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Birkie 2017 Cancelled, Long Live the Birkie!

The bad news came today, February 24th, 2017. The 2017 Birkie had been cancelled. All our hopes were pinned on a massive snowstorm that dropped about a foot on Eau Claire but didn't make it much North of Rice Lake.

Through this whole topsy-turvy week, the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation has been fantastic. Ben Popp has been doing daily video updates, diligently going through a process that included contingency plan after contingency plan and letting the racers know where Birkie headquarters stood every step of the way. But the Birkie office can't control the weather and we just didn't get the necessary last minute snow to save the day.

I was on my way back from picking up my bib in Hayward when my wife read the cancellation announcement. This is one of those things you hear which takes a little bit of time to get used to. The Birkie is the race many of us circle on the calendar as the focus for the entire year. It keeps you honest in a world that wants to seduce you onto the couch and put pounds on you and make you sedentary. The intimidation factor of the Birkie makes you go out at 6PM in total darkness and ski for an hour in -10 degree weather. Maybe, just maybe, at the end of the year, you'll find you not only have enough energy and strength to finish the Birkie, but you also have enough fitness to chase your children around, and be healthy, and happy.

The good news is that the fitness you develop while training for the Birkie doesn't go away when mother nature isn't cooperative. The 2017 Birkie has done its job. We're fit, ready to go, and already looking forward to the next epic event. Training for the 2018 Birkie begins now.

I'm planning on heading up to the start area tomorrow to enjoy the Birkie events. It just wouldn't feel right to not wake up on Birkie morning, nervous and excited, to drive up to Cable for a day on skis with your 10,000 closest friends. My hope is that if Ben Popp is there, maybe we can talk him into awarding us a completion pin if we do a lap or three on their 5k loop :).

Remember folks that your race fees go to maintain and preserve the wonderful trail system that is the envy of the rest of Northern America. Many of the most memorable moments of my life have taken place on that brutal, beautiful windy track that stretches down from Cable to Hayward. We'll see y'all up at the start area tomorrow. Birkie 2017 is cancelled, long live the Birkie!
With my mom who would have been skiing her 30th Birkie...it'll have to wait for next year!

!!XC Ski Super Closeout Sale at Cyclova XC - 50% OFF ON SKIS & BOOTS, 25% OFF ON WAX/BAGS/GLOVES!!

Get in the SKI PRODUCT SUPER SALE at Cyclova XC - come in while the gettin' is good!
Every now and then, there is a sale that you can't afford to miss.  If you're a XC Skier, you can't afford to miss this sale - from February 16, 2017 - February 26, 2017!

Nearly all of our in stock ski products (doesn't apply to special orders) - skis, boots, ski clothing, wax, waxing tools, drink belts, ski bags, and more are part of this sale!  Following are the 2 categories of this sale:

25% OFF:
**The following in stock items are included in the 25% OFF SALE:
  • All in stock grip & glide ski wax
  • All in stock waxing tools & accessories
  • All in stock ski gloves
  • All in stock Drink belts
  • All in stock Ski Bags
50% OFF:
**The following items are included in the 50% OFF Sale:
  • All in stock xc skis (skate skis, classic skis, touring skis)
  • All in stock xc ski boots
  • All in stock Sporthill clothing
  • All in stock One Way brand ski pants 

All remaining in stock xc skis are on sale at 50% OFF!

All in stock wax & waxing tools at 25% OFF!

**No discounts are applied to any special order ski products.

PRELIMINARY WAX TIP: 2017 American Kortelopet & 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 preliminary Cyclova XC Racing Service 2017 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 18+ 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 at this year's Birkie or Korte, CLICK HERE for the full scoop!  Also, check out the HUGE SKI PRODUCT SALE HAPPENING AT CYCLOVA XC - WITH MANY SKI PRODUCTS AT 50% OFF!

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

American Kortelopet:  Friday, Feb 24, 2017.  Skate & Classic waves starting at 10:45AM
American Birkiebeiner:  Saturday, Feb 25, 2017.  Skate & Classic waves starting at 8:15AM.

