BIKE TECH: !STUDDED FAT BIKE TIRES, Allow Fat Biking All Winter - Cyclova XC is your studded tire headquarters!


Riding ice can be fantastic - if you're prepared with studded tires!  This above pic was taken in a sea cave on Lake Superior several years ago - made possible by studded 45NRTH Dillinger 4 tires!
Most of us Midwestern fat bikers have had the blues as of late, due to icy trails...  But it doesn't have to be that way!  Studded fat bike tires allow you to safely ride with comfort and confidence on any snow or ice surface.  

Today's modern studded fat bike tires feature 200+ ultralight carbide/concave tipped alloy bodied studs.  When running appropriate tire pressure, this means that between 10 - 25 ice gripping studs are in contact with the ice or snow at all times!  This kind of grip means that you can ride places you never have dreamed of riding - from alien Winterscapes to your favorite singletrack (which may happen to be covered in ice).

Today's top fat bike tires designed for use in icy conditions are known as "pocket tires".  This is due to the fact that there are little holes (with bigger pockets under the holes), into which "pocket studs" can be installed.  These tires include the 45NRTH Dillinger 4 & 5, Terenne Wazia 4 & 4.6, and the soon to be released 45NRTH Wrathchild.  While most riders purchase one of these tire options with studs installed from the factory, 45NRTH studs can be installed to a non studded version of any of the above mentioned tires (this is most easily done when the tire is new, so that debris such as dirt or tiny stones aren't obstructing the stud pockets in the tire.  

Cyclova XC is your source for all of your studded bike tire needs - especially studded fat bike tires!  Our assortment of all 45NRTH & Terenne studded tires - as well as 45NRTH studs & the 45NRTH Stud Tool is second to none - and our staff of fat bike experts can fill you in on all of the tips and tricks of the trade!

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Cyclova's staff has been studding fat bike tires for years - including custom stud patterns!
Here is a close up of a 45NRTH pocket stud going into the stud pocket of a 45NRTH Dillinger 4 tire.

Candlelight Ski/Fat Bike on the Stower Seven This Saturday, January 28th!

All the information you need is above. These Candlelight skis are a lot of fun and a great way to try out the sport of XC Skiing! Make sure you check it out! There's also a Fat Bike option from 7 to 9!

Mullin's Boulder Lake Race Report

cover

Prep

Training
This week was about polarized training.  Partially because I want to be sure to get my high intensity workouts in.  Partially because life got in the way the other days.  In other words I raced Wednesday night, complete rest Thursday, did 15k of over/under work Friday, and complete rest again on Saturday.  I'd really prefer to get more active recovery in on the non-workout days, but it has been challenging the last few weeks.
Skis/Wax
With all of the warm weather I was pretty concerned about the trail conditions.  Despite the organizers claims that the snow depth was holding up well I still didn't want to wreck a good pair of skis.  The drawback is that my B skis really aren't that good in warm/wet conditions and it was definitely going to be that.  I've got a pair of skis I got after the Birkie last year specifically for those conditions, but I'd have been sad if I took a big gouge out of them.  As it turned out I probably could have used the good skis.  There were a few thin spots, it was very soft, and there was maybe a stump in one place, but I could have made it without damage.
wax
Choices to be made.  A hole in the Swix line-up with no HF.
So I ended up putting a mishmash of stuff on my B skis.  Swix CH8, Swix LF7, Fast Wax HSF-30 (Salmon), and Swix FC8X.  After the top coat I ran the Toko Structurite Yellow roller on the skis twice.  During the race it felt like I had two different pairs of skis.  Warming up I thought they felt OK.  After the first aid station we hit some really fresh and white looking snow.  And I just about fell on my face my skis slowed down so much.  As we looped back around the skis sped up again only to slow down again on the second lap, only not quite as much.  The more skied in the snow as the better they were, but that first lap was BRUTAL.
boulder-race-4-of-24
I remember coming into the first aid station and just about going over the front of my skis in front of my photographers.  They got it on "film".

Race

The race is a quick hop across the bay and then three laps around a roughly 10km loop.  I lined up on the front line, but towards the left hand side which was going to go through the worst of the slushy puddle.  My hope was to get a decent start and slide right before getting soaked.  You can see the slushy start in the video below.

