Search Results for 'seven cycles'

Seven Cycles Tour

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


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


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


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


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


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


Bicycles East and Seven Cycles

Last Thursday, Bicycles East hosted an “Evening with Seven Cycles” event at their shop in Glastonbury, CT. Debbie and I were stoked to have six of our bikes on display.



The event was the “grand opening,” to celebrate Bicycles East becoming an official Seven Cycles dealer. My relationship with Seven goes way back–the go back to before their founding. In 1992, with help from my grandfather, and after working a lot of overtime (in the turning department) at Horst Engineering, I saved up and bought a Spectrum Titanium. I still ride that beautiful bike. Tom Kellogg designed it, but it was fabricated at Merlin Metalworks, the legendary Boston area titanium frame building company.



Several of Seven’s founders, including principal founder Rob Vandermark, cut their teeth at Merlin. Rob was a welder, and he may have even welded my Spectrum. The bike went back to Tom Kellogg for final finishing. I raced that bike in more than a hundred road races, including all of the Belgian kermesses that I competed in during the summer of 1994. The fact that my grandfather, who learned metalworking at a German bicycle factory in his teens, helped me get that bike makes it one of the most special in my fleet.



Merlin folded, but the seeds were sown for the founding of Seven more than 23 years ago. I acquired my first Seven about 15 years ago, a Tsunami cyclocross bike that I raced all over New England. I even raced it at the Cape Town Cycle Tour in South Africa. It wasn’t long after acquiring the Tsunami, that I got my first Sola mountain bike.



I’ve been affiliated with Team Seven Cycles since 2010 when they built me a custom Kameha SLX for the Ironman World Championships. I’ve been fortunate to benefit from the relationship and have been an ambassador for the company ever since. I have several Seven’s now, as does Debbie.



So, it made sense that Bicycles East, a key Team Horst Sports sponsor and partner, should become a dealer. The team at the shop has been working on my bikes for several years now. I had an opportunity to make a connection between the two companies, and I’m confident this will be a great relationship. Bicycles East has a world-class bike fit studio and they run a very smooth operation. Owners Steve and Deb Dauphinais put a lot of pride into their small business and it shows.


So, if you are local and want to see a Seven up close, you can check some out at Bicycles East. Of course, you can also always visit my basement.

Seven Cycles

Two weeks ago, when loading my beloved singlespeed Seven Sola 29SL into the trailer prior to the Hop Brook Dam Mountain Bike Race, I noticed that the top tube was cracked. It was a bummer and I missed the race. We still went to Middlebury, CT because our son did the Junior race.


I hadn’t ridden that bike since the prior Monday at the Dirty Duathlon in Glastonbury, CT. It’s possible that the crack appeared before that ride, but it certainly got worse on the bumpy course at the Longo Preserve.


I wrote about this bike in 2012, though I’ve been racing it hard since 2011. It is made from Titanium, and the crack went from 11:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. so the top tube was nearly severed. It would have been ugly, if  it came apart while riding. The crack started at the bottom of the weld and worked its way in both directions.


Titanium failures are rare, but they do occur. Usually, the root cause was a bad weld. One of the benefits of a raw Titanium frame is that it can be repaired. I reached out to the team at Seven Cycles in Watertown, MA. They came up with a game plan and I dropped it off the next day. Fortunately, I had to be at Sterling Machine in Lynn on Tuesday, so the timing was good. We work with Titanium all of the time, but not tubing. Our raw material is solid bar stock and plate. Also, we don’t weld it. Our experience with the strong (but light) metal is exclusively with machining, grinding, and thread rolling.


One week later, I picked up the repaired bike, and it looked like new. They couldn’t match the decals perfectly, but that is minor considering the extent of the repair. They completely disassembled the bike. They cut off the top tube. They cut the down tube away from the head tube. They replaced the head tube and the top tube. Finally, they re-finished the frame, and rebuilt it with all of the parts.


They did the best they could to tune the Gates Carbon Belt drivetrain, but it still needs some work. It’s too bad because I had the tension of the belt dialed in perfectly, and it hadn’t slipped in five years. After I picked up the bike, I drove over to the Middlesex Fells to test itout. Unfortunately, the belt is slipping on steep climbs, so we have some tuning to do.

The fact that they repaired the frame is fantastic. I’m glad this frame didn’t end up in the scrap bin. All of my Seven’s are “lifetime” bikes. Kudos to everyone involved with the repair. Despite needing to do more tweaking with the set-up, I’m pleased with the outcome, considering that two weeks ago, this bike was unrideable.

I raced the bike today at the Fat Tire Classic in Farmington, CT.

Team Seven Cycles

For the past three years, I have been affiliated with Team Seven Cycles, which is really cool. The group is made up of some great cycling ambassadors who get support from Seven Cycles, the iconic Watertown, Massachusetts manufacturer of custom bicycles.

It’s great being on the team because it compliments my involvement with Team Horst Sports and the Horst Engineering Cycling Team. Also, Seven Cycles is a well-run organization with wonderful employees and a unique culture. I am fortunate to be the owner of several Seven bikes, including two new ones. During my first year on the team, my focus was on Ironman Brazil and the Ironman World Championships. Seven built me an incredibly versatile Kameha SLX that I have used in 30 diverse triathlons to date, and I’ll be racing it again on Sunday morning. I wanted a bike that would last many years and not just look like the latest fast bike fad.

The bike is super comfortable at any distance and on any type of road. For the past two years, the bike has been featured on Seven’s home page, which is pretty cool. It proves that even the builders, who have seen some nice bikes over the years, consider it a special one. Last year, I didn’t get a bike, but in 2012, I’ve made up for it. Seven expanded the team and I was fortunate to again work with them on a bike project. Dan Vaillancourt managed the project for Seven with support from their engineering team. One bike turned into two!

In 2012, my focus remains on triathlon, but half of those tri’s are off-road and I’m also doing a couple of long distance mountain bike races. I’ve always wanted a single speed mountain bike, and Seven helped make that wish come true. They worked with me to build a Sola SL 29er singlespeed. The complete bike weighs in at a lightweight 18.9 pounds.

The titanium frame is coupled with a Niner RDO carbon fork. Not only is it singlespeed, but it is rigid.  I’ve got a Shimano Deore XT crankset with a Gates Carbon Belt Drive system, which should become a popular trend. The frame was split on the right seat stay so that the belt could be assembled. The frame is held together with a couple of bolts and has rocker style dropouts to adjust belt tension. The front sprocket is a 46 and the rear is a 26, which is a 1.769 gear ratio, equivalent to gearing is equivalent to a 32 x 18 on a chain style single speed. I’m using Shimano SPD pedals.

I’ve got a Chris King headset in the oversized 44mm head tube. It has a Seven titanium handlebar and a Seven aluminum stem. I’m running Shimano Deore XT hydraulic disc brakes mounted on Stan’s ZTR Crest stock wheels. I’m holding my water bottle with a stainless steel King Cage. The seat post is a Thompson aluminum mated to a Fizik Gobi saddle.

Bike parts have come a long way since I was riding my 1987 Specialized Stumpjumper, which had Shimano Deore parts on it. I miss that classic bike.

Seven wrote about the new Sola SL in their blog.

It turns out that the most amount of time that I spend on a bike is commuting to and from work. My commutes are a mix of road and trail. It is the best way for me to build and maintain fitness, and I feel great about the carbon free riding. I dreamt up the perfect bicycle to fit this need and Seven built it. I call it my “super commuter,” but it is much more than that. The bike is suitable for fast road riding, dirt roads, rail trail, randonee, light touring, and brevets. I haven’t raced it yet, but I will. I wanted to make the perfect bike for every day riding in New England whether I’m at home in Connecticut or on the dirt roads of Vermont.