Want More Details??? Waxing for a huge ski event like the Birkie is a very different deal than for a smaller more common event.  To understand the many considerations that go into a wax tip (especially for a huge event like the Birkie), check out this  very detailed commentary on the logic on the 2013 Birkie Wax Tip.  This will help the most hard core ski dorks (yes, we're proud dorks) understand the some on the considerations that go into the creation of a professional wax tip.  There is also a wealth of ski tech info on the Cyclova XC Ski Tech page.

Race Day Forecast - National Weather Service Point Forecast
Favorite Long Term Forecast - Accuweather.com
Favorite long term weather commentary - JohnDee.com

After 5 days of temps continually staying above freezing (even overnight) and rain on Monday/Tuesday, expect snow the trail surface to be old & dirty transformed snow, with a fair bit of dirt & debris mixed in.  More dirt & debris (and less snow) will be found the further south you go, and especially on south facing hills and at road crossings.
Overnight lows both Thursday & Friday nights will be close to 15'F, with a temp of near in the mid twenties at the start.  Daytime high will be in the mid 30's, with a mostly cloudy sky. The snow temp will be relatively cold during the day despite warming air temps.  There is a chance of a bit of snow or sleet on Friday.  Expect machined track conditions comprised primarily of old dirty snow & ice.  Classic tracks will be firm, glazed, and very abrasive.  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 stiff flexed skis for machined/firm/icy track conditions.

Structure Tips for Korte & Birkie:
Structure (Jr Waves through wave 1):  Warm Universal Grind or a medium structure (2 passes with the Red Toko Structure-Rite tool).  
Structure (Wave 2 and back):  Corn Snow Grind or a coarse linear structure (2 passes with the Yellow Toko Structure-Rite tool).  

Glide Wax Tips :
Fast Wax (Elite through wave 1): HS-20 Blue, Scrape, Brush, HSLF-20 Blue, 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
Fast Wax (Wave 2 and later): HS-30 Red, Scrape, Brush, HSLF-30 Red, Scrape, Brush, HSF-30 Salmon, 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
Swix (Elite through Wave 1):  LF-6, Scrape, Brush, HF-6BD, Scrape, Brush, FC-7 Cera ironed in, brush with dedicated flouorcarbon brush, and polished with polishing pad
Swix (Wave 2 and later)  LF-7, Scrape, Brush, HF-7, Scrape, Brush, FC-8 Cera ironed in, brush with dedicated flouorcarbon brush, and polished with polishing pad
Toko (Elite through Wave 1):  Tribloc LF Black, Scrape, Brush, Tribloc HF Red, scrape, brush, Jetstream Red ironed or roto-corked in, brush with dedicated flouorcarbon brush, and polished with polishing pad
Toko (Wave 2 and later):   Tribloc LF Black, Scrape, Brush, Tribloc HF Red/HF Yellow mix (2 : 1 Ratio), scrape, brush, Jetstream Red ironed or roto-corked in, 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, smoothen with thumb, and allow to cool.  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 thin layer of Swix KX-30 or KX-35 Klister.  If fresh snow has fallen, this will likely be carefully covered with a thin layer of VR-40 hard wax.
Toko:  Roughen grip zone with 150 grit sandpaper.  Apply Toko Base Green Klister, iron, smoothen with your thumb, and allow to cool.  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 think layer of Toko Red Klister.  If fresh snow has fallen, this will likely be carefully covered with a thin layer of Toko Red 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!

Wisconsin’s Birkebeiner Ski Race Seeks Volunteers

Area media release From William Johnson

CABLE--In just over a week, the Winter Olympics will come to Wisconsin in the form of the American Birkebeiner Ski Marathon, the largest ski race in the United States, Sat., Feb. 25.

