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2019 Mansfield Hollow Cyclocross

Saturday was an ideal day for cyclocross in Connecticut. The leaves are reaching their peak and it was a beautiful day at Mansfield Hollow State Park. We had a typical fall day with two much to fit in. We started the day watching Eliud Kipchoge’s amazing marathon in Austria (via You Tube).


Debbie took Shepard to the race in the morning so that he could race with the CCAP Team HORST Junior Squad. I went to see my HORST Engineering colleagues tee off at our annual company golf tournament. I was surprised and pleased to see that Team HORST raised the bar yet again. They designed and manufactured precision golf tees. We first made an earlier version for a Family Day event many years ago. They dusted off the design, made some improvements and cranked out a batch (on a Swiss screw machine) before the tourney. I actually see a market for these, so HORST Tees may be the next Cross Spikes. There are interesting similarities between the designs.


After that, I went to work, for several hours. I tried to navigate from our Burnham Street plant to our Cedar Street plant, but was thwarted by awful traffic.

I should have known better before making the attempt, but the Hartford Marathon created insurmountable congestion and many streets were closed. I aborted the attempt to swing by the other shop and just headed for Mansfield Hollow  for the Zanconato Singlespeed Cyclocross Series event. I had to stop at home and grab something that I forgot to pack.


By then, after lunch in Willimantic and a side-trip too the bike/skate park, Debbie had returned home with the kids for a more relaxed afternoon. I had an OK race, but I’m still not on cyclocross form. I’m hoping for things to click in the next few weeks so I can get back up to the speed that I finished last season with.

I had a great start, for the first 150 meters, hitting the off-camber hill in 4th, but by the end of the hill (after a very bad line choice), I was 14th. I was able to move my way back up to 8th, but ended up in no-man’s land for the remainder of the shortish race. I was hoping for the full 40 minutes as I’m just trying to work my way in to shape, but sadly, the race was over in 30 minutes. I can’t blame the officials and volunteers (thank you) for wanting to get home. The Zank SSCX races are always last of the day.


I didn’t linger long. I cooled down, caught up with a few friends, and then returned to Topstone Golf Course in South Windsor to reconnect with the finishing golfers and participate in the awards ceremony. That was a lot of fun, but it was the end of a long day. Debbie phoned in a Thai food order for Sawadee. I picked it up after the conclusion of the ceremony. We were wrapped up by 8::15 P.M., and watched another inspiring event, the IRONMAN World Championships (via Facebook Live), while we were eating. It’s been nine years since I did that race, and the coverage brought back amazing memories. Then I had to unpack my car and repack the van with my stuff and Shepard’s stuff. We are headed to the Minuteman Road Club Cyclocross in the morning while Debbie and Dahlia are headed to the Monroe Dunbar Brook Trail Race.


Cyclocross weekends (especially double race weekends) require a lot of logistics. Fortunately, it is dry this weekend. When it is wet and muddy, things can be a real mess and it is even more work. Thankfully, that was not the case, but there is still bike work, laundry, food prep, and a host of other steps required to be ready to race. We wouldn’t do it if we didn’t enjoy it.

Race Results

2019 NipMuck Trail Marathon

I hadn’t raced at the NipMuck Trail Marathon since 2011, but today, I joined Debbie to run a relay on the famed course. Before that, I had raced (the full distance) six times dating back to 2004 with one of my best races ever coming at the 2009 event.


It’s been 10 years since that performance and today’s run on the first leg of the course brought back fond memories of that day when I had a battle with Brett Stoeffler and then Ryan Welts. Brett succumbed to a sprained ankle, but Ryan and I fought to the finish and both got personal bests on the course.

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The course evolves a bit year to year and this year was no different. Debbie has raced NipMuck a few times since 2011 and I’ve been there to watch and volunteer, but this year with the advent of the relay (it started a few years ago), we made the last minute decision to run.

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Since I did The Night Weasels Cometh cyclocross race last night, I opted for the shorter first leg that goes south from Perry Hill Road to the turnaround at Route 44, and then back to the start/finish line. It was about 11.2 miles (measured by my GPS) and took me 1:37:51. I don’t know what that leg took me in 2009, but it was probably slower despite the fact that I wasn’t even halfway.

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I felt pretty good despite last night’s effort and pushed it every chance I got. Given the terrain, I held a strong pace the entire leg (the first three miles were quite fast before I settled in) and was able to keep my heart rate elevated and stable. The trail was in good shape, but just as rocky as ever.

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It is also covered with leaves, which makes it a bit risky for the ankles. Thankfully, I finished unscathed. I tagged in Debbie and she took off on the northern section that goes to Boston Hollow Road before turning back and retracing the route to the finish at Perry Hill Road.

