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2019 Connecticut Trails Day

I’m so pleased that the weather turned out great for Connecticut Trails Day Weekend. This annual nationwide celebration of trails is even more popular in Connecticut. Our little state has more than 200 events. The driving force behind this effort is the Connecticut Forest & Park Association (CFPA).

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I’m a longtime member of the CFPA Board of Directors and HORST Engineering is a longtime sponsor of Trails Day. So, you could say that I’m biased. Of course, who would argue that Trails Day is a bad thing?

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Getting people outside to enjoy nature is a primary goal for CFPA, and for me too. I got my day started early. By 6:00 A.M. I was out for a bike ride on my new Seven Cycles Evergreen XX. I spent some time on the roads of Bolton, Rockville, and Manchester, but I also spent some time on the Hop River State Park, otherwise known as the “rail trail.” This is our rail trail and we are fortunate to have access to it right out our front door. Mixed surface rides are perfect for my new Evergreen.

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Dahlia and I dropped Shepard at a Scouts BSA Troop 25 Eagle Scout project so that he could pitch in and get some service hours towards his own requirements. Then we visited HORST too say hello to some of our Saturday shift colleagues. After that, we went to Cedar Hill Cemetery in Hartford for a Trails Day event. This was a 1.5-mile Educational Walk that featured an arborist and a tour of the notable trees. Cedar Hill is a famous and beautiful cemetery in Hartford’s south end.

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I’ve written about it several times. Debbie and I did the Cedar Hill 4-Miler on three occasions in 2011, 2010, and 2008. Each year, the race was named for a famous “resident” of the cemetery. Check out those posts linked to the year. They are fun and informative. Dahlia hadn’t been back there since I pushed her in our Chariot eight years ago. I doubt she remembers! I’ve been back a few times on my bicycle. I like to ride through there on occasion.

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The tree walk was excellent and we learned a lot. We got to see a former state champion Japanese Maple and a current state champion Copper Beech. There was a good turnout for this walk. I’m certain that the turnout for events all over the state will be aided by the good weather.

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Our last stop was at the Emanuel Synagogue Cemetery just down the street from Cedar Hill. That’s where my grandparents Harry (Horst) and Sylvia are buried. Their graves are next to my great-aunt and great-uncle, Pearl and Lionel Israel. Pearl was my grandmother’s sister. Harry lived until the age of 86. Sylvia made it to 95. However, Pearl and Lionel died a week apart from each other at the ages of 64 and 65. That was sad week 32+ years ago and I remember it vividly. Dahlia hadn’t been there since my grandmother’s funeral back in 2011, and she doesn’t remember that, so it was fun to visit and pay our respects.

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We returned to Bolton, picked up Shepard and were home by 1:00 P.M. That’s how you fill a Saturday morning! Tomorrow is the Goodwin Forest Trail Runs, part of the Connecticut Blue-Blazed Trail Running Series. The Trails Day Weekend fun will continue then.

2019 Long Trail Adventure

Debbie and I returned to Vermont this weekend for one of our one-day running/cycling adventures. We covered 31 point-to-point miles on the Long Trail (LT) and Stratton Pond Trail from Woodford to Manchester Center. That was followed by a 31-mile bike ride on the paved and gravel roads along the Battenkill River back to Woodford.

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We like to do one or two of these multi-sport epics each year. Two weeks ago, we did a “warmup” on the the New England Trail (NET). That trip was a nice lead-in to the Green Mountain run/bike that we did on Saturday. Two years ago, we did a northern Vermont version of this trip that tested our limits. This time, the goal was to get in a sizable workout without destroying ourselves.

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Two weekends ago Debbie’s parents took the kids for a few days so that we could do the NET trip.  This weekend, my parents pitched in to look after them. We are fortunate to get the support from all four grandparents. Despite a long work week, I was feeling pretty good on Friday night, so we seized the opportunity to drive to Vermont. The original plan was to get up early and drive on Saturday morning, but since I was OK, we packed and headed out around 8:00 P.M. We made it to the Appalachian Trail/Long Trail trailhead on Rt. 9 in Woodford around 11:00 P.M. We parked our van, popped the top, and spent the night.

