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Birkie Novel Set for October Release!

Books that deal with cross-country skiing in general, and the American Birkebeiner specifically come along way too infrequently for my liking.  That being the case, it's pretty much our duty as cross-country skiers to pick up novels like these when they do appear on the shelves (especially when they're being put out by a traditional publisher as is the case with "Beyond Birkie Fever").

Fun and games aside, "Beyond Birkie Fever" might soon bear the distinction of being the "definitive" Birkie book.  The novel is a humorous memoir about how a simple thing like a ski race in the Northwoods can be the catalyst for a life of adventure and international travel.  Although the narrative spans the globe, this books is grounded in Hayward, and expresses a sincere love and appreciation for America's greatest Cross-country ski race.  You can read more about the book on the publisher's web page here (you can also find a link to Cara Jo O'Connell's web page there, she's the artist--originally from the Twin Cities--who did the cover).

As you can see from the cover blurb, this novel also contains "Founder David Landgraf's Account of the First Birkie" which all by itself would be worth the cover price of the book (and should grab the attention of all CyclovaXC members since he's one of us!).

But the best news about this book is that, although it's not going to be released until October 1st 2011, the author is looking to generate some reviews, so .pdfs will be available pretty soon.  If there's anybody out there reading this blog entry who is interested in getting a hold of an electronic copy of "Beyond Birkie Fever" and putting a review up on Amazon, you can write the author at walterrhein@gmail.com (put "Beyond Birkie Fever--Review .pdf" in the subject line).

For those of you who are already sure this is going to be "must have" addition to your garage of Birkie memorabilia (or for those of you who just want to help out Mr. Rhein...do so, I know the guy, he owes me money), then you can pre-order the book from the publisher here or from amazon here.

Actually, there are a LOT of CyclovaXC people represented in this book...I'll tell you why that is later. :)

A Weird Ball of Snow

Blackberry cameras are completely ineffective for taking good photos, but I still decided to go ahead and publish this one.  This is from a snow storm back in December I believe (true skiers can look at a piece of snow like this and more or less guess the month and latitude that must have produced it...actually, speaking of that, have you noticed how frequently movie studios use mashed potatoes, or some other artificial white substance for snow?  If you haven't it's only because you've been enthralled by the movie because, trust me, they do it A LOT.  I only notice because the snow they use is so appallingly and obviously not snow that it takes me out of the moment of suspension of disbelief and makes me want to start throwing popcorn at the screen...I mean, what, do they think we're idiots? Real snow MELTS, it doesn't just sit there like it's waiting for somebody to pour gravy on it!).

This snow was sitting on my car one fine December (or something) morning and I just couldn't bring myself to flick it away.  That should be less than a centimeter of snow, but it's just so PUFFY!  Pure powder!

Really, when you wake up in the morning and there's snow like this on your car, you should just call in sick and find some sort of hill to go and play on.  Actually, calling sick should be the option about 330 days a year, there are just too few days when you get awesome snow.

Sometimes, you just get potatoes and no gravy.

It Takes as Much time to Make 5 Sandwiches as it Does to Make 1

Too much of the time, athletes are worried about what they eat.  Sure, it's fine to kind of watch calories, but people take this whole thing to ridiculous heights of stress and anxiety.  I suppose that's probably because if you do the Birkie at 220 lbs you're in for a LOOOOONG day of utter torture, but the way I see it, it's better to torture yourself for just that day rather than every other second of every other day that passes throughout ski season.

Ok, I'm being a little flippant.

What I'm trying to get around to saying is that although you need to watch what you eat, sometimes you also have to keep your eye out for the lesser of two evils.  For example, white bread probably isn't the best thing to stuff into your mouth.  You'd be better off stuffing in some white rice or quinoa, or corn or something.  However, white bread is pretty frickin' convenient, so sometimes that earns you a point or two as well.

My big thing is avoiding that midnight hunger that tricks you into some really bad nutritional choices.  For example, there are times when you think just a couple of packets of GU are going to be enough for your 3 hour ski, only to find that you just HAVE to stop off at Pizza Hut on the way home because you're FAMISHED!!!

That pizza is the thing you need to avoid (unless it's Coop's Pizza...then by all means indulge yourself).

My trick for last year was to make myself a whole bunch of semi-healthy sandwiches early in the week.  My line of thought was that it takes the same amount of time to make five turkey sandwiches instead of one, so why not do that and have a fridge stocked with...although admittedly not the best food choice, at least it was a step up from the worse?

