Archive for the 'Sport' Category

2016 Midnight Ride of Cyclocross

I was pleased with my effort at the Midnight Ride of Cyclocross in Lancaster, Massachusetts. The Wednesday night race kicked off the “Holy Week” of Cyclocross in New England. I’m racing five of the next 10 days including Saturday and Sunday at the KMC Cross Fest, next Wednesday at the Night Weasels Cometh, and the following Saturday at Mansfield Hollow.


These weeknight races are viciously hard and to make matters even more challenging, I did the Elite race, which didn’t start until 8:00 P.M. when it was pitch black. They had some lights on the course, but some of the corners were sketchy.


I’m only three days removed from the Vermont 50, which hammered my legs. I’m definitely on form right now. The only ill effects from VT50 were my sore left arm and my stiff lower back. My legs were pretty good until the last lap, when I just ran out of gas.


I was as high as 30th or so after a decent start, but lost ground in the second half of the race, particularly on the second to last lap when I stunk it up. I was fried and gave up several spots, including two on the final half lap, and finished 41st. One of those was to my teammate, Matt Domnarski, who hunted me down.

This was mostly a Massachusetts crowd, though my friend, Kate Northcott, came from New Hampshire (racing for West Hill Shop in Putney) and won the women’s race. Another teammate, Arthur Roti, did the 2/3/4 race at 6:00 P.M. I would have liked to race with him, but when I registered, I chose the late race, which had a pretty strong field.

I was happy to not get lapped by Justin Lindine, who took the win. He wasn’t even close to lapping me, which was good. I was comfortably able to complete the race, covering a fast 11.1 miles in 50:28. I was bummed that I forgot to wear my heart rate monitor chest strap, because my pulse was through the roof. It would have been fun to check out those stats on Strava. We were wearing chips, so my lap times were captured:

  • 08:35
  • 08:18
  • 08:19
  • 08:24
  • 08:29
  • 08:20

There was a lot of congestion on the first lap, and we started a bit behind the start/finish line, hence the slower time.

A few times during the race, I pushed way too hard, and totally lost my technique. Those bobbles are costly in cyclocross, and sometimes, you have to just back off if you want to stay on your bike.

Race Results

2016 Vermont 50 Mile Ride & Run

After a one year layoff, we returned to the Vermont 50 Mile Ride & Run for the 17th time. Our first was in 1999, six years after the 24 year old race was founded. Every VT50 has been memorable, but 2016 was special for many reasons. For us, the VT50 is about the community of athletes, volunteers, and spectators that come together to make this such a great event.

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From the registration in May to race day on the last Sunday of September, we anticipate this event. We have met so many great friends and enjoy seeing them all. Some of them we only see once a year. Others we see all of the time. Over the course of 17 years, we have seen many mountain bikers and trail runners. This year, there were more than 1,050 finishers in the various categories including:

  • (651) 50 mile mountain bikers
  • (181) 50 mile trail runners
  • (217) 50 kilometer trail runners
  • (28) 50 mile relay teams

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The kids mountain bike and trail running fun runs/races were on Saturday and there were LOTS of kids.

One of the highlights of the weekend came when I checked in at registration on Saturday evening. There was a large banner hanging in the tent. It listed 33 names of bikers/runners who have done 15 or more races. One of the names was mine and two others were Team Horst Sports mates, Arlen Zane Wenzel, and Arthur Roti. Seeing the list brought a huge smile to my face. Arlen introduced me to the race in 1999 and Art joined us a year later. Thousands and thousands of unique athletes have done the VT50 over the last 24 years and it is cool to think that only 33 have done 15 or more. That’s special.

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In appreciation for our support of the race, which benefits Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sports, we each received a Farmhouse Pottery handmade mug. This was totally unexpected, but greatly appreciated. Every year, I go to this race to compete and compete hard. My goal is to have a better race than the prior year. I’m still at a level where I can expect to improve on last year’s time/performance, but that won’t always be the case.