Celebrating 44 years of bringing skiers from all over the world to ski 52 kilometers from Cable to Hayward, the Birkie offers a unique opportunity to see Olympic-class athletes competing in our area. Athletes, and members of international skiing teams, who compete for their countries in Olympic years, will travel to northwest Wisconsin to ski the Birkie. Several million dollars are pumped into Northwest Wisconsin’s economy each year by the Birkie, and people stay as far away from Hayward as Siren, to be part of the event.

Over 12,000 skiers are registered to take part in Birkebeiner events that are held around the Hayward area Feb. 23-26.

Over two thousand volunteers are needed each year to provide liquids and on-course nutrition to the skiers during the race. There are nine food stations on the race route, spaced over the 52 kilometers, and race organizers are in need of volunteers every year to provide this support. This can be used as a community service project for most students.

Volunteers receive Birkie hats and event pins, lunch, and a volunteer party invitation with a chance to win door prizes.

If you would like to be part of this rich history of the American Birkebeiner Ski Marathon, and would consider helping for a few hours on Friday, Feb. 24, or Saturday, Feb. 25, email local Birkebeiner Race Chief of the Gravel Pit Food Station, William Johnson, wfjohnson004@gmail.com for more information.

New in 2017 is the Korteloppet race being held on Friday the 24th and volunteers are also needed at the Gravel Pit food stop for a couple hours.

Registration to volunteer is easy on-line. Just go to www.birkie.com and click through the steps under volunteering, scroll down and click on the Gravel Pit food station from the list of options. You can choose the Korteloppet on Friday, or the full Birkie on Saturday (or both, if you really feel like being a mega-volunteer!)

Every year there are skiers from all 50 States and as many as 20 Countries competing at the Birkie. This is a chance to show off the best of the USA to the world. For more information on the race and its unique place in Wisconsin history visit: www.birkie.com 

Mullin's 2017 PreBirkie Race Report



It has been rough lately.  I'm working on compartmentalizing work stress, but it has been bleeding over and affecting training life.  Tuesday night I got out for my hard workout of the week and felt pretty flat.  I did 5 of the 7-8 intervals prescribed and called it a night.

The rest of the week I felt like I was getting sick and prioritized rest and recovery and ended up doing absolutely nothing Wednesday through Friday.


I went FastWax 20 underneath and SkiGo C22 for the top coat all on my nice soft warm Rossis.  I'm still not sure I'm doing the powder top coats right.  I need to have a hands on seminar with the experts.  The temps I think ended up warmer than anticipated and the course was pretty "silky".  The SkiGo felt like a good call, I'm not sure if the 20 was the right base layer, but erring on the side of cold is usually the safer bet.  My skis felt pretty good all day.  Drew Holbrook appeared to have rockets on which were clearly superior to the field.  Mine felt competitive.

On a related note, I hadn't cleaned my wax bench yet this year.  I'm sure Frank is horrified.

Hopefully Frank will sleep better after I cleaned it up.


I'm not great at getting a good starting spot for the PreBirkie.  It seems like every year I'm a few rows back from the line.  This year I was in the fourth row right next to Big E and in front of Mike P.  Looking around for "my competition" I saw Chris Halverson maybe a dozen columns to the left and on the front row.

Since my week was kinda sad I wasn't super pumped for the race and didn't go in with a specific strategy.  At this point I figured I would go with the flow on the lake and eventually find my groove.  Not long after the start and we swung to the right to head down the lake I found myself right next to Chris Halverson.  We skied a significant portion of SISU together and he flew past me at the Noque before I eventually pulled a little time back from him.  I figured this would be a good place for me to fall in line.

The field was big and the climb up from Duffy's field was two wide and pretty solid front to back.  I stuck to Chris like a shadow and we worked our way through the field.  He kept a nice steady pace and I saw him frequently looking at his watch, presumably pacing by HR.  I felt like I was pushing a bit to keep up with him, but at this point I really wanted to take the ride and push my limits.

The Pre-Birkie has a net elevation gain of 300+ feet. My app calculates 1600' of climbing compared to 1800' for the full Birkie. Yeah, lots of climbing.

