Archive for the 'Environment' Category

#outdoorcitizen & Appalachian Mountain Club Summit

This past Saturday, the Appalachian Mountain Club Summit was held in Norwood, Massachusetts. The event coincided with the 141st annual meeting. At the end of 2016, AMC had 91,404 members across our 12 chapters.

img_3197

I’m a member of the AMC Board of Directors, and both Debbie and I are longtime members of the Board of Advisors.  AMC had a fabulous 2016. Highlights included the opening of the Harriman Outdoor Center in New York, great progress with the club’s Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) program, the sale of our longtime Boston headquarters, and the purchase of a new headquarters building in Charlestown. An additional 4,358 acres were conserved in Maine as part of the Silver Lake project. This increases AMC’s land in Maine to more than 70,000 acres.

img_3205

The list of achievements is amazing. Those were just some of the highlights. 2017 promises to be even more momentous. The move from Boston to the expanded and modernized space in Charlestown will take place in the second half of the year. The new Medawisla Lodge will open in June. This is the third Maine lodge to be renovated/built.

img_3213

Debbie, my brother-in-law Tom, and our kids attended the Summit with me. We participated in some really cool workshop, including:

  • Primitive Navigation: The Lost Art of Finding Our Way
  • Secrets to Successful Kid-Friendly Adventures
  • Griphoist and Highline: Rocks, Ropes, Pulleys and More
  • All About Axes
  • Show & Tell: What’s in a Leader’s Pack?

img_3218

During the Summit, AMC launched #outdoorcitizen

I won’t explain it in any more detail than I have. Click through to learn more or search the hashtag on Instagram and Twitter.

2017 will be a big year for AMC. If you aren’t one of our 91,404 members, and you enjoy recreation, education, and conservation; then join! You won’t be disappointed.

Vail, Colorado

It’s no secret that I love mountains. The Appalachians are my favorite mountain range. Within the Appalachians, I love the White Mountains and the Berkshires. When it comes to mountains, especially those in the eastern United States, I don’t discriminate.

img_3054

Out west, I’ve spent time in various mountain ranges, including the Sierra’s, Santa Monica’s, Cascades, Wasatch, and Santa Rita’s, but until last week, I had never been to the Rockies. I had seen the Rocky Mountains on flights across the country, and I even viewed them from a hotel room in Denver, on my one and only trip to Colorado in 2011, but, I had never explored them.

img_2974

img_3078

Given their scale, five days of skiing at Vail could barely be described as “exploring the Rockies,” but at least I can now say I’ve been there. There is so much more to see in Colorado, and then of course, there are other states like Wyoming and Montana that I’ve never seen. This trip wet my appetite for more.

img_2989

I always thought I would take a few of my bicycles to Colorado and explore the mountain roads and trails that make it a Mecca for cyclists. I never thought that the first significant time spent outdoors would be on a ski slope. I don’t come from a skiing family. My parents don’t ski or snowboard, so I didn’t get exposed to the sport at a young age. I dabbled a bit with both when I was in high school. I skied a bit in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont, but never pursued it. In college, I skied one day in Park City, Utah on a dare, and then didn’t pick it up again for 10 years until I returned to Park City with a group of friends.

img_2981

I had consciously avoided skiing out of fear of injury. My summer sports are so important to me that I didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize them through the risk of injury. When I met Debbie in 1999, she was a snowboarding instructor at Killington, but she too had been away from Alpine sports for some time.

img_3149

I have some strong skier friends, and since that trip to Utah, we have been on subsequent trips to Stowe and Jay Peak in Vermont. Despite skiing in terrible conditions, I learned to love the sport. I realized that despite the expense, it can be a fantastic family pastime. Debbie and I talked about doing more of it by introducing our kids to snowboarding. I decided to stick with skiing, and two years ago, I even bought my own downhill gear.

img_3040

As a family, we have been to Stowe, Jiminy Peak, and Mt. Southington (in Connecticut). Debbie is proficient and the goal was for the kids and I to become good enough to justify a family trip out west in the coming years. So, when this group of guys decided on a ski trip to Vail for our 2017 retreat, I was pumped.