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We got up early on Saturday and drove to Old Rootville Road in Manchester Center. Debbie laid out some trip ideas earlier in the week and we settled on this route over dinner on Friday. The route had a couple of options, including a fortuitous “bail out” that ended up taking. We locked our Seven Cycles Evergreen XX bikes to a tree about 50 feet into the woods at the Old Rootville trailhead parking lot. We also stashed our helmets, and cycling. Then, we drove back to the trailhead in Woodford, and parked the van. We changed into our running gear, and were on the trail a few minutes before 8:00 A.M.

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We headed north on the LT. The first challenge was the long 10-mile climb to the summit of Glastenbury Mountain and took just over three hours. We were last up there in 2016 when we ran the Glastenbury Mountain/West Ride Loop, and then followed that run with some cycling in The Berkshires. We were also on Glastenbury in 2015 when we took the kids on the LT to celebrate our 2005 End-to-End hike. We had a gorgeous day for this adventure and by the time we reached the summit around 11:00 A.M., the fog had burned off and the sun was shining brightly.

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It had been 14 years since we had seen the back side of Glastenbury and our memories had faded. If we had remembered how rocky, rooty, muddy, and treacherous it was; then we might not have programmed such a long run. It was slow going all the way down. There was no smooth trail and it was covered in post-winter debris including branches and blowdown (trees). Weeks of rain had softened the treadway and made it quite slippery. We pushed on past the Kid Gore Shelter and Story Spring Shelter until we reached the Somerset Road crossing. At this junction, we reassessed the original plan, which would keep us on the Long Trail as it tracked northeast over the summits of Little Stratton Mountain and Stratton Mountain. This would have added about 2,000 feet of vertical gain and our total distance would have been around 36 miles.

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We gauged our “legs,” estimated the time it would take, and decided that a more direct route due north on the Stratton Pond Trail would make more sense. The plan chopped off four or five miles and reduced the elevation change significantly. We were making good time, but like two years ago, we didn’t want to ride back in the dark. The decision turned out to be a sensible one. Despite a lot of mud, and hundreds of bog bridges, the Stratton Pond Trail was very “runable.” The four mile stretch of trail from the Somerset Road junction to Stratton Pond was fast, and it got our legs moving again before returning to the Long Trail for six miles.

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The section of LT through the Lye Brook Wilderness brought back some good memories. I told Debbie that I remembered that section as we approached Prospect Rock in 2005. Back then, we spent the night at Stratton Pond Shelter and the mosquitoes were intense. They were so bad, that we got up around 3:00 A.M., packed up, and started hiking. The shelter was sweltering hot and infested. When dawn broke, it was evident that Debbie got the worst of it. Despite using bug headnets, her eyes were nearly swollen shut from all the bites. It was horrible. We figured that since we couldn’t sleep, we should just get up and start walking. Thankfully, this year, it was just gnats that bothered us in the damp Lye Brook area. They were a nuisance, but we could swat them away.

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Another thing I remembered was a wagon wheel that said, “LT North” on it. When we spotted the wheel, I was thrilled that I had remembered this section of our trip. The wagon wheel also signaled that we weren’t far from our destination, Prospect Rock, which at 2,060 feet, offered a nice view of Manchester Center to the west. Once we got there, it was all downhill (for two miles) on the rough/dirt Old Rootville Road. By this point, my legs were pretty hammered and my back was stiff too. I was ready to ride.

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We got to our bikes around 5:30 P.M. after 9.5 hours on the LT. We swapped our shoes and got moving. It rained a bit during the last few hours of our run, and the roads were wet when we started our ride.  The route we took back to Woodford followed the Battenkill River through Sunderland, Arlington, Shaftsbury, and Bennington. We were on some awesome roads. The climb up Maple Hill Road/East Road in Shaftsbury was the hardest part of the route. It was gravel most of the way. Debbie rode well. Her new Evergreen XX is awesome. She is much more confident as the team at Seven Cycles made it custom for her. Her ENVE G27 650B wheels are mated to Donnelly 42 cm tires and they are plush. She loves the bike.