So yeah, every week I made up my five turkey sandwiches and I could grab them when I was famished.  As you can see in the picture, the turkey sandwiches make an effective blocking wall to keep me from getting at the beer.  The baby formula/breast milk to the right, however, is unprotected (I tried the formula once...no wonder babies cry so much...it's nasty).

Oh, just as a final note, I don't recommend eating the sandwiches two or three weeks later.  5 days and 5 sandwiches seems to be the limit.

Ski Training in the Gym

When the weather is downright disagreeable like this then you might as well spend all your free time in the gym.  Of course, I don't know, maybe some of you are psyched when it's 30 degrees and the snow is melting everywhere.  Maybe that's your prime training time of year.  If it is, I'd be curious to hear from you, maybe you can enlighten me as to what's so great about the outside world right now because I'm finding it rather bleak and depressing.

The gym, on the other hand, is a different sort of animal.  Actually, now that I'm on the subject, somebody needs to reinvent the whole concept.  The old "shabby, stinky, warehouse with metallica playing" motif is just really tired.  I thought that was for losers when I was in High School and I still think it!  Wouldn't it be awesome if somebody made a, I don't know, pirate ship gymnasium?  You could bench press cannons or something instead of weights, and all the trim could be polished wood and brass?

Oh, and you know what else is annoying about the gym, the complete lack most people show for gym etiquette.  There's usually a sign on the wall that says the following things:

1.  Put the weights back where you got them (don't leave them strewn about the place).
2.  Don't leave 600 45 lb plates on the bench press for the next guy to put away (kind of a restatement of rule #1, but if the actual happenings of any gym can be taken for evidence...it needed to be said).
3.  Don't put 45 lb plates on top of 10 lb plates on the weight trees.
4.  Don't monopolize fifty machines because you're on some "special" program that you read about in FLEX magazine.
5.  Don't sit around on the machines gabbing with your friends...if you want to sit around and gab, go to the coffee shop.
6.  None of the machines are "yours" so don't throw your towel on something, leave for forty five minutes, and then throw a tissy fit when you come back and somebody else is using the item.
7.  Don't grunt or scream like you're giving birth to a baby giraffe, nobody wants to hear it.
8.  Don't jump on the best bench press machine or squat rack and then sit there for a half hour doing wrist curls with a 5 lb weight.  You can do those anywhere, so don't tie up the best machines.
9.  Just show people basic courtesy.

Actually, what's the deal with the gym anyway?  It's like this bizarre feral kingdom where everybody struts around acting like they're about to start breaking mirrors because they feel "disrespected."  Maybe it's all that protein powder.

You know, to heck with it, I was going to go into some detail about what some good ski specific exercises are, but now I can't be bothered.  The thought of the local gym just has me too depressed.  I think it's off the program now, I'm going to spend all my time in the pool.

The Great Melt

Actually I took this picture right around the first snowfall, so it's a complete lie, but still, it kind of looks like that outside right now.  The only difference is that there is about a five inch deep river running right through the middle of my back yard.


This has been a weird week.  For a moment there, it kind of looked like the snow was about to go away completely and we could start thinking about lubing up our bicycles and pulling on our awesome CyclovaXC team kits, but then a massive snow storm hit.

Man...I don't know what effect that storm had up in your neck of the woods, but here in Chippewa Falls it was nasty!  The whole thing started with rain, which is never a good way to start a snowstorm because everything becomes encased in ice.  I couldn't even get into my car the other day, I had to chip at it with a rock hammer for about twenty minutes before I could even find the keyhole.  Once it had rained enough, it began to snow and POOOF! just like back the massive towering mounds of white stuff were littered all about the streets, plugging up every dark little nook and cranny the road clearing guys could make for them.

Well, the only good news is that even when it's only hovering around 30 degrees, the March sun is warm enough to just fry that snow right away.  

Man...Wisconsin has a strange climate when you really sit back and think about it!

Rambo CyclovaXC suit

I wrote you all a little while ago about how Mt. Borah is having a "Free Gear for a Year" competition to honor the best suit design they receive.  Well, I wrote them a little while ago to ask for clarification, and it turns out that CyclovaXC doesn't qualify.  Essentially they're just trying to help out some local High School teams (which is awesome, and I certainly don't want to be responsible for siphoning money away from High School teams).

