Eric Olson Describes the Death Valley Trail Marathon

Titus Canyon about half way through the Death Valley Marathon
Note:  Last summer Eric Olson and I ran the Eau Claire Marathon and the Birkie Trail Marathon together.  Both of those events were a blast since Eric has a knack for storytelling (which helps keep your mind off the miles).  A couple of weeks ago, he took a short vacation from our winter wonderland to go and run a marathon in Death Valley of all places.  Naturally I began to pester him afterwards about providing me with an article on this experience.  Once again Eric came through, and he sent me this wonderful write-up.  Give it a read then share it, like it, and tweet it so that perhaps Eric will be encouraged to send us some more material!--BJ

When I became a Runner in 2002, It changed the way I looked at life completely. As anyone else that gets hooked on this crazy hobby can tell you, you get to know yourself well. From all the many hours of pounding the pavement or trails with the person you know best: yourself.

I’ve found over the last decade that the hardest part about running long distance is 'Getting out the Door.' Once that action is taken all other discomforts seem to fade as you push the body into the run, striving to find the inner wind and perfect physical harmony that is the closest thing to winged flight. Running is an act as primitive and primal as mankind, and it is totally environmentally compatible. I know of no other so elemental, completely natural expression of human physical vitality.

But there is more to it than that. As the years have passed, I have come to realize that running marathons and ultras brings something far greater than the thrill of competition and doing more than you thought you could do. Any award is purely secondary to the experience! For me, it can be simple, direct, honest, challenging, no special equipment—just a pair of shorts and a decent pair of shoes; no pedals, wheels or motors, no encumbering devices. No other noise to mask the sound of your own breathing and footsteps, minimal protection from the elements, rain, wind, heat and humidity. Running will award you with freedom on many levels.

But enough about all that.  Let me tell you a little about the Death Valley Trail Marathon.
Lowest part of Death Valley 200 feet below sea level. Where the race started.
It was early December as I left Northern Wisconsin’s sub-zero temps. I flew to Las Vegas and met up with two of my East Coast friends who were also participating in the race. We spent our first night in Vegas (and that's the portion of the trip that I’ll leave out of the story).

The next morning, (late morning, closer to noon) we found our rental car and headed for Death Valley, California. A place I have never been to before (wish I could say the same about Vegas) it’s a little over 2 hours from Sin City and with the headaches we had it seemed more like 8 hours! This is a very interesting part of our great nation indeed. Death Valley is supposedly one of the world's hottest and driest places. Temps can reach 120 – 130 degrees Fahrenheit in mid-summer, but like any desert it has its cool time in the winter months. Death Valley receives about 1/8 inch of rain every year on average, and not much lives there. Small little growths of Brush here and there and of course lizards they say, but I didn’t see any. What attracts visitors to Death Valley is its natural beauty. Huge mountains on both sides as far as you can see in all directions. I would say the Desert is absolutely beautiful when you don’t live in one. It is the total opposite of where we live in the Mid-West.
Bill, Kim and I the day before the race at Death Valley National Park. 240 combined Marathons
It was the 26th year of the Death Valley Trail Marathon and the course has been changed several times in that time. This year was said to be one of the most difficult courses because of the continuous vertical climb. The National Park Service has to work in conjunction with the Race Director, closing certain parts of the park to allow a race such as this. This year's course started at the bottom of Death Valley 200 feet below Sea Level and then it was climb, climb, climb! 

The day before the race:

We arrived at the Furnace Creek Ranch Hotel Friday afternoon and got settled in before trying to find a place for dinner. Our choices were limited since there was only one restaurant in the area. As I laid out my things for the race, it started to hit me that this was going to be the most difficult Marathon I had ever attempted: aid stations only every 5 miles, the dry desert air, the constant climb, and the altitude we would reach! There was also a 6 hour cut-off time to worry about, no cell service, and did I mention the constant climb? That’s right, 5000 feet of vertical rise in 26 miles. Yes, in the morning I would run up a Mountain in the hottest, driest place in the world. Oh well, there was no turning back, after all, this is what we do.