My commute is 13.4 miles to work in East Hartford on the direct, all road route. Horst Engineering  is only 1,000 feet from the Connecticut River, so the ride is downhill to the valley. The ride home is uphill most of the way to my home in Bolton at 590 feet above sea level. The direct route home is slightly longer (avoiding a few intersections) and I often extend the ride to get a little more time in the saddle. The main route is primarily on a major road, Route 44 which goes down Middle Turnpike and then Burnside Avenue, a couple of crazy urban thoroughfares with bad reputations.

I have to deal with lots of rough roads, potholes, railroad tracks, and road debris. I often ride in the dark, so in fall/winter I’ll outfit the bike with lights. When I have the time, I often take the Hop River Linear Trail, which goes right in front of our house. I can take the cinder rail trail for the first (or last) eight miles of the trip when I take the longer 17 mile route. Occasionally, I ride the bike paths along Interstate 84 and at other times, I ride the Hockanum River trails in East Hartford which have a series of wooden bridges, a little bit of singletrack, and some fairly rough sections of trail. I enjoy the various options, and I wanted a bicycle that could handle it all.

So, my new Axiom SL was designed to meet those needs. It is a titanium frame/Seven carbon fork combo with extra clearance to fit 28cm tires and full fenders. I’m running an 11 speed Campagnolo Chorus group set with a 34 x 50 compact crankset and 12 x 25 cassette mounted on custom-built wheels. The wheels are Mavic Open Pro rims mated to Chris King R45 hubs with DT Swiss spokes and alloy nipples. My Horst Engineering colleague and Team Seven Cycles teammate, Arthur Roti, did the wheel build. I have 28cm Panaracer t serv PTtires fit to the wheels, which are fantastic. I’m using Velo Orange Grand Cru brake calipers to reach around the fenders.

The cockpit of the bike has a Chris King headset with the understated Sotto Voce logo, 3T handlebars, and a Seven aluminum stem. The seatpost is a Seven carbon model painted black mated to a San Marco Concor saddle. The frame and fork were custom painted, as were the Velo Orange fenders. The paint scheme includes the same colors that are on my Kameha SLX. I didn’t see Seven’s post-paint blog post and photo until after the bike was built. The stout stainless steel rear rack was designed and built by one of Seven’s welders. I should be able to fit a good-sized trunk bag and load it up with up to 30 pounds worth of gear. I’m using Speedplay Zero pedals.

Last month, I took the two bikes out on separate mornings to visit the Bolton Heritage Farm (Rose Farm). I’ll report back in the coming weeks as I get more time on these incredible bicycles. Thanks to Seven Cycles and Team Seven Cycles for the velo-inspiration! I consider myself quite fortunate to ride bikes like these. Now I have to honor them by going fast.

Seven Cycles Development Squad

Last week, I was thrilled to receive notice that I was chosen for the 2010 Seven Cycles Development Squad. Seven launched this group in 2009, but I didn’t apply until this year. I had forgotten about the February submittal, so it was wonderful to get the good news during a crazy week. With the month end/quarter end and all of the rain on Monday and Tuesday, it didn’t seem like there would be much joy heading into last weekend.

The skies cleared, I got the notification, we met our budgeted goals, and the holiday weekend arrived with much promise. Seven’s grassroots racing team is made up of 20 members from all over the United States. They race in all of the major cycling disciplines, including road cycling, cyclocross, mountain biking, and multisport (triathlon/duathlon). I do all of those sports, so I had some decisions to make about which new bicycle frame to go with as part of the program. My major 2010 events are in the triathlon discipline and it made sense to go with a triathlon/time trial machine.

I built up a Cannondale Slice last year, but it is a stock bike. So, I considered a cyclocross frame, a singlespeed mountain bike, abut ultimately, I chose the Kameha SLX. It is going to take some work to get it made, assembled, and tested prior to the big May race. In anyone can meet the deadline, Seven can. I’m excited to join this group of accomplished riders. True to the grassroots style, this group wasn’t selected only because we were a speedy bunch, but because we have been identified as good ambassador for Seven.

Seven Cycles was founded in 1997. The company is based in Watertown, Massachusetts. I have been a fan since the beginning. I spent five years in Boston in the early 1990’s when the custom bike world grew up. The big Boston names in those days were Merlin Metalworks and Fat Chance. Seven’s founder and president, Rob Vandermark, learned the bike trade at Merlin. The Boston bicycle community is one of the best. I’m not slamming Hartford or Connecticut, but the urban environment and culture of the big city makes a huge difference in the world of bikes.

Seven has been different since their founding. Their about page gives a good overview. From my perspective, they are one of the only bicycle product manufacturing companies that I know that takes their manufacturing processes seriously. I’m sure there are other great companies in the industry, but they do a fantastic job at marketing their approach to lean enterprise. I’ve toured their factory in the past, and it is evident that they approach their trade in a very workmanlike manner with teamwork at the core of what they do. They take great pride in their production system, and their consistently short lead times are a great metric. This approach makes them very successful. The designs of the products are fabulous. They have developed many proprietary methods and show true range in the types of materials that they work with. I have not been to the factory since the launch of their A6 Carbon Technology platform in 2006, so I am looking forward to a return visit, and of course to the Kameha, which uses their carbon technology.

In addition to carbon fiber, the company produces bicycle frames in titanium and steel. They produce accessories (e.g. forks, stems, etc.) from carbon fiber, titanium, steel, stainless steel, and aluminum. Most of the manufacturing is done in-house, which is a real differentiator in this day and age of outsourcing. They take pride in USA and New England built products. I live and breathe manufacturing at Horst Engineering, so it is great to see an accomplished local company in the bicycle products space when so much of that industry has migrated to Taiwan, China, and other parts of Asia.

I wrote a story about Seven and the reemergence of the US bicycle industry, for the November/December 2005 issue of Today’s Machining World magazine. The cover story was about Seven and their best practices. In June of 2008, I wrote a another cover story for TMW, about SRAM, an industry leader in bicycle components (they don’t build frames). SRAM is a contrast from Seven and their USA based manufacturing. SRAM, though based in Chicago, almost exclusively produces their parts offshore.

Seven is obviously committed to reinvesting in their business. The main evidence of this is their consistent research and development efforts. They are excellent at a concept known as customization. They crank out hundreds of unique bicycle frames every year and rely on their dealer network to help provide customers with a proper bike fit, distribute, and retail the product. Sticking with bicycle shops is good for their community involvement and allows them to expand their reach. Selling direct, through catalog, or internet would not permit this.

I will be working with a new Seven dealer, the Ride Studio Cafe in Lexington, Massachusetts.

As said, I’m excited for the new bike and to be part of the Seven Development Squad.

Frame Building Heaven-Meet the Makers at Signature Cycles

Greenwich, Connecticut was the place to be yesterday afternoon. Four representatives from four legendary bicycle frame building companies came together at Signature Cycles for a one of a kind event. Meet the Makers was billed as, “A premier and exclusive meeting of four of the world’s finest Custom Frame Builders in one location to discuss the story of their success building the best bicycles on the planet and what they have planned for the future.”


Gary Smith, Ben Serotta, Rob Vandermark, and Bob Parlee

Gary Smith, Ben Serotta, Rob Vandermark, and Bob Parlee

When I realized that I wouldn’t have time to get to Indianapolis for the NAHBS, I was disappointed. Then, I stumbled across a press release on-line that mentioned this special event much closer to home. Driving to Greenwich, one of the most affluent communities on Earth, at a time of world economic turmoil, was an experience in itself. I pass through from time to time, but this time, it triggered all kinds of thoughts about success, excess, and greed. They often mix together. Enough about that. Still, you can’t shake the thought from your head when you see bicycles selling for more than $20,000. That’s right…more than a lot of automobiles sell for these days. 