However, the idea of a free ski suit got the old wheels turning and I decided that I just had to whip up a proof version of the "John Rambo CyclovaXC Race Suit."  It kind of turned out a little bit like Frankenstein's monster because it's surprisingly difficult to find a picture of Sylvester Stallone on the internet with his shirt off!  I couldn't find a good tanned and oiled one for the front like I found for the back (the back image is from the cover of Rambo III by the way), but rest assured that the  chiseled chest you're seeing IS Sylvester!

My concept was to just include a tiny CyclovaXC logo over the right breast in blue ink (suggesting that it's a tattoo).  The really important detail on this whole suit is that all the people who wear it HAVE to wear the long-haired wig with the red headband as a hat.  Oh, and there's a big knife printed on the hip, I don't know if you noticed that.

Anyway, if I had money to burn, I'd definitely print up some suits like this for the Birkie.  I think it'd be pretty funny to see thirty people skiing along dressed as Rambo...I mean...seriously...that'd be darn funny.

Sigh...well, there's still the lottery!

Maybe I should submit this design on behalf of a local high school.  Wouldn't they be surprised if they won!  I need to get a better image of a ripped chest though, I wonder if I'd break my scanner if I flopped down on it?

Mom's Special Magic Ski Cookies

Everybody's got their own special magical ski food that saves them from the bonk. If you've all got good ski food stories out there, send them along. For me, one of my favorite ski foods are my mom's special "who knows what's in there" cookies. These things are thick and awesome and filled with home cooked goodness. Even Frank can't eat more than four or five at a time.  

Each one of these cookies has 78 grams of protein (OK, I'm just making that up, I have no idea what the nutritional value of these cookies are...actually, I don't have any idea what the nutritional value is of 98% of the things I eat...but I'm still here so there must be some nutritional value).

You know...maybe I should try to get the recipe for these things (although I don't know if my mom is going to part with it).  Perhaps we could get fifty or sixty good "ski food" type recipes on here and start really getting ahead in our training.

I think we should start with Tommy and his famous Snicker Whip (although besides the Snickers bars...I'm not sure we even want to know what's in that).  We need to coax Tommy into making a video showing us how to make Snicker Whip...I love the way he says it..."SNICKER WHIP!!!!"

Another Bizarre Running Trophy

The other day I wrote an article about Bizarre running trophies. Well, here's a picture of another one.  At first glance, this one isn't too strange.  It's a runner after all, and the fact that it's also a bobble-head doll makes it more or less appropriate for a running event.  However, there's just a weird combination of things going on with this trophy.  First of all there's the pseudo-doll faced oversized head.  I mean, the expression on that thing is just weird.  It looks more like a toy baby than it does a runner...and the fact that that particular head is shoved onto an otherwise more or less correct body gives this statue a pretty solid strange rating.

The big baby head/tiny runner body conundrum would be bad enough if the whole statue weren't painted pewter.  I don't know about you, but the second I look at this thing I can't get C3-PO out of my head, which is all the more weird since C3-PO is GOLD and not Pewter color.

Frankly, this whole bobble head statue thing just freaks me out.  I'd much rather have a statue of a rabid coyote in my bedroom staring at me with fiercely bared teeth.  At least you KNOW that thing would be coming for you...I'm much more squeamish about cute looking things that sneak up on you and try to catch you unawares.

Mt. Borah Gear for a Year

Yesterday I got this huge packet in the mail from Mt. Borah (the company that produced all our awesome ski gear) about a contest.  The contest is called "Free Gear for a Year" and apparently they are going to award 20 race suits and jackets for the best ski suit design submitted.

The only downside is that I'm not quite sure CyclovaXC qualifies for this since the language on their page seems to suggest that this is more geared toward High School and College teams (although CyclovaXC might be the only ski club out there...so maybe we're just in a special category).

Well, I've never been one to be deterred by details, and I'm kind of thinking of submitting a bunch of suits just for the sake of designing something a little more fun and interesting.  I was talking to Greg the other day about how great it would be to just be made of money so I could design new and bizarre ski suits for every race.  This contest gives me a reason to whip up photoshop versions of them, so why not?  Also, we've been thinking of doing a kind of "toned down" version of the ski suit (although I hate it when I can't see our members out there....you've gotta be SEEN!).

I'd just like to encourage any of you who read this site to submit a ski suit on behalf of CyclovaXC.  Use any logos, etc., that you want!