img_3034

I knew I needed an intense and focused trip a real mountain if I was ever going to make a leap forward with my skills. The unforgiving snow conditions and short trails on New England mountains helped were limiting me.So, the trip to Vail exceeded my expectations in every way possible. I’m 10 times better after three days. We skied for 16 hours (counting our ascent and descent) and covered 58 miles with more than 70,000 feet of descent. It was a crash course in Alpine skiing. I followed my buddies all over Vail. We explored the Front Side, the Back Bowls, and Blue Sky Basin.

img_3086

We had spectacular conditions. One of my buddies, who has been skiing for 48 years, and just returned from a heli-skiing trip in British Columbia, said that they were three of the best days of skiing he has ever had. We arrived on Saturday. It snowed overnight, and on Sunday, high on the mountain, we had up to 18 inches of fresh powder. Sunday’s weather was great. It was partly sunny with occasional snow shower at the higher elevations. The visibility was fantastic and the snow was light and fluffy. We skied from 8:30 A.M. when the lifts opened, until the last lift at 3:30 P.M. We explored the Back Bowls and laid fresh tracks all over the mountain. People were letting out whoops from all directions. Even the locals reveled in the conditions.

img_3075

I had one scary moment. I was following our group through a wide-open snow field when I hit something under the snow. The collision was abrupt and I ejected from both skis. I tucked and rolled, slamming the back of my head on the ground. The depth of the snow was a blessing and a disguise. It had completely covered a felled tree. The only evidence of the tree was a small dead branch protruding from the snow, but it was more than 15 feet to the left of the section I hit, and I never saw it.

img_3007

My left ski was wedged under the log, and out of view. My right ski bounced off the log and was buried in the snow. Thankfully I hit the log straight on with my boots, and I released from the bindings. My neck and back were sore, but I was thrilled to be alive. No one saw the incident, but one of my buddies hiked back up to help me out. I had no idea what I hit until we dug out my skis and uncovered the log so that others would see it. I was shaken, and learned a vital lesson. Skiing can be very dangerous. I shook it off and continued on, though even more aware of my surroundings.

img_3176

img_3172

By evening, it had started to snow again, and pretty much never stopped. The valley saw on and off snow, and from Sunday night through this morning, it snowed steadily higher up on the mountain, and at times, it came down heavy. The snow just kept coming. Monday’s conditions were just as good as Sunday’s, and there were far fewer people on the mountain. The snow wasn’t as light, so pushing through the powder presented a new challenge, but by the end of the day, I had progressed even more.

img_3067

img_3006

Tuesday was our final day, so we stayed on the front side and explored more new trails. Vail is huge. You pay  a premium to ski there, but the level of service was very high. The lifts and other facilities were top-notch. The customer service was fantastic.

img_2978

I’m interested in an Alpine touring set-up so I can combine hiking with skiing. That would suit my style. I’m also looking forward to a Vail return trip and the idea of exploring other western resorts is appealing too.

Preview: 2017 USA Cyclo-Cross Nationals

I helped with the Horst Spikes marketing related to next week’s USA Cyclo-Cross National Championships. Here is the basic info. Be sure to check out the Horst Spikes News, in case you haven’t seen it already!

Next week, Hartford, Connecticut is welcoming the 2017 USA Cyclo-Cross National Championships.

 

Today, we launched a special edition of Horst Spikes News that is chock full of resources for athletes, volunteers, and spectators. It’s a comprehensive guide to everything happening next week. Check it out.

The cyclocross season is winding down, but it will go out with a bang! The 2017 USA National Cyclocross Championships are a week away. This will be the biggest cross race that Connecticut has ever seen. The KMC Cross-Fest in October was a fantastic success and we look forward to 2017, New England has hosted the national championships on several occasions, but this is the first time the event has come to our home state.