We walked down to the Corkscrew Saloon for dinner and the thought of a beer still didn't sit well after the previous night's little visit to Vegas. Sitting with my friends Bill and Kim (both from Massachusetts), we had lots to talk about. We'd run lots of Marathons together around the country as well as competed in the Ironman Triathlon together.  I'd even run the Boston Marathon side-by-side with Bill 3 times. The Death Valley Trail marathon would be Marathon #114 for Bill and #72 for Kim. So that was 240 combined Marathons between the 3 of us. Every Marathon trip has its story! But even with the fun conversation and all the laughs, we knew tomorrow was going to be the toughest. A few juicy burgers with fries showed up at our table and were quickly consumed, then it was off to bed.

An early morning wake up and we gathered our supplies.  I loaded my Nathan Hydration Backpack with as much fluid as it would carry, food, chewing gum and of course my iPhone for the incredible pictures that it takes! We headed back to the Corkscrew Saloon to pick up our bib numbers. Yep, I’m no stranger to walking into a Tavern before noon, but never for a bib pick-up. A briefing was held outside before boarding the nice Greyhound Buses for a 45 min ride to the start line. The Race Director was definitely a humorous character that kept the crowed laughing during his speech, but he also made it very clear how dangerous this event can be and that there would be absolutely no spectators allowed on the course and a strict 6 hour cut-off time! 

“No exceptions, if you fall behind, you will be out of this race,” he stated. He then asked around the crowd of the capped field of only 300 participants, “Who came from the farthest?” 

I was impressed to see the large number of International Athletes representing Spain, South Africa and even a man from Abu Dhabi. Several other countries were mentioned before he asked the entire group to join together in singing “America the Beautiful.” It was really cool, I’d never seen that done at a Marathon before.

The bus ride to the start was incredible with nothing but mountains to look at in all directions. At this point I was ready. We were dropped off at the base of Death Valley, and everyone assembled at the start line. The temps were a bit cool that morning at around 40 degrees and I think I was the only person wearing shorts. probably a dead giveaway I’m a Cheesehead!  The event was held on a gravel “Jeep Road” about 10 feet wide with a base of sand and rock. 

The start gun went off and at that point I stopped worrying and just moved forward. I clicked on my Garmin and we headed towards the huge red mountains. I was looking pretty sharp in my fancy orange Cyclova attire, (thanks Ben and Frank). At that point it was just a slight uphill increase and we took advantage of that knowing it was going to be the easiest part of the event. It was about 3 miles until we actually hit the real thing: the base of Titus Canyon where the Mountain begins. As we entered the massive canyon walls I could see why everyone talks of Death Valley as being such big deal. It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. The Canyon walls were thousands of feet high! We ran in the base of the Canyon while it constantly climbed. It looked like a huge crack in the rock that just kept going up and we just kept following it. Several turns left and right but always up and up.

The aid stations were well staffed and provided us with everything we needed. I was sure to refuel at every stop since there was only 4 of them. I took in more fluids than usual to try and compensate for the dry air and eventual altitude that I just wasn’t prepared for. I seemed to keep up with the general pack just fine. 

Kim, Bill and I started together but after 5 or so miles we ended up going our separate speeds, at times even passing each other back and forth. At about mile 14 the overwhelming climb was taking its toll on me and forced me to walk a little here and there while staying well aware of the cut-off. I’ve never dropped out of a marathon before and as I kept looking at my watch and miles to go I knew today was going to be questionable. The miles slowly clicked by and when I hit 23 I really couldn't run any more. I walked steady for the next 2 miles absolutely as fast as I could and made a deal with myself that I would run the last mile. 

I reached mile 25 and tried to run. I had no energy and kept looking at the time and wondering if it was possible to finish? I had been at this depleted state of strength before in the Ironman and I don’t really know what keeps you going. I made it to the finish line in 5:49 and barely had the power to raise my arms as I crossed. I had only 11 minutes to spare and prayed Bill and Kim would make it also, which they did just minutes later!  We had done it! We had just run a marathon and climbed 5000 feet!

