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Birkie 2012 Wrap Up

I went through my files from last year and found that I posed with Sofia in my mom's house, in my race gear before the race.  So I thought it would be fun to post this picture just to show how much bigger a baby gets after a year (I think I got bigger too).  This is likely to be the first in a series of photos that's going to cause no end of embarrassment to my lovely little daughter (at least she can take solace in the fact that she's wearing Packer jammies).  Actually, I think her expression in the 2012 picture is beyond priceless.

So this post is going to be just everything that I had on my camera on Birkie day.  I don't have any images of people skiing, but I have a pretty good accounting of everything that happened before and after the race (which is where the real stress and fun is).  So, enjoy these pictures and, as always, if you have any more, please send them to me at bj@cyclovaxc.com.
The famous view outside Telemark on Birkie day.  Be careful, one of our skiers misplaced his skis here last year when somebody mistook his skis for theirs (he didn't get his skis back until after the race...so he had to ski with shorter poles and bad wax).

I always put my skis in a ski bag and keep them with me in the lodge.  I get too frantic on Birkie morning and I just don't want to be left somewhere without my skis.  Also, I put big awesome CyclovaXC stickers on my skis so they don't get confused.
Here's Mikunda on his way to the start.  He looks like James Garner in this photo!
Freeze your butt off in the port-a-pots in the morning...awesome, but not as bad as last year.  When it's 20+ degrees those port-a-pots are bearable, but at -10, ouch, it's miserable.
Emalea and I at the start!  Emalea rocked the race of course!
Here's what the starting area looks like, for those of you who are curious.
Shooting the starting guns!
With Mitch and Micah who had awesome races!
Ross also completed his first Birkie!  He scolded me at the start for teasing him inappropriately as to what must be in the miracle energy concoction that Lindsley prepared for him.
3 solid members of CyclovaXC.
Elite men go!
Sun breaks through.
Elite women go!
Allan and Adam at the race start. Here's the video of them starting:

Afterwards we warmed up in the tent.
Lots of people were honoring Dave Landgraf on Birkie weekend!
Gear bags at the finish line.  You know you did OK at the Birkie when there are still a ton of gear bags at the end!

Well, that's it for the 2012 Birkie!  It was an awesome day, but I still need to lose 20 lbs and get serious about racing this thing!  See you all on the starting line next year!

CyclovaXC at the Kortelopet Finish

Our neighbor Steve McCormack (he's the dentist whose office is right next door to CyclovaXC), sent me these photos of himself and Steve Swanson at the Kortelopet Finish.  Congratulations guys (nice hats)!  What did you have to do to get those beads?

1st Wave Start of 2012 Birkie

So here's a real brief video I shot at the start of the Birkie just because I saw Allan in the front line and I figured he'd crash and take out the whole first wave...didn't happen unfortunately :)  I'm just teasing, but you know that!

Congratulations Birkie Skiers!

Here are Allan and Adam at the start of the 2012 American Birkebeiner.  For those of you who were there, you know there were a TON of CyclovaXC skiers on the course, and an even greater number of skiers sporting the "Ski Like Landgraf!" hat.  I have to say, 2012 was an emotional Birkie and it was especially great to see all the familiar faces that make the cross-country racing season so special here in the Northwoods!  Congratulations to everyone who participated and if you've got any photos that you want to share with the world, please send them to me at bj@cyclovaxc.com.

We're going to be switching our focus here at CyclovaXC over to the running/biking season, but there are still a whole lot of great races coming up (Brule, Biwabik, Sibley...and the Bear).  Also, I'll be posting some more Birkie stuff over the next few days, but for now I'm going to bed because the 2012 edition was a tough race for the big guys (smazhed like potatoezzz).

It's BIRKIE Time!

Hey Folks!

It's finally here, the event we've been waiting for all year: the 39th American Birkebenier! Believe me when I tell you the next couple of days are going to FLY by...and the only moment of calm you're going to get this weekend is, ironically, the moment you're actually skiing the race.

Last weekend we had a great turnout for our Birkie Pep talk and preliminary wax clinic. Frank's long range forecast 2012 Birkie Wax Tip is holding true, and we've been waxing a TON of skis over at the shop. Speaking of that, you can still get your skis in for a rocket fast CyclovaXC wax job, just make sure you drop your skis off at CyclovaXC in downtown St. Croix Falls, WI before 1 PM today (Thursday) to guarantee your skis will be ready for the Birkie!  Also, all the waxes we have listed on our wax tip are IN STOCK at CyclovaXC and are currently 20% off!

