BIKE TRAIL THREATENED: We need YOU to attend a meeting or send an email to keep the Gandy Dancer non-motorized!!!

Bicyclists & hikers need to turn out in force to the Polk County CDRE meeting on 3/2/2016 @ 10:15AM - as dozens of us did last year!
As responsible citizens and bicyclists/hikers/outdoors people, it's critical that we be good stewards of our trails.  Sometimes, this requires becoming politically active - and now is once again that time.  

On Wednesday, March 2, 2016 at 10:15AM, the Polk County CDRE Committee will be taking public comment in regards to increasing motorized use of the Polk County section of the Gandy Dancer State Bicycle Trail.  Click HERE to view the official meeting agenda.  

Specifically on the table is a re-working of the Polk County Gandy Dancer Trail segment that will allow continued use of ATV's on the Gandy Dancer State Bicycle Trail - or even an increased number of these "special ATV events".  Additionally, allowing ATVs to use the trail during the Autumn & Spring seasons during the "frozen ground" season is both impossible to enforce and will damage the trail surface. 

We ask bicyclists & hikers who enjoy non-motorized trails to show up in force at this critical meeting - following is where we need you to be this Wednesday (public comment officially starts at 10:30AM, so show up at 10:15AM):
March 2, 10:15AM
Public Hearing regarding the Gandy Dancer State Trail
Polk County Gov’t Center (100 Polk County Plaza, Balsam Lake, WI)

Sadly, no action on your part is a vote again bicycles & hikers enjoying beautiful non-motorized trails in our region.  Polk County Officials need to hear the following messages loud and clear:
  • Non-motorized trails, including the Gandy Dancer State Bicycle Trail are critical to our local economy, health, safety, and lifestyle.  On an annual basis, our non-motorized trails bring tens of thousands of tourists to Polk County, generate millions of dollars in tourism commerce, brick and mortar businesses choose Polk County as where to locate their business to world class trails, trails provide a safe venue to exercise & recreation for residents & tourists alike, and trails provide our children a safe place to bicycle/hike/enjoy the outdoors.
  • Motorized "special events" should not be held on the Gandy Dancer State Bicycle Trail - rather, these events should be held on one of the many great motorized trails within Polk County.
  • Motorized vehicles should not be allowed to use the Gandy Dancer State Bicycle trail during the "frozen ground" shoulder seasons.  This "frozen ground" criteria would be very difficult to understand/interpret for ATV'ers (the trail could go from rock hard to soupy soft in a matter of an hour or less), would damage the trail surface (as it has in Burnett County in past years), and would be very difficult/costly for the county to enforce. 
If you're not able to personally attend the meeting and haven't already submitted a letter to Polk County officials, please email the following gentlemen your thoughts on the matter, where you are from, how you enjoy the trails, and how the trails lead you to spending money in Polk County.  
William Johnson
william.johnson@co.polk.wi.us
Dana Frey
dana.frey@co.polk.wi.us
 
Following is more information and context for you on the history of the Gandy Dancer State Bicycle Trail:
CLICK HERE to view a great blog post with many facts on the Gandy Dancer trail - links to master plans, how to file incident reports, and a link to a great document outlining the full history of the Gandy Dancer trail - dating back to the decommissioning of the railroad in 1984. 

The Gandy Dancer State Bicycle Trail is a safe place for kids and families to enjoy the outdoors! 

Mullin's Pepsi Challenge Race Report

You get a terribly short report this time. Shocking I know.  A few reasons for that.

1) I stalled for almost a week to write this.

2) I'm writing this on the blogger app on my phone and it sucks.

3) I was going to make this my season wrap up because I was done for the season...  But

After the Birkie I watched the weather to see if the Pepsi Challenge was going to be decent or not. Initially the temps were going to be around zero and there was no way I was doing that again.  Then it warmed up all week.   I decided I would take my boys with me Friday night and we would get a hotel with a pool and have a good time.

My youngest ended up sick but my oldest and I took off Friday afternoon and had some good quality time.

Saturday morning we headed to Giants Ridge for me to do the 24k classic race.

I had two pairs of skis.  My old standbys and new stiff klister skis I hadn't even skied once. I kinda botched my klister job and those were draggy. The Oslo Purple were kicking good so I went with them.

Unfortunately it warmed very rapidly that day and less than half way into the race anywhere that was sunny I had zero kick. I had to basically situp and enjoy the gorgeous day on the trails because I don't have the power to weight ratio to double pole that course.

When I finished I was positive I was done racing for the year. I was tired and really sore.

But...  Wednesday an opening came up in the van to Calumet for the Great Bear Chase.  So here I am on my way up to the UP for one last marathon skate.  This time I really will be done.

Weather looks good tomorrow so I'm going to enjoy the day no matter the outcome.  Then I'll write my last report and season summary.

Mullin's 2016 Birkie Report



Intro

Well the season has clearly been leading up to this.  If you've been following along with all of my race reporting so far, it should be pretty clear that this has been my best season of racing yet.  In the spoiler alert category, that didn't change with this race.  It should also be pretty clear that my goal this season has been to make the jump to the elite wave next year.  More spoilers, there is a reason that you actually have to ski the race and can't just look at your spreadsheets and extrapolate the result.