Somewhere just after the Fish Hatchery I got caught up in a little traffic and I had to make a short burst to catch back up again.  I could feel I was on the limit there.  Unfortunately some where in there Elaine Nelson went by and Chris decided to take a ride himself.  I knew that was too hot for me and fell back to ski with a group of 26k racers and Dan Gjertson.  Dan has fantastic technique and super smooth pacing.

After Mosquito Brook he was on the front and put in a fantastic pull on the front of the group.  He basically led from there all the way past Gravel Pit.  Never surging, but just a nice steady effort.  The whole time Chris and Elaine were maybe 20-30 seconds up the trail.  But by Gravel Pit the gap was shrinking and by somewhere not too far north of there our group caught them again.  At that point I became Chris' shadow again.

Annotated HR graph from the race.

Nutritionally I was drinking steadily from my belt filled with Green Tea Buzz Tailwind.  I also grabbed a glass of something at most of the aid stations to supplement.  On the only major downhill between Gravel Pit and OO I grabbed the one gel I had pinned to my belt.  I fell off the back a slight bit again trying to shove the wrapper back into my belt.  I either need to find an easier way to do that or only eat at aid stations where I feel better about tossing the wrapper.  Thankfully I was able to catch back on with the group without too much issue.

Somewhere before Picnic Table Hill we picked up Drew Holbrook.  He hopped in the group.  By the time we reached the hill we had dropped one or two of the 26k skiers and we were rapidly gaining on a few more 42k skiers.  I had been dreading Picnic Table Hill and the horrible feeling you get when you go past the short race cutoff to do the long race.  Thankfully I was still feeling pretty dang good.  I even told Chris that for once I wasn't rethinking my choices in life.

As we headed up to OO and through that aid station I think we passed Jon Miller, and picked up Rod Raymond, Jay Chesterman and another skier or two.  The conditions north of OO were fantastic and we had a group of about 8 guys mostly following Elaine.  I continued to feel strong enough through those first major climbs after OO headed north on the classic trail.  By the time we were approaching the turn around north of Boedecker I could feel the fatigue starting to set in though.

Just before the turn around Jordan Roby came up behind us saying on your left.  At first I thought which joker in our group has been sitting in and suddenly wants to go faster.  But he came out of no where and was moving well so of course he can go through.  That broke the group up a bit though.  He went up the trail and so did Elaine and another skier.  I remained in a group with Chris and Jay.  Drew, Rod, and a few others had strung out the back somewhere.

I'm not sure what Jordan was doing at the start of the race, but when he wanted to go in the latter half, he sure went.

I felt surprisingly good climbing back up to Boedecker on our way south.  My legs started to feel a little crampy, but no signs of bonking yet.  After the Boedecker aid station Jay decided it was time to make a move and took off up the trail after Jordan and Elaine.  Chris made a little move to chase him but Jay's break was good.

I started to have a few doubts about hanging with Chris and started to yo-yo a bit.  I pulled myself together mentally though and got back in his shadow and hung on for dear life.  Through this stretch we also gobbled up a few other fading skiers including Craig Rudd.
By the bottom of the OO climb I figured it was time to dump what I had left on the trail.  I took the inside, slightly steeper line, and just got to work on my V1.  I didn't really surge but just put out a high steady effort.  As we hit the flatter spot before the final climb I put in a few hard V2 skates and then climbed the last of the hill.

As we rolled through the field on the north side of OO I had a small gap and kept the effort high to not let Chris close it down again.  Crossing OO in the soft snow, with on coming skiers, and then the little climb back up into the Korte start area hurt pretty bad.  Chris was holding steady if not closing a little though so I just held my V2 and tried to keep the effort as high as I could.

As we rounded the last corner to head north on the original skate trail I dumped what I had left in to gain some speed on the mostly downhill run to the finish.  A quick look over my shoulder showed me that I had finally broken away enough that I was probably safe to the finish.  Despite that I managed a nice sprint up the last little hill and through the finishing straight.



