Archive for the 'Business' Category

2018 Hop Brook MTB Race

The 2018 mountain bike season kicked off in style at the Hop Brook MTB Race in Middlebury, Connecticut. Once again, the crew from the Laurel Bicycle Club and D’Anniello’s Amity Bicycles did a fantastic job organizing this early season event.

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The weather was kind of what you would expect for Southern New England in April in 2018. It was raw, cold, and blustery. The sun poked out from behind the clouds on a few occasions; but then the clouds covered it again, and the wind to kick up.

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By late afternoon, it was just plain miserable and no one could stay warm. It may have been harder to spectate than to race. Still, the racing was tough as most riders were competing for the first time in the new year.

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That didn’t stop a lot of people from getting on their mountain bikes and riding on the rugged Hop Brook Lake Recreation Area course. Team Horst Sports was well represented in the both morning events and the afternoon events.

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We had several Masters racers in the Category 1 and Category 2 fields.

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Later in the day, the CCAP Team Horst Junior Squad had five boys race in the Category 2 and Category 3 Juniors race. Sean Rourke led the way with a strong finish on the challenging terrain. Shepard Livingston, Cole Ricardi, Bodain Chenail,  and our newest junior teammate, Weston, all had great races.

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It was awesome to see so many kids out there. Many of the faces were familiar. We know many of them from the cyclocross community. We last saw some of them in December, when the Elm City CX, the last CT Series of CX race was held in New Haven, and also hosted by the Laurel Bicycle Club and D’Anniello’s Amity Bicycles.

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It was fitting that they promoted the last cross race of the season and the first mountain bike of the new season. I think the weather was better in December!

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Anyway, we will be back at it with the mountain biking in two weeks at Winding Trails for the Fat Tire Classic.

Race Results

SmugMug Gallery Photos

NAHBS & Bicycle Talk

Bicycles are always on my mind. Last week, I returned to the UConn campus in Storrs, Connecticut to take part in another live interview on the Bicycle Talk show on WHUS. I was joined by my Horst Engineering colleague Arthur Roti, and had fun in an hour long discussion with host Ron Manizza, and his co-host, Fran Storch.

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This was Episode 85. You can also find the Bicycle Talk Podcast archive on iTunes. I was also on Episode 35 back in April 2017.

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Bicycle Talk covers bicycle culture, bicycle Advocacy, upcoming cycling news and all kinds of other interesting bicycle related topics. Ron has been around bikes his entire career. He owned Rainbow Cycles in Willimantic and has been a bicycle manufacturers’ representative for more than 20 years. He is also the Race Director of the Riverfront Cyclocross, and the Mansfield Hollow Cyclocross. The latter is one of the oldest cross races in New England.

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We had a lot of fun. After “Ron’s Rant of the Week,” we talked about kids and cycling, the 2018 Cyclocross Nats, the Team Horst Junior Squad, CCAP, Cyclocross Worlds, and other fun bike stuff.

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Ron and Fran have had some great guests on the program and they are doing a service for everyone in the bicycle community. I can think of at least 100 other people who would make great guests on the program. Bicycle Talk won’t run out of topics.

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The North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) was at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford. This was the first time in the show’s 14 year history, that it has been in New England.

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Our family joined other members of Team Horst Sports and the Team Horst Junior Squad  at the event. We saw so many other friends. I didn’t take many pictures. There are so many great photos from NAHBS on the Internet. Just search around. Follow their Instagram or Facebook feeds, and you will see some of the finest bicycle craftsmanship in the world.

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I’m still hobbling around from my Reno CX Nats crash, so I didn’t cover a whole lot of ground at the convention center. I saw some good stuff, but if I was feeling better, I would have taken in the whole experience. Horst Engineering had a small presence at the show. We have a fun collaboration with our friend, Richard Sachs, the noted Connecticut bicycle frame builder. We helped him produce the Richard Sachs Seat Lug Survival Kit, also in partnership with SILCA and NixFrixShun.

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Several of Richard’s kits were on display in the SILCA booth. Also, our friends from Victus Coffee were doing a bang up job, serving customers from their brand new mobile trailer. Victus sponsors Team Horst Sports, and they had our Cross Spikes display at the show.