Pre-Race

The week leading up to the race started by looking like most of the rest of the weeks during ski season this year.  The only change really was a continued reduction in the quantity of intensity.  My final workout was just half of what it was two weeks prior on Tuesday.  Then it was a focus on rest and recovery.

I took Thursday and Friday off of work this year.  Thursday I did a little ski testing out at Balsam Branch to pick a pair of skis.  The conditions weren't going to be identical to the Birkie, but I figured it gave me the best chance at picking the right pair of skis.  Ultimately I picked my stiff Rossignols over my soft Fischers and a pair of Duane's Rossignols with a corn grind.  Both pair of Rossignols were substantially better than the Fischers in the wet snow.


I spent the rest of the evening waxing and packing.  Wax was full Fast Wax this year.  2x HSLF-30, 2x HSF-30, Flite Warm ironed in with the base saver.  I finished it off with a pass each of the yellow and red bits in the Toko Structurerite tool.  In hindsight I don't think I went terribly wrong with my ski prep, but it could have been better.  I think my structure could have been more, and I'm not positive these are the best flexed skis for the conditions.  They are the best flexed skis I have, but there are better.  At no point did I ever feel like my skis were working for me and instead I felt like I was fighting them.  Some of that was just the conditions in general, but where I noticed I was losing ground to people was on the gradual terrain and downhills.  Climbing I seemed to be doing quite well.  That makes me think skis... but we are getting ahead of ourselves with excuses here.


Friday Starr and I headed up to the expo, packet pick-up, New Moon, River Brook, spaghetti dinner and eventually our accommodations for the evening.  The whole day was pretty fun seeing the whole CyclovaXC ski family plus all of the nordic skiing family friends I've made the last few years.

The Expo
Getting autographs from Kikkan Randall at the expo.
As usual alarms were set for 4:00am with a 5:00am departure slated the following morning.  I slept about as well as I ever do away from home which isn't great, but that is why you get a good night sleep two nights before the race which I did.

Race morning went like clockwork. Up at 4, out the door by 5, on the bus at Donnellan by 6, to Telemark by 6:45.  We set-up a CyclovaXC area in one of the tents and got to work waiting.  I remained pretty calm other than the multiple bathroom trips.  Eventually I got my boots on and went to check my bag and get ready for the pen race.


Unfortunately I somehow missed the timing on when wave 1 skate would be let into the first pen.  I thought I had another 5 minutes because I thought there were two classic waves between the Elite men and us.  Apparently not.  By the time all of the pen races finished I was fourth row, about three or four rows in from the far right.  Not exactly the position I wanted, but far from terrible.  And this year I ran with my bottle in my hand so I didn't lose it.  I saw a few people lose theirs like I did mine last year.

Looking from the back of the pens to the start line before the races began.
Race

The race started with carnage this year.  The trail all the way until we entered the woods after the power lines was extremely soft.  People were losing their balance or buring a ski in or off the trail everywhere.  I managed to stay clear of everything though there was two pretty close calls.  Wilkie recounted later that he was counting crashes, "seven, eight, nine, BAM".  He crashed twice in the opening few km.

I saw a few folks I was anticipating skiing with in the first few km, but I was trying to settle into a good pace and didn't want to push things at the start.  Things felt kind of sluggish and I didn't want to bury myself before the high point.

My plan called for skipping the first aid station and drinking from my bottle with Tailwind before getting in the woods.  That went fine and I got to work on the really dirty trails in the woods.  The trail changed pretty drastically there going from soft and mushy but fairly clean to pretty firm and really dirty.

I wouldn't say that people were streaming past me, but I could definitely tell I was going the wrong direction in the field on the way to the high point.  There was a long way to go in the race and I really wanted to conserve energy and nail the last 12 km of the race so I wasn't terribly worried.  At some point around 7 km Dennis Kotcon went flying past.  When he passed I was having flash backs to the Pre-Birkie where I didn't feel great in the opening 15 km and Dennis passed me only to be reeled in later in the race when I felt better.  I let Dennis go without a thought to keeping with him hoping to see him come back later in the race.  He went on to kill it finishing comfortably in the elite wave for next year.

I took my first Gu at Timber Trail aid station after the high point.  In this rolling stretch I was skiing around Mark Rathbun and Craig Rudd who I had skied with at SISU at the start of the season.  I found I was climbing well but anytime the trail went to what should have been a relaxed V2 or downhill I was struggling to stay with anyone.  I would describe the feeling as over skiing my skis.  It frequently felt like I was pitching over the tips of my skis as they weren't gliding well.  The Boedecker and OO climbs were good and I was able to over take a few people on those hills.

Climbing to OO. Photo Credit: Barry Mullin
I took my second Gu at OO and crossed the road and for a little while I started feeling better.  There was a decent group just up the trail and I was gaining on them.  Somewhere before Gravel Pit I managed to just catch on to the back of the pack only to get shed again.

I took my final Gu at Gravel Pit and set out to find the hills at Mosquito Brook.  This stretch got a little lonely with fewer people around.  While I wouldn't say that I was suffering terribly I continued to feel sluggish.  There wasn't any snap or pop to my skiing.  Picked up my bottle just before Mosquito Brook from the CyclovaXC group and prepared to climb.

