Archive for the 'Sport' Category

2016 NECX BAR Finals Cyclocross

Shepard and I closed out the long Thanksgiving Weekend with one more race, the NECX BAR Finals Cyclocross in Fitchburg, MA. This is probably my least favorite course, but I’ve now done the race three years in a row because with cross season waning, you can’t race too much!

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I’ve actually got the next few weekends off from racing, so I also wanted to race hard one more time before a period of rest. My legs were pretty hammered from Thursday’s Manchester Road Race, which went well for both Shepard and me.

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I also made a tactical error before the race even started. I missed pre-registration on Friday night by an hour and was forced to register this morning at the race. That cost me a front row start. Instead, I was in the last row behind 35 other guys. That hurt my chances. I fought way through the field on a flat and fast course that wasn’t good for passing.

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It was cold and windy, which made for group racing. You had to work together in small groups to stay out of the wind. Drafting was a huge factor. I was in a good group that included rival Keith Burgoyne, but I kept  getting gapped off the back, and ultimately, when that group blew apart on the last lap, I couldn’t hang on.

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Jeremy Brazeal worked very hard to bridge up to me, so during the last lap, we exchanged spots a few times, which made the racing fun. It was better than being hung out in the wind. I was able to make a move on him before the technical final section of the course, and hold my spot.

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I was joined in the Masters 40+ field by teammates Wade Summers and Eric Fleming. It was great to see Eric on the cross bike. He is one of my original Team Horst Sports mates from the late-1990’s. We spent a lot of time together and drove to a lot of  road races and criteriums as a duo. I was even present when first connected with Julie, his spouse.

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Randall Dutton was our lone teammate in the Masters 4/5 race. Will Kirousis, another original Horst Engineering Cycling Team mate, visiting to watch the race with his two kids. It was great to see Will. Fitchburg isn’t far from his home. Will is a successful coach and helped me with training for my first few Ironman triathlons.

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The race schedule was a bit jumbled, with the Masters 50+ and 60+ races starting earlier. We were represented in the 50+ by Matt Domanarski and Tom Ricardi. Matt rode a valiant race to stay in the front group of five, but couldn’t stick it on the last lap, and finished 4th in the sprint. He has had a fine season.

Shepard was joined in the 8:00 A.M. (first race of the day) Cub Juniors 9-14 year old field by Sean Rourke and Gabrielle Fleming. They all had fun. It’s been awesome to see the kids competing, getting better, and enjoying this cool sport.

Race Results

2016 Manchester Road Race

Today, on Thanksgiving, all four Livingston’s ran the awesome 80th edition of the Manchester Road Race. Thanksgiving is probably my favorite day of the year. The road race is one of the main reasons why.

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This was my 27th overall MRR and 22nd in a row. After the race, I saw my long time friend, and “nemesis,” Todd Brown. He got his remarkable 40th in a row today! He has done half of them.

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Our son, ran his fourth and got his best time. He was shadowed for the first part of the race by Laurie Brooks, who volunteered to look after him in the thick crowd. They run a similar pace, so it worked. Our daughter did her first Thanksgiving Day road race, and we are so proud of her. Debbie ran with her.

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It looked like there were more than the 15,000 registered runners on the course. The weather was fine, and good enough for lots of spectators to come out and cheer. It was cool and cloudy, but dry. We saw so many friends, which is part of the tradition. We saw too many to name them all, but many are members of the Shenipsit Striders, Silk City Striders, Team Horst Sports, and the Hartford Extended Area Triathletes.

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The men’s race had an absolutely amazing ending, with Ben True, a New England resident (Hanover, New Hampshire) prevailing over Leonard Korir in a photo-finish. Christopher Thompson was in the mix until the final kick, and finished third only four seconds behind True and Korir. The video that Lori Riley captured from the press truck is spectacular. If you are a fan of running, to watch these guys duel after 4.7 miles was sweet. They averaged 4:32/mile for the 4.748 mile race. This race has a pretty stiff hill on Porter Street (for a road race), so that’s not the course record, but still and insane pace. As Main Street pitches upward towards the finish line, they unleashed their kicks and it was True’s lean at the end that nailed the victory.

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Emily Sisson  won the women’s race in 24:08 and Sarah Pagano of Brighton, Mass. was second in 24:19. Jordan Hasay  was third in 24:27. Sisson was quoted by Riley in her post-race video interview regarding  her win, “…it’s a pretty big deal.” I’d say!

