Mix it up with a Winter Triathlon!

Ski.Run.Bike .... that's the tag line on every CyclovaXC business card and decal we've ever created. It's who we are and why we exist. But how often can you do those things together -- one right after the other? And how often do you get the chance to compete against the best in the nation in these awesome activities?

Welcome to the King Boreas Winter Triathlon to be held on January 29th -- just one month away!  Once again this St. Paul Winter Carnival event has been selected by the USAT to be the Winter Triathlon National Championship.  If you are interested in competing in this, don't procrastinate as the entry fee will increase after January 1st (tomorrow!!!).

 

I competed last year and was able to qualify for the World Championships.  A highlight of 2016! Inspired by Ben Mullins's blogs of his favorite races, here's my attempt to share my winter tri story:

I spent most of last January in Southern California and it wasn't until I came back on January 28th that I discovered there was going to be a Winter Triathlon on the 31st as part of the St. Paul Winter Carnival.  My skis were still in storage, and I had never ridden a fat bike (which organizer Jeremy Sartain said was pretty much a necessity for the course that was planned) but I had competed in several running events while in California and put in a lot of miles on my Trek Cross Rip in my work helping cities to become more bicycle friendly as part of my job with the League of American Bicyclists, so I figured I could do alright -- or at least not embarrass myself too badly.  At any rate, I was excited that here was an opportunity to compete in my three favorite activities, even if it was just three days away!  I registered, contacted a friend about borrowing his beloved fat bike, and hot waxed my skis.  Early the next morning (two days before the race) when the thin layer of snow on the pond was frozen hard for good skate skiing I tested my skis, basically going in circles for about a half hour and wishing for a bit more muscle memory to emerge. It was fun, but a lot more work than it should have been!

The day before the event Jeremy hosted a preview ride where I got my first real ride on a fat bike. Unfortunately, because of the 40 degree temps, we actually had to stay off most of the actual course, and we learned that some of the sections would need to be changed, meaning, there would be more pavement riding than originally planned. Jeremy also was not confident that the Phalen Lake ski course would hold up for the race (it was closed that day) and warned that instead of run, bike, ski, it might end up a run, bike, run -- a winter duathlon.

After the preview ride I decided try out the fat bike with clipless pedals and my regular season Bontrager bike shoes.  No problem!  Now I was really getting excited, glad to be on a Salsa Beargrease, even if it wasn't one of the carbon models. (I was on the X5 aluminum frame, the same type that we rent here at CyclovaXC).

The morning of the race I chose sleep over breakfast but had sufficient coffee with a bit of goat's milk to feel plenty energized.  Then 15 minutes or so before the race I drank my usual pre-race coconut water but only about 6 oz.  Extra coco water stashed with the bike and skis to down during the transition.  I am a big believer in less is more and for shorter races want to have my stomach as empty as possible.  I figured the entire effort would take as much energy and time as a half marathon (but I was wrong), and anything I can do under an hour and a half can be done with the carbs already in my system from the day before.  Beyond that and I risk bonking.

In keeping with less is more philosophy, I like to run in the Vibram five fingers (Sprint version which they no longer make) but because they take longer to remove, I opted for my Merrell's Glove "barefoot" shoe which I wore with a very thin wool ski sock.

When the run started the temperature was in the twenties and all the thawing from the day before created some areas of ice across the mostly paved route around Lake Phalen. There were a few other places where we had to go through some crusty snow, but nothing real challenging on the relatively flat course.  I think I let my adrenaline take too much control at the start as it wasn't long before I started slowing down and the more prudent Richard Chin passed me with his steadier pace.  I picked up a little but never did catch up to Richard which surprised me because the last few years I've been able to run faster than Richard who had first impressed me over a decade ago with his personal account of the 24 hour ski race at Telemark as a journalist for the St. Paul Pioneer Press.  I knew that since this was a National Championship, Richard would not be the only one in my age group I needed to worry about, but he was the only "old guy" at that point in the race ahead of me.

Maybe it was the extra clothing or the colder air, but instead of coming in under 20 minutes for the 5K which was my plan, I was at 22:31.  (Never to think negative thoughts about my performance  I decided either the course was longer than a 5K or the clock was wrong). At the end of the run there were 13 racers ahead of me with Richard 8 seconds in front. Richard increased that time advantage by another 6 seconds by being quicker out of the transition area, but once I got on the bike I felt like a new man and took off at full speed down the pavement.

Before the race I was snooping around trying to figure out what the top racers were doing for tire pressure.  Nearly half the biking would take place on the paved trail but the rest was off-road and would be a challenging mix of ice, slush, mud and packed snow with some technical turns, ups, downs and crazy non-benched side slopes.  I knew more air would make me faster on the pavement, and wasn't convinced it would hurt me too much on the snowy portions so opted (despite a warning or two) for 15 psi, figuring I could always let some air out if need be.

