place to ride, but it’s safer than riding in traffic.

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My commute continued and I rode the new section of the bike path along I-384. I had the option to continue to the Notch and then get on the unpaved rail trail, but I wanted to get home sooner and figured the express route down Bolton Center Road for 2.3 miles to my house would be fine. I ride that road ALL of the time. I’ve ridden that road thousands of times. We moved to Bolton 15 years ago. When there was no bike path extension through Bolton, I took that road even more frequently. It’s a busy road and doubles as Route 85, and I worry about the traffic every time I’m on it, but that didn’t deter me.

Sometimes I take my 13-year-old son Shepard on that road and we talk about the danger. I’ve taught him to ride defensively. His friend Alexandra lives off of 85 near the exit ramp and I’ll often meet him there on my way home from work, and then we will ride home together. Our kids are involved with mountain biking and cyclocross, but not with road cycling. They ride on roads, but they don’t train or race on roads like I did. I still ride on the road frequently, even beyond my commuting, but I haven’t raced on the road in years. Lately my only exception has been triathlon. I have done more than 400 road bike races but that is a risk I stopped taking. It’s crazy but I have not data to prove that racing is more or less risky than commuting. I stopped for some of the same reasons that others have stopped commuting, including the fact that crashing is often out of your control. The pavement is so unforgiving.

On Monday, I was on the road and I was riding my new Seven Evergreen XX bicycle. I didn’t have a headlight on because I was running my handlebar bag and haven’t mounted a light on the new bike, but I often ride with one. I have an adapter for it, but just hadn’t gotten around to installing it. I’ll often wear a reflective vest and reflect ankle straps, but not always in middle of summer when it is light out. I was wearing my bright orange Team HORST kit with an orange helmet. I have reflective material on my bike and I had my rear tail light on. It was the same set-up that I’ve been running all summer.

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I’ve got all the details on this ride because Strava captured it. You can see the spot where I crashed because there are all these squiggly lines. I approached the Birch Mountain Road intersection where Bolton Center Road bends to the left. I was just cruising along at 16 mph with about 1.4 miles to go. It was about 6:45 P.M. I recall seeing a car on Birch Mountain and they pulled out to head east on Bolton Center towards the town green. I saw a vehicle approach (I now know it was a mini-van but had no idea at the time) coming towards me. I don’t recall if they were using their left turn signal but they never hesitated and that surprised me. I’m not sure what came out of my mouth but it was probably “Hey!!!” which is a common alert I use. It all happened in a split second. I was clearly going straight and the vehicle turned left, right in front of me.

In an instant I grabbed both brake hoods with all my might while yanking my bike to the left to avoid a collision. It felt like the vehicle was inches from my nose. This new bike has hydraulic disc brakes and they have serious stopping power. I didn’t even skid because I squeezed them so hard. There was no way for me to prevent going straight over the bars. I flipped over (doing an “endo”) body slamming into the asphalt. I’ve described it as WWF body slam without the soft mat and without the acting. My rear wheel went straight up in the air and I stayed clipped into my pedals until my back impacted the ground. As soon as I grabbed the brakes with such force, I was doomed to crash. I was alert and conscious the whole time but in that instant, I was flat on my back looking up at the blue sky with no air in my lungs. Every breath had left my body as I slammed into the pavement.

I was in such pain that in that instant I did not know:

  1. if the vehicle hit me
  2. if I crashed avoiding the vehicle but they subsequently ran me over/hit me
  3. if I completely avoided a collision and crashed on my own.

I think that I ended up in the best possible scenario as it was the third one. I don’t think I ever contacted the van. I think the drive also hit the brakes at the last moment. I don’t know. It was a blur. I saw my life flash before my eyes, reacted, and then I was down. I know I tucked my head, which is instinct and I thrust out my left arm to brace my fall. I think the damage to my bicep was from my bicycle’s handlebars. That seems to be the best explanation given that I couldn’t hit the outside of my arm on the pavement at the same time as the inside of the arm. The bars must have jammed me good because I have a deep black and blue welt.