Also, don't miss the FINAL WAX CLINIC of the year at CyclovaXC, today (Thrusday) at the shop at 6PM!

I was hoping to get the last order of “Ski Like Landgraf!” hats in yesterday, but although Mt. Borah has shipped them, they haven't come in yet. I'm pretty sure they'll come in today, so I'll have them briefly up at the expo, and at the start of the race on Saturday. If you want to pick one up for the race, meet us at the wall of champions (that's where we typically camp out before the race). The hats will be $32 on race day (tax included), so just come with a check or cash and I'll hook you up (or send me an email at bj@cyclovaxc.com if you want to set something else up).

Speaking of the Wall of Champions, it'd be nice to see everyone who has purchased a “Ski Like Landgraf!” hat there before the race. Just swing by and say hello!

In addition to our tubing extravaganza and Birkie pep talk last weekend, we also did our prize drawing. Winners are announced here. The only thing we didn't mention during the pep talk was how to navigate “Birkie Ruts.” During the Birkie, there are so many people snowplowing, that the skis push all the snow into piles. The result is a strange series of channels on the downhills composed of sections of glare ice and piles of loose snow. You aren't going to be able to control your speed by snowplowing on these sections, but don't worry, you can slow yourself down by skiing THROUGH THE LOOSE SNOW PILES! This is very important because if you try to snowplow like normal, you'll probably catch a tip in the deep stuff and take a spill.

Folks, although the Birkie is a race, I want you all to take a few deep breaths, and just enjoy it. The most important thing is to stay safe and get through it! Enjoy the day! Your time in the Birkie is always a little slower than the other marathon races you do just because there are so many people to navigate through. Although that can be frustrating, it's also what makes the Birkie great! Enjoy the people, enjoy the energy, and let everyone out there know that the CyclovaXC people are fun loving and like to party!

Because we're all a bunch of wily Birkie veterans, we like to completely skip the logistical nightmare that Hayward becomes on Birkie morning. For that reason, you're likely to find us all on the VERY FIRST BUS at the Como Parking lot (even though this requires a 4:30 AM wake up call--bus leaves at 6 AM). There is time to relax at Telemark, so get there early. You DON'T want to be frantically waiting for a bus in Hayward when it's only 10 minutes until your wave's start time.  Here's the map of the parking areas from the Birkie web page:

After the race, make sure you head down to Redbery Books where Walter Rhein will be signing compies of “Beyond Birkie Fever” along with Jeff Foltz, author of “Birkebeiner: A Story of Motherhood and War.”

It's going to be a great day. Don't have expectations, just go up there and get caught up in the flow. If you try to swim against the current at the Birkie, you'll become exhausted and get swallowed up, but if you just relax and let the event take you, it's one heck of a ride! See you there! Good Luck everybody! I'm looking forward to meeting up on main street and hearing about your excellent day!

Long live the Birkie!!!  And Ski Like Landgraf!!!!

CyclovaXC Prize Giveaway Winners!

We announced back in December that we would be doing a gear giveaway, and we finally had our drawing last weekend at the shop (right after our awesome day of snow tubing...which I will post pictures of later).  The rules were simple, if you made a purchase at the shop, your name was included in the drawing.  If you made multiple purchases at the shop, your name was included multiple times.

We had a great turnout for the events on Saturday, so at the last minute, we decided to give away three hats and two t-shirts, along with the grand prize of CyclovaXC gear.  The honors of picking the names went to my daughter Sofia because I figured that was the fairest way to go about it.  It was funny to watch her pick up a handful of names and then work her fingers until they all dropped back into the bowl but one (basically...her method approximated total randomness in selecting a winner, which was perfect).

I took pictures of the names in front of each winning item and posted them below.  If you see your name, come on down to the shop to pick up your prize!  Take note that the names in our system generally get typed in by frantic employees as they're trying to check out a half dozen customers...and there may be some slight misspellings (so if you see a name that looks pretty close to yours, you can probably assume it is yours, and we'll get that fixed when you come in).