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After the show, we went to the Arch Street Tavern for the Hartford Bike Party hosted by the CCAP. This was a lot of fun. We hung out and participated in the raffle benefitting CCAP. We didn’t score any of the prizes, but again, saw a lot of friends. Richard Fries did a fine job as at the Master of Ceremony, and our daughter, Dahlia was his sidekick.

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I’ll be interested to hear how this version of NAHBS compared with past years. Was the attendance on par? Did it meet expectations? I hope the show returns to New England when I’m not using crutches. If not, I’ll seek out NAHBS in a future city. This was my first time attending the show, but it has always been a bucket list item. It was good for Hartford that it was here in 2018.

Crash! Part Deux: My 2018 USA Cyclo-Cross National Championships Story

Well, the diagnosis is in. Sometimes, thing just don’t go as planned.

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I broke my leg.

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It’s a clean break of the fibula, also known as the calf bone. It happened about five or six minutes after 3:00 P.M. Pacific Time on Saturday afternoon in the singlespeed race at the USA Cycling Cyclo-Cross National Championships in Reno, Nevada. This was first diagnosed on Monday afternoon at the UConn Health sports medicine clinic in Storrs. It was confirmed today when I returned for another X-Ray, and to get a cast put on.

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I fell on the dreaded off-camber hill on the back side of the Reno course. I’ve replayed that moment in my head, and I still can’t figure out exactly what happened. I’ve pieced together a probable explanation using my memory, some video, and the analysis of the orthopedic doctor. There was heavy traffic in the field of 135 riders, which was the largest of the week. The course was in rough shape after week full of racing, and because it was the last race of the day. I was tired after a week of travel, promoting Cross Spikes™, and racing in the Masters 45-49 Championship, but I only needed to get through one more event. It was the 25th of the season, the most in my 20 year cyclocross career. The singlespeed race was the last non-UCI amateur race of the week and before the Sunday UCI level elite races. The hill had dried out and was very slick with lots of loose rock. I started in the fifth row and was running around 45th at the time of the crash. I’m not a great bike handler, but I’m also not terrible. I wasn’t intimidated by the course, and had been around it more than a dozen times, but I made a mistake, and it cost me.

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I’ve watched this Instagram video captured by @jarednieters that shows the crash, and replayed it numerous times. If you want to see an overview of the singlespeed race with highlights including the start, sand pit, and off-camber mayhem, then check out this CXHAIRS clip. video focuses on the off-camber carnage. The still photos are screen shots from @jarednieters’ video.

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He panned away for a split second at a critical moment during my fall and the perspective is from the right side of the course, so it’s hard to tell exactly what happened to my left leg. After reviewing my X-Ray’s and manipulating my leg, the doctor thinks that it was blunt force that caused the break and not a twisting action. My guess is that I had my leg out for balance and support, and when my rear wheel kicked out, I planted my foot and it got jammed on the ground or smashed against the hillside, and/or against the course stake. Whatever I collided with, forced me back and I fell backwards on the steep downward facing slope. My bike ended up pointing in the opposite direction.

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As soon as my leg impacted, I knew something was wrong. It felt like everything in my calf just got yanked like the worst muscle pull ever, but it wasn’t a cramp. I know that feeling all too well and that is quite different. Judging by the reaction of the crowd, it was an ugly and awkward crash despite the relatively low-speed.

I sprung up because there was a line of riders behind me. My response was to grab my bike, start pushing, and remount without losing much time. I’ve crashed a lot and that surge of adrenaline is usually all you need to get going again. My problem was that this time, something was different. The pain in my leg/foot was intense, and I could barely move. A gap opened up between me and the riders in front. Several other guys took the low line to get around the traffic jam that I caused. I didn’t notice the cuts on my right arm or the scratches on my back.

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As soon as I remounted, I realized that I had no strength and the pain was excruciating. I was blocking riders, but I thought I could just get going again. I was sorry to hold them up. Eventually, I was able to make some forward progress. I got my right foot clipped back into my pedal as I approached the super-steep S turn descent, and either I got my left foot in the pedal or I was resting it on the pedal. I think it was out because all week, including my reconnaisance laps earlier in the day, I had been taking my left leg out for the steepest part of the descent.