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In the seconds following the accident, I laid there flat on my back trying to catch my breath. I noticed more than one vehicle around me as I was right in the middle of the road and holding up traffic. I glanced up and there was a man standing over me. I think he was the passenger from the offending vehicle. I heard someone say, “Get him out of the road.” I put up my right hand in a “stop” motion and rasped, “don’t touch me.” I needed to self-assess and could barely get the words out, but I didn’t want to be touched. I was worried I broke my back or even worse, my neck. From all my past first aid training, I knew that you never move someone with a suspected injury like that.

I again made the plea to let me be and said, “give me a minute.” It felt like several people were around me, but I wasn’t seeing that clearly. I asked this man if “he hit me.” I think he said something like “by the grace of God” you avoided a collision. I don’t know exactly what he said, but I know he absolutely said “by the grace of God.” I don’t really look at things that way. I was thinking to myself that God or whatever had nothing to do with this. I also knew that it was my quick reflexes that saved me from a potentially even worse injury and not the reaction of the driver or some higher being.

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After what felt like an eternity, but was probably only two minutes, I realized that I could move my legs and arms and wanted to get up, so I rolled on to my side and curled into a ball to see if I could flex my back. After a few moments, I used my arms to push myself into a seated position and saw where my bike was positioned to my left. I saw the vehicle and realized it was a mini-van. I think it was maroon, but I could be wrong. I was not in the right frame of mind to start taking pictures. I gathered my strength, and stood up. I think someone else grabbed my bike (maybe the passenger) and I walked to the side of the road where there is gravel and dirt with some sparse grass and weeds in the corner. I sat down on the ground with my bike to my left and pulled out my iPhone. I said out loud to everyone listening that I wanted the situation documented. It was 6:50 P.M. and I made the 911 call myself.

I could barely get out the words as tears ran down my cheeks, and snot mixed in my beard, but I was lucid enough to describe the intersection I was at. I explained the situation and my condition. The dispatcher said they would connect me with the State Police. They put the call through and I repeated everything that I told the 911 dispatcher including my location. The call lasted a minute.

It felt like longer, but five minutes later at 6:55 P.M. I dialed Debbie. Between whimpers I told her that I was in an accident, but OK. I gave her my location and she said she would get Dahlia and be right there. Our son is away at Boy Scouts camp. I thought that State Trooper Eckman arrived before Debbie, but I don’t remember. I also thought it took 15 minutes for him to get there, but it must have been quicker. I didn’t talk to anybody. I tossed my iPhone on the ground next to me and just sat there with my head between my knees waiting. I occasionally glanced up as the passenger from the vehicle stood nearby. I had to make sure they didn’t drive away. I thought about taking some photos of the scene, the vehicle, their license plate, etc. but I was zonked. I just sat there.

When the trooper arrived, I recall getting up and approaching him. Maybe he spoke with me while I was seated. It doesn’t matter. I think I was seated. He asked for my ID and I dug my wallet out of my handlebar bag. I gave him my license and waited. He must have collected a license from the driver too and went to his vehicle. I think it was when he returned that I actually got up to talk to him. I told him I wanted the “case” documented. He said there was no case, but that I could call the barracks and get the records if I needed them. I figured there would be a claim against the driver and their insurance company, but I didn’t have my wits and had no interest in engaging with the driver.

I never even saw the driver. I didn’t want to look at the driver. I had no energy to complain or argue. I told Officer Eckman that I had ridden this road a thousand times. I told him that I hadn’t even planned to take it on this ride. I told him I took the Greenway and then switched to the road. He said without any sympathy, “Well, then this was bound to happen at some point.” He went on to compare my situation with a car accident in that they happen all of the time. In hindsight, I think that he has probably seen a lot of tragedy, pain, and suffering and that he realizes how dangerous it is on the roads. He likely sees the same crazy antics and distractions that I witness every day.