Paul Levine of Signature Cycles.

The main event was preceded by a morning ride around Southwestern Connecticut. I didn’t make the ride, but several of the builders joined a group of local cyclists to tour the area roads. That must have been fun. 

I made the trip down the Merritt Parkway and I-95, with my long time friend; Craig Damaschi. Back in high school, Craig is the guy (kid at the time) who really got me into cycling. We were both runners on the cross country team, but we both preferred bikes. He had such an intense passion for the sport of cycling and adored its European roots. His Italian heritage gave him a cool flair that was perfect for the sport. He had all the bike magazines and he had the hottest bike (a 50th anniversary Scwhinn Paramount built from Columbus SLX tubing) of anyone I knew. It put my Shogun to shame. I upgraded in due time! Craig even had the coolest Oakley sunglasses. When I learned of the Signature event, I immediately thought of Craig. He has returned to cycling after years of dabbling in cars, motorcycles (don’t let his mother read this), marriage, and fatherhood. Actually, he isn’t dabbling in either marriage or fatherhood. He is neck deep in both, which is how life evolves for many of us. That only means less time for bikes. So a little childcare help from our in-law’s allowed for a Saturday diversion to travel to the fantasy world of Signature Cycles. It was just what the doctor ordered. 


Craig Damaschi, the new Serotta Meivici AE, and Ben Serotta.

The event featured Bob Parlee of Parlee Cycles, Ben Serotta of Serotta Bicycles, Gary Smith of Independent Fabrication, and Rob Vandermark of Seven Cycles. My expectations for the event were high. Signature Cycles is not your ordinary bike shop. They have showrooms in Connecticut (Greenwich) and New York (Central Valley and Manhattan). Signature focuses on the high end of the bicycle market and specializes in custom fit. They only carry five brands, including the four mentioned, and Guru. Signature is not the place to bring your broken down and rusty Huffy for a spring tune up. To compare Signature with other retailers is difficult. It would be like going to a car dealership that only sells, Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini, Maserati, and Aston Martin. How is that for a list of marquis brands? I actually know a dealership like that in Coral Gables, Florida. It is called The Collection. I wonder how they are fairing in this economy? Needless to say, Signature Cycles has quite a “collection” of bicycles. 


Signature’s Paul Levine (President), Lori Hoefer (Store Manager), and Soren Klingsporn were our hosts for the day. They did a wonderful job at creating a cool atmosphere to hear these influential icons of the industry speak. This is the kind of customer appreciation event that can do wonders for your image, but the 65F degree March weather outside the building threw the Signature team a curve ball. The weather was the likely cause of some empty seats in the room, which seemed to be the only disappointment. This group of speakers deserved to have a full house. The complimentary refreshments were a nice touch, but the main course was the question and answer session with the company leaders of Independent Fabrication, Serotta Bicycles, Seven Cycles, and Parlee Cycles. 

Paul Levine did a nice introduction and as moderator, went through several rounds of questions, including a “speed round.” Paul spoke of his business and said that Signature’s big goal is to be the #1 dealer in the world for each of the five brands that they carry. They have succeeded with Serotta and Seven, and are on their way to reaching that goal with the other brands. Clearly, he has a passion for the business that is on par with each of the speakers. 


It was interesting to learn of the diverse backgrounds of each industry leader. Gary Smith is a professional business manager. He came from The Timberland Company, a much larger sporting goods manufacturer/retailer to join Independent Fabrication (a co-op) in what he referred to as a “downshift.” Ben Serotta started on his own as a steel racing bicycle frame builder. He has been in the industry for more than 30 years and has worked with many of the world’s elite cyclists. Rob Vandermark has a background in sculpture and joined fledgling Merlin Metalworks in the late 1980’s and spent half his career involved with Merlin’s titanium bicycle manufacturing operation. Then, he founded Seven Cycles with three partners. Bob Parlee had a long career in the outdoor industry with stints in the boat building market and ski industry. His knowledge of composites came from building boats. He is partners with his wife, Isabel, who joined him at the event and was equally as articulate at talking about their small business. 


Each member of the panel answered questions about their business model, their favorite bike, their most difficult project, how they got their start in the business, who their biggest hero is, and how they balance innovation with running the day to day operations. They each described their favorite movie, the last book they read, the materials their company’s work with, their marketing strategy, their favorite place to ride, and the economy. After Paul Levine’s questions, the audience had its chance to to ask their own. The eclectic nature of the questions revealed more than you would have gotten from a standard interview in one of the industry magazines. I was glad I attended to hear the answers in person.


The speaking panel was followed by a raffle that had enough schwag for just about every one of the 30 or so people in attendance. Most everyone walked away with a nice gift. When the panel broke up, each builder retreated (with members of their staff) to a corner of the shop. In addition to Signature’s inventory, each builder brought some of their newest bicycles to display. Many of these cutting edge bikes came straight from NAHBS in Indianapolis. These show bikes included: 

  • Independent Fabrication’s prototype carbon fiber road bike. 
  • Independent Fabrication’s high end titanium commuter bike.
  • Serotta’s Meivici AE road bike. 
  • Serotta’s new titanium/carbon cyclo-cross bike with new logos.
  • Parlee’s flagship Z1 road bike. 
  • Parlee’s high end commuter bike. 
  • Seven’s Parcours high end titanium commuter bike (Rob’s favorite).
  • Seven’s Sola 007 tandem titanium mountain bike. 

Zipp Speed Weaponry was also in attendance. The Zipp representative showed off their latest wheel and component creations, which are just phenomenal.

It was so much fun to mingle with the crowd and chat with the builders about their bikes and their businesses. This was truly a unique event. With spring around the corner, it offered some sweet inspiration. I’m ready to get out and ride! 




Seven and BlackBerry

I’ve heard some good things about BlackBerry’s. However, I’ve got a Treo and don’t plan to switch anytime soon, though I enjoyed this video featuring Seven Cycle’s founder, Rob Vandermark. Seven is a very cool company.

2019 Secret Squirrel CX & Bishop’s Orchard Cyclocross

Our four-day Thanksgiving Holiday weekend culminated with the Bishop’s Orchard Cyclocross in Guilford, Connecticut. The penultimate event was yesterday at the Secret Squirrel CX in Raynham, Massachusetts. We proceeded those races with a low-key hike of Mt. Holyoke in Massachusetts, and a kicked off the weekend on Thanksgiving at the Manchester Road Race. IMG_0279

Bishop’s was a fitting end to the weekend as I did the last race of the day and the last race of the 2019 CT Series of CX as the snow was flying. It was a spectacular ending to this awesome little series. Last year’s Bishop’s was equally as epic as it took place after a heavy snowmelt and the course was waterlogged. Today, in the morning, the course was like tundra, but by early afternoon, the flakes were falling. By the time my race started at 2:30 P.M., the snow was falling heavily and it only intensified over the next hour as the Elite Men and Singlespeed (Men and Women) fought their way around the tough (and hilly) orchard course.


It was another long day of cyclocross for our family. Yesterday was just as long but I’ll come back to Secret Squirrel later in this post. As good as that race was, it can’t come close to today’s spectacle in Guilford, so that is where I will focus. It wasn’t just the weather that made today special. The race is part of our home state series and we had strong participation from Team HORST Sports and the CCAP Team HORST Junior Squad.



The kids have been the highlight of this CX season again. CCAP has done a remarkable job at building a cyclocross community and getting so many juniors involved. In addition to my son Shepard, our juniors included Boden Chenail, Lars Roti, Owen Lezon, Ethan Lezon, Sean Rourke, and Alexandra Miller-Davey. Our Masters racers included Wade Summers, John Meyerle, Brett Chenail, Rich Frisbie, Arthur Roti, and Andris Skulte. That was a wonderful turnout for the CT series finale.



