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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HORST Engineering Expansion

In recent years, I’ve written more about running and cycling adventures than I have about business adventures. The pattern of highlighting my family’s outdoor pursuits won’t stop, but today, I’m sharing news of a major expansion at the HORST Engineering Family of Companies.

Our website post and press release cover the basic facts.

There is sure to be more news coverage (and we hope positive) about our expansion, but also more generally about the resurgent growth of manufacturing in the USA, and particularly in Connecticut. I’m proud of our 73-year, three generation track record of crafting precision machined components for aerospace and other high technology industries.

Our Core Purpose has never been more powerful: We help people fly safely and keep our communities strong by making precision parts in the USA.

Yesterday, I gave a new hire presentation for four people (including a summer intern) at our Massachusetts operations (HORST Sterling Machine) and I repeated our Core Purpose multiple times. I showed them that in the front of my notebook, I carry a laminated copy of the Core Purpose along with a copy of our Core Values, so that they are ready to share at a moment’s notice.

Manufacturing is a tough sport, just like cyclocross, ultramarathon trail running, and some of the other crazy endurance activities that I do in my “spare time.” My business experience helps me become a better athlete, and my athletic strengths (and training)  make me a better businessperson.

The passion that I have for business is very strong and that comes through whenever I host a shop tour. I did one last Friday for a group of new hires at our Connecticut operations (HORST Engineering) and they were thrilled with the prospect of moving to a world class factory. It helps that our new location will only be three miles from our legacy Cedar Street plant site where my grandfather moved (from 602 Garden Street in Hartford) in 1950. We have accumulated a LOT of stuff over the last 69 years. This will be no ordinary move!

At our Massachusetts plant site, where we lease the building, we are also making improvements to the work environment with updated offices, conference space, and a renovated cafeteria. A modern factory is a key part of any manufacturing company’s infrastructure, but we have survived (and thrived) since 1950 headquartered at our current location. We have never had a chance like this to realign our manufacturing processes using lean enterprise to organize in cells and flow lines. This move requires an entirely new way of thinking.

Naturally there have been many expansions over the years, but the opportunity to get our three Connecticut plant sites under one roof is a huge step forward. I’ve personally worked on the project to acquire 141 Prestige Park Road (East Hartford), since last August. It was an atypical deal that required a lot of perseverance. It’s helpful that perseverance is one of our five Core Values and that I practice it all of the time.

I spend most of my waking hours working. That ethic has been in my family’ s blood for a long time. If you know me then you know that I commute to and from work by bicycle frequently. Those rides are when I do a lot of my thinking. My role as a business leader and manager requires a lot of decision-making and it is in solitude when my thinking is most clear. I’ve done a lot of thinking about this expansion and the risk associated with it. Despite the success of our key customers and strong demand for our products and services, manufacturing in New England is a battle. We have a tough business climate, particularly in Connecticut, and the cost of doing business is very high. That is often a tradeoff when a region has a highly skilled workforce. I want to believe that the business climate is better than perceived. I wish it wasn’t so negative, but I don’t have control over how others react to the situation.

I choose to focus on what I can control and I’ve put 100% into improving our business by focusing on four principles: People, Strategy, Execution, and Cash. These four are espoused in Scaling Up, a book that I keep on my desk. Our Senior Leadership Team and our Management Team have rallied in support of the plan that we have in place and the foundation is the Core Purpose and Core Values, which are “forever.”

I’m sure that I’ll share more about this project as it progresses. The building will be green…very green. Our goal is to grow responsibly with the welfare of our people at the top of the list. Everyone knows that it is very hard to recruit skilled workers to the manufacturing sector. We have made much progress by focusing on our culture and investing in technology and lean enterprise. We spent the better part of the last four years implementing a next generation ERP system. It has been rough going at times. The building project has been on the back burner for nearly 20 years. I first started looking at new locations in 2000. Sometimes it takes that long to find what you want. I passed up (some time regretfully) on other opportunities when the timing wasn’t right, or the risk was too great. The good news about being the steward of a 73-year old business is that you can take the long view.