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Photo Credit: Patricia Dowcett

We attended the race in 2014, but didn’t compete because I had crashed and broke my shoulder a month earlier. Debbie opted not to race, so we drove to various aid stations and cheered on our friends. In 2015, Debbie and I had the opportunity to go to Japan, where she ran the ULTRA-TRAIL Mt. FUJI, which was the same weekend. UTMF was a unique opportunity, and after 17 years in a row, we actually welcomed the break from the VT50, though I remember seeing all of my friends’ social media activity, and wishing I was there.

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That made it easy to return in 2016, and we were thrilled to be there. We made it a family affair and in addition to our two children, we brought along my mother-in-law, Barbara Schieffer. She loves adventure and we enjoy sharing ours with her. She was a big help, keeping an eye on our children while we were racing. To keep things simple we camped at Ascutney Mountain Resort, practically in site of the start/finish. On Saturday afternoon, we met up with our teammates and friends. For the first time, the organizers held a kids mountain bike race. It was just for fun. There were one mile and two-mile events on the mountain trails. Our kids participated and had fun. The bike race was followed by the kids fun trail runs, which have been held for several years. Once again, there were 5K, one mile, and a 1/2 mile options. Our son did the 5K and our daughter did the one mile.

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Autumn arrived last week and the weather changed on Saturday night, with the temperature on Sunday morning only in the mid-30’s Fahrenheit. It was quite cold. The day turned out to be a beautiful one, but it even by the end of my race, shortly after 11:00 A.M., it was still chilly. The sunshine was brilliant, but the air was cold, and a stiff breeze was blowing. The singlespeeders started in Wave 1 at 6:00 A.M. I used a handlebar light for the first hour, which was smart, since I skipped using one in 2013, and struggled a bit in the darkness. Debbie started with the 50 mile runners at 6:30 A.M. The other bike waves were in between.

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The VT50 course is always tough, so we were fortunate to have extra dry conditions. There were only a handful of (barely) muddy sections, and there wasn’t any water on the course, which is amazing. There have been years where there wasn’t a dry spot and we were poured on. I remember some of those mudfests. I rode my Seven Sola SL singlespeed with my Niner carbon fork. I rode that bike all summer at the Winding Trails Summer Tri Series, but was a little unprepared for the beating I took with the fully rigid setup. By the 25 mile mark, I was wishing for a front suspension fork. I’ll consider one for next year, but there are no guarantees. I’m a bit stubborn like that. I like the bike the way it is, even though it compromises my ability to have a peak performance.

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I checked my race log and came up with some fun statistics: I’ve done the race 15 times. I have ridden it 13 times, run it once, and one time, I rode to the 17 mile mark before breaking my chain (twice) and running the rest of the way to the finish. I’ve accumulated 82 hours of time on the various iterations of the course.

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After 15 times,  I’m still seeking that perfect race. I’ve had some stellar results, and can’t count this year as one of them, but it was still a solid ride. I went out strong, but one hour into the race, I had a wicked crash. I came into a sharp right hand turn at the bottom of a fast descent with too much speed. I made the turn, but was out of control and right after the bend, there were deep ruts in the trail. I wiped out hard, falling on a fallen tree that had been moved off trail. I hammered my left arm and hip. For a moment, as I lay in the woods, I thought I broke my arm. There was another rider right behind me. He saw the whole episode. He yelled back to check on me and I indicated that I was OK. I remounted and after a few tentative pedal strokes, I got moving again. Both the hip and arm hurt bad, but after the initial shock, I knew I could get to the finish, barring another hard crash. Of course, at that moment, the thought of  four more hours on the bike kind of bummed me out.

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I don’t know what kind of impact the crash had, but by the 15 mile mark, I knew that I was lacking some of my usual zip. I was hurting by 20 and went through a long bad patch that lasted until mile 40. Somewhere in between, I made the decision to stop at an aid station and eat some real food. I had been relying on what I carried, including some gels, some energy drink, and water. Some days, that works for me, but yesterday, it wasn’t enough. When I stopped, I ate some pretzels, bananas, and potatoes, which revived me. Things improved, and by mile 40, I was picking up the pace again. However, it was too late. After my strong start, I had been passed by more than 60 people, which was demoralizing, but understandable. Despite the effort to ride fast, I made sure to soak in some of the incredible views. It was a gorgeous day in Vermont.