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In that moment, I wasn’t thinking about his perspective. I digested the comment and my retort was quick, “Well, that’s one way of looking at it, but it shouldn’t have happened tonight. That driver wasn’t paying attention.” This is when the frustration really kicked in. In the background, my daughter was bawling as she saw how hard it was for me to move. She saw me upset. She saw my tears. She saw me bleeding. Contrastingly, Debbie was quite stable and tried to calm our daughter down insisting that I was going to be alright. She is a strong woman.

I was upset after the exchange with Trooper Eckman. I grabbed my bike and straightened out my brake hoods. They were bent in at 45 degree angles. I spun my wheels to make sure they were running true. My chain was off. I asked Debbie for help to put it back on the front ring. She asked me what I was doing. I said, “I’m going to finish this ride.” She insisted on loading my bike in our VW Eurovan, but I wanted nothing to do with that. I didn’t look around. My focus was on getting home. I climbed back on my bike and got rolling. I got home around 7:20 P.M. It took me a little more than five minutes to go the last mile and a half. My back ached, but I was able to spin my legs no problem. The entire time from crash to getting home took about 26 minutes but it felt much longer.

I let myself in through the garage, put my bike in the basement, went inside, and got undressed. Debbie arrived home shortly afterwards. She said she spoke with the officer and he said he gave the driver a $185 fine and citation for “failing to grant the right of way.” That should help prove it was the driver’s fault and not mine. She also said she glanced into the vehicle. The driver never left her seat. She reported that the driver was female and then gave me some additional background information. Like I said, I was disinterested in meeting this person. Accidents happen, but normally for a reason. I don’t know if she was distracted, if she was a poor driver, if she was tired, or if as the passenger claimed, that she just didn’t see me. When he spoke, he said, “they” indicating that neither of them saw me. He had also referenced the sun, but at that moment when I was still sitting on the ground waiting for the police to arrive, I looked up and know that it wasn’t that bad. Speed doesn’t appear to be an issue. The limit on that road is 40 mph. Not far from the crash, there is a section of road that permits passing, which I think is wrong. That road is too narrow and winding for passing to be allowed, but that wasn’t a factor here. I could find all kinds of problems with how our roads are laid out and governed, but that’s not going to change. In my case, some combination of factors resulted in the fact that the driver was unaware of my presence on the road and she turned in front of me.

I’m sure the driver was shaken up by the situation. It could have been worse for her too. Distracted driving is an epidemic. The number of people that I see on their phones talking, texting, or performing other tasks is beyond alarming. In addition to all my riding, I spend a lot of time driving too. The problem is completely out of control. I don’t see that changing. Driving under the influence (DUI) reached a critical point in the 1980’s and people became more aware, but that hasn’t changed the fact that people still drive impaired by alcohol, drugs, and prescription medications.

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In addition to those risks, people are angry. They care less than they used to. More people are selfish and that shows up in their driving behavior. They don’t get enough sleep and drive when they are tired. They don’t do enough to manage the stress in their lives and they behave badly behind the wheel. People are in a bigger rush than ever. They fail to use their signals, they drive way too fast for conditions, they pass on the right, and they constantly blow through stop signs and traffic lights. I see it every day. Cyclists have a unique vantage point. They are higher up than most cars and they can see what’s going on. Vehicles are bigger than ever. Some SUV’s and trucks have large mirrors that stick out and come very close to you when they pass you. How many cyclists have been struck by a rearview mirror?

In recent years, I’ve been “coal rolled” multiple times. It’s disgusting. One of my pet peeves is that some vehicles have windows that are tinted so darkly that you cannot see the driver. You can’t see what they are doing. You can’t see what direction they are looking. You can’t see if they are staring at their phone. There is no way for you to tell if they see you. My fear is that their obliviousness is camouflaged by the tinted glass. It’s a problem that needs to be addressed.

The anger on the roads is just an extension of the broader anger in our society. When the bike path was being expanded in Bolton, our small town of 5,000 people 15 minutes east of Hartford, it caused so much angst. There has been a small but vocal group of people who have railed against the expansion of the Greenway and other paths. They have claimed that it’s a waste of their taxes. They have wrongly asserted that cyclists shouldn’t have access to roads because they “don’t pay taxes.” It’s a joke. They have blamed the problems on government. They have said that cyclists and pedestrians should stay off the roads. They have said even worse.