It was a lot of work to get to the closing at the end of April, but we are merely at the starting line now as the major renovation has just begun. That will be followed by a multi-year transition from our current plant sites. The good news is that we have the decades of experience and many business cycles to look back on as we ponder the next steps for our family enterprise. This new factory will be a symbol of our progress and the fulfillment of more than one dream.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Team HORST Sports

I often mention Team Horst Sports in race reports, but I don’t often talk about the history of our squad. Last night, we held our 2019 kickoff party, which has been a tradition. For many years, we held a holiday party in December to celebrate the current season, but in recent years, we have done a January event that celebrates the prior year and kicks off the new year.

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The team was founded in the fall of 1997. It was born at the Killington Stage Race. Several of us were staying together and competing together, but we were technically on different teams. I recall one evening discussion in particular. It was after the day’s stage and since we were split between four or five teams, we didn’t have the numbers to control the race. We were technically racing against each other, but would have rather been able to work for a common goal. Teamwork in road cycling is vital, but at the time in the New England amateur ranks, it wasn’t common.

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The upgrade system forced individualism. The best riders would zoom through the ranks and end up in the next category on their way to the elite ranks. In those days, it went 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, and if you were good enough, you could go pro. We were just weekend warriors, racing as Cat 3’s, but we wanted to keep getting better. That first discussion led to the formation of the team. There were some doubts about the organization and financing, but we resolved those issues without much of a fuss. Arlen Zane Wenzel volunteered to lead the effort, and I said I would speak with my family about throwing their support behind the team.

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All of these years later, HORST Engineering remains the lead sponsor and AZW is still the Directeur Sportif. That continuity has sustained the team over a period of time that has seen so many other teams come and go. We formed the squad, placed our first clothing order, and had a fantastic 1998 season in which we were voted New England team of the year. With excellent teamwork, we helped three of our members upgrade to Category 2 and though it had an impact on the team (splitting us between categories), it didn’t hurt us. We adjusted and that was the first of many evolutions.

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In the early years, there really was a “season” because we had a more narrow focus: road cycling. Now, we are a broad-based endurance sports team with year-round training and competition. We compete in road cycling, cyclocross, mountain biking, gravel riding, trail running, snowshoe running, skiing, triathlon, obstacle course racing, and many variations of these sports that involved cycling, running, and swimming.

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We started as group of “mostly single” guys racing in their 20’s and 30’s and are now a group of “masters” athletes in their 40’s and 50’s. We even have a few members whose racing age is 60+. Also, we are co-ed. We have had several women members over our history. In addition to the adult athletes, we also have the CCAP Team Horst Junior Squad with member children between the ages of 8 and 16.

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The team has evolved since our founding in 1997 and those of us who have been around since the beginning are older and wiser. We are better athletes than the one-dimensional competitors of those early days. We are proud of our history and appreciate the longtime support of our sponsors, particularly, HORST Engineering, the family business that I lead.

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We have reduced our “sponsors” to a small number of organizations that share our core values. Bicycles East came aboard three years ago and it have been valuable partners. They hosted party we had  last night. J. Rene Coffee Roasters and their VICTUS Coffee brand has supported us for many years.  Our uniforms are from VERGE Sport. We also get a little support from Rudy Project and Picky Bars. We have had other fantastic sponsors over the years.

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Over two decades, we have had many great teammates. Some folks have retired, and some folks have moved to other teams, but they will always be part of the Team HORST family. There has been very little drama, and that has allowed us to maintain relationships for a long period of time.

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We have been involved in a lot of events. For years, we promoted the Frank-N-Horst Cyclocross in Keene, New Hampshire. We held the first ever cyclocross race in Hartford, Connecticut with the 2003 Connecticut Riverfront Cyclocross. We did a race in Rockville called the Fox Hill Cyclocross. For years, we helped Benidorm Bikes with the Chainbiter Cyclocross. Our team members have been involved in the cycling in running communities in so many ways.

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Our orange and black “kit” is very visible. I don’t go a week without someone telling me that they saw a team rider on the roads of southern New England. Our riders have been spotted all over the country, and we aren’t that big of a group! The team has been good for our business and our business has been good for the team. We first developed Cross Spikes for members of the team. Our teammates did the research and development.

We will continue to evolve in 2019 and beyond.

2018 Manchester Road Race

Today’s 82nd edition of the Manchester Road Race had to be one of the coldest ever. The temperature at the start was just about 15 degrees Fahrenheit and it stayed in the teens throughout the race.