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This time, I got around the bottom left hand corner, but had trouble getting my left foot back in the pedal again. It wasn’t until I got through the rutted section and over the berm along the sidewalk next to Herman’s Pond, that I was able to clip my Sidi Dominator into my Shimano SPD, and it hurt like heck. I got passed by another stream of riders because I couldn’t apply any pressure to the pedals. I rode around the pond, over the bridge, up the road, under the walking bridge, and into the Dinosaur Park. Even before I got to the start/finish straight, I was in bad sorts. Riders were blowing by me despite my effort to get back up to speed. I rode through the finish line at half speed, and kept going through the field, up the false flat, past the pit and up to the set of stairs. And to think that these are the same stairs that Christopher Blevins, Cody Keiser, and Tobin Ortenblad were bunny hopping in Sunday’s elite races.

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The crowd was going bonkers. As I approached the steps, I think I got my right foot out and swung my leg over my saddle to dismount, but when I shifted all my weight to my left leg, it just gave out. I couldn’t support myself, and didn’t have the strength to twist it out of the pedal. I don’t know exactly what happened next, but I think I rolled up to the stairs and used my right arm to push my foot out of the pedal. I’ve had to do this before, but typically after a mountain bike crash, when you get tangled up and the bike is on top of you. Usually, it is no big deal. I don’t remember much else, other than I walked up the steps carrying my bike and couldn’t continue. At that point, there were probably still 75 people behind me. The first lap was 1.9 miles long. I crashed at about 1.3 miles and made it another 0.6 miles. I tucked myself into the inside corner by the course tape and leaned on my bike to catch my breath and assess the situation.

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Several fans were heckling me. One guy, who I think was shirtless, had multiple one dollar bills tucked in his pants. He was yelling at me to take a dollar or two from his waistband, but I had no interest. I just wanted to get off the course. I spotted a course crossing a hundred feet further up on the right-hand side in a bend. Two marshals had a pink course ribbon draped across the opening to keep spectators back. I remounted, but again, couldn’t get my left foot in the pedal, so I just rested my foot on top and pushed with my right leg, which I was able to clip in. I made it to the opening and signaled to them with my arm that I was coming through. They dropped the ribbon and I coasted 10 feet, got off, and fell on my back in the grass with my singlespeed Seven Mudhoney SL beside me. It was my first race on that brand new bike. I hit stop on my Garmin 920XT and now have those 10+ minutes memorialized on my Strava feed.

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It took a minute or two for me to compose myself, but I immediately felt cold because I was ony wearing a shortsleeve skinsuit. I got up and remounted, but only clipped in my right foot. I let my left leg dangle and I pedaled one-legged across the field, and over to the Race Expo where the Horst Engineering tent was located. It was only 500 feet away. As I approached, I saw Art Roti, my teammate, colleague, and friend. He was talking to someone who had stopped by the tent. He saw me and was surprised. I rolled up and said something like, “I’ve got a big problem.” As I slowed to a stop, I thought I was going to fall over, so I asked them to help me and they immediately grabbed me. They helped me off, and I told them about the crash and how bad my leg hurt. He said he would get my jacket. I told him where it was in the truck. He brought over my Team Horst edition Patagonia Nanopuff and I donned it. I took off my helmet and wanted a dry hat, so I limped back to the truck, and dug it out of my bag.

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I knew that the medical tent was only a few hundred feet away, so I shuffled over. Two EMT’s, including local athlete, volunteer, and uber rescuer, John Kennedy were treating another athlete who also crashed. John had been super helpful all week-long. I slumped into a folding chair and they began attending to me. I told them the big problem was my leg above my ankle, but that the pain was radiating throughout my foot. I described the crash and they did their best to determine the extent of the injury. I think I talked them into the high ankle sprain explanation, or pulled calf, but there was no way for them to tell. They helped me remove my shoe and sock. The best they could do was tape it with an ace bandage and then tape an ice pack on. John wasn’t keen about my travel plans (an 11:30 P.M. “red eye” flight through Chicago to Hartford). He warned me about blood clot risk, told me to wear my compression socks, elevate the leg, and move around. He encouraged me to seek medical attention. They washed out the cuts on my right arm and put on a few Band-Aids.

I got back to our tent and Art helped me change at the truck. While he packed my bike, I sorted through the remaining Cross Spikes™ and packed them while sitting there with my feet propped up on the table. It was a bummer to hear the announcers still calling the race that I was supposed to be in. Jake Wells won, earning his second national championship jersey of the week. After the bike was boxed, we took down the tent and packed up the remaining gear. I was cold, so I got in the passenger seat of the truck while Art went to say goodbye to our Expo neighbors.