Team HORST Orange was on the podium many times. Awards were given for:

  1. The race
  2. The USA Cycling Connecticut State Championships
  3. The CT Series of CX

I won’t list all our series winners and podium finishers because the the final results aren’t posted yet. However, finishing on the podium today were Wade (2nd in Men’s 50+) and Alexandra (2nd in Junior Girls 12-14.



I noted that we spent the whole day at the race. Shepard raced at 9:47 A.M. so we were out of the house by 7:15 A.M. Dahlia joined us. Both kids were troopers for spending the day outside in harsh conditions. My father, Stanley, also came to watch the Junior races, which was cool. We had use of the Team HORST tent (which had a little heater) and the Bishop’s Orchard barn which had some heaters too, but they still had to brave the elements. They will sleep well tonight. Debbie did the Shenipsit Striders Shenipsit Trail End-to-End Run, so she skipped the race. She spent all morning in the woods. She left the house at 5:10 A.M. The run started in East Hampton and she did the first “half” finishing in Bolton Notch at 12:15 P.M. She thought about coming to Guilford afterwards, but with the bad weather, wisely opted to stay home and prep dinner for us as all three of us were quite “hangry.”



One series result I’m positive about is my own. My race was nuts. As mentioned, we were the last to go off. The Elite Men started one minute in front of the singlespeeders and the race was slated for 50 minutes. It was snowing steadily at the start but by the half-way point, it was coming down extra heavy. The course conditions deteriorated quickly and it got very slippery. I stayed on my bike, which was goal number one.


My Seven Cycles Mudhoney SL has been a beast all season. I just love this bike. On the start line, I realized that my front Tufo tubular had lost a little air during the day. I put 25 psi in it early in the morning, but it softened up. I yelled for Shepard to go to the pit and get my other bike and wait for me should I need it, a geared Mudhoney Pro (with zip ties locking out the shifting). The kid was awesome, he spent the entire seven lap race in the double-sided pit moving my bike 14 times. A friendly stranger gave him some hand warmers for his gloves as he was frozen solid standing there in the snow.


The good news is I actually like the low tire pressure and decided to just keep riding my dedicated SS bike. It was probably 20 psi and it was ideal for the conditions. Bishop’s is as hilly as it gets. We gained nearly 1,000 feet in 10.6 miles and it was up and down. The course is also almost exclusively on grass (other than the asphalt finishing stretch) and is quite bumpy, so you have to constantly pedal. There were many tight turns and several technical off-camber sections. It was an excellent track. I was forced to get off for the barriers and then on one of the steepest climbs.



I opted to ride all of the orchard climbs even tough I could have run faster. The strategy there was that my cleats were getting caked with ice and mud which made it very difficult to clip in. So, I wanted to minimize my dismounts. That meant that I rode some of the hills at an extremely slow pace and I was even forced to tack back and forth a few times to get up the hills. It was hilarious. I loved it.


It was a small field and I spent the first half of the race battling with Eric Wyzga for 4th place. He and I battle every week and we finished 9th and 10th yesterday at Secret Squirrel. So, we know each other well. To his credit, the SS race was his second of the day. He also did the Men’s 3/4 race and rode well. So, despite doing three races in four days, I had the advantage this afternoon and I took it. I eventually distanced him and held on to my 4th spot. I also stayed on the lead lap which took a big effort since the Elite Men started one minute in front of us and just as I crossed the finish line for start of my 7th and final lap, the two leaders were sprinting behind me. I got there first which meant I had another 8+ minutes of suffering and fun in the snow.



That was OK because I wanted to keep riding. I ended up with 58 minutes, which was long. Shepard brought my pit bike back to the car/trailer and I rode straight there to meet him. I let him jump inside and I started the car to get some heat going. Our tent had been packed up when the rest of the team departed. Dahlia was staying warm in the barn, but she eventually joined us. I didn’t even change. I packed our four bikes in the trailer and then we drove up to the store as Dahlia had to use the restroom. We are lucky she did because while we were waiting for her, my phone rang and it was Jake Kravitz calling from the barn.


He asked if we were still at the race. I replied yes and asked why. He said I placed in the series. That was a pleasant surprise. I knew that I was sitting 4th coming into the race, but didn’t realize that Donny Green (despite winning today in fine style) didn’t complete the minimum number of races. He came into the race in 3rd place, but the series also rewards participation and consistency. He got some nice prizes for winning, so I didn’t feel bad about beating him out on participation.


Since Donny hails from Massachusetts, I also got bumped up to third for the Connecticut State Championships. I earned a nice medal. First went to Connor Walsh and second to Anthony Vecca. For the series, it was Anthony on the top step and Connor in second. For third, I got a sweet handmade Ukrainian goblet. I was thrilled. Shepard was a good sport, joining me in the barn and taking photos.


I mentioned Jake, who did was a big help to the race promoters. The Bishop’s staff and volunteers did a fine job. So did Rob Stiles who pulled together all the results and hosted multiple award ceremonies in the barn. Between Jake and Rob, they kept the energy high all day long. This was a great finale.


We got back in the car and then had a wild drive home. I was so glad that we took my Subaru Outback rather than our Volkswagen Eurovan. I actually had the van packed and trailer attached by 6:30 A.M., but checked the weather and made the switch. It paid off as it was white-knuckle driving with post-holiday traffic and nasty weather. It took us 90 minutes to get home and we were quite thankful that Debbie had made a hot meal for us.  Everyone was cooked after four days of intense outdoor activities. I’ll have some bikes to wash and gear to clean, but it was worth it. Now for some rest. The work week starts tomorrow and it will be another busy one.


Bishop’s Orchard Race Results

OK, so a little bit about Secret Squirrel. Shepard and I spent Saturday in Raynham. His race started at 8:30 A.M. so we had to get up very early and make the two-hour drive. There is no fast route to Raynham as it is due east. We just made it in time, but he missed call-ups and had to start in the back row. He was a good sport about it and used an adrenaline surge to move up to 6th in the combined junior field. He held his spot and ended up third in his age group earning a nice scarf as a prize. We had to hang around all day as my race didn’t go off until 2:45 P.M. It was a Zanconato Singlespeed CX Series event, so it was a full field that also included some fat-bikers. I had a decent race, but my legs were still hammered from the road race on Thursday. As mentioned Eric and I fought the hard fight and I came out on top. The Zank Series finals are in two weeks at The Ice Weasels Cometh.



Race Results (will be posted when available)

2019 Connecticut Trails Day

I’m so pleased that the weather turned out great for Connecticut Trails Day Weekend. This annual nationwide celebration of trails is even more popular in Connecticut. Our little state has more than 200 events. The driving force behind this effort is the Connecticut Forest & Park Association (CFPA).



I’m a longtime member of the CFPA Board of Directors and HORST Engineering is a longtime sponsor of Trails Day. So, you could say that I’m biased. Of course, who would argue that Trails Day is a bad thing?


Getting people outside to enjoy nature is a primary goal for CFPA, and for me too. I got my day started early. By 6:00 A.M. I was out for a bike ride on my new Seven Cycles Evergreen XX. I spent some time on the roads of Bolton, Rockville, and Manchester, but I also spent some time on the Hop River State Park, otherwise known as the “rail trail.” This is our rail trail and we are fortunate to have access to it right out our front door. Mixed surface rides are perfect for my new Evergreen.



Dahlia and I dropped Shepard at a Scouts BSA Troop 25 Eagle Scout project so that he could pitch in and get some service hours towards his own requirements. Then we visited HORST too say hello to some of our Saturday shift colleagues. After that, we went to Cedar Hill Cemetery in Hartford for a Trails Day event. This was a 1.5-mile Educational Walk that featured an arborist and a tour of the notable trees. Cedar Hill is a famous and beautiful cemetery in Hartford’s south end.