I hoped to find my conservative (ish) effort up to this point leaving me in a good position to climb well while other people were blowing up.  I continued to find myself climbing pretty well.  I certainly hadn't bonked yet like I have in previous years so this was good.  At the same time however I didn't find the carnage necessary to make up huge gains.  There were a few people here and there but not many.  There were also a few people flying by me like they had started the race at OO.  That was what I had hoped to do.

The past three years I have bonked pretty hard on the climbs after Mosquito Brook.  This year my energy stayed reasonably constant which was nice.  I was suffering a little bit of nausea through this stretch.  I'm not quite sure if this was related to the actual consumption of calories or insufficient water.  It was definitely warm out there and I probably could have used more straight water.

Cresting the 77 hill and looking down at the lake I was in no mans land again.  There was probably a good 30 people less than 500m ahead of me but I was getting a bit demoralized at this point.  I knew I was outside of the top 200 and I was tired though I don't think I was in full on bonk mode.  Looking at my HR for the lake crossing it is really low.  This is usually indicative of a bonk but I think this was poor mental toughness this time.

As I hit Mainstreet I felt there was a group behind me so I pulled it together enough to put in a reasonable sprint and managed to cross the line without being passed.

Finally charging for the finish line.  Photo Credit: Barry Mullin
One of the interesting things about my finish was actually looking at my time.  I had several folks ask me during the race if I thought this was a fast or slow race.  Despite wearing a watch and looking at it several times to check my HR I never once looked at pace or time.  My response on course was that it definitely felt slow.  Turns out it was a 19 minute PR despite being the longest course yet.


Analysis

So, yeah, PR time by 19 minutes, best gender place ever by 105 places (improvement of almost 25%), and yet here I am stalling writing this report based on disappointment.

So was it bad skis, fatigue, did I peak too early, was the race too big for me, do I not have enough endurance for 50k, were my predictions bunk...  Those are all of the questions I'm going to be asking myself for a while.


That is a snippet from my Prebirkie report.  I think that is probably the key here.  I needed to have a good race to meet my lofty goals.  I did control everything I could as best as I could.  I'm pretty happy with my total race execution except the last 5k or so where I think I got a little mentally weak.
So I will eventually get over my disappointment.  It has been a great season with lots of gains, including the Birkie.  If goals were easily achieved the reward for reaching them wouldn't be as great.  This leaves me plenty of room for goals next year.

I'll spare everyone the detailed analysis.  It generally concurs with my feelings that this was my "worst" race of the season.

What's Next

Ski season is winding down pretty fast.  There are still races after the Birkie though.  This weekend I will be hitting up the 24k classic race at the Pepsi Challenge.  My boys and I are going to make a weekend of it and enjoy our time.  I just get to suffer for an hour and a half in the middle of it.

After that, I might head up to the Great Bear Chase or I might just stay home and close out the season with the Slush Race at Hyland.  Either one could be fun.

Then ski season is over.  If we ever get a dump of snow I'll ski, but I'm not going out of my way to ski the man made loops any more and there certainly isn't anywhere else to ski locally.  The attention turns now to bikes.  Mammoth Gravel Classic, Almanzo Royal, Tatanka 100.  And running too, the Sasquatch Dash Series is in the planning stages so stay tuned for that.


YOU'RE INVITED: All Things Gravel @ Cyclova's Adventure & Tech Social Series Event # 8! !Joshua Stamper & Frank Lundeen Presenting!

Join us for "All Things Gravel" - part of Cyclova's Adventure & Tech Social Series on 2/25/2016.  Learn about the bliss gravel provides bicycle adventurists!  Photo Credit:  David Gabrys
YOU'RE INVITED:  This Thursday, 25 February, 2016 at 6PM is the "Gravel Extravaganza" installment of Cyclova's 2015-2016 Adventure & Tech Social Series - and you don't want to miss it!  Refreshments & snacks will be served free of charge!

If learning about one of gravel cycling's most epic events from one of the "Godfather's of Gravel" (and all around great guy / pedal crusher - Joshua Stamper), learning all about gravel bicycle technology (and what makes a gravel bike a gravel bike - by Frank Lundeen), and meeting fellow gravel cycling enthusiasts sounds interesting to you - you aught to be here!  For more details on each presentation, check out the specifics below:


Our featured presenter Joshua Stamper de-briefs the 2016 Gravel Conspirators, prior to boarding the bus to the Canadian border.
6 p.m. on Thursday, February 25, 2016 - All Things Gravel:
Adventure: Joshua Stamper, founder of the Gravel Conspiracy, a three-day, nearly 300 mile, bike expedition which traverses the Laurential Divide through rugged and remote Northern Minnesota. He will present slides from past conspiracies and reveal some exciting new details and changes coming to the 2016 Gravel Conspiracy. Get inspired and harness your inner adventurer; you'll be compelled to join the crew for the next Conspiracy!