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We drove back to the house. I went inside while he got all the bikes ready so BikeFlights/FedEx could pick them up on Monday; and so our friend, Darron, could ship back the remaining inventory and gear. I showered with my bad leg hanging outside of the tub in an effort to keep the ace bandage dry.  I packed my bag, got to the couch, and put my foot up. He got some frozen peas from the freezer and we taped it to my leg. We called Greatful Gardens, where we ate twice earlier in the week, and ordered take out. They have fantastic vegan options. On his way to the restaurant, he stopped to refuel our rental truck, and he picked up some beer at a local tap-room.

We had dinner back at the house, and were eventually joined by our hosts, Addie and Darron. The four of us split the beers and then tested some of their home-brewed porter and cider. We had a great chat about cyclocross, work, family, and life. After hugs, we were on our way to the airport by 9:30 P.M. We returned the truck, walked to ticketing, checked our bags, went through security, and then walked to the gate. I laid down on the floor with my leg up on a chair, and waited there until boarding.

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I had a middle seat, but was able to switch to an aisle seat on the left side of the plane, so my leg was still pinned in. There was a woman sitting in the window seat, but at least we had an open seat between us. I just wanted to get home. I slept a little. I got up a few times, walked the aisle, and used the bathroom once. We arrived in Chicago at 5:30 A.M.  We deplaned and then walked to our connecting gate, but I was in agony. About 1/3rd of the way there, I laid down on a bench. We stayed there for 45 minutes, and then walked the rest of the way to our gate. There was no good place for me to put my feet up, so once again, I laid on the floor and rested my legs against the window facing the tarmac. Art went to get some breakfast while I rested.

After a while, I needed to use the bathroom and I was thirsty, so I walked back towards the other gate and got a steamed soy milk at Starbucks. When I got back to our gate, Art said the flight was delayed. After another 90 minutes or so, we boarded. When I gave the gate agent my ticket, I told her that I was going to need assistance at BDL and she assured me that someone would be there to give me a ride. We waited a long time but never took off.  Then, the pilot came on the PA system and told us that we were overweight and needed to unload 1,000 pounds of fuel. I had an aisle seat, again, on the left side with a passenger next to me. The process of removing fuel took another 30 minutes while were strapped in. During the flight, I got up and went to the bathroom a few times while walking the aisle to stretch my legs. We arrived in Hartford around 11:30 A.M.

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I deplaned ahead of Art. There was no one to assist. At the top of the jetway, there was a gate agent, but no one else, so I just started walking to baggage claim. I stopped and used the bathroom and then continued. Art eventually caught up to me. He helped me get my bag off the conveyor belt and we waited outside. His shuttle bus came first.

I got to the LAZ Fly self-parking lot and gave the driver a tip after he helped me carry my bag down the steps. Unfortunately, when I gave him the tip, I lost my LAZ Frequent parker card. I got my car started and checked everywhere, but I couldn’t find it. I went to check outside on the ground where the bus dropped me, but it wasn’t there. At the ticket booth, I used the call button, but it went to voicemail. It was freezing cold outside and I was exhausted. I saw another shuttle bus and went up to it and knocked on the door. The driver helped me call dispatch. Then, we went back to the machine and called again. This time, someone answered and she processed my transaction. I paid with a credit card and the gate went up. I was free!

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I got home 35 minutes later around noon. It was great to see my family. I showered and then spent the rest of the afternoon on the couch, with the kids, watching the USA Cycling YouTube livestream of the Women’s U23 race, Men’s U23 race, Elite Women’s race, and Elite Men’s race. After dinner, Debbie helped me upstairs. We propped my leg up on a pillow in our bed. I had a restless night of sleep. When I got up, I knew that my leg was messed up and it didn’t feel like an ankle sprain. I got up and made my way to the basement where I located the walking boot and crutches that I saved from a prior stress fracture injury in 2014.