I’ve written about it several times. Debbie and I did the Cedar Hill 4-Miler on three occasions in 2011, 2010, and 2008. Each year, the race was named for a famous “resident” of the cemetery. Check out those posts linked to the year. They are fun and informative. Dahlia hadn’t been back there since I pushed her in our Chariot eight years ago. I doubt she remembers! I’ve been back a few times on my bicycle. I like to ride through there on occasion.


The tree walk was excellent and we learned a lot. We got to see a former state champion Japanese Maple and a current state champion Copper Beech. There was a good turnout for this walk. I’m certain that the turnout for events all over the state will be aided by the good weather.


Our last stop was at the Emanuel Synagogue Cemetery just down the street from Cedar Hill. That’s where my grandparents Harry (Horst) and Sylvia are buried. Their graves are next to my great-aunt and great-uncle, Pearl and Lionel Israel. Pearl was my grandmother’s sister. Harry lived until the age of 86. Sylvia made it to 95. However, Pearl and Lionel died a week apart from each other at the ages of 64 and 65. That was sad week 32+ years ago and I remember it vividly. Dahlia hadn’t been there since my grandmother’s funeral back in 2011, and she doesn’t remember that, so it was fun to visit and pay our respects.



We returned to Bolton, picked up Shepard and were home by 1:00 P.M. That’s how you fill a Saturday morning! Tomorrow is the Goodwin Forest Trail Runs, part of the Connecticut Blue-Blazed Trail Running Series. The Trails Day Weekend fun will continue then.

2019 Long Trail Adventure

Debbie and I returned to Vermont this weekend for one of our one-day running/cycling adventures. We covered 31 point-to-point miles on the Long Trail (LT) and Stratton Pond Trail from Woodford to Manchester Center. That was followed by a 31-mile bike ride on the paved and gravel roads along the Battenkill River back to Woodford.


We like to do one or two of these multi-sport epics each year. Two weeks ago, we did a “warmup” on the the New England Trail (NET). That trip was a nice lead-in to the Green Mountain run/bike that we did on Saturday. Two years ago, we did a northern Vermont version of this trip that tested our limits. This time, the goal was to get in a sizable workout without destroying ourselves.



Two weekends ago Debbie’s parents took the kids for a few days so that we could do the NET trip.  This weekend, my parents pitched in to look after them. We are fortunate to get the support from all four grandparents. Despite a long work week, I was feeling pretty good on Friday night, so we seized the opportunity to drive to Vermont. The original plan was to get up early and drive on Saturday morning, but since I was OK, we packed and headed out around 8:00 P.M. We made it to the Appalachian Trail/Long Trail trailhead on Rt. 9 in Woodford around 11:00 P.M. We parked our van, popped the top, and spent the night.



We got up early on Saturday and drove to Old Rootville Road in Manchester Center. Debbie laid out some trip ideas earlier in the week and we settled on this route over dinner on Friday. The route had a couple of options, including a fortuitous “bail out” that ended up taking. We locked our Seven Cycles Evergreen XX bikes to a tree about 50 feet into the woods at the Old Rootville trailhead parking lot. We also stashed our helmets, and cycling. Then, we drove back to the trailhead in Woodford, and parked the van. We changed into our running gear, and were on the trail a few minutes before 8:00 A.M.


We headed north on the LT. The first challenge was the long 10-mile climb to the summit of Glastenbury Mountain and took just over three hours. We were last up there in 2016 when we ran the Glastenbury Mountain/West Ride Loop, and then followed that run with some cycling in The Berkshires. We were also on Glastenbury in 2015 when we took the kids on the LT to celebrate our 2005 End-to-End hike. We had a gorgeous day for this adventure and by the time we reached the summit around 11:00 A.M., the fog had burned off and the sun was shining brightly.



It had been 14 years since we had seen the back side of Glastenbury and our memories had faded. If we had remembered how rocky, rooty, muddy, and treacherous it was; then we might not have programmed such a long run. It was slow going all the way down. There was no smooth trail and it was covered in post-winter debris including branches and blowdown (trees). Weeks of rain had softened the treadway and made it quite slippery. We pushed on past the Kid Gore Shelter and Story Spring Shelter until we reached the Somerset Road crossing. At this junction, we reassessed the original plan, which would keep us on the Long Trail as it tracked northeast over the summits of Little Stratton Mountain and Stratton Mountain. This would have added about 2,000 feet of vertical gain and our total distance would have been around 36 miles.



We gauged our “legs,” estimated the time it would take, and decided that a more direct route due north on the Stratton Pond Trail would make more sense. The plan chopped off four or five miles and reduced the elevation change significantly. We were making good time, but like two years ago, we didn’t want to ride back in the dark. The decision turned out to be a sensible one. Despite a lot of mud, and hundreds of bog bridges, the Stratton Pond Trail was very “runable.” The four mile stretch of trail from the Somerset Road junction to Stratton Pond was fast, and it got our legs moving again before returning to the Long Trail for six miles.



The section of LT through the Lye Brook Wilderness brought back some good memories. I told Debbie that I remembered that section as we approached Prospect Rock in 2005. Back then, we spent the night at Stratton Pond Shelter and the mosquitoes were intense. They were so bad, that we got up around 3:00 A.M., packed up, and started hiking. The shelter was sweltering hot and infested. When dawn broke, it was evident that Debbie got the worst of it. Despite using bug headnets, her eyes were nearly swollen shut from all the bites. It was horrible. We figured that since we couldn’t sleep, we should just get up and start walking. Thankfully, this year, it was just gnats that bothered us in the damp Lye Brook area. They were a nuisance, but we could swat them away.



Another thing I remembered was a wagon wheel that said, “LT North” on it. When we spotted the wheel, I was thrilled that I had remembered this section of our trip. The wagon wheel also signaled that we weren’t far from our destination, Prospect Rock, which at 2,060 feet, offered a nice view of Manchester Center to the west. Once we got there, it was all downhill (for two miles) on the rough/dirt Old Rootville Road. By this point, my legs were pretty hammered and my back was stiff too. I was ready to ride.


We got to our bikes around 5:30 P.M. after 9.5 hours on the LT. We swapped our shoes and got moving. It rained a bit during the last few hours of our run, and the roads were wet when we started our ride.  The route we took back to Woodford followed the Battenkill River through Sunderland, Arlington, Shaftsbury, and Bennington. We were on some awesome roads. The climb up Maple Hill Road/East Road in Shaftsbury was the hardest part of the route. It was gravel most of the way. Debbie rode well. Her new Evergreen XX is awesome. She is much more confident as the team at Seven Cycles made it custom for her. Her ENVE G27 650B wheels are mated to Donnelly 42 cm tires and they are plush. She loves the bike.


In Bennington, we rode past the Wicked Creepy Cross course, which is one of my favorites. It just started to get dark as we made our way on to Rt. 9 for the last big climb back to our van. I let Debbie sit in my draft as we pressed on after more than 12 hours of motion. We were hungry and tired, but who would blame us for feeling that way? It felt great to climb off of our bikes. We washed off in City Stream and packed up the gear. We decided to stay put rather than driving. We were both tired and figured we would eat everything we had left in the van, which consisted of powdered Vega, raisins, and a bag of tortilla chips. It was 9:00 P.M. and it didn’t make sense to do anything other than sleep. We popped the top of the van, and read a bit. The sleep was pretty good despite the Rt. 9 traffic. We could hear the stream and that helped. Overnight, it rained heavily.