Also, Frank's 2012 Birkie tip is still looking good, check that here!

Grand Prize:
Congratulations to our winners and good luck at the Birkie Everyone!!!

WAX TIP: 2012 American Birkiebeiner

Race day waxing can be hectic, so rest easy the night before the Birkie by waxing in advance.  Above, the author helps classic racers at the Mora Vasaloppet apply the klister of the day.

Following is the preliminary Cyclova XC Racing Service 2012 Birkie Wax tip for the 3 major wax brands of the region. Note that these are not officially endorsed wax tips by the wax companies, rather these are tips that I have personally created based on my 11+ years of professional experience in creating race wax tips. 

For the full scoop on how to follow wax tips, check out MY ARTICLE on the topic.

Event:  American Birkiebeiner, from Cable to Hayward, WI.

When:  23k, 52k, or 50k Freestyle / Classic. 10 waves, with the elites starting at 8AM at Telemark on Saturday

Forecast & Conditions:  Overnight low in between 5'F and 12'F with a temp in the mid teens at the start.  Daytime high will be in the mid to upper twenties. with mostly overcast conditions. The snow temp will be relatively cold.  Expect machined track conditions with a mix of primarily old and a bit of new snow.  Some dirt will be present in the snow - particularly on the final 15 k of the Birkie course on the south facing hills.  Classic tracks will be very firm and somewhat glazed.

Ski Flex Tips:  Moderate to firmly flexed skis for machined track conditions

Structure Tips:
Structure (Elite through wave 3):  Cold Universal Grind or a fine structure (1 pass with the Blue Toko Structure-Rite tool).  
Structure (Wave 4 and back):  Cold Universal Grind or a medium structure (1 pass with the Red Toko Structure-Rite tool).  

Glide Wax Tips:
Fast Wax (Elite through wave 3): HS-10 Teal, Scrape, Brush, HSF-10 Teal, Scrape, Brush.  Apply Flite #11 Cold (Blue) Flourocarbon ironed (using the Fast Wax Base Saver) or roto-corked in, brush with dedicated flouorcarbon brush, and polished with polishing pad.
Fast Wax (Wave 4 and later): HS-20 Blue, Scrape, Brush, HSF-20 Tan, Scrape, Brush.  For Apply Flite #11 Cold (Blue) Flourocarbon ironed (using the Fast Wax Base Saver) or roto-corked in, brush with dedicated Flouorcarbon brush, and polished with polishing pad. 
Swix (Elite through Wave 3):  LF-4, Scrape, Brush, HF-4BW, Scrape, Brush, FC-7 (Cold Cera) ironed in, brush with dedicated flouorcarbon brush, and polished with polishing pad
Swix (Wave 4 and later) CH-7, Scrape, Brush, HF-7BW, Scrape, Brush, FC-8 (Med Cera) Ironed in, brush with dedicated flouorcarbon brush, and polished with polishing pad
Toko (Elite through Wave 3):  Dibloc LF Moly / Dibloc LF Blue mix (2 : 1 Ratio) Scrape, Brush, Dibloc HF Blue, scrape, brush, Jetstream Blue ironed or roto-corked in, brush with dedicated flouorcarbon brush, and polished with polishing pad
Toko (Wave 4 and later):  Dibloc LF Moly, Scrape, Brush, Dibloc HF Red scrape, brush, Jetstream Red ironed or roto-corked in, brush with dedicated flouorcarbon brush, and polished with polishing pad

Grip Wax Tips:
Swix:  Roughen grip zone with 150 grit sandpaper.  Apply KR-20 Base Binder Klister, iron, and smoothen with your thumb while still warm.  Wait to apply your grip wax of the day until Friday night, and check wax reports / weather.    The optimal grip wax of the day will likely be an ice klister (KR-30) lightly covered with a medium hard wax (VR-40).
Toko:  Roughen grip zone with 150 grit sandpaper.  Apply Base Green Klister, iron, and smoothen with your thumb while still warm.  Wait to apply your grip wax of the day until Friday night, and check wax reports / weather.    The optimal grip wax of the day will likely be an ice klister (Toko Red or Blue Klister) lightly covered with a medium hard wax (Toko Red Hard Wax).