As it turns out, I passed riders on the pavement and in turn, they got around me in the snow. But did well enough in the biking (averaging 10.6 mph) that as I was reaching the end of the 5 lap course, a supporter yelled out that I was now in the top ten!  And I had passed Richard on the second lap, never to see him again (I hoped) so I was fairly certain that I was now leading my age group (55-59).

I was actually looking forward to getting on my skate skis but first I had to deal with a bit of a thirst issue. Foolishly, I did not have a water bottle on the bike, and the 12 oz of coco water I downed after the run was not enough.  By the third lap on the bike I was feeling terribly thirsty but not much I could do about it. So I took extra long in the transition (nearly 2 minutes) to get rehydrated (water and coco water) and of course lacing up ski boots takes longer than velcroing bike shoes.

Got the skis going and though felt a bit stiff at first, I soon found a good rhythm and was surprised by how fast the snow was.  It was now above freezing and though there were still some icy and difficult corners I preferred those sections over the softer and slower areas (which seemed to increase as the race wore on).  Before the end of the first lap, as I was climbing a long, undulating hill it happened: severe cramping to the point that I had to stop skating altogether and try to double pole my way up. Well, that just caused cramping to extend into my arms, so I actually stopped for a few seconds to massage my legs and try to ease the pain. Started out again but the cramping and pain continued.  I took some deep breaths, tried to relax and just told myself to keep moving, no matter how slow it had to be.  About that time Jan Guethner sped by me with her near perfect form and not too long after I was on my second lap, Richard Chin flew by me.  In each case, I said something like, "way to go!" but could not apply the same sentiments to myself. As what I hoped would be fleeting stayed with me till the end.  After I crossed the finish line I fell and just laid in the snow, not sure if anyone in my age group but Richard had passed me, but mostly just glad that the race was over.

So yes, Richard won the age group, and I was second.  But as it turns out, I had the fastest qualifying time for the World Championships since by time that would happen in 2017, I would be in the 60-64 age group.  Nobody my age or older was faster than me despite my 25th place showing in the cross country skiing portion of the race. I ended up was 15th overall.  (The results show a 60 year old ahead of me but he was actually disqualified since he only completed one lap of the ski course - hence the faster time!)

Afterwards there was a party at the Insight Brewery in Minneapolis (the major sponsor of the race along with Now Sports), and it was fun to talk to people who had traveled as far away as Seattle, Washington to compete!  So of course I am signed up again this year, and unlike last year this year I will:

  • Already own a fat bike (and have put on hundreds of miles!)
  • Have plenty of water with me while riding
  • Make sure I get in at least 100 km of skiing before the event!
  • Get up early enough to eat breakfast, and use energy gels (probably Stinger or my own maple syrup concoction) during transitions in addition to the coconut water.

So if you  are like me and love to run, bike and ski, what could be a better event? Hope to see you there!   



YES, WE HAVE STUDDED TIRES!

Hey winter bike enthusiasts!  If you are wondering how to stay upright and have a blast with all the ice out there you know the answer! Yes we pride ourselves in being the winter bike headquarters of the region. And yes we have a variety of studded tires (as well as studs for studdable tires) for fat bikes (26 X 4), 29'ers and cross/commuters (700cc). Featuring the best designs from 46North and Terrene, our tires allow you to perform figure 8s on a skating rink!  And any size or type not in stock we can generally have the next day. Also we have insulated water bottles, all kinds of winter clothing including 100% merino wool base layers, socks, gaiters, gloves, hats, jackets, pants and coats.  Plus the warmest bike boot ever created - the light-weight, water-resistant, breathable, and durable 45Nrth Wolfgar!

Give us a call or just come on in and we will make sure you have what you need for safe and fun biking throughout the year.

Mullin's Winter Warm-up 10k Race Report

Pioneer Midwest Winter Warm-up Logo
And so it begins.  The nordic skiing race season and thus "Mullin's Race Reports".  If you are new around here check out the "Mullin's Ski Race Report" label and cure your insomnia (don't forget to click "Older Posts" when you get to the bottom... there is more).  Some are short and sweet, some are a novel.  It depends on the race and my inspiration to write.  They generally follow the following format though:  Intro/Preamble (optional), Pre-Race, Race, Analysis with numbers/spreadsheets/graphs, What's Next.

This time around we will get a little longer Preamble to start the season and then since this is the first report of the year it may tend to be on the wordy side.  I promise they won't all be novels.

Preamble

The season came to a pretty abrupt close last year.  I had a good Birkie, but not the one I was hoping for.  Then a too warm Pepsi, and then the season closed with another spectacular blow-up at the Great Bear Chase that I never even wrote about.  We skied on the Birkie trail the following day, and then I wasn't on snow again until just two weeks ago.

Summer was spent riding a lot of bike.  I broke out the roller skis a couple of times in late July and then promptly busted my collar bone mountain biking at the beginning of August.  That meant all upper body and roller skiing was put on hold for 6+ weeks.  It is a good excuse anyhow.