It was a good day and we all met our match. One more finisher's medal for the dusty collection. A bus ride back to Furnace Creek Ranch with a bunch of exhausted runners, some sound asleep, others telling about their grueling experience of an uphill marathon in the California desert. This is one I will definitely do again some day. But rumor has it they may outlaw future endurance events in Death Valley National Park. We’ll see. Until then we will keep living the dream, meeting friends in interesting parts of the world and running these crazy Marathons together. Next up; Chippewa 50k in Central WI. with Ben, Dallas, Adam, Tony, Myself and the other Ben.

Live is Good, take it all in! Eric T. Olson Luck, WI

Solstice Chase Recap #2: Photos from The Aid Station

Live music at aid station #2, the WI equivalent of Bourbon street!
I'm still pumped about the Solstice Chase even three days later!  What better way to celebrate the holiday season than to spend the whole day playing outside in a winter wonderland!  Here is a photo set from Mark Fisk of the Woolly Bike Club.  Remember that the Woolly puts on a great Mt. Bike race in May as well as the Mammoth Gravel Classic in April.

I've been getting a lot of feedback from racers which is excellent.  Please continue to send your suggestions and comments to bj@cyclovaxc.com.  Our event is going to be twice as awesome next year!
Frozen water barrel at Aid Station #2.
A cyclist expressing a sentiment shared by many on a slow snow day!
Cyclists hanging around the start area.
Ten seconds to race time!

Also, please check out Death Rider's Solstice Chase recap here!  For the record, the secret seemed to be to let the air out of your tires!  Happy Christmas Eve everyone!

2013 Solstice Chase Recap #1

Hey Folks!

More than a hundred hearty cyclists, volunteers, and spectators came to Big Rock Creek Retreat yesterday to participate in the inaugural Solstice Chase Fat Bike Race!  We had great daytime temperatures and the perfect venue.  A little bit of snow the previous day left our trail softer than we would have wished, but the cyclists powered through the powder and finished with smiles on their faces!

Before I say too much more, let me just note that results are posted here.  Of the 98 cyclists who started events we only had 68 finishers making this a certifiably TOUGH race!  So whether you finished one lap or two, our hats are off to you for making the drive, lacing 'em up, braving the cold and making our event a FANTASTIC day!  We sincerely hope all of you return next year (and you bring a friend or two!).

Speaking of next year, we'll be sending out a survey in a couple days asking for some feedback on how to make this an even better event.  We are committed to making this the Fat Bike Race of the area, and we can't do it without you!  Also, we love to hear your stories and perspectives on the Solstice Chase, so please send your photos and your writing to bj@cyclovaxc.com and I'll post it here on CyclovaXC!

I'm expecting that we'll be publishing a lot of photos from the Solstice Chase over the next couple days, but here is the first group!  Once again, thanks to all of you who participated, and thanks to all our great volunteers.  Everyone had fun, stayed safe, and made the 2013 Solstice a memorable day!
A lot of people seemed not to notice that we had indoor changing rooms available.  Keep that in mind for next year, you don't have to get ready in your car or in the parking lot.  We're already planning on adding a secure bag check for racers as well (just to give you one less thing to worry about :).
Our volunteers warm up by the fire.  I cannot thank our volunteers enough.  It's so wonderful that people are willing to give up a Saturday and come out to help us ride our bicycles and play in the snow.  It's really wonderful to have the St. Croix cycling community to call on to make great ideas come to life (although the guy on the left refused my repeated requests to perform "Wreaking Ball" by Miley Cyrus).
If you don't know about Big Rock Creek Retreat, this is the kind of riding you have to look forward to.  However, it should be noted that this is the only flat section on the course.
I tell you what...fat bikes are kind of beautiful!
Here's the lady's 42k podium.  I tell you what, I don't think anybody had as much fun out there as the lady racers.  They were so delighted by the course that it totally made our day (and the 2nd place finisher was the only racer that mentioned that the race should have been longer...wow!).
All participants were issued a cowbell to create a finishing "wall of noise."