Should you have any questions on Birkie ski prep, feel free to stop by or contact the expert ski technicians at Cyclova XC.  Have fun and see you on the trail!  Give a fun shout out to all of the Cyclova XC Team Skiers on the trail - as well as everyone wearing the Ski Like Landgraf Hats (note, we will have more in stock by Wednesday of next week)!

Birkie Pep Talk, Wax Clinic, and Tubing at CyclovaXC this WEEKEND!

This weekend is kind of like passing through the eye of the hurricane. It's going to be deceptively calm and then things are going to just keep getting more and more crazy throughout the week, by Thursday it's going to be unbearable, and on Saturday...BOOM...the Birkie is going to hit us like a bucket of water right in the face!

That's why we DO this!

So, in honor of the upcoming frenzy, we've decided to do a...well...a big weekend long party in the St. Croix Valley. I'll give you a schedule of events in a second, but first and foremost it's imperative that you check out this link about our Birkie waxing, grinding and Hotboxing services. As you can guess, we're going to be OVERWHELMED with skis to handle this weekend, so the sooner you can get your equipment in, the better!

Also, our WINTER CLOSEOUT SALE (up to 30% off select items!) is still running in full force, so if you have been thinking on finally pulling the trigger on some great new racing skis for this years event...NOW IS THE TIME! And don't worry about pumping wax into your new skis, with our Wintersteiger stone grinder and hotbox, we can get your skis race ready the second you haul them out the door!

Anyway, here's the schedule of fun for the weekend, although there are some races around (notably the Book Across the Bay and the Finlandia, I'm pretty shot from the Pre-Birkie last weekend and I thought I'd just keep it local).

Friday, Feb. 17th:
The troops begin to arrive in the St. Croix Area. If you want to crash on your sleeping pad at the CyclovaXC clubhouse, send me an email. We'll be up for some movie watching, or perhaps even an evening ski at Troll Hollow (for my money, that's the best training around South of Hwy. 8).

Saturday, Feb 18th:
10 AM: An early morning ski at Troll Hollow. If anybody is interested in some lessons or some last minute pointers, just show up and look for me in my CyclovaXC gear. I'll be happy to help you out free of charge.

12-2 PM: Tubing at Trollhaugen. Remember, Trollhaugen is not affiliated with CyclovaXC, we just thought it'd be fun to break up the PRE-BIRKIE Tension with something goofy like this (plus, I promised my wife). I'm looking forward to a couple fun hours of silly play (price is $15 for 2 hours).

3:30 PM: Pizza, Brownies, etc. at CyclovaXC. I made some killer brownies yesterday which I then smothered in chocolate frosting, for Saturday, I think I'll make another batch but also use a whole bag of chocolate chips. Plus, I'm going to throw down some pizzas to kill the appetite we worked up sledding.

5 PM: Wax clinic/Birkie Advice. This will be the first of two wax clinics on the Birkie, the second is Thursday February 23rd at 6PM (when we'll have a little bit more accurate forecast). Frank Lundeen will give you a brief overview as to what you're going to want to do with your skis, and then all the CyclovaXC staff will engage in a question and answer session about what to expect at the Birkie. In all truth, the actual skiing is the easiest thing about the Birkie, of much greater difficulty is navigating the logistical nightmare that explodes around Hayward over Birkie weekend. We want you all to have the tools necessary to navigate this with ease! We'll also be doing the DRAWING FOR OUR GEAR GIVEAWAY! After that, bring your camp chairs in case we decide to throw a movie up on the CyclovaXC big screen!

Sunday, February 19th:
9 AM: Leave CyclovaXC and head up to the Birkie trail for a final, 25 to 30 k preparatory ski.

That's it folks, it's going to be a fun weekend filled with tubing, skiing, storytelling and fun! Hope to see you all at CyclovaXC!  Also, I got Roberto to drop the Inca Trail hike price down to $2750 for CyclovaXC members, so if you're interested in that, I'd be happy to take questions any time this weekend (date is June 20th through the 29th).

Birkie Waxing, Grinding, & Hotboxing at Cyclova XC!

Cyclova XC can help you take the stress out of waxing and ski selection for the Birkie!