This fall kicked into high gear hanging with Coach K, DLee, DLes, and the occasional appearance of Big E and TW.  We were pounding the pavement regularly out on The Rock and the Lushanko Loop.  It started a little rough but it came into form pretty well through October and the beginning of November.  It got a little rocky late November and early December with poor scheduling and poor road conditions.  Things are coming around again though with some snow on the ground finally (even if it might only be the man made loops after this weekend).


The season goal of course is what any self respecting Wave 1 Birkie skier's goal is... to make the Elite Wave.  Will I make it this year?  Am I fitter than last year?  Smarter?  Only time will tell.  I'm optimistic, but as usual, I know I could have done more.

Pre-Race

On to the first race of the year!  Excited to get out and put a benchmark effort down and get a few of the nerves of going hard and racing out of my system I decided the Christmas Eve race at Elm Creek, the Winter Warm-up 10k put on by Pioneer Midwest would be the ticket.

They were originally optimistic that it would be on the mythical trails that aren't the man made loop.  I say mythical because I have over 1500km of skiing at Elm Creek the last couple of years and I think maybe 20km of that ISN'T on the 2.4k man made loop.  Sadly, the stupid warm weather and rain instead of snow on Friday relegated us to stock car racing on the loop.

What spent the summer as a bike workbench has been returned to a ski wax station.
I got a late start to waxing on Friday night and I wanted to wax two pairs to try so I grabbed my stiff, but colder flex Xiums and my warm Xiums and put Swix CH7 followed by Fast Wax HSLF20 on.  Good enough for a 10k training race.  The forecast was for the temps to drop to the lower 20's over night with a race time temp of 24.  I woke up to 32F at 6am....  Turns out the course was still nice and firm and the man made stuff tends to ski colder than the air anyhow.  Both pairs felt decent, but the stiffer skis felt a little freer underfoot so they got the call.

Lining up at the start of the race is always a bit of a guess.  I'm getting to know a lot of the skiers and can self seed OKish.  There were quite a few college and high school racers though so I guessed back a little bit further than usual.  I picked the third row right next to Dave Christopherson.  At about 15 people per row based on my ultimate finishing position that was about right.  The early weaving in the race maybe says I could have started better, but we are getting ahead of ourselves.

Race
The start of the 10k race about 200m in.  You can see that we were going to be elbow to elbow.  Photo Credit: Skinny Ski
With the blow of a horn we were off.  The start was relatively clean, though I may have stepped on someones pole and had it get stripped clean from their hand.    Snug straps and good glue are a must for mass starts.  Not that I feel good about stipping someones pole, but its pretty hard to avoid some contact in a start like that.  At about 500m someone went down just a little bit ahead of me.  A couple more people piled up over them, but I had enough clearance to make it around.

For some reason the groomers decided to set the track in about 3-5' from the edge of the trail.  This was NOT helpful as it compressed the trail even more.  I had numerous instances where I was skating between the track and the edge of the trail.  Up on top by the parking lot there was maybe only room for 1.5 skaters between the tracks.  With 250+ skiers out there and traffic going both ways that stretch was terrifying with oncoming traffic.

I spent the majority of the first lap trying to find my place in the pack.  There were quite a few skiers coming and going.  I'm not quite sure how many I passed but it was quite a few in big groups at first.  Nearing the end of the first loop things were starting to sort themselves out.  I was near the back of a train of guys.  Gaps would open up though and I was feeling OK so I kept hopping up the group to close down gaps.

Somewhere early into the second lap, the same lap/race traffic was pretty steady.  I latched on behind Scott Ellertson and Craig Stolen.  Craig had taken a little detour off trail early in the first lap.  In fact I'm pretty sure you can see him on the far left of the picture above in the black suit and white hat with one ski off trail.

For the next lap and a half I stuck to those guys like glue.  There were short stretches where I'd have to work hard to keep up, or as we passed through 5k  racers and lapped traffic.  Agility, balance, and focus were absolute requirements for the race.  Traffic was everywhere and you didn't often just get to ski.  This made pacing and forming a solid paceline challenging.  I know I had to put a few extra digs in to catch back up to Scott and Craig after we went separate ways around other races.

Only about 1km into the race.  Trying to find a spot to settle in.  Photo Credit: Skinny Ski
Climbing out of the donut on the third lap the fatigue was building.  Craig and Scott got a little gap on me and I just couldn't quite close it down.  I knew that with the long slow descent down to the Valley it would be hugely beneficial to be on, but I couldn't do it.  I spent the next half a lap trying to avoid a major blow-up and being passed by the masses.  I did finally get caught under the bridge by a young kid and I tried to hold onto him.  He got a little gap up the donut the final time, but I was closing in on him as we approached the practice field and the finish.