I manged to get a decent start on the lake.  I was on the tail end of the lead group as we hit the trails on the far side of the lake.  By about 1 km in I was starting to tail off the back end trying to hang with Rhett Bonner.  I was working hard and losing ground.  Instead of burying myself right away I tried to find a steady effort and wait to be caught up by the next group eventually and find someone to work with.
Somewhere before the first aid station Rod Raymond came cruising up behind me.  He took a superman dive on the lake (2 out of 3 races I've done with Rod he's done that... I think I'll be sure I don't line up next to him :)) so he was crushing it back up through the field.
boulder-race-2-of-24
Rod Raymond crushing past me on his way to 11th place and almost 7 minutes ahead of me 29 km later.
Not long after that a solid group including Tom Krenz, Dennis Curran, and Phil Rogers come by.  I hopped on the back end of that group in hopes of now finding a good place to sit in and recover.  Unfortunately this is where we hit the outer half of the loop and my skis were utter garbage.  It didn't take too long and the group gapped me and I was out into no man's land again.
I spent the rest of the first lap trying to find my rhythm again.  This is where being mentally tough can be a challenge.  At the start of the race you are hoping to hang with the big dogs and they've just kicked you to the curb and you are left disappointed and worried about all of your training.
After a few minutes of self doubt, I focused on technique and efficiency and my mental attitude turned around a bit.  During that time I think I got passed a couple more times.  For sure I looked over my shoulder towards the end of the lap and saw a few folks gaining on me.
boulder-race-6-of-24
Focusing on pulling it together.
The last time I got passed I tagged on and started to feel better.  The western half of the lap felt much better on my skis.  Eventually I took my turn on the front and pulled in the next person ahead.  And then the next one.
boulder-race-9-of-24
Somewhere in lap 2 making a little ground.
By the end of the second lap I had accumulated a little group of people I had caught and had hung on and one more person that had caught up to us.  We had a nice little group of four going through the start of lap three.  I was second or third in line
boulder-race-16-of-24
The green and red bookends knew each other.  They were giving eachother a hard time about talking themselves into the race instead of sitting home and watching football.

At that point I was going slower than I would have been if I was left to set my own pace.  I didn't necessarily want to be on the front towing the group around the lap though so I was biding my time.  As we went through the second to last aid station around 24 km, Ryan (#89) said that he would take his turn at the front.  He promptly dropped the hammer.  I was able to just barely hang on, but the other Ryan (#87) and Brad went out the back in a hurry.
2-boulder-lake-16
Ryan putting in a really strong pull on the second half of lap 3.

Somewhere around 29 km Ryan offered me the lead just as we spotted another skier up ahead.  That other skier happened to be Tommy who I had figured was long gone by this point.  That really lit a fire under me.  I put in a solid pull catching up to Tommy with probably about 1 km to go.  I thought he might catch on and try to give it a go, but he was spent.  He raced to fifth place in the classic race at the Rennet the day before so he wasn't running on full reserves.
I kept the pace as high as I could until we hit the lake and gave it all that I had left.  Somewhere in that stretch we had another hard charging person come up behind us.  As we slopped across the lake I gave my best sprint impression.  Ryan was able to do a better one and edged me out by a few ski lengths.  I was able to hold off the other racer to the line though.
boulder-race-23-of-24
Giving it my all to the finish.

Analysis

Subjective
Subjectively this is a mixed bag.  Off the line I was really hoping to hang with the likes of Rhett Bonner, Phil Rogers, Rod Raymond, and Tommy.  Even though Phil was complaining about his skis too during the race, I wasn't able to hang with them for very long.  Those guys are all studs and elite wave Birkie skiers.  If I want to join the ranks of the elite wave I need to be able to hang with them.
Was it my skis that kept me from hanging?  Maybe.  Was it the trail condition?  Maybe.  The more I think about it, the more I think a well manicured course suits me.  That allows me to use my balance and technique to be more efficient.  A sloppy course with slow skis is a little bit of an equalizer perhaps from a technique/efficiency standpoint and gives the bigger engines or stronger skiers a better edge.  Or that sounds good to me anyhow.  Bottom line though I need to ski faster.
What I did think was good was my mental edge and pacing.  After those few minutes in the middle of the first lap where I got dropped  and my attitude was less than stellar, I was able to refocus and perform the best I could on the day I think.  I dialed it back enough that I did not blow up.  I could have stayed on the gas a little bit more towards the end of the second lap/start of the third, but I was able to finish strong.
Objective
Objectively, the spreadsheet is on a different computer.  I did finally run it, and not surprisingly, it is the "worst" race of the season so far.  But not by a huge margin.  It did not equate to an elite wave time at last years Birkie, but it was still better than my actual results last year.

What’s Next

At the time of actually finishing this report I have already done another Wednesday night Elm Creek race and I'm now looking forward to the Noquemanon this weekend.  Sadly they've had to shorten the race and it won't be the full point to point race.  It will still be 31 km and I get to go to Marquette for the weekend so it isn't all bad.  I was hoping to get my first full 50 km race of the year in though.  They might be hard to come by before the Birkie if we don't get some more snow so the Vasaloppet can run full length.

Mullin's Elm Creek/Fulton Team Race Report


This will be a shorty.