Bizarre Running Trophies

If you do any of the local running events, sooner or later you're going to win an age class or something, and when that starts happening with regularity, sooner or later you're going to be presented with some bizarre type of trophy.

Take, for example, the dueling spuds that I was fortunate enough to snap a quick shot of at my mom's house recently.  I have to say that these trophies are awesome in a Rebecca Black "Friday" kind of way (if you don't know what I'm talking about, youtube it).

The problem with trophies like this is that you're loathe to throw them away, they represent your dominance after all.  But at the same time, you're fairly loathe to actually display them anywhere.

All of this makes me think that when CyclovaXC starts putting on mini races (which we're sure to do at some point), we're going to have to be really careful about what trophies we give out.  If anyone has any suggestions, or wants to design an awesome trophy, please let me know!

BIKE TECH: Campagnolo Ultra-Torque Bottom Bracket & Crankset Installation

The above video from Campagnolo demonstrates the installation process of a Campy Ultra-Torque Crankset and Bottom Bracket.

There is a whole lot of cool bike stuff out on the market now, and Campagnolo is definitely included in that group.  Their Ultra-Torque Crankset & Bottom Bracket system is a engineering wonder and a huge upgrade from the old school square taper system it seemed the Italian manufacturer would never stray from. 

As you'll see in this video, there is a lot to the process of installing high end bicycle components.  However, tens of thousands of miles on a precision riding instrument (a finely tuned bicycle) is well worth it!  Installing a Campy Ultra-Torque Crankset is something that the experienced, well equipped home mechanic can do - but is typically done by an experienced, well equipped bike shop (not all bike shops are created equal).

Following is the 16 step Campy Ultra-Torque Crankset installation process as demonstrated in the above video, for those who really want to know:
  1. Clean the bottom bracket shell.
  2. Inspect the bottom bracket shell.  Are the threads clean?  Is the face of the shell on both sides clean, square, and even?
  3. If the bottom bracket shell threads and faces aren't perfect, the bottom bracket shell should be chased and the faced.  This ensure the shell threads are perfect and the faces square and flat.  In the end, this reduces bottom bracket creaks, ensures the bottom bracket bearings are square in relation to each other (resulting in a free spinning crankset and minimal bearing wear), and that the bottom bracket cups thread in easily.
  4. After chasing & facing, carefully clean any metal filings out of the bottom bracket shell area.  
  5. Begin to thread in the bottom bracket cups, noting the right cup from the left.  Also note the thread pattern of the frame and bottom bracket cups (English or Italian).  After getting each cup started, fully coat the cup threads with Loctite 222 (an anaerobic Loctite that only dries in the absence of oxygen). 
  6. Finger tight each cup, ensuring that all threads are coated with a solid layer of Loctite 222.  No torquing of the cups is necessary if you use Loctite 222.  However, if you use grease, torque the cups to 35NM.
  7. Wipe off excess Loctite from the bottom bracket cups
  8. Notice the 2 holes in the right hand cup.  Place the spring retainer clip such that the ends almost pop into the holes (but not quite)
  9. Lightly grease the bearing interface of the bottom bracket cups
  10. Fully insert the right crank arm into the right bottom bracket cup.
  11. Push the spring retainer clip so that the ends pop into the holes of the cup.  This holds the crankset in place.
  12. Place the wavy washer into the left bottom bracket cup.
  13. Insert the left crank arm into the left bottom bracket cup, carefully engaging the left crank arm spline with that of the right.  Ensure the crank arms are pointing opposite of each other.
  14. Using a Campy UT-BB1100 tool or equivalent, insert, thread in, and torque the fixing bolt to 42NM.
  15. Allow the bike to sit for at least 24 hours before riding if you used Loctite 222.
  16. Enjoy the Italian precision that is Campagnolo!

Interview With Elite Skier Tom Krenz of Team Cyclova XC

Tommy Krenz in action at the 2011 Seeley Hills Classic     

Recently I caught up with Cyclova XC team member  & Elite Birkie skier Tommy Krenz and interviewed him about his Birkie experience this year.  Tom is as professional about his training as anyone I have ever met and in my opinion, athletes of any level could learn much from him - so here is your chance!  There is much fun stuff and several valuable "pearls of training wisdom" in here!  Enjoy!