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Shepard was with my in-laws, so Dahlia joined us and assisted at the finish line aid station. She made a lot of PB & J’s and kept the other volunteers and runners smiling with her wit. It was fun to watch her in her element. Debbie “needed” to get in the woods this weekend and doesn’t have any running goals on the calendar yet.

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After last weekend’s Vermont 50 (which she rode), she is itching to set some goals. In the meantime, she just wanted to get into the trees and on the trails.

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We weren’t the fastest relay team, but it looks like we did break the 4-hour barrier, which is pretty cool . There were a few all men’s teams that beat us and at least one mixed gender team beat us too, but it looked like they might have been 20 or so years younger.

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Our days of blazing the NipMuck Trail could be behind us, but we remain inspired by other veteran runners who were out there crushing it today, including NipMuck Dave the legend.

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It was great to see some old friends who were cheering on the runners, including Will Danecki (who had a bridge named in his honor by NipMuck Dave), and Kenny Rogers, who came down from Massachusetts to support the race. Even Sheryl Wheel came over from New York. We last saw her running away from us at the Manitou’s Revenge Ultra, a race she has put her stamp on.

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Race Director David Merkt (NipMuck Dave the Junior) and the great volunteers from our favorite running club, the Shenipsit Striders, did a fantastic job. Once again we got support from the Eastern Connecticut State University Women’s XC Team, from the Willimantic Athletic Club, and from the Connecticut Trail-Mixers.

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I felt like I could have kept going, but I did the wise thing and stopped when I handed the “baton” to Debbie. It was fun to do something together for the second week in a row.

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SmugMug Photo Gallery

Race Results


2019 The Night Weasels Cometh

Last night I returned to The Night Weasels Cometh after skipping in 2018. I had done the race on four other occasions. Those previous times, the race was on a Wednesday night. Some of those were during New England’s  “Holy Week of Cyclocross” around the time of the Gran Prix of Gloucester and the big race (that went by various names) in Providence.


It’s been several years since the demise Holy Week, and this year, even Gloucester was cancelled (after 20 years running), so Weasels was moved to the Saturday night of the previously planned Gloucester weekend.


That allowed the organizers to add some categories, including a singlespeed race, which is the race I did last night. The race was also a late addition to the Zank SSCX Series. The demise of New England’s big races and the overall decline of cyclocross participation might be a good topic for a future blog post, but I haven’t given it too much though and I’m still racing, and so are my kids. We still love the sport.


There were no specific Junior races at Weasels, so I made a solo late day trip after some Saturday work. My race went off at 5:30 P.M. We had gorgeous weather with a spectacular sunset. All my previous Weasels races were done with either the P/1/2/3 or 40+ athletes under the lights at the marquis 8:30 P.M. event. I was happy to race a bit earlier and get home a bit earlier. It would have been fun to stick around, but Debbie and I decided at the last minute to run the NipMuck Trail Marathon as a relay team at 8:00 A.M. on Sunday morning.


I didn’t have to worry about the darkness, but I still had to be on my game as the course was bumpy and slippery in spots. Held at Ski Ward in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, this is a hilly race, especially for a singlespeed bike. I had fun and finished 11th, an improvement over my first SS race of the season at Quad Cross.


I’ve got a bunch more events and I think that over the next month, I’ll be able to race myself into shape. Team HORST Sports was well represented last night. Art Roti, Rich Frisbie, Keith Enderle, and Wade Summers all participated in various categories.


Next weekend there are two Zank SSCX Series races. First on Saturday at the Mansfield Hollow CX and then on Sunday at the Minuteman CX. The Team HORST Junior Squad will be racing too, so it will be a family affair. Cross season is now in full swing.

Race Results

2019 Vermont 50 Mile Ride & Run

We had a spectacular day at the 2019 Vermont 50 Mile Ride & Run. It’s been 20 years since Debbie and I met at the 1999 version of this awesome event. I’ve now done it 18 times. We have only missed one year, when we were in Japan so Debbie could run the 2015 ULTRA TRAIL Mt. FUJI. I also skipped in 2010 when I did the IRONMAN World Championships, but Debbie raced that year. Debbie has also done the race more than 15 times. Most of those have been on her feet, but the past three years, including this year, she has ridden the mountain bike race.



This year’s highlight was that our son Shepard rode it for the first time. He had a very good day, finishing in 6 hours and 23 minutes. He was very happy with how he felt. The conditions could not have been better. The trails were dry and in incredibly good shape. The past week has been without much moisture and today’s weather was as good as it gets with the temperature in the mid-60’s Fahreneheit, a clear sky, and brilliant sunshine.



