2013 Pre-Birkie and Vasaloppet Race Report

In Front of the Musky
What a great weekend of racing! I was so pumped I didn't fall asleep until 5 AM Monday morning, but that's what a good, solid XC race can do for you. This last weekend was always the best racing weekend of the season, mainly because two of the best races--the Pre-Birkie and the Mora Vasaloppet--are scheduled, and also because they had the courtesy to schedule these races for Saturday then Sunday (so you can do both if you're clinically insane).  I used to call that "doing the double" and with the Pre-Birkie reduced back to 26k, I think the double might be on the menu for next year.

Last weekend at Badger state we had a start temperature of a "warm" zero degrees. I say warm because it was sunny and there was no wind, so you actually didn't feel all that cold. At the Pre-Birkie, however, it was a "cold" 20 (overcast and windy), plus the skis were a little slow on the lake.

But hey, once the race had wound around and made the little lip up to the Birkie trail you couldn't help but get that familiar chill that indicates you're about to be hit by a full fledged case of Birkie Fever. As you go up that first hill, you pass Dave Landgraf's statue on the left, and I think we need to make a tradition of saluting that memorial whenever you pass it in a race (it gives you a lift).
The dreaded bathrooms...you've never known cold until 5 minutes before a ski race
The Start of the Classical Race
For those of you who were concerned, the Birkie trail is in really solid shape. It was great to see all the CyclovaXCers out there, most of whom passed me just before Bitch hill!

I had wrestled with the idea of skiing with a smartwool T-shirt rather than a long sleeved thermal top, but I chickened out and went with the long-sleeve, and promptly overheated. I ended up having to stuff my hat down my tights so I wouldn't melt out there. My hair froze like Bruce Jenner at the end (I was going to blame the whiteness in my beard on the frost...but it's just old age):
Thanks volunteers!
Incidentally, that guy in the blue, yellow and red tights is wearing a suit that I remember from the early 90s, it's awesome how some things never go away.

After the Pre-Birkie we were on the buses back to Hayward and the Angry Minnow (which is worth a trip to Hayward on its own). Next summer we should ride from St. Croix to Hayward and back over a weekend, whatta say boys? I met some awesome dudes who were psyched about the Almanzo and are planning on coming up for the Mammoth Gravel Classic now, another FREE training ride (100 miles of intense Gravel).

After the Angry Minnow, I was on my way to the Redbery bookstore in Cable to sign copies of Beyond Birkie Fever (for those of you who have promised me reviews, please, let's see them...once I see the review I'll buy you a beer). The pizza up there is spectacular.
And here's a nice sentiment from the bathroom wall.
From there I went and crashed in Spooner before heading down to St. Croix to work on Sunday. Unfortunately I wasn't able to do the event in Mora, but I heard from my mom, Tommy K, and Doug Berg that the race was tough, but fun. Apparently they got a ton of snow, which makes for beautiful if not fast skiing. Here was the view outside the shop in St. Croix Falls.
Congratulations to Tommy K for his 12th place finish at Mora, that's tremendous! And congratulations to all the other skiers out there who finished these great events along with the North End classic! Man, I wish there was another day in each weekend so we could all do one more ski race!

Be sure to head over to Cyclova on Wednesday, Feb. 13 when I give my "What to Expect at the Birkie" speech and Frank reveals his Birkie race wax tip!  See you there!

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