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In Bennington, we rode past the Wicked Creepy Cross course, which is one of my favorites. It just started to get dark as we made our way on to Rt. 9 for the last big climb back to our van. I let Debbie sit in my draft as we pressed on after more than 12 hours of motion. We were hungry and tired, but who would blame us for feeling that way? It felt great to climb off of our bikes. We washed off in City Stream and packed up the gear. We decided to stay put rather than driving. We were both tired and figured we would eat everything we had left in the van, which consisted of powdered Vega, raisins, and a bag of tortilla chips. It was 9:00 P.M. and it didn’t make sense to do anything other than sleep. We popped the top of the van, and read a bit. The sleep was pretty good despite the Rt. 9 traffic. We could hear the stream and that helped. Overnight, it rained heavily.

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We got up shortly after 5:00 A.M. on Sunday when the sun rose, and we left Woodford around 5:30 A.M. We took our time, stopping at a few scenic spots on Rt. 9. It was a lovely morning. We made our way to Northampton and were there by 7:30 A.M. We fueled the van, and then parked in our usual spot downtown. We changed up and went for a one hour out and back ride on the Norwottuck Rail Trail. On the return, we picked up bread and goodies at Hungry Ghost Bread, which opened at 9:00 A.M. We changed up, and walked to Nourish, where we had a fantastic breakfast. I made up for not having eaten much in the previous 24 hours.

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We were back on the road by 10:30 A.M. and made it to Old Lyme, Connecticut by noon, where we reconnected with our kids to start the second half of Memorial Day Weekend. The second half of the weekend was just as fun as the first, but noticeably less muddy and I had all the food I wanted. Debbie and I have had some great trips and we are always looking forward to the next adventure. We both recognize that we are fortunate that we have each other as partners.

2019 Soapstone Mountain Trail Races

The good news is that we found Joe. The bad news is that we “lost” him in the first place. Much of the drama at the 35th anniversary Soapstone Mountain Trail Race occurred in the final two hours after most everyone had left. This was one final test for Debbie, who “retired” as Race Director after 17 years of directing or co-directing (with the late Jerry Stage).

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The Shenipsit Striders pulled off another great event, but it wasn’t without a bit of worry. As the final runners came in, we shifted our attention to account for everyone. Our three sweep runners came in behind the final finisher, and it briefly appeared as if life was good. Then, our race timer published a list of people who had not crossed the timing mat. Two names appeared on the list, but one was quickly disputed as they had been previously reported as a DNF. The other name was concerning. We soon realized that one runner (Joe), had not made it to the finish–and he should have. If the sweeps didn’t see him, then that meant he had gone off course, at least for a period of time.

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We checked the aid station logs and saw evidence that he reached aid station #2, but not aid station #3. We had a rough description of him (i.e. he was wearing a grey shirt), and various volunteers recounted seeing him. We developed an idea of where he  may have gone off course based on where he was last seen and which direction he was headed. The Soapstone course is in an area of the forest where there is a patchwork of trails.

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There are marked trails, unmarked trails, and forest roads. It’s a real maze and if you get off-track, you could easily get lost. We checked his profile, and discovered he was from New Hampshire. We checked the remaining vehicles in the lot and there was one from New Hampshire. We called his mobile phone, but got his voicemail. I worried that he may not be carrying his phone.

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We organized a group of club members/runners who know their way around Shenipsit State Forest, and gathered as much information about Joe as we could. He was an experience runner, but he was also a senior citizen, which in itself is not an issue, but it was another factor when considering what might have happened. A few people knew him and that information was helpful. Based on his pace and position at aid station #2, he should have finished in about five and a half hours, which was 2:40 P.M. or so. Our “cut-off” was six hours, or shortly after 3:00 P.M. He had been on the course (or in its vicinity) since the 9:08 A.M. start.

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Club members spread out to cover as much ground as we could. We had volunteers drive the perimeter of the forest to see if he got off track and headed for one of the many perimeter roads. We had runners head for the various cross trails where he could have gotten off course. I simply started walking/jogging the course in reverse. I scanned the trail and looked left and right while calling his name every 30 seconds or so.

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I went up and over the the mountain via the Quarry Trail. I went down the backside and bumped in to club mates Julie Logan and then Emma Palmacci. Both had driven to the mountain and then gotten on the course. Julie was headed back to the car to get her bell. Emma and I agreed to go in opposite directions. I stayed on the course, continuing in reverse. She headed up the Shenipsit Trail to see if he had gone that way.