As usual, I rode my Seven Sola SL singlespeed, but I opted to start 10 minutes after my wave so that I could spend the day with Shep. The good news is that we also got to spend part of the day with Debbie. She started five minutes in front of us, but we caught her after five miles or so.



We passed her on a steep climb, but she pulled us back a few times in the ensuing miles, including on the way up Garvin Hill at the 17 mile mark. That was the last time we saw her, as we left the aid station a moment before her and Shep pushed the pace on the technical descent.



I followed him and for the rest of the day, all we got was reports from other riders who caught us that she wasn’t far behind us. Shep had a few bad moments (of suffering), but he remained composed, mentally strong, and focused. Having a few bad moments during more than six hours of riding is totally reasonable.



We saw a lot of adults having miserable moments too! I was happy to ride with him and I gave him a lot of tips and much encouragement. I could tell that he enjoyed spending time with me too, and there is nothing better than that.


We also got to spend many miles with a fellow CCAP rider, Finn O’Halloran, and his dad. I think Finn and Shep were too of the youngest people in the race. Debbie and I are proud of Shep’s grit. He set this goal, and achieved it. We got through the race without any mishaps. Our bikes worked great and we didn’t have any falls. We had a good fueling and hydration strategy. We saw a lot off friends and that made it even more fun.


Team HORST Sports had a nice turnout and some good performances. Art Roti and Mark Hixson finished second  in the tandem division. They had some bad luck with multiple mechanical breakdowns, but persevered. Anthony Eisley returned to top form and was our highest placed finisher. John Meyerle also had a strong race. Matt Domnarksi had a very good ride, and he was followed by Arlen Zane Wenzel. Anthony’s spouse, Carly, finished the 50 kilometer trail running race.


Once again, we stayed with a group of friends from Connecticut. Tricia Dowcett- Bettencourt finished her first 50 mile trail run, so a big congratulations to her. Her husband Bryan had a strong ride in the mountain bike race. Joshuaine Grant also finished the bike race strongly.


On Saturday, Debbie coordinated the Kids Races. Our daughter Dahlia participated in the run. Once again there were 1/2 mile, 1 mile, and 5 kilometer distances. There was also a 1 mile and 2 mile mountain bike race. The course is hilly, as you would expect for Mt. Ascutney. The weather on Saturday was also gorgeous, which made the entire VT50 weekend a weather success.



As usual, Mike Silverman (also his 20th edition) and the staff and volunteers (of Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sports) did an amazing job. The aid stations were stocked and all the volunteers and course marshals were fantastic. This event has grown to be quite large, yet it maintains its grassroots charm. The fact that it is run by a nonprofit organization and benefits a great cause is likely the reason why.


I don’t have too much more to say about the race, at least in this post. It really was a great day.


Race Results

2019 Newtown Cyclocross

The CCAP and Team 26 put on another fine Newtown Cyclocross at the 2nd Governors Horse Guard campus. It was a hot one for cross on the last official day of summer.



More than 100 of the 279 registered riders were youth, which speaks to the impact that CCAP has had on cycling in Connecticut.

Team HORST Sports and the Team HORST Junior Squad were out in force. We had great participation in the Juniors and Masters categories. The 2019 CT Series of CX is underway. Even though it’s the last full week of September, and the last day of summer, the temperature was hot. It was pretty much too hot for cyclocross, but that should change soon.

Sections of the hilly Newtown course were dusty. The up and down nature of the track is hard on the legs. That didn’t deter the kids from giving it their all. It is going to take a few more races for some of us to get into the cyclocross groove. I had a rough day and a rare DNF. While warming up, my left pedal fell off the spindle. It literally came off. Actually, the pedal itself was still attached t the bottom of my shoe, but the pedal wasn’t attached to the crankset. This was a catastrophic failure. I made my way back to our van where I grabbed my tools and swapped the broken pedal spindle on my geared Seven Mudhoney Pro with the pedal from my singlespeed Seven Mudhoney SL.

That meant I had no bike for the pit. I was running out of time, but made it to the start in time for my Men’s 40+  race. We had a chaotic first lap of the grassy (and slick) loop. Coming through the off-camber on the barn hill at the start of lap too, there must have been a crash in front of me. I was sitting in 6th spot, feeling good, and primed to move up. Someone crashed over a plastic course stake because it was lying on the ground. Buried in the grass, I didn’t see the metal spike that it had previously attached to. I rode over it and my (newish) tubular tire instantly flatted. Race over.