The last three or so years, Fulton has sponsored one of the Wednesday night races at Elm Creek.  They call it a "Team Race" and they bring beer.  Its a pretty good deal.

The race format is a 5k freestyle race at 7:00 and then a 5k classic race at 7:30.

Prep

I got there kinda late and had my Junior Birkie training partner so we skied for just a few minutes before the start.  My warm-up consisted of a few minutes of instruction in the practice field and a couple of 10 second sprints.  Perfect for a 5k race... not.

I waxed with Fast Wax HS30 and HSLF30.  Nothing fancy.  The skis were fast.  For kick I put on Start Oslo Purple.  I did not test skis before the race.  They didn't kick for a darn.

Race

Being the most popular of the Wednesday series by far the race started down at the practice field with the approximately 80 starters.  I got a spot about the third row.  A quick sprint across the field and we were onto the trail and necked down pretty good.  I was double poling through most of that first turn.

After that I was able to start skating and find my place in the pack.  It is hard to say exactly what happened the first few km with all of the chaos.  I know there was a lot of moving with comings and goings.  I was never really jumping from group to group though like at the Winter Warm-up, this was more just going with the flow of people.

Skating around lap 1.  Photo by Kira Stolen
By the time we got back to the practice field at the top of the big hill I was at the back of a good group that had Craig Stolen near the front.  I was able to hang with that group fairly well through the first lap.

Aaron Nelson was out at Elm Creek and took some video of the race from the bridge for the freestyle portion.  The link below goes to the Midwest Nordic Facebook posting with the video.  You might have to be a member of the group to see it.  You should be a member there anyhow.  Lots of great discussion on waxing, races, and various nordie nonsense.

Video From Aaron Nelson

Coming around for the second time I started to string off the back a little.  The high speed was taking its toll and I could taste the iron in the back of my mouth.  I think I started conceeding a few places as we headed up under the bridge for the second time.  I lost one more spot coming up the donut, but then I was able to pull it together enough to hold onto my position to the finish.

The pace was blazing fast but I held my own alright.  It would have been nice to not fade a bit at the end but that's ok.  Its hard to judge results from a race that short with that much commotion but I feel good about it.

Herringboning the big hill on lap one.  Photo by Kira Stolen
Next up the classic race.  Or should I say the double pole race.  I won't elaborate much other than to say this was very strong evidence that my upper body strength is highly lacking.  I was absolutely crushed by many people I crushed in the skate race.  Guess what I should be working on next year?

Video of the Classic Race From Aaron Nelson

Analysis

None.  This was mostly for fun and to get a hard workout in.  The spreadsheet is going to be useless on this one.

About to be passed by Dave Christopherson around the end of lap one.  Wishing for some more power.  Photo by Kira Stolen.

What's Next

If the snow holds, I'm planning on racing at Boulder Lake on Sunday.  It should be a wet and sloppy race.

!Tomorrow Night 1/19/2017 @ 6:30PM: Adventure & Tech Night #4 - Duane Lee on Quetico Paddling Adventures - All Invited!

Join us Thursday night (1/19/2017) for Duane Lee on paddling adventures in the wild waters of Quetico Provincial Park!
You are warmly invited to join us for what has become an eagerly anticipated annual tradition at Cyclova XC - Duane Lee presenting on his epic north country paddling adventures - on the Cyclova XC big screen!  


Cyclova's Adventure & Tech Series is a series of evening events held here at Cyclova XC where we invite folks with tales of epic adventures, great photos or videos to share on said adventures, and pair it up with a tech presentation on a similar and relevant topic!  

Following is the agenda for Thursday night's festivities:

6:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 19, 2017 - Paddling the Wild Rivers of Quetico 
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! 


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

Mullin's Seeley Hills Classic Race Report



Pre-Race

Fitness

It was a decent week leading into the second major race of the season.  Tuesday saw some hard intervals.  I was going to fire it up again on Thursday, but life got in the way.  Friday was a nice relaxing classic ski on the full lit loop at Elm Creek under the lights.

Waxing

The bigger deal preparing for this race was kick waxing.  Blowing the kick always scares me which is one of the reasons I don't classic as much as I otherwise would.  With the new snow and cold temps it wasn't going to be so much about finding what would kick, but possibly more about what would glide too.

I'm sure Frank is going to tell me to clean my bench.  He is right too.
I ended up with the full Start wax package for this race.  Start Green and Start MF10, one coat each for glide.  Brushed out and polished up to a nice shine for that cold snow speed.

Next up was the Start Base wax.  My first attempt to cork that in ended up with synthetic cork bits all gummed up in the wax.  That stuff is thick!  I cleaned that all off and put it on thinner and then ironed it a bit and corked it nice and smooth.  Then three very thin applications of Start synthetic green corked smooth.  Finally, the skis and a tin of Start Terva black were cooled off and then two crazy thin coats of Terva were placed on top.  I'm not sure if the Terva application was quite right, but I didn't have icing issues which was I think the primary purpose so I either did it right, or it didn't matter.