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I went another mile or so, calling his name even more frequently. I yelled, “Joe!” and heard another voice coming from a ways away. He was calling something out too. That voice was coming from Dominic Wilson, a club mate who was coming in towards the location of aid station #3 in the opposite direction from me. I heard his voice call back to me, so I yelled, “Joe” again. Then I heard a third voice and saw some movement farther up the trail. I ran towards the sound and in the distance I saw it was a runner and he was   wearing a grey shirt and he had a bib number pinned to his shorts.

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I introduced myself and asked if he was Joe. He was thrilled to see me, but I was even more thrilled to see him. I handed him the full water bottle that I carried in hopes of finding him, and he promptly drained it. I yelled for Dom, screaming, “It’s Joe, over here.” Dom ran up and we were all happy. Joe was elated, but tired, and a bit shaky. He had been on his feet for a long time, and was out of water, but thankfully, he was back on the course and headed in the right direction. However, he was more than 3 miles from the finish and wasn’t moving quickly. He had ample daylight, but it was critical that we found him and didn’t leave him to find his way out on his own. He was a bit short of aid station #3, but of course, there was no longer anyone there. He asked how far it was to the finish (as if we were going to let him continue), but I explained it was 4:20 P.M. or so, and well past the cut off. We would get him a ride back to the the finish line and to his car.

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Dom gave him some food and a few more friends arrived. Dan Tourtellotte, who is succeeding Debbie as Race Director, was with Barbara Sorrell, a friend of Joe’s, who had finished the race and come back out to help us look for him. The five of us walked a half of a mile or so back from the direction I came to the nearest forest road where Barbara had parked her vehicle. Dan and Dom ran to where Dom had parked. I got in with Barbara and Joe and she drove us to the finish where we met back up with Debbie and our kids. The drama was over and we were very happy. Debbie had saved some food (Rein’s veggie chili), and drinks to help Joe refuel. Barbara stayed with him, and she gave us the green light to finish packing up and head out along with the rest of the volunteers.

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During Debbie’s 17 years of active involvement, we have had a few other long days, but this one was the most challenging. The last time I was this worried about an unaccounted for runner, we got ahold of him…at home. He neglected to tell anyone that he dropped out. Our system work, we called his emergency contact, and they confirmed that he was not still in the woods. This year, the worry was real, but things worked out OK.

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This was a milestone year as Soapstone is the second oldest continuously run trail race in New England. Only the NipMuck Trail Marathon, which turns 36 this year, is older. Like NipMuck, Soapstone is a special race, and it is the race committee and volunteers that make it a success. Debbie has been a key part of it, but there are so many other club members who have contributed. This year alone, we had dozens of volunteers. It takes a small army to market the race, mark the course, prepare the food, make the awards, deliver the supplies, manage registration, man the aid stations, pay the bills, and so on.

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I’ve done the 24 kilometer long race 11 times and the 6 kilometer Sampler five times for a a total of 16 times, including yesterday’s race. My first one was in 2001. Yesterday I had one of my best races. The course changed last year, but I was still recovering from my broken leg, and only did the Sampler with my daughter, so it was my first attempt at the longer and more difficult 24KM+ route. My records and GPS show that the course has more climbing and is 1.2 miles longer than the previous course. The route changes a little every year, but last year’s re-route was the most substantial in the last 10 years. I like the changes, though there is a section in the middle that is very confusing as the course crosses over itself and we have runners going in both directions. We had some creative flagging and a volunteer (Dom) standing at that junction, and people still went the wrong way.

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I figured it out, but it was tricky. I was pleased with my run, finishing in 2:17:48. I think the course ran about 14 minutes slower than the 2017 race. That would have made this one of my top three or four Soapstone runs. Shepard and Dahlia did the Sampler and they both did very well. I’m proud of both kids for doing the race on their own. On the drive to the race in the morning, with our van packed with supplies, Shepard noted that he has been going to this race his entire life. Debbie said, “And then some.”

We had 123 finishers of the 24K and 103 finishers in the Sampler. There were a handful of DNS’ and a six DNF’s, including Joe. It’s been great to meet so many people through this event. Several years ago, we started a kids race, and it continues with many of those kids graduating to the Sampler and some soon to compete in the 24 kilometer long race. Some of the original Shenipsit Striders club members (notably Tom Curtiss and Willie Friedrich) came out to help. These two have been with the club since the founding in the mid-70’s. This race has done a lot for the community too, with support for the Connecticut Forest & Park Association, Reddington Rock Riding Club, Northern Connecticut Land Trust, and other organizations.