The starting area for the 42k race.  All riders wearing CyclovaXC jerseys were eligible to win a pair of Seger Socks, a prize with a value of four hundred bazillion dollars.
Our finishing area "registration is on the left....cafeteria in the middle...changing rooms are on the right..."  We had pulled pork barbecue sandwiches people...we feasted!

Still energy for a wheelie at the finish!  Awesomeness!!!
Our race winner is presented a pair of Dillinger tires donated by 45nrth for winning the first lap prime.

Ok, that's it for my photos for now!  Again, we'd love to hear your feedback.  Send photos, stories and comments to bj@cyclovaxc.com or post them below.  Mark your calendar, the Solstice belongs to us!

Click here for the 45nrth photoset on Facebook!

Going ALL OUT For the SOLSTICE CHASE!

The amazing Cafe Wren is definitely going all out for the Solstice Chase!  You don't want to miss out on Fat Bike Cookies this Saturday!
Racers, volunteers, cow bell ringers (otherwise known as spectators), and even food vendors are going all out for the Solstice Chase!  There have been a lot of people burning the Midnight oil for some time preparing for the big day, and we're almost ready to welcome racers & spectators to our Big Fat Bike Party - otherwise known as the Solstice Chase! To go to the main event page, CLICK HERE

From pro racers to beginner participants, from seasoned cowbell ringers to people who have never seen a bicycle race, this is going to be an incredibly fun day!  I don't think it gets much better:  amazing snow, world class fat bike racing, incredible venue, delectable food & drink, groovin' tunes from a globally renowned DJ, bonfires, bicycle industry companies exhibiting...  Yes we're excited, excited to have YOU as our guest!  For the scoop on all of the spectator amenities, CLICK HERE

Can you say COWBELL?  All racers will receive a complimentary cowbell.  Spectators will be able to purchase them beginning at 9:30, while supplies last.  Coincidentally, there is a sweet Salsa Beargrease Carbon Fat Bike in the background...
Chief of Course, Scott Hansen and others have spent hundreds of hours in the past few weeks grooming and manicuring the course - to ensure the best possible experience for our racers!  The course is in perfect shape!  Very snowy, firm, fast - and incredibly scenic.  In short, you're going to love it! For the full scoop on the course, click HERE.

A scenic part of the course, going by the Wilderness Cabin at Big Rock Creek Retreat, one of the cabins available for rent!

Toward the end of the race lap, racers will enjoy a rollercoaster ride on a new section of trail just cut this Fall.  Enjoy the ride!

Solstice Chase Online Registration Closing TONIGHT at Midnight

Wow...it's crunch time and we're getting excited.  We have a HUGE field signed up for the first ever Solstice Chase, but the good news is there are still a few spots left.  We'll be closing online registration tonight (Thursday) at midnight, but there's still time to sign up.  Just click on this link and follow the instructions.

If for some reason you're unable to register online, you can register in Person at CyclovaXC on Friday from 5 to 7 PM and at the race site at Big Rock Creek Retreat starting at 8:00 AM.  Remember, the 50K race starts at 10AM so get there early!

See you Saturday!

Bring Your Family & Friends: !!The Solstice Chase Is a COMMUNITY EVENT FOR EVERYONE!!

The Solstice Chase isn't just for racers!  Bring the family to enjoy the best food, drink, music, winter fun, history, and bicycle racing in the Midwest!

We've dotted our "I's" and crossed our "T's".  It's time to bring World Class Fat Bike racing to the St. Croix River valley!  Families, friends, community members, and spectators having fun at the Solstice Chase is every bit as important to us as hundreds of racers showing up!  With this in mind, we've pulled out all the stops to make this a family & spectator friendly event!  Come out and spend the Day at Big Rock Creek Retreat just outside of St. Croix Falls - you'll be thrilled you did, and have a fabulous time!

For the full scoop on the Solstice Chase event (including driving directions), go to the main event page HERE.  