My skis were crazy fast.  No one was out running me on the downhills.  I had decent enough kick when my technique was spot on.  Unfortunately, my technique wasn't spot on all that much.  I was a long ways from not having kick, but it wasn't great either.  I was able to stride most of what everyone else was, but I had to muscle it a bit more.

Logistics

I drove up to Seeley the morning of the race.  After bib pick-up I pulled into the OO parking lot right about 9am for the 10am race start.  I was one of the last few parking spots in the lot so I lucked out there.

I grabbed my warm-up skis and race skis and headed to the Korte start area south of OO.  Holy cow.  That place is huge and I got a bit lost.  The new trail blazes through what used to be woods and tamed out a bunch of the major topography in that section.  It's going to be a fabulous starting spot fo the Korte I think, but was definitely disorienting.

About 500m down the trail towards Hayward looking aback at the Korte start area.
I had my warm-up skis in case I wanted to panic wax and wanted something other than my race skis to try something on in an emergency.  Turns out no panic waxing was called for and that let me set my race skis down on the second row of the start while I finished warming up.  Pretty handy.

Race

Standing at the start I was eyeing up who was around that I should try and judge my effort off of.  I was right behind eventual winner Andrew Tillman.  Good, he should be well away in a hurry...  Also on the front row was Kevin Brochman, Olympian and my high school coach.  Sweet, I wanted a chance to race head to head with him again after all these years.  Josh Doebbert was on the front as well and was super fast at SISU last weekend.  Alex Richert was there as well.  He was pretty speedy as a senior in HS last year, but hasn't been skiing much this year.

In the same vicinity as me we had what I figured were my real benchmarks.  Scott Ellertson was immediately to my right and I've been just a place or two behind him at both races this year.  To his right was Jay Wenner, fast guy with usually great skis, but maybe trying to find his fitness this year yet.  To my left, a few tracks over were Per Nelson and Andy Schakel.  Per jumped in an interval with me and TK over Christmas week and Andy is fast, but looked a bit like death warmed over when I passed him at SISU last weekend.

Dennis Kruse gave us the final 3, 2, 1, go count down and we were off.  The new start area is a mostly gradual climb for about three quarters of a km to the top of Picnic Table Hill.  Lots of double poling, a little kick double pole, and a few strides.  There was one near crash ahead of me, but no one went down.

There was a good pack of about 15 forming and I was still in the back over the first couple of km which are generally descending.  As I said above, my skis were crazy fast so I was able to hang on pretty well.

Eventually a lead group of 8 formed and started to pull away.  There was about 3 guys left in no man's land and then I had a small group going with Scott Ellertson, and a HS kid.  There were a few others either with us or just behind us for a while.  I know I looked back once to check and saw Kevin just a few meters back along with a few others.

As we hit the one major climb on the way out at about 5.5km our little trio made some separation.  I was working hard to hang on the climb but every time we went downhill I was riding up on the tails of Scott's skis.

When we hit the turn around I was feeling pretty good having sat at the back of the group for most of the time and having the best skis of the group.  I was hoping to catch a quick drink, but no one stopped so I wasn't going stop and get dropped.

I thought the kid with us was maybe slowing down a touch so I skied up next to Scott and asked if he wanted to work together.  He said he was ready and I promptly started slipping all over the place.  I started working really hard just to keep my technique good enough to keep some kick.  Scott took over somewhere in there and got just a tiny gap on me.  I spent most of the rest of the race losing a little ground to him on the climbs and then getting most of it back on the downhills.

Over the next 4 or 5 km we brought one or two other skiers back in.  Scott was closing in on Per while I was generally holding my ground about 5 to 10 seconds behind him.  At one point I was probably only 5 seconds behind Scott and about 10 behind Per.  And then Per found a little something more for the last few climbs and pulled away a bit again.

Strava FlyBy for me and Per.  You can see me gaining ground after the turn around and then Per put in a good surge on the last two uphills to widen that gap back out.
It wasn't until the top of Picnic Table Hill that I glanced behind me again.  Crap!  There isn't a huge gap to the chasers I needed to keep going.  And despite that, the HS kid I thought Scott and I dropped shortly after the turn around came flying by me with less than a kilometer to go.

The reworked trail did throw me for a bit of a loop.  The trail used to descend a bit after Picnic Table before having one more punchy 20-30 second climb before the descent back to OO and that last little kick to the finish.  I was saving just enough energy to punch up that climb and then use my fast skis to the finish.  Except that climb doesn't exist anymore.  You roll flat over the top and then its a descent all the way back.  Nuts.  It might not have made a difference anyhow, but it wasn't executed the way I had planned.