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The vulgarity and anger is so bad that I’ve ignored it. Social media has only fueled this problem and that’s just using OUR small town as an example. The “Everything Bolton” Facebook page is full of this nonsense. I don’t pay attention to it, but I know it is there. Who mounts professionally printed signs on trees to protest bike paths? Are those the same people that take their anger out on the roads when they get behind the wheel of a car?

The roads are in bad shape. I mentioned the cracks and debris. There is little funding to care for our failing infrastructure. The safest place for a cyclist to ride is as far right as possible, but sometimes that is on the worst possible surface. Many roads have no shoulder. It is best to avoid those, but sometimes you go from having five feet of space and in a matter of no time, the road narrows and you are left with nothing.

In Connecticut, a big deal has been made about the “three feet passing rule” or “three foot law.” It’s not followed and it is not enforced. There has to be more awareness and education around cyclists and pedestrians on the road. Debbie and I run the roads of our town too and it is only marginally safer than riding. As pedestrians, we face traffic and can stay just off the edge of the road when the space permits. But whether you are riding or running, the problem of distracted motorists is the same.

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Back at the house, I got my shredded cycling kit off and took a shower. The body has amazing healing powers and I wanted to get a jump start on my recuperation. I laid on the couch for a while. Then I had some dinner and went to bed. Despite a fitful night of rest and waking up stiff as a board, I was out of the house by 6:15 A.M. and back on my bike. Since I had left my car at work the night before, I figured the only logical way to get to work was to commute back. My psyche hadn’t changed and this was my way of saying, no motorist is going to stop me from doing what I love. Adrenaline was still coursing through my body and I knew that in the coming days, my pain and stiffness was only going to get worse. I wasn’t thinking about medical attention despite the pain I was feeling. There is no question that my pain threshold is higher than average. Debbie offered to take me to work and we have three vehicles, so I didn’t have to ride, but not riding was not an option.

Tuesday was a long day at work and by the end, I was out of gas. I returned home to an empty house because Debbie and Dahlia were at the 10th and final Winding Trails Summer Tri Series Race. I talked with my friend Arlen Wenzel and described the pain I was feeling. He suggested I get it checked out to make sure I had no fractures in my vertebrae or ribs. I got worried and decided to follow his instructions. Again, I didn’t want to go to the emergency department at the hospital, so I drove to the Go Clinic in East Hartford. This is the same clinic where I took Shepard when he broke his wrist back in June at the West Rock Superprestige Mountain Bike Race.

I signed in and then had a word with the technician. 30 seconds later, I was deleting my info from the iPad and walking out the door. The mobile x-ray unit that they used on Shepard was not going to cut it for my back and ribs. I thanked them for not wasting my time and returned to the parking lot where I sent an email to the same orthopedic doctors that treated my broken leg in 2018. I cc’d my PCP who is an Ironman triathlete veteran and understands my thinking. I requested an appointment with the ortho. By the time I got home, I had a reply from both doctors with some advice and the ortho cc’d one of his assistants so she could reach out to me in the morning. I went to bed.

I was feeling even worse on Wednesday morning, so I stayed home to work from the kitchen island and to work on getting an appointment and x-rays. The entire Wednesday saga and challenges of navigating our broken medical system is a long enough story for its own blog post, so I’ll save it. I spend a lot of time on healthcare issues because after wages, materials, and special processes (heat treatment, coatings, testing, etc.) health care premiums and related costs are some of HORST’s largest expenses. Even though I hate the topic, I’ve learned a lot about medical insurance. I’m thankful that my family is generally healthy and that my personal experience with it has mostly been related to injuries rather than illness.

I spent all day trying to get an order for x-rays and then a follow-up with a back specialist. By evening, I was frustrated and just ended up driving to UCONN in Storrs where there is a walk-in clinic. They had the large General Electric x-ray machine needed to shoot back and ribs images. The clinic was dead quiet as students have only just started to return to campus. I was seen immediately and the doctor wrote an instant order and I had the x-rays taken in the adjacent room. I was bummed that I waited and worried all day. I could have had this done by 10:00 A.M. and it was now approaching 7:00 P.M.

