Archive for the 'Sport' Category

2015 Nipmuck South Trail Race

Today was the Nipmuck South Trail Race, the second of the Shenipsit Striders 2015 races, race five in this year’s Connecticut Blue-Blazed Trail Running Series, and race eight in the New England Grand Tree Trail Running Series. Thankfully, Mansfield Hollow State Park is only 25 minutes from our house.

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I really didn’t want to go far today. Debbie went early to help with the pre-race stuff and I followed with our kids. We got there just before the start, grabbed some shots, and then drove to the seven mile turnaround on Old Turnpike Road, just off Rt. 44. Nipmuck South is a generally flat course with some tricky footing (rocks and roots) in spots.

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The heavy rain that started last night and continued into this morning made for a bit of a mess. Thankfully, the Nipmuck Trail drains well and the mud was only in select spots. I happened to find one of those spots near the turnaround aid station that was manned by David Merkt and Nicole Gibeau. The total length of the course is 14.1 +/- miles.

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There were a lot of Shenipsit Striders, as you would expect, in attendance. Some volunteered, some ran, and some did both. There was a tight battle for first place, with Brett Stoeffler prevailing over Todd Bennet. Jim Harron was third. First female was a dominant Kehr Davis. She finished fifth overall. Eric Wyzga had to work very hard to keep her five seconds behind his fourth place spot. Kehr was followed by Darby Dustman, who was only 15 seconds in front of Debbie, who grabbed the third spot.

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I saw a lot of smiles on the trail today. The rain and cool temperature made for great running conditions. No one was deterred by the mud. Race Director Scott Edington organized a good event on behalf of the club. It was another fun trail running event.

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The two overall winners earned a jar of honey and a bottle of maple syrup. They also earned apple pies from NipMuck Dave for winning the “trilogy” series that included the Soapstone Mountain Trail Race, Goodwin Forest Trail Run, and Nipmuck South.

Race Results

Trail Running, Scott Jurek, the Appalachian Trail, Western States Endurance Run, and So Much More

This weekend, there is so much trail running activity, it’s almost unbelievable. Debbie and I have been around this sport since 1999 and its amazing to see the growth. Last weekend, we were at the Mt. Greylock Trail Races, which was 17 years in a row for Debbie. We met at a trail race (the 1999 Vermont 50 Mile Ride & Run), so trails, running, and the trail running community are very important to me. The sport has been a huge part of my life. Because so much of my trail running experiences involve Debbie, it is as important to me as cycling, which is another one of  my true loves. Writing is another passion, so the collision of this weekend’s events, news, and friends is a joy to share.

This morning, Debbie and our two kids drove back to the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, to intercept and cheer for Scott Jurek on his Appalachian Trail (AT) supported speed record (fastest known time). I had a crazy week at work and had to spend some time at Horst Engineering’s East Hartford plant, so I missed the trip. I was able to help them track and find Jurek from afar. Jennifer Pharr-Davis has the overall AT speed record, 46 days 11 hours and 20 minutes. She set it in June/July 2011 and went from Maine to Georgia. She broke Andrew Thompson’s 2005 record. Karl Meltzer attempted to break Thompson’s record in 2008, but fell short.

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Debbie and I took our son to see Karl in New Hampshire/Vermont and cheer him on during his record attempt. Despite his promotion of the trip, sponsorship, and the emergence of social media, there was far less fanfare than today. Thompson broke Pete Palmer’s 1999 record. Palmer broke David Horton’s 1991 record. Trail running has come a long way! The AT record is really more about speed-hiking than trail running, though Jurek, Palmer, Horton, and Meltzer are all known for their ultrarunning prowess. Jurek has his work cut out for him if he is going to beat Pharr-Davis’ time. Debbie and the kids  found him just north of Goose Pond and joined him until he crossed Interstate 90, the Massachusetts Turnpike. The AT crosses the Pike on a footbridge that we have driven under hundreds of times in our lives. I’ve never actually been on the bridge. Debbie was last on it when she was leading trips for the Springfield College Outing Club in the mid-1990’s.