Frank L:  Congratulations Tommy on an amazing Birkie and ski season in general!  If you were to choose a most memorable moment of this year's Birkie, what would it be?
Tommy K:  Thanks, Frankie, young protege of mine, for the press and opportunity to talk about my Birkie.  The most memorable part of the Birkie for me was once again the post party at the cabin.  Racing the Birkie has become almost secondary for me over the years.  Sure, when I'm training I keep the focus and hunger, no one has more piss-and-vinegar between 5 and 8 pm than me, but when the Birkie weekend hits I relax and enjoy the atmosphere.  I think of myself as a wild card nowadays.

But if you pressed me, I'd say the most memorable moment of the Birkie race was Highway 77 as always.  This is when the boys are separated from the men.  I was at the back of the train, as usual, before the crossing, and then kicked it into a high tempo V2 and started moving up to make the split that always happens there.  It's an awesome feeling when your moving past people.  It's why we do all those lung-busting intervals; take the pain!

Frank L:  What was the most memorable moment of your ski season?
Tommy K:  My most memorable moment this ski season was a training night over at the Hollow (Troll Hollow at Trollhaugen).  I've been really pushing the envelope this year and was doing a VO2max workout.  That's different than a threshold or an anaerobic workout.  I really dissect these workouts down to those 3 categories. It had just snowed and it was colder than hell.  I had the waxless boards on which made it even colder.  I did 10 times 1 minute anaerobic 100 % effort.  These will have you on your poles after each one if you do them right.  Then I proceeded to do 20 times 3 minute VO2max intervals.  You have to aggressively keep attacking during this workout.  After I finished that workout 3 weeks before the Birkie I knew I was ready, or that it would be my Waterloo for the season.  Either way, I was going to accept all consequences.

Frank L:  You are one of the most dedicated and scientific trainers I know.  You love training.  Do you train to race or race to train?
Tommy K:  Franckie, you know me too well to even ask.  It's all about the petri dish.  I love dabbling in the scientific approach: change a variable here, adjust something later here, and viola, you have a Birkie to talk about or one to motivate you all summer long.  I love the process of training and racing is just a validation of the process.  I'm a practice player, unlike Big Eddie who lives for game day.

Frank L:  How many hours of training did you end up with in 2010?
Tommy K:  I've toned down over the years in total volume, mainly because I do more quality than quantity nowadays.  I had over 500 hours of training, not including weights and other non-aerobic activities.  I do interval training year around.  I follow Brad Hudson's paradigm of training where you keep your fitness level high and then add the appropriate workouts when you want to peak. It keeps me in the game whenever I decide to tackle a goal.  Too many people throw away their fitness after a season.  I've been doing a dual sport, one for summer and one for winter, for over 20 years.  I've never hit burnout physically and mentally.  The upcoming season is all the motivation I need to keep training year around.

Frank L:  Did you train differently for this ski season than in years past?
Tommy K:  I just got back to training hard.  I had some winters where I stayed on my bike and kept swimming instead of skiing.  This was very unrewarding for me.  The winters of 2008-2009 were winters of my discontent.  I'll never do that again!

Frank L:  How have the triathlons/Ironmans that you've been doing over the past few years translated to Nordic ski fitness?
Tommy K:  Cross training for triathlons is no different than training for road biking.  The fitness level you can get your engine to is unbelievable.  You just need to parlay that into the roller ski season in the fall, and that into the winter.  Having a race season during the summer keeps my aerobic and anaerobic system at a high level.  It's like they say: If you don't use it you lose it!  This is especially true the older you get.  I'm in a new age bracket next year!

Frank L:  What is your favorite place to ski?
Tommy K:  My favorite place to ski is without a doubt under the lights at the Hollow.  It's been pretty lonely there, though, this winter.  It seems that when we get snow, people go else where.  But that's fine with me.  It gives me a clean carpet to ski on and no distractions.  I don't have any negative feedback from armchair quarterbacks questioning my training tactics!  Those guys only piss me off !

Thanks for everything you guys do over at Cyclova XC!  Keep the stick on the ice!


Review: Birkebeiner by Jeff Foltz

Jeff Foltz graciously sent me a review copy of his novel "Birkebeiner: A Story of Motherhood and War" back in November and I'm embarrassed to admit that I'm only just now getting around to a review.

You might remember that I posted an interview with Foltz here that you might want to have another look at to give you some background information.