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I never felt comfortable on my bike, which happens. I accepted my fate for the day and pushed as hard as I could. The last five miles were harsh, with some additional singletrack before the final twisting descent to the line. Three of my teammates had passed me earlier in the race. Led by Anthony Eisley, we had an awesome day. He was followed by Mike Wonderly, and Arlen. Not far behind me was Spike McLaughlin. He was followed by Erik Emanuele. Then, he was followed by Art Roti and Mark Hixson, who smashed their own tandem record in fine fashion. Congratulations to all of the riders and runners. With so many finishers, there are more than a 1,000 stories to be told. There were so many great performances.

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Debbie was our lone runner. She put together a good race, her first ultra since Wapack and Back in May. The VT50 has never suited her strengths, but she wanted to give it another shot, and was happy with her result. She prefers rugged and mountainous courses. Vermont has hills, but there are more dirt roads than she likes. She finished in 8 hours and 53 minutes and was third in her age group, which was a morale booster.

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In addition to our teammates, we saw so many friends, that it would be difficult to list them. It was great to race with our Coach, Al Lyman. Once again, Race Director Mike Silverman, and his volunteer team, did a fantastic job. Every year, the race develops a bit more, without losing its grassroots vibe. From the live music on both Saturday afternoon and Sunday, to the USA made technical t-shirts, to the farm fresh fruits and vegetables at the finish line, to the maple syrup awards; this race gets the details right.

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We had a lot of gear to pack up, but by 5:00 P.M., we were on the road again, and headed south. We made a pit stop in Northampton to visit Paul & Elizabeth’s for dinner. It was a nice way to celebrate another Vermont 50.

Race Results

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9/27/16 Update: I neglected to mention that I was happy to see the race organizers make an extra effort with recycling. This makes for a much more sustainable race. There were clearly labeled bins throughout the start/finish area that included single-stream recycling, compost, and trash. I wish I had a photo. This is great. What made me unhappy was how many people disregarded the signs and just threw everything in the trash. I saw volunteers picking recyclable materials out of the trash, which is deplorable. The Vermont 50 community needs to do better. At Horst Engineering, we recently launched a revamped recycling program and battle similar challenges with our employees, but the process is getting better. Of course, it doesn’t improve without letting people know (education) when it isn’t working to expectations. I would expect that the VT50 committee would share this feedback with the competitors. Also, Debbie noticed (its easier to see when you are running) LOTS of trash out on the course, and especially energy food (gels, bars) packets. This is ridiculous. If you aren’t carrying a pack, then you should have pockets. This race should be run with a Leave No Trace philosophy. Most of the trails are on private property and for one day a year, we are given the privilege to ride/run on them. Let’s not blow it.

 

 

 

2016 Hammerfest Triathlon

After years of having the Hammerfest Triathlon on my “to do” list, I finally made it to Branford, Connecticut for the September classic. This was the race’s 20th year. For two decades, it has been an important fundraiser for Brian’s Hope, a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation dedicated to stopping the progression of Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD). According to the website, “The foundation is named in honor of Brian Kelley, a young man from Branford who was diagnosed with ALD at the age of six. By working to broaden ALD awareness, support medical research, and promote the passage of newborn screening nationwide, we hope to see the day when no young boy will endure the challenges Brian has faced throughout the past twenty years.”

I’ve done Brian’s Beachside Boogie duathlon a few times, last in 2012, which is also a fundraiser for Brian’s Hope. Back then, I had the pleasure to meet Brian and my age group award was painted by him. It is displayed proudly in my room at my parent’s shoreline home in Old Lyme. Like Old Lyme, Branford is a Long Island Sound community with a lot of character. The 1/2 mile swim, 13.5 mile bike, and 3.6 mile run is technical and challenging. The start/finish and transition areas are at the Owenego Beach Club, a beautiful spot on the Sound.