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That didn’t deter 8,242 hearty runners and walkers from finishing this Thanksgiving Day tradition. With more than 12,000 registered, there were a lot of now-shows. The Livingston Family showed up and we were very happy with our finishes.

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This was my 29th MRR overall and my 24th in a row. I ran with Shepard who pushed his streak to six races. Debbie doesn’t keep count (it’s her style!), but I’m guessing she has done nearly 20 in a row. I’ll have to do the research! She ran with Dahlia, who has now done three in a row.

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Shepard’s race was a real highlight. He improved his personal best time and scored third in the Boy’s 13 and under division. He was very happy with his run despite suffering in the last two miles. That suffering was because he ran a negative split, dropping his per mile pace by more than 30 seconds as he just kept pushing after a somewhat slow start that included the second mile hill. He finished only a second behind the second place finisher (based on gun time) but couldn’t close the gap on Main Street as the road pitched upward to the finish line.

I ran with him, so the HR shown is mine, but we share the splits.

Laps

Lap Distance Time Pace GAP HR
  1 1.00 mi 7:00 7:00 /mi 6:53 /mi 154 bpm
  2 1.00 mi 7:21 7:21 /mi 6:39 /mi 163 bpm
  3 1.00 mi 6:27 6:27 /mi 6:32 /mi 161 bpm
  4 1.00 mi 6:30 6:30 /mi 6:35 /mi 166 bpm
  5 0.77 mi 5:00 6:26 /mi 6:33 /mi 166 bpm

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I shadowed him and offered encouragement. I have pushed hard in a few years, but look forward to the day when I hammer this race again. I haven’t run much in 2018, so it felt good just to keep pace with my kid.

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Dahlia and Debbie did great too. It was a cold day for our little one. The joke in the family is that she would go faster if she trained more (at all). We saw lots of friends.  The Shenipsit Striders and Silk City Striders were out in force. Another highlight was Willi Friedrich, a longtime Shenipsit Strider, who participated in his 49th Manchester Road Race. This year, he wasn’t able to run or walk, so he got some help. Team Willi helped him along in his borrowed hand cycle. That’s awesome. Willi is a “runner” who inspires us.

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For the first time, Horst Engineering sponsored the event, specifically the inaugural Veteran’s Row. We were pumped to finally support the event as we have been associated with the race (primarily through our running) for a very long time.

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Despite the cold, there was some great running. The men’s record was broken by Edward Cheserek (21:16), who blew away a strong field that included last year’s winner Paul Chelimo, who finished second. They were followed by Andy Butchart.

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The top female was 19-year-old Celliphine Chespol (24:33). She battled with the 2017 winner, Buze Diriba, who was only one second behind. It must have been a great race. Emily Sisson was only two seconds behind them. It was a tight battle up front for the women.

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The cold may have kept some runners and some spectators away,  but it was still another glorious day in Manchester. Oh, and I would have taken more photos, but my iPhone kept shutting down because of the deep freeze.

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Race Results

AMC Medawisla Lodge and Cabins Revisit

The Appalachian Mountain Club’s Maine Lodges offer amazing hospitality in gorgeous woodland settings that can’t be topped for their New England remoteness. After our family first visited Medawisla Lodge and Cabins on the opening weekend in July 2017, I wrote about our adventure.

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I returned this fall for the AMC Board of Directors annual retreat. I won’t hide my bias. I’m a huge supporter of not-for-profit AMC, and I am a big fan of our organization’s legendary mountain hospitality. Our historical strength has been in the mountains of New Hampshire, but we operate through the Appalachian region in New England and the mid-Atlantic. I’m an unabashed champion of the effort to grow our presence in Maine and New York. The resources generated by our lodging operations fund critical mission oriented efforts including conservation advocacy, climate science, outdoor education, land management, and youth opportunities.

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Medawisla is the crown jewel in AMC’s network of Maine lodges, but it isn’t necessarily better than the other two locations. All three, Little Lyford Lodge and Cabins, Gorman Chairback Lodge and Cabins, and Medawisla offer authentic Maine sporting camp experiences, though each one is unique.

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Medawisla is the newest and represents a more modern approach. One example is that each cabin has a propane stove rather than a wood stove. Though off-the-grid, the Medawisla cabins have electric power, including lights and outlets, whereas the cabins at Little Lyford and Gorman have propane lanterns and there is no electricity.