Next up in in the Connecticut Blue-Blazed Trail Running Series is the Goodwin Forest Trail Runs.

I’m sure Debbie, the kids, and I will help out at Soapstone next year and in subsequent years, albeit in a slightly different capacity. We drove home with less stuff and our basement will be a bit less cluttered. We sent a bunch of race supplies home with new RD Dan. For a moment after we found Joe, I was worried that the drama was going to scare Dan away. When we were all back at the parking lot standing around Joe, Debbie asked Dan if he was “resigning.” I hope not. All he has to know is that he isn’t alone and there is a team of Shenipsit Striders willing to help him continue this tradition into year number 36.

Race Results (24K)

Race Results (6K)

2019 Mother’s Day Dash

Debbie and I woke up this morning and it was 40 degrees Fahrenheit and raining steadily. We read the forecast, checked our thermometer, and still underestimated how cold and nasty it was. We were duped by yesterday’s amazing May conditions. We spent all Saturday afternoon in the woods on the New England Trail. Today, it was back to February conditions. This was more like cyclocross weather, but that’s good for me. Our kids were still with her parents, so we had one more opportunity to get in some “training.”

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I was looking forward to a long ride, but there was no way I was going to go out on a bike in cold rain. We had considered riding to the Mother’s Day Dash in Rockville via the rail trail, but that would have been a mess. Instead, we rallied and simply drove over. We registered on site and then had time for a short warmup. By the time of the race, the temperature had dipped to 38 degrees. It was ugly.

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I complained a bit, but that was just for effect. I actually love these conditions. Most people stay home, and sadly, the turnout for the race was light. This race deserves more participation but in recent years, the weather has not been kind.

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We missed the race in 2018 because we were in Florida (and we heard conditions here were miserable). This was my 12th time doing the race since 1999. With the light turnout and a lack of competition, circumstances presented an improbably opportunity for me to win overall and claim the Ray Crothers Memorial Award for the second time. I won in similar conditions in 2017.

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I even went faster this year, but was still about 32 seconds slower than my best time from 2016. I’m pretty pumped to be running quick again after a long layoff following my broken leg in January 2018. I felt bad (for a moment) for 16 year-old Jake Haddad, who I trailed for 3.05 miles  before sprinting past him in the final .05. In the last half mile, I pulled back a 10 second deficit. I tested him three times and each time he responded. However, I know this course and I know my strength on an uphill finish. I normally fail when it comes to sprinting against teenagers, but this time, I was confident and it worked out.

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The Ray Crothers Award is named for a man who was influential in my running career. I’m honored to win for the second time. This is my hometown race. I grew up in Vernon/Rockville. My grandfather bought my first pair of running shoes from Ray in 1985. Ray was a key volunteer in the history of the Mother’s Day Dash dating back to when it was the Rabbit Run and held around Easter. I remember testing the shoes in the parking lot at his store, The Run In, in Rocky Hill. Gramps always joined me when I needed a new pair and he loved chatting with Ray, who passed (too young) in 2008. I wrote about him back then. Check it out. I mentioned him again in 2009 when there was a memorial race held in his honor. My grandfather died 10 years earlier in 1998. That first pair of shoes were Tigers and I’m sure I wore them in the 1985 Rabbit Run, the one time I did that race.

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We missed having the kids with us today, but they wouldn’t have been as excited about these conditions. Debbie had a good race and was 2nd in her age group. Kudos to the volunteers for braving the elements. Extra kudos to all the runners, especially the kids, for persevering in such harsh New England conditions. Come on Mother Nature…we need some consistent warmth! My fingers were frozen and my iPhone battery died, so photos are limited! Afterwards, we went to the YMCA in Ellington to thaw out in the sauna. It worked.

Race Results

New England Trail Exploration

Yesterday, Debbie and I explored a section of the New England Trail (NET) that we had never been on before. Her idea of a great Mother’s Day Weekend is one in which she spends a lot of time in the woods.