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Debbie helped me get my leg in the boot and made some breakfast. I wrote an email to the doctor who helped after the 2014 crash that resulted in my broken shoulder, cc’ing my primary care physician, who is also the “team doctor” for the Hartford Extended Area Triathletes. I drove to work, and did our Senior Leadership Team Daily Huddle on the way. By the time I got to the shop, the doctor had replied, confirming that someone in his office could see me today. His assistant called me and we scheduled the appointment for 1:00 P.M. I read some email and then attended a meeting with our Controller, our CPA, and his partner.  We discussed accounting and finance matters for nearly two hours. I dealt with some HR stuff and then did a 30  minute telecon from the car on another business matter.

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By the time I got to the appointment, I was tuckered out. A junior doctor met with me, asked a bunch of questions, and manipulated my leg. In Reno, I reported that the pain was six on a 10 point scale, and repeated that to the doctor in Storrs, though there were moments when he squeezed my leg and the pain was probably a nine or 10. He was joined by a osteopath who further discussed my symptoms. Then, I was walked over to radiology where they shot three X-Ray’s. I was in terrible pain as they moved me around on the table. When I got back to the examination room, I was sweating profusely. This was harder than the race!

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The two doctors came in and gave me the bad news. They put the X-Ray’s up on the digital monitor and you could clearly see the break in the fibula. I was devastated. After one of my best cyclocross seasons, I had blown it in the last race. I also knew that the resulting recovery was going to have a huge impact on my heavy meeting and travel schedule. I was due to fly to Nicaragua this coming Saturday, but it was evident that I shouldn’t have even traveled back from Reno without first visiting the hospital. Flying to Central America was not going to happen. I also had several important planning meetings that would be impacted. I hung my head as they talked through the next steps.

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The big concern was whether or not the fracture was displaced. The osteopath wanted the orthopedic surgeon to review the images, but he was in surgery at the Farmington office. They got me back into the walking boot and scheduled me for a followup visit on Thursday morning, which was today. They told me to wear the boot all of the time, even while sleeping. They asked me to elevate my leg as much as possible, in an effort to get the swelling down.

Tuesday morning, I got really good news from the surgeon. He emailed to say that the break looked clean and that with a cast, the bone would heal on its own. He said to keep the appointment as planned and that he would see me then, with no change to the orders that they had given me. On Tuesday and Wednesday, I participated in meetings remotely while resting on the couch. Wednesday night, I attended the Connecticut River Valley Chamber of Commerce with my family and the Horst Engineering Senior Leadership Team. It took a big effort to put on a suit and get to the event, but I was honored as the chamber’s businessperson of the year. This award is a nice reflection on the success of our family enterprise and is shared with all my colleagues. By the time we got home last night, I was wiped out and anxious for today’s appointment.  This morning I got up, packed a rucksack, and drove back to UConn.

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The orthopedic surgeon was on duty. He is the same doctor who treated me in 2014 and despite the circumstances, it was nice to see him. Yesterday, he had three major surgeries, including one on the knee of a man who was in a horrible skiing accident. My case was “easy peasy” as he put it. They took me to radiology for one more X-Ray to make sure nothing had changed since Monday afternoon. We talked over my crazy travel schedule and the stupidity of my trip back from Reno. The X-Ray looked good, and he said the cast should do the job. His assistant presented me with a color palette to choose from. I chose black and orange to match our Team Horst Sports kit. He was thrilled and insisted on casting it himself rather than delegating it. He said it was one of his favorite procedures.

I was in and out in a half an hour with another appointment scheduled for two weeks from today. He said my prognosis was good and that given the circumstances, I was very lucky. We talked about my upcoming travel, races, and other stuff. The Nicaragua trip is off for me, and I don’t have to fly again until the end of February. Ski season is over before it even started. I was planning a March duathlon and I’m registered for the Mt. Tammany 10! (40 mile trail race), the Traprock 50K, and the Rasputitsa Spring Classic. Those races are all on hold until I get better. The good news is that even if I miss the spring campaign, I should be back up to speed for the summer mountain biking and triathlon seasons, and of course, the fall cyclocross season. That’s what matters.

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The pain sucks and this is a huge disruption, but much like my 2014 year of setbacks, I’m going to focus on other things. I’ll rest, improve my sleep, do some yoga, and work on my core strength. I use a standing desk and don’t have a chair in my office, but in the coming weeks, I’ll figure out how to stay off of my feet and take it easy.

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At dinner with the family on Monday night, our daughter asked if I’ve ever cried as an adult?