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It had been nearly 14 years since I visited Little Lyford. Back in February 2014 when Debbie and I skied into the camp with AMC friends, it was known as Little Lyford Pond Camps. That wasn’t long after AMC acquired the property, and prior to substantial renovations including the construction of a new lodge.

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Little Lyford was AMC’s  initial recreation hub in the middle of the Maine Woods Initiative, which at the time was a burgeoning broader land conservation effort.

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The AMC website offers a succinct description of our Maine efforts:

The Maine Woods Initiative is the Appalachian Mountain Club’s strategy for land conservation in the 100-Mile Wilderness region. The Initiative is an innovative approach to conservation that combines outdoor recreation, resource protection, responsible forestry, and community partnerships. To date, AMC has purchased and permanently conserved 70,000 acres of forest land, created over 120 miles of recreational trails, opened three sporting camps to the public, established an FSC®-certified responsible forestry operation, and developed a partnership with local Piscataquis County schools. 

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Debbie and I have been AMC volunteers dating back to the early 2000’s, and this is my third year serving as a director. I was thrilled to return to Medawisla and see its improved operations during my favorite season of the year. The foliage in west-central Maine peaked weeks ago, but there was still some color in the trees. Not all the leaves had fallen.

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There was snow on the ground when we arrived, and the Nor’easter that walloped New England on Saturday brought several more inches of the wet white precipitation on Saturday afternoon and evening.

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Last Thursday, I spent the day at work and then in the late afternoon, picked up Dalia at school, and then we went to Windham High School to cheer the Bolton Center School Cross Country Team (Boys and Girls) at their middle school league championships. Shepard is a 6th grader on the team and Debbie is the coach. I was home by 6:30 P.M., packed the car, and hit the road again. I was in Portland by 10:00 P.M. and stopped for the night at my Aunt Terry’s house.

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Terry is always a great host. She didn’t visit Medawisla with us in 2017, but she was with us on the first part of that trip to Baxter State Park. After arriving in Portland, I didn’t stay up long. In the morning, we chatted a bit before I did my regular morning Huddles by phone. I had to answer some emails and do a little project work before we parted company.

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I drove to Greenville and got there in about three hours. I stopped a few times on the way, including once for gas. Each time, I checked my messages and did a little work knowing that once I got to Medawisla, my connection with civilization was going to be a bit weaker.

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Just past Greenville, I stopped at Lily Bay State Park. The gate was closed, but I parked at a turnout a little farther up the main road. I pulled out my bicycle and changed into riding gear. I rode 25 minutes back towards Greenville until I reached the high point where there were great views of Moosehead Lake.

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On the return trip to the car, I made a detour into the park and rode down to the lake’s edge. My ride took 65 minutes and then I hopped back in the car for the final 45 minute drive to Medawisla. I got there about 2:30 P.M. in time for the official start of the meeting.

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The lodge operations have come a long way since that first weekend in 2017. There is an established “croo” and they were awesome. The croo’s cooking was excellent–I’ve never had better food at an AMC facility. At the  Maine lodges, the food itself has become a draw. The staff was very accommodating of my vegan diet. They not only served me sides, but they made unique vegan offerings that mimicked each course served to the omnivores.

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The board meeting itself was very productive and educational. With the Maine theme, we talked a lot about the forest economy and the tourist economy. Both are key to the state’s fortunes. AMC has done a lot to spur economic development in Piscataquis County through sustainable forestry and through recreation. Both efforts are core to our mission.

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We got to hear from expert leaders involved with economic development, forestry investment, higher education, and the outdoor apparel/gear business. We also learned more about the evolution of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. AMC’s focus has been on the 100 Mile Wilderness, which is the last (or first) 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail extending to/from Mt. Katahdin in Baxter State Park.

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These lands have been heavily used as an industrial forest over the last two centuries. The timber, paper, and pulp industries are much smaller and the communities in this region have fallen on hard times. Many mills have closed. However, the remaining ones are seeing new investment. Folks in Maine realized long ago that the economy can’t just be dependent on logging, but needs a boost from other sectors, including tourism.