A great variety of lodging is available locally.  To check that out, click HERE.  
Following are highlights of what spectators can expect at the Solstice Chase - FREE for spectators to attend:

Free Parking & Shuttle Transportation:  A huge parking lot has been plowed out at the front entrance to Big Rock Creek Retreat.  Everyone will be parking in this lot.  A free shuttle will be running back and forth from the parking lot entrance to the Race Headquarters every 10 - 15 minutes.  You may also walk or bicycle the 3/4 mile back to the Race HQ.  

Tons of free event parking is available at the Big Rock Creek Retreat, with a free shuttle running every 10 - 15 minutes to race headquarters!
 Amazing Food & Drink:  That's right, we have the best of the best food from the region available all day at the Solstice Chase for Purchase - in the dining room of the race headquarters building!  We will be featuring 3 food vendor options:
1)  World famous Cafe Wren of Luck, WI - and the destination of thousands of cyclists will bring the best of Cafe Wren to the Solstice Chase.  Stephanie will have amazing coffee, delectable pastries, bars, cookies, juice, and natural sodas for sale. 
2)  Sir Smokes A Lot Barbeque:  Sir Smokes A Lot is everywhere in the river valley!  You've enjoyed his award winning barbeque at all sorts of events throughout the region.  Brian's menu will include all sorts of lunch options, as well as amazing breakfast burritos in the morning.  Warm yourself up with some amazing barbeque!
3)  St. Croix Falls Football Team:  The SCF Football Team will be grilling hot dogs, selling chips, and bottled water.  Support the local team, and enjoy a tasty treat!

Music:  We have literally world famous DJ ESP aka Woody McBride DJ'ing this event!  We've asked him to ensure that we have a rockin, family friendly "Big Fat Bike Party" happening all day - and he'll deliver!  DJ ESP will play a bunch of his own high energy "underground techno" sound that fills venues around the globe (see his coming bookings on his website), as well as requests from the crowd.  We're absolutely thrilled to have Woody rockin' at our Fat Bike Party!

Announcing:  A number of bicycle racing veterans will be announcing throughout the day, letting the crowd know what's going on with the races on the course, calling the finish, talking with the Fat Bike manufacturers exhibiting on site, getting the inside scoop from racers, and more!  Announcers will include racing & bicycle industry veterans with several hundred career races under each of their belts.  

Fat Bike Manufacturers Exhibiting On Site:  We're proud to have the following industry leading Fat Bike & Accessory manufacturers exhibiting on site!
45NRTH:  45NRTH is the title sponsor of the Great Lakes Fat Bike Series, and has written the book on winter cycling.  David Gabrys (a native of Spooner, WI), 45NRTH founder and brand manager will be on site showing off the latest in Winter Cycling Technology.  45NRTH manufacturers the best winter cycling tires, as well as equipment to keep your feet, head, and hands warm while riding bicycle in any winter weather!  All 45NRTH products can be found at Cyclova XC!  Be certain to thank 45NRTH for their support of Fat Bike Racing!
Salsa Cycles:  Salsa Cycles, the world's premier manufacturer of Fat Bikes and pioneer of "Adventure By Bike" will be on site!  There will be limited Salsa bicycles on display and representatives on hand.  All Salsa products are available at Cyclova XC.  Count the number of Salsa Fat Bikes in the Solstice Chase - you'll find the vast majority of racers will be riding Salsa! 
HED Wheels:  HED wheels are ridden to victory in the biggest bicycle races around the globe - from the Tour de France, to likely the Solstice Chase!  Numerous HED employees will be racing the Solstice Chase, and they will have a cool display showing off their new crazy light carbon fat bike wheels!  HED wheel products are available through Cyclova XC!

!Bonfire!:  There will be a nice big bon fire burnging throughout the day in front of race headquearters, by the finish line and vendor village!  Enjoy!

Can You Say COWBELL?!?:  Hundreds of custom Solstice Chase Cowbells will be making noise at the Solstice Chase!  All registered racers will receive a complimentary cowbell - and spectators may purchase them for $5 beginning at 9:30AM at the registration area of the Race Headquarters building.  Make some noise - you can never have too much cowbell!  Cash only...