If you've been around the Birkie enough (or XC ski racing in general), you know that a lot of people get stressed out about waxing and other details around the big day.  We at Cyclova XC have a whole lot of experience at the Birkie, and know what it takes to have the race of your life - and most importantly have a fun day out on the trail with thousands of your closest XC skier friends!  Take the stress out of your Birkie weekend by having Cyclova XC prep your race skis!

Cyclova XC is offering a full range of waxing, stonegrinding, hotboxing, and ski selection services for the Birkie.  If you have multiple skis you might be considering using in the race, bring them in and we'll help you pick the pair that will be best suited for the event.  Once you have picked your skis, the following waxing services are available:
  • Birkie Racer Flouro Carbon Hot Wax:  For the skier who wants to have the fastest skis on the race course - no expenses spared.  Customer may choose either Fast Wax or Toko products for use on their skis.  (22 step, 4 layer paraffin, LF, HF, Flouro Carbon wax job, and Toko Structure):  $75
  • Birkie Racer Flouro Hot wax:  For the skier who wants to have a fast and durable wax job for the big day.  Customer may choose either Fast Wax or Toko products for use on their skis.  (15 step, 3 layer paraffin, LF, HF wax job, and Toko Structure):  $50
  • Birkie Sport Hot Wax:  For the recreational Birkie or Kortie skier who wants to have a fun day with skis that go the distance.  Customer may choose either Fast Wax or Toko products for use on their skis.  (10 step, 2 layer paraffin wax job, and Toko Structure):  $30
  • Birkie Grip Wax Binder:  Hard wax or klister Toko Base Green Applicaiton (Cleaning of grip zone, roughen with 150 grit sandpaper, ironing in of Base Green, and Smoothening):  $10
For pricing & technical info on our stonegrinding, hotboxing, and other ski services, click HERE.

We are expecting a huge rush of Birkie skis to come in for service , so you'll want to be certain to get them dropped off in time to be prepped to perfection for the big race!  Following are the drop off target times for Birkie race skis:
  • Skis that are to be stoneground & waxed for the race must be dropped off by Sunday evening, February 18
  • Skis that are to be waxed for the race, must be dropped off no later than 3PM on Wednesday, February 22.
  • We will be stonegrinding as per usual on Thursday, February 23 - but the skis in that batch likely won't be able to have a complete Birkie wax job ready for the big event.
  • All Birkie race skis must be picked up by 7PM on Friday evening, February 24.  We will be closed for the entire Birkie weekend (we'll be up at the race).

Today is the Deadline for Birkie Wave Upgrade (instructions here)

For those of you who did the Pre-Birkie or Badger State Games in the hope of moving up a wave or two, today is the last day to make the change.  Simply follow the instructions above.

Honestly, paying $15 to move up a few waves is very much worth it.  The Birkie course tends to get pretty chewed up on race day.

Confusion at Badger State Games

I'm getting behind things because the MASSIVE SALE at CyclovaXC has been keeping me occupied, but I wanted to take a few seconds to talk about last weekend at Badger State Games.

First of all, I want to say that I was super-satisfied and extremely impressed by the race that they put on at Badger State games.  In a year where snow has been scarce, they had a tremendous course at 9 mile forest that held up amazingly well.  It was the first time in a long while that I finished 42 km in under 3 hours, and the super-humans that are always in contention like our own Tommy K, were right around the 2 hour mark (doing that distance in around 2 hours is a blast).

The only slight hiccup was that those of us doing the 42 k (which turned out to be more like 44 or 45) had to do THREE laps instead of just two, and that confused a good deal of the competitors.

The course at Badger State isn't terribly hilly, but the difficulty comes from a mental standpoint in that you end up having to go through the finish area 3 times (in a normal 2 lap year) before you finally get to finish.  Let me tell you, it's TOUGH to keep coming through the finish area, especially when you're sitting at 35 k of your eventual 42.

Due to the lack of snow, we ended up having to do two 18 k laps followed by one 7 k laps which required us to come through the finish area 6 TIMES (finishing on the 6th)!

Now, there were plenty of posters all over the place telling people to do 3 laps, and I even went around and told all they CyclovaXC people I saw to do 3 laps, but even with that, I started getting confused at the end of my 2nd lap.  You see...it seemed like I'd done about 42 k and I didn't see any signs saying "LAP 3 HERE!"  To make matters worse, as I approached the finish area, I saw a guy who appeared to be a race official saying, "lap 2 to the right, finish to the left."  I replied, "lap 3?" And he just said, "lap 2 to the right, finish to the left."

