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Mullin's 2018 Noquemanon Race Report


I think this is going to become an annual trip to Marquette.  Last year and this year we rented an Airbnb right in Marquette and made a nice long weekend of ski racing and fat biking.  There area a couple of places that have got it going on.  Duluth is one, Marquette is another.


This week I finally felt like I was getting back to skiing like normal.  I was able to get out and ski a few times and put full power in without pain.  It still hurts to lay down, but skiing doesn't bother my ribs unless I twist funny.  A few more weeks and I should be 100% all the time.

Skis & Waxing

Waxing looked pretty iffy with highs WELL above freezing all day Friday followed by temps maybe just getting below freezing over night and then warming to mid 30s again.  I was expecting fairly transformed and wet snow.  That is just the conditions I picked up a pair of Rossignol S2's for two years ago.  I nice warm flex with some tip and tail splay and a moderate grind on them.  I happened to be looking at the skis at the shop the other day and there was a matching pair at Cyclova.  If someone was looking for a nice pair of skate skis for warm conditions they should swing in and check them out.

I didn't have all of any one wax recommendation so I made do with a mixture.  A couple of layers of Swix LF7 underneath per the Swix recommendation, then a layer of Fast Wax HF30, followed by a top coat of Swix FC8X.

Turns out the temps in Ishpeming did drop to below freezing and the early part of the course was crusty and frozen.  Not quite so hard that you couldn't get an edge, but definitely hard enough I was wishing I had a stiffer ski.  But by the time we got to Forestville and the sun was starting to shine the snow was definitely getting soft.  So at various points my skis were pretty good and a few spots they were maybe not so good.  It is tough when the conditions vary that much.


Section 1 - Al Quall to Deer Lake

I lined up in the second row right behind eventual winner Andy Liebner.  The race started clean from my perspective.  There was one sketchy moment when the original double poling tracks ended and we were free to skate and then the tracks re-appeared again.  Everyone in front of me made it through fine though.

The race starts with a quick 1km of gradual descent towards Teal Lake and then you get to work real quick with a large 115 foot climb that strings the field out in a hurry.  At just under 3km into the race you swing right past the start area again before heading out for the point to point trek towards Marquette.

Just about 3km in and about to swing past the starting line again.  Photo Credit: MQT Photo

At this early stage I found myself with two guys and a small gap up to Lindsey Dehlin.  Taking a peek over my shoulder I saw that it was a huge gap back to anyone else.  The guys were closing down on Lindsey, but I was feeling a bit worked struggling to relax on my skis.  I opted to focus on skiing smoothly and relaxing instead of trying to stick with the group and promptly found myself all alone.

I had heard that there were some tricky downhills in the first half of the race and in particular the downhills onto the lake crossings.  So I took a particularly conservative approach considering I didn't want to crash on my ribs.  The first descent onto Deer Lake wasn't too bad being a pretty straight shot.  It did take a little steeper drop in the last few feet so you had to be ready to absorb the landing onto the lake.

Section 2 - Deer Lake to Dead River Crossing

The crossing of Deer Lake was pretty awful.  The snow had pretty much all melted and it was skiing on lumpy ice.  There certainly wasn't any skating to be found nor were there any tracks to double pole in.  And the west wind that I was looking forward to blowing us all the way to Marquette was actually close to a headwind on this particular stretch.

I had another skier catch me on the lake so I tried to find the draft off to his side across the lake and let him take the lead on the WALL off the lake.  That climb off the lake was steep.  Like 25% grade steep in some sections.  It wasn't super long, but any climb that steep is going to get the heart pumping hard.

Not sure where this is on the course.  It could be in the first 3km still.  Photo Credit: MQT Photo

I again let the skier who caught me go as I wanted to continue to ski my own pace.  I also had a couple of bobbles on some downhills.  The course isn't crazy technical, but it is definitely not a piece of cake.

There was some flatter sections after we crossed a powerline section.  Around there Ken Wikgren and another skier caught me and I hung onto them for a few km before again letting them go.  Eventually on a long straight section another quick check over my shoulder showed me that Chris Halverson was gaining on me.  Pretty typical race for us at this point.  I go out hard, he eventually catches me, then we see what happens.

After skiing through an aid station and up another super punchy climb there was a few rollers before dropping down onto the Dead River for another icy crossing.

Section 3 - Dead River To 510 (24k Start Area)

The crossing of the Dead River basin was about the same as Deer Lake, just shorter.  Beginning the climb up Granite Point Chris Halverson closed the gap.  After leading for a short while Chris offered to take a pull.  He lead the rest of the climb which was slowly starting to turn the screws on me.

As we finally crested the top of the climbing and started the gradual descent down to 510 I was feeling the effort of climbing.  Chris' skis were also running better in this section and despite drafting and some hard V2ing I couldn't keep the gap to Chris closed down.

Thinking I had half a race to go I had to reign my effort back in or risk blowing up hard.  By the time we reached the 510 crossing and the start of the 24k race, I'm guessing Chris had a 15 to 20 second gap on me.