We got up shortly after 5:00 A.M. on Sunday when the sun rose, and we left Woodford around 5:30 A.M. We took our time, stopping at a few scenic spots on Rt. 9. It was a lovely morning. We made our way to Northampton and were there by 7:30 A.M. We fueled the van, and then parked in our usual spot downtown. We changed up and went for a one hour out and back ride on the Norwottuck Rail Trail. On the return, we picked up bread and goodies at Hungry Ghost Bread, which opened at 9:00 A.M. We changed up, and walked to Nourish, where we had a fantastic breakfast. I made up for not having eaten much in the previous 24 hours.


We were back on the road by 10:30 A.M. and made it to Old Lyme, Connecticut by noon, where we reconnected with our kids to start the second half of Memorial Day Weekend. The second half of the weekend was just as fun as the first, but noticeably less muddy and I had all the food I wanted. Debbie and I have had some great trips and we are always looking forward to the next adventure. We both recognize that we are fortunate that we have each other as partners.

New England Trail Exploration

Yesterday, Debbie and I explored a section of the New England Trail (NET) that we had never been on before. Her idea of a great Mother’s Day Weekend is one in which she spends a lot of time in the woods.



Her parents were kind enough to take our kids for part of the weekend, so we drove to Massachusetts late in the morning. We headed for Lake Wyola in Shutesbury. This brought up great memories. In the early 2000’s, we ran the Lake Wyola Road Race several times. This event was an annual Shenipsit Striders tradition. This year’s race will be on 9 June and it will be the 39th edition. I recall that the Striders had a big rivalry with the Shutesbury Athletic Club. After arriving, we locked our bicycles to the rack at the state park beach and then stashed some gear bags. From there, we drove southeast to Meads Corner in Belchertown.



We parked our car at the Scarborough Brook Conservation Area where the NET cuts through. We ran the trail north/northwest from there. We covered about 21 miles in four hours. It was a quiet section of trail. We only saw one person (a backpacker with his dog) all afternoon. The trail parallels various roads, and there are several crossings, but it still felt like we were in the woods.



The terrain was a mix of single-track, double track, dirt roads, and road. It was a good mix and this section had an elevation gain of about 2,800 feet, so it wasn’t too hilly. We followed the NET white blazes and it was a bit challenging at times. We made three wrong turns, two of which were minor. The third one caused us to miss a short section of the actual trail as we ended up on the wrong dirt road and it cut a corner. We decided not to go back and retrace our steps as we discovered this after a long descent and were very close to the end of our run.


There were some really pretty spots with bubbling brooks, beaver dams, and moose prints to explore. There were some lovely pine forests and the smells were awesome. Weather wise, this was the best day of the year. We had bright sunshine and the temperature was perfect. Today, we woke up again to the sound of steady rain, so we chose the right day for the adventure.



After we arrived at Lake Wyola, we fetched our bags, unlocked our bikes, and swapped our shoes. We took a slightly more direct route back to our car. It was mostly road, but there was one section of dirt. This was Debbie’s first real ride on her Seven Cycles Evergreen XX and she loved it. She just got the bike this week. The Evergreen handles so much better than her 15+ year old Seven Cycles Tsunami. The difference in technology is amazing. Her Tsunami is straight gauge steel with a steel Vicious fork. The wheels are heavy aluminum 700C Neuvation clinchers. She runs V-brakes on that bike and the handling, especially while braking on rough roads is a real challenge.



The Evergreen is a stellar bike. It is double-butted titanium with a carbon fiber Whisky fork. The wheels are lightweight 650B ENVE G27 clinchers. She has fresh Donnelly Strada USH tubeless 42c oversized tires which were so much better to ride on these rough roads.  Her SRAM Force groupset has disc brakes, a huge improvement over the old bike. Needless to say, she was much happier with the new bike and is looking forward to more two-wheeled adventures.



The ride was a little more than 12 miles and we were back to the car in about an hour. We changed up, loaded up, and headed for Northampton where we dined at Bela Restaurant. We picked up some vegan cookies at Hungry Ghost Bread, and our day was complete.


2018 Minuteman Road Club Cyclocross

Today we made a first time trip to the Minuteman Road Club Cyclocross in Lancaster, Massachusetts, but we are no strangers to the Bolton Fairgrounds. In prior  years, I’ve raced the Midnight Ride of CX on a similar course. Also, last month, we did the Kalon Cross across the street from the fairgrounds.


The Minuteman Road Club did a fantastic job with MRC CX, as they have done with their other events. They maximized the potential of this course by using every inch of it. It was the most technical course of the year so far with lots of twists and turns. It was generally flat with only a few small rises on the front side of the course.


The weather was quite un-cross like today. It was muggy and warm. The fairgrounds were soggy after weeks of rain and the mosquitoes were out in force. You could see some color in the trees, but it felt more like August than October.


The air stayed dry until about 4:00 P.M. As luck would have it, my  race, the Singlespeed Race, started at 3:45 P.M. The additional wetness made the already tricky course even slicker. It was a long day today because the kids raced at 10:30 A.M. The drive was less than 90 minutes and it is a generally pleasant one through Worcester and then northeast.


My legs were heavy after yesterday’s double-race at Mansfield Hollow. I didn’t mind waiting until the end of the day to race, but hanging around wasn’t optimal. The kids did great in their events. Both finished second in their age group, which was a boost to morale considering they also had to wait all afternoon for my event.


Shepard and Dahlia were joined in the Cub Juniors race by Boden Chenail and Lars Roti. Both boys also had good rides. The full weekend of racing is just a precursor of the next eight weeks as cyclocross season ramps up.


After the kids raced, the Masters put on a show. There were 105 riders in the combined 40+ (38 riders) and 50+ (67 riders) field. Art Roti and Brett Chenail were in the race and they both did very well. Team Horst Sports and the Team Horst Junior Squad are starting to fire on all cylinders.


Debbie was a real sport today. It was a long day for her too. She brought her running kit and got in a short run in the area around the fairgrounds. She and the kids were great cheerleaders during my race. I could hear them from many points on the course.


I felt strong, but made two technical errors that resulted in hard crashes. On the second lap, I was sitting in 9th place and coming out of the back section of the course on the riding dirt track, I followed another rider on a bad line through some sand. When he swerved to the right, it was clear that we were too close to the course stakes and tape. I hooked my bars on a stake and it snapped, as I crashed through the course tape with the force bringing me down on my right side in a heap. I was up quickly, but at least five riders got by me. I’ll be a little stiff in the shoulder and neck.


Then, a few laps later, as I was making up ground, I followed Keith Burgoyne into a hard left hand corner. He slid out and I had nowhere to go. I tapped the brakes and slid out hard on my left side, cutting my left leg (what’s new? ) and banging my left shoulder. Again, I was up quickly and thankfully my Seven Cycles Mudhoney SL was in working order. Keith had some mechanical problems, and it cost him. I gave up a few spots, and gave chase, but a gap to the top-10 had opened up and I never closed it.


I pushed really hard for the remainder of the race and picked up one spot late on the last lap, but could only manage 11th overall. It was my second Zanconato Single Speed Cyclo-Cross Trophy Series race of the weekend. Next weekend is the Gran Prix of Gloucester and I’ll be giving the singlespeed bike rest as I race Masters. The Zank Series picks up again at Belltown CX in two weeks.


We were famished after gotten through the entire day with one bag of snacks. We stopped at Rein’s Deli on the way home and everyone was happier for it.

Race Results

2017 Fat Tire Classic

Today I did the Root 66 Race Series Fat Tire Classic for the 10th time. My first Classic at Winding Trails in Farmington CT, was in 2000. It’s a fantastic venue. I’ve raced there 61 times since 1999. The races I’ve done include mountain biking, cyclocross, triathlon, and adventure racing. That’s pretty cool.