Jurek’s attempt is being followed by many people all over the world. He has had crowds of runners join him on the trails and many other folks coming out to greet him. When my family first saw him today, he was in a group of eight, including Meltzer, who is crewing and pacing. Social media, GPS technology, and real-time tracking have made this attempt an inspirational spectacle to follow. The Maine based mapmaker, Delorme, is helping with the Scott Jurek AT15 tracking website. Horton had a lot less attention in 1991. Ironically, Horton is getting more attention in 2015 because he has been helping out as part of the crew. After seeing Jurek and then running/hiking along with him for 10 minutes or so, they went in search of the crew and found Horton. We packed a goodie bag full of items, including Shenipsit Striders t-shirts, vegan “cheese,” and vegan chocolate with the plan to deliver it to Jurek and crew.

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David Horton is a wonderful race director and one of the legends of our sport. We last saw him at the 2013 edition of Hellgate, one of the races he directs. Our son told me that “Mr. Horton” gave them all kinds of energy “junk food” to eat including GU Chomps and other sweets. My daughter must have been thrilled! Debbie and I have been vegetarian for nearly 20 years, and like Jurek, I observe a vegan diet. I stopped eating eggs and dairy in 2008 after failing miserably at 7 Sisters that May. In 2009, with a changed attitude and changed diet, I had my best ever time at 7 Sisters. Debbie gave up her streak of 7 Sisters finishes after 16 years in a row, when she did the Miwok 100K Trail Run last month. Scott Jurek won Miwok three times.

The race director of 7 Sisters is Fred Pilon. When Debbie and the kids were with Horton this morning, Fred showed up to run with Jurek. Fred is an Editor Emeritus of Ultrarunning magazine, and a major influence on the growth of ultrarunning and trail running. Another Editor Emeritus is Tia Bodington. She is the Race Director of Miwok. We saw her last month in Stinson Beach at the finish. When I got home from work today, I fetched the mail and the latest issue of Ultrarunning was in the pile. Amazing. They timed the publication and shipment perfectly! Are you starting to understand more about the trail running community?

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We have been following Jurek’s progress since he started on the AT in Georgia, three weeks ago. We were hoping to catch him in Connecticut, but he came through yesterday and the timing didn’t work out. The “cheese” and chocolate that Debbie brought to him and the crew came from Divine Treasures, one of our favorite local businesses, in Manchester. We were inspired to contribute some vegan “treats” when we saw that someone picked up Vegan Treats for the Jurek team when they were in Pennsylvania last week. We have been to Vegan Treats several times over the years including a couple of times on our way home from the Laurel Highlands Ultra.

Jurek is well-known for his ultrarunning exploits. Debbie and I first met him in the early 2000’s when she went west to race in California and Washington, where he used to live. Notably, we saw him in 2007 when he attempted Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc for the first time. Debbie also attempted it, as did Karl Meltzer, and Hal Koerner. Our friend, Nikki Kimball, who traveled with Debbie and also ran her first ultra at the 1999 Vermont 50, won UTMB in 2007, but the others mentioned didn’t finish. It was a tough weekend for all, but we did have a nice meal together in Chamonix. Jurek has amazing palmares, and his race resume is punctuated by his seven consecutive Western States Endurance Run victories.

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Western States is happening right now, as I type. So, Jurek, one of the all time WS100 champs is in Massachusetts while Kimball, and several other friends, are at the race in California. Tia Bodington is a member of the Western States Endurance Run board of directors, and she is running today too, as is one of our fellow Shenipsit Striders, Sean Greaney. His crew, Jordan Leigh and Steve LaBranche, are also Shenipsit Striders. A year ago, Debbie was at WS100, pacing and crewing Larisa Dannis to her second place finish.

There was a big trail running relay in Massachusetts yesterday and today. The Ragnar Trail Relay was at Northfield Mountain, just east of the Berkshires and not far from the Appalachian Trail. We had many friends at that event. Has this sport grown or what?

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Tomorrow, the Shenipsit Striders are hosting our second major trail race of 2015, the Nipmuck South Trail Race in Mansfield. Last month, Debbie race directed the Soapstone Mountain Trail Race. It is part of the Connecticut Blue-Blazed Trail Running Series that Debbie and I founded, and also part of the New England Grand Tree Trail Running Series. I’m on the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Forest and Park Association the non-profit organization responsible for the Blue-Blazed Hiking Trails. Next month, Debbie and I are headed to Utah so that she can run the Speedgoat 50K. The Race Director is the “Speedgoat,” Karl Meltzer. Another important record on Scott Jurek’s resume is his 2010 24 Hour USA Record. He held that until it was broken.