Unfortunately there was 5k finishing traffic and the hard left I got pinched out of the inside line and unfortunately tangled with a kid and took us both down.  No equipment broken, but it was a bummer for both of us.  I lost about 10 seconds and got passed by 4 guys.  Ah well.  Such is racing sometimes.

Post race was another easy 10k chatting with various folks and waiting for the taste of pennies in my mouth to subside.

Analysis

To the spreadsheet!

First a link to the results I suppose.  And maybe my subjective analysis.  I'm pretty happy with the race. Craig and Scott have been decidedly ahead of me in previous years so having a chance to hang onto them for 70% of the race was good.  Andy Schakel and Tyler Olson are also solid guys and they were less than a minute ahead.  Also, despite falling off that last lap I never felt out of control or felt like my technique went to total garbage.  Historically that happens in those first few shorter races.  I expect that to only get better too as I do more of the high intensity intervals over the coming weeks.

OK, now to the spreadsheet.  As a reminder, this is a magical spreadsheet that will convert one race to another.  OK, maybe not magic, and it doesn't really convert.  It contains the results from a bunch of races and it will pick out the common racers between races and do a linear trendline to let you roughly compare results between races.  Its far from perfect, and it contains all sorts of caveats.  But it is a useful tool for me to put some objective measures on race performance.


In this case I've taken the results from the last two years and "predicted" my 2016 Birkie.  The interesting thing here is that pretty much across the board my actual 2016 Birkie is much worse than the predictions.  Rather than an argument against the spreadsheet though I think this is more reflective of not skiing to my potential at the Birkie.  As far as predictions of the potential, this latest race produced one of the better predictions.


Going the other way and predicting the results of the last two years  shows a general trend towards improvement.

Both ways aren't huge outstanding improvements though.  That is OK though given what that race was and where we are at in the season.  Besides, nothing is a better predictor than the race itself.

What's Next

Probably a few weeks skiing at Elm Creek.  I picked up my season pass before the race.  Originally I was optimistic I wouldn't have to ski there at all this year and wouldn't need to buy a pass.  In hindsight, I should have bought one anyhow even if we had fantastic snow.  This is a vote of support for everything that Three Rivers does for the nordic community with my wallet.  At $75 it's worth making that vote to ensure we have this for the future.

After that, we are off to SISU for the first marathon of the season on Jan 7.  The course is shorter this year at only 31k.  I think its going to be good though as a first longer race.  I am seeded in the elite wave of the race this year so I'm looking forward to finding a good ride all the way to Ironwood.  Riding Coach K's draft?  If I can!

Thursday, Dec. 22nd at 6PM: Biathlete/XC Skier Andy Liebner

Thursday is going to be a really great presentation/social gathering at CyclovaXC. Andy Liebner, the author of "Wild Shot" is going to present on his experiences as a world class biathlete, and also discuss US Ski Pole Company. His book is filled with great stories of travel, training, competing at the UK national biathlon championships and winning a WorldLoppet race from the 2nd wave! For any local individuals who are interested in the sport of Cross-Country skiing, this is going to be a great presentation. Please share the event!

Also, if you volunteered at the Solstice Chase, please stop by tomorrow evening and pick up your free race T-shirt if you haven't received one yet! See you tomorrow!

Solstice Chase Preliminary Results

Hey Folks!
Once again, thanks to all volunteers, sponsors and participants of the 2016 Solstice Chase! We had a great time! As always, we're interested in feedback or concerns, so send your insights to bj@cyclovaxc.com.

Preliminary results are posted at Gopher State Events here. Note that you have to select Solstice Chase from the drop down menu. Please inform us of any errors so we can finalize the results soon.

As always I like to "explode" our racers. If you have a picture you want enhanced with a cool explosion, send it along with "Explode Me" in the subject line. If you're really lucky, you might even end up on next year's poster! No picture is so good that it can't be improved by inserting an explosion into the background.

Thanks once again for coming, we'll see you in 2017!

!Race Course, Grooming, and Safety Update - Solstice Chase 2016!

The 2016 Solstice Chase will start at (and finish just above) the Dalles House Bar & Lounge! 

Happy "Solstice Chase Eve"!  I wanted to reach out to our racer & race fans with an update on the weather forecast, our plan for course preparation, and what we expect our race course to be like on Saturday.  Note that all of these pictures were taken on Wednesday...

Give Thanks... To the Woolly Bike Club:   For starters, this year's Solstice Chase wouldn't be possible, were it not for 8 + years of diligent hard work by the Woolly Bike Club's dedicated volunteers - please give them a high five, come up frequently to enjoy our world class groomed singletrack, and consider making the Woolly Bike Club your IMBA Chapter of choice or make a tax deductible donation to the Woolly Bike Club.