She said, “I mean, not from being sad, but when something hurt?”

I said, “Yes, many times. I cried three times at the doctor’s office today.”

She replied, “I cried twice today. At the trampoline park, she was jumping and a girl swung her fist and accidentally hit her in the chest. She said, “You know, like when it knocks the air out of your lungs and the water out of your eyes.”

I said, “Yeah, that hurts.”

She went on, “then, when I was with Mommy, a boy stepped on my toes and didn’t even notice. I cried again. His mom made him apologize five times. She told him to look me in the eye and say it like he meant it.”

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I didn’t predict this crash, but by the time Saturday afternoon rolled around, I was pretty burnt from the long season, the crazy start to the year, and from being on the road since Tuesday morning. Despite a solid build-up, strong motivation, and a new singlespeed bike, I wasn’t 100%. I had also started thinking about the trip home. So, couple those thoughts with 134 other guys on a tough course, and I’m not surprised that I got hurt. That was my first DNF at a cyclocross race in four years.

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How the rest of the week went:

The 2017 USA Cycling Cyclo-Cross National Championships were in Hartford and it was a spectacular event. Being in our “backyard,” we had a lot of involvement. Horst Engineering hosted an Open House & Plant Tour for a group of friends and out-of-town guests. Several key volunteers from the Reno CX Nats Race Committee, including Darron, and his friend, Race Director Coby Rowe, joined us for the tour. As the 2018 race approached, they insisted that we come to Reno, be part of the Expo, and participate. Art and I are really glad that we made the trip. They returned the favor by being great hosts.

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I had challenges all week-long. On the trip out to Reno, I lost my toiletries bag on one of the airplanes. The bag fell out of my carry on. It contained my toothbrush, toothpaste, and two sets of contacts. I didn’t have a contacts backup plan, so Debbie had to work with my assistant at to ship a set via UPS Next Day Air. I got them on Thursday only a few hours before my race.

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I have been to Lake Tahoe on two occasions, when Debbie participated in the 2013 and 2014 Tahoe Rim Trail Endurance Runs; but I had never made it to Reno. We had a blast in town and at Rancho San Rafael Park, which proved to be an excellent venue. The course was much faster than the Hartford track, and that was also because of the dry conditions. It was wetter on Tuesday and Wednesday, but by the second half of the week, and after a couple of big wind storms, the course was mostly dry. One of those windstorms destroyed the Horst Engineering tent, which is the second tent we lost to wind this season.

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In addition to three great meals at Greatful Gardens, we dined twice at Laughing Planet Cafe, which had a great shrine to Reno native, Greg Lemond. We also picked up açaí bowls at Basik Acai, a cool spot. I’ve been to their sister location in Kona, Hawaii, but that was back in 2010. We avoided the casinos, but did attend the Mechanics National Championship.

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Art did the Masters 40-49 Non-Championship race on Tuesday, but I came straight to the park from the airport via Uber, and just watched. Our big race was the Masters 45-49 Championship on Thursday afternoon I had an OK ride, consistent with my start position, and finished 37th in a field of 98. I was hoping for top 30, but faded on the last lap, let some gaps open up, and had to settle for a mediocre result. The 4,700 foot elevation at the park was a factor in the race. Fellow New Englander, Adam Myerson won for the second year in a row, proving his fitness and cyclocross prowess.

When we weren’t racing, we were hanging out at the Expo, meeting Cross Spikes™ customers, and gaining new customers. Many people came up to us and told us how our spikes were a big help to them and they love the product. We helped many people install their spikes. It was a lot of fun. During the first few days, the wind caused us a lot of problems. It was difficult to keep our tent up, but later in the week, after the winds calmed, we were able to stand around without freezing our butts off.

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Early in the week, we also had the pleasure to work the pit for Richard Sachs, our longtime friend from Connecticut. Richard sponsored Team Horst Sports in the late 1990’s and I’m fortunate to have three of his bicycles. Also, Horst Engineering recently partnered with him to launch the Richard Sachs Seat Lug Survival Kit. I still ride one of my Sachs bikes on the road, I have an old cross bike hanging in the basement, and I have my original 1989 Sachs frameset mounted on the wall of my office at work. Richard was in the Masters 65-69 Championship, but he too struggled with the altitude and had a sub-par race. Still, he kept his spirits high and enjoyed the trip.