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Though I grew up in Connecticut, half of my family’s roots are in Maine, so I’ve always been an interested observer. My mother grew up in Upper Frenchville in Aroostook County, the northernmost part of Maine. I have many cousins, aunts, and uncles who still live in Maine. My grandparents are gone, but I always enjoyed visiting them. It was a long drive–500 miles–from my home to theirs, but it was through a beautiful landscape. I miss those days of piling in to the back of our family car and heading north.

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On Friday night, we got to look through the lodge’s telescope. It was a “homemade” model, but not a hack job by any means. It was made by a noted scientist and it was awesome. It was only a few days after the full moon and it was clear, so we got a great look at the surface and all its craters. AMC is working on International Dark Sky designation for our Maine project and facilities. This would be a great accomplishment as Dark Sky destinations are sought out by astronomy buffs.

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At Medawisla, I saw some of the local landscape. I got out early both on Saturday and Sunday morning for short runs on the nearby trails. They were cut with cross-country skiing in mind, so they were wide and easy to follow. There are many old logging roads in the area that are also used as trails, especially in winter. In the north country, there has always been conflict between motorized and non-motorized recreation. Both are important to Maine. I won’t wade into this debate, but it’s worth noting that there is a shift towards more non-motorized activities including hiking, cycling, skiing, paddling, and fly fishing. ATV’s and snowmobiles are still seen all over the state, but their popularity is reported to be waning as demographics change.

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On Saturday afternoon, some of us ventured out and toured the other two lodges. We first drove to Gorman Chairback Lodge and Cabins and walked around. Then we drove over to Little Lyford Lodge and Cabins. They are about eight miles apart, but separated by rough and unplowed logging roads. The entire trip took about three hours. By the time we got to Little Lyford, it was snowing heavily. These facilities close during the shoulder season as they prepare for winter and as the roads become impassable. Both Gorman and Little Lyford will reopen right after Christmas, whereas Medawisla (the access road is plowed) will remain open. Gorman and Little Lyford are a bit more rustic than Medawisla, have their own character, and are in beautiful spots. In the winter, you park about eight miles away and the only way to get to the camps is on your skis or snowshoes. Staff hauls in your extra gear using the snowmobiles.

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AMC is fortunate to have an amazing team of full-time employees. The entire Maine Woods Initiative “croo” that hosted us were informative, helpful, inspiring, and gracious. They are passionate about their work and great representatives for AMC’s conservation, education, and recreation mission. A trip to Maine would be well worth your time and effort.

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I was disappointed to not get out on Second Roach Pond like we did in the summer of 2017. I wanted to paddle some, but the lake was already iced over and conditions weren’t good for water-sports. My only other regret from the weekend is that I didn’t have time to try the Medawisla sauna. Now I have another good reason to go back!

2018 Newtown Cross

Today, Shepard and I a returned to the Newtown Team 26 Cross. For the second year in a row, the race was held at the First Company Governor’s Foot Guard. This horse farm is a lovely property and a great venue for a cyclocross race. For years, the Newtown race was held across the street at the Fairfield Hills campus, but I prefer the hillier and grassier horse farm course.

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One change was that this usual late season race was moved to September. That boosted the participation and the host CCAP got a great turnout for the first race in the 2018 CT Series of Cross. Our own CCAP Team Horst Junior Squad contributed to the numbers. So did a strong presence by our Team Horst Sports Masters racers.

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The course was slightly changed from last year. It included even more climbing, less pavement, and more turns. I liked it. It was really challenging. The Masters 40+ field was strong. I managed 7th place after an early battle with Patrick Ruane and Joe Kubisek. Matt Kraus bridged up and rode through our group. None of us could hang on. Eventually Patrick left us and moved past Matt to finish 4th. Joe and I continued to swap spots until he jumped me on the 2nd to last lap for 6th. Late in the lap, I slid out on an off-camber and once again smacked my left leg (knee). I got a small cut, but it was minor. Generally, I was happy with my bike handling. I made a few mistakes and chopped the guys in a few corners, but I was pressing hard and that’s how things go. I apologized. My power still isn’t where it needs to be, but I’m getting there.

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After my crash, I bounced up, but the 10 seconds that Joe gained was all he needed to hold me off on the last lap. I did my best to close it down, but I just didn’t have enough oomph. I’m feeling stronger week by week, and I hope to keep progressing. I would have loved to score top five in this strong field, but it was not to be. I actually had to work hard on the last 1/3rd of a lap as Karel Citroen put on a huge surge and nearly caught me. I was happy to hold him off. His surge was all the more impressive because it was his second race of the day. He finished 3rd in the Category 3/4 race, three spots in front of our teammate, Rich Frisbie.