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Her parents were kind enough to take our kids for part of the weekend, so we drove to Massachusetts late in the morning. We headed for Lake Wyola in Shutesbury. This brought up great memories. In the early 2000’s, we ran the Lake Wyola Road Race several times. This event was an annual Shenipsit Striders tradition. This year’s race will be on 9 June and it will be the 39th edition. I recall that the Striders had a big rivalry with the Shutesbury Athletic Club. After arriving, we locked our bicycles to the rack at the state park beach and then stashed some gear bags. From there, we drove southeast to Meads Corner in Belchertown.

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We parked our car at the Scarborough Brook Conservation Area where the NET cuts through. We ran the trail north/northwest from there. We covered about 21 miles in four hours. It was a quiet section of trail. We only saw one person (a backpacker with his dog) all afternoon. The trail parallels various roads, and there are several crossings, but it still felt like we were in the woods.

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The terrain was a mix of single-track, double track, dirt roads, and road. It was a good mix and this section had an elevation gain of about 2,800 feet, so it wasn’t too hilly. We followed the NET white blazes and it was a bit challenging at times. We made three wrong turns, two of which were minor. The third one caused us to miss a short section of the actual trail as we ended up on the wrong dirt road and it cut a corner. We decided not to go back and retrace our steps as we discovered this after a long descent and were very close to the end of our run.

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There were some really pretty spots with bubbling brooks, beaver dams, and moose prints to explore. There were some lovely pine forests and the smells were awesome. Weather wise, this was the best day of the year. We had bright sunshine and the temperature was perfect. Today, we woke up again to the sound of steady rain, so we chose the right day for the adventure.

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After we arrived at Lake Wyola, we fetched our bags, unlocked our bikes, and swapped our shoes. We took a slightly more direct route back to our car. It was mostly road, but there was one section of dirt. This was Debbie’s first real ride on her Seven Cycles Evergreen XX and she loved it. She just got the bike this week. The Evergreen handles so much better than her 15+ year old Seven Cycles Tsunami. The difference in technology is amazing. Her Tsunami is straight gauge steel with a steel Vicious fork. The wheels are heavy aluminum 700C Neuvation clinchers. She runs V-brakes on that bike and the handling, especially while braking on rough roads is a real challenge.

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The Evergreen is a stellar bike. It is double-butted titanium with a carbon fiber Whisky fork. The wheels are lightweight 650B ENVE G27 clinchers. She has fresh Donnelly Strada USH tubeless 42c oversized tires which were so much better to ride on these rough roads.  Her SRAM Force groupset has disc brakes, a huge improvement over the old bike. Needless to say, she was much happier with the new bike and is looking forward to more two-wheeled adventures.

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The ride was a little more than 12 miles and we were back to the car in about an hour. We changed up, loaded up, and headed for Northampton where we dined at Bela Restaurant. We picked up some vegan cookies at Hungry Ghost Bread, and our day was complete.

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2019 Fat Tire Classic

Despite cold rain and mud, the Fat Tire Classic at Winding Trails was awesome. Team HORST Sports and the CCAP Team HORST Junior Squad had a fantastic showing. Once again, the junior races were stacked with kids. Mountain biking has definitely made a comeback. It’s so good to see these kids racing and enjoying themselves.

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Our squad included Sean, Liam, Owen, Alexandra, Antonio, Lars, Boden, Shepard, and Dahlia. Our kids are between the ages of 9 and 14. The adults who raced were Dave, John, Brett, Art, Debbie, and me.

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Sean, Shepard, Alexandra, and Brett took age group wins. Debbie was second in her age group. We have three kids in CCAP Clif Bar Dirt Cup. This was the second race in the series. Hop Brook led things off three weeks ago.

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Debbie’s race was at 9:00 A.M. and she just missed the top step of the podium by seven seconds. She knows the Winding Trails course well and she is gaining strength. Shepard and Dahlia raced with the other juniors at 10:00 A.M. Shepard worked his way to the front and buried himself for the win. We are very proud of him. He is showing more confidence in his riding and is having fun. His age group did two laps (like Debbie), which worked out to be a little more than 11 miles. He is pumped to wear the series leader jersey.

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Dahlia did her longest race to date. She did the one lap event, but it was hard with all the ups, downs, and slippery roots. I shadowed her for most of the lap, as I did with Shepard when he was this age. She rode her Cannondale Cujo, the bike she won in the raffle at the Vermont 50 last fall. She pushed hard and finished strong. Late in the lap, Shepard caught her, and it was neat to see them together on the course.