Tech: Frank Lundeen, co-owner of Cyclova XC and three-time Gravel Conspirator, discusses the rapidly growing gravel bike scene. He'll share gravel adventure tips, talk about frame geometry and technologies that set gravel bikes aside from the rest, and show you the simple and affordable gear that is sure to make your gravel cycling the most enjoyable experience! Catch the "Gravel Bug" and get out with the crew on our next expedition!

For the full scoop & schedule on the entire 2015-2015 Cyclova Adventure & Tech Social Series, CLICK HERE


Gravel adventure rides put you in unlikely situations for a bicycle ride, sometimes savoring unlikely energy sources!  Note the Chef Boyardee in hand, as well as the beef sticks & Coca-Cola on the ground...  Photo Credit:  Joshua Stamper

Birkie 2016 Recap

Oh man! Another Birkie is in the books! I love Birkie weekend, you finish that race absolutely exhausted no matter how diligent you are in your preparation (and I'm not as diligent as I should be). This year, I found myself making a concerted effort not to get too excited on Friday, because I thought that would just wear me out. Still, as I watched the totally weird weather forecast continue to fluctuate, I have to admit I spent a few minutes in the wee hours of the morning wondering if I'd picked the correct skis (turns out I did...but figuring that out race day didn't get me my sleep back).

The 2016 ski season isn't over by any means, but I find I usually don't have my heart in skiing any more after this point. I'm going to switch focus to the Mammoth Gravel Classic coming up April 16th (get your gravel bikes tuned up). 

This year, I did all my ski events with my high school classmate Cory, those included the Sisu Ski Fest, the Birkie Tour, and the Pre-Birkie. Also, my friends Shawn and Tammi were doing their first Birkies this year. It's always fun when you have friends coming up to experience the great race for the first time, and all of them came through with great efforts. The Birkie tends to be a family affair. I certainly remember driving up to Hayward to watch my mom finish when I was a little guy, so it's fun to see my own little ones at the finish. I know (from Facebook photos) that Cory's family came out to greet him too, and I'm happy that he got the experience of having his kids there to greet him with a cheer and a hug at the end. That's how future generations of skiers get created!

For the second year, I zip tied my gopro to my water bottle, so I thought I'd share some of the race start photos I got this year. GoPros are a little bit funny, but sometimes you get happy accidents like this photo:
As I said before, the forecast was weird. We were looking at overnight lows around freezing and highs in the 40s. My biggest concern was that the rain on Friday would turn the track into a block of ice. I don't know about you, but I'm too old to endure a crash on some of those sketchy "heckler hills" that happen before "OO" (there are about 3 of them that worry me). 

My stiff skis handle better than my soft tipped skis on icy courses, but they are much slower when the trail is soft. I spent a lot of time wrangling over whether I should chose the safety and stability of the stiff skis, or the better overall performance of the soft ones. In the end, I elected the soft skis, and that was the way to go.

When we arrived at the start it was still dark (I always get there early) and there was significant ice cover, but it didn't take long for the temperature to rise and the ice to melt. Before race time, there were massive puddles inside and surrounding the tent. It kind of mist/rained throughout the race, and I doubt we'll ever see a Birkie when that happens again. My mom's done 29 and she said this was the first time she's seen that.
You always chill out at the tent for the first few hours, but everything changes at about 30 minutes to wave start time. You have to dump your warm-ups and queue up for your wave. I was starting wave 4, and you can see the light blue of wave 3 lining up in the above photo.

Here's an awesome pic of me that one of my Facebook friends enhanced:
Much to my surprise, Emalea and Mackey were both in Wave 4, so we got to spend the final 10 minutes before blast off blowing off steam. It was great to see both of them (I don't think I've seen either of them since last Birkie), but hey, 10 minutes spent together during Birkie time is the equivalent of spending a couple weeks together. It's such a relief to see familiar faces right as you're getting worked up.
Emalea is such a seasoned pro at these things it's fun to watch her pre-race routine. Again, I was just grabbing these photos from the gopro that I had taking photos every 3 seconds, but I got some good ones.
This is the way to do it, if you get too serious before the event, you'll go nuts. Here's Emalea whacking me with her poles:
The Birkie is such a crowd and there are skiers of so many levels that I usually try to get off the line and away from the group as fast as possible. Normally, I self seed in local races and hang towards the back, but the Birkie is different. First of all, the track is so wide for the first couple Kilometers, that you can blast off to a fast start, then slide over to the side of the trail and allow people passing room without impeding them in the least. The start is a mess, the best thing to do is get out of there. I took off and put distance between myself and the main group relatively quickly.

A couple kilometers into the race, Emalea caught back up to me and we skied together for a while. Once that gun goes off, she gets the eye of the tiger as you can see here:
I swear, cross-country skiers have a switch in their head that instantly goes from super-goofy to dead serious.

Emalea was chatting away with me as we hammered along (I was too winded for chit-chat), but as soon as we started climbing, I knew she was going to take off.
I settled in to a solid rhythm and steadily clicked off the Kilometers. I always like to finish in around 4 hrs (under is better), but my math skills abandoned me during the race. There were times when I thought I was going to be under by 20 minutes, other times I thought I was over by 20 minutes, and eventually I just got too tired to care. 