Much appreciation goes out to Chris and Jill Logan, the Root 66 crew, and Jimena Florit and the folks at Winding Trails. The Team Horst Sports Junior Squad had five racers compete and our Masters Cycling Team had five racers compete. Debbie joined me to watch and hang out with the team. Our son finished the two-lap Cat 3 Junior race and he was thrilled. At 10 years-old, he is still learning how to ride, so today was definitely progress. Our daughter, who is seven, did the kids race. Debbie got to run around the nice trails.


This was my first mountain bike race of the year. I just got my bike back after it was repaired by Seven Cycles. Two weeks ago today, I discovered that the top tube was cracked. I wrote a post all about the crack and the repair.


My belt drivetrain is still giving me a little grief, but I was able to get through today’s race despite breaking my rear skewer. That happened mere minutes before the start when I was trying to add some tension to the belt. It’s unfortunate, but the team at Seven Cycles had to disassemble and rebuild the bike in order to fix the frame. That’s OK. I was just happy to be riding the bike today. Two weeks ago, the prospect of that looked grim.


The course was run in reverse from prior years and I liked it. It was dry despite a lot of recent rain. There were only two muddy spots, and it was only enough to get a little spray in the face. I had a decent ride. 10 of us raced Cat 1 singlespeed. I got the hole shot, but dropped back a bit in the first section of technical singletrack. Charlie Beal, Kurt D’Anniello, and I battled for the first two laps, trading places before we settled in.


Eventually Charlie dropped back a spot. Kurt and I continued to duke it out for the 4th spot in the field. I thought I had him, taking the lead after the start of the 4th and final five-mile lap. I got a small gap through the hilly and technical section, but he reeled me in about half way through the lap. I struggled on a technical uphill where we had to hop a log and my right quad started to cramp. I grunted hard, revealing my suffering.


We exchanged a few words before he pulled away. I kept the gap manageable and then pulled him back at the base of the long Jeep road climb with about 1.5 miles to go. He hammered up the hill. I followed, standing up out of the saddle and rocking my bike back and forth. After only a few pedal strokes, both legs viciously cramped simultaneously. It was my adductors, which is kind of weird, but it was seriously painful. I sat back down and watched Kurt ride away. It took every ounce of energy I had left to pedal to the top without getting off.

I contained the damage and rode scared, worried that Charlie or someone else would catch me while I struggled to the finish. I made it to the line in 5th, which is fine. I had a blast, and the sunshine was glorious. It was fun to see Kurt after the finish and give him a congratulatory handshake for being a fierce competitor. Both of us will be happy if we can build our fitness to a peak this fall when cyclocross season (the main event!) comes around.

Now I have to focus on recovering. I’ve got a busy work week starting tomorrow and then a little bit of trail running next weekend.

Race Results (should be live soon)

2016 Wildman Biathlon

Today’s Wildman Biathlon was a lot of fun. It was the 28th annual edition of the race, and I’ve been wanting to do it for the past 16 years since first introduced to the race by our longtime trail running friend, Rich Fargo. He loves the event and has done it many times.


Debbie and I drove up to Shelburne, New Hampshire after work on Friday and camped near the start. Wildman is a classic New England grassroots event. The start and transition #1 are at the Shelburne Town Garage/Fire House.

The old school bike racks signal that this race is low-key and that it has a lot of character. The course is what makes this race. It starts with a 10 kilometer road run that is out and back on the rolling and winding North Road. After the first transition, you ride a seven mile loop of Rt. 2 and North Road before continuing back on Rt. 2 to the Rt. 16 junction in Gorham. From there, you take 16 up to Pinkham Notch and the Wildcat Ski Area. The total distance is 22.3 miles and after the first seven mile loop, it is gradually uphill the rest of the way with the toughest climbing at the end.



Transition #2 is in the dirt parking lot at Wildcat. The final leg of the race is a three-mile trail run/hike via the Polecat Trail to the 4,000+ foot peak of Wildcat. The finish line is adjacent to the gondola. Marketed as “scenic,” the gondola didn’t offer any views today.


The weather conditions were grim, or “dismal,” as described by the guy I rode the gondola back to the base lodge with. After no rain, dry, and hot conditions all week, today was a washout. The rain started yesterday late in the afternoon when thunderstorms rolled across Vermont and New Hampshire. It rained all night and most of the morning.


The roads were wet and slick. The four sets of train tracks that we crossed were treacherous and claimed multiple crash victims. I heard there were some serious injuries. By the time Debbie reached the final set of tracks, the volunteers were making people dismount and walk across them. She may have been the final person to ride them and the volunteer tried to catch her as she went down. The tiny cut on her knee looked a lot worse than it was.


She had a good race. She hadn’t done a road cycling race in 10 years since competing in the Cape Argus Cycle-Tour in Cape Town, South Africa. She rode the same bike today, though it was recently tuned up by our friends at Benidorm Bikes. It’s a steel Seven Cycles Tsunami cross bike with 28cm tires, so she was at a disadvantage on the bike leg. That didn’t matter. She had a good first run and despite ceding some positions on the bike, pulled a bunch of them back on the final three-mile ascent. She wishes that the trail run was much longer. She finished third woman and was very happy.


I got to see her cross the line after waiting 30 minutes at the top and freezing my butt off. I finished in 2:34 and was satisfied with my result given how I feel. The 9th of 10 Winding Trails Summer Tri Series off-road races was last Tuesday and since Monday, I haven’t been feeling too hot. The finale is this Tuesday, so I have to recover in an effort to hold on to my 2nd place in the standings. It will take a miracle for me to overcome Jon Arellano, who I bested last year, but who has come back with a vengeance.


Ten weeks of racing is a lot and it’s worn me down. Today, I was just flat. I was happy with the 10k run and it was a measured effort, but my strength is the bike and I lost ground. After 1.5 miles of climbing the Polecat, I was done. I finished the 10K in third, got passed by one guy on the bike, and got passed by another on the hill climb, so I finished fifth. Uncharacteristically, I kept looking back. I had a gap over sixth, so I sort of walked it in, looking to save a little energy for this coming Tuesday.


Other than the rain and the traffic on Rt. 2, it was a good course. The markings on the trail run could have been better. I was unsure about my direction several times. I learned afterwards that a whole lot of signs were made, and never put out. We were relying on orange spray paint on the dirt trail, that was washing away in the rain. Oh well. I knew that the summit was up, so that was the direction I kept heading. When I came to a junction that was unmarked, I guessed. It all worked out.


Despite hearing that North Road was rough, rutted, and potholed, I rode my Seven Kameha SLX triathlon bike, but with my Zipp 404 wheels, rather than my Sub-9 Disc/808 combo. It was a wise choice, given the wind. The cracks in the road weren’t as bad as advertised, and I was glad that I rode my tri bike rather than a road bike. My Seven was built for New England roads and the custom geometry is good for climbing, unlike most dedicated tri-bikes.


Coming up Rt. 16, a road we have been on many times, I was thinking about so many great adventures that we have had in the White Mountains and many that have crossed that road. It’s been 10 years since I did Sea to Summit, and that was the last time I was in the Wildcat base lodge. Next Saturday is the Mt. Washington Bicycle Hill Climb. I rode by the auto road and recalled last year’s race and the five previous times I did it. I went by the 19-Mile Brook trailhead and it brought back memories from our last Hut Traverse when the weather was kind of like today’s. It wasn’t a good day to be above treeline.


One of the worst parts of today was the ride back to Shelburne. Debbie ran back to the base lodge and I took the gondola. I don’t do downhills! She waited for me while I rode back to the Garage/Firehouse to get the van and trailer. It took me 48 minutes to ride back. My teeth chattered the entire time. I heard that last year’s race was run in perfect conditions with great views of Mt. Washington from the summit of Wildcat. Oh well. Maybe next time we will have views.