I was within about 50 feet of the finish line when I saw the "lap 3" this way sign, so I begrudgingly took it.  It was pretty mentally tough to get that close to the end, see the opportunity to just sit down and relax, and force yourself back out on the course...but I did it.  Still, I don't really blame those who just ignored the lap 3 signs (of which I'm sure there were a few) or those who got legitimately confused (of which I'm sure there were plenty).

The fact is, you just aren't thinking straight at the end of such an extreme physical effort.

But I don't believe that anyone should be all that angry about things.  I've been getting a bunch of very apologetic emails from the staff at Badger State Games as they try to sort through the official finish list (attempting to figure out who did 2 laps and who did 3).  I'm just happy that they had a race out there.  They really overcame a lot with this no snow winter, and I'm very grateful to them for holding a tremendous event on a wonderful day and giving us all the opportunity to get our much needed ks in!

So thanks Badger State!  Don't worry about the confusion, we'll get 'em next year!

Hands-On Wax Clinic—Mega Sale on Ski Related Item

I don't know about you, but every time we hit February, I start coming down with a pretty intense case of BIRKIE FEVER! Last weekend, Badger State games was the perfect prep, with finish line temperatures hovering at around 40 degrees. It was the type of day where the warm-up jacket was literally too hot to wear after the event!

Fortunately, it seems like we're getting a bit of a cool down, and the word is that the Birkie trail is in good shape. Many of us are going to find out exactly how good when we head up there to do the Pre-Birkie this Saturday (don't forget, online registration closes tonight—Wednesday Feb. 8—at midnight).

In celebration of the Pre-Birkie, Frank has organized our most ambitious wax clinic yet. On Thursday, Feb. 9th at 6 PM waxing guru and master of fast skis Jerry Slater of the Toko Tech Team, along with CyclovaXC's master waxer Frank Lundeen, will present the inside scoop on how to prep your skis for the weekend's Pre-Birkie. This clinic will include hands-on stations where you will be shown how to iron, scrape, and brush. Essentially, this is going to be the ultimate wax clinic for erasing all your lingering doubts about whether or not you are waxing correctly. It's time to put those fears to rest and wake up on Birkie morning CERTAIN that your skis are going to be ROCKET SHIPS!

Also, with the Birkie on the horizon, the ski season is wrapping up so we need to move our remaining inventory to make room for all the awesome bicycles we're about to bring in. As a result we're offering 20% OFF all wax and wax tools, and 30% off all skis, boots, poles and ski clothing (note that bindings are not included in this sale). This is a great time to stock up on the best equipment possible for this year's Birkie and next year's season! The sale begins tomorrow, so get in soon to ensure that you find a pair of skis that fits you properly!

See you all up at the Pre-Birkie, and make sure you head up to Redberybooks afterwards because Walter Rhein will be there signing copies of “Beyond Birkie Fever” from 5 PM to 7 PM (check out his latest article about the Inca Trail here).

Oh, and Tommy K, Greg and I will be doing some laps at Troll Hollow tonight starting at about 5:15. If you can make it, it'd be awesome to see you!

It's also time to start thinking about the INCA TRAIL with Martin Koukal. Roberto and I have set the dates as June 20th through the 29th, and you really need to make an effort to come down and do this spectacular trip with the Olympic medalist from the Czech Republic. I'm working on Roberto to get the price down a little bit, but check the details here!

In case you missed it, here are some other recent articles you might enjoy:

Good Luck at the Pre-Birkie!!!

Online Registration for Pre-Birkie Ends Today!

All right! Rallying the troops once again for the next great race on the calendar! For those of you who came up for Badger State Games last weekend, you know how much fun a ski race can be when the temperature tops 40 degrees by the end of the day.  It looks like it's going to be a little cooler up at the Pre-Birkie, but that's OK, since we need that trail as hard and as frozen as possible if it's going to make it to Birkie weekend.

Online registration for the Pre-Birkie ends tonight at midnight, so get registered (here's the link).  I've got a couple people who have already confirmed their entry!  See you up there!

Date Set for Inca Trail Trip 2012!

Hello Folks!

