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CyclovaXC Warm-Ups are in!

Hey everybody! I came home the other night only to find a nice big box of CyclovaXC warm-ups fresh off the podium wear presses. I told you about our warm-up jackets here, but for those of you who didn't read that article (shame on you) let me just remind you that they're the PROLINE jacket which means they're super high-tech and awesome. They keep the wind and water and rain off you and at the same time they're breathable...actually, the material of these jackets is impossible to obtain here on earth, so you should really be thanking us for bringing them to you at the bargain price of $145 (check the price page at podiumwear...that's exactly what we paid for them).

For those of you who have already ordered a warm-up, it's in the mail. But for those of you who have been on the fence until now about whether to buy one...you better act fast because these things are going QUICK! I moved 3 of them today and about five other people handled the jacket, tried it on, and told me with longing eyes that they had to "sleep on it." Well...sleeping on it might make you miss the boat! I can always order more, but that will delay things and chances are you'll want these NOW!

If you want to order one, just scroll down to the bottom of the page, or click our "Gear" option in the Nav bar above (actually it's better to track me down because paypal likes to take some ridiculous percentage for themselves...).

See you on the trails!

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Ski Lodges and the Necessities Brought on by Old age

I keep talking about the tower ridge ski area lodge and I suppose everybody's bored with it...but what can I say? I'm soft these days. It's nice for me to go out skiing and to know that there is going to be a nice warm place where I can wiggle out of my nasty, sweaty, freezing ski clothes and put on a few layers of something that's...well if not clean, then at least dry.

Back in the old days of my long-forgotten, and all too brief glory, I used to scoff at the necessity of a ski lodge. Back then I'd just slam my seat backwards and turn myself into a pretzel as I sat in my car and struggled to get my ski boots on. I could get away with it because I was more flexible than a South Pacific gymnast (it was awesome).

These days with 35 years sitting there staring at me from the other side of the table like a Russian with half an empty bottle and a pistol with 5 empty chambers, I can't even bend over to tie my shoes without risking having some crazed section of my back jump up and scream, "MEOW!" loud enough to get me crawling across the tile floors and bellowing in totally discapacitated agony.

The bottom line is I simply lack the agility necessary to squeeze into all my tightly fitting lycra while sitting in the cramped space of my non-American designed or built car. That's why I'm all for these lodges that are popping up all over the place. You'll see me inside hogging all the hot chocolate (I need to figure out a way to carry THAT with me out on the trails...then everything would be perfect), but I tell ya' if you can still manage the car change...keep riding that horse son. Ride it till it bucks you two or three or ten years from now (and leave the extra room and hot chocolate in the lodge for ME).

Denny Kotcon Hammering at the SISU Marathon

A shout out to my mom on this one who stumbled across this picture of Dennis Kotcon at the SISU Marathon (original picture is from here). Apparently Denny is in typical spectacular shape. This guy used to just appear out of nowhere every now and then to do things like win the master's championship (you'll have to ask Denny for details about that one) and casually mention he was on a double birkie ski.
"Hey guys," he says casually, "yeah, I'm just skiing from the Fish Hatchery to Telemark and back...twice."
Don't mess with Dennis!

It's also nice to get that Cyclova "Olive" suit on a fit guy because he makes it look the way it's supposed to look! Fast! Nice work Denny!

Cyclova XC catches up with Joe Meiser on his EPIC Tour Divide Race

Continuing on from yesterday's excellent video log of Joe's Tour Divide Race experience, today we feature a some questions from a recent interview we had the privlidge of doing with Joe.

Joe's well thought out answers likely will give you some insight as to what makes an uber - ultra - ultra endurance athlete tick. Check it out...

Katie, Joe, and Frank logging in some off road commuting miles to work, a key part of his GDT training.

1) What inspired you to do the Tour Divide Race?
Racing other endurance events, specifically TransIowa, sparked my interest in a race like the Tour Divide. I began following around 2005 and set a goal to race in 2009.