In the end it was a tight sequence of finishers with Per, Scott, HS kid, and finally me.

Analysis

Subjective

I thought I had a great race.  I was 13th overall and first in the 35-39 age group.  Even if they had been ten year age groups I would have been second.  That's not too shabby in my book.

It was another race where I was with people and actually racing.  Scott Ellertson has historically been another step above me so to race within striking distance of him for a third race in a row is good.  Andy had a great race and was over two minutes ahead of me.

Probably the highlight of the objective analysis was beating Kevin Brochman for the first time ever.  Kevin was my high school ski coach.  He started coaching me in the fall of 1992 as a scrawny seventh grader who thought he was signing up for a recreational ski club.  He has coached many many great skiers who have gone on to significant skiing achievements.  For me, it took me 24 years to finally eek out a 12 second victory.

Me and Kevin Brochman at the finish.
Objective

I'm less and less thrilled with my spreadsheet with each report.  Not that there isn't some merit to it, but when the results it reports don't quite match the eye test and subjective analysis I'm left not trusting the numbers.

In fact, I ran the numbers twice on it this time.  By default I have it set to only compare finishers from both races who finished within 50% of the winners time of both races.  We had a few outliers with that.  One had a great Birkie and one had a great Seeley.  The result was a massively skewed trendline and a pretty pedestrian suggested improvement.  If I bumped the cut-off down to 35% it tightened things up quite a bit.



The "result" is the slowest of the year so far.  This one places me just outside of the top 200.  Eh, whatever.

What's Next

Great question.  More training this week and then we shall see.  The weather is turning absolutely craptastic if you are a winter sports enthusiast.  If I race this coming weekend it will be the Boulder Lake race in Duluth on Sunday.  Flash registration opens on Monday.  I might just train through the weekend.  The following weekend I'm signed up with the Noque.  They are getting potentially even worse weather than we are and I'm highly concerned I've made a donation to a race that won't happen.  I'd really like to do it though.

Otherwise... time is ticking down.


Mullin's SISU Race Report


And now the season really begins.  SISU Ski Fest in Ironwood is the start of the "big race" season for many people.  They usually have snow (I'm 2 for 3 in actually getting to race now) and it is typically the first marathon length race of the season.  Under new race directorship this year the long race was actually only 31k to "ease" you into marathon racing, and I think it worked out pretty well actually.

Pre-Race

Training

After the Winter Warm-up race I got some solid training in.  The week between Christmas and New Years there were three REALLY solid training sessions put in down at Hyland Park Reserve.  That man made loop is a drag being so far away, but it is really hard to beat at 5k with real terrain and great grooming.



The holiday weekend got a little long with some "immersion" fat biking when I really should have been doing a little more recovery from the high training load.  For the moment I'll say I gotta enjoy what I'm doing even if it isn't optimal.  My tune may change if I'm 201st at the Birkie.

The week leading into SISU had one solid high intensity workout and then some total recovery with three days off in the super cold and other evening activities to attend to.  I figured after the long stretch of workload this was fine.  There is always that irrational thought though that you are losing all of your fitness everyday.

Waxing

The forecast was assuring cold temps for the race.  That meant I could start waxing pretty early with the cold wax to get the bases hardened.  I opted for my soft flex, cold grind Fishers.  After a few coats of wax to clean the crud out of the skis I went 2 x Start Green, 1 x Start Green MF10, 1 x Start Green MF10 + Toko XCold powder.  I considered a top coat of Start SFR75, but decided not to.  I'm still very much lower on the learning curve when it comes to the top coats so I erred on the side of nothing.

Replace the SFR75 with Toko XCold and that is what I used.  The wax zesting works, but takes forever.  I reverted back to dripping the wax on which works OK if you have a nice iron.

Ugh was the snow slow!  Race morning it started snowing well before the race at a decent clip.  Anywhere there was fresh snow on the groomed snow it was like having catchy kickwax on.  On the well groomed hardpack they were decent.  This made for some interesting balance drills as the skis would transition very quickly from sliding out from under you to pitching you over the tips.  So overall while I would call my skis slow, I don't think they were dramatically slower than anyone else's.  No excuses to be found in the skis this time.

Clothing

I figured I'd put this in there for this race.  Since it was a little below zero (better than the -8 they had predicted) at the start folks might want to know what I wore to stay warm.