Above is the Race Headquarters building, which will house registration, food/dining, and a changing room for racers.  Food vendors, bicycle manufacturers, a bonfire, and the race finish line will all be right here!
Take a Walk Through Time - to a magical timeless and placeless place - Big Rock Creek Retreat:  This event venue is a VERY SPECIAL PLACE!  Take a look around, and you'll realize that you're enjoying a 1600 acre private nature preserve that's been preserved by the same family for over 100 years!  Explore the "Clubhouse" near the start line, learn about the history of the property, and learn about the spaces available to rent for private get-aways, group retreats, and barn weddings!

Winter fun, food, music, amazing place, history, and World Class Fat Biking await all at the Solstice Chase!  See you on Saturday! 

Call for Volunteers!

We're in the final countdown to the 1st ever Solstice Chase 50k/25k fat bike race!  We're looking forward to a great day.  We feel like things are pretty much under control, but if any of you would like to volunteer to help out, please send an email with "Volunteer" in the subject line to: frank@cyclovaxc.com!  We could always use a few more people on corners!

For more information on the Solstice Chase, please click here!

And feel free to come just to spectate!  The more the merrier!

Pre-Ride the Solstice Chase Course on 12/15/13!

Hey Folks,
We've had a lot of people inquire about pre-riding the race course, so we thought we'd have a little informal gathering and give people the tour.  This is a FREE excursion, so feel free to show up with your fat bike to ride the race course whether or not you are racing.  However this is a self-supported fun-ride with none of the amenities of the race.  It should be pretty casual...but you know how cyclists get when you put thirty of them in one place and tell them to "ride easy."

What: Solstice Chase Race Course Pre-Ride
Where: Big Rock Creek Retreat (see map on Solstice Chase page...click here)
When: Sunday December 15th at 10 AM
Procedure: Frank will meet you at the main parking lot. He says you can see 87 from the main parking lot so it should be just after the turn-off.  Then you'll roll out and see the course...it's gonna be awesome.

This is a great offering for those of you who are still on the fence about racing.  It's also good for those of you who are "working" or "out of town" or have some other lame excuse for not participating in the actual event.  See you Sunday!

"Beyond Birkie Fever" Makes a Great Stocking Stuffer (but don't pay $999.10 for it)

Here's an amusing image that I stumbled across while perusing the Amazon page for "Beyond Birkie Fever." A business with the somewhat misleading name of "Super Book Deals" is offering "Beyond Birkie Fever" for the bargain price of $999.10.  Hmmm...selling a used book for 100 times the price of a new one doesn't seem like a good business model to me, but what do I know (at least they're cheaper than the used copy which is only in "good" condition offered by "Daily Deal USA").

"Beyond Birkie Fever" does make a great stocking stuffer for the skiing or sport enthusiast in your life.  However, if you want to save $989 dollars, you should come and buy your copy at CyclovaXC (our copies are signed).  Did you see that?  We just saved you almost a thousand dollars!  There goes that excuse for not picking up a Fat Bike!

Enjoy the snow!

!!Wednesday Night Fat Bike Adventure STOKE!!




All star gentleman, friend, cyclist, and Cyclova XC customer Chris Locke just put together this awesome video of a Fat Bike adventure he had over in Rusk County - out in the Blue Hills!  

Grab your favorite beverage and settle down for a fun short film!  Chris does a great job of showing a lot of the key equipment he uses to get the gear he needs into the back country (all of which is in stock at Cyclova XC).  

While you're on your Wednesday night STOKE,  go ahead and register for the Solstice Chase Fat Bike Race!  Midnight tonight is the deadline for discounted preregistration.

If you're curious about this whole Fat Biking thing, swing on by Cyclova XC for a free Fat Bike demo!  

Thanks again for rockin' it Chris!  Think SNOW everyone!! 

Solstice Chase Course Specifics Announced!


Welcome to the 2013 Solstice Chase Fat Bike Race!  Brought to you by Big Rock Creek Retreat, Cyclova XC, the city of St. Croix Falls, and the Great Lake Fat Bike Series!
The date is drawing near for the inaugural Solstice Chase Fat Bike Race - and we're taking care of all the final details, ensuring a world class event - at world class venue Big Rock Creek Retreat!