I had a good race. It wasn’t my fastest time, but I’ve been doing more cycling than running. I tested my cyclocross fitness and ran smooth and steady to finish in 27:42. It was a good day.

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I know that there are “turkey trots” all over the country and world, but Manchester, Connecticut is where it all started. Thank you to the race committee, the volunteers, and sponsors. Happy anniversary Manchester Road Race!

Race Results

2016 Supercross Cup, Day #2

What a difference 24 hours makes. After Saturday’s unseasonably dry and warm weather at the Supercross Cup, Sunday’s weather was extraordinarily bad. Overnight, it snowed several inches in Rockland County, New York.

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The Rockland Community College course turned into a quagmire. The early morning races got the worst of it. It was our luck that all of the Team Horst Sports riders were in the second and third races of the day.  It was freezing cold and extremely wet.

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After a warmup lap on the snowy, icy, and muddy course, our Cub Junior team was reduced from three to one. Wisely, our two youngest riders opted to sit this one out. They will have more than enough future opportunities to ride in the mud. The strongest of our bunch, Sean, raced. He was super-tough to gut out a finish in the awful conditions, but the distress on his face at the finish signaled the discomfort of having cold and wet feet and hands.

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The Masters 45+ and 55+ race followed at 9:45 A.M. and it was still freezing cold. The course was super slippery. I had a terrible race compared to yesterday’s excellent race. The conditions were horrendous and I suffered miserably during the five lap event. I made a few preparation mistakes in addition to all of the in-race errors. I could have used an extra layer under my long sleeve skin suit. I had a Capilene base layer, but it was too thin. I could have used thicker gloves. My fingers were frozen and they didn’t warm up until the fourth lap. In the meantime, I was having trouble braking and shifting. I could have also used an extra pair of socks (two layers). I’ll be better prepared next time.

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By the third lap, my disc brake pads were shot. I’ll have some maintenance to do before the next race. It took me 64 minutes to go less than nine miles. One good thing (that prolonged the suffering) was that I didn’t get lapped. I hung in their and finished.

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It was a great day to showcase Horst Spikes. After all of the dusty and warm races, this one had true cyclocross weather. I used Titanium Long Cross Spikes TM and they were fantastic. Some of our team riders used the Ice & Snow in either Titanium or Stainless Steel. Our Cub Juniors used either Medium or Mini Standard.

Cross Spikes TM were critical for gaining grip on the numerous steep climbs and on the off camber sections that required running. I saw some amazing skills out there yesterday. Some riders are so talented at handling their bikes. I was happy to survive this one.

Race Results (will be posted when available)

2016 Supercross Cup, Day #1

The venerable Supercross Cup had another venue change after moving from the Anthony Wayne Recreation Area course inside Harriman State Park. I did the 2015 Supercross, and loved the course, so I was sad to see the change for 2016.

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Even still, we had a great day today at the new venue, Rockland Community College (SUNY), in Suffern, New York. We had no idea what to expect of the course when we arrived early this morning, and we were surprised at how challenging it turned out to be.

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The Cub Junior 9-14 year olds went off at 8:45 A.M., and it was already unseasonably warm. The weather turned out to be weirdly spectacular for late November, with the temperature peaking in the low 60’s Fahrenheit. The sunshine was brilliant in a cloudless sky. We raced in shorts and short-sleeves, which was awesome.

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The other thing that kept us warm was the climbing. There was lots of climbing! The Supercross course was the hilliest of the year, with more than 220 feet per lap of elevation gain. It was a simple course, without much for technical features, but the undulating course throughout the RCC campus required some serious leg strength.

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Team Horst Sports had three juniors, and they did very well. Sean, Shepard, and Lars had a blast both racing and hanging out at the college. The Supercross crew did an amazing job. There was a natural pump track crafted from piles of asphalt/dirt, a man-made pump track (compliments of the folks at Clif Bar), a bounce house, a food truck festival, and several vendors. The infield of the RCC track was full of action. The cyclocross course wound its way around the campus with the track in the center, making spectating lots of fun.