After the awards ceremony (we both earned etched glass mugs), we crossed the street to the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Pinkham Notch Visitor Center. Debbie dug out four quarters from her purse for each of us. I had the best three-minute shower ever. It was glorious!


We went upstairs to the main entrance and bumped in to Jim Campiformio, who stopped to change his socks in the middle of the More and More Difficult 50K trail race. MMD is a legendary underground race in the White Mountains. Jim had eight miles to go and after a wrong turn, was regrouping and readying himself for the final push. He has done many great ultras, including the Hardrock 100. It was nice to see him and chat a bit before we both went separate directions.


This has been another great day in the White Mountains. Sometimes, I wish we lived closer. The trails are fantastic. You can’t climb hills like this in Connecticut.

Race Results

2015 March Farm CycloMadness

It had been a few weeks since I raced cyclocross, and I was happy to be back at it at the March Farm CycloMadness in beautiful Bethlehem, Connecticut. I was supposed to race last weekend in RI, but didn’t feel up to it. I had travel earlier this week (Sun-Wed) in Southern California and couldn’t afford to be tired for the trip. Today, this multi-purpose farm (including Christmas Trees), had a holiday vibe in so many ways, but one… it was 60 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of our race, which is unseasonably warm for the 12th day of December. It felt more like mid-October, which if it wasn’t such a bad sign that our climate is warming, would be awesome. Well, for a day, it was pretty awesome to race in shorts and hang out after the race in shirtsleeves.


The Masters Men had their usual CT Series of Cross early morning start. We took the back roads to Litchfield County, and departed Bolton at 6:00 A.M. to make the 8:30 A.M. race. When Shepard and I pre-rode the course, he said, “This is nothing like Fitchburg,” referring to the NECXBAR Finals two weeks ago on a dead flat and fast track. Today’s course was the opposite of that. My Garmin results show how hilly the course is. In 10 miles, we gained 700 feet and descended 700, which is a lot for a cross race, and I loved it. I had a good start and charged up the big climb on the first lap in the big ring, but every lap after that, I used the little ring.


The climb snaked its way up through the apple orchard. It was wise to stay off of the rotting apples at the end of the worn path. They were like ice. The top of the course had a great view of the valley below. The descent was fast and technical as you went down, leveled out, went down again, and then leveled, and then down to the bottom of the course. Those drops were steep with the last one a treacherous affair with no clean line. Whether you went left, right, or center, you were greeted with a muddy hollow filled with sharp rocks. Half of our field flatted. Some punctured on these rocks in the mud. Others in the corn maze that followed.



The corn stalks were sharp and there were some hidden rocks in this swampy section. I took it in the little ring. There were several hairpin turns in inside the maze that required concentration as you road over the matted down stalks. The fields were slow with the grass high and lush from the warm autumn the two have had. There was one set of barriers on a rare flat stretch. One of the steep uphills required a dismount after hairpin turn. I used my Mini Standard Horst Spikes and they worked great. I absolutely love these rough courses with lots of elevation change. So many of this year’s races have been on super-fast tracks. The good weather has kept the mud to a minimum. Only the SuperCross Cup in New York rivaled today’s course. I’m sure there were a lot of complaints. Not everyone likes the climbing and rough descents coupled with slow fields grass. I had a blast. I also do better when the race is longer. Today’s race was just shy of 51 minutes. By contrast, on a fast course, Fitchburg was 40 minutes and I was hoping for another lap.


After that good start, I settled in to fourth place. By the end of the first lap, I moved up to third and then on the second lap, got up to second. My teammate Wade Summers was in my group, but he punctured and was a ways from the pit. My other teammate, Pat Cunningham, who normally races 50+, but opted for 40+ and some different competition, moved up to join me. The two of us applied some pressure as we chased the leader, Joe Kubisek. Joe got a gap that we never closed. For six laps, Pat and I worked together. He was gracious and stuck with me. We traded pulls and alternated taking the front. With 1.5 laps to go after we crested the high point on the course, I detected some softness in my front tire. On the big descent as we took a fast right-hand turn, my front wheel started to wash out. I hung on but ended up in the edge of the woods. Pat was trailing me and came by. I told him that I flatted.


It came in the perfect spot because we were within 100 meters of the pit. I was able to ride the deflating tire all the way. I dropped my Seven Cycles Mudhoney and picked up my Seven Cycles Tsunami. I hated to leave my Mudhoney because it handles much better, has disc brakes, and is one of my favorite bikes, but the Tsunami isn’t a bad pit bike. The gap to Joe was around 20 seconds and I felt we had a chance to close it, but after I lost about 20 seconds with the bike change, the goal was to hold on to second and third. Pat was very gracious. He waited for me to catch up and we continued to work together during the last lap. He got the workout he wanted and he let me have the points for second place. It was the good teamwork that nailed down the two podium spots for Team Horst Sports. Joe rode a strong race to take the win.

It was a bittersweet day. After a tough work week, I rallied to make it to today’s race. With such an early start, I still had a chance to have a full Saturday. I stopped at the shop on the way back to do a few work related tasks. Then, Debbie, the kids and I went to the Connecticut Science Center for Scouts Robotics Day. After that, we even had time to pick out and cut down a Christmas Tree at a local farm in Andover.

It was great to go to the cross race with my son. He had a blast on the playground and tricycle track that surrounds it. The farm store was stocked with apples and pastries, thanks to race sponsor, Ovens of France. The sadness I feel is that cyclocross season is coming to an end. I originally planned to go to the USA National Cyclocross Championships in Asheville, North Carolina next month, but the race schedule, 16 hour drive, and our work volume at Horst Engineering is going to keep me closer to home. I’m fine with it, but I still would love to keep racing cross this season, especially if the weather is going to remain mild. The last race is going to be tomorrow, the CT Series finals at the Elm City Cross in New Haven. I can’t wait.

Race Results

Next Page »

HORST Engineering Family of Companies

Cross Spikes™ by HORST Cycling


Fantastic run and bike involving an end-to-end trip on the @ctforestandparkassociation #quinnipiactrail with @trailrunningmom We visited a bunch of conserved forest land including #sleepinggiantstatepark and we rode the Farmington Canal rail trail. #shenipsitstriders @horstcycling #teamhorstsports #trailrunning #cycling 🏃🏽‍♀️ 🚴🏽
‪Over the last 10 weeks, I filled my Subaru’s gas tank four times. In the prior 10 weeks, I filled it 13 times. I’ve gone to work every day @horsteng but my other travel stopped. Both the pandemic and my cycling have been major factors. #carfreecommute #cycling #sevencycles ‬#teamhorstsports #horstengineering #bicycle
Friday evening date with @trailrunningmom 💕 🚴🏽 #teamhorstsports #cycling
A good day on the #nipmucktrail with @trailrunningmom We went End-To-End from the southern terminus of the East Branch to the northern terminus at the MA border. #shenipsitstriders #teamhorstsports #trailrunning 🏃🏽‍♀️
The weather during this week’s rides (and run) has been absolutely frightful. The pictures show the various “calms” before and after the various storms. My timing has been good. #carfreecommute #teamhorstsports #shenipsitstriders 🌍 🚴🏽🏃🏿
#running #boston
Fantastic evening with many @appalachianmountainclub friends @museumofscience to celebrate 🎉 Walter Graff’s 45 years of service. 🎒#boston
It’s a Livingston Family tradition to attend the @banffmountainfestival World Tour. @thebushnell in #hartford is a great venue. #banffworldtour @banffcentre
I love watching the kids climb @stoneagerockgym It’s awesome “offseason” training and they get better and stronger at every session. #rockclimbing #teamhorstjuniorsquad 🧗‍♀️

Follow me on Twitter



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

Join 392 other followers