Horst Engineering is heavily invested in the success of this event. We were founded in Hartford and our headquarters is on the Connecticut River in East Hartford, a stone’s throw from the Riverside Park venue. We are longtime supporters of hosts: The Connecticut Cycling Advancement Program (CCAP) and Riverfront Recapture.

logo_ccap

Team Horst Sports members will be competing in several races, including the Masters Championship and Juniors Championship events. Many team members, including those who don’t race cyclocross, will be volunteering to help.

riverfrontrecapture-newest-73120-1

We organized the first ever Connecticut Riverfront Cyclocross at Riverside Park in 2003. Our lineup of Horst Spikes™ cyclocross toe spikes were tested and developed on our hometown course. Cross Spikes™ have brought us back into the bicycling industry in a big way. Our roots are in bikes and we couldn’t be more proud of Hartford to host such a cool event.

2016 March Farms CycloMadness

I’ve got soreness in muscles that I didn’t even know I had! Today’s March Farms Cyclocross was insane. We awoke to three inches of snow on the ground and by the end of my race at 11:15 A.M. there was more than six inches. It snowed steadily all morning and made for a treacherous drive to the Litchfield Hills. We took our time and got there well before the 9:30 A.M. Cub Juniors race.

img_1848

img_1827

It snowed heavily during the kids race and for the first half of the Men’s Masters race, but by the end, freezing rain and rain were falling. Shepard, Sean, Cole, and the other Juniors who braved the elements deserve serious “cred” for their grit. It was cold, windy, and wet. This was the race to test Horst Spikes Ice & Snow Cross Spikes.

img_1831

The funniest moment of the day came in the Cub Juniors race when one not-so-happy cross racer promptly stopped his forward momentum and called out, “That’s it, I’m done,” and heaved his bicycle into the snow. His Mom, who was shadowing him on foot, said, “Oh no you don’t,” and prodded him to remount his steed. I couldn’t stop laughing. He finished.

img_1864

img_1892

There was less riding in this “bicycle race” than any bicycle race in my career. I was forced to shoulder or push my Seven Mudhoney PRO for 90% of the 2.7 mile race. Can you believe that? In 34 minutes, I only averaged 4.8 mph “with a bicycle.” My heart rate averaged 174 and peaked at 184, so it was an all out effort.

img_1822

img_1873

I was joined in the Masters race by Arthur Roti, Tom Ricardi, Paul Nyberg, and Matt Domnarski. We looked shell-shocked after the finish. Our pit bikes were covered in a layer of frozen ice. It was nearly impossible to clip into your pedals. The pedals springs were frozen shut and giant snowballs collected on the bottom of our feet. We had to repeatedly bang them against our pedals to knock off the snow and ice.

img_1826

On several of the descents, I was able to get enough connection with my pedals to ride for 20 or 30 seconds at a time before being forced to run again. March Farm is the most hilly race in the CT Series of CX, but conditions were much different compared with last year’s race. Last year, I wore shorts.

img_1887

I ended up third in the 40+ field, but it didn’t matter. Everyone who raced was a champion today. Stan Lezon got the best of me. I guess you could say that I got “dropped on the last lap.” Of course, there were only two laps. A third would have been a death march. We gained nearly 500 feet on the undulating course, and the climbing was ALL on foot. The downhills were hair-raising. A few times, I wasn’t clipped in at all and was just hanging on for dear life as I coasted to the bottom before getting off to run again.

img_1813

Today, the best strategy was to make sure you were dressed warm enough and to have a lightweight bike. The running was awkward. The footing was difficult, uneven, and slippery. Cyclocross is run in all conditions, and deep snow is no exception. I’m hoping for some wild weather at next month’s USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championship at Riverside Park in Hartford, but not this wild.

img_1816

The crew at March Farms did a great job despite the challenging conditions. The volunteers and officials also had to brave the conditions. They had a great bonfire, a warming tent, and even a mobile “pub.” Sadly, I wasn’t in the mood for a beer, but we did stop at the farm store before heading home. We showed our support by doing some Christmas shopping.

img_1886

We have to do it all over again tomorrow. The gear is drying. The bikes are still in the trailer. The temperature is supposed to rise overnight and the Elm City Cyclocross in New Haven is going to be a messy affair.

img_1895

Race Results (will be posted when online)

2016 Hellgate 100K

This weekend, Debbie returned to run Hellgate for the second time. She first ran it in 2013. My prior blog post covers some Hellgate history, has some good photos, explains the Beast Series, and links to several other great races that she has done. In 2013 we had some snow, but it wasn’t as cold. Check it out.

