Archive for the 'Environment' Category

2017 Gran Prix of Gloucester

We had a spectacular weekend at the 2017 Gran Prix of Gloucester cyclocross race in Massachusetts. “We” is Shepard and me, plus the rest of Team Horst Sports and the Team Horst Junior Squad.

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The last time I raced Gloucester was in 2007. Pretty much every year for the last 10 years, this New England classic has conflicted with the Vermont 50 Mile Ride & Run. With cyclocross schedule changes, the event was moved to mid-October from its historical late-September date. I was happy to return for many reasons.

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I love the North Shore and Cape Ann. Sterling Machine is in Lynn, so I’m on the North Shore several times a month. The seaside Stage Fort Park course is picturesque and fantastic. The expo brought out some great sponsors and cycling industry stalwarts. The robust race fields (848 riders competed on Saturday and 787 competed on Sunday) prove this event’s popularity. In addition to the fields being deep, they are incredibly strong with the best showing up to do battle. The Elite Men’s and Women’s races featured some of the strongest riders in Northeast, with a few national pros and Canadians mixed in. Also, there are more spectators than any other cross race in the region. The beer garden was packed. This is what I like to call: The “New England World Championships.” I’m not talking Belgian-sized crowds, but if you ever want to spectate at a “local” cross race, pencil this one into your calendar.

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Our Masters team was well represented with Art Roti, Wade Summers, John Meyerle and me in the joint Masters 40+ Category 1/2/3 & Junior 17-18 year old field. Brett Chenail did the Masters 40+ Category 4/5 races. Dave Geissert and Keith Enderle did the Masters 50+ Category 1/2/3 races. All of us raced both Saturday and Sunday.

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The Junior Squad also had a good turnout. Shepard raced in the Juniors 9-14 old category and was joined by Sean Rourke, Boden Chenail, Lars Roti, and Nate Summers on Saturday. Those boys plus Ethan Lezon and Owen Lezon raced on Sunday.

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Day 1 (Saturday)

Yesterday’s course was a leg burner, with several long and exposed sections. The morning races were rainy and the corners were slick. Shepard and the boys did well. They were all smiles. He was very happy with how his race went. The course remained damp during my race, which started at 11:30 A.M. with light rain falling. My only mishap was on the first lap when running the one rocky run-up, I slipped and planted my left knee and elbow on a sharp stone. The knee took the brunt of the fall and might have earned me “best blood” if they had such a category.

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I started well back in the sixth row (eight riders to a row) on the grid, but moved my way up and finished  39th in a stacked field. The first seven spots were taken by the Junior boys, which is amazing. They are getting faster and faster, and the top 40-49 year old racers didn’t have a chance against them. Matt Timmerman, the national champion in our age group, was the top 40+ year old male, all the way back in 8th spot. I felt good about my race, but was knackered by the finish.

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After the race, Art and I did a long cool down, riding northeast, along the coast. We had spectacular views despite a few rain showers. The boys played all over Stage Fort Park and we watched the rest of the afternoon races. The view from atop the large rock, an iconic spot in the park, is awesome. You can see more than half the course from that one spot. The Elite racing was intense and enjoyable.

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Day 2 (Sunday)

We spent the night at one of my usual business oriented hotels on. Route 1 in Danvers, so it was only a 25 minute drive to the venue. The day dawned foggy and damp. The Gloucester weather was changeable, with intermittent sun and clouds and a stiff ocean breeze. It misted a bit in the early morning races, but then the course dried out and it became less humid as the day went on. By the time I raced, the course was bone dry and very dusty. Dust and above average temperatures have been the story of this cyclocross season. I’m waiting for some cold, which is what I prefer. I’m sure its a matter of if, not when.

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The Junior boys raced again at 9:31 A.M. and the Masters 40+ men were at 11:30 A.M. like yesterday. The course was altered slightly with several new sections and several sections removed. The run-up was different, but just as challenging. There were fewer long power sections, and there were several added technical sections. This made for a shorter lap. Some folks termed it “mountain bikey.” I did think that the loose sand and lots of transitions were pretty gnarly. It was a lot of fun, but I guess I preferred yesterday’s course better because it favored me more.

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I gave it my all today. The 17 and 18 year-olds dominated again, but the top masters rider was Alec Donahue, who bested Timmerman. By the third of six laps, I found myself in a group of six riders that included former national champion, Mark McCormack. At times the pace of the group slowed, so I decided to do my part to keep our gap to the group behind us, so I pulled for most of the last two laps. I felt good out front, but despite applying the pressure several times, wasn’t able to get away and create my own gap. Cognizant that I was going to get jumped on the last lap, I eased back into third spot in the final 1/3rd of the last lap.