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The week that Jurek was in France for his record attempt, I moderated a YPO-WPO Tri Sports Network Global Conference Call that featured him as a resource along with Debbie and fellow ultrarunning champion, Krissy Moehl. We spoke about the impact of the book, Born to Run, on the sport of trail running. Jurek featured prominently in the story. A movie version of the book is in production and due to come out soon, just like the movie version of Bill Bryson’s book, A Walk in the WoodsWhen that film comes out, we are bound to see a boom in the number of people interested in AT thru-hiking.

So, if Jurek is going to break the AT record, he has more hiking/running to do over the next couple of weeks. The toughest part of the trail is ahead of him. Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine await. Those states are home to some of our favorite trails. Debbie and I spend a lot of time in those mountains and we know how hard it will be for him. Pharr-Davis, like Meltzer, when north to south. They tackled the toughest trails first. Jurek is doing it the other way around and I like his style. I would want to finish on Katahdin too. That mountain is one of the most special places in the world for me. I was last there in 2012.

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Once Jurek gets to the White Mountains he will get to see the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) Huts. We have spent many nights in the huts and have done some tough runs in the White’s. Debbie and I are both members of the AMC Board of Advisors. AMC volunteers maintain many miles of the Appalachian Trail in New England, including the stretch through our home state of Connecticut. Before he hits New Hampshire, he has to go through Vermont and the southern Green Mountains. That is where the Appalachian Trail overlaps with the Long Trail (LT). This weekend is also the 10th anniversary of the start of our Long Trail End-to-End Hike. Volunteers from the Green Mountain Club maintain the section of the AT that overlaps with the LT. When Jurek does get to the White’s, he will climb many 4,000 footers, the same hills that Debbie and I have climbed many times before.

For Scott Jurek, there is no question that the trail ahead is tougher than the trail behind. When Debbie was with David Horton earlier today, she sent a text to our longtime trail running friend, Stanley Tiska. His backyard in Hinsdale, is practically on the Appalachian Trail. She told him about Jurek and he ended up running backwards on the trail to intercept him. He got to run four fun miles with him. Tiska was an early mentor for Debbie when she was a 24-year-old rookie trail runner. In those days, all of the “men” on the trail running circuit, referred to her as Pony Tail.

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Debbie and I are fortunate to have been part of the trail running community the past 17 years. We have met some awesome friends. We have developed an even deeper appreciation for conservation, education, and outdoor recreation. Our support for many of the organizations I’ve mentioned includes our volunteerism and our philanthropy. Through Horst Engineering, we are members of 1% For The Planet and support many environmental organizations. We love the trails. When Debbie and the kids headed out this morning, I knew I was missing out, but truth be told, I didn’t miss anything at all. Their adventure got me excited and all of these great memories came flooding back. My blog has chronicled this journey, at least over the past eight years since I’ve been publishing it. In this post, I’ve missed as many connections as I’ve remembered, but that is how it goes. I’m sure I’ll remember more later.

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Thank you Scott Jurek for continuing to inspire and for unleashing all of these great thoughts for me; your running has brightened my day.

2015 Mt. Greylock Trail Races

Today was  the Mt. Greylock Trail Races, a Father’s Day tradition. Greylock is one of the WMAC Trilogy races and also one of the original New England Grand Tree Trail Running Series races. It was even featured in today’s Hartford Courantas one of the top ten toughest trail running races in New England. Courant reporter, Lori Riley, gave Debbie and me a call earlier this week to get our thoughts on this list. With the big initial climb straight to the summit of Massachusetts highest peak, and the rugged descending, Greylock is worthy of being on the list. 2015_Greylock Trail Races 64 2015_Greylock Trail Races 196

Debbie ran it for the 17th year in a row. She has run it single, run it married without kids, run it pregnant, run it after having kids, and now run it as a 40 year-old. When you have a streak like this, you use it as a measuring stick. She had another streak broken earlier this year when she skipped 7 Sisters, after 16 in a row, in favor of running the Miwok 100K.