I just got off the phone with Roberto Carcelen about our 2012 trip on the Inca trail. Just like last year, Martin Koukal will be coming along! For those of you who are cross-country skiers, this is a fantastic way to spend some time with an Olympic medalist, and world-champion skier!

The dates we have set are June 20th to June 29th.

Basically everything you need to know is on the Inca Runners web page here.

This is an all inclusive trip which means the following things are included in the price:
  • All hotels 
  • All meals 
  • All entry fees to the ruins 
  • Flight from Lima to Cusco 
  • Flight from Cusco to Lima 
  • Trains 
  • All transportation (buses and taxis within the sacred valley) 
Essentially, all you have to do is tell them you're coming and they organize everything. Theoretically, you don't even have to bring any money (but I always bring money). All inclusive tour is $2,750 (this price does not include the price of your ticket to Peru).

Take it from me, this is a very good price for the Inca trail tour. Roberto does the "back door" Inca trail hike which goes through Choquequirao. Choquequirao is the highlight of the trip because it's a set of ruins as spectacular as Machu Picchu, but with almost zero visitors. It is a rare and awesome thing to be able to walk fantastic ruins like Choquequirao and not see another tourist!

I'm just giving you the bare bones information here, so feel free to contact Inca Runners, or email me (bj@cyclovaxc.com) if you want some more details.

Also, if you are currently in Peru and wish to organize your own plane and train tickets, Roberto is open to a less expensive tour price.

Let it be known that this is a VERY HARD TOUR (with Martin and Roberto charging up the mountains like they have wings), but it will get you in ROCK SOLID SHAPE!!!

For those of you who know me, if you want to stay a couple extra days in Lima just to hang out, let me know and I'll handle your accommodations there free of charge. Also, Zulma and I are likely to be in Peru a couple weeks after this trip, so if you just want to come down and do a less strenuous Machu Picchu tour, I'd be willing to talk about that (although I highly recommend the Inca trail tour with all my heart!).

Again, check out the Inca Runners page and when you contact them, let them know you heard about it on CyclovaXC!

Andy Schleck Just Won the 2010 Tour de France

The Birkie is coming up so most of us have skiing on the brain, but I just thought it was noteworthy that a cyclist was just declared the winner of a race that happened back in 2010. For me, the news came from this Yahoo article which discusses how Alberto Contador has been stripped of his 2010 Tour de France title, thus making Andy Schleck the winner.

The news gets only worse for Contador who has also been saddled with a two year ban.

Well, at least the grand jury decided not to continue to pursue Lance Armstrong.  That decision seems especially strange in light of this Contador decision, especially because grand juries are known for finding people to be guilty no matter what the reality is.


Am I the only one who longs for the days of LeMond and Hinault?

Things You See on Foggy Drives to Ski Races

Lindsley was a little late to Badger State because he had to pull over and destroy this Imperial Walker along the way.

Embarrassing First Birkie Photos!

Actually this photo doesn't embarrass me, but I put that as the title because I figure some people might look at it and be embarrassed for me.  But the way I look at it, all I need is a haircut and a shave and I'm a thin, 18 year old again (oh, and I'd need a new wardrobe too...but at least I'm not in some horrific all purple ski suit).

Yup, my first Birkie was pretty low-tech.  But that's because I didn't have an awesome ski shop like CyclovaXC out there to design an awesome ski suit for me and otherwise show me the ropes.

That first Birkie I skied on borrowed skis in borrowed boots.  The poles were mine...I still have those poles actually, they were the ones that required to you loop the straps around your hands in fifty different ways to even approximate proper function.

The black beanie cap was probably a little too much warmth, as was the blue neck warmer thing.  The wool button up shirt was not a bad choice really.  The Khaki pants, on the other hand, not so much (actually those might be dirty blue jeans with oil stains, etc...I don't remember).

This was back in the days when I used to work the excavator for eight to ten hours, and then grab an hour or so skiing at "OO" on the way home from work.  You can read all about this in "Beyond Birkie Fever" (signed copies available at CyclovaXC).

Yup, that was back in 1994, and I actually moved up from the 8th to the 6th wave that year (6th wave was the year I skied with a Dostoevsky shirt...training and everything, and only ONE person ever commented on it!).