I'm pretty stoked with my race.  From start to finish I think I held the kind of effort I wanted to hold.  At no point did I actually blow up nor did I fade at the end.  I really credit those people I skied behind for setting great steady efforts.  Chris led me for probably 30+ km of the race.  I felt a little bad for sitting in until 1.5km to go and then dropping him, but it definitely helped me.

Without even looking at the detailed results, I know I was in the kind of company I want to be in.  I finished in front of half a dozen elite wave skiers and right in the mix with a bunch of others.  For the most part, these elite wave skiers are the super consistent skiers from year to year, so even if some of them are off a little from past years, the territory they ski in is still very good.


For once, the objective data agrees with my subjective analysis, so we can share a little more detail.

Bar chart of 2016 Birkie results from the 2017 PreBerkie. Blue's are elite wave skiers, red, not, me in green.

As you can see, the PreBirkie brings out plenty of big guns.  What I like seeing here is that there are still a good handful of blue lines after me.  There are also a good group of borderline elite wavers back there too in the 200-300 place last year range.  This tells me I'm skiing with the right folks if I want to be in contention this year.

The normal correlation of PreBirkie to Birkie results.

The further above the line the better the PreBirkie was relative to the Birkie.

Last we have the correlation summary chart that shows the predicted Birkie time.  According to this, SISU was ever so slightly better.  I think beginning to end this one was better, but who's going to argue the data?

What's Next

Thinking really cold thoughts.  The weather is definitely frightful and I'm worried what that will mean for the big race.  I'm sure Ben Popp and the entire Birkie Crew are losing a lot of sleep.  I have confidence that they will pull off what ever is possible given the circumstances.

This weekend I'll either do a short race or try to find some snow somewhere (or eek, roller ski) a nice 25k time trial (who knows, the Birkie might only be 25k).

And thinking about my bike.  Ski season is a bummer so I'll be excited to hop on two wheels again soon.

!!2017 BIRKIE Ski Service At Cyclova XC - 20% Discount If You Get Your Skis In Early!!

Rely on the Waxing Gurus at Cyclova XC to help you have the fastest skis ever!  Here Duane irons in a Flourocarbon overlay - a tactic that we likely will use for the 2017 Birkie!
Cyclova XC Birke Wax options
  • Racer HF Flourocarbon Hot Wax:  20 Step process, 4 layer hot wax (1 layer each - Hydrocarbon, LF, HF, Flourocarbon Overlay)  $79.99: A professional wax job sure to ensure ultra-fast skis!
  • Racer HF Hot Wax:  15 Step process, 3 layer hot wax (1 layer each - paraffin, LF, HF)  $54.99: A super fast wax job that will have you smiling as you cross the finish line!
20% Early Bird Discount if you drop your skis off prior to 5PM on Saturday, February 18th! 

It's been challenging ski season, but it's Birkie season now and we're building toward the finale...  The pinnacle of xc ski season is rapidly approaching and with just a smidge of cooperation from mother nature it will happen:  The American Birkiebeiner!  We look forward to the Birkie all year, and you'll see an army of Cyclova XC skiers (all with fast skis) out on the course this year!  This is going to be so much fun!  

Part of having fun in any ski race is having fast skis, and Cyclova XC would love to help you have the fastest skis out on the race course!  With the Birkie being the biggest ski race in the country, on the continent, or even in the Western Hemisphere - we will be stonegrinding, hot boxing, and waxing a WHOLE LOT OF SKIS for this event!  For this reason, we are strongly encouraging Birkie racers to bring in their race skis EARLY for Birkie waxing/service.  

There will be a strong incentive (DISCOUNT) to bring in your skis early for Birkie service, which will allow us to do the time consuming prep stages in advance on your skis, rather than hustling everything at the last minute.  We will wait to do the final wax of the day and flourocarbon application until just before you pick up your skis.