Within minutes, the doctor came back with a report that the x-rays were negative. He said he wasn’t an expert and that a radiologist would review them overnight, but that barring a major miss, he thought there were no fractures, breaks, or bone related issues. He said the spacing between my discs looked normal. He said I had a lot of muscle trauma, inflammation, contusions, and related back spasms. He said a combo of Tylenol and Advil would be a good over the counter option to manage the pain and reduce the swelling. He also suggested that I take hot showers. I drove home and followed his instructions.

On Thursday morning, the pain was reaching its peak. I was up quite during the night, but still got up early. I spent all day at work and again was tired by evening. I went to see Bob, my longtime massage therapist at Buckland Therapeutic Massage and had the best and worst massage of my life. I needed the work and knew it would pay dividends, but the suffering was immense. Just getting face down on the table was hard. After the message, I drove home, ate a little food, and went straight to bed. Friday morning, I got up and was feeling the after-effects of the body work. My wounds were weeping a bit, but I decided to spin for 30 minutes on the stationary bike with no resistance. I needed to move my legs and it felt good despite a few jolts of pain in my mid-back.

Friday was a little better and I could tell that the healing process was underway. By the end of the day, I was tired again. Debbie is away for the weekend at the AMC Women’s Trail Running & Yoga Retreat that she is hosting at the Highland Center in Crawford Notch. I didn’t feel like cooking, so I took Dahlia too Rein’s Deli. My elbow is getting better and I hope that by Monday I’ll be ready for some outside exercise again. I know that I have to take it easy. I’ve got some thinking to do about how active I plan to be in the short term. Cyclocross season is coming and I had a full season planned. However, I can’t afford to crash again. I’m in super shape right now, but I’m banged up. I went from an amazing high at the Niantic Bay Triathlon last Sunday to an amazing low on Monday night during the commute home. Close family and friends are always reminding me what I have “at stake.” I’m well aware of my family, work, and community responsibilities. I view it differently. We all have a lot at stake. Everyone has a different risk tolerance. Mine happens to be quite high. That’s probably why I continue to “swim with the sharks” by commuting and riding on the roads.

One of the unfortunate results of my crash is that I’ve fallen way behind in the HORST Engineering steps/activity challenge. My FEELTHEBURNhamSt Team is still in 5th spot, but we are losing ground to The Daily Grind and Waka Waka Waka. We have 2,105,919 steps since the challenge started last month and I’m now holding the team back! At least I can laugh a little about an awful circumstance. We have more than 70 employees participating and the initiative is being led by our F3 Team (Fit, Form, Function) focused on employee health and wellness. It’s a good thing. IMG_2975

I’ll likely turn more attention to bicycle advocacy, though I fear it is a losing battle. I already support MassBike, BikeWalk Connecticut, Bike Walk Bolton, the League of American Bicyclists, and other groups. I’ve talked about these matters in the past on the Bicycle Talk radio show/podcast. I won’t stop, but I’m doubtful that we can change the way people drive.

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I went years without a serious bike crash, but I’ve now had three major ones in a relatively short stretch. The physical and mental scars linger for months and years. The older you get, the harder it is to bounce back. You become less willing to push as hard. I’ve spent more times on trails for a reason, but I still love to commute. I’m sure that I will be putting more thought into my commuting routes. I’m sure that I will make even more use of the rail trail and the East Coast Greenway in an attempt to limit my exposure to motor vehicles. The days are getting shorter. Darkness and foul weather will become a bigger issue again as summer wanes. I plan to revisit my attire and anticipate that I’ll add even more lighting and reflective materials.

I can feel my body healing as I type, so I know that I’ll be back in the saddle soon. Some people might quit after a crash like this. Others would certainly slow down or delay their return to the road. Mentally, I’m ready to ride again. I’ll monitor my back throughout the weekend and see if by Monday I’m ready to ride again.