The best thing about this year was that the temperature was so warm that you didn't have to worry about freezing to death. Actually, overheating became the big issue, and I saw a lot of people skiing along without shirts on, or in shorts! The heat made cramping an issue though, and I was happy that I'd filled up my water bottle with warm Coca-cola. At first I was worried that it would taste like syrup out there and make me sick, but a quick gulp before each aid station gave me the boost I desperately needed, then I grabbed a water to wash out my mouth. Normally water bottles freeze up, so it was great to have this on me this year.

Just like last year, Frank was out at Mosquito brook and the hand off he gave me saved the day. Awesome to see familiar faces from St. Croix falls out on the course, both there and at Gravel Pit. Woolly Bike Club's Keith Velaski passed me a much needed water at the Fish Hatchery aid station which was awesome. Volunteer aid station workers are life savers in events like this! Thank you!

Overall, I'd say this race was a little easier than last year, but the conditions were still tough. You could glide, but the surface was so wet and mushy that there was some suction. The lake was an absolute nightmare as it was essentially covered in water. I saw one guy who kept skiing along for a couple hundred meters only to stop and rest on his poles (for some reason, I couldn't reel that dude in...). In my 14 Birkies, I've never seen anything like it, and I doubt I will again.

I eventually finished in 4:05, which was good enough for me. I was TIRED at the end. My wife and kids were waiting for me with the car, so I peeled off my ski suit, got into warm clothing, and went home. Pretty soon my phone was buzzing with messages or announcements about people and their Birkie experiences. Reading all those stories is the part of this whole endeavor that I like the most. If you have a great Birkie story, send it to me and I'll share it here (bj@cyclovaxc.com).

I'm sure this is just the start of a week of Birkie posts, so stay tuned. I still have about half my GoPro photos to look at, and I'm sure Mullin will be doing a race report. Tremendous job everyone! 365 days until the Birkie!


CLOSED FOR THE BIRKIE on Sat, Feb 20 - Resuming normal business hours on Sunday, Feb 21



The biggest xc ski race in the Western Hemisphere is happening tomorrow in Hayward, Wisconsin.  Roughly 50 Team Cyclova XC racers (and hundreds of our other great clients) will be out on the race course with roughly 10,000 other hearty xc ski racers from around the globe.  

All Cyclova XC staff will be up at the event racing and/or supporting the team - therefore, for the third year in a row, Cyclova XC will be closed for the American Birkiebeiner (on Saturday, 20 February, 2016).  We will resume normal business hours on Sunday, 21 February.  

Good luck racers - and thank you for your support!  

UPDATED WAX TIP: 2016 American Birkiebeiner

Race day waxing can be hectic, so rest easy the night before the 2016 Birkie by waxing in advance.  Above, the author helps classic racers at the Mora Vasaloppet apply the structure of the day.

Following is the UPDATED Cyclova XC Racing Service 2016 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 17+ years of professional experience in creating race wax tips.  Please also note that these wax tips will be updated, should they need to be.

Note that the forecast changed significantly from the several long term forecast models we were looking at when the original wax tip was published on 2/11/2016 - so here is the official update.

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

If you would like Cyclova XC's waxing guru's to wax your skis up for the fastest skis of your life, CLICK HERE for the full scoop!

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

When:  23k Classic/Skate, 52k Classic, or 50k Skate. 9 waves, with the elites starting at 8AM at Telemark on Saturday, February 20, 2016.

Forecast & Conditions: 
LEADING UP TO THE RACE:  Thursday & Friday will be very warm and windy, with intermittent rain & possibly sleet.  Thursday daytime highs of roughly 35', Thursday night low staying just above freezing at 33', and Friday highs in the low 40's will drastically change trail conditions.  Snow conditions will be transforming from a cold packed powder mix to slushy & granular slush/ice crystals by race morning.  According to head the Birkie trail groomer, the trail will be closed starting Wednesday night and will not be groomed until Friday night (in an effort to keep the snow pack cold and preserve the base).   Expect considerable dirt & tree sap in the snow, as snow compacts and the wind blows debris around.

Friday night's low will be about 31'F, with a temp of near 34'F at the start.  Daytime high will be close to 40'F, with a mostly cloudy sky and a westerly wind. Early waves can expect firm  & glazy machined track conditions comprised of mostly tilled up old snow.  Later waves will see the firm glazy track changing progressively to a soft/slushy track.  Considerable dirt will be present in the snow - particularly on the final 15 k of the Birkie course on the south facing hills - as well as in the vicinity of road crossings.  Classic tracks will be firm & very glazed for the first few waves - gradually becoming more and more washed out for later wave skiers.

Ski Flex Tips:  Moderate to slush flexed skate skis for glazy to slushy track conditions will be critical for skate skiers.  For classic skiers, a klister flexed ski or skin type ski (such as Atomic Skintec) will be a very good call for the day.

Structure Tips:
Structure (Elite through wave 3):  Corn Snow Stonegrind OR a medium structure (2 passes with the Red Toko Structure-Rite tool). 
Structure (Wave 4 and back):  Corn Snow Stonegrind (very coarse linear) OR a coarse structure (2 passes with the Yellow Toko Structure-Rite tool).  