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My son did three laps over the course of 40 minutes, which was quite a workout. He stayed on the lead lap and got to do a nice post-race interview with Frankie Andreu, who was our race announcer. That was a pleasant surprise. I’ve always been an Andreu fan, ever since I watched him nearly win the final stage of the 1994 Le Tour de France on the Champs Élysées. He came so close, but got beat in the sprint after driving a rare final stage breakaway. Anyway, he had a good pro cycling career and it was fun to have him on the microphone today.

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The ground was a bit wet in the morning, so the early races had some greasy corners that made it a bit challenging for some riders. The afternoon races were a far dustier affair, as the warm sun and a light breeze dried the fields.

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The Men’s Masters 45+ and 55+ races were immediately after the Cub Juniors and Cat 4 Women (who shared the course together). Dave Geissert and Keith Enderle represented our team in the 55’s. Arthur Roti, Wade Summers, and I were in the 45+ field.

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I had another fantastic race. I capitalized on my second row call-up, and had a super start, avoiding several serious crashes, including one on the gravel lined start/finish chute, just seconds into the race. Crazily, it was guys from first three rows that were wrecking. The nervousness continued throughout the first lap, as several other riders wiped out in slick corners. On multiple occasions, I had to dodge downed riders.

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Eventually, I settled into a nice rhythm and after two laps, I was battling a group of four riders for the fifth spot. With three to go, I was sitting fifth, but I realized that I was already deep into the red on the unrelenting course. There was one running section over a set of stairs (and many riders rode them) and one set of barriers. The rest of the race was up and down the green campus hills with several off-camber sections. Some of the hills required little ring climbing, which isn’t common in Northeast USA cyclocross race. I liked it.

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My group didn’t stay together for long. Guys ended up attacking each other throughout the third lap, and I had to back off a bit in an attempt to stay upright and aerobic. By the end of the lap, I had slipped back to seventh. Between laps four and five, I slipped back a bit further, and ultimately finished ninth. That is still a good result. On the last lap, when I realized I wasn’t going to close the gap to the rider in front of me, and I wasn’t in danger of getting caught, I backed off in an effort to save some energy for tomorrow’s race.

After the race, we hung out and visited with friends, and then we watched the entire Elite Women’s race and the first half of the Elite Men’s race. It was a blast. The Supercross Cup will continue on Sunday and the weather looks to be a lot worse, with overnight rain, much colder temperatures, and a chance of snow. We will see what tomorrow brings.

Race  Results

 

2016 Northampton International Cyclocross

It was a fantastic weekend at the 26th annual Verge Northampton International Cyclocross at Look Park in Massachusetts. NoHo CX is always one of my favorite events. Once again, Horst Engineering sponsored the event. We had a strong presence in the expo, selling Horst Spikes and greeting friends, old and new. Both Saturday and Sunday had racing from 8:00 A.M until 4:00 P.M., with 11 separate races each day.

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Some of the categories were combined, like the Masters 45+ and Masters 55+. Team Horst Sports had a strong presence  in both of those races. We also had a presence in the Men’s Cat 4 field, as well as the Cub Juniors 9-14 year olds. The weather was spectacular. Yesterday was dry, sunny, cool, and breezy. Today, it started cool, but by late morning, the temperature had warmed up considerably, and by afternoon, it was warm. The course was dry both days, and today, it was actually dusty. The race had a record number of registrants, with more than 700 unique riders over the course of the weekend. Many of us raced both days.

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I was in the stacked Masters 45+ field both days. Yesterday, I had the race of the year (so far), and one of my best cross races in many years. I rode stronger than anticipated, which is a great sign as we approach late season. NoHo is definitely an A race with a very strong field, so I was pleased to ride so well. I finished 18th, which is pretty good given how strong the other 70 guys were. Seconds count when you are going flat-out on such a demanding course. I was able to capitalize on my good start, hold my ground, and actually pick up several spots in the last lap. I held off a really good group of riders who were battling with me the entire race. My teammates, Matt Domnarski, Wade Summers, and Arthur Roti all rode well. The course was good for me, with long stretches of open pedaling that allowed me to use my power. There were two tough uphills that required running. Most of the corners were wide and sweeping, which played to my strengths.

