Archive for the 'Biographical' Category

2019 Mother’s Day Dash

Debbie and I woke up this morning and it was 40 degrees Fahrenheit and raining steadily. We read the forecast, checked our thermometer, and still underestimated how cold and nasty it was. We were duped by yesterday’s amazing May conditions. We spent all Saturday afternoon in the woods on the New England Trail. Today, it was back to February conditions. This was more like cyclocross weather, but that’s good for me. Our kids were still with her parents, so we had one more opportunity to get in some “training.”


I was looking forward to a long ride, but there was no way I was going to go out on a bike in cold rain. We had considered riding to the Mother’s Day Dash in Rockville via the rail trail, but that would have been a mess. Instead, we rallied and simply drove over. We registered on site and then had time for a short warmup. By the time of the race, the temperature had dipped to 38 degrees. It was ugly.


I complained a bit, but that was just for effect. I actually love these conditions. Most people stay home, and sadly, the turnout for the race was light. This race deserves more participation but in recent years, the weather has not been kind.


We missed the race in 2018 because we were in Florida (and we heard conditions here were miserable). This was my 12th time doing the race since 1999. With the light turnout and a lack of competition, circumstances presented an improbably opportunity for me to win overall and claim the Ray Crothers Memorial Award for the second time. I won in similar conditions in 2017.


I even went faster this year, but was still about 32 seconds slower than my best time from 2016. I’m pretty pumped to be running quick again after a long layoff following my broken leg in January 2018. I felt bad (for a moment) for 16 year-old Jake Haddad, who I trailed for 3.05 miles  before sprinting past him in the final .05. In the last half mile, I pulled back a 10 second deficit. I tested him three times and each time he responded. However, I know this course and I know my strength on an uphill finish. I normally fail when it comes to sprinting against teenagers, but this time, I was confident and it worked out.


The Ray Crothers Award is named for a man who was influential in my running career. I’m honored to win for the second time. This is my hometown race. I grew up in Vernon/Rockville. My grandfather bought my first pair of running shoes from Ray in 1985. Ray was a key volunteer in the history of the Mother’s Day Dash dating back to when it was the Rabbit Run and held around Easter. I remember testing the shoes in the parking lot at his store, The Run In, in Rocky Hill. Gramps always joined me when I needed a new pair and he loved chatting with Ray, who passed (too young) in 2008. I wrote about him back then. Check it out. I mentioned him again in 2009 when there was a memorial race held in his honor. My grandfather died 10 years earlier in 1998. That first pair of shoes were Tigers and I’m sure I wore them in the 1985 Rabbit Run, the one time I did that race.


We missed having the kids with us today, but they wouldn’t have been as excited about these conditions. Debbie had a good race and was 2nd in her age group. Kudos to the volunteers for braving the elements. Extra kudos to all the runners, especially the kids, for persevering in such harsh New England conditions. Come on Mother Nature…we need some consistent warmth! My fingers were frozen and my iPhone battery died, so photos are limited! Afterwards, we went to the YMCA in Ellington to thaw out in the sauna. It worked.

Race Results

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.


2019 Fat Tire Classic

Despite cold rain and mud, the Fat Tire Classic at Winding Trails was awesome. Team HORST Sports and the CCAP Team HORST Junior Squad had a fantastic showing. Once again, the junior races were stacked with kids. Mountain biking has definitely made a comeback. It’s so good to see these kids racing and enjoying themselves.



Our squad included Sean, Liam, Owen, Alexandra, Antonio, Lars, Boden, Shepard, and Dahlia. Our kids are between the ages of 9 and 14. The adults who raced were Dave, John, Brett, Art, Debbie, and me.



Sean, Shepard, Alexandra, and Brett took age group wins. Debbie was second in her age group. We have three kids in CCAP Clif Bar Dirt Cup. This was the second race in the series. Hop Brook led things off three weeks ago.


Debbie’s race was at 9:00 A.M. and she just missed the top step of the podium by seven seconds. She knows the Winding Trails course well and she is gaining strength. Shepard and Dahlia raced with the other juniors at 10:00 A.M. Shepard worked his way to the front and buried himself for the win. We are very proud of him. He is showing more confidence in his riding and is having fun. His age group did two laps (like Debbie), which worked out to be a little more than 11 miles. He is pumped to wear the series leader jersey.



Dahlia did her longest race to date. She did the one lap event, but it was hard with all the ups, downs, and slippery roots. I shadowed her for most of the lap, as I did with Shepard when he was this age. She rode her Cannondale Cujo, the bike she won in the raffle at the Vermont 50 last fall. She pushed hard and finished strong. Late in the lap, Shepard caught her, and it was neat to see them together on the course.



I did the singlespeed race at noon. By then, it was raining steadily. I was chilled before the start, but warmed up. When I finished after an hour and 55 minutes, I was cold again. I rode within my limits today. I’ve had a tough stretch with some trail running races including the Traprock 50K+ two weeks ago. I’m not really sure what I’m building towards, but it’s fun to be racing with the family. In each of the last seven weeks, I’ve gotten between nine and 12 hours of training, which is really good for me. I feel strong.