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I was confident that I could beat all of them in a sprint, but I was unsure who was holding back. in the final few corners, I tried to make a move on the right side, but one of the riders pinched me in the final right hand turn before the road and I lost my momentum The first two riders, including McCormack, got a gap that they held to the line. I had to battle with the other four guys and two of them pipped me right before the finish. It was a frustrating way to end the race after I rode so well. I thought I had a chance to improve my position from yesterday’s race, but ended up 42nd.

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I’m just happy to be able to do this stuff. My heart rate was above Zone 4 the entire race and averaged 169 beats per minute for the 50 minute effort. I was even more toasted today, and I’ll need a few days to recover from these hard efforts. Chances are it won’t be another 10 years before I compete at Gloucester again.

 

Race Results (Day 1)

Race Results (Day 2)

2017 Monroe Dunbar Brook Trail Race

Yesterday, the Livingston Family returned to the Monroe Dunbar Brook Trail Race for the first time in since 2014. The four of us did the 2 mile “sampler” version of the race, which is a simple one mile out/one mile back course along Dunbar Brook. It’s a fun little jaunt with lots of undulation, wet roots, and slippery rocks.

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I’ve personally run Monroe eight times since 2000, but Debbie has done it more than that. Her first was in 1999, and for a while, she was “streaking,” with more than six in a row. Six of the eight times that I ran it were in the 10.5 mile main event. I last ran the 2 miler, way back in 2000. She and I had been dating for about a year. She must have convinced me to run. I’m sure my legs were trashed! This year was Shepard’s second time doing the short course, and it was our daughter’s first time experiencing the beauty of Monroe.

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I know it had been a while since were at Dunbar Brook Picnic Area because all of the pine trees at the start/finish line are gone. I know they were there in 2014 and before that, in 2012. My photos prove it! The picnic area looked different this year with all of the open space. Debbie and I were in this neighborhood in May of 2016, but we passed by without stopping to notice that the trees were gone. We rode River Road from Rt. 2 as part of a mixed asphalt/dirt loop adventure that we did on our gravel bikes.

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Yesterday, I rode that road again. I rode from Savoy Mountain State Forest via Rt. 2. It was a fun, but very wet ride. We camped at Savoy on Saturday night after driving over from Berkshire East Mountain Resort. On Saturday afternoon, after the Mansfield Hollow Cyclocross and a soccer game, we drove to Thunder Mountain Bike Park at Berkshire East in Charlemont. We went there for a YPO family event called “Pick Your Own Adventure.” Shepard and I got in a few runs on rental downhill bikes. That was a blast.  We intend to return when we have a full day to explore the trails.

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I normally ride a 29 inch wheeled Seven Sola SL rigid singlespeed mountain bike, so the Giant Glory with 203mm of suspension and 27.5 inch plus tires was like riding an air mattress. Our first run was led by Guide Paula Burton, who is a tireless trail advocate and longtime NEMBA volunteer. Paula gave us some great tips for riding berms and technical descents. While Shepard and I rode, Debbie and Dahlia spent time on the Thunderbolt Mountain Coaster.

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After dinner, we drove to Savoy, located in the town of Florida, where we spent the night. We’ve been to Savoy many times over the years for trail running and snowshoe races. It was a windy and rainy night, but we slept in the van. Early on Sunday, I rode to the start of Monroe. Debbie and the kids passed me on the way, and then we met back up just before the start.

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The WMAC website has a lot of great history about the Monroe Trail Race, and results dating back to 1992. We wanted to get back to Monroe this year because we miss the people. I know that the faces have changed, but there is still a core group of New England trail runners who have been going to these classic races since the beginning. The calendar is full of newer events that conflict, and some interest in the Grand Tree Trail Running Series has waned, but it was THE series to participate in when Debbie and I first got involved. Monroe was part of the WMAC Trilogy, along with the Mount Greylock Trail Race and the Savoy Mountain Trail Race.

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I wish I had more time to socialize, but my ride took longer than planned. It poured the whole way, but it was gorgeous. Seemingly, overnight, the leaves changed colors and with mist rising from the valleys, the colors were finally starting to show. I got there about 20 minutes before the 10:00 A.M. start. The short course race went off 10 minutes later. Debbie ran with Dahlia and I chased Shepard. After we finished, we hiked down to the Deerfield River to see the Dragon’s Tooth. The water was flowing fast, but the kayakers had already passed through. We had to consult YouTube for video of people actually navigating the rapids.