2) How did you train for the Tour Divide Race? What type of training session do you believe proved to be the most important for this event, in hindsight?
I trained primarily by commuting year round by bike. Early in March of 2009 I began to ramp up with longer rides and lots of riding on the TD race machine, fully loaded. I got out for several overnight ride and camping trips to test my planned gear. Racing Ragnarok 105(fully loaded), TransIowa, and Almanzo was really the best training leading up to the event.

3) Tell us briefly about your equipment...
My bike was a Salsa Fargo drop bar adventure touring bike. Instead of traditional touring panniers I used frame bags to pack my gear. These are relatively new to touring and offroad touring, but are becoming popular quickly. All of my gear weighed about 20lbs. base weight. To endure the 2700+ miles of the TD it is important to go light and simplify what you need.

4) What was the most physically challenging moment of the event for you?
Hiking through mud covered roads, pushing or carrying the bike was most difficult. It was a rainy year on the divide and there were plenty of these. At time I would be carrying my bike on my shoulder slogging through the mud.

5) What was the most mentally challenging moment of the event for you?
Leaving the creature comforts of Breckenridge was difficult for me. It's not typically the type of town I'd like, but it was hard to give up good coffee and food for the unknown.

6) If you were to do this event again, how would you prepare/what would you do differently?
The (if) question is a good one. First, I'd go much lighter that I did, getting my base weight to sub-15lbs. of gear with a bike around 25lbs. would be my goal. Having done the race once I think I could do this. Second, I'd try to avoid some of the mental pitfalls of doing an event like this. I had a great time riding with others during the event, but in small towns a group of eight riders will cripple a restaurant and it takes longer to get everyone moving.

7) What are your cycling plans for 2010?
In 2010 I'll continue to race endurance events like TransIowa, Ragnarok, and Almanzo. I'll be putting on a 100 mile MTB event with a friend and possibly racing another ultra. I want to ride more singletrack and bikepack quite a bit more. It's hard to top an experience like Tour Divide!

Tour Divide Race: Joseph Meiser's Canada to Mexico off road bicycle race experience

CyclovaXC.com is full of epic posts that many viewers come back to again and again, this will be one of those posts.

Our good friend
Joe Meiser is a co-worker of mine at QBP who heads up our Product Design and Development Department. That is an entirely different and interesting story though... Joe is one of the toughest people I've ever met when it comes to physical and mental stamina as it pertains to endurance sports, which you will soon see.

Today, we are treated to a video highlighting Joe's experience in the race of races, the
Tour Divide Race. This is an off road bicycle race from Banff, BC to Antelope Wells, NM (on the Mexican) border running along the Continental Divide. In total, it was 2,745 miles of riding with over 200,000 feet of climbing, with 42 riders starting, and fully self supported!

So settle in, grab some popcorn, a tasty beverage, and enjoy this amazing 35 minute video! You'll probably want to go do it this year! Look forward to an indepth interview with Joe on CyclovaXC.com, which will give you more of a sneak peak into what this amazing experience was like...

Tour Divide 2009 from jmeiser on Vimeo.

David Landgraf and Peter Rayne at Balsam Vinter Fest

Yesterday I mentioned Alan Lindsley at the Balsam Vinter fest 20K. Today I'd like to shout out to David Landgraf and Peter Rayne who also competed there. Nice work gentlemen! The image to the right is of David (here's the original source). Flicking through the images, you see a lot of Riverbrook suits in the mix which is kind of interesting.

Look, those of you who are heading out to these events you need to give me a shout out and, hopefully, either Frank and I can come along to either A. Race or B. stand around shouting and taking pictures.

Still, we're in our fledgling stages here at CyclovaXC, so this kind of craziness is only bound to keep snowballing. Just don't hesitate to drop a comment on here and tell us what's up, we'll broadcast it and do what we can to make sure the good times continue to roll.

Sorry that I couldn't find a picture of Peter...I'll make sure we'll get one for the next race!!!!