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I’m sure she will return to Sisters, but this year, the change was good. Debbie started running the Grand Tree circuit as a 24 year-old and now is one of the veterans of the series. It’s kind of cool to think about the number of friends that we have made in the trail running community. It’s always great to return to Greylock Glen and exchange war stories.

2015_Greylock Trail Races 68 2015_Greylock Trail Races 70 Today, the day dawned chilly with heavy rain, but by afternoon when the runners were finishing, it was warm, and the sun was peeking out of the clouds. We never saw the tower at the summit of Greylock because it remained shrouded in fog and clouds, but we knew the top of the mountain was there.

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I opted to hang out in the Glen with our daughter and take photos. My left foot isn’t ready for the pounding of the Grand Tree race courses. I’m nursing it through 2015 with only short races on easy terrain. Our son ran his third Greylock 5K (short course) and had a blast. I think I know where he gets his competitive desire. 2015_Greylock Trail Races 179 2015_Greylock Trail Races 100

First place in the long course went to Mark Rabasco. He was followed by Karl Young and Stanislav Trufanov. First woman was Kehr Davis. She was fourth overall. She was followed by Athena Eyster and then by Debbie. 2015_Greylock Trail Races 132

We hung out after the race and then enjoyed a meal in Northampton on the drive home. Greylock is a tradition, that for now, continues.

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Race Results

2015 Kids Who Tri Succeed Triathlon (Farmington)

Today was the Kids Who Tri Succeed Triathlon in Farmington, Connecticut. This was the first time that this race was held at Batterson Park. Our kids have done the sister race in Mansfield several times. Horst Engineering is a long time sponsor of the races. We love supporting these kids events and our kids love them too.

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Both courses are good, but I think we prefer the Farmington course. We should be back in Mansfield in August. I’m glad they added a second race closer to Hartford. The registration numbers were lower than I expected, but it was the first year and I bet it builds momentum. The weather conditions were perfect and the temperature in Batterson Lake was fine.

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We saw some of our friends from past races and there were a lot of “rookies” too. The volunteers did their best to organize what is a difficult event. With four age groups, four different courses,  and multiple waves per age group; the logistics are a real challenge. Jerry Turk, Kerry Arsenault, and their team from Rat Race Timing had the unenviable responsibility of doing the results. They timed the Soapstone Mountain Trail Race last month and it was a lot easier.

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These races are a sports photographer’s dream. There were so many great smiles and so many great moments. I love seeing the interaction between parents and children. Triathlon has brought a lot of joy to our household. The exercise is pretty good too. In addition to our family business, there were many other great sponsors.

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The post-race raffle was well attended and lots of kids/families walked away with prizes. I’ve noted in the past that the volunteers go out of their way to make the kids feel like pros for a day. Our daughter was in the 4-6 year old field. Our son is eight, but opted for the 9-11 year old field so that he could race the longer course. It took him a 22.5 minutes, which is a fantastic workout. Our daughter’s race was just over 12 minutes. On the surface, it may seem like an expensive and time-consuming proposition to race for so little time, but exposing kids to this type of activity is setting them up for a lifetime of athletic enjoyment.

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We have a lot of experience with endurance events, but we saw families with no experience and they were having a blast. Try it.

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Race Results

2015 Soapstone Mountain Trail Races

Today was the 31st annual Soapstone Mountain Trail Race. The joy that Soapstone brings never fades. After 16 years total and 12 or so with Debbie as the Race Director, you would think that the race would be tiresome. There is no question that it is a lot of work, and that it impacts our household during the weeks leading up to the race, but we love it so much. We have met so many people through our involvement in the event. We miss many of the names from the past, but we enjoy meeting new people.

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Thankfully, our Shenipsit Striders running club is going strong after more than 35 years. We still have some original members in the club, but it is the new members that are important to keeping both the club and the races, including Soapstone and also the NipMuck Trail Marathon, growing. The course is part of what makes the race so special. 138 runners finished the 22 kilometer race and 70 runners finished the 6 kilometer Soapstone Sampler.

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We had summer weather after several weeks of warmer than usual temperatures, so the trail was dry. Unlike the past few editions, there was little mud to be found. It was dusty and the heat made it challenging for the runners. After such a long and harsh winter, many of them looked like they were melting in the sun.