Anyway, I hope this inspires all of you to go and dig that old embarrassing first Birkie photo up out of your archives, scan it, and email it to bj@cyclovaxc.com.  Or, if you prefer, just drop off a copy at CyclovaXC and we'll scan it for you and write your story.

Please...please...please!!!!  I just love seeing those old 70s and 80s race suits!

Birkie Training on the Inca Trail Article on Silent Sports

I occasionally have articles and short stories published in magazines. Silent Sports has been the best of them so far.  For example, they just posted a recent article of mine titled "Birkie Training on the Inca Trail."  This is available both online, and in their print version of the magazine (I need to go and dig up a copy of that somewhere.

Anyway, instead of writing a new article for "CyclovaXC" today, what I'd like to do is drive all of you loyal readers over to this "Birkie Training on the Inca Trail" article.  This article shows what I'm capable of when I allow myself more than the four or five minutes I generally spend on my daily "CyclovaXC" articles (folks, if I had more time, I'd gladly devote it all to writing, but alas time is in terribly scarce supply...as is money).  If you like what you read in this article, I highly suggest you pick up my novel "Beyond Birkie Fever" (about  20% of that novel started out as articles for Silent Sports actually).

But if you'd like to help me out in a way that doesn't require spending any money, just run over to the Silent Sports article, give it a read (you'll enjoy it), and leave a comment on the bottom, or "share" it on Facebook.  If I can show these publishers I can drive 500 people to their magazine every time they publish an article of mine, it becomes a lot easier for me to submit articles and get them accepted.  So your participation and comments help greatly!  Don't worry, I'll check in later in the day and respond to comments you post on the Silent Sports page as well.

So anyway, the article again is called "Birkie Training on the Inca Trail" and it's different than the other Inca trail articles you might have read by me (in case you were wondering).  Thanks for your help in advance!

Badger State Games, City of Lakes Loppet, Author Signings and Wax Clinics

Hello Everybody!

Lot's of big events coming up this weekend. I think the two main ones that most CyclovaXC members will be attending areBadger StateGames and the City of Lakes Loppet. I just called up the race director at Badger State and they felt the course is in pretty good shape (apparently it's in some lowlands that stay a little cooler). City of Lakes has changed it's venue, but you can get updates here.

My plan is to head out to Badger State early on Saturday morning. It's a great race with a tremendous Olympic feel. Plus the 43k skate race there only costs $52 (which is a bargain compared to other races).

In other news, those of you who verbally committed to getting a CyclovaXC race suit, but haven't paid or picked yours up yet have until Sunday, Feb. 5th before they go on the racks and will be available for general sale. We love to accommodate everyone, but we also have to move that inventory! If you can't make it in by the 5th, just call or send an email and put your check in the mail and we'll hold them.

On Thursday, Feb. 9th, Frank's putting on the 5th of our 6 scheduled wax clinics. This one is on Pre-Birkie and MoraVasaloppetPrep. That's right! The PRE-BIRKIE is rearing its intimidating head, which means that the BIRKIE is looming! I know, I know...it seems like the winter hasn't even yet begun, but even though it hasn't snowed, the days have still been falling off the calendar and we're almost there! If you're feeling like you haven't had enough time on snow, I'd definitely recommend you get in on the Pre-Birkie. Even if you just do the shorter event there, your body will have enough in it to survive the Birkie (trust me...I've done the Birkie after having only raced the Pre-Birkie in the past).

If you're not feeling ready equipment-wise, now might be the time to head on down to CyclovaXC. We have a great assortment of ski gear in stop at great prices, and our stonegrind + thermal bag treatment can get a pair of skis rocket-ship fast and race ready right from the moment you carry them through the shop doors! Speaking of that, we're doing stonegrinds every Thursday (just get your skis in by Wednesday and you can pick them up at the wax clinic)! Also come in and check out our Salsa Mukluk snow bikes, people have been LOVING them!

Last but not least, here are some other miscellaneous items coming up:

Oh, and speaking of that, both Jeff Foltz and Walter Rhein will be at Redbery Books signing copies of their novels from 5-7 Pm on Saturday, February 25. Walter will also be there on Saturday, February 11th from 5-7Pm.

Lots of fun stuff! Don't forget to register for this weekend (Badger state registration closes on the 3rd), and we'll see you all out on the SNOW!