2016_hellgate-16

This year’s report isn’t as expansive because I’m still thawing out. This was the coldest ultra we have ever been to, and we have been to many. Mercifully, it was dry. For Hellgate, I was the crew chief and the chauffeur. Our kids stayed home. It would have been super-challenging to have them along for this one. Between working in Lynn and Boston last Wednesday and Thursday, traveling back to Connecticut late Thursday, driving to Fincastle, Virginia on Friday, driving all over Jefferson National Forest on Saturday, and driving home yesterday, I’ve added another 1,600 miles to my Subaru’s odometer. Thankfully I do a lot of bicycle commuting, partially in an effort to offset the impact of driving to the races.

2016_hellgate-2

2016_hellgate-22

Last Friday, we broke up the drive with a detour to Front Royal and Shenandoah National Park. We drove up to the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center. I brought my mountain bike, and rode for 65 minutes out and back on Skyline Drive, and then down to Front Royal where Debbie was waiting for me. It was a welcome break and I got to stretch my legs, take in some nice views, and come up close with a few deer grazing on the side of the road.

2016_hellgate-6

We got back in the car and finished the drive, arriving at Camp Bethel at 5:35 P.M. in time for dinner and the pre-race meeting. Race Director, Dave Horton, has his fingerprints all over this race. He gets ample support from a cadre of dedicated volunteers. Many of those volunteers are from Liberty University, where Horton has been a long time professor. Long distance running has become a big deal at LU and he even offers a course on running, which includes a requirement to run an ultramarathon. Many students used Hellgate to complete that requirement.

2016_hellgate-3

Debbie likes Hellgate. The point to point 66.6 mile course is a mix of singletrack and forest roads with more than 13,500 feet of elevation gain and loss. The climbs are tough and the terrain is rugged with lots of rocks and roots covered by leaves. The course criss-crosses the Blue Ridge Parkway and crests 3,000 feet several times, climbing as high as 3,600 feet.

hellgate-course-map

hellgate-elevation-profile

The first half of the race has more climbing, but the hills are relentless the entire way, with the last big hill a mere 3.5 miles from the finish. There were 140 starter and 117 finishers. 111 made it below the 18 hour mark. That’s a 79% finish rate for those below the official cutoff and 82% overall, which is remarkable given the harsh weather conditions. Last year, the race was run in ideal (unseasonably warm) conditions and was dubbed, “Sissygate.”

2016_hellgate-14

This year couldn’t have been more different. The relatively high finisher rate is attributable to the fact that there are no rookies at Hellgate. Horton vets and selects runners who have pedigree. I have a hard time watching, and wanted to be out there in those crazy conditions doing it myself. It was about 21ºF at the 12:01 A.M. start on Saturday morning, and the temperature plummeted to 8ºF at the higher elevations, with the coldest time of day around 5:00 A.M. The wind was howling and brought the effective temperature well below zero. By noon, the temperature had warmed to 30ºF in the valleys, but it was below freezing all day.

2016_hellgate-12

2016_hellgate-11

Every Hellgate race report is going to cite the weather conditions, so I won’t belabor it. It was challenging for the crews, the volunteers, and especially the runners. However, we all know that ultrarunners are a tough breed, and most relished the opportunity to run in such interesting conditions.

2016_hellgate-7

After driving from Camp Bethel to the start, I saw Debbie at Aid Stations 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, and the finish. Fellow Connecticut friends, Scott and Sarah Slater, rode to the start with us. Both Slaters tackled Hellgate and finished together. Six crew accessible aid stations and the finish is a lot for a 66 mile race. There was no overlap due to the point to point course, so if you want to get to every aid station, you have to hustle.