In "Birkebeiner" Foltz essentially takes the famous story of Prince Hakon that has spawned two commemorative cross-country ski marathons and made it into an action/adventure tale.  He brings the characters of Torstein, Skjervald and Inga to life and lets you follow them on their epic flight to safety.

In writing the book, Foltz spent a fair amount of time doing research in Norway.  I had always been under the impression that Torstein and Skjervald skied with Prince Hakon alone, but from his time in Norway, Foltz concluded that there are several variations of the tale and in some of them Inga accompanied the two warriors.  From the perspective of narrative, the inclusion of Inga allows you to add many different layers of dramatic tension, so I can see why Foltz would have made the choice to include her. 

The book is well paced and well-edited and is a solid read.  One thing that readers might find a little bit jarring, however, is that Foltz makes the somewhat unconventional choice to write predominantly in the present tense.  Here is an excerpt to give you an idea:

"At that, Inga turns her face up.  The tear hits her like driven sleet.  This great protector, this mightiest of their warriors, a man who has not winced from the slashes of swords or the prick of spears is crying too, sobbing like an orphaned child.  Skjervald Skrukka looks from him to her and back, a man whose skut has sailed into a storm he wasn't expecting and who has no capacity to deal with it, let alone understand where it comes from."

As you can see, present tense lends a kind of urgent intimacy to the writing. In small doses it can be very effective, but my personal preference is to read standard past tense.  However, I can't decide if I think that just because that's what I'm used to reading, or if it's somehow reflective of the writing.  I guess the only answer is to encourage readers to pick up the book (or perhaps visit Folt's web page and request an excerpt) and decide for themselves.

Jeff Foltz's Birkebeiner takes the story most of us Birkie skiers know only in passing and brings it fully to life.  For those of you who can't get enough information about the Birkebeiner or its roots, this well-researched adventure ride is definitely the book for you!

2011 Chequamegon Fat Tire Festiveal Lottery Registration is TODAY!

The author anticipating the start of the 2006 Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival, sporting the kit from our friends at Cat 6.

It's that time of year already - time for you to make fill out a form, write out a check wish your application luck, and mail it off to the crew of the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival.  That's right, TODAY (March 15) is the deadline for race lottery registrations to be mailed (must be postmarked today) in to race headquarters.

The PDF which you need to fill out and info on the lottery can be found HERE on the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival website (note that this link likely won't work after the March 15 deadline). 

The Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival is the premier xc mountain bike race / festival in North America with a variety of events.  The main event is the 40 mile event starting on Main St. Hayward, WI and finishing at Telemark Lodge near Cable, WI.  For a full rundown of the event, see our pre-event writeup HERE from September 2009.

If you're not lucky enough to be selected through the random lottery, you still may be able to get into the race through programs like the race crew offer such as their essay contest, etc.  

Welcome my friends - it's officially bike season now!

Yahoo Publishes My Birkie Article 3 Days Late

I've been messing around publishing articles on the Yahoo Contributors Network just to see if it actually makes me any money.  The good news is that it does...although it only trickles in, but that's always the case with writing.

Anyway, when I write with Yahoo Contributors, I use my alter ego Walter Rhein as my byline (that's the name I use for most of my publishing these days...just because I got sick of people tracking me down).

Well, a full WEEK before the Birkie I wrote a "rah-rah-rah GOOOOO Birkie" piece just to see if I'd get 50,000 hits to CyclovaXC if I linked a Yahoo article to CyclovaXC (it didn't work, apparently the only time you get 50,000 hits is when you mention Charlie Sheen, Tiger Blood, or Adonis DNA).

The whole reason I wrote this piece was to get people to go and SEE the Birkie, and I even mentioned in one of the five or six titles that Yahoo makes you put in, that the race was on the 26th.  Well, the article sat and sat in Yahoo's archives presumably waiting for somebody to proofread it, and by the time it got published it was already March 1st.  So I suppose that kind of wrecked my whole experiment.

Still, if you're curious about the article, you can read it here.  Maybe I'll link to it next year so it won't be completely without value!

Be the Bear Eddy!

Yesterday was The Great Bear Chase up in Calumet if I'm not mistaken (man...I need to DO all these races next year, I can't let life keep getting in the way like it has been...grrrr!).