Drop off schedule and sliding fee schedule for Cyclova XC's Birkie Ski Service Program
  • EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT:  Drop off your skis prior to 5PM on Saturday, February 18 and get a 20% discount on any ski service for the Birkie (including stonegrinding & hotboxing).  See Birkie ski service rates below.  When you drop off your skis, let us know when you'd like to pick them up, so we can ensure they're ready to go for you!
  • WEDNESDAY:  Drop off your skis during business hours on Wednesday (Feb 22), and pay the below published rates on your Birkie ski service.  When you drop off your skis, let us know when you'd like to pick them up, so we can ensure they're ready to go for you!
  • DON'T PROCRASTINATE!:  Customers dropping off Birkie skis for service on Thursday will pay a $30 late premium charge on any ski service done.   This $20 will be used to caffeinate our late night ski waxing crew - which is the same crew as our daytime crew!
Cyclova XC Birkie Ski Service Menu and Pricing
  • Racer HF Flourocarbon Hot Wax:  20 Step process, 4 layer hot wax (1 layer each - paraffin, LF, HF, Flourocarbon Overlay) & hand structure if necessary $79.99
  • Racer HF Hot Wax:  15 Step process, 3 layer hot wax (1 layer each - paraffin, LF, HF) & hand structure if necessary  $54.99
  • Sport Hot Wax:  10 Step process, 2 layers Paraffin wax job, & hand structure if necessary $29.99
  • Stonegrind:  3 stage Stonegrind process, with finishing structure of your choice  $69.99
  • Race Prep Thermo Treatment:  AKA - 3 hydrocarbon layers in the Hotbox  $44.99
  • Stonegrind and Race Prep Thermo Treatment Combo:  $99.99
See you at the start of the 2016 American Birkiebeiner!  Photo by Ben Jonjak.

Will the Birkie Be Cancelled? Cyclova Tech Night, Thursday Feb. 16, 6PM

Hello All!

The Birkie is less than 2 weeks away, but the forecast does not look good! However, a lot can happen between now and then. The best way to allay your Birkie anxiety is to come to CyclovaXC on Thursday, February 16th at 6PM for our TECH NIGHT/SOCIAL GATHERING!

The best thing to do right now is assume there will be a Birkie and prepare as normal (we can't control the weather, but we can control how we prepare). I remember past years where there wasn't a flake of snow from Chippewa Falls to Hayward, and somehow they managed to pull off the event, so think positive and think snow!

We'll make our best guess at trail conditions and discuss everything you need to know on Thursday (bring your questions). Plus, Frank will unveil his wax tip. So if you're feeling a bit of Birkie Anxiety, circle Thursday February 16th on your calendar and show up at Cyclova at 6PM. We'll have a great time! Whether your a seasoned Birkie skier or just curious about the event, this is going to be a fun night!

Please sign up on Facebook here!

Other notes:
Cyclova's next big event is the Mammoth Gravel Classic on April 15th. This is a FREE ride but this year we're offering a T-Shirt for sale to help cover expenses. To purchase, click on the Paypal button on the Mammoth web page here. Or send a check indicating shirt size for $20 payable to CyclovaXC to: Ben Jonjak / 510 N. High St. / Chippewa Falls WI 54729 (or bring one to Tech night on Thursday).

Here's the shirt rendering, it's the same top quality shirt we always provide!

Congratulations Tommy K for Winning the Pre-Birkie 42K Classical Race!

This photo is from the Birkie several years ago, not yesterday's race--Photo by Barb Lundberg
A huge shout out to Tommy K for winning the 42KM Pre-Birkie Classical race on Saturday, February 11th 2017. What a great win! This is one of the most prestigious races in our area and it's awesome to have one of our guys bring it home! Tommy puts together a lot of training groups throughout the year and it's fun to see the Cyclova guys show up on race day! As always, there was a large contingent of smiling individuals ready to race.
I'd talked to Tommy just before the race start as he discussed kick wax with Duane. He'd just put on a new layer of something but hadn't checked whether or not it worked. I guess we have our answer.

Check out the full race results here.

If anyone has any pictures of Tommy from Saturday's race, please send them over! Let's all keep our fingers crossed that the temps drop enough at night to keep the snow on the Birkie trail a few more weeks!