All week-long, we watched cyclocross and cheered for our friends, especially those from New England. In our race, old friend, Chris Peck, wearing a Connecticut Cycling Advancement Program kit, charged to 5th place after starting way back in the field. The Team Horst Junior Squad is a CCAP team. On the weekend, we helped out local rider, Nic Villamizar, who competed in the Junior 15-16 Championship as a CCAP rider.

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Watching the Elite Races on Sunday got me fired up for more cyclocross. Now, I can’t wait for September when Team Horst Sports and the Team Horst Junior Squad start their new season. As they say, “Cross is coming!” The national championships are moving from January to December, so I’ll get another crack at a 2018 championship race when they are in Louisville, Kentucky later this year. I may not be an elite cross racer, but I love the sport dearly and still fight for position in every race I enter. Sunday afternoon’s women’s race saw an awesome battle that came down to Ellen Noble chasing 13 time champion Katie Compton. Katie prevailed for her 14th title. Kaitlin Antonneau finished third. That means that all three women on the podium are Cross Spikes™ ambassadors.

That was followed by a men’s race for the ages. A group of six turned into a group of five and after a series of attacks, more challengers dropped off the pace and the race came down to a fierce battle between four-time champ Jeremy Powers and defending champ Stephen Hyde. Stephen got past Jeremy in the second half of the last lap and took the win. Kerry Werner hung on for third place. That means that all three men on the podium are also Cross Spikes™ ambassadors.

Click here for full coverage of the Sunday races. Fast forward to 4:15:00 for the women and 6:03:00 for the men. If you have time, watch all the races, including the Men’s U23 race that had some spectacular highlights.

A special moment from Saturday afternoon was a visit from my friend Tony Lillios and his daughter Iva. They drove down from Incline Village, where they live near Lake Tahoe. They arrived minutes before the singlespeed race, but we had time to exchange hugs and get a photo taken. They watched me complete one lap, and then they watched me in agony. Still, it was great to see them. Once Tony saw cross live, I think he was hooked.

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As I sit here on my couch and wrap up this blog post, I’m looking back on the whirlwind of the past 10 days. I went from some emotional and physical highs to some serious lows, but despite being laid up, I’ve already bounced back. That proves that we are resilient beings. I owe a big thanks to Art for helping me get out of Reno and back to Connecticut. I shouldn’t have taken that risk, but I’m glad that I got the treatment locally and wasn’t stranded in Nevada. Debbie and the kids have already swung into action and are helping me around the house. The Horst Engineering Senior Leadership Team is proving that they don’t need me, at least not every day, which is better for the business. Team Horst is our number one Core Value. Another one of our Core Value’s is Perseverance, which is a word I love, and a perfect idea to end this story with.

In hindsight, I probably should have taken those dollar bills from that heckler. It would have been a down payment towards my medical bills.

2017 Supercross Cup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Race Results (Day 1)

Race Results (Day 2)

2017 Northampton International Cyclocross

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

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Day 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Race Results (Day 1)

Race Results (Day 2)

2017 Wicked Creepy Cross

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Race Results

2017 The Midnight Ride of Cyclocross

This past Wednesday, I did The Midnight Ride of Cyclocross for the third time. I also rode  it in 2013 and 2016. It’s a fun mid-week race at the Bolton Fairgrounds in Lancaster, Massachusetts.

This year, it was hot and humid, which isn’t my favorite cyclocross weather, but I’m not complaining. I did the Men’s Pro/1/2/3 race at 8:00 P.M. There were some lights, but as is typical, there were some dark and sketchy corners to add to the excitement. I drove up after work and had a little time to warm up in the parking lot. After dark, even with lights on your bike, Rt. 117 isn’t safe to ride on, so I stayed in the lot. That proved to be dangerous too, because there were absolutely no lights in the lot and it was pitch black. Traffic leaving the earlier races made riding a challenge. This was my only issue with the race. Otherwise, I appreciate all the work that goes into producing an event like this. Course set-up isn’t easy, especially on a weeknight.

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My legs were a bit heavy from last weekend’s Vermont 50, but I still had a decent ride. There were a handful of Masters 40+ guys mixed in with the fast young guys, including some professionals, so I wasn’t last. I stayed on the first lap and was only about two and a half minutes behind Todd Bowden and Adam Myerson, the fastest masters racers. The course had a nice mix of long straightaway speed sections, tight turns, a few sets of barriers, and some technical sand. It was dry, but the humidity and dew made for some slick corners. I used my TUFO Flexus Primus SG tires.