2019 Niantic Bay Triathlon

The weather conditions at yesterday’s 21st annual Niantic Bay Triathlon were spectacular. We were greeted at dawn by a picture perfect blue sky and a cool temperature. It was high tide and Niantic Bay was calm. It really was a great day for a race.

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I returned to Niantic for the first time since 2015. It was my 7th time doing the race. My first was way back in 2002. My father wore the 2002 race shirt yesterday to honor my return. When I got back to his house in Old Lyme, I gifted him my 2019 race shirt, so he can wear that one 17 years from now.

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A theme of the day was age group. I’ve changed age groups again since my last Niantic and when they wrote “47” on the back of my left calf, I gulped. I was well off of my best times on this course. I put down a 1:08:07, which was my slowest since I was a triathlon newbie in 2002. 1:01:25 was my best in 2013. Keep in mind that the course has changed a bit over the years. The swim is always slightly different and it has gotten longer, which penalizes me. The bike course has largely remained the same, but the run has been redesigned. You still finish on McCook Park Beach, but you don’t go over the Bluff.

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I love the course and that is why I returned. I’ve spent summers in Old Lyme my entire life and with my parents’ home only minutes away, Niantic is a fun and convenient race to do. The best part of yesterday was seeing all our friends from the triathlon community. It had been two years since my last triathlon. I haven’t focused on multisport, but it felt good to give it a go again.

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My legs are still heavy from the Never Summer 100K which I did three weeks ago. It’s very hard to go from a 22 hour endurance effort to a 68 minute all-out effort, but I love the range of my racing. I am gearing up for cyclocross season so any event in the 45-70 minute range is good training. Last Tuesday I also returned to one of my other local favorite races, the Winding Trails Summer Tri Series. WT is an off-road triathlon and was the last tri I did in 2017. It’s a training race but I still gave it a full effort.

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Debbie has been racing the series and I’ve been watching, but last week, I raced to get my tri legs back. Unfortunately, during the bike leg, I took a hard fall. My wet left hand slipped off the bars on a notoriously rooted section and I lost control. I cartwheeled at high speed and hurt my back and ribs. I remounted and finished the race, including a good 5K run, but I’ve been sore all week.

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I didn’t know if I could start Niantic, but 1) I was looking forward to it 2) I have a high pain tolerance and 3) there was no way I was going to make a $100 “donation” plus $7 registration fee to the Hartford Marathon Foundation. I applaud their efforts, and the volunteers at yesterday’s race were awesome, but that’s big money for a race and it wasn’t going to go to waste. Even the New York Times recently wrote about the high cost of triathlons and the state of the sport. I won’t spend any time on the debate in this post, but it’s true, the number of entrants are down (there looked to be 100-200 fewer participants at Niantic than five years ago–a ~20% decline), fewer youth are participating, and the cost (gear, fees, travel, etc.) is a barrier.

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One youth who raced yesterday was Luke Anthony, a 15-year-old athlete from East Lyme. Niantic is a section of East Lyme, so that is as local as you get. Luke crushed the race, winning in 1:00:27. He was fastest on both the bike and the run. His Dad John is a member of Team HORST Sports and I’m sure he is very proud of Luke’s progress. I was stoked to have my photo taken with Luke after the finish.

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My own son, Shepard, who is 12, did his first full Winding Trails Tri a few weeks ago. He is away at camp so he missed the chance to at least watch Niantic, but I hope we do it together some day. He hasn’t done any racing on the road, whereas Luke is also a talented cyclist who has been affiliated with the CCAP for several years. The Team HORST Junior Squad is also affiliated with CCAP, but for cyclocross and mountain biking. I know that triathlon has similar youth development programs, but it’s going to take a bigger effort to garner interest in the sport. Racing on the road has hazards that are different from off-road.

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I seem to have no problem crashing on roads or trails! Even still, I think the trails are safer. Debbie road over from Old Lyme and she was part of a loud cheering section. She and I had a nice cool down on our bikes. We went over to the Waterford side of the bay and explored some pretty roads, spotting deer and other wildlife. I love riding along the shoreline.