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I got up super early (4:30 A.M.) so that I could get there for 6:00 A.M. I wanted to pre-ride the bike loop, which you do twice during the race. I checked my iPhone early and saw news that motivated me for the day. I’ve been inspired by Karl Meltzer’s attempt to break Scott Jurek’s Appalachian Trail supported speed record, and the news I got when I awoke was good. He reached Springer Mountain, Georgia early this morning in time. That news pumped me up. Jurek just set the record last summer, and helped Meltzer beat his own record by crewing and pacing him. Debbie and I tried to catch the Speedgoat when he was passing through NH, VT, MA, CT, and NY, but missed him on three occasions! We were so close, but had to settle for following his progress online. So, today, I was fueled by Meltzer’s success.

I got to Branford before sunrise and accomplished the task of riding the bike loop. I didn’t preview the run, but that was OK because I had studied a map. The start was at dead low tide, which made for an interesting swim. Thankfully the bottom was sandy and soft because we had to run the first/last 100 yards or so because it was too shallow to swim. Once it was deep enough, you could swim, though it was rough–in two ways. The incoming waves were choppy by Long Island Sound standards, and the congestion in the first wave was rough too, as bodies banged against each other in the current. Once we made the turn at the far buoy and made for the beach again, it smoothed out with a little push from behind.

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From the beach, you climbed a set of steps, and then there was an uphill run, mostly on pavement, to the transition area. I ran gingerly trying to protect my feet, which are sensitive to hard asphalt. My swim was OK, but I had already ceded three and a half minutes to the Nathan Barry, the leader, by the time it was over, which is a ridiculous deficit. I didn’t have to worry about catching him because he put even more time into me on the bike and run. I loved the bike leg. Once I settled in, I started picking off the faster swimmers. The temperature was mild, but it was humid, so it felt warmer. By the end of the first 6.5 mile lap, I moved up to fifth spot and closed in on Jon Arellano in fourth.

Jon is one of my favorite rivals. He and I battled all summer long, at the Winding Trails Summer Tri Series. The two of us are an even match. He always swims faster, as he did today, gaining a minute on me. I’m the stronger biker, and lately, he has been the better runner. So, I wasn’t surprised when I caught him that he wouldn’t let go of me. Between mile seven and mile 11, we must have traded places ten times. Because we were on the road, things played out a little differently. At Winding Trails, the race is off-road and a bit more hilly, so when I go by him, that’s that. He never comes back on me…until the run, when the real battling begins. Today, with the flat roads neutralizing my advantage, he was able to hang on and challenge me. Every time he went by, I dropped back to give him the three or four bike lengths necessary to avoid the draft. When the road pitched up or we came to a challenging corner, I moved in front. He dropped back, and we did the whole “dance” over again.

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We came into lapped traffic, which can be a bit sketchy, so I tried to get away. Every time I though I was clear, he came up on my left shoulder again. It was a bit frustrating because we beat the snot out of each other all summer long and I was hoping that this wasn’t going to come down to a painful sprint finish again. Eventually, we came to a long drag with good pavement, and I put my chain in the 11-cog and just buried myself as I tucked low in my aero bars. After a few minutes, he didn’t appear, so I figured I had opened a gap, but I didn’t look. I never look. I got to T2 and quickly donned my running shoes, grabbed my cap, and was off. I got a split to the guy in front of me and they said it was 35 seconds. I figured there were more guys up the road because I never saw him and would have. I also knew that there was a pace scooter for the leader and it wasn’t in sight.

I focused on my own run with the goal of keeping Jon behind me. Five of the ten summer races came down to all-out sprints between us and they hurt like heck. We finished one/two or two/one eight of the ten times. Like I said, I don’t think I have another rival like Jon. We respect each other immensely. He has a few years on me, but we are both pretty tough for masters athletes with families and day jobs. The run course loops, twists, and turns, with a few spots that have race traffic going both ways. I saw the leader once, but not knowing the course, had no idea how far in front he was. It turned out to be nearly eight minutes by the finish, so I never had a chance. He was motoring.

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There were a few good pitches on the course, which was more hilly than you would think for a shoreline race. At the left hand corner near the end of the long drag coming up Pawson Road where it intersects with Linden Ave., I took a glance back. Like I said, I never look back, but this time I did. I had too. I stole a glance. I needed to see where Jon was because I could feel him closing in on me. I know he has faster 5K speed than me, at least right now, but this was a bit longer, and the race whole race being longer than Winding Trails, which usually takes us 51 minutes, was in my favor. It was just a glance, and he looked to be 10 seconds back, which I judged to be close enough to catch me if I didn’t get my butt moving. I turned left on Linden and enjoyed seeing all the other athletes starting their run loop (there were multiple waves). The view of the rocky beach along the Sound was fantastic.