The race winner was Garry Millburn of Sydney, Australia. Garry was sporting his Horst Engineering Cross Spikes on the podium. It was great to meet him in person. He is an ambassador for our Australian dealer, Cyclocross Minded Australia. Garry is a past Australian National Cyclocross Champion and is one of their top cross racers. He is spending some time in the USA, racing the top UCI C1 and C2 events in Connecticut and Colorado. Then, he goes to Japan for some more racing, and then heads to Europe for the remainder of the season.

He was accompanied by his spouse, and fellow ambassador, Fiona Caroline Morris. She finished third in the women’s race and was excited to be on the podium too. I was winded after my race and without my iPhone or a camera, so a big thanks goes to Katie from Katie Busick Photography for snapping a picture and posting to Facebook so I could remember the moment. Night racing continues next Wednesday with the Night Weasels Cometh at Ski Ward in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. I’m a Night Weasels veteran too, and look forward to this year’s race. This is also a fun one to go and watch, so if you are interested in taking in some cyclocross, check out the Elite Women at 7:30 P.M., and then the Elite Men at 8:30 P.M. I’ll be racing with the big boys again.

 

Race Results


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We explored a few historic mill sites in #Dobsonville and #Talcottville on our way from #Vernon to #SouthWindsor via #mountainbike They only had black and white back when these old New England factories were pumping out textiles. #teamhorstsports #teamhorstjuniorsquad #sevencycles #islabikes
Good fun at today’s #traprock50K the kickoff race of the 2018 #Connecticut Blue-Blazes #trailrunning Series. #ultrarunning @shenipsitstriders #shenipsitstriders #teamhorstsports ☀️🏃🏻⛰
The Monday evening Dirty Duathlon series kicked off tonight at the Longo Farm Preserve. I enjoyed watching. #duathlon #mountainbiking #trailrunning 🚵‍♂️🏃🏻
Good fun at today’s @manchesterrunco Finally Spring 5K! @shenipsitstriders #shenipsitstriders #teamhorstsports #fs5k 🏃🏻
Great Friday morning #carfreecommute Tomorrow is a big day for the @eastcoastgreenway Workers will install these pre-fab steel spans on two gaps in the Manchester to Bolton connection. One will cross Camp Meeting Road. I also cut through #WickhamPark for the first time in 2018 and spent some time with my deer 🦌 friends. It looks like the worst park roads will get some much needed maintenance. #eastcoastgreenway #railtrail 🚴🏽
#mountainbike @mohonkpreserve #mohonkpreserve #teamhorstsports #teamhorstjuniorsquad
My first #carfreecommute since I upgraded my Nashbar panniers (good value) to a new custom set from @dillpicklegear These beauties are #madeinusa and a better match for my @seven_cycles Axiom SL. They work fine in cold weather. Where is spring? ❄️ The landscape image with the logs and solar panels is the start/finish of the fiend Silk City Cyclocross at Manchester Community College. I love solar, but the soccer and baseball fields are gone, which is sad. #sevencycles #teamhorstsports
Fun day at the MT. TAMMANY 10 ultra in #delawarewatergap @trailrunningmom ran 10 hours and 20 minutes or so for 38+/- Miles and 12,000 feet of up and 12,000 feet of down. I’ll have a race report and more photos tomorrow night. #mttammany #trailrunning #ultrarunning #mttammany10 #shenipsitstriders #teamhorstsports 🏃🏻❄️⛰📷
Images from 1) The Start and 2) End of Loop One at the MT. TAMMANY 10 ultra in #delawarewatergap @trailrunningmom and about 39 other whackos have 10 hours to complete 10 four mile loops including the 1,200 foot ascent(and 1,200 foot descent) of #mttammany That’s a lot of up and down on snowy, icy, rocky, and rooty trails. This is Deb’s version of a scrimmage. She is working her way back into shape after the long layoff since #cascadecrest100 last summer. I’m happy to just watch this one. #trailrunning #ultrarunning #mttammany10 #shenipsitstriders #teamhorstsports 🏃🏻❄️⛰📷

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