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Lindsley Hammers at the Norskalopet

This picture of Alan Lindsley hammering at the Balsam Vinter fest (taken from here) is just the kind of craziness we have come to expect and love from Alan Lindsley. According to the results, he finished a pretty solid third (a note to Alan, you don't have to go that hard when you ski with us...we're more about the beer afterward).

In the background of this picture you can see Dave Landgraf who pretty much always dominates everything he's a part of. I mean seriously, you don't even want to rake leaves with this guy because he turns it into a gladiatorial competition like something you might see in 300 (actually I've never raked leaves with him, that's just what I've heard...from the voices in my head).

Good work guys, and those of you out there in the know, keep sending me links telling me where pictures of CyclovaXC dudes are appearing! Cheers!

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Cyclova XC catches up with Garrott Kuzzy

Recently I caught up with Garrott Kuzzy, all around gentleman, great guy, Midwesterner, and world class XC Ski Racer. While Garrott has spent most of this race season leading the SuperTour race series, he is still waiting on a likely selection to the Olympic Team. There are a number of Olympic Team spots that likely will be reallocated from the Norwegian team to other nations, including the US, based on the new FIS Olympic team selection criteria. When that happens, we believe Garrott will be on the straight track to the Olympic Games!

CyclovaXC.com readers have been asking for advice on training and race prep, so who better to help us out than Garrrott? Thanks to Garrott for taking the time to chat and provide us his perspective on some great stuff below. Garrott, we're all rooting for you!

1) You're having an amazing season with some truly amazing results. Are you doing anything different with training or race prep this year as compared to in the past?

Thanks, Frank. I’ve still got plenty of work to do, but some of the races this year have been a step in the right direction. There haven’t been any drastic changes to my training. My biggest change is to have a specific focus on every day of training and trying to accomplish that goal, every day. My classic skiing has improved significantly this year, as I’ve been doing specific drills whenever I classic ski: no pole striding, one-ski balance, hill bounding, and double-pole only workouts.

Garrott ripping it up in a '09-'10 SuperTour event, as the series leader! - Photo Credit: Ian Harvey/Toko

2) What is your favorite place to ski? Your favorite race venue?

My favorite place to ski is definitely off the front — that’s a much better place to be than off the back.

I like a race venue with a good warming hut and plenty of trails to warm up on. Telemark is probably my favorite, especially since the first World Cups were held on those trails. I’ve never raced at Wirth Park, but from what I’ve seen recently with snow making and new hilly terrain, it strikes me as a very good race venue. Internationally, the Holmenkollen, which overlooks downtown Oslo, is definitely my favorite. They hold the only 50km interval start race in the world and the Norwegian spectators make racing there feel like you’re going up the Alpe D’Huez (as do the long climbs!).

3) In the week leading up to a race, how do you usually prepare (ie: how much to ski, intensity, diet, supplements, rest, etc)

Leading up to a priority race, I try to do as many workouts as I normally would (training twice/day), but cut workout time about in half. Rather than a 2 hour ski, I’ll usually go 1 hour. Rather than 8 intervals, I’ll do 4. Ideally, I get 70 hours of sleep per week, which ends up being 9.5 hours at night and a half hour nap during the day. Contrary to many athletes who carbo load with pasta dinners and oatmeal breakfasts, I prefer white rice and pancakes for my race fuel. On race day, I like to keep everything as simple as possible, knowing ahead of time exactly what I will do.

4) The US Ski Team (and CXC) has been consistently building more and more amazing results over the past decade in particular. What do you attribute this success to and how can citizen skiers help?

I wasn’t around in the past, so I don’t really know how things operated then. I will say that everyone in US skiing is working together very well. The National team is supporting the clubs by sending US Team coaches to club training camps and inviting dedicated club athletes to train with the US Team. There is a strong sense that everyone in the National ski community is working together towards a common goal. Keeping things positive is the best thing we can do.

The best thing that citizen skiers can do is to get involved and get other people involved, whether it be attending a CXC Masters camp in the summer, coaching a local junior team, or getting your friends to sign up for a race. To quote Bill Koch, “the more people we have on the trail skiing, the better off the whole world will be. Think about it.”