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We climbed back up to the picnic area, changed up, and waited for the first 10.5 mile runner to arrive. That turned out to be Kelsey Allen, who broke the women’s course record by winning the race overall. That’s fantastic! It was great to see her. We saw two more runners finish, Daniel Grip, and Todd Bennett; before we snuck out of there. We ha to high-tail it back to Connecticut so Dahlia could attend a friend’s birthday party. Life is busy. We did make a quick pit-stop for lunch at Hearty Eats in Shelburne Falls.

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WMAC has so many great longtime volunteers. Ellen and Pancho Mach are two that come to mind. Pancho was at his usual spot, the turnaround point of the 2 miler. I swear that he was there 17 years ago when I did this race the first time. Ellen was minding the finish line food tables, just like in years past. The Monroe Trail Race will always been one of our favorites, and it’s even better now as a family affair.

Race Results

2017 Mansfield Hollow Cyclocross

This past Saturday, I was back at the Mansfield Hollow Cyclocross for the 10th time since 1995. This race dates back farther than that. Race Director, Ron Manizza, is a longtime supporter of New England cyclocross, and he was promoting cross races in the 1980’s. The first few years that I did the race, back in the mid-1990’s, it was in December. I remember riding in cold rain, ice, and snow.

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This time, there was no snow. October cyclocross in New England in 2017 has been a hot and dusty affair. These aren’t my preferred conditions, but you take what you get. This race is now a family affair. The Team Horst Junior Squad was out in force. My son, Shepard, did the 9-12 year old Junior race. There was a total of 31 girls and boys in that race, which is awesome. There were 40 other Junior girls and boys between the ages of 13 and 18. The work of the Connecticut Cycling Advancement Program continues to pay dividends, especially at local CT Series of Cross events.

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I’ve been riding strong, but not executing well. I’ve had some frustrating mechanical problems, including at last week’s The Night Weasels Cometh, but that is part of the game. Saturday, I had good power, but fumbled several times. I never solved the steep hill. I tried to ride it, alternating the left and right lines, but it wasn’t working. I took a pedal to my right shin on one lap and it left a nice welt. I fell over two other times. By the last lap, I just decided to run it from the bottom, and even that wasn’t without incident.

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I struggled on some of the other dusty corners and had multiple “dabs.” Once I got out of synch and my heart rate spiked, it became a race of attrition. I held fifth spot for a while, had a good battle with Joe Rodrigues, Wade Summers, and Tim Ratta. We all swapped places in the last few laps, with Wade riding away from us as the race got longer. Joe was next, and Tim dropped back after a fast start. The Masters 50+ men started a few minutes after the 40’s, and the top guys were catching me by the end, which isn’t typical. I usually hold them off, but I was gassed. One of those fast Masters was teammate Mike Wonderly, who rode through the field to 2nd spot on the 50+ podium.

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The race was supposed to be 45 minutes, but there was an extra lap. The leaders did 55:38 and I crossed the line, exhausted, in 58:34. A three-minute gap in cross may not seem like a lot, but these were long laps, and it felt like an eternity. That put me back in 7th position. I’m going to use this week to rest up (actively) in advance of the Gran Prix of Gloucester. I haven’t done Gloucester (aka the New England World Championships) since 2007.  Over the last decade, it has frequently conflicted with the Vermont 50 on the last weekend of September. However, the cyclocross calendar got a makeover, and this A+ race is now in October.

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The volunteers, many from Thread City Cyclers, did a good job, and we appreciate the hard work that goes into putting on an event. I would have preferred a shorter lap. The start was in a new spot, but I like the old spot that gave you more open riding before funneling into the single track. This race course has always been “old school,” which is fine with me. There were three sets of barriers, plus the infamous telephone pole, which we took in the opposite direction this year. I chose to run it. The “sand pit” was also unrideable. So, with the steep hill, four dismounts, and the sand, I was off my bike a minimum of six times per lap, which is a lot. It was painful, but in an enjoyable kind of way.

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Between the Team Horst Junior Squad and our Masters racers, we had 15 riders participate in the event. That’s a great showing and indicates our support for this classic. In every category, the 2nd place finisher received a set of donated Horst Engineering Cross Spikes. Cross Spikes (I used Medium’s) helped in the sand and on the steep run-up, but we could still use some rain in New England to add some moisture to our “desert-like” landscape.