!!Remember, discounted online registration closes on Wednesday, December 11 - that's 2 DAYS LEFT TO REGISTER FOR THE VALUE PRICE OF $35!!!

Today we're announcing the amazing course for the event.  The event course will officially be 21k (~12.5 mi) for the short (single lap) event, and 42k (~25 mi) for the long (double lap) event.  The course will feature an amazing and fun variety of fat bike yin and yang!  Wide flowing ski trails to fresh cut narrow fat bike specific trails, flowing fast trails along Big Rock Creek to quad killing climbs, thick old-growth forest to prairie land.  In short, you're going to love this course!  


An overview shot of the event course shows terrain to satisfy all Fat Bikers!  Lick your chops, this is going to be a blast!


Watch for detailed chronicles of the course, so you'll know exactly what to expect on race day right here on CyclovaXC.com!  Also, get up to the minute details on the EVENT FACEBOOK PAGE.  Finally, register NOW ONLINE!

Following are links to the fresh new course details / maps.  We have 3 different ways you can do this:

  • View it on Mapmyride.com HERE
  • View/download the PDF of the Course Map HERE
  • Download the GPX, KML, or CRS file for your GPS device HERE  (Look in the right hand column for "export this route", under "route info).  Choose the file type of your choice.  

Welcome to the 2013 Solstice Chase Fat Bike Race!  Brought to you by Big Rock Creek Retreat, Cyclova XC, the city of St. Croix Falls, and the Great Lake Fat Bike Series!



CHRISTMAS SPECIALS At Cyclova XC - Santa Shops Here!

Santa loves snow & skiing - and he officially recommends shopping at Cyclova XC for the skier, cyclist, or outdoor enthusiasts in your life!  Come on in to check out our Christmas specials - while they last!  Photo credit:  TheProvince.com

Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year, but for some, finding the perfect gift for the skier, cyclist, or outdoor enthusiast in your life can be tough.  Swing on by Cyclova XC in beautiful St. Croix Falls before Christmas for expert help in finding that perfect gift!  Stop by this weekend, and visit Santa right here in St. Croix Falls!

We have three white hot Christmas Specials starting Saturday, 6 December - good through Christmas Eve.  Note that these specials are only good while supplies last.  No other discounts apply.

SPECIAL # 1:  Buy 3 ski hats on a single purchase (excludes headbands, balaclavas, and ear muffs), get the 4th (of the same or lesser value) for free!

SPECIAL #2:  Buy 3 pair of socks on a single purchase, get the 4th pair (of the same or lesser value) for free!  Keep those feet cozy in this frigid Winter weather!

SPECIAL #3:  Buy a bicycle or skis, and we will deliver it for free on Chirstmas Eve (for customers living within 20 miles of Cyclova XC)! 


Come on in to Cyclova XC for a healthy dose of Holiday Cheer - and the world class expertise & products that are only found in downtown St. Croix Falls!


Snow Report from Giants Ridge

John Filander just sent me this snow report from Giants Ridge.  I love to see people standing out in the elements with snow gently falling in the background.  For those of you who have never been to Giants Ridge, I really encourage you to make the trip.  It is a tremendous venue for cross-country skiing (the Pepsi Challenge is one of the most difficult ski races in the area).  It sounds like this would be a fun destination this weekend, if you head up there, let us know how it goes!

Here's the web page for Giants Ridge for more information.

Winter Has Arrived!

Isn't it crazy how a day's worth of snow can totally change your perspective on life?  Boom!  It's ski season folks!  I saw a lot of you out at Trollhollow over Thanksgiving, but there's no substitute for having the regular trails open up.  The forecast looks good!  I heard they already had a snow day north of St. Croix, and the word is everyone from the Twin Cities to Eau Claire should get dumped on tonight.