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Today, I started with tired legs (as many of us did), and didn’t perform quite as well, finishing 21st in another strong field of 81 guys. I suffered quite a bit more, not able to get on top of the pedals. The course was run in reverse, there were two steep and technically demanding downhills and a steep uphill. The corners were a bit tighter and the track was a bit more technical. I kept getting gapped off of a group of five riders. Every time we hit the technical stuff, I was hesitant and lost ground. I would make it up when I had room to pedal, but eventually that sapped my strength. When the group broke apart on the last lap, I was one of the last. My teammate Matt was also in my group and I just held him off on the line. Wade and Art rode even better than yesterday.

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Debbie skipped yesterday’s race, but she and our daughter joined our son and me today. Our Cub Juniors, including our son, had two good days of racing. Watching them tackle the tough Look Park course was a joy. We saw so many friends and had a lot of fun. Many of our non-cyclocross teammates joined us in support. There were some great food trucks to choose from. We watched some amazing performances. Lizzy Gunsalus, was a standout, winning the Women’s Cat 3 race both days. At 13, she has a bright future. Emma White had a great race today, winning the Elite Women’s race after finishing second yesterday. Her brother, Curtis White, bested a strong Elite Men’s field both days. All of these riders are sponsored by Horst Spikes, which is pretty cool.

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Thank you to Adam Myerson, Alec Donahue, J.D. Bilodeau, and all of the volunteers for producing such a fine event. Once again, this race showed the joy of New England cyclocross.

Race Results, Day 1

Race Results, Day 2 

2016 Newtown Cyclocross

The Newtown Cyclocross p/b CCAP and Team 26 was a lot of fun. It was my third time doing this race at Fairfield Hills in Newtown, Connecticut. It was race number six in the CT Series of CX.

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It was another good turnout for Team Horst Sports. We were represented in the Men’s 4/5 race by Randall Dutton. In the Cub Juniors 9-12 year old race, Sean Rourke led the way in 6th place with another impressive ride. Shepard Livingston, Lars Roti, and Nate Summers all had a good race. There were 28 kids in the Cub Juniors race. It was the second largest field of the day. Only the Men’s 4/5 race was larger. In the Masters 50+ race, Pat Cunningham was 5th and Tom Ricardi was 7th.

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I did the Masters 40+ race with Wade Summers and Art Roti. I came close to scoring my second podium finish in eight days, but I blew it on the last lap, allowing Laurence Merling to lead through the final corners thinking I could get past him on the finishing stretch of asphalt. It was not a tactical finish, but rather an all out lap. We took turns pulling in an effort to stay in front of Jeremy Brazeal and Stan Lezon, who weren’t far behind. We went all out and our last lap (6:52) and it was the fastest one clocked for all Masters riders in the six lap race.

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Laurence led me through the barriers and then past the pit. I never got around him and he finished one second in front of me. Split seconds matter at that point in the race when you are on the rivet. I made an error about 1/4 mile from the finish after we came through the pit. There was a sequence of tight turns and in my hypoxic state, I took one too hard, and ended up off the groove and in some loose leaves and brush. I had to chase and close a three-second gap before the final few turns. I never had a chance to come around him and it was game over.

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I banged my bars is frustration, but the reality is I probably wouldn’t have had a chance to sprint for third if Tim Ratta hadn’t flatted on the second lap just after we came through the pit. He had to run his bike a long way to get back to the pit (you aren’t permitted to go backwards on the course), and likely would have finished in the top three. As it turned out, Brian Girard and Joe Kubisek pulled away from us after three laps. Laurence and I couldn’t close the gap. Those guys are so strong.

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Wade and Art had good races too. We all suffered in the wind on the flat and fast course. This race has more wide open riding and we averaged more than 15 miles per hour over the course of the 43 minute race.

Debbie and our daughter joined us and she ended up doing the Kids Fun Race, which netted her a water bottle full of candy. Halloween wasn’t even a week ago and she is stocking up again.

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I’m sending a shout out to cousin Lucas Smallidge, who co-led the Men’s 3/4 race for five laps. He came so close to the win, but it looks like he either had an incident on the last lap, or just faded as he finished second to Anson Ross, who he matched lap times with up until the last go round the course.

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Thanks to the volunteers from CCAP and Team 26 for putting on another good event. Next up is the Verge Northampton International Cyclocross race weekend in Massachusetts.  Horst Engineering will have a big presence at the event. Come visit us at the expo where we will show off our Horst Spikes product line.

Race Results

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

 

 


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