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Shepard and I had no time to linger after the race. It was the start of a busy weekend, and we had to get out of there, even before results were posted. Congratulations to all of the riders. I’ve seen some great photos from the race, including those by Steven Yau. When the next work week comes around, it’s always fun to look back on the prior weekend’s adventures. These images help carry you forward to the next weekend’s races. Cyclocross season is flying by; enjoy it while it lasts!

Race Results

2017 The Night Weasels Cometh Cyclocross

Last night, I was back at The Night Weasels Cometh Cyclocross for the fourth time. I also did the race in 2012, 2013, and 2016. It’s become one of my favorite cross races. The tradition of holding it mid-week in the first week of October makes it the perfect time. I love the Wednesday night vibe.

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I raced the Elite Men’s race at 8:30 P.M. They ranked the 40+ riders separately, but we all started together. The field was strong, with several visiting pros still in town from last week’s KMC CrossFest, plus the best local riders. I worked a full day from Sterling Machine in Lynn, Massachusetts. Then, drove to Methods Machine Tool in Sudbury, and spent three hours at their Metal Storm tradeshow.

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Then, I drove to Ski Ward in Shrewsbury for the race. I had ample time to dress, register, and get warmed up. It was a beautiful night. I got two warm up laps in before the Elite Women’s race, and didn’t crash, like I did in 2016 when I broke my rear wheel before the start. That forced me to my pit bike, which was an unfortunate disadvantage.

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Last night, I had a great ride, but some bad luck again. I was able to get my heart rate above my threshold and hold it there for a long time. It’s a sign that I have my best form of the year. I was hammering, and moving up in the field, with a shot at cracking the top-20, but coming through the gravel section with two laps to go, I felt the rear wheel of my Seven Mudhoney Pro get soft. The course was super-bumpy and there were some rocky sections. I was past the pit by a few hundred feet and into the dark section of the course before I realized my tire was dead flat.

I ended up having to ride on my rim for the entire climb and descent, which was more than 1/2 a lap. By the time I made it to the back side of the pit, nearly 15 guy’s had passed me in this stretch, as I lost a few minutes of time. I was seriously frustrated, but that’s how it goes. I was able to grab my other bike, a Seven Tsunami, but it doesn’t have the same feel as my primary race bike and I’m not as fast on it. I really should do something about this! I would need to get a new frameset with the identical geometry. It would be a smart thing to do given my spate of bad luck.

I lost a few more spots until I “stopped the bleeding” and got back in a groove. I was able to hold off a few chasing riders in the last couple of laps, even though I had an incident on the stairs run-up. I caught my toe and fell to the ground, but slammed my face on my handlebars in the process. I have a little swelling on my nose and eye socket. I also smacked my right ankle on my crankset, and it too is swollen. That’s cyclocross!

It’s the punctured tire that really frustrates me. I just glued this TUFO Flexus Primus two nights ago, so it was brand new. It was its first race, and now it has a pin hole in the sidewall. I may try to fix it, otherwise, I have to pull off the tire, which is not easy when it has just been glued (five layers plus Belgium tape). At least I didn’t break a spoke like last year, or brake my hub like I did last month at the Hartford Riverfront Cyclocross. I’m ready to put the bad luck mechanical problems behind me.

The course was very dry and fast. It was my best Weasels ever and I was still happy with 34th place. I would have been ecstatic with 20th place, or even 25th place, but alas, it wasn’t to be. It was still a good time and I’ll return in 2018 with the goal of having a clean race.

Thank you to the Night Weasels crew for putting on this event. Also, I appreciate that they shared the photo album on their Facebook page. That’s where I got these two awesome action shots. If you have never experienced Night Weasels as a rider or spectator, you should check it out next year.

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

AMC Harriman Outdoor Center

On Thursday and Friday of this week, Debbie and I made a short trip to the new Stephen & Betsy Corman AMC Harriman Outdoor Center in New York. This was the first full season for the camp, which will be open for a few more weeks.

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We were there for a series of Board of Directors and Board of Advisors meetings. Sandwiched between the meetings was a wonderful Farm to Fork Dinner. The chef and crew outdid themselves with a wonderful meal sourced from local farms. Even the beer and wine were from local vintner and brewers.

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From Hartford, it took us 2.5 hours to get there and with Friday afternoon traffic, it was 3 hours for the return trip. The Appalachian Mountain Club has had a fantastic 2017, and the growth of the Harriman Outdoor Center, with more than 7,000 bednights since its opening, is one of the highlights. Only 30 miles north of New York City, the center offers city dwellers a wonderful outdoor experience.