Bottom: Two pairs of wind briefs (better safe than sorry... trust me... I know), windstopper long johns, CyclovaXC race suit

Top: Very thin running arm warmers, wind stopper long john top, race suit

Head/Face: Frost tape, dermatone, light hat, CyclovaXC buff, non-flip goggles that totally frosted up on me

Hands: Toko mid-weight gloves, Toko overmitts

Feet: Wool socks, toe warmers, ski boots

My eyeballs froze because my glasses frosted up and I had to keep putting them on my forehead to see where I was going.  They weren't fogging up, they just slowly developed ice crystals and eventually I realized I was having a hard time seeing.  I probably need to try treating them with Sven Can See (Ben couldn't see anything) or the fluoride toothpaste trick.

I also got a tiny bit of frostbite on my chin because I dribbled water into my buff and I got frostbite on my chin back in highschool and it is extra sensitive.

Everything else was actually really comfortable.  My hands were practically hot in those overmitts.  Other than making it really hard to get a drink or take food, I highly recommend anyone with cold hands give those a try.



Pre-Race

We picked up bibs the morning of and hopped the bus from the Municipal Building to ABR.  We hung out in the "VIP" room (that is just what the permanent ABR sign says, not that we were getting special treatment, anyone could have come in) in the back of one of the grooming sheds for 30 minutes and made final preparations (frost tape, dermatone, putting on boots etc).  From there it was out onto the course for some "warm-up" and feel how slow the snow was and pretty soon we were dropping warm-ups in the bags for the truck and getting on the start line.

Race

Geeze, I know, about time I get to actually reporting on the race.

Strategy

Start clean, find Tommy, and hang as long as I can.  Then hope to find a good group to ski with and stay out of the wind.  Pretty simple.

The Race



After dumping my bag and fiddling with my overmitts (the only other downside is they are kind of cumbersome to put on) I got to the start area to find I was going to be starting in the fourth row.  That's fine.

The gun went off and we were headed down the trail.  Things strung out fairly well to start.  I was concerned about bombing down Peltonen Pass Out right at 1k with a huge group.  Thankfully no one went down that I saw.  One instance where the slow snow may have been a good thing.  Just before the descent I was able to slot into the group behind Tommy.

Through Pit Point there were some comings and goings.  A few people had less than ideal starts and were a little anxious to get around.  Nothing too dramatic but there were a few people expressing some displeasure with a few moves.  Somewhere in there Tommy made a move to follow a guy making a pass and a gap opened up.  On the way to Bachelors Loop I decided I still wanted to be in that group so I made a push to bridge back up.

I think there was a group of five or six that included Tommy, Tom Meyer, and Phil Rogers.  As we climbed over the River Trail climb to head down to the swamp of Sulo's Loop, I was yo-yoing off the back of the group.  Since Sulo's is wide open I wanted to hang on so pushed a little more.  At this point I was definitely not skiing easy.  Aerobically I was working hard.  Technically I was all over the place.  The glide and catch of the skis was throwing off my balance and I really had to focus to not just scramble.

I was settling in a little bit finally at the back of the group when Phil Rogers suddenly stood up and promptly dropped out the back of the group.  I managed to hang with the remaining group for another few km before popping off the back after a particularly step clime in Coyote Canyon around 8k.

I went into recovery mode there.  I was pretty concerned I had blown up already and the rest of the race was going to be a total drag.  I focused on skiing as efficiently as possible and waited for the field to start passing me.  About 2km later a group of three that included Chris Halverson and Jason Schisler came by.  The leader asked if there was another group ahead and if we could catch them.  I said there was a group, but I wasn't going to catch them and stepped aside to let him try.

I tagged onto the back of the group and soon found myself feeling better.  After a decent pull the leader pulled over and I let him slot in ahead of me.  Shortly after that a gap formed between the guy ahead of me and the other two.  I was feeling better, but not really ready to make a push to close any gaps I thought so sat in for a bit longer.

Somewhere around 13km I offered to take my turn at the front to see if I could close the other guys down again.  The gap was shrinking and then right after a particularly nasty downhill corner I looked up and saw that we were about to catch Tommy.  I also noticed that he had a bunch of snow on his back and knew he took a digger.  As we passed I asked if he was OK.  He said he thought so, but he went down pretty hard and had the wind knocked out of him.

Through the aid station at about 15km the gap to Chris and Jason opened up again.  Tommy slotted in behind me and I went to work trying to smartly bring them back in again.  They split up a little bit and I finally pulled Chris in about the top of Blueberry Bluffs and Meadow Ridge.  He offered me the lead but I declined saying I wasn't ready yet.  As we started the descent down the River Trail I was feeling pretty good and said I would take the lead and try to close the gap.



Shortly before the River House aid station we caught Jason and he also offered to let me lead just as Chris had.  Having just given a good effort to catch him I declined.  Shortly after the aid station he was definitely hurting though and I took the lead.  At that point I took a good long pull through Norrie Park.  Chris and Jason were both hanging on still, but I spotted Andy Schakel and Scott Ellertson across Norrie Park so I wanted to keep pressing.