Section 4 - 510 To Forestville

After crossing 510 I was back into semi familiar territory since we were now on some of the same trails we used last year during the shortened race.  I knew we were going to generally continue heading downhill but there would be a few short climbs in the early parts.

Looking up the trail I could see that Chris was closing in on a couple of additional skiers and I had stopped loosing ground.  Taking just a little more risk on the downhills than I had earlier in the race I was able to close down the gap back to Chris about the same time as we caught Ken Wikgren again and the other skier.

At this point we formed a nice group.  The trails through Forestville are a ton of fun.  Very gently rolling with lots of turning and transitions.  And net downhill still.  I was having a good time skiing in a group through here.  First the one guy took a 10+ minute pull on the front.  Then Ken and I did some sharing of the work load.  At times I was wanting to go a little harder, but only just a little bit.

Section 5 - Forestville To Finish

The announcements at the start line said that the last 5k after the Forestville trailhead were relatively flat and that is where the race would really begin.  That is just what happened too.  Ken went to the front and really started turning the screws in the closing kilometers.
Closing on the finish line.  Photo Credit: MQT Photo

I thought I was feeling good and had high hopes of being the last man standing from the group.  Ken had other ideas though.  I checked back periodically and our group dwindled down to just the two of us.  With about 1km to go we passed another wave 1 skier and I let a small gap open up.  That was enough of a mental break that I lost contact as I was on the edge.

In the end I couldn't reel him back in and I finished 14th overall.



I had a great race.  Not to jinx it, but I've now finished three races this year without bonking.  Granted one was a 31k, one I was too injured to go hard, and this one was net downhill.  So that isn't quite like getting to Mosquito Brook and having enough energy to tackle four big climbs, but it is encouraging.


Despite a good subjective measure, the objective analysis using my Birkie Predictor doesn't have me in the elite wave.

What's Next

I'm racing the City of Lakes freestyle race.  I haven't done this race in quite a few years.  I just never could quite bring myself to race the years it was "The Loopit Loppet".  They've announced that it will be the full course so I'm kind of looking forward to it.  I don't have a start in the last two years so I'll be assigned a random wave which is a bummer, but oh well.

Parting shot of the fat biking on Sunday.

2018 All New Adventure Talks beginning February 6th with Birkie Veterans Ben and Jim!

The Birkie AS A WAY OF LIFE!!!

It's approaching February and there is snow on the ground and that can only mean one thing: People are starting to get feverish about the American Birkebeiner!  So what better way to kick off our new 2018 Adventure series (talks and tech help) than to have two veterans of the Birkie present on this amazing race?

Looking for some inspiration? Sound advice? Waxing tips? Or humorous stories of what not to do? Then come to CyclovaXC on Tuesday, February 6th at 6:30pm for "The Birkie and how to prevent it from taking over your life and other lessons not yet learned."

Presenting will be none other than long time CyclovaXC team member hero Ben Mullin and new CyclovaXC owner, coach and world class triathlete Jim Kelley.

Jim and Ben will  discuss how "It takes a year to ski the Birkie" but of course a major focus will be on how to make the most of the last two weeks leading up to the race.  They will also go over the logistics -- revealing that even veteran Birkie skiers have different tricks to make it go as smoothly as possible.

Jim will also discuss what the Birkie means on the world stage -- including its esteemed position as a member of the World Loppet circuit of ski marathons.  And then yes, finally, the real title of the talk: 
The Birkie as a Way of Life.  (Perhaps it's not a bad thing when Birkie Fever takes hold....certainly some of the healthiest people on the planet owe their amazing fitness to this malady!) 

Ben, who only (ha, only!.... only a snob like me would say only!) has four Birkies under his feet, but has amazing algorithms/race analysis to make sense of his progress, will relate his development as a skier and even disclose all of his race strategy secrets, one of which he is already well known for -- going out like a madman and blowing up around Bitch Hill. (Sorry Ben, but I do follow your blogs....).

Okay, if I haven't yet convinced you to come to what will surely be a really fun and informative presentation with lots of opportunity for Q and A (or maybe just good old fashion interrogation) these two bios- in their own words - ought to do the trick:

Jim Kelley:  I began skiing cross country and nordic jumping in 10th grade in western Massachusetts in 1976.  Although I continued to ski after high school I didn't pursue college skiing due to the fact that you had to leave for races at college winter carnivals on Thursday morning and I wasn't going to miss 2 days of classes a week. 
My ski racing took a hiatus when I went to graduate school in Missouri in 1984 and subsequently took a job in Maryland after that, so I was essentially out of the sport for 13 years and missed the "skating revolution".  I did try to keep up with roller skiing during this time which resulted in a lot of weird looks from locals in the Bootheel area of Southeast Missouri.  At a work meeting in Florida (of all places) in 1996 I first learned about the American Birkebeiner from a friend that grew up in the Twin Cities but was then working in Florida.  He convinced me to sign up for the Birkie so I combined my road marathon training with getting ready for the Birkie.  For my first 3 Birkies I would drive to Hayward from Maryland, get on snow for maybe 1-2 days pre-Birkie, race the Birkie and then drive back home to Maryland.  That was my only skiing for those 3 years.  I decided I needed to move to this area in order to get back to an area that had real winters and then moved out here in 1999.  Except for the 2 cancelled Birkies since I started, I've made it to the starting line every year.  This year will be my 20th Birkie and I finally will earn that purple Birchlegging bib.