Glide Wax Tips:
Fast Wax (Elite through wave 3): HS-30 Red, Scrape, Brush, HSLF-30 Red, Scrape, Brush, HSF-30 Salmon, Scrape, Brush.  Apply Flite #11 Warm (Red) Flourocarbon ironed (using the Fast Wax Base Saver), brush with dedicated flouorcarbon brush, and polished with polishing pad.
Fast Wax (Wave 4 and later): HS-30 Red, Scrape, Brush, HSLF-30 Red, Scrape, Brush, HSF-30 Salmon, Scrape, Brush.  Apply Flite #11 Warm (Red) Flourocarbon ironed (using the Fast Wax Base Saver), brush with dedicated flouorcarbon brush, and polished with polishing pad
Swix (Elite through Wave 3):  LF-8, Scrape, Brush, HF-8, Scrape, Brush, FC-8 (Warm Cera) ironed in, brush with dedicated flouorcarbon brush, and polished with polishing pad
Swix (Wave 4 and later)  LF-8, Scrape, Brush, HF-10, Scrape, Brush, FC-10 (X-Warm Cera) ironed in, brush with dedicated flouorcarbon brush, and polished with polishing pad
Toko (Elite through Wave 3):  Tribloc LF Black, Scrape, Brush, Tribloc HF Yellow/HF Black Mix (1:1 ratio), scrape, brush, Jetstream Yellow ironed, brush with dedicated flouorcarbon brush, and polished with polishing pad
Toko (Wave 4 and later):   Tribloc LF Black, Scrape, Brush, Tribloc HF Yellow, scrape, brush, Jetstream Yellow ironed, brush with dedicated flouorcarbon brush, and polished with polishing pad.

Grip Wax Tips:
Swix:  Roughen grip zone with 150 grit sandpaper.  Apply Swix KX-20 Base Klister, iron, and smoothen with thumb.  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 1 smooth layer of Swix KX-65 Red Klister.  If snow falls on Friday night, carefully cover your klister with a very thin layer of Swix VR-60 hard wax.
Toko:  Roughen grip zone with 150 grit sandpaper.  Apply Toko 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 1 smooth layer of Toko Yellow Klister.  If snow falls on Friday night, carefully cover your klister with a very thin layer of Toko Yellow 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.  If you're interested in having us wax your skis, ensuring lightning fast skis, check our our Birkie Ski Service Program HERE.  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!

Want More Details???   There is also a wealth of ski tech info on the Cyclova XC Ski Tech page.

 

Nordic Spirit Video

Just a quick update on the Nordic Spirit race from a couple of weeks ago.  I didn't mention it my original report, but Jay decided to wear a GoPro during the race.  Seeing as I led him for a good portion of the first 8k I got a decent amount of air time.


Eve Graves of Silent Sports Images also shared some great pictures she took at the event and I put a couple of those here.


Coming down the connector trail into Magney.  Things were fast and a little lumpy and bumpy.  You can see Jay behind me.

Climbing back out of Magney on the connector about 10k later.  I'm following Zach here with Anders trying to catch back on.
Lastly you can read Jay's race report here:  Jay's Race Report

Hopefully everyone is suffering from a bad case of Birkie Fever.  We will see you in Hayward this weekend.  Bring your shorts.

Mullin's 2016 Vasaloppet Race Report


Pre-Race

Last year I was registered for the Vasaloppet and then when it became a shortened lake race I bailed and did the Pre-Birkie instead.  I just couldn't swallow another lap race after all of the Elm Creek racing I had done.

I held off registering again this year waiting to see what the snow fairies had in store.  I ended up signing up on Tuesday after they published the proposed lake + nordic center trails course.  I was pretty pumped about the proposed course.  There wasn't going to be much rest and I liked the winding and slightly rolling nature of the nordic center trails.

Proposed trail, starting and finishing in Mora.
My only other reservation was the temperatures.  It was looking like a cold start and kept getting colder.  After Seeley though I was pretty confident I could dress appropriately.

Waxing ended up pretty straightforward with the temps.  I also was counting on a very firm course and used my stiff Rossignols.  My goto strategy for cold temps is Fastwax HSLF-10, HSF-10+Toko Xcold powder.  This time I topped it with Flite Arctic.  My skis seemed to run pretty well.  Then again, so did everyone's on the lake.  In the woods where it was shady and fairly dirty they didn't feel as great.  Hard to say if they were better or worse than anyone elses because there weren't any hills to test on.

I kept up the intensity this week with intervals on Wednesday again.  I turned the number and length down though and felt pretty fresh on Saturday.

Race

I'll break the race down into the laps

LAP 1
I started on the front line.  There wasn't nearly as much of a rush to the front as there was last weekend at the Pre-Birkie.  Across the front was Phil Rogers, Henrick Velle, myself, Nate Porath, Tony Lushanko, Paul Olson, Hans Harlane, and maybe one or two others I missed.  I felt in pretty good company and wanted to gauge myself off of these guys.

We started clean racing down Main Street for the 90 degree left hander followed by a right hander and then another right down Bell Tower Hill onto the lake.  Tony went flying by on the downhill onto the lake with some super fast skis.