Mullin's Wolf Track Rendevous Report



More of the same this week.  Tuesday night I was able to knock out a really good set of intervals down a Hyland.  I felt great and was able to really push the envelope.  I was hopeful that it was a sign of good results coming.  Thursday I got out on the lake for the first time this year.  It was mostly just to get some activity in.  There was some skating in the powder and some double poling in the snowmobile tracks.


It looked like it was going to be cold overnight Thursday and Friday.  The fresh snow that Winterpark received on Monday/Tuesday was reported to be groomed in nightly and setting up very firm.  I opted to go with my cold hardpack Rossignols with my old standby of FastWax followed by crayoning on and then ironing the Holmenkol Speedblock Cold.

My skis felt competitive.  There seemed to be equal amounts of skiing up on people and having people ski up on me while we skied in a group for most of the race.  I certainly wasn't outrunning anyone, but at the same time I wasn't having to skate downhill to keep up.


It was a little cool at the start of the race with the temps still in the single digits.  There wasn't any real wind though so it didn't feel too bad.  The trails were in phenomenal shape.  The best skiing of the year so far by far.  Wide, firm, perfect corduroy.  If the snow had been about 10 degrees warmer that would have been perfection.  As it was, there was just a tad bit of squeak to the snow indicating it wasn't as fast as you might hope.

Hard to see in the flat light conditions, but that curodory is perfect and the track is rock hard.

The start area is pretty narrow only being about 6 lanes wide.  After a whole 50m or so, the course takes a 180 degree left hand turn before heading out onto the trails.  By the time I got to the line my choices were the far right front line, or the second row.  I opted for inside lane on the far left in the second row.  We made it out cleaning by some miracle and we were off to the races.

The first 10k of the race are pretty hilly and fairly technical.  It was compared to the Silver Trail at Giants Ridge before the race and afterwards I would say that is the best comparison I could make.  The hills can be burly, but they are never too long.  It definitely goes up and down a lot though.  Some of the downhills can be a little hairy.  The snow was good and I was towards the front so they weren't a problem for me.  I could see them being pretty scary if it were icy though.

For the first 2km or so I fell in line behind TK.  He became concerned that the guy in front of him was letting gaps open and finally made an effort to go around.  He looked to me like he was scrambling to close the opening gap and I knew I was already on the limit so there was no way I was chasing him down and let him go.

42k Course Map

He and the lead pack slowly disappeared around the bends in the next kilometer or so before I never saw them again.  In the mean time I fell in with a group of 4 guys and we continued to charge the hills at what for me was a pace I wasn't sure was sustainable.

Right around the first aid station I finally had to let two of the group of four go.  The fourth had trailed off a little behind us.  Starting at about 2km in, where the real climbing had started, I was averaging a HR of above 175.  That's pretty hot for me and definitely not sustainable for 42km.  Interestingly enough, this was a few kilometers further, and a bit hotter than the week before at the Noque and it didn't feel as bad.  I still knew it was time to reevaluate though.

HR and elevation profile from 2km to roughly aid station 1.

From there I fell in with the fourth member of our previous quartet, Jay Creagh.  We agreed the other group was going a little too fast for us.  We then made a wrong turn about 2km later.  Had I paid attention better at the start I would have heard the instructions to follow the blue arrows (matches the blue bibs), but I didn't.  I clearly saw both arrows but didn't know which way to go.  Thankfully the ski patrol at the previous corner saw our mistake and shouted us back onto the right course.  All told we probably lost about 30 seconds in the detour.  A volunteer stationed at the corner would have been nice... but a racer should be responsible for knowing how to follow the course markings too.

Strava Flyby comparison with Scott Golomski showing the effect of missing the turn. Something on the order of 20-30 seconds.

After the mishap Jay and I continued on to the next aid station and some more climbing.  At that point I thought we were pretty much alone only to turn around and find Artie and Gary breathing down our backs.  I'd been beating Artie with a fair margin previously this year so I was pretty surprised to find him right behind me.  At the time I figured I was working right about at my limits so maybe he was just going too hard too early.  It was a thought anyhow.