Eventually Chris offered to take a pull so I let him through.  From about 23k through 25k there was some good rotation with shorter and shorter pulls between the three of us.  Unfortunately, and I knew it at the time, I somehow seemed to be doing about half the pulls.  That stretch is just an awful long, straight, and just gradual climb that it is completely without rest.  The whole time we were gaining on Andy and Scott.  Not long before we would have caught them Scott pulled away and we only caught Andy.  He said he was tired... and I didn't say it at the time, but he looked it.  Sorry Andy.

We finally got some relief with a change in terrain.  I blew through the final aid station figuring we only had 5k to go and thinking it might be time to make a break.  I also caught sight of Scott just ahead having taken on some fluids at the aid station.  I gave it a solid go at catching him for a km or two, but couldn't quite do it.  The fatigue was really adding up at this point and started to go into survival mode a little.

This was also the point where I was starting to get concerned about my eye.  I had tried to clear the ice a little bit and thought I maybe couldn't feel my eyelid and started thinking about what happens if you frostbite an eyelid.  Somewhere in that stretch Chris went by along with someone else I hadn't even notice coming up behind us.  Then a few moments later I thought I saw Tommy again coming up behind me.  Turns out it was actually Brent Kann.  It seems like he does this every race where he eventually comes flying by me.  Either I'm starting too fast or he starts slow or some combination.

The last two km have a couple of ugly climbs and there were a couple of near whiteout conditions in a few small fields we had to pass through.  The final charge into the finish I felt less than spritely but gave it what little I had left.  The race had AWESOME volunteers at the finish.  I think I had three people helping me get my skis off, carrying them and my poles across the street to the building, basically holding my arm to walk me to the building.  Which was nice because I could barely see through my frosty eyelashes.

Analysis

Subjective

I was pretty happy with my race.  Learning to find the fast guys, hang on, and be smart about taking my pulls is still kind of new.  I spent a few years lost in no mans land skiing alone.  I probably could have skied a little smarter, but I'm not sure it would have made a huge difference in the result.  Maybe a minute or so which is what Chris put into me the last 5km.

Objective

The almighty spreadsheet says...


Comparison against the all mighty Birkie.  Above the trend line implies this race was better than the correlated race.  So, what's new, Most of my races last year said I should have done better.


OK, this time lets predict the 2016 Birkie based on all of the races starting at last year's SISU.  2:48:28 was the actual (as predicted by the Birkie very accurately... hint, actually racing is the best predictor of actual performance... spreadsheets don't mean anything).

So, another very solid performance for the 2016/2017 season.  2:35:58 is the tail end of the elite wave, but still the elite wave.  173 to be precise.  Just over 2 minutes ahead of the last qualifier.  Again, I had lots of predictions from last year that said similar things, so big deal.

Aside from my own variable performance, the NS2016 line shows how foolish this whole prediction thing is.  That 2:34:16 number was bugging me.  Yeah, it was a good race, but I didn't think it was that good.  Looking closer at the results I could see they were hugely skewed.  For whatever reason, Nikolai and Kai, and to a lesser degree Drew all had very subpar results on the day.  This substantially threw off the trendline.  If I scratch them from the results the new line predicts 2:35:42.  Still the best race of the season but not quite so outstanding.

What's Next

Back to training!  And maybe racing.  I'd love to do the 22km Seeley Classic this coming Saturday, but the weather... man, I am having a hard time getting excited about racing sub zero again.  Overnight lows predicted to be close to -20, but the high for the day is about 10.  We shall see.

Snow is on its way!

YES!!! According to snow expert meteorologist John Dee, there's a good chance that four inches or more might come our way Sunday night through Monday night, and perhaps another four on top of that by the end of next week.  Check it out here!

Which begs the question, are you ready? Or more precisely, are your skis ready?  

As many of you know CyclovaXC has a world class (aka World Cup level) cross country ski service. It's safe to say that few others in the Midwest (or perhaps the country... maybe world?) know more about making skis FAST or are more trusted than the team here at CyclovaXC. Which is why we get so many people bringing skis here (or shipping skis here) from the Twin Cities and all over the nation.

Frank Lundeen, our head ski tech and co-founder has been helping skis (and skiers) perform at their highest potential for more than two decades.  His experience with top ski industry companies, retailers, and athletes - from Olympic Champions to first timers - ensures you will have the fastest and best performing skis possible!  All the stonegrinding is done by Frank on a machine that is second to none. We love skiing on fast skis and want to help you get faster skis too!