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The camp is inside Harriman State Park, one of New York’s gems. Debbie and I have been visiting Harriman for 25 years. I first visited the park when racing for the Boston University Cycling Team. The Army (West Point) Cycling Team hosted their road race inside the park, and we traveled there every April for this spring classic. Since then, I have done many other road cycling races on the same course. I’ve also done the Harryman Triathlon, and the Supercross Cup. Debbie has done the North Face Endurance Challenge Bear Mountain 50 Mile trail race on a few occasions, and she has even done an adventure race inside the park.

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AMC’s Harriman Outdoor Center gives the 11,000+ member New York-North Jersey Chapter an awesome camp right in their backyard. The camp hosts a lot of groups, including youth groups. The camp should help AMC’s diversity initiatives and also further our efforts to get kids outdoors. This particular camp has a long history. It was most recently used as a Girl Scout summer camp, but it had been abandoned and in disrepair. Over the past two years, AMC substantially renovated the camp and transformed it into a thing of beauty. Set on Breakneck Pond, the camp has its own trail system, but is also near the Long Path.

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The camp has a variety of lodging options at varying price points. There are tent platforms, lean-to’s, small cabins, and larger cabins. Some of the cabins have private baths, but others share community bathrooms/showers. There is a large dining hall with in season food service. In addition to the accommodations at the main camp (which are accessible by car),  there are three remote campsites around the pond, each with four tent platforms and a privy. You have to hike or backpack to these sites, which can be a great training ground for a more challenging trek to one of AMC’s high country destinations.

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The 2.3 mile Pond Loop trail is rugged, but before breakfast on Friday, Debbie and I leisurely jogged it in 45 minutes. Our “run” included several stops to explore the campsites and take in the views. The camp has a fleet of kayaks and canoes that are available for registered guests to use. There is a lovely swimming area too. I was also able to get in a short swim to explore the farther reaches of the lake. In 10 minutes, I made it to a nice rock outcropping. I swam across the lake width-wise and then returned. Debbie paddled near me in one of the kayaks.

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We vowed to return with the kids to explore more of the camp and the surrounding park. In one trip, you can hike, run, bike, and paddle. AMC’s construction crew did a fantastic job renovating the camp. We saw more of their handiwork over the July 4th weekend, when our family visited AMC’s Medawisla Lodge in northwestern Maine. Medawisla is a jewel, but it takes 6.5 hours to get there from southern New England. Harriman can get you into the woods in less than half of that time. My advice is that you check it out.

2017 Vermont 50 Mile Ride or Run

What a day! Yesterday’s 25th anniversary Vermont 50 Mile Ride and Run was amazing. There were so many great storylines to this event. It’s redundant to say how much this race means to our family, but every time we do it, we meet people who don’t know our history with the race.

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I met Debbie in the parking lot at Mt. Ascutney Ski area, the afternoon before the 1999 race. My friend, Arlen Zane Wenzel, was with me that day. Then, in the race, which was my first VT50 (and his third), we finished two seconds apart with me getting the advantage. He and I have traded friendly “blows” ever since, but through thick and thin, we remain loyal teammates. Debbie also finished the 1999 race, her first ultra, which set the course for what has become a long endurance sports career. Many people also don’t know that Arlen, Debbie, and I did a lot of three-person adventure racing together in the early-2000’s. The Hi-Tech/Balance Bar Adventure Race were three person teams, and I dare say, we were a pretty good trio, but I don’t think Arlen has run a step since the series ended!

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Arlen  and I were standing together at the VT50 finish line again yesterday, separated in the results by 14 minutes. He got the best of me, but he also had the advantage because he had gears and suspension on his bicycle and I rode my rigid singlespeed. I’m frequently questioned about my bicycle choice and my simplest reply is that I like the extra challenge. It’s a totally different style of racing.

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A few hours later, Debbie finished the mountain bike race. Yes, you read that correctly. After an absolutely incredible summer of running, she opted to ride the VT50 for the first time. This wasn’t a spontaneous decision. When she planned her 2017 race schedule, she hoped for it to unfold this way, and it did. She registered in late May, just a week or so before she got official word that she made it off the Hardrock Endurance Run waitlist. After last month’s Cascade Crest 100 Mile Endurance Run, she swapped her running shoes for mountain bike shoes, and did a bit more riding than usual. She did half of the Winding Trails Summer Tri Series races using her mountain bike, and she commutes to work once or twice a week, so riding isn’t foreign to her. She primarily uses it for cross-training.