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There were a few minor injuries, including the usual falls resulting in cuts and bruises; but no one was seriously hurt. There were also a few cases of dehydration. Notably, the overall leader through aid station three (the last one) was left debilitated by his case of dehydration and he did not finish. That left the door open for Samuel Jurek, to take the win in 1:51:00. He was followed by super master runner, Brett Stoeffler, in 1:52:45. Brett is 20 years senior to Sam, and he was hot on his heels. That brought a smile to my face. The first woman, Kehr Davis, had an awesome result, finishing third overall in 2:00:25. Stanislav Trufanov was the third men’s finisher. Kehr, was followed by Stacia Broderick in 2:21:33 and third was Peggy Horgan.

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I ran the Sampler with our son, Shepard. He wanted the company and I’m taking it easy, though I still managed to take a hard file after tweaking my ankle. Oh well. If you don’t fall, it isn’t trail running. Our son had a great time, particularly at the quarry/sand pit, where the dry conditions forced the runners to scramble hand over fist up the loose slope. We had a some folks lose their way and go off trail, but by the afternoon, everyone (in both races) was accounted for.

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The first finisher in the age/gender graded (handicap start) Sampler was AJ Fournier. He was followed by Jason Dominick and then by last year’s winner, Luke Stoeffler. This is a very family friendly race. We made it that way years ago and we have kept it that way. The evidence is right here in the results with both Stoeffler’s (father and son) on the podium of their respective events. Brett’s Dad, Dick, was standing at the top of the sand pit taking photographs. I gave him a big hug and apologized for beating him in the Sampler in 2003. I’ve always felt guilty about catching him in this Dipsea Trail Race inspired event that was the brainchild of longtime Soapstone Race Director, the late Jerry Stage. Dick told me, “I’m over it,” which made me feel a whole lot better!’

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Further evidence of the family friendly environment is our kid’s race. About 20 little ones lined up and ran either a 1/2 mile or full mile loop that included single track, rocks, roots, and a fair amount of horse “poop.” It was exciting to watch and as our son put it, the course was “rugged.” Nothing like a little challenge to introduce the next generation to the thrill of New England trail running.

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The core of Shenipsit Strider volunteers, and also many friends, pulled together to help Debbie with the production. Special thanks go to Dominic Wilson who is Debbie’s right hand man. He helped her mark the course yesterday and stayed with us until the last of the items were packed away in our van and we had returned the Reddington Rock Riding Club to its pre-race status. It is also important to thank Barbara Schieffer and Joe King, who have manned the cook shed for years. They are responsible for serving the post-race vegetarian feast. Barbara, my mother-in-law, does a ton of work in support of Debbie. There were about 30 volunteers total, between the three aid stations and the start/finish area. Thankfully, we don’t have to worry as much about timing nowadays. That was handled by Jerry Turk and Kerry Arsenault at RAT Race Timing.

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Soapstone was the third race in this year’s Connecticut Blue-Blazed Trail Running Series and the fifth race in this year’s New England Grand Tree Trail Running Series. Historically, Soapstone has benefited the Connecticut Forest & Park Association and supported the wonder work done by CFPA’s trail volunteers. The next race in both series is on 07 June at the Goodwin Forest Trail Run. Soapstone is also the first race in the Blue Dot Trail Race Trilogy, which is the invention of NipMuck Dave Raczkowski, the longtime Race Director of the NipMuck Trail Marathon. Goodwin is the second race and Southern Nipmuck is the third. There is no shortage of great trail races in New England.

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We had everything packed up by 3:00 P.M. It will take a few weeks to clean up all the gear and organize everything in our basement, but it won’t be long and we will be making plans for the 32nd edition of the Soapstone Mountain Trail Race.

Race Results

2015 Bobby’s Run

This morning I did Bobby’s Run for the second time. Hosted by one of my favorite running clubs, the Silk City Striders, this eight mile race on a mix of rolling roads (including three miles of dirt). The loop around Snipsic (Shenipsit) Lake is lovely. I last ran this race in 2010, which was a banner sporting year for me. I was in the best shape of my life. That day, I pushed our Chariot CX-2 with both of our kids and finished in 53:30. Today, without the stroller, and five years older, I ran 51:05, which is not that much faster given the handicap I had with the stroller.