Remember, it usually takes the trails a day or two to get into skiing shape after the snow hits.  This is a perfect time of year to grab your Rossignol Evo waxless skis and blaze your own trail through the arctic wonderland!  Don't expect to be able to recreate a race workout, just get out there, breathe the fresh air, and spend an hour or two sliding through the woods in the company of friends!  Keep your fingers crossed!  If we're lucky we'll wake up to two feet of beautiful, pristine, snow!

Chippewa 50K half off Today!

Hey Folks,
Frontrunner events is having a half-off sale to celebrate black Friday in a healthy way!  Among the events listed is the Chippewa 50k.  I've been told that this is an absolutely beautiful course for trail running.  The event is scheduled for April 26th, 2014 and we have a ton of Cyclova people signing up for this...so get on it!  If you register, let us know on our Facebook page!



We plan on doing it kind of chill with a lot of talking and walking (when I say that I mean it...there are other guys in our group who are going to HAMMER of course).

It's pretty amazing to be able to register for a marathon distance event for only $30!  Heck, at that price, you can just do half and drop out and still pay less than you would per mile for most local events.  But hurry up, I believe this sale ends either today or tomorrow...so don't wait!

Happy Thanksgiving! Hug Your Family!

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!  Don't worry about eating too much because we'll all be heading out to Trollhaugen soon to work it off!  Enjoy your families and DON'T do any shopping today or tomorrow (and if you do go shopping, don't by anything electronic...electronic things just take away from your cycling/skiing/running time!).

Enjoy that turkey! Happy Thanksgiving!

Snow Report From West Yellowstone, MT - It's Good, Really Good!


The Cyclova XC crew has been all smiles, all week in West Yellowstone, MT!

It all began on Saturday morning, at 4:30AM.  A hearty group of 4 gathered in St. Croix Falls - to make the annual trip to West Yellowstone, MT.  We were on the road by 5 - stopped a few times to eat and for fuel - and arrived in West Yellowstone, MT by 9:40 PM Saturday evening.  We made good time on perfect, dry roads - with temps ranging from about +10'F to -8'F.

Our mission:  To ski perfect early season snow, enjoy the crisp mountain air, and hang out with several thousand of our closest Nordic skiing friends.  In short - live the dream!  Thus far, we have exceeded our mission goals, and are having a grand time!

Duane and I (Frank) have spent much time embedded with ski industry companies, and will be taking the latest info from the World Cup and top ski industry companies back with us to St. Croix Falls - to better serve you - all of our wonderful clients at Cyclova XC.  

Following are a few photo highlights from our trip thus far...

The Rendezvous Trail Head - along with new warming chalet in West Yellowstone, MT!  

Perfect trail conditions, incredible scenery (see the mountains in the background), and LOTS of snow are about here!


Steve went on a little drive and drove by numerous high mountain lakes such as this!  This IS beautiful country, Big Sky Country!


Event Calendar

Hello Everyone,
I decided to put together a very basic calendar of significant local events.  Obviously there are a lot of smaller events that happen throughout the year, but these are the main ones that you're going to find CyclovaXC people at.  Obviously I couldn't put a specific date for each one of these events (as calendars change every year), but I listed approximately when these events take place.  Hopefully this calendar will give a few of you some new ideas for cool events to try out.

I'm sure I missed a couple, so feel free to chime in in the comments below, or send me an email at: bj@cyclovaxc.com.

Happy racing!

DECEMBER
3rd weekend Solstice Chase


JANUARY
2nd weekend in January





FEBRUARY
1st Weekend Badger State Games



2nd Weekend Pre-Birkie




3rd Weeekend Finlandia Ski Marathon




MARCH
1st Weekend River View Loppet



2nd weekend Pepsi Challenge





3rd weekend Giant's Ridge Fat Bike Race

APRIL
3rd weekend Gravel Mammoth Classic




4th weekend Strada Fango




MAY
3rd weekend in May
Almanzo 100




June
1st weekend City of trails 5k and 10k




2nd-3rd weekend GRABAAWR




July
3rd-4th weekend RAGBRAI




August
1st Weekend Firehouse Fifty



SEPTEMBER
1st Weekend Sasquatch 25k







NOVEMBER


DECEMBER
3rd weekend Solstice Chase