The only drag was that it was a lot of work to pack four bicycles, unpack four bicycles, and wash four bicycles when we got home. Dahlia had a soccer game in Naugatuck, so we went straight from Farmington to her game. We were home by 6:00 P.M., but it was a long day. We have some laundry to do too. April has been very cold and wet. It feels more like cyclocross season than mountain bike season. I’m hoping that when we hit May, the sun comes out.



Race Results (will be posted when online)

2019 Hoppin Hodges 5K

We returned to the Hoppin Hodges 5K, which has been an Easter Day tradition for us. Dating back to the inaugural edition in 2012, we have done many of these rail trail runs.



All of the proceeds (pay what you want) goes to the Friends of Valley Falls, an organization that the late James Hodges, for whom the race is named, was very invested in. The race is organized by Janit Romayko, Jame’s spouse. She said that James’ favorite place to walk/run was the Vernon Depot, which is the start/finish of the race.



Our family spends a lot of time on the Hop River State Park Trail, so this was a normal day for us. Platt Systems did the timing as a donation, so thank you to them. Also thanks to everyone else who donated to support the event. The farm next to Valley Falls Park is one of my favorite places. I grew up in Vernon and it is an iconic and beautiful location.



It would have been nice to have some sunshine, but the past few days have been very wet and overcast. It’s looking a bit grim for late-April, but that’s how it goes in New England. We will probably transition straight from winter to summer and skip over spring. It’s been eight days since the Traprock 50K+, and my legs are still a bit stiff. It felt good to stretch them out a bit with a 5K on one of my favorite trails.


Race Results

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.


2019 Traprock 50K+ (and 17K)

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

Race Results (50K)

Race Results (17K)

2019 Hop Brook MTB Race

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


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


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


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


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


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

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

Race Results (will be posted when online)

Horst Engineering Family of Companies

Cross Spikes™


Lots of fun on the morning AND afternoon #carfreecommute The driver of this truck should have opted to ride his #bicycle to work today like me! #eastcoastgreenway #sevencycles #teamhorstsports #biketoworkday
I spent the afternoon with @trailrunningmom on a section of the @newenglandtrail 🏃🏽‍♀️that we never saw before. The sunshine ☀️ did us good. We ran from Mead’s Corner to Lake Wyola State Park where we had dropped our @seven_cycles 🚴🏽Then we rode back to our car. Recovery meal was at Bela in NoHo. 🥦 #sevencycles #teamhorstsports #shenipsitstriders #newenglandtrail #trailrunning
I hosted three sessions and 30 kids at Bolton Center School (middle school) Career Day. Two sessions were on the role of a CEO (entrepreneurial leader) in a mid-sized business. The third session was on advanced manufacturing careers including CNC Machining, Manufacturing/Mechanical Engineering, Quality Assurance, etc. I told them we are hiring! #manufacturing #madeinusa #horstengineering #business #familybusiness #advancedmanufacturing #instamachinist #precisionmachining @horsteng
Swell time at the #FatTireClassic at #windingtrails with #teamhorstsports and the @the_ccap #teamhorstjuniorsquad We had cold rain and mud. That’s New England in April! #mountainbiking #horstengineering 🚵‍♂️💦🌧🥶
Hoppin Hodges 5K #trailrunning #railtrail #running #shenipsitstriders #teamhorstsports 🏃🏿🐇🐣🌧🏃🏽‍♀️#easterrunning
Yesterday, members of the @the_ccap #teamhorstjuniorsquad toured @seven_cycles It was a great experience for these young rippers! #sevencycles #horstengineering #teamhorstsports #mountainbiking #cyclocross #manufacturing #bicycle #titanium #madeinusa 🚲 🇺🇸
Lots of fun and suffering at today’s #traprock50K @trailrunningmom and I spent most of our 6 hours and 35 minutes in the woods together. Even Shepard got into the act...running the one lap 17K race. #shenipsitstriders @shenipsitstriders #teamhorstsports @ultraspire #ultraspire #bbtrs19 @blue_blazed_trail_series #trailrunning #ultrarunning
I was on an early morning run 🏃🏿in #blueash Ohio and came upon a town line sign indicating their sister city is #ilmenau 🇩🇪 Germany. My late grandfather, Harry Livingston (aka Horst Liebenstein) founder of @horsteng is an alumnus of @tu.ilmenau and native of #badliebenstein He earned bachelors and masters degrees 🎓in Mechanical Engineering from that school. Several years ago I visited his former home 🏠 but didn’t make it to Ilmenau. At least I’ve been to Blue Ash! #horstengineering
Sunday Livingston Family #quadrathlon #mountainbiking 🚵‍♂️ #trailrunning 🏃🏽‍♀️ #swimming 🏊‍♂️ #rockclimbing 🧗‍♀️ #teamhorstjuniorsquad #teamhorstsports #shenipsitstriders

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