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Even still, I really enjoyed this morning’s run, which was the 12th year for the race. I didn’t remember that the race was today until scrolling through my Facebook feed last night. Race Director, Bekkie Wright, posted about the race and I thought it would be a fun way to get in a workout and improve my running fitness. Bekkie and her partner, Joe Poliquin with help from several volunteers deserve credit for keeping this race going in Bob Bonadies’ memory. The low-key event wouldn’t happen without them and I’m glad they were issuing numbers,  marshaling corners, manning aid stations, and taking photos.

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Tomorrow is the Soapstone Mountain Trail Races. Soapstone always follows Bobby’s Run. I’m looking forward to a great day with my other favorite running club, the Shenipsit Striders.

Race Results

2015 CCAP Kermis & National Ride Your Bike to Work Day

Today was both National Bike to Work Day and the CCAP Kermis. I rode to and from work, and visited the kermis. I race this criterium/circuit race in 2014, but skipped this year as I’m working my way back in to shape. The Horst Engineering Masters Cycling Team had a great turnout with seven riders in the Men’s 40+ race and one rider in the Men’s 4/5 race.

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It was Friday, and it was a great day for cycling in Connecticut, particularly the Hartford area. I participated in a morning rally at the Old State House to celebrate this national holiday (bike to work) and the kermis was held at Rentschler Field in East Hartford. At the race, I had a chance to catch up with J.D. Bilodeau, who is the new director of the New England Bicycle Racing Association. Though cyclocross is strong in New England, and mountain biking is stable, the road cycling continues to decline. Many of the hallmark races are gone, the racing population is dwindling, and the road racing community needs to be strengthened. CCAP and several other efforts to get juniors on bikes, are bright spots. I have high hopes for the future, but it is going to take a big effort to revive New England road cycling.

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Livingston Photo & Word

Horst Engineering

Thread Rolling Inc.

Sterling Machine

Horst Spikes

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Surface #grinding the face of a non-metallic insert that was brazed to a rectangular head steel #fastener for an #Aerospace application. The bolt was made on a #cnc Swiss screw machine and #threadrolling is the next operation. #instamachinist #cncmachining #machining #manufacturing @horsteng #madeintheusa #horstengineering Race 2 of the #Bolton Summer #XC Series. #shenipsitstriders #trailrunning #Trails #running #crosscountry Any guesses? #waterjet from steel, years ago by the skilled craftsman from the shop I visited today. #precisionmachining #instamachinist #manufacturing #madeintheusa Southern #Nipmuck Trail Race near the 7 mile turnaround. Only #mud puddle on the course. #trailrunning #blueblazed #shenipsitstriders @runcarlyrun Start of the Southern Nipmuck Trail Race. #ctwoodlands #blueblazed #shenipsitstriders #trailrunning @shenipsitstrdrs @trailrunningmom #nipmuck These #Aerospace rod end bodies  require some serious #threadrolling force from our 40-tom 2-die machine. 1.250-12 UNJF-3A x 4.00 inches long on 13-8 MO steel. We prepare the pitch diameter by #centerlessgrinding the blanks first. #manufacturing #cnc #cncmachining #instamachinist #horstengineering @horsteng #madeintheusa Our team roll threaded the larger 2.250-12 UNS-2A for strength per the customer's requirements. The customer made this special fitting from 303 stainless steel for an oil & gas application and we did the #threadrolling operation with the big inside diameter finished. #precisionmachining @horsteng #instamachinist #cnc #cncmachining #manufacturing #horstengineering #madeintheusa @trailrunningmom captured this image of our kids after they hunted down and intercepted @scottjurek #scottjurek and his entourage on the #appalachiantrail in the #berkshires this morning. #karlmeltzer is running shotgun in this image. Our kids kept pace for a mile or so. They were the caboose on this train! #shenipsitstriders #Trails #trailrunning #ultrarunning @appalachianmountainclub @appalachiantrail #teamlivingston Here we are #centerlessgrinding 6061 Aluminum tubing prior to the Swiss screw machine process that will convert the material into tie rods for an aircraft valve intake door. We send the full 12 foot bars through our Cincinnati #2 and remove .009 stock from the diameter in one pass. The tolerance is range is +/-.0003. #precisionmachining #instamachinist #cnc #cncmachining #Aerospace #manufacturing #horstengineering @horsteng #madeintheusa

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