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She went into the VT50 with hopes of riding under seven hours, and she accomplished that, finishing in 6:43:53. Coach Al Lyman helped her with the training, and she got some technical skills coaching from Jimena Florit. I did a few long rides with her too. What was interesting was that she showed more emotion at the finish line than she has shown at any of her recent ultras. Last night, on the drive home from Vermont, we talked about what she was feeling. Her recent long distance runs have been so taxing, and well…so long, that she hasn’t been able to fully experience the joy of finishing. Even kissing the Hardrock was anti-climactic after 41 hours on her feet. That race was more about the journey, and less about the finish. After running more than 80 ultras since 1999, it has become somewhat routine, and sadly, in the past few years, she hasn’t experienced the same thrill that motivated her early on. Riding the VT50, after having run it a dozen or so times, was something totally new, and challenging. So, on a hot day, she did something that made her smile. She says she wants to do more mountain biking, and specifically XTERRA Off-Road Triathlon, which sounds fun to me.

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She has now finished the Vermont 50 Mile Trail Run, the Vermont 50K Trail Run, and the Vermont 50 Mile MTB, for the “trifecta.” I don’t know who else has done that. Maybe someone has. She has also finished the Vermont 100 Mile Trail Run. If she ever runs, and finishes the Vermont 100 Kilometer Trail Run, then she will have covered all the distances. Of course, to really separate herself from the pack, she will have to also ride the Vermont 100…on a horse.

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The VT50 has been a family affair since our son, Shepard, was born 11 years ago. Over that period of time, the race has become a lot more family friendly, with Saturday dubbed “Kids’s Day.” This year, we drove up mid-day on Saturday, stopping at the Putney Co-Op, our usual spot, for lunch. Later in the afternoon, at Mt. Ascutney, Shepard and Dahlia both the Kid’s Bike Ride (approximately 1.5 and 2.5 mile options) and the Kid’s Trail Run (approximately .5, 1.5, and 2.5 mile options). The un-timed events were about an hour apart, and attracted lots of “little ones.” The kids also had to brave the heat, though thankfully it was a tad cooler on Saturday. Debbie’s Mom, Barbara, also joined us, which has become a tradition. This year, she didn’t have to sleep in a tent. Nor did we. We were able to join our hosts, the Bettencourt Family, and a group of other teammates and friends, at a local “ski house” near the start/finish line. In addition to the Livingston’s and Bettencourt’s, the group also included Arlen, Erik Emanuele, John and Johnny Meyerle, Spike McLaughlin, and Joshuaine Toth. Other Team Horst Sports mates were at the race, but had their own accommodations.

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I also had a good day on the bike. Because the VT50 is exclusively on private land, open only to racers one day/year, the course changes slightly from year to year. The distance is consistent and most of the trails are the same, and I went sub-five hours for the fourth time, in 16 tries on the bike. It’s worth noting that three of the four times (in a row) have been on my singlespeed Seven Sola SL, AND in my 40’s. The first time I went under five hours was back at that first race in 1999. Yesterday, I had a rough patch around 35 miles, and 45 and got passed by nearly 30 people over the last 15 miles.

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I was on pace to have an even better day, but faded a bit in that last third of the race. That was a bit demoralizing, but my legs were heavy and as the more technical climbs and singletrack come in the final third of the race, I was forced to push my bike a lot. I run a particularly heavy gear (like a 17 tooth cog equivalent in the rear) with my belt drive set-up, and it was hurting me on the hills. By late morning, the temperature was in the low-90’s Fahrenheit. I suffered under the baking sun along with everyone else, and by early afternoon, it was even hotter.

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I’ve done this race in the wet and cold. In past years, we have had frost on the ground at the start. Yesterday, I went off in the first wave at 6:00 A.M. and was wearing shorts and short sleeves, with no base layer. It was very pleasant. I used my Light and Motion Urban 800 commuter handlebar mounted light. It was dark in the woods for the first hour, and I was forced to wear my Rudy Project sunglasses (Racing Red lenses) on the tip of my nose. I peered over them to see the trail clearer. I had a close call while it was still dark. A deer darted in front of me as I was going down a steep hill. That was hardly the first time I’ve had a deer run in front of me on a ride, but it always freaks me out. A collision is a real possibility that I wish to avoid.

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It turns out that I had one bad crash with an immovable object, around the 12 mile mark, not long after I saw the deer. I was descending at high-speed, and took a right hand turn too fast. My rear wheel slid out, and I slammed a tree with my head (helmet), left ear, and left jaw. I hit the tree so hard that my sunglasses flew off of my face. I was having a strong start to the race, and didn’t want to lose ground; I was stunned, but got a shot of adrenaline, gathered my sunglasses, bike, and wits, and remounted. It took 10 minutes for me to get my senses (and confidence) back, but eventually I was moving well again. The only lingering effects are a sore jaw and a tender ear.