The entire Solstice Chase race course is in pristine, firm, corduroy condition currently - and our Solstice Chase & Woolly crew are committed to keeping it that way!  This picture is of the "Interlink Trail", which connects our race venue (Dalles House Bar & Lounge) with the Woolly Bike Club's Groomed Singletrack!
A narrative...  of our race course:  The first .9 mile is on our "Interlink Trail", which is 8 feet wide and groomed to perfection.  This trail meanders through town (including a sweet tunnel that goes under US Hwy 8) and is a gradual climb the entire way.  This trail leads to a trail that is 6 feet wide for another .6 mile, which leads to the Woolly Bike Club's Groomed Singletrack.  Our intention is that this 1.5 mile of wide trail (with a long gradual climb) will help to spread and sort the race field out considerably, prior to reaching the groomed singletrack - greatly reducing congestion on the singletrack.  Once on the singletrack, you'll primarily enjoy Woolly's sweet flowy lines of groomed singletrack - with occasional stints of wider trail sections mixed in for passing.  Eventually, you'll pop out at the Woolly Trailhead (at the bottom of "big oak") - this is the critical lap point.  If you're doing the long race, you'll be turning right and headed out for another lap - if you're doing the short race, you'll turn left and head in to the finish.  When you turn left toward the finish (first lap if you're doing the short race, second lap if you're doing the long race), you'll enjoy a fast & fun .9 mile ride back down toward the finish line!
The Interlink trail leads to this meadow trail, which leads to the sweet Woolly Groomed Singletrack!
Grooming Update - through Thursday night:  For the past week, we've been out every day working on packing the 5" of fluffy snow that we do have on the ground, to a rock solid base - a base that will hold up to 350 fat bike racers!  

Forecast, SNOW, and COLD TEMPS:  If you wanted warm weather and perfect firm conditions - you wouldn't be doing a fat bike race!  ;-)  Mother Nature likes to keep us on our toes, and this year's Solstice Chase is no exception!  The National Weather Service Forecast is calling for 5"-10" of fresh snow on race day (avoid a sketchy Saturday morning drive and take advantage of the sweet lodging deals here in town) and a Friday overnight low of 4 degrees, with slowly falling temps throughout race day.  A 15 mph wind is also expected.

Safety:  We guarantee the Solstice Chase Fat Bike Race will happen on Saturday!  With that said, safety (of both our racers & volunteers) is always the #1 priority of every event director.  With that said, we do reserve the right to change or shorten the race course in the event of dangerous temperatures and wind chills. 
The highlight of the race course will be the sweet flowy Groomed Singletrack - prepared by the Woolly Bike Club!
Remember to bring an extra set of clothes and your dancing shoes for after the race - we have a fantastic afternoon & evening planned - full of podium awards ceremonies, swag giveaways, and the Solstice Chase After Party starting at 4PM!

Following is the schedule for the day:
All Day Outside Food Vending:  Food & Beverage Service will be available outside.  Outside menu will include a variety of hot drinks (including adult hot drinks), pastries, breakfast sandwich, etc.  From 11 to closing there will be a Solstice Burger, Chips, and Fat Tire beer special for $10.   (cash only outside, cards accepted inside).  The full Dalles House menu will be available all day inside also!
8AM:  Solstice Chase Race Registration pickup starts inside the Dalles House Bar & lounge.
10AM:  Solstice Chase long race starts at the Dalles House
10:15AM:  Solstice Chase short race starts at the Dalles House
Afternoon:  Full Dalles House Menu available inside at the bar or Supper Club (you need to try a pop-over with butter flavor of the day)!
2:30PM:  Awards for both race distances overall - including $1000 cash for the long race! 
3PM:  More sweet fat biking swag will be given away than you can shake a stick at - must be present to win! 
4PM:  Stay for our Solstice Chase After Party and the nationally known Kurt Jorgenson 6 piece band rocking their "Americana Soul" style tunes at the Dalles House Bar and Lounge!  Stay late and crash at one of the great hotels with special Solstice Chase rates!  
 
See you at the Solstice Chase!
 
 

Solstice Chase 2016 - Parking Info

Above is a visual overlay of our parking lots for race day - details are outlined below...
Thank you for your interest in the 2016 Solstice Chase - a world class fat bike race, community festival, and celebration of Winter!  For the full scoop on the Solstice Chase, go to www.SolsticeChase.com.  Please also note that this year's event is at a new venue - with the start & finish at the Dalles House Bar & Lounge!  

Parking at large events is often a challenge, but we're committed to making it easy for 2016 Solstice Chase attendees!

First off, as you approach the venue, you'll notice our friendly volunteers in orange vests who will direct you to a sweet parking spot.  Also, be on the lookout for big green signs directing you to the closest available parking spot.  