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Art Roti and Brett Chenail did well in the 40+ race. We started a minute in front of the 50+ race, which was won by our friend and former teammate, Mike Wonderly. He held off current teammate Wade Summers, who rode strongly to score second. Dave Geissert and Tom Ricardi both also rode well in the 50+ field. Ted D’Onofrio, another longtime teammate, was also in the 50+ field and it was good to see him out there.

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Our Juniors also had a good day. Owen and Ethan Lezon were joined by Adela Chenail (her first race) in the 9-11 year old category. Shepard was joined by Sean Rourke, Boden Chenail, and Lars Roti in the 12-14 year old category. Cole Ricardi was our lone junior in the 15-18 year old race.

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All in all, it was a good day for Team Horst Sports. One negative was that just before we were ready to leave, a rider (Jim) from the TTEndurance squad crashed hard in the corner near where we were parked. His screams were “blood curdling.” I rushed over to help him. He got up, but immediately realized that his right knee was gushing blood. He had cut it by falling squarely on a rock (one of the only ones on the course) and it was deep-right to the bone.

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We got him off to the side of the course and sat him down. Someone immediately grabbed a towel and I applied compression to the wound. Getting medical help took a bit longer than we hoped, so was there nearly 30 minutes holding the towel on the cut, keeping him calm, and chatting. A few other Good Samaritans stayed with us until the EMT’s arrived. With one EMT watching the cut, we did a quick swap where I pulled off the towel, they glanced (Jim looked away) at the cut, and then immediately replaced it with a bandage. It was going to need several stitches, so they loaded him on a stretcher and carted him away. I was happy to stay and help and I feel his pain. It was only nine months ago that I broke my leg in a cyclocross race.

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That’s why its frustrating that I keep falling on my left side. Sigh. Bike racing is too much fun to give up. I won’t slow down, at least not anytime soon. I was happy to hear that Jim was more mad than sad and that he plans to be racing again in a matter of weeks. He was even in good enough spirits to take a selfie with me. I’m rooting for him to make a strong comeback!

Race Results


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Cross Spikes™ by HORST Cycling

Instagram

Great fun at today’s @minutemanrdclub #Cyclocross in Lancaster, MA. @horstcycling #horstcycling #teamhorstsports #teamhorstjuniorsquad @zanksscx @the_ccap
Great day at the #vermont50 🚵‍♂️🍁
Good morning! 🚴🏽
I got to sample the fun activities at Boy Scouts @troop25ct Camp Kirkham. I slept under the amazing stars. We had a full agenda of geocaching, archery, cooking, disc golf, and paddling. I even squeezed in a run to the top of Silver Mountain where I had a 360 degree view. #boyscouts
It was great fun cheering for the Bolton Center School XC Team and their coach @trailrunningmom at The Panther Fest. Go Bulldogs! #crosscountry #trailrunning 🏃🏽‍♀️ 🏃🏿
#carfreecommute #wickhampark
It’s easy to love the infamous water (muck) crossing at the Trails to a Cure (Cockaponset Trail Race). We felt like sea monsters! I can’t believe how out of breath I was after fetching my camera at the finish and running the 1/4 mile back to catch @trailrunningmom and Shepard make their crossings. Either hey are getting faster or I am getting slower! Maybe more swim-run is in our future. 🏊🏽‍♀️🏃🏽‍♀️ #shenipsitstriders #teamhorstsports #teamhorstjuniorsquad #blueblazedtrail #trailrunning
Good fun kicking off the 2019 #cyclocross season at the #QuadCross It was also the launch of the 2019 @zanksscx which is my prime CX objective. #crossisboss @horstcycling #horstcycling #teamhorstsports #teamhorstjuniorsquad #crossspikes #sevencycles
Yesterday’s late afternoon ride was fantastic. The #hoprivertrail to #airlinetrail to #charteroakgreenway is now my favorite loop. The natural beauty that starts right out my front door is proof that #connecticut trails are VERY underrated. I even got to share several miles with @pearljam09 #railtrail @eastcoastgreenway #eastcoastgreenway #bicycle #sevencycles #evergreening

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