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The views from Garvin Hill and other high points were spectacular. It was a gorgeous day. The dirt roads that wind past the horse farms in South Woodstock are always my favorite part of the course. I love those roads and used them to my advantage, pushing my big gear and holding my ground. I ended up 7th singlespeed rider and 71st overall. Arlen caught me around the 30 mile mark. He started in Wave 2, five minutes back. He gave me a pat on the butt, but didn’t say anything as he rode past. I wished him luck, but there was no way for me to stick with him. I kept him in site for the next three miles or so, but eventually, I lost contact.

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I was the 6th singlespeed rider going in to Johnson’s, the final aid station, but I got caught by one more rider in my category. I never drink soda, but I needed a boost, so I stopped for three cups of Coke, and he slipped past me. I was watching everyone that went by, but was a bit helpless at that point. I noticed his drivetrain (one gear) and gave chase through the baking hot fields on the lower slopes of Mt. Ascutney, but never closed the gap in the final 2.5 miles. The last descent to the finish was welcome and I flew down the hill.

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More than 800 mountain bikers started, and there were 653 official finishers. 146 50 Mile runners finished and 176 50K runners finished. I don’t know how many started, but it was carnage for the runners. There were a lot of DNF’s in the heat. Debbie said that it was so much easier to ride. After all, you can coast on the downhills! We saw so many friends at the race. I can’t even name them all.

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Joe Azze from Mountain Peak Fitness, was all over the course. I can’t wait to see his video footage. I said that Arlen had a great ride. He was stoked with his finish, 34th overall and his third fastest time. Following us were Anthony Eisley (great comeback), John Meyerle (fast Dad), Spike (great to see you even in a Coppi jersey), Brett Chenail (great rookie ride), Johnny Meyerle (third in his age group doing CCAP proud), and the Arthur Roti/Andrew Caputo tandem team.

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Art and Andy were the only tandem this year. Art’s longtime partner, Mark Hixson, was a late scratch, and less than a week before the race, Art convinced Andy to join him as his stoker. Art captained the entire way, and they were happy to finish as strongly as they did, despite reporting about one wild crash that had bodies and bike flying. Those two just might be the most popular riders on the course. The tandem always gets a lot of attention, and rightfully so.

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In the running race, we saw a lot of friends finish. Notably, Debbie’s client, Mindy Randall, who persevered in a big way. Brian Rusiecki came up short on the win, and was visibly suffering in the heat, but he still smiled for a post-race photo. It was very cool to see Larisa Dannis running strongly again. She has returned to New England (New Hampshire specifically) after three years working in San Francisco. Prior to moving, she dominated the northeast ultrarunning scene. Just before she moved, she had a breakout performance, finishing second at the 2014 Western States Endurance Run, where Debbie was on her crew and paced her in the final 30 miles. Larisa has struggled with her form in the past few years, but I know that she is back in her familiar place (the White Mountains and Green Mountains) and is getting her mojo back. I first saw her Saturday evening when I went for a spin to scout the start, and she was doing the same thing on her feet. Her Mom Sandy, spotted us at the finish, and we welcomed her to our shady spot under the Horst Engineering tent. When Larisa finished, she was overcome by the heat. It took a while to get her cooled down, but she was all smiles. Debbie and I are happy that she is getting her confidence back, pulling for her in this comeback, and hoping that she remains injury free.

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Tony Bonanno, our good friend from the Shenipsit Striders had a strong finish in the 50 miler, and got an age group award. I missed his finish, but called him on Monday morning to check in, and congratulate him. Tony and I are occasional lane-mates at our local YMCA pool.

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Not to be overlooked in all of the hoopla about heat and results, is the fact that since its founding, all proceeds of the VT50 have gone to Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports. V.A.S.S., founded in 1986, helps  youth and adults participate in adaptive sports programs and activities year-round, including skiing, snowboarding, and mountain biking. This race (founded in 1993), and it’s sister race, the VT100 (founded in 1989), have been V.A.S.S. primary fundraisers since their inception. On Saturday afternoon at the race expo, our kids got to try out some of the adaptive mountain bikes.

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They have four wheels and can be pedaled and steered with your arms, or steered with your chest. They weren’t easy to maneuver, but they gave our kids a feel for what it must be like to use one of these cool devices. Our kids are fortunate to have use of all of their limbs, but other people have to make due. Speaking of limbs, Debbie saw something amazing while she was riding. She saw a man riding the race with one leg, and no prosthesis. He had amazing balance and power. He had a helper, who was carrying foldable crutches on his back (while riding), in case his friend needed to walk for any reason. She said they were in great spirits and she was notably inspired.