Following are points that we ask you to keep in mind as you arrive on Saturday:
  • There is NO PARKING in the normal Dalles House Bar parking lot on event day.  There is also NO EVENT PARKING at the Polk County Info Center.
  • Our main event parking lot is to the south of the Dalles House Bar & Lounge - and in front of the Dalles House Motel.  Volunteers will be awaiting you here to assist you in finding a parking spot.
  • Once the main parking lot at the Dalles House is full, people will be directed about 1/4 mile south on Hwy 35 to park in the Alliance Church of the Valley's main parking lot.  
  • We expect to be able to fit close to 400 cars in these lots, but if these all fill up we suggest you find a parking spot to the north of Hwy 8 - toward downtown St. Croix Falls.
Finally note that one of our hotel specials for the event is right at the venue!  The option of waking up right at the venue with your car already in the ultimate parking spot - and not having to drive through the snow sounds pretty good, right!?!  Check out the Dalles House Motel (and the Holiday Inn Express) special event rates HERE!

See the above map for a rough lay of the land as to where these parking lots are.

!!$1000 Cash Prize Money @ 2016 Solstice Chase!!


Once again, the Solstice Chase will have one of the deepest cash prize purses ever offered!  Check out our overall podiums from the 2015 long event - and scroll down to view the details on our 2016 cash purse (different from 2015).


Our 2015 Solstice Chase long race women's podium included Jenna Rinehart (1st), April Morgan (2nd), and Danielle Musto (3rd).
Our 2015 Solstice Chase long race men's podium included Jeff Hall (1st), Adam Bergman (2nd), and Ryan Fitzgerald (3rd).
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  2016 Solstice Chase Fat Bike Race to feature $1000 cash prize purse - HUGE THANKS to St. Croix Falls, the City of Trails and 45NRTH, our cash prize purse sponsors!  As was the case in 2015, this is likely the biggest cash prize to ever be awarded in a fat bike race!  Please note that the venue for this year's event has changed and is now in St. Croix Falls - starting at finishing at the Dalles House Bar and Lounge.  Go to www.solsticechase.com for the full scoop.

Elite racers in the long course Solstice Chase Fat Bike Race will have a huge extra incentive to go fast - $1000 in cold hard cash!  Following is how the $1000 cash purse will be distributed this year:
LONG RACE -  LADIES & GENTLEMEN:
1st Place:  $300
2nd Place:  $125
3rd Place:  $75

The overall cash awards will be presented at the podium at 2:30 - and there will be a TON of amazing fat biking swag to be given away at 3PM - you must be present to win!  

We expect a huge elite racer field in this year's Solstice Chase, so there will be epic battles for this cash out on the race course!  Huge thanks to our cash prize purse sponsors of 45NRTH & St. Croix Falls - The City of Trails!


The Solstice Chase Fat Bike Race isn't just a world class fat bike race - it's a community event, a celebration of Winter in St. Croix Falls, and a big party!  Amazing food and drink will be served up all day by the Dalles House - both outside the venue & inside - from coffee to adult hot drinks - from donuts to steak!  CLICK HERE to check our all of the amenities and details on the 2016 Solstice Chase!  We encourage you to stay and play in St. Croix Falls - The City of Trails (check out our event lodging specials HERE)!  

For the full scoop on the 2016 Solstice Chase Fat Bike Race, go to www.solsticechase.com.  For up to the minute updates, frequent the Solstice Chase Facebook Page.  

Adventure & Tech Social #2: Author/Biathlete Andy Liebner of US Ski Pole Company to speak on Dec. 22!

I'm very excited to announce Andy Liebner author of Wild Shot and owner of US Ski Pole Company has agreed to come and give a talk at Cyclova as part of our Adventure Tech & Social series on December 22nd. Andy is a former top level biathlete, and he will be discussing his novel Wild Shot which deals with his experiences as a professional skiier. This is an inspiring book that will be of interest to anyone who enjoys the sport of XC skiing or biathlon.

Andy is also the owner of US Ski Pole Company, the only ski pole manufacturer entirely based in the US. I've skiied on these poles for the last 2 Birkies, and they are the lightest, and stiffest poles I've ever tried. If you have questions about ski pole fabrication, this will be an event you don't want to miss.

CLICK HERE for the full Cyclova Adventure & Tech Social Series schedule.

Please share the Facebook event, and look forward to a wonderful evening! See you there!

About Wild Shot:

Struggles and successes in biathlon and cross country skiing

"Andy Liebner is a fast young Alaskan who went from top junior and collegiate XC ski racing results to signing up for the military the day after 9-11 to then racing around the world to see how far he could go in XC skiing and biathlon. He had many surprising adventures along the way and learned what it means to go it alone (with help from friends). Breakthroughs and frustrations alike abound in his story. The barriers were ENDLESS and only got BIGGER, yet Andy persevered. The finale is fascinating with major twists." -- Jeff Potter

!Solstice Chase Lodging Specials - Avoid A Snowy Drive And Stay in St. Croix Falls!

Things are shaping up for a fantastic 2016 Solstice Chase - it's a literal Winter Wonderland up here, and as I look out the window now it looks like a snow globe!  