I was sitting in probably about 10th as we hit the lake and then things came rushing to a slowdown.  It definitely seemed like no one wanted to go to the front and lead the race.  I knew I didn't stand a chance at being in the front at the finish so I didn't belong there now.

Eventually we started to formulate a pack and make our way around the lake.  The trail narrowed considerable coming off the lake with a sharp uphill and a couple of corners.  This was a bit of a mess coming off the lake the first time with everyone so bunched up.

In the process there was a group of three that got away.  Nate Porath, Paul Olson initially got off the front and then Isaac Miller bridged up to join them.  I stayed in the chase pack with Henrick, Phil, Hans, Jon Sanborn, and a couple of others.  I tried to keep it clean and towards the back.  There was some pole kicking and a little bit of rubbing all around.  I don't think anything too bad happened and I certainly didn't try if there was.

As we entered the Nordic Center trails Nate and Paul had let Isaac go to the front and their pace slowed down a bit without any sharing of pulls.  Ultimately the chase group pulled them back in and we skied as a pack of 10 or so for the remainder of the first lap.

LAP 2

Starting lap two on the lake again the pace was still fairly moderate.  I was easily able to get a drink from my bottle without losing my place in the pack.

Jon ultimately took the lead over as Isaac slipped quickly to the back of the pack after leading the entire first lap.  This time as we hit the exit to the lake we were getting into some lapped traffic and it was a bit more of a mess.  The pack was able to stay together though ultimately.

Jon leading us somewhere on lap two.  Me holding ground near the back of the pack.  Photo credit: Skinny Ski

Jon led the lap all the way until the Nordic Center aid station shortly before we got back onto the lake.  Through that aid station the Vakava boys (Nate, Paul, and Hans) all ended up on the front and the pace definitely quickened.

The rest of the pack took up the chase and we did ultimately keep in touch getting back on the lake.

LAP 3

Hitting lap 3 I was pretty excited to still be skiing with the leaders.  The Vakava engine was doing a big effort up front though and just staying on the train was a challenge.  Those guys were rotating a quick paceline and it was hot.

As we came off the lake again we definitely got broken up in the traffic.  By the time I hit clear trail again I think we were in three groups.  I think Nate went off the front, then a chase group of four, then Phil, Jon, and myself.

I was skiing hard just trying to hang with Phil.  As we started weaving in the Nordic Center Phil pulled over and let me lead.  I took my turn at the front and got us to the pond at about 23k (just shy of 4k into the final lap).  I pulled over to let Jon take a lead and he put in a big effort.  I wasn't able to hold onto him and when Phil asked if I was going to hang I pulled over to let him try to bridge.  I tried to hang with Phil and couldn't quite do that either.

This was unfortunate for me as the pacelining on the longer straight stretches was definitely an advantage.  At this point not knowing how far back to the next competitor I just struck out to hold a steady and strong pace.  This involved staying focused on being strong and relaxed with good technique.

As we started to work our way back towards the lake for the final time I thought I was making up ground on Phil again.  Despite giving it a strong effort, including some jump skating with near cramps up Bell Tower, I ultimately couldn't pull him back in.

Strong finish.  Photo credit: Skinny Ski
I finished in 1:19:47 and 8th place overall.

Analysis

We'll start subjectively as usual.  This was so much fun!  I got to hang with the lead pack of a race for 20k of a 30k race.  If anyone had wanted to push the pace I'm sure I wouldn't have been hanging that long but I'll take it.  I got to execute some pack racing skills and was able to conserve energy and get a ride for a lot of the race.

I finished in generally pretty good company amongst front of wave 1 Birkie skiers and elite wave skiers.  This is my first top 10 result in any race since high school.  And I got one of the sweetest age group awards around.

3rd place in the 35-44 age group.  The top guys were 2nd and 4th overall.
Moving to objective data... its kind of meaningless.  There is no clear trend in the data so I can't say if it was good or not based on that data.  I guess we will just have to rely on subjective data.


What I can pick out from this though is that there are a few other front of wave one guys I can watch for this weekend and be in good company.  I'm looking at you Paul, Hans, and Jon...

What's Next

Do you have to ask?


Time to ponder weather, wax, avoid sick people, stoke the fire, and rest.

PRELIMINARY WAX TIP: 2016 American Birkiebeiner

Race day waxing can be hectic, so rest easy the night before the 2016 Birkie by waxing in advance.  Above, the author helps classic racers at the Mora Vasaloppet apply the structure of the day.
CLICK HERE FOR THE UPDATED BIRKIE WAX TIP - UPDATED AS OF 2/17/2016 - AS ANTICIPATED COURSE CONDITIONS HAVE CHANGED CONSIDERABLY SINCE THE INITIAL WAX TIP WAS PUBLISHED.    

Following is the preliminary Cyclova XC Racing Service 2016 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 17+ years of professional experience in creating race wax tips.  Please also note that these wax tips will be updated, should they need to be.

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

If you would like Cyclova XC's waxing guru's to wax your skis up for the fastest skis of your life, CLICK HERE for the full scoop!

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

When:  23k Classic/Skate, 52k Classic, or 50k Skate. 9 waves, with the elites starting at 8AM at Telemark on Saturday, February 20, 2016.