2016_hellgate-8

There were two early stream crossings, which spelled disaster for some runners. Debbie had several sets of gloves and after dipping one into a stream, it turned to a block of ice. I had a spare set for her at Aid Station 2, so she wisely changed them. Her Altra shoes were also frozen, but she opted to keep going.

2016_hellgate-4

Aid Station 4 Headforemost Mountain around mile 25 at one of the various Blue Ridge Parkway crossings was  the coldest part of the race for crews and volunteers. Debbie got there around 5:30 A.M. It was 1oºF and the wind was whipping. There was a huge patch of ice right in front of the Christmas tree festooned aid station. I was wearing lots of layers. At first, the car was parked a long way from the aid station, and I didn’t know when she would arrive, so I had her spare socks tucked in my pants. I was wearing her UltrAspire hydration pack under my jacket to keep the bladder and hose from freezing. I had all of her other spare clothes stuffed inside my jacket too. She opted not to change her shoes, which was a good thing because I didn’t want her to stop. I helped several other runners who didn’t have crews as they fumbled with their drop bags. I got one pair of shoes off of a runner using a borrowed screwdriver.

2016_hellgate-15

img_1690

After she came through, I headed to Aid Station 5 Jennings Creek. A volunteer asked if I could shuttle another runner who DNF’d. His name was Lanier Greenshaw, a veteran ultrarunner from Alabama. He made it to Headforemost, but was frozen and exhausted after slipping in one of the water crossings. He was groggy, but in good spirits. He is proof that even the most experienced runners can have troubles and he was confident in his decision to call it a day.

2016_hellgate-18

I was happy to have company for several hours, though he dazed in and out of sleep as we made our way to Jennings Creek. It was a perilous drive off of the ridge on a series of rough forest roads. There was nowhere warm to leave Lanier, so he stayed in the car while I waited for Debbie. She came through around 6:50 A.M. She dropped her waist lamp, but kept her headlamp, even though the sun was rising in the east. It was still dark in the trees.

2016_hellgate-19

She was feeling good, but needed some food. Every time I saw her, I gave her a stocked UltrAspire pack. She would swap the one she was wearing for the one I had and then get moving again. Lanier and I drove to Aid Station 7 Bearwallow Gap, stopping a few times on the parkway to take in the incredible sunrise from various overlooks. It was perfect timing for us. We went from having a fantastically bright moon before it set, to having amazing starts set against a deep black sky, and then we got this cool sunrise. I love races that are out there in the woods!

2016_hellgate-17

As soon as we got to the aid station, a van load of dropped runners were getting shuttled back to Camp Bethel. This was good for Lanier, so we parted ways. I hope to see him at a future race so we can continue our conversation.

img_1718

I got there before the top runners came through, so it was fun to see everyone come by over the three hours that I was there. I cheered for them, took some photos, and eventually walked down the trail to meet Debbie. She was hungry when she arrived and finally wanted to change to fresh shoes and socks. Someone suggested that I use hot water to melt her laces. I got some boiling water in a cup from a volunteer and voila, it was easy to get her frozen shoes off. The food and shoe change gave her a boost and she was off running again.

2016_hellgate-20

When I saw her at Aid Station 8 Bobblet’s Gap, she was dragging a bit. She had a major sidehill traverse and then a big climb up to the gap. I rode a mile and a half down the jeep road on my mountain bike and cheered for her. She arrived at the aid station, but didn’t stay long. She crossed under the parkway and headed for Day Creek, the last aid station before the finish.

2016_hellgate-24

I had a long drive to get to Day Creek, so I stopped for fuel and still had time to get to the aid station, hang out, and watch many other runners pass through. Her pace had slowed considerably when she arrived but she was positive. She dropped her heavy gloves, swapped packs and kept moving. Her original goal to finish in the top five wasn’t attainable (she ended up 8th) but she still wanted to break 16 hours and beat her 2013 time of 16:03:29.