The entire race course has been groomed - including the incredibly sweet Woolly Bike Club's Groomed Singletrack - and it will be groomed several more times prior to the race.  The Dalles House Bar and Lounge (our gracious venue) is prepping all kinds of amazing food & drink specials for us for morning, noon, and night.  Finally, to cap it off - the full Kurt Jorgenson Band is set to play starting at 4 for our huge after party!  For the full scoop on Solstice Chase Entertainment, Food, and Drink, CLICK HERE.

With that said, it's looking like a significant Winter Storm may be hitting us on Friday (Solstice Chase Eve).  Once I saw this forecast, I thought it would be a good idea to remind racers & race fans that we have amazingly affordable hotel specials at great hotels right here in St. Croix Falls.  Avoid a long, snowy drive on race morning, pick up your race packet on Friday night at Cyclova XC, and stay right here in town!  

Holiday Inn Express has a 20% off special for this event - and the Dalles House Motel (right next to our start/finish) has an amazing room rate for the Solstice Chase of $60!  CLICK HERE to learn how to get these special room rates - and to enjoy the weekend of fat biking and carousing here in St. Croix Falls!  

For info on all things Solstice Chase, go to www.SolsticeChase.com

2016 - 2017 Cyclova XC Adventure & Tech Social Series Schedule


Yes it's that time again! As the temperatures drop and we know the white stuff is beginning to make a grand entrance, here at Cyclova XC we are preparing some fun nights at the store. Come to the kick-off tonight as our Winter-Spring Adventure and Tech Social Series gets underway with featured speaker/author Dan Woll! 

Yes, this year's line-up is just as impressive as previous years! Our quest: something for every type of adventure lover! Whether you are new to outdoor adventures or long time enthusiast, you won't be disappointed in the stories, slide shows and videos (and yes, we even have a big screen!). And as in previous years, the tech follows the adventure. Learn about a tech topic from an industry expert (okay, mostly Frank), and connect with local people that share a passion for outdoor adventure!  These events are FREE and open to everyone.

6 p.m. on Thursday, December 8, 2016 - An Evening with Dan Woll, author of newly released book, "Further" and Fat Bike Exploration with Frank Lundeen
Adventure: Dan Woll author and seasoned adventurer, will guide you deeper into the magical state of mind known as North of Highway 8 as he shares tales from his new book, Further.  Dan will entertain you with stories spanning everything from the Wilderman Triathlon to biking across the country. Autographed copies of Further and North of Highway 8, will be available for purchase that night.  You can also find Dan's inspirational and fun writings in Silent Sports and even occasionally in a CyclovaXC blog.
Tech: Frank Lundeen, co-owner of Cyclova XC, discusses the trends and technologies in the rapidly expanding fat bike industry - including how to dress for success while out on your fat bike - keeping you dry, comfortable, and warm (but no too warm).  Frank will lead this presentation dressed for a cold day of fat biking - and discuss the purpose of each layer.  After discussing how to dress for fat biking, Frank will lead a presentation on the history of fat biking, tech tips, and the winter gear that bites back at our harsh Midwest winters. Get the low-down on trail grooming techniques and machines, the volunteers behind our trails, and the benefits of riding on groomed snow versus back-country powder. They say "Fatter is Funner"- come find out why!

Saturday, December 17, 2017 starting at 10 a.m.: Cyclova XC proudly presents the Solstice Chase Fat Bike Race, part of the Great Lakes Fat Bike Series. Get your fat bike tuned up for a wickedly fun race, or gather your cowbells for some spectacular spectating in beautiful St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin!  This year the headquarters for the race and post race events is the Dalles House next to the Polk County Tourism Information Center on Hwy 35 just south of US Hwy 8.

6PM on Thursday, December 22, 2016 - Andy Liebner, author of Wild Shot and owner of US Ski Pole Company!
I'm very excited to announce Andy Liebner author of Wild Shot and owner of US Ski Pole Company has agreed to come and give a talk at Cyclova as part of our Adventure Tech & Social series on December 22nd. Andy is a former top level biathlete, and he will be discussing his novel Wild Shot which deals with his experiences as a professional skiier. This is an inspiring book that will be of interest to anyone who enjoys the sport of XC skiing or biathlon.

6 p.m. on Thursday, January 5, 2017 - Biking to the Birkie and Winter Bike Camping (with skis!):
Adventure: Steve Clark, Cyclova XC employee, shows how he equips his bike to not only carry skis but all the gear needed for camping in sub zero weather. While it might not be the best way to get a PR for the Birkie (a century ride from his farm), he guarantees it's always an adventure, (and some times even fun). Steve will also share some of his favorite stories of winter bike and ski camping on the St. Croix river and his bike trips to the Mora Vasaloppet.
Tech: Steve Clark, learn how to set up your own bike for carrying skis as well as the secrets to winter bike camping and long distance bike travel under the most challenging conditions.

6:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 19, 2017 - Paddling the Wild Rivers of Quetico Provincial Park
Adventure: Duane Lee, back by popular demand, will show two new videos and discuss his latest excursions.  Duane has paddled rivers and streams in the Nunavut, Yukon, and Northwest Territories as well as Alaska, British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario. He is an experienced and excellent whitewater paddler who likes to find new routes and explore small rivers.  The first video will feature a three week  canoe trip of solitude and beauty thru Quetico Provincial Park. As Duane explains it, "here one feels the song of the paddle and wind whistling thru the tall white pines ... we escape the hectic 24/7 culture and immerse ourselves into the solitude and peace.  With packs on our backs, we hike the ancient portage trails and canoe the sparkling waterways, first traveled by the native American’s and later by the fur traders of the Northwest Company."  The second video has Duane canoeing the Bigstone – Fox – Hayes rivers in northern Manitoba.  The trip starts with an upstream paddle thru a river of grass to the over-height of land portage into the Bigstone River culminating in paddling the historic Hayes River to the old Hudson Bay post – York Factory on the shores of Hudson Bay.  Along the way Duane spots a cow and calf moose swimming in the rapids. There is also footage of exciting whitewater, sublime fishing, otters playing in the water, all wrapped up in an overwhelming sense of solitude "to put our lives back into perspective".  As Siguard Olson wrote in Listening Point, “The way of a canoe is the way of the wilderness and of a freedom almost forgotten. It is an antidote to insecurity, the open door to waterways of ages past and a way of life with profound and abiding satisfactions. When a man is part of his canoe, he is part of all that canoes have ever known."
Tech: This will be a no tech evening, relax and enjoy the show!


6 p.m. on Thursday, February 2, 2017 - Tuscobia Winter Ultra and XC ski waxing fundamentals
Adventure: Dallas Wynne will tell us how he managed to survive the 2017 Tuscobia Winter Ultra, riding his fat bike 160 miles (without overnight lodging!) in what was sure to have been a brutally cold winter environment.  After completing 80 miles in 2016 in just over 11 hours, Dallas decided to double his fun in 2017. Come and learn Dallas's secrets for staying warm and strong all day and night under extreme conditions!  See his bike, and learn how he prepares his gear, hydration and nutritional fuel for 24 hours plus of hard core winter biking
Tech: Frank Lundeen, co-owner of Cyclova XC, will demonstrate xc ski waxing fundamentals. His simple approach will take the stress out of preparing your skis this winter and is sure to have you flying over fresh groomed snow with ease. Get a firsthand look at our stone-grinding machine, basic tools and waxes that tune  and condition for maximum performance and lifetime of your skis.

6 p.m. on Thursday, February 16, 2017- Birkie Tricks and 2017 Birkie Wax Recommendations:
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!
Tech: Frank Lundeen, co-owner of Cyclova XC, will reveal the much anticipated 2017 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!

6 p.m. on Thursday, March 9, 2017 - On the Road for a Bicycle Friendly America and local bicycle advocacy
Adventure:Steve Clark, former bike guy with the League of American Bicyclists presents on his travels around the country helping more than 200 communities become more bike-friendly.  Clark will show the most innovative facilities and discuss his favorite programs getting more butts on bikes!  William Johnson, former Polk County Supervisor will discuss threats to the Gandy Dancer and what can be done to ensure this region becomes more bike-friendly
Tech: Frank Lundeen will lead people through how to fix a flat on any bike; whether on the road or at home! Then he'll take questions on other bike maintenance "need to know" basics.
 
6 p.m. on Thursday, March 23, 2017 - From St. Croix Falls to Boston, Evolution of a Runner and Strength Training for Life 
Adventure: Tammi Braund, Winner of the Eau Claire Marathon and two time winner of the Gandy Dancer Marathon (women and men!) presents on Evolution of a Runner: from sprinter to long distance runner. Tammi will share her experiences (the good and the bad) as she juggles taking care of her six kids, training and competing in marathons. She will be
including tips on how to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
Tech:  Our Tech presentation will be led by Mike Colaizy, a local Ironman and Birkie veteran. Mike will present "Strength Training for life, techniques for optimizing running, bicycling and skiing". Mike is a certified trainer working for Wild River Fitness and long time triathlon hero. 

6 p.m. on Thursday, April 6, 2017 - Lake Superior Adventures and Bike Packing for Camping
Adventure: Can anyone ever get enough of the Big Lake? First, Amy Middleton will share tales of her epic 1000 mile kayak journey on Lakes Superior, Huron, and Michigan. Then    Frank Lundeen will wow everyone with his 1200 mile bike packing trip around Lake Superior - in 11 days of riding. 
Tech:  Frank Lundeen will present on ultra-light camping gear and how to pack a bike to ensure a comfortable, yet efficient (and self-sufficient) bike touring expedition!

MORE SPRING EVENT DATES TO BE ANNOUNCED... Stay tuned for Mammoth Gravel Classic details...