I figured that if I picked it up a bit on the 1/2 mile stretch before the finish, that I could hold him off. There was a tailwind and I took advantage of it as I ratcheted up the pace. Thankfully, he didn’t close the gap. I actually extended it to 19 seconds at the finish and felt good about being the first Master to get across the line. His run time was two seconds faster, but it wasn’t enough to make up what I gained on the bike. The podium was up the road, so I settled for fourth and first in my 40-44 age group. Jon is in the 45-49 division, so he still got his prize, but on the day, I got the best of him. We are both proud of being fast Masters. The guys in front of us were much younger. It’s fun to type that. We had a good chat at the finish line and compared notes on how the race unfolded. I love the “race within the race.” I’m fortunate to be towards the front of these triathlons, but I encourage anyone to have those inter-race battles regardless of their position.

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Barry smoked the field, winning in 1:00:51. He was followed closely by another stellar Connecticut triathlete, Jon Fecik, in 1:01:28. Third went to David Ellis in 1:06:48 who definitely had more than the reported 35 seconds after T2, because I gained 56 seconds on the run, but never saw him. The first female finisher was Jennifer Massengale in 1:17:07. She was followed by Marie Labriola and Heather Stanish, neither of who were far behind her.

I did another loop of the bike course to cool down, and then I rode on a bit of the run course to cheer the late finishers. I saw some old friends at the awards ceremony. There was a mini-expo with a Brian’s Hope booth and other sponsors showing their wares. Nice words were said about the success of this fundraiser, the history, and the hard work of the race staff. The volunteers were awesome. Even on my cool down, I was getting cheers and shouts from the course marshals. I stopped to check out the M114 Armored Reconnaissance Vehicle that was in front of the Battery A Connecticut National Guard facility on the bike course. That was cool.

For breakfast, I went to Claire’s Corner Copia in New Haven, one of my favorite vegan friendly spots, and was home by lunch. Hammerfest was my last triathlon of the year. I cleaned my Seven Kameha SLX and moved it to our exercise room where it is parked in the offseason. It’s back to the dirt next weekend with the Vermont 50 Mile Mountain Bike, and then cyclocross season resumes in earnest with nearly 20 races planned through early January.

Race Results

2016 Silk City Cyclocross

Today we returned to the Silk City Cyclocross, our favorite local cross race. The venue at Manchester Community College is a 10 minute drive from our house, which is fantastic. With UCI level races in Rochester, NY, some of the elite racers headed west for the weekend, but you can’t beat a top quality grassroots event that is this close to home.

Once again, the Expo Wheelmen put on an excellent race. The club came out in force and there were many volunteers. Expo are friendly “rivals” of Team Horst Sports, but that makes it fun. We support them and they support us. Just like the first CCAP Rocky Hill Cyclocross Training Series race of the year this past Wednesday, our team came out in force to support the first race of the 2016 CT Series of CX.

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Unfortunately, true cyclocross weather is nowhere to be found. Summer temperatures were still in full force today as the mercury hit 90 degrees Fahrenheit and the humidity was high too. Before the start of the Masters races, we had a good rain storm, but it cleared and the strong sun came out. The small amount of rain wasn’t enough to cut down on the extreme dust. This race was even dustier than Blunt Park was two weeks ago. Some sections, the soft dirt was so dry and deep that it was over your ankles. So much for mud. Its going to take a lot more than a passing shower to cure this New England drought. When it does rain for any length of time, I’ll welcome it. Drought isn’t good for Horst Spikes sales. We need some proper mud!

