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EPIC: 2015 Cyclova XC Adventure & Education Trip - UPDATE # 1

What better way to get revved up about the sport than to ski the most epic Nordic trails on the planet!?!  Above are Frank & Chad celebrating the view of Mount Timpanogas on the Sundance Nordic Center trail.

Each Winter, Cyclova XC does what we call our "Cyclova XC Adventure & Education Trip".  Each year on this trip, we take with a dedicated Cyclova XC employee and a top client (who is a great customer, advocate for Cyclova XC, and ambassador for our trails & community).  The premise behind the Cyclova XC Adventure & Education Trip is to travel to an industry event (tradeshow, etc), and enjoy a bunch of biking or skiing adventures in a truly epic place.  These trips were spawned from the following objectives: 
  • We at Cyclova XC pride ourselves in being among the foremost experts in our field - bicycling, xc skiing, and adventure.  In order to deliver this expertise to our customers every day, it's critical that our staff be continually educated on the latest technologies, gear, and best practices.  Part of this is rubbing elbows with the movers & shakers in the bike and ski industries - the foremost experts on the planet in their field.  
  • The lifestyles that we endorse (cycling, xc skiing, and adventure) are fun - so we want our staff to have the opportunity to enjoy the very best venues for our sports around.  
  • It's a really big & cool world out there, and we want to bring some of the cool ideas from across the globe back to St. Croix Falls.  
  • Cyclova XC wouldn't exist, were it not for our amazing clients & ambassadors / team members.  We want to show appreciation to the top clients & ambassadors for Cyclova XC, our local trails, and the St. Croix Falls area.  
Last Winter, Duane Lee, Steve McCormack, and I went to the West Yellowstone Ski Festival.  There, Duane and I attended a few days of training on ski tuning and waxing by the foremost experts on the planet - the Toko Tech Team.  And we skied on the World Class Trails in West Yellowstone - A LOT!  It's safe to say that last year's trip was packed full of fun & epic adventures!

Currently, Chad Olson, Micah Bruns, and I are in the midst of our 2015 trip.  We began by going to Utah for 2 days of epic xc skiing, attending the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market trade show in Salt Lake City, and then attending the World Fat Bike Summit in Jackson, WY.  Below is the chronicle of our trip thus far...

On Sunday, we loaded up the Jeep with fat bikes & gear, xc ski gear, and trade show gear.  It's a good thing we packed light!
On Sunday at 11AM, Chad, Micah, and I met to pack up my Jeep for our epic road trip.  We brought with both Fat Biking & xc ski gear (lots of stuff), so it required we pack as light as possible.  "Less is more" was our mantra.  We chose to pack the bikes inside of the Jeep, as 2800 miles of driving with bikes on an exterior rack would have trashed them with road salt & grime.  We stashed as much stuff as possible in the roof top ski box along with our skis, and everything else fit into the back of the Jeep quite nicely.  

We were on the road by 11:40, and with a stop for lunch & dinner (along with a bunch of fuel stops), we arrived in Heber City, UT ~20 hours later - at 8AM mountain time.  Thankfully, the roads were in great condition, until the last 3 hours of driving on the mountainous section of I-80 across western Wyoming, and into Utah.  

Micah takes a break while skiing the 2002 Winter Olympic Nordic Venue, Soldier Hollow.  Note the Olympic Stadium and Biathlon Range in the background.
After a 20 hour drive, you tend to feel off, so we had a big breakfast and took a 3 hour nap at our hotel in Heber.  After our nap, we ambitiously sprung out of bed and went to go ski Soldier Hollow - the 2002 Olympic Venue for Cross Country Skiing & Biathlon.  We had a fabulous ski there, and I was quickly reminded on how there is no such thing as an easy ski at this venue - it's a race venue.  Being flat-landers from Wisconsin, we also were feeling the altitude of just under 6000 feet.  Click HERE  for the trail profile I did on Soldier Hollow several years back - and click HERE to check out the Strava file for our Monday ski at Soldier Hollow. 