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I did the singlespeed race at noon. By then, it was raining steadily. I was chilled before the start, but warmed up. When I finished after an hour and 55 minutes, I was cold again. I rode within my limits today. I’ve had a tough stretch with some trail running races including the Traprock 50K+ two weeks ago. I’m not really sure what I’m building towards, but it’s fun to be racing with the family. In each of the last seven weeks, I’ve gotten between nine and 12 hours of training, which is really good for me. I feel strong.

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The only drag was that it was a lot of work to pack four bicycles, unpack four bicycles, and wash four bicycles when we got home. Dahlia had a soccer game in Naugatuck, so we went straight from Farmington to her game. We were home by 6:00 P.M., but it was a long day. We have some laundry to do too. April has been very cold and wet. It feels more like cyclocross season than mountain bike season. I’m hoping that when we hit May, the sun comes out.

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Race Results (will be posted when online)

2019 Hoppin Hodges 5K

We returned to the Hoppin Hodges 5K, which has been an Easter Day tradition for us. Dating back to the inaugural edition in 2012, we have done many of these rail trail runs.

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All of the proceeds (pay what you want) goes to the Friends of Valley Falls, an organization that the late James Hodges, for whom the race is named, was very invested in. The race is organized by Janit Romayko, Jame’s spouse. She said that James’ favorite place to walk/run was the Vernon Depot, which is the start/finish of the race.

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Our family spends a lot of time on the Hop River State Park Trail, so this was a normal day for us. Platt Systems did the timing as a donation, so thank you to them. Also thanks to everyone else who donated to support the event. The farm next to Valley Falls Park is one of my favorite places. I grew up in Vernon and it is an iconic and beautiful location.

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It would have been nice to have some sunshine, but the past few days have been very wet and overcast. It’s looking a bit grim for late-April, but that’s how it goes in New England. We will probably transition straight from winter to summer and skip over spring. It’s been eight days since the Traprock 50K+, and my legs are still a bit stiff. It felt good to stretch them out a bit with a 5K on one of my favorite trails.

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Race Results


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@horstcycling is the new home for Cross Spikes news. This community will expand with more in depth #cycling oriented product info. Keep following @horsteng for your #aerospace and #precisionmachining fix! Oh, and... #crossiscoming ### #crossspikes #teamhorstsports #teamhorstjuniorsquad gravelbike #fatbike #cyclocross #horstengineering
Another great post #windingtrails #triathlon #sunset 🏊🏽‍♀️ 🚴🏽🏃🏿🌅
#windingtrails #triathlon #sunset 🏊🏽‍♀️ 🚴🏽🏃🏿☀️
1) More @nemba_mtb #nembafest 2) More sweet @kingdomtrails #kingdomtrails 3) More #vermont mud ### #teamhorstsports #teamhorstjuniorsquad #crossspikes #mountainbiking #mountainbike #vermud 🚵‍♂️ 🏔 🌧
Our week of adventure continued with a quick trip to @kingdomtrails for @nemba_mtb #nembafest where we saw LOTS of friends on the awesome trails. ### #vanlife #mountainbiking #mountainbike #teamhorstsports #crossspikes #teamhorstjuniorsquad #kingdomtrails #vermont
First race (of six) in the 2019 Bolton Summer XC Series was a big success. Only issue was the big numbers result in a big registration line but the weather was awesome and everyone was patient. We had a Kids’ Watermelon 🍉Dash, a Kids’ 1-Mile Race, and the all-comers 2.4 Mile Wednesday Night World Championship. See you next week. #shenipsitstriders #bsxcs #trailrunning #running 🏃🏽‍♀️🏃🏿☀️
A taste of the Manitou’s Revenge Ultra in the Catskills. #manitousrevenge #catskills #shenipsitstriders #teamhorstsports #ultrarunning #trailrunning 🏃🏽‍♀️ 🏃🏿 🏔
This was the 21st consecutive #mtgreylock trail race for @trailrunningmom We opted for the short course “5K” and were joined by the kids. #trailrunning #shenipsitstriders 🏃🏽‍♀️
Yesterday’s #belltownthrowdown #mountainbike race capped a great spring season for the @the_ccap #teamhorstjuniorsquad and #teamhorstsports 🚵‍♂️ 🏆 🥇 #mountainbiking #crossspikes #horstengineering

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