5) What are your predictions in general for the remainder of the XC Race Season?

The US is finally skiing with some swagger. Keep your eyes open and watch out!

Garrot enjoying some off season dirt in the Hayward area.

The View from the Tower Ridge Lodge

The more I go to tower ridge, the more I like the lodge, which is good because actually I'm getting a little bit bored with the trails.

Back in the ancient "Glory Days" which I keep boring everybody with endless stories of, I used to always ski on the Birkie trail. I didn't know it at the time, but that's about the greatest luxury anyone can be afforded. The thing about the Birkie Trail is that you can make yourself ski longer than you really want to on it. How? Well, you just say to yourself, "I'm going to ski 4 hours today" and then you ski out for two hours and turn around. By god...if you don't ski the other two hours back (for that grand total of four that I mentioned before) I guess you're just going to die and freeze to death out there on the trail and your carcas is going to be picked apart by wolves (that big steroid wolf from 300 especially).

Well, it doesn't work that way at trails like Tower Ridge where you're essentially doing short laps. You might say to yourself, "I'm going to ski 4 hours" and then after doing laps for 2.5 hours, you swing by the lodge and you get a whiff of hot chocolate and you think to yourself, "hmmmm....hot chocolate would be gooooood...." so you go in and that's all you ski for that day.

But I do like that tower ridge lodge. It's nice and warm in there and there is hot chocolate (did I mention the hot chocolate) and it's up on the hill so even when you're not skiing you can glance outside at the harsh, uneven terrain you could be working out on but are far too sensible to engage. It's a nice view...better enjoyed with a steaming hot mug of hot chocolate in your hand!

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Frank Classical Skiing

Here's a picture of Frank hammering home at the Twin Cities Championships a few weeks ago. This image gives you a pretty good idea how awesome we all look when wearing the CyclovaXC ski suit...except when I wear the suit it seems a bit bigger and egg shaped...oh well.

The thing about classical skiing is that it's a whole lot harder on you than skate skiing if you're technique isn't right on. With skating you can be a little sloppy and it's not going to hurt you any, but with classic the second you get a little lazy with your kick or something and WHAM! your ski slips out from underneath you and your pole breaks and you're laying there in the middle of the trail with a bloody nose with everybody behind you yelling, "TRACK! TRACK!"

As long as I've been skiing, I still can't get used to classical. Even though I have an image in my mind as to how it's supposed to look and feel, I just can't seem to really nail it. One of the problems is that I just don't feel as good on classical skis as I do on skate skis. For example, with skate skis you can go around a corner with all your weight on one ski or the other and it doesn't cause you any problems. But on classical skis I'm always afraid that grip wax is going to grab hold and I'm going to go tumbling down in a snowball of curses, froth, and snowflakes. And you know what, this has NEVER happened, and I suppose if you're on a pair of skis that's actually properly flexed for you it never WILL happen...but yet it scares me. I constantly FEEL that grip wax under my feet like an angry troll that wants to reach out and send me spinning ass over teakettle.

Well, in the above picture at least, Frank seems to know what he's doing. Nothing beats a good picture of you classical skiing!

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Empty Skiing Parking Lot

How about this for a pretty picture? You pull into the parking lot and there's NOBODY! What does that tell you? It means you're getting secret extra training hours on EVERYBODY!!!! Muhahahahaha!

I remember reading some article about Bjorn Daehlie and how he'd just won the last race on the world cup circuit for the year and no sooner did he have the medal cooling on his chest than he ran outside to do some hill repeats behind his hotel. The idea being that as long as he was already ahead of his competition, he might as well get even MORE ahead by out training them right away (OK, I'm exaggerating a little bit...it was probably the next day or something...which is still absurd).

I tell you what though, I love to see the empty parking lot...but it's a little bit better if there's a nice lodge for you to go and climb into (just in case the car dies and there's nobody there to rescue you...you can sleep in the lodge).