After our ski, we went and had dinner and saw checked out the night life in downtown Park City.  Park City is one of the most fun mountain towns I've ever checked out - spend some time there when you're in the area!

Sundance Nordic Center, on one of the most beautiful mountains anywhere known as "Timpanogas", boasts perfect corduroy and scenery second to none.
Tuesday was to be an action packed day - and it ended up being just that!  We started off by skiing what I consider to easily be the most scenic xc ski trail I've ever skied - and I've skied a lot of cool places - Sundance Nordic Centre.  Sundance Nordic Centre is part of the Sundance Ski Resort complex - founded by Robert Redford.  It's literally built up on the side of the sheer rock face of Mount Timpongas - the iconic mountain of the Wasatch Mountain range.  Similar to Soldier Hollow, THIS IS A TRAIL THAT EVER SERIOUS NORDIC SKIER NEEDS TO SKI IN THEIR LIFETIME!  The Pisten Bully groomed trail, amazing/challenging trail layout, the climbing/descending, and the views are simply second to none and leave you in awe.  HERE is our Strava file from the epic ski at Sundance. 

Daniels Summit is a snowmobile trail / lodge system, that welcomes xc skiers with open arms - at 8000+ feet of elevation!

The views from high on Daniel's Summit of the high Wasatch Mountains are incredible.  Remember to stop to enjoy the view!
Sundance was just the start of Tuesday...  After some amazing tacos for lunch at an excellent Mexican restaurant in Heber City, we headed south of Heber to a little known place to ski - Daniels Summit.  Daniels Summit is a snowmobile trail that mainly caters to people from Salt Lake City who come to rent one of their shiny new Polaris machines.  Generally snowmobile traffic at Daniels is very courteous and out for the sight seeing - making this a great shared use trail with xc skiers.  When I worked for Toko and lived in Heber, we used to ski Daniels Summit frequently after work in the dark.  With 50+ miles of well groomed/tilled trail (using their big Bombardier snow cat & tiller), their 50+ mile network of trails are usually in very good condition for skating.  With an elevation starting at 8000 feet, and going well above 9000 feet, you're sure to test yourself and get in a killer workout!  We skied up the mountain for about 6.5k, and then turned around to enjoy the ride back down.  About half of the way down, we were thrilled to find virgin cordoroy at and that point, we let it rip - with Strava showing speeds between 20 - 35 mph for over 2.5 miles.  While Daniels Summit isn't a tradiional xc ski venue, it's still a bucket list place due to the vast wilderness & scenery you'll ski through.  It's real mountain skiing, with the climbs going on for tens of kilometers at a time!  Click HERE to view the Strava file from our ski at Daniels Summit. 

After our ski at Daniels Summit, we went to the most unique hot spring I've ever seen, known as The Crater at Homestead.  The Crater is an underground hot spring with a mineral dome over the top of it.  The water is 65 feet deep in the main cavern, with underwater tunnels and caves going hundreds of feet down.  I'm told this is the most popular scuba diving venue in Utah.  It's a great place to go for a relaxing soak after a big day of skiing, and definitely fit the bill for us!

The Outdoor Retailer Winter Market tradeshow floor is a busy place - with literally every Winter outdoor product & ski brand represented!
Wednesday was to be our busiest day of the trip - game day if you will.  We awoke early in the morning and did the ~1 hour drive over the mountain pass to Salt Lake City, for the huge Outdoor Retailer Winter Market trade show.  "OR" as it's called is the biggest Winter outdoor industry trade show in the western hemisphere.  Literally every outdoor industry and ski brand is at the show.  Here, I had appointments set up with all of Cyclova XC's major ski vendors including Rossignol, Toko/Swix, Atomic, Salomon, Madshus, and One Way.  This is where we get information on any new products coming out for next year, learn the technical nuance of the high tech products we stock at Cyclova XC, and order the products we'll have in the store for next Winter (yes, we have to order about 8 months in advance.  We also wandered around the show floor and checked out cool products from all kinds of other vendors.   In short, we were at the show from 9-6, and didn't have a minute to spare. 