2016_hellgate-23

The drive to the finish was also long because we had to go all the way around the mountains. I got to Camp Bethel, and then rode back on the course (dirt road) until I intercepted her. She was flying down the hill as only she can do. I was proud of her regardless of whether she broke 16 or not, but she wasn’t giving in. I encouraged her and then rode back to the finish and waited. I kept glancing at the clock. She passed several runners in the last mile, including Shuhei Yamashita, a Japan native living in New York, and Marcello Arias, from Chile. She blitzed those final miles, but came up short, finishing in 16:00:29.

img_1745

Still, she was very happy. Horton gave her a big hug and she was relieved to finish this one. I was proud of her fortitude. She ran a smart race, dressed well for the conditions, and avoided any stomach issues. She sustained her energy most of the day and did the best she could. I know that she will recover quickly and will be thinking about 2017. Two weeks ago, she sort of got lucky in the Hardrock Endurance Run lottery. She is 7th on the “Never” wait list. Who knows if she gets in to Hardrock? We will see. Right now, the plan is to train for it and go visit Colorado anyway. She plans to register for another Hardrock qualifier just in case. ULTRA-TRAIL Mt. FUJI only qualified her for two years. It’s time to run Hardrock…or another qualifier.

img_1741

At Hellgate, there were many fine performances. Brian Rusiecki did all New England runners proud by taking the win in 11:01:26. He ran a smart pace and surged to the front after 25 miles or so, and eventually put 35 minutes into Matt Thompson, his nearest competition. Third through fifth were Jason Lantz, Luke Bosek, and Jordan Chang. Jordan boldly led in the early going, and hung in there for a strong finish. He was one of the crazy runners wearing shorts!

img_1660

On the women’s side, Sarah Schubert led the way in 13:04:16, a stellar time. She was 12th overall, and at 28 years old, probably has many strong races ahead. Second place went to 21-year-old Hannah Bright, who represents that next generation of ultrarunning talent. Debbie didn’t run her first ultra until at 24 (the 1999 Vermont 50) and that was 17 years ago! Bright overcame a bout of “Hellgate Eyes” which struck her around the 30 mile mark. I saw her at the Aid Station 7 Bearwallow Gap, and she was struggling to follow the trail. The cold dry area causes a type of snow blindness that has to be very uncomfortable. Thankfully, she got warmed up, and the situation appeared to clear itself. She is one tough cookie! Third through fourth were Kathleen Cusick, Alexis Thomas, and Alissa Keith.

img_1662

I love the community attracted to these Beast Series races. Debbie and I saw many old friends and met new ones. Amy Rusiecki was there to crew for Brian, so it was fun catching up with her. Unfortunately, Ian Golden hurt his ankle very early in the race, but it was fun to catch up with him as he tagged along with Amy throughout the day.

img_1657

I had a chance to catch up with fellow Connecticut mate, Dan Broom, who was doing a super job crewing for our mutual friend, Jerry Turk. Turk finished his 14th consecutive Hellgate, which is a remarkable accomplishment. I love watching Jerry (aka Mr. Bimble) run because he is so steady and so strong. 14:47:02 for a 58-year-old is magnificent. Experience will help you every time!  I hope I’m going full tilt like that in 14 years when I’m his age.

Both Debbie and I will be on a Hellgate high for a while. We had a blast…a cold blast!

Race Results

2016 Bolton Land Trust Walk of Thanksgiving

Today, I got some nice images at the annual Bolton Land Trust Walk of Thanksgiving. We love this tradition of gathering and exploring a different property in our hometown.

2016_blt-walk-of-thanksgiving-2

2016_blt-walk-of-thanksgiving-3

2016_blt-walk-of-thanksgiving-18

This year, we were hosted by the Richard and Paula Morra at Morra Farm on Tinker Pond Road, which is on Birch Mountain. From the Morra Farm, we also explored part of the Fiano Property, part of the Albasi Property, and A Villa Louisa.