With no bike in the pit and only 10% of the lap complete, I was done. I pulled out, shook my head, and then looked ahead to next week’s Vermont 50 and then the next cross race after that, which will be The Night Weasels Cometh. Some days just don’t go as planned. I was glad that both of our kids had fun. I said some goodbyes, we packed up and got home in time for me to go on a therapeutic “bounce back” road ride. Thankfully, I didn’t have any mechanical breakdowns.

Race Results


REI Mothers in the Wild Speaker Series

Debbie participated in the REI Mothers in the Wild Speaker Series at the West Hartford store. It was a tough time slot at 1:00 P.M. on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, and she deserved an audience 100 times the size, but there were a handful of folks there and if she made an impression on ONE person then it was worth the effort.


I couldn’t think of a better mother to talk about the joys of raising children with a love for the environment and outdoor adventure. She as joined by another fantastic adventurer, educator Kae Zaino.


Here was REI’s description of the event:

Join us with ski instructor and wilderness trip leader Kae C. Zaino and competitive runner Debbie Livingston: inspirational women who use their unique skills and passions to inspire people to bring their whole family on their journeys and to persevere as mothers in the wild. Kae fell in love with camping/hiking on family trips as a child and as fostered her passion to a point where she now inspires individuals through development of her perseverance and cognitive flexibility with the outdoors even with facing the unpredictability of Mother Nature and demands and sacrifices of the human body. Kae has suffered 3 early pregnancy losses, even miscarrying on a 4,000 footer in the Presidential Ranges. Debbie has spent countless hours running through the wilds and competing in ultra-distance races, fostering a dedication and support group from her family while teaching yoga and coaching running to both children and adults. Motherhood became its own force of nature in her life pursuing the outdoors. This event will help provide inspiration and a greater connection to motherhood, family and loss in the great outdoors. Registration is required, all are welcome.


Of course, I was thrilled to hear Debbie speak, but I was moved by Kae’s talk, which covered her highs and lows. She has quite the inspirational story to share and it is admirable that she spends so much time giving back to children as a teacher, camp counselor, guide, ski instructor, and outdoor educator. She and Debbie have a lot in common.


Kudos to REI for putting on this series. I enjoyed helping Debbie create a highlight reel of photos to share. I’ve got 150,000 more images, but there is only so much she had time for!

2019 Trails to a Cure (Cockaponset Trail Race)

Today we returned to the Trails to a Cure at Cockaponset State Forest for another crack at this gnarly little race. There aren’t too many races left on the schedule like this one. $10 for the 4-miler and $20 for the 8-miler. It’s almost too cheap. For that money, you got a great course/venue, a t-shirt, handmade wood-fired pizza, and lots of prizes (plants or hand baked breads). On top of that, proceeds went towards curing prostrate cancer.



This was race number nine or 10 in the 2019 Blue-Blazed Trail Running Series. The reason for the uncertainty is that another series race, the Macedonia Trail Race was also today. That was a scheduling error as both races deserve to have their own date. The participation numbers at Trails to a Cure should and could be bigger.



September is such a prime time for races of so many types. It’s the end of triathlon season. It’s the start of cyclocross season.  Mountain biking is still going on. Trail running, and road running are year round sports. Today was also the Josh Billings Runaground Triathlon. It’s been 10 years since I last did “the Josh” and it would be great to go back.



If I do return, it means I’ll have gotten my kayak back in the water. Last weekend was the Survival of the Shawangunks Triathlon. I haven’t done that race since 2013, but returning to the Gunks for this classic race is one of my 2020 goals. So, it’s unclear if I’ll do Trails to a Cure next year. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the fact that I did it today.



This race has been kept alive by the Iselin Family and their devoted volunteers. Cockaponset is a great state park and the course is super-challenging. It may be short, but it is packed with ups and downs and enough rocks and roots for a race four times the distance.



The lakeside venue is gorgeous and in the last half mile you have the option to take a “shortcut” across the corner of the lake. This isn’t clear and beautiful water, but rather is a mucky and weedy traverse. That makes it even more fun. You choose. If you go around, you will be at least a minute slower. If you take the direct route, you get wet. It’s a blast.



In the 8-miler, Debbie didn’t have much competition and she got the win. Shepard wasn’t far behind her. Dahlia did the 4-miler with her friend Clara, who spent part of the weekend with us. I went out hard but couldn’t hold the pace and faded after the first four miles. Even still, I was happy to be running hard. My back remains tweaked, but I’m pushing onward in an effort to maintain my fitness as cyclocross season kicks in.



We saw many good friends from the Shenipsit Striders and other clubs. The sun shone brightly and that made the day even better. Next up in the series is the NipMuck Trail Marathon. I’ve done it many times, but this year, I’m likely just volunteering and cheering on the other runners.

Race Results (will be posted here when online)

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