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I didn’t train for this race so I can’t be too harsh on myself. The competitive spirit inside me always wants to improve upon every performance. I had a full day of exercise yesterday. In the early evening, I rode home to Bolton from Old Lyme. It was 41 miles and I was “cooked” when I finished. I listened to a good podcast interview with Coach Ian Sharman. The subject was failure and he offered some interesting insight into performance. The talk was focused more on ultra distance trail running, but it is applicable to any sport. By no means was my face a failure. Quite the contrary, it was a success. However, the idea that you can perform at a high level every time as you age is a fallacy. I think the longer events suit the older athletes as the mental game becomes more important than the fitness. In a 15 mile sprint triathlon, there is no time for strategy. You have to execute well, but it’s more about sheer power and speed.

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One positive aspect to my race is that I made up ground from the moment I exited the water. I picked up a few spots on the bike and even more on the run. I pushed and despite the “pain” in my ribs, I did well. The sun never stopped shining. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. They moved in by late afternoon and a breeze kicked up, but by then, I was headed north on the back roads of Lyme, Salem, and Colchester. I took Grassy Hill Road, one of my favorites and wound my way through some eastern Connecticut hills.

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I don’t know when I’ll do another triathlon, but I’m glad I did Niantic Bay. It was a blast.

Race Results


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I got to sample the fun activities at Boy Scouts @troop25ct Camp Kirkham. I slept under the amazing stars. We had a full agenda of geocaching, archery, cooking, disc golf, and paddling. I even squeezed in a run to the top of Silver Mountain where I had a 360 degree view. #boyscouts
It was great fun cheering for the Bolton Center School XC Team and their coach @trailrunningmom at The Panther Fest. Go Bulldogs! #crosscountry #trailrunning 🏃🏽‍♀️ 🏃🏿
#carfreecommute #wickhampark
It’s easy to love the infamous water (muck) crossing at the Trails to a Cure (Cockaponset Trail Race). We felt like sea monsters! I can’t believe how out of breath I was after fetching my camera at the finish and running the 1/4 mile back to catch @trailrunningmom and Shepard make their crossings. Either hey are getting faster or I am getting slower! Maybe more swim-run is in our future. 🏊🏽‍♀️🏃🏽‍♀️ #shenipsitstriders #teamhorstsports #teamhorstjuniorsquad #blueblazedtrail #trailrunning
Good fun kicking off the 2019 #cyclocross season at the #QuadCross It was also the launch of the 2019 @zanksscx which is my prime CX objective. #crossisboss @horstcycling #horstcycling #teamhorstsports #teamhorstjuniorsquad #crossspikes #sevencycles
Yesterday’s late afternoon ride was fantastic. The #hoprivertrail to #airlinetrail to #charteroakgreenway is now my favorite loop. The natural beauty that starts right out my front door is proof that #connecticut trails are VERY underrated. I even got to share several miles with @pearljam09 #railtrail @eastcoastgreenway #eastcoastgreenway #bicycle #sevencycles #evergreening
Shepard had an awesome two weeks at @troop25ct Camp Kirkham in #newhampshire Some of the learning included First Aid, Fish & Wildlife, Sports, Photography, and Swimming. It will be great to have him back home. @boyscoutsofamerica
Little D and I passed though our favorite state on the way to NH this morning. #vermont
I dusted off my #triathlon gear for the first time in more than two years. I had to wipe mold off my running shoes, and it felt good to wash my bike. It’s good to know I can still throw it down at 47 but I will admit that we all got thrashed by a talented 15-year-old Junior. At least I got my photo with him! I’m waiting for his Dad to message it to me. 😀 MY Dad even pulled out a vintage 2002 race shirt to honor the occasion. The weather at the @hmf_events Niantic Bay Triathlon was spectacular. We saw lots of old friends. 🏊‍♂️🚴🏽🏃🏿#teamhorstsports @horstcycling #shenipsitstriders @seven_cycles #sevencycles

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