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Cross Spikes still came in handy today, given the fair amount of running on the rugged course. I chose to run on four sections of the course. There were two steep run ups and a few off-camber sections with loose soil that necessitated at least a little running. There was also a set of berries that forced a fifth dismount (for me). I had a front row start position and then botched the start when I couldn’t get my foot in my pedal. I recovered quickly and made up for the bad start in short order. I spent part of the race in fifth place, but the heat got to me and I faded. With three laps to go, Expo rival, Stan Lezon and a Sunapee rider put some distance on me. We had a good battle going, but after more than six miles of hammering, I was toast. I could really have used a sip of water, but in most cyclocross races, there is no feeding, and I wasn’t carrying a bottle. If there ever was a day to carry one, this was it.

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I had to back off and go into maintenance mode for the last three laps. I was never able to make ground on those two guys, but I had a healthy gap back to the guy in ninth. My teammate Mike Wonderly had a fantastic race, making up for his back row start and surging to the front. He wasn’t able to get the win, but settled for second, a fine result. Wade Summers and Art Roti weren’t far behind me. It was also great to see Ted D’Onofrio. We are going to have a great season in these 40+ events.

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Our 50+ teammates did even better. Pat Cunningham kicked off his season with the win and he was followed by Matt Domnarski. Keith Enderle was also in the field. Our newest mate, Tom Ricardi, did very well in the Category 4 race, along with Andris Skulte. Everyone had a good day. Even the kids got in to the action. The Girls and Boys 9-11 year old race featured four Team Horst kids, including our son. Our daughter did the kids race. A couple of our roadie teammates, Arlen Zane Wenzel and Erik Emanuele stopped by on their long ride and joined us for a cool down. Unfortunately, there was nothing cool about the Silk City Cyclocross.

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Thank you to Jon Tarbox, Dave Hildebrand, and their Expo mates for putting on a great race.

Race Results (will be posted when online)

2016 CompEdge Cross @ Blunt Park

The 2016-2017 cyclocross season kicked off today at the CompEdge Cross in Blunt Park. Located in Springfield, Massachusetts, this urban park is a fun spot for cross. Like last year, it was seriously hot and very dusty. The course was mostly the same, though there were a few more twists and turns, a longer section of roots, and a mini “flyover.”

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Promoted by the Cycloconauts, this race was the first of many to come between now and the national championships in early January. In recent years, cyclocross has started earlier. When I first started racing cross in the mid-1990’s, the road season continued through September and then cross would start in October. In New England, you can race every weekend between now and October and then every weekend through Christmas. The cyclocross season is longer and stronger than ever.

I’ve got 20 +/- races targeted for this year with a mix of the fun local races and some of the larger regional events like the KMC Cross Fest at its new venue, Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. The New England Builders’ Ball will be held in conjunction with KMC Cross Fest and is also moving to the new venue at the speedway. Horst Engineering will display our Horst Spikes line of Cross Spikes alongside many of New England’s top bicycle framebuilders.

After a summer filled with racing triathlons, I’m ready for cross season. I was a little rusty today, but so was everyone else. I was joined in the Masters 45+ race by my teammate Matt Domnarksi. Our mate, Keith Enderle, was slated to race the 55+ race. We have another strong masters team and over the next few weeks, I’m sure we will be joined by Pat Cunningham, Paul Nyberg, Wade Summers, Mike Wonderly, Dave Geissert, Randall Dutton, Art Roti, and maybe some of the other guys. I do better in the cooler weather events, but I wanted to kick the season off anyway. It takes time to sharpen your technical skills. The Blunt Park course was full of tight turns and there were several dismounts. I didn’t get to the start line in time and ended up at the back. I had a good start, but then was blocked by an early crash that slowed the back half of the field. I worked my way up and had some good battles in a group of four, including Bryan Zieroff and new Cyclonauts riders, but we never broke the top-10.

I’m hungry to race again, and that will probably be in two weeks at the Silk City Cyclocross. Aside from the Hammerfest Triathlon and the Vermont 50, it’s all cross for me until Thanksgiving and the Manchester Road Race. Then, it will be more cross into January. I’ll think about taking a break then!

Race Results (will be posted when available)

2016 Kids Who Tri Succeed Triathlon

Yesterday, we returned to the Kids Who Tri Succeed Triathlon in Mansfield, Connecticut after skipping in 2015. Last year, the kids did do the sister race in Farmington. In 2014, I scored one of my favorite photos of all time. It’s kind of hard to top that moment, which is memorialized with a large canvas print of the image hanging on the wall in our house.