Want More Details???  I expect the snow & weather conditions of the 2016 Birkie to be nearly identical to the past several Birkies, therefore, my wax tip is very similar to last years.  See a very detailed commentary on the logic behind the 2014 Birkie Wax Tip, which again, is very similar to the 2016 Birkie.  This will help the most hard core ski dorks (yes, we're proud dorks) understand the reasoning behind the below information.  There is also a wealth of ski tech info on the Cyclova XC Ski Tech page.

Forecast & Conditions:  Overnight low close to 15'F, with a temp of near in the mid to upper teens at the start.  Daytime high will be in the mid 20's, with a mostly cloudy sky. The snow temp will be relatively cold.  Expect machined track conditions comprised of a mix of packed powder and old snow.  Some dirt will be present in the snow - particularly on the final 15 k of the Birkie course on the south facing hills - as well as in the vicinity of road crossings.  Classic tracks will be firm and somewhat glazed.  Due to the huge number of skiers going over the same snow (glazing and rounding off of the snow crystals), later wave skiers can wax a bit warmer than the early wave skiers. 

Ski Flex Tips:  Moderate to soft flexed skis for machined track conditions with a bit of fresh snow on top.

Structure Tips:
Structure (Elite through wave 3):  Cold SuperFine 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, HSLF-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.  **NOTE:  As a more affordable alternative to Flite Flourocarbon, try the NEW Fast Wax Race Pro Cold Paste - in stock at Cyclova XC**
Fast Wax (Wave 4 and later): HS-10 Teal, Scrape, Brush, HSLF-10 Teal, Scrape, Brush, HSF-20 Tan, 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 **NOTE:  As a more affordable alternative to Flite Flourocarbon, try the NEW Fast Wax Race Pro Cold Paste - in stock at Cyclova XC**
Swix (Elite through Wave 3):  LF-4, Scrape, Brush, HF-4, Scrape, Brush, FC-7 (Cold Cera) ironed in, brush with dedicated flouorcarbon brush, and polished with polishing pad
Swix (Wave 4 and later)  LF-6, Scrape, Brush, HF-6, Scrape, Brush, FC-8 (Medium Cera) ironed in, brush with dedicated flouorcarbon brush, and polished with polishing pad
Toko (Elite through Wave 3):  Tribloc LF Black / Tribloc LF Blue mix (1 : 1 Ratio) Scrape, Brush, Tribloc 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):   Tribloc LF Black, Scrape, Brush, Tribloc HF Blue/HF Red mix (1 : 1 Ratio), scrape, brush, Jetstream Red ironed or roto-corked in, brush with dedicated flouorcarbon brush, and polished with polishing pad (If you can get your hands on it, Helx Cold would also be an optimal Flourocarbon for this event).

Grip Wax Tips:
Swix:  Roughen grip zone with 150 grit sandpaper.  Apply Swix VR-35 Base Binder, iron, and smoothen with cork.  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 4 thin smoothly corked layers of Swix VR-40.
Toko:  Roughen grip zone with 150 grit sandpaper.  Apply Toko Base Green, 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 3-4 thin, smoothly corked layers of Toko Blue (later wave skiers who want more grip will likely enjoy 3-4 thin, smoothly corked layers of Toko Red).


Should you have any questions on Birkie ski prep, feel free to stop by or contact the expert ski technicians at Cyclova XC.  If you're interested in having us wax your skis, ensuring lightning fast skis, check our our Birkie Ski Service Program HERE.  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!


Adventure and Tech: Thursday, February 11th at 6 PM: Birkie Tips & Tricks ... and waxing for the 2016 Birkie

Make the most of your 2016 Birkie - by picking up a few Birkie tips & tricks at the Birkie Adventure & Tech Event - Thurs, Feb 11th!
YOU'RE INVITED:  6 p.m. on Thursday, February 11, 2016 at Cyclova XC:

As always these events are FREE and open for all to attend!  There will be an intermission between the two presentations with snacks, beverages and plenty of time for socializing!  For the full Winter-Spring 2015-16 Adventure and Tech Social Series line-up click here

Adventure:  Ben "Hugh" Jonjakman, co-owner of Cyclova XC and Birkie Warrior, will share his favorite nuggets of wisdom as a seasoned Birkie veteran. Ben will entertain the masses with his humor and is sure to spread Birkie Fever! Get the pro tips on preparing, navigating check-in, and avoiding snafus at the start line. Prepare for tales of traditions, conditions, mishaps and victories that will inspire you to sign up for your very own Birkie race!
Ben and company will amaze, surprise, and delight you with practical pearls of Birkie wisdom!
 
Tech: Frank Lundeen, co-owner of Cyclova XC, will reveal the much anticipated 2016 Birkie race wax recommendations and demonstrate glide wax application methods that will improve your ski speed and race results. Learn how to maximize the time and money spent waxing your skis. There will be plenty of time for Q & A as well! Just in time to ski your best Birkie ever! Catch the FEVER!
Frank, professional ski tech & waxer has been professionally creating wax tips for more than 17 years - he will unveil the first preliminary wax tip for the 2016 Birkie at the event!