2016_blt-walk-of-thanksgiving-11

The Fiano property dates back to 1923. Mr. Fiano showed up on his 1948 Farmall tractor to share some history. He explained how Italian immigrants settled in this part of Bolton because it looked like where they were from in Italy. The hilly land was good for growing grapes. The Morra Farm is more modern, and their family hails from Aoste, Italy. They grow blueberries and vegetables.

2016_blt-walk-of-thanksgiving-8

2016_blt-walk-of-thanksgiving-4

2016_blt-walk-of-thanksgiving-14

 

The Villa dates back to the late 18th century and continues to operate as a banquet hall. The current owner is a Romanian immigrant, who spoke eloquently about his career as a restauranteur. He pridefully shared stories about the history of the Villa. During Prohibition, it was a well-known speakeasy owned by an Italian family with Chicago routes.

2016_blt-walk-of-thanksgiving-16

When the walk concluded, we enjoyed apples, apple cider, and donuts. Like I said, it’s a fine tradition for a wonderful land trust.

2016_blt-walk-of-thanksgiving-15

2016 Wicked Creepy Cross & Cheshire Cross

After a two weekend/three-week break from cyclocross, the Livingston Family did two great races this weekend. The first was the Cheshire Cross in Cheshire, Connecticut. This course is one of my favorites and is very near my in-law’s, the Schieffer’s, so it is super-convenient.

img_0521

The second race took longer to get to. It was the Wicked Creepy Cross in Bennington, Vermont, and it was well worth the drive through the Berkshires of Western, Massachusetts and over the Green Mountains of Vermont.

img_0571

The Cheshire course is one of the most rugged in New England with ample opportunity to crash, flat, or break your bike some other way. The rocks and roots in the woods posed a problem for me too. I had a clean race with no crashes and no bobbles, but I ran 30 psi in my Tufo tubular tires, and it wasn’t enough to keep me from bottoming out on the worst of the rocks.

img_0525

That forced me to back off and ride over the rough stuff as lightly as I could. It was a tactical error on my part, but I got through to the finish without an incident and finished somewhere inside the top ten of the Masters 40+ race. I haven’t seen the results yet, but I may have been as high as sixth place. Team Horst Sports had an awesome turnout in Cheshire with multiple riders in the 40+, 50+, 4/5, and Junior categories.

img_0561

The star of the day was teammate Matt Domnarksi, who scored the win in the 50+ race. He caught me with about a 1/2 a lap to go after starting 30 seconds behind. All of the Masters riders were on the course at the same time.  Matt and I finished together and I was very happy for him. Not far behind was Pat Cunningham, who was 2nd ahead of Jonathan Tarbox from the Expo Wheelmen. Debbie was there to support us, and our son had a good ride in the Junior 9-12 year old race. It was great to see so many kids racing. The only complaint about Cheshire Cross was that these juniors only did one lap of the course, which is lame. The winner finished in less than eight minutes. That’s not long enough. They should have done two laps, even though the slower kids at the back may have taken 30 minutes to finish.

img_0546

The entire Cheshire Cycle crew, including Race Director Hunter Pronovost and his volunteers, did a fabulous job with the race. I love Heckle Hill and the crazy people who come out to cheer.  Thom Parson’s of www.dirtwire.tv had some good coverage, including this video featuring me. The 16% grade is rideable, but it takes every ounce of energy in your legs to make it over the top. We had no time to linger after the race. We had to get to Star Hill Sports in Tolland for an afternoon of soccer matches.

img_0584

Today’s race was another great event, though we had to get up really early to make it there in time. The Junior 9-14 race was at 9:01 A.M., which meant we had to leave the house by 6:00 A.M., which we succeeded in doing. The drive was treacherous with heavy fog on Rt. 9 as we drove up and over the Green Mountains. Thankfully, it cleared a bit as we reached Bennington. The temperature was warmer and there was a lot less snow than we saw up on the ridge. We got to Willow Park in time to register and scout the course.