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Our kids are “fit” as they have been doing the Winding Trails Tri Series all summer. Our son did five of the Tiny Tri’s and our daughter did the three kids races. Fitness is just for fun. Kids Who Tri Succeed is a great starter triathlon for someone new to the sport and judging by the size of the fields, it is growing in popularity.

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We saw the usual cast of characters, including our friends, the Ricardi Family, who, like us, have also been going to this race for many years. Our son first did it in 2011 when it was his first triathlon. He has come a long way since then, and this year, graduated to the long course. Horst Engineering has sponsored the race for many years. Our support, the support of other businesses and families; and the volunteers make the race possible.

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The race isn’t without its quirks. It isn’t easy to coordinate four age groups between the ages of four and 14. The timing is often jumbled up, despite the best efforts of the timers. Some kids went off course, some kids did extra laps, and some kids didn’t complete the required number of laps. Despite all of the volunteers, the coordination should be better. It’s hard to be critical because the local race is one of the only ones dedicated to children and there are many challenging variables to deal with. Debbie and I want to see the race improve because that is what will keep the kids coming back.

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Our kids had a good time and they have continued to learn how to race thanks to events like Kids Who Tri Succeed.

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2016 Winding Trails Summer Triathlon Series

The 2016 Winding Trails Summer Tri Series wrapped up last Tuesday with the 10th and final race of the season. Even though WT is a training race, Debbie and I put our heart and soul into the series. She was intent to improve her off-road triathlon skills, particularly her swimming and mountain biking. She also really wanted to improve on her second place finish in 2015. I wanted to retain my overall title from last year and prove that I could do it again.

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We had 10 spectacular evenings at Winding Trails in Farmington, each time, joined by our children. Our son did five of the Tiny Tri’s, a huge step forward for him, and our daughter did all three of the Kid’s Races. The Winding Trails sunsets are spectacular and I always leave the venue with a smile when driving past Lake Dunning. There were no t-storm caused rain outs and the course was always in good shape. We appreciate the hard work that Race Director, Jimena Florit, her staff, and volunteers contribute to making this a success.

After every race, Ken and Aubrey Schulz, and their young son, joined our family for a picnic dinner. Our kids dubbed it “The Grand Feast.” Having some supper at Winding Trails always beat going back into the Rt. 4/Interstate 84 traffic. Four weeks ago, I started to fade as week after week of all out efforts took its toll. I lamented to Ken, who shared my suffering, that I was looking forward to the end of the series despite having fun. I don’t know if we will return for the full series in 2017. The kids love it, but the Tuesday efforts often compromise the weekend race results. I couldn’t show up and not give it my all. I’ve raced there 41 times in recent years and it always hard to get there after work. I’ll have to think about 2017, but there is no rush, the series won’t kickoff again until next June.

Alas, Debbie and I both came up short. 19-year-old Lauren Cenci, who is less than half of Debbie’s age, had her number all season. Debbie was always close, but never close enough, and the overall went to Lauren, who has come on strong. Debbie was first in the 40-44 age group and improved dramatically, which is fantastic. It is really hard to race hard every week for two and a half months, especially when you are still doing other races.

Coming in to the last race, I had a shot to overtake my nemesis, Jon Arellano, who finished behind me in 2015. He and I have battled every week like warriors. The finish was bittersweet because I won the race (the battle), but lost the series (the war). I went down knowing that I had given it my all. I was cross-eyed after our fourth sprint finish of the summer. Four times we finished within two seconds of each other. Neither one of us was willing to give an inch.

In this last race, I pulled back my usual minute plus deficit, after the 1/4 mile swim, on the five-mile bike loop, catching Jon around the four mile mark. He hung tight, but I got a small gap coming in to T2. He rides in his running shoes, so his transitions are always super quick. He always picks up 15-20 seconds on me and this was the case again. I chased him out of T2, but reeled him in quickly and led the first mile of the three-mile run with him right on my shoulder. Joel Emmendorfer was also in the mix, but this week, he faded from the picture. Jon and I exchanged the lead no less than seven more times over the next two miles.