For the next 28km we had a solid group of 4 with Artie, Gary, Jay, and myself.  I think Jay probably did about 50% of the pulling.  I maybe did 10% to 20% with Artie taking up the rest.  I was just on my limit for the most part and didn't feel I could put a solid effort in at the front.  Part of the problem was that every time someone new went to the front they pulled through instead of letting the person previously on the front fall back.  I came to dread seeing a lead change since that usually mean a minute or two of increased effort.

This whole stretch I really felt like I was racing well.  I was in a good group, using the draft as best I could.  I did try to take my turns when presented.  At the same time I felt like I was riding that fine line between going hard enough without blowing up.  Every time a little surge happened I could feel my body responding with fatigue.

My nutrition strategy wasn't ideal for the race.  Normally I try to use liquid nutrition, but I forgot to restock before the race.  Instead I stuffed two gels in my drink belt zipper pocket (forgot the staples or safety pins too).  I did manage to eat probably 2/3rds of each one.  The first around 15km, the second around 3okm (I think, it might have been more like 35km).  After one of those I had drifted off the back of the pack trying to situate everything and stick the wrapper back in my pocket (I hate littering the trail, I'll only drop a wrapper if it is right in the aid station).  That forced me to make a little push to catch up which would not be ideal.

With about 6km to go, Gary made a move to try and break our little group up.  I had been thinking about when I should try and make a move, but was definitely waiting until much closer to the finish.  As it was, I didn't have much to respond to the attack.  Artie did though and he closed the gap down and Gary settled back in again.  After the final aid station with about 2.5km to go Artie went to the front and the pace picked up again.  This time it kept going though.

On the previous little climb I felt the telltale signs of a bonk coming on.  I've felt it in the Birkie before where my eyes go a little buggy and I almost start to get tunnel vision.  So when Artie ratcheted up the pressure I didn't have enough to respond.  Over the final two kilometers Artie and Gary were able to put 30 seconds into me.  I wasn't in full on bonk mode though as I was still able to elevate my heart rate, but I was just too fatigued to find that next gear.  Thankfully for me, after doing all of that pulling, Jay was also spent and drifted back from me.

I ended up 13th overall in a time of 2:17:00.  Originally they stated the age groups were 5 year increments and I thought I had won the 35-39.  Unfortunately they changed it to 10 years and I was 7th in the 30-39.  Artie crushed it taking 11th 31 seconds ahead of me with Gary just one second back.  So much for thinking Artie was going too hard too early.  Jay drifted 17 seconds behind me.  Tommy also had a killer race finishing 5th overall over 8 minutes ahead of me.  So much for thinking he was scrambling in the opening kilometers.



As I said in the middle of my report, I thought I was racing really well.  Despite my placing relative to other people, I felt that I was riding that limit of what I could do in a marathon.  The bonky feeling at the end seems to support that (and a need to work on nutrition).

I wouldn't mind getting those 30 seconds from the wrong turn back, but ultimately I don't think they made a huge impact on the race.


The spreadsheet is going the wrong way.  Each race seems to indicate a less great equivalent 2016 Birkie.

This was the longest race of the year.  I'm not sure if my relative performance at the longer distances isn't as good.  That is certainly one possibility.  This felt like a pretty good effort though.

The cluster of four point above the line is a group of us that had better relative performances at Wolf Tracks than the Birkie.  Artie is in that group as well.  Collectively we pull that trend line up making the correlation less good.

Still going to have to wait and see what the actual race results are I guess.

What's Next

I'm still deciding.  I'd like to do Mora, even though it is not the point-to-point race this year.  I'm still stalling a bit to see how well the course shakes out.  I liked the course last year, the icy conditions were less ideal and I'm hoping to see reports that the course is good.  A little real snow wouldn't hurt either.

If not Mora, I'll probably do the PreBirkie.  I've got to arrange some things though in order to go to Hayward for the day on Saturday.