img_0563

Our son had a fabulous race and got to make up for the short race at Cheshire by doing three full laps of the tricky Wicked Creepy course. He was knackered at the finish, but all smiles. It didn’t rain during the races, but the ground was wet from rain and snow prior in the week. That made for some slick corners. By the time my race went off at 11:45 A.M., the ground was tacky and there was a nice groove to ride through most of the corners. The sand pit was tamped down, but still slick. The run up was a leg sapper, as usual, and my Medium Horst Spikes Cross Spikes gave me great traction. Our son used Mini Standard Horst Spikes in his size 2 shoes.

img_0603

I had a fantastic race. My fitness is coming around, as I expected it would. The three-week break from racing was just what my legs needed. I was tired after doing six races in 12 days, but those efforts are paying dividends now. I finished third in the Masters 45+ field. All of the Masters racers started together (mass start) but they scored the 35+, 45+, and 55+ riders separately. I rode another clean race and feel like I could have gone even harder, but the technical nature of the course (lots of turns) kept me from going much faster. My skills are getting better, but they still have a long way to go.

img_0588

I had fun battling with Dan Coady, who finished a few spots in front of me and got third in the 35+ field. I was in the top 10 overall for Masters, and maybe as high as seventh, but the results weren’t posted. I scored a bag of coffee from a race sponsor, which I’ll give away because I stick to tea. Even still, I was very happy to race and the Wicked Creepy and NYCROSS volunteers do a great job. After Cheshire, where there were no less than 11 Team Horst racers and at least five teammates spectating, only two of us made it to Vermont today. I was joined by Paul Nyberg, who was in the 55+ field.

img_0601

Willow Park is a great venue. There are two fabulous playgrounds. The views are wonderful. The BMX track is awesome. You can’t beat this spot for cyclocross.

img_0612

The drive home was a lot better, though the rain arrived while we were having an early supper at one of our favorite restaurants, Hearty Eats, in Shelburne Falls. When we visit Shelburne Falls, we always park next to the Bridge of Flowers. After dinner, we visited Molly Cantor Pottery, which is right next door. They have some beautiful stuff from local artisans. We got home at 6:15 P.M., after a 12+ hour day on the road. It was a great weekend.

Cheshire Cross Race Results (will be posted when available)

Wicked Creepy Cross Race Results (will be posted when available)

 

 


Horst Engineering

Thread Rolling Inc.

Sterling Machine

Horst Spikes

Instagram

On the road again. @seven_cycles #sevencycles #teamhorstsports #atl Starting the 2017 #trailrunning season in style...and on a Monday morning in the #caribbean to add to the fun! @trailrunningmom won the 13.8 mile #stjohntrailrace in 2:37. She wasn't far behind me. The @virginislandsnps trails were gnarly and it was hot. #teamhorstsports #shenipsitstriders @altrarunning #altrarunning @ultraspire #ultraspire @julbousa #julbousa #family #hiking #stjohnusvi @virginislandsnps #virginislandsnps Nice colors on our early A.M. flight. #md88 #JT8D #aerospace #sunrise ☀️ I'm pumped! I scored 47 vintage @appalachianmountainclub #Appalachia Journals (various issues between 1916-1979) with a #craigslist purchase. The process started with a #google Alert, and then after an email inquiry, followed by a text, and then a call; the terms were set. Hours later I pulled off the Mass Pike on my commute home from #sterlingmachine and did the deal in a commuter lot. I was fascinated by the seller's full time career in dealing ephemera and other collectibles. I'll add these to the stack of unread magazines, including the 10 boxes of vintage @natgeo magazines I scored years ago that @trailrunningmom keeps asking me where I plan to store them. We need more bookshelves. I've been getting Appalachia via mail twice/Year for 20 years and it has been published continuously since the #appalachianmountainclub founding in 1876. We wrapped up this snowy week with an afternoon #snowshoe "commute" to Little D's @girlscouts Brownie meeting and back. We are quite fortunate to have trails right out our front and back doors. #carfreecommute #boltonheritagefarm #rosefarm

Follow me on Twitter

Categories

Archives

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

Join 268 other followers