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I attacked him on every climb and he pulled me back on every descent. I tested him several times, thinking that I could break away and overcome my points deficit. The week nine standings showed that my best eight races trailed his best eight races by 0.2 points (679.0 to 678.8), though I can’t really explain the scoring system. It can’t be that complicated, but I’ve never understood it. I’ve got great respect for Jon, but like him, but I’m a serious competitor and wasn’t going to make it easy on him. Of the 10 races, I won four, he won three, and we got beat by Gabriel Jiran, Jason Soukup, and Joel in the other three.

The cat and mouse game continued over the bridge and in to the final stretch as we briefly slowed our pace. With a hard acceleration, he took the lead with 200 meters to go, but I pulled him back and in a furious sprint, passed him on the left as he crashed in to the course tape before the sharp right to the finish. I got him by a couple of seconds and thought I was going to collapse. The racing and the weather were both hot.

I was thrilled to end the series on a high note after a couple below par weeks. My legs were heavy from Wildman and my heart was heavy after the passing of my uncle, Guy Roy. All my career, I’ve raced for my team and myself, but this time, I was propelled by the motivation of racing for my uncle who was a true outdoorsman and an inspiration for how I live.

The 2016 stats are neat to review. Aside from my automated Strava data, I stopped keeping a training log years ago, but I never stopped logging my race results. Over 10 weeks, I raced 84 miles. It took 518 minutes total. My fastest time was 50:49 in week three. My slowest was 52:47 in week two. The average was 51:49. The temperature is usually the biggest factor when comparing week to week times, but rest and competition are also big factors.

Screen Shot 2016-08-20 at 12.32.28 PMWhen the calculations were done, it was announced that Jon took the overall series, and I congratulate him. He really earned it and I’m sure he is proud as heck because I made it super hard on him. Those types of victories are always the sweetest. When you have to really work for it, you appreciate it so much more.

I’ll add a link when the final results are published. Like Debbie in 2015, I couldn’t have been far back. Upon further reflection, the results don’t matter that much because the fierce nature of my 10 Winding Trails efforts lived up to my adventurous lifestyle and symbolize how I fight hard in everything that I do. I’m pumped for cyclocross season and after some “rest,” I’ll be ready to race again.

Race #10 Results

Race Results (will be posted when updated)


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Only three images from the #midnightrideofcx 1) Women's winner Kate Northcott 2) a mug 3) Matt and Me---the two of us had a last lap battle after I faded. I ran out of gas with heavy legs from @vermont50 though we avoided (by a healthy margin) getting lapped by @jlindine Some of the corners were real sketchy in the darkness. Is it true that your eyes worsen with age? First of five #cyclocross races in the next 10 days! #teamhorstsports #horstspikes 🚴 @artroti43 at #midnightrideofcx #teamhorstsports #horstengineering #horstspikes @trailrunningmom finishes the @vermont50 in 8h 53m or so. We met at the #vermont50 in 1999. This was our 17th year at the race. Our only miss was last year because we were at #ultratrailmtfuji #vermont @ascutneytrails #shenipsitstriders #teamhorstsports @artroti43 and Mark Hixson smoked the #tandem field @vermont50 #vermont50 They were flying. So strong. #teamhorstsports #horstspikes #mountainbike #vermont @ascutneytrails Cold temperature. Brilliant sunshine. Dry trails. Relentless hills. One wicked crash. Killer views. Great volunteers. 50 miles of suffering in just over five hours. @vermont50 #vermont50 @ascutneytrails #teamhorstsports #horstspikes #vermont 📷 @joeazze Pre-race @vermont50 #vermont50 #vermont #ascutney #teamhorstsports @ascutneytrails My first @vermont50 was in 1999. Fun to be on this list. #vermont50 #vermont #teamhorstsports #mountainbiking #trailrunning @ascutneytrails #SlingshotArt with @thecubscouts Bolton Pack 157 #cubscouts Just a reminder that @buildersball and #horsteng are a week from Friday and @horsteng will have a #horstspikes #CrossSpikes booth at the Ball and the race expo. Everything at the #nebuildersball including the #beer is #bespoke #teamhorstsports will be racing throughout the weekend. Visit with us! #cyclocross

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