Incidentally, you can see how my brother muscled off my Thule bar racks when he owned my car...thus destroying them...sigh....

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The other Andrew Johnson...

I have a confession...

I am not the 17th President of the United States and I've never been impeached.


I have never competed in the Olympics or World Championships or been paid to train.

One more confession....

Like the two gentlemen mentioned above my name is Andrew Johnson and I've been avoiding this. I have to admit I haven't been too excited about writing a profile. As I told Frank, I'd rather talk about skiing, it's much more interesting!

I skied as a kid when most of our time was spent either a) trying to get our boots into those blasted cable bindings (we had old skis!) or b) trying to get up the hills of Cedarholm golf course so we could turn around and ski back down. (Call it early interval training I guess!) I'm not sure what happened but I didn't ski much in my junior high or high school years. Girls maybe? The upside is that those were the mid-90's so I missed the awful florescent pink, purple, and green look. I started skiing again late in college when I began doing some winter BWCA trips. At the encouragement of Cory Reedy (thanks Cory!) I bought my first pair of skate skis. That was 6 years ago. Rollerskis soon followed and I skied my first my first Birkie in 2006. I've been hooked ever since.

I work for REI as a Retail Supervisor in the Roseville location. I've been there for about 7 years. It's a great place to work! (they didn't pay me to say that...it really is) My wife Karen (that's her in the picture above...the one on the right) and I share our home with one brown and very energetic dog named Lucy. She's a rescued mutt possibly of Vizsla and Italian Greyhound origins but we don't know for sure. Skinny and fast, that's all you need to know. The picture to the right is her enjoying a Christmas Day snowshoe. Correction: REALLY enjoying a Christmas Day snowshoe.

We like to hike, canoe, camp, ski, cycle, take trips to the BWCA, snowshoe, and kayak. That sounds so cliché but I swear it's true! Maybe I should have added long walks on the beach and pina coladas... We also like to work on our house, garden, cook, and read. I completed my first from-the-frame-up bike build last summer. (the fixed gear I built a few years ago doesn't count) I'm now in the process of convincing my wife to let me build a cyclocross bike...if you feel so moved you could leave a comment here for her...it would be much appreciated.

That's about all the news that's fit to print and this is starting to sound like a personal ad so I'm going to end by saying I hope to meet some of you out on the trail soon!

For a Change of Pace during your winter routine, try the Pool!

As much as I love skiing, there are days when I just don't feel like going outside. This is a problem as you all know because unless you are in tip top shape and training daily, skiing just isn't all that much fun (not that I'm anywhere close to tip top shape at the moment, but you know what I mean).

It was a real chore during that cold snap of a week ago when you got to look forward to going out and skiing in around 0 degrees. Eventually my wife and I got fed up and headed over to the local YMCA where they have a nice heated pool. Let me tell you something, if you can't get out skiing for a day you don't lose absolutely anything by hitting the pool for forty minutes (or however long you can stand it).

I've been skiing a lot lately but I hadn't been in a pool for six or seven months so I was expecting the usual growing pains of lap swimming. Normally when you jump back into the water after being a dryland fish for at time, you struggle through ten or fifteen laps before hauling yourself back to the shore completely exhausted. However, it's true what they say about XC skiing...it's a full body exercise, and I was surprised to find that I was able to rip off 40 laps without straining myself too much (I count it as a lap each time I cross the pool, those people who insist on calling a "lap" one trip down and one trip back are pretentious idiots as far as I'm concerned, and their attitude just makes the pool "lap" talk confusing).

The other nice thing about the pool is that it allows you to get toasty warm. What with heating costs and everything, the only time I'm toasty warm lately is on the way to the ski trail when I'm allowed to put the heater up to full capacity. At home I'm an ice cube, and on the way back from skiing I am as well (wet and tired...even after changing your shirt and socks). So it's nice to jump into the pool at the Y and then use up 50,000 gallons of hot water in their showers.

Oh yeah, and the pool membership comes with a free gym! So don't just sit inside and shiver on the cold days, jump in and swim!

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