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The VT50 wouldn’t happen without a cadre of great volunteers. Mike Silverman has been the Race Director since 1999, so every time Debbie and I share an anniversary from our meeting date, he shares it with us. Having been around the race for so long, we have gotten to know some of the other volunteers, and even if we don’t see them for 365 days, we always recognize them at the start/finish, at the aid stations, and elsewhere on the course. It’s common for me to thank the volunteers in a race report, but this year, they deserve special attention. They needed to haul more water than ever. They had to deal with dehydrated bikers and runners. They had to sweat like we did. In past years, they have stood in the pouring rain and froze their fingers trying to stay warm. This year’s challenges were of a different sort.

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It was nice to have a house and shower close to the finish line. Everyone was covered in a layer of sweaty dust. After washing up, I returned to the finish to cheer for others. It was a fitting that several of us shared mini-growlers of Face Plant Ale that I picked up at the Breakaway Brew Haus. We lingered for most of the afternoon and didn’t pack up until Debbie’s award ceremony. She scored a commemorative bottle of VT50 maple syrup for winning the Novice Masters age group. That honor was a fitting way to cap the race for us. It took a while to pack up, and the cleanup will continue throughout the week. We were home by 8:00 P.M. We have a busy work week and cyclocross season kicks in to high gear on Wednesday with the Midnight Ride of CX and continues with six races in an 18 day stretch. I have to get my legs loosened up for that.

Race Results


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Two days of #crawfordnotch views sandwiched with @appalachianmountainclub meeting. Cycling on Rt. 302, #trailrunning on the Crawford Path, and Mount Willard. #newhampshire 🚴🏽🏃🏻⛰ Sites and sounds from Day 2 @gpgloucester #gpgloucester The fog was burning off by the end of the Cub Juniors 9-14 year old race.

#horstspikes #cyclocross #lifedeathcyclocross #horstengineering #teamhorstsports #teamhorstjuniorsquad #madeinconnecticut #madeinnewengland #madeinusa 🇺🇸 It was great to see so many friends at today’s Western #Massachusetts Athletic Club Monroe (Dunbar Brook) Trail Race. We all ran the 2-Miler. We couldn’t stay long after the finish, but we did see Kelsey Allen win overall in the 10.5 Mile main event. Hooray! #trailrunning 🏃🏻 Before and after the Western #Massachusetts Athletic Club’s Monroe (Dunbar Brook) Trail Race in the #Berkshires I rode (very wet) over from Savoy Mountain State Forest where we camped last night. On the ride along the #DeerfieldRiver I checked out #ZoarGap and then we walked down to the river to see the Tooth. Sadly, the kayakers had already passed through. The foliage turned overnight. #trailrunning #cycling 🚴🏽🏃🏻⛰ #Cyclocross racing in the morning and downhill #mountainbiking @thundermountainbikepark in the afternoon. We got in two late afternoon runs on rental bikes and are pumped to return for more fun in the future. #teamhorstsports #teamhorstjuniorsquad #thundermountainbikepark #berkshireeast 🚵‍♀️⛰ 30 kids in the 9-12 year old Race at the #mansfieldhollow #Cyclocross That’s just awesome! @the_ccap #teamhorstsports #teamhorstjuniorsquad #crossspikes #crossisboss This image was from pregame, but approaching halftime @uconnfootball there aren’t many more fans than you see here. 35 (Memphis ) to 21 (UCONN) is a lot of points in 30 minutes of #football #uconn This morning I got to hear Warren Rustand, inspirational entrepreneur and fellow @ypoglobal member, speak at a #ypo Connecticut River Valley Chapter meeting. It was fitting that the event was @riverfrontrecapture and literally ON the #connecticutriver I walked from @horsteng via my favorite train bridge. The 10 minute trip back to the plant was ample time to reflect on the #leadership lessons that he shared with our group. @garyrome and I decided that we should memorialize our time with this dedicated athlete, by requesting that he join our photo. #horstengineering #business Fantastic but FRUSTRATING race at The Night Weasels Cometh #cyclocross Was charging hard but punctured with two to go and rode 3/4ths of a lap on my rear flat before getting to my pit bike. I just glued this tubular two nights ago. Grrrr! Gave up more than a dozen spots. This string of bad luck will end and my fitness will pay off. Still not a bad ending to a work day. Onward! #teamhorstsports #crossspikes #nightweasels 🚴🏽 🌕

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