But wait you say, 'I don't race', I don't care about speed...'  Well, think about it this way.  A non-waxed ski or a ski that is waxed improperly doesn't just slow you down, it goes against what the entire experience of skiing is all about: frictionless movement!  Skis and snow allow human beings to experience something that no other ground animal can ever experience: gliding effortlessly across a surface.  A well waxed ski allows you to feel like you are floating across the landscape.... nothing compares!  And even if your skis are 'waxless', the tips and tails still need waxing to allow for an easy glide.  It doesn't need to be about speed ... go as slow as you want.... it's about fun and optimal efficiency

We have waxes, corks, brushes, irons, etc. for all the do-it-yourselfers out there, and we are always delighted to answer any questions about waxing whether you are looking for the fastest flourocarbon combination or simply want to know which wax or system is the easiest to use. And we will also gladly do it for you, from a $10 paste and polish, to the full stonegrinding and race hot waxing treatment.

CLICK HERE for our Ski Service and Info Brochure.  This is where you will find all of the details on our range of ski services including stonegrinding, hotboxing, and waxing.  There is also a ton of great tech info in this document!
CLICK HERE for a sheet of ski work order forms.  You'll want these if you will be shipping or dropping off a batch of skis to be ground or waxed.

For much more information on stonegrinding, ski fit, waxing, and general ski tech info, CLICK HERE to check out our Ski Tech Page.

Following is our range of xc ski services and pricing information:
  • Stonegrind with your structure of choice (see structure menu): $69.99
  • P-tex Welding may be necessary if there are deep scratches in your ski base.  This service costs an additional $15
  • Race Prep Thermo Bag Treatment:  The Race Prep Thermo Treatment is the ideal start for a freshly stoneground ski – all you’ll need to do get your skis race ready is put your wax of the day on.  The race prep saturation features 2 layers of a soft paraffin wax, followed by 1 layer of hard paraffin wax.  Each layer is gently baked in our state of the art SKI SAUNA THERMO BAG at 55’C for 60 minutes.  Studies show that each layer of wax in a Thermo bag achieves wax penetration equal to at least 15 individual layers of wax!  $44.99
  • Stonegrind & Race Prep Thermo Treatment Combo$99.99
  • Waxing:  We offer a variety of ski waxing packages – for all levels of skiers!  You choose between Fast Wax or Toko...
o      Slick Speed Paste & Polish$10
o      Sport Hot Wax (10 step, 2 layer paraffin hot wax job):  $29.99
o      Racer HF Hot Wax (15 step, 3 layer paraffin, LF, and HF hot wax job):  $54.99
o      Racer Flourocarbon Hot Wax (20 step, 4 layer paraffin, LF, HF, and Flourocarbon hot wax job):  $79.99

Following are detailed profiles of our 3 most popular stonegrind structures, including high quality images of each:


If you have any questions on Cyclova XC Racing Service, please contact the helpful staff at Cyclova XC. You can contact us via:
Email: frank@cyclovaxc.com
Phone:715-483-3278



TONIGHT @ 6PM!! Adventure and Tech Social #3 Biking to the Birkie (and other crazy things you should never do) with Steve Clark


Hi friends, tonight (1/5/2017) at 6PM for our 3rd Adventure  & Tech Social I'm going to talk about bringing skis on your bike and how much fun (and challenging) it can be to combine long distance winter bike camping with marathon ski racing.  But mostly, it will be a chance to share some stories (mostly true and not always horrific) about adventures of winter bike camping.

The tech portion will be largely incorporated into the adventure stories, and very participatory, i.e., this is a time for anyone who shows up (and I'm sure dozens of you will because what else is there to do on such a cold, cold evening?) to discuss where they might be at in terms of winter biking and share their own stories of what they have discovered to work (or not work). Of course, we will reveal the latest in clothing and accessories (like studded tires and the best lights for winter), but it will be more of a discussion rather than a lecture format.

My own background:  I became a year 'round cyclist at age 12 as a paper boy in Stillwater, MN using a balloon tire cruiser bike with large steel baskets to carry the  newspapers.  Later I used sheet metal screws to make my own studded tires.  Before biking to the Birkie, I had a lot of experience biking from St. Paul to Wirth Park, and found my best times for the City of Lakes Loppet always came after getting there by bike. Then about 8 years ago I created a rack to more easily carry my skis and poles, and started to ride to races like the Mora Vasaloppet, (which I have now done so many times the local residents look for me). And also began to truly enjoy winter bike camping (but not so much fun when you crash through the ice on the Knife River, trying to find the perfect camping spot where you won't be discovered by the authorities)

The last two times I skied the Birkie I biked up there -- leaving on a Thursday from my farm in Cushing, exactly 100 miles to the start line at Telemark! No, it's not the best way to get a PR, but being able to camp close to the start line is always a thrill, and I get to wake up a little later than most other racers! And how else does a mediocre skier like myself make it into Faster Skier?

Again, this is a time for sharing. Crazy stuff, perhaps, but also fun. As always, we will have snacks and some fizzy water.

Stay warm!