Anyway, back in the old days when we were the Riverbrook crew, we had a couple nice little races up at Calumet. There was one year that I was trash talking Tommy pretty good because he was so furious up at the Birkie that he had his poles off for the last 5 Km or so and didn't get his typical top 50 finish.  I liked giving him a hard time (for motivational purposes), and we were jawing at each other all night only to have our skis completely break down on us up at Calumet.  I mean we had SLOW skis, so slow that Tommy just pulled off the course and waited for me (so we could continue trash talking each other rather than actually race).  Tommy's skis were so slow that I actually started screaming at him in anger for having such slow skis...hehehe...he didn't quite know how to take that.

Well, we always used to head up to Calumet with Eddy who always said that one day he was going to "Be the Bear."  I think he meant he was going to buy a bear suit and be the mascot of the race and maybe just jump out of the woods or something at the skiers.  I still think he should do that.  I'll pitch in for the bear suit (actually, I already have a Chewbacca mask...that'd probably work).

Hope all of you who did the Bear Chase had a great one!

Make Sure you "Like" The CyclovaXC Facebook Page

You may have noticed that we haven't been doing so much with our Facebook Group lately.  It's still out there, and we'll still use it occasionally for sending out important updates, but we've decided to scale our mailings waaaaay back.

Half the problem is that every now and then Facebook gets all weird and ideological (as if they're all about some grand social movement and not just making money) and decides something absurd like you have to limit the number of links in a mass email to your group.  It's a crock...and it severely discourages one from BUILDING a massive group just for the purposes of sending out bulk emails.

Bearing all that in mind, Frank and I decided to start up a Page instead of a group.  A Page is similar to a group except that it posts to the members walls and doesn't have a group email capability.  I don't know why the powers that be at Facebook decided to split this off into two different things...I mean, doesn't it make more sense to have a Page with Group functionalities or a Group with Page functionalities?

Well, for those of you who don't like Facebook and avoid it like the plague (I'm thinking of joining your ranks) all of this is irrelevant.  But for those of you who do like Facebook, make sure you "Like" our page (we're just starting to build it, so that's why it's only at 11 and it needs to be at 11,000, so make your friends "Like" it too).

Last Call For Stonegrinding--Birkie Wrap Up!--Cyclops 3.1

I know, I know...March is the best time of year for skiing. The temperatures are always hovering around 40, and the sun is high enough in the sky that you feel like you're baking out there on a 40 km ski (kind of). But we have to face the fact that the nice warm sun is hard on our beloved trails, and start thinking about upcoming escapades of awesomeness (that should be our slogan: CyclovaXC Escapades of Awesomeness!).

Well, with the end of the ski season on the Horizon, Frank told me to give a shout out for a last big batch of skis to grind. The skis have to be in Frank's hands ASAP, so if you're in Chippewa Falls or Eau Claire, feel free to drop them off with me. Otherwise, you can use one of our other drop off points. There all listed, along with Frank's wise words, in this link:

Besides that, I'd just like to offer a couple Birkie wrap-up articles. Man...that Birkie was legendary this year. Here are the articles, enjoy!

That's it! See you all out on the snow, and asphalt! Get your skis in for a last Stonegrind (so you can sink wax into them all summer)!

Stonegrinding Last Call: Friday, March 18!

Frank loves stonegrinding and wants to grind your skis - but this is your last chance for the season!  Photo Credit:  Dave Gabrys of Cycleture.com

It is mid March already.  The Birkie and most of the other big races have passed us by.  We've had one of the best snow years on record.  Cyclova XC hope that you had one of your best ski seasons ever aboard the fastest skis of your life!

Sadly, it's nearly time to put away the skis for their Summer slumber - but before you do so, be sure to put them away so they'll be ready to go for you next season!  This definitely means cover waxing your skis before storage and likely means having them stoneground.

Simply put, there is no better time of year to have your skis stoneground than at the end of ski season.  Think about it - your skis may be a bit beat up from the big races, bases a bit dried out from flourocarbon application, and have been skied hard in general.

Stonegrinding your skis before they go into storage is ideal, as they will be ready to go for you first thing next season.  This means a nice flat base for easy waxing, a square edge for good stability, a nice clean structure, and most importantly a fresh layer of base material will easily gobble up the wax you apply.  

Here is some food for thought:  Having your skis ground now, ensures they absorb a maximal amount of wax over the summer.  This is like hotboxing your freshly stoneground skis for the entire summer!  No wonder the skis often feel so fast the first time on snow...

