The Ballad of Lone Wolf and the 2013 Birkie

Lone Wolf Winning his 2013 Birkie Entry
Early this season CyclovaXC was able to give away several Birkie entries courtesy of Seger Socks. One of our Cyclova athletes whom I like to refer to as "Lone Wolf" was in attendance.

"Put your name in the hat!" I cried at him.

"No!" Lone Wolf replied.

"C'mon, do it!"

"But I'm not a cross-country skiier!"

"DO IT!"

Well, needless to say, Lone Wolf threw his name in the hat and lo and behold, he won the entry. Thus began a whirlwind several weeks in which we had to teach him to ski well enough to compete in the largest, most intense cross-country ski race in the United States.

Now, physically I wasn't worried about Wolf at all. He likes to hammer running events at a 6 minute pace, so that wasn't going to be a problem. But cross-country skiing is one of those sports where you can work against yourself and expend a lot of energy without getting anywhere, and since we stuck him with the entry, I felt some responsibility to make sure he'd be ready for the event. So, we started taking Wolf out to Troll hollow on a regular basis.
There he is off to the right on his old pair of Evo touring skis and a pair of Addidas wind pants he probably bought at Target for $4. Looking at this picture, it's hard to believe that this is the same guy who would ski the Birkie about a month and a half later.

After our initial run or two out at Trollhollow, Wolf decided he needed some skating skis, so we set him up on a sweet pair of Fischers.

Within a couple weeks, Wolf was out at his first ever cross-country ski race: the 25 K Marine O'brien. Here's a photo he sent to me afterwards which I doctored up because our logo wasn't on it enough. You can see that Wolf graduated to racing in his cycling jersey at least.
Dallas (on the right) also did his first Birkie this year...and hammered of course.

Wolf threw down like a 1:45 at Marine O'Brien, which is on pace for an impressive 3:30 Birkie, but he called me up concerned.

"Man...I finished but I don't know about the Birkie...that was tough out there, I couldn't have made it another step."

My response was simple.

"If you were looking for somebody to talk you out of doing the Birkie you would have called up someone else. Subliminally you WANT to do the Birkie, that's why you called me."

I took a psychology class in college so that's how I new that little tidbit.

Wolf eventually recovered from his minor tremor, and on Birkie morning he was ready to go:
There he is proudly modeling his one non-Cyclova piece of attire--just to antagonize me.

Of course, sitting at Telemark hours before the Birkie is made up of a bunch of trash talking and joke telling. It's a fun nervous energy, but everybody keeps glancing at their watch and when the time came to put on the boots, everyone got suddenly serious. But nobody was more serious that Wolf. He gave Micah and I a look that seemed to say, "guys...I'm really not happy about the fact that you dragged me up here!"

As I headed out to race my own race, I was a little worried about whether or not we'd done enough to prepare Wolf for his first Birkie.

For those of you who raced you know that it was a tough, slow day for the Birkie. I was happy that the start temperature was in the 20's, but as I slogged through my own race, I wondered if Wolf was going to be out there for five or six hours of suffering.

However, on the bus ride up to Como, I got a call.

"Hey!" It was Wolf and the swagger was back in his voice.

"How'd it go?" I asked.

"4:13" he said, then he proceeded to tell me how he stopped several times throughout the course to hang out with the aid station workers.

Then, as if to further berate me for having the audacity to be concerned about whether or not he could handle the Birkie, he sent me this photo:
Yup...there he is taking shots off a ski in the middle of the race! I told him he couldn't do that until he'd completed his 21st Birkie (or at least until he'd reached his 21st time on skis...by our best estimation, the Birkie was only Wolf's 19th time on his skate skis)!

Well, it might seem like Wolf had the last laugh, but I had one final card to play. I was picking up some diapers at Wal-Mart when I passed by the photo center. I realized I had the above picture in my phone, so I printed it out and framed it up. The cherry on top was that I had Olympian and 4 time US Champion Leif Zimmermann present Wolf with the photo at our shop in the same place where Wolf had won his Birkie entry two months earlier.
Now...I was hoping Leif would scold Wolf for not taking the race seriously enough...but Leif seemed to approve of Wolf's methods.

So, with that picture, the story comes full circle! Congratulations Lone Wolf on your first Birkie! First of many I hope! And for those of you out there who need a little help to push yourself into doing amazing events like the American Birkebeiner...come on by to CyclovaXC and we'll help you out!

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