On top of Teton Pass (above Jackson, WY), we found more snow than we'd seen anywhere in our journey through 8 states.  Simply amazing!
On Thursday, we shifted gears in a variety of ways - phase 1 of trip to phase 2, from a xc ski focus to fat biking focus.  We started by packing up the Jeep and doing the beautiful 5 hour drive from Salt Lake City to Jackson, WY.  While there wasn't much or any snow in the flat lands west of the Wasatch mountain range, as we climbed up toward the top of Teton Pass, the temperatures plummeted and the amount of snow sky-rocketed!  Thankfully, the snow stuck as we drove down the east side of Teton Pass, with a good amount of snow (albeit it crunchy) in the town of Jackson.

Once in Jackson, WY - we built up our Fat Bikes and settled in to our hotel. 
After checking into a great hotel for our 3 days in Jackson, we pulled our Salsa Beargrease Fat Bikes and 45NRTH Winter riding gear from the Jeep - and prepped everything for riding - and for 3 days of the World Fat Bike Summit

Yesterday, we were in an all day conference at the World Fat Bike Summit - at Snow King Lodge in Jackson, WY. 
On Friday morning - we rose bright and early for a full day of presentations at Snow King Resort.  It was a full agenda - with a lot of great speakers.  The day proved to be an incredible networking opportunity, and I found myself mingling with folks from several bike industry companies, the owner of Yellowstone Track Systems, IMBA, National Park Service, National Forestry Service, and many State Park Directors from across the country.  

We also picked up a few great "nuggets" to bring back to Cyclova XC and the Woolly Bike Club - which was a big objective of the trip!  One very assuring thing that came in very clearly from day one of the summit, was that the Woolly Bike Club - and other Midwest Fat Biking venues, are FAR AHEAD of the rest of the world when it comes to Fat Biking trails, grooming, and riding.  Way to go Woolly!  This just illustrates the importance of joining the Woolly Bike Club through IMBA & becoming involved! 

One surprising thing to me was the almost complete lack of Midwest Fat Bike Retailers or IMBA Chapters present at this year's World Fat Bike Summit.  Other than Cyclova XC, the only other Midwest retailer present was Evan Simula (as seen at the Solstice Chase) of Sports Rack in Marquette, MI.  To my knowledge, other than the Woolly Bike Club, no other Midwest IMBA Chapters were represented.  Again, this just drove home the point of how St. Croix Falls is literally leading the world and defining the sport of Fat Biking!  Bold claim, but absolutely true!  St. Croix Falls is a truly special place!

After a full day of presentations, we got out for a ride on the local single track trails, known as Cache Creek.  We had a fun ride, with a lot of climbing and descending - all with a view of the majestic Grand Tetons in the distance.  Click HERE to check out the Strava file of our Friday ride at Cache Creek. 

While the trails are amazing here in Jackson, the "grooming" is done by snowshoers packing the snow down, and again drove home the point of how good we have it on the Woolly Trails in St. Croix Falls.  Jason K & his grooming system known as "Bjorn" are truly beyond World Class - huge kudos to Jason and his amazing work on grooming the Woolly Fat Bike Trails - known internationally as one of the best Fat Bike trails on the planet!

On tap for today is some more riding in epic places, a tech clinic by Rock Shox on the fat bike suspension fork known as Bluto, a short track race that I'll be competing in at 3PM, and a number of "happy hours" and swag drawing this afternoon.  Here is the agenda for today and tomorrow at the Summit. 

That's all for now - stay tuned for more updates on the conclusion of the World Fat Bike Summit!  We look forward to seeing you all in St. Croix Falls soon - and to bringing the knowledge & experiences gained back!

Signing off - Frank Lundeen
Partner, Cyclova XC

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