The final batch of Cyclova XC Racing Service Stonegrinding will be done on Saturday, March 19.  This means that in order for your skis to be included on this batch, that you'll need to have your skis to a Cyclova XC drop off location no later than noon on Friday, March 18.  For the full scoop on our grinding process, menu of structures, pricing, and drop off locations check out our SKI SERVICE page and view our full ski service brochure

If you would like any assistance in choosing a structure or in determining if your skis are in need of a stonegrind, please feel free to contact me directly at:

What the Birkie Did to My Face This Year

Wow, this picture looks way worse than the reality...but I'm sure I'm not the only one who got a little bit of freezer burn at the Birkie!  That was even WITH the use of Dermatone...so thank god I put that stuff on!  My wife suggested that the thing that might have done me in was my balaclava.  I kept pulling it up and down as I did the race and she thinks I might have wiped the Dermatone right off my face...not a bad theory!

It was kind of funny going to school on the Monday after the Birkie.  The first students said nothing, which made me think that maybe I wasn't as disfigured as I had previously thought.  But then somebody marched right up to me and screamed, "What did you do to your face?"

Later on in the day another student asked me if I'd gotten into a bar fight over the weekend.  In hindsight, I should have said yes.

A week + later, there are no ill effects.  It's surprising how resilient the human body is...you can put it through a lot of abuse, then again, we skiers knew that already!

Next Birkie, Look For Us at the Wall of Champions!

Hey All,

I've run into a couple people over the last few days who I didn't get a chance to see up at the Birkie.  Although the Birkie is a meeting point for 8,000+ crazy skiers, I think it's ridiculous that there are people I know who I don't see there.  When you come right down to it, the skiing community is a pretty small world, and it's getting to the point where I pretty much feel I know everybody (if I don't know you yet, I'm sure we'll be meeting soon out on the frozen straightaways).

As you might have guessed from reading this over the past couple of days, we pretty much make a habit of getting to the Birkie early!  Once we hit Telemark, we always go to more or less the same spot (we're the first ones there, so we have the pick of the place...we can't sleep on the night before the Birkie anyway).  The spot we sit at is within sight of the wall of Birkie champions (I snapped this shot in the wee morning hours just before I slapped on my bib in that haze of excited desperation and went out to brave the cold).

So next year, make sure you come and find us...say hi and tell me your Birkie stories so I can immortalize them forever on CyclovaXC!

Save the CSB/SJU Ski Teams

Hello All,

I just received the following email about a couple ski programs that have been cut.  So, I figured CyclovaXC members might enjoy using their clout to do what they can to restore the funds for these programs.  Here's the email I received with a couple links:

"Can you please post something on CYCLOVA about the CSB/SJU ski teams
being cut.  We are trying to get as much support from the ski
community to show that the small amount of funding it takes to have a
NCAA program is Worthwhile X100 over.  The team was given no options
to maintain NCAA and no opportunity to raise its own funds and self
support.  You can link to the facebook group:

And our petition:

We won't go without a fight!  Or at least an honest conversation with
the administration"

I hope this helps and that CSB and SJU are up and running again soon!

More Photos from the Dermatone Birkie of 2011

So there it is, the first bus.  My mom dragged me out of bed at 4:00 AM just like every other Birkie to make sure we got there on time.  I guess it's kind of a veteran move because fifteen minutes later the parking lot becomes a crazy place filled with nasty things like lines and anxiety.  However, if you show up at the parking area before the first bus has even pulled up to be loaded, you get to experience the closest approximation of a moment of tranquility that you can ever get on Birkie day.
Amazingly enough, about five minutes after I got onto the bus, just about everybody I know from the skiing world was soon to follow.  In this picture you see Lindsley taking his seat.  Seated about him are people like Tommy, Bob, Kevin, Greg...the whole team!  Between all of us there were easily more than 100 Birkies represented, so I guess catching that early bus is the only way to go.
Navigating this icy road was probably the worst part of the day.  I saw more than one competitor take a nasty tumble while trying to walk along this frozen monstrosity from Telemark out to the starting area.  Oddly, the Birkie was dominating my points to the point that whenever I saw somebody fall, my first thought was, "Oh...I hope they didn't screw up their wax job" as their skis went clattering to the dirt.  Bodies heal, but ski bases on Birkie day are sacred things.
Dumping the warm-ups into the trucks.
I don't even know what was in that big tent...perhaps it was a world of magnificence beyond anything I could have ever imagined. I didn't have the slightest interest in even taking a peak...after all, I had the Birkie to ski.