Ben Mullin: I started my nordic skiing career by naively signing up for the Forest Lake "ski club" in 7th grade.  Turns out it wasn't a recreational club but rather the ski team.  6 years of competitive HS skiing later I graduated from HS and promptly stopped skiing and got horribly out of shape. 
About 10 years later the love for endurance sports was rekindled and I started skiing again.  Two years later CyclovaXC opened and the rest is history as they say.  2018 will be my second attempt at my 5th Birkie (due to the cancelled 2017) and once again I will be chasing that elusive Elite Wave qualification. 

Steve says: I am betting Ben will do it this year! But can he beat Jim, the 20 year veteran? Come on down to Cyclova XC next Tuesday and place your bets! The talk is free and we'll even provide some nice snacks and feel free to bring your own beverages!

And here is the rest of what we have planned for this winter/spring so that  you can put it on your calendar today and not miss a single one!

6:30pm start time for all talks on the schedule...

Feb 6 -- The Birkie: A Way of Life; Racer insights by Ben Mullin and Jim Kelly
Feb 20 --  100 Marathons! 1,000 stories! Eric Olson
March 6 --  Surviving (but just barely!) the Arrowhead 135Dallas Wynne and Angus Morrison
March 20 --  Amazon River International Raft Race; Kirk Jacobson
March 27 --Snowshoeing in Spain -- the World Championships - Jim Graupner & Steve Clark 
April 3 -- Crossing the Red Lake Peatland --Jason Husveth, John Storkamp & Rob Henderson 
April 17 --  How to Conquer (or at least live to talk about it) the Marji Gesick 100 -- mountain bikers Steve Hamlin, Jason Kunshier and ultramarathon runnner Starr Phothirath.
May 1 --   Hudson Bay Bound -- 2250 miles from Mpls to the Hudson Bay! Recreating Eric Sevareid's route  Canoeing with the Cree -- Natalie Warren 
May 15 --  Adventures in Nutrition -- Latest research on what athletes really need - Amy Sotis

New Store Hours Starting February 1st!

Beginning Thursday, February 1st... Cyclova will be open 7 days per week with expanded store hours!!!

We have all kinds of projects in the works at Cyclova since the new ownership transition and the new store hours is just the start of it. We have a new website in the works, tech nights are about to kick off, we are working on a new store layout, reviewing our pricing structure to stay competitive, looking at new products to expand our in store inventory and planning for a new Grand Reopening Event with the new ownership & management team this spring.

Stay tuned, stop by to see us and check things out as we continue moving forward...!


Rely on the Waxing Gurus at Cyclova XC to help you have the fastest and most enjoyable skis ever!  From elite racers to first timers - we will ensure a smiling face whilst skiing!

We have a real Winter this go around, and skiers are chomping at the bit to get out and enjoy a day on the skis, as well as taking on some events!  A properly waxed ski will help you get the most out of your ski - from a fun kick & glide through the woods to the Birkie!  Cyclova XC is your full service XC Ski Shop and is at your service!

NEW!!! - Frequent Waxer Punchcards

Fast Skis are ones that are frequently waxed. Frequent waxing also protects your ski bases from oxidation, which tends to prevent optimal wax absorption. To help with the cost of frequent waxing, we have started our new punch card program so that you can purchase multiple wax jobs at a discount. We now offer the following wax punch cards...

Sport Hot Wax Punch Card (7 wax jobs - save $41): $99
Race HF Hot Wax Punch Card (3 wax jobs - save $12): $135

We have a variety of ski wax products...  Glide wax, grip wax, paste wax, Flouro-Carbons, etc...

If Waxing isn't your thing or you just don't have the time, but you still want to have a great time out skiing or have fast race skis - don't fret!  Bring your skis on in and we can take care of the waxing for you.  Whether its a quick paste wax job or a full-blown stonegrind/hotbox/race flourocarbon ski prep - we can ensure your skis are gliding fast!

Check out our Ski Service Page for the full scoop on waxing and ski service rates.  

Additionally, note that we are clearing out dozens of pairs of previous year model skis & boots with prices up to 50% off. Come on in to check out the deals, while the getting is good!
We believe that optimizing XC ski performance is an art!  Photo credit to David Gabrys

STONEGRINDING @ Cyclova XC - Get The Most Out Of Your Skis & Wax This Winter!

Frank stonegrinding a ski on Cyclova XC's Wintersteiger Micro 100 Machine - the most advance machine in Wisconsin exclusively used for tuning Nordic skis.  Photo credit to David Gabrys
Once again, we are are in the heart of xc ski racing season (with great snow) - and skis that perform at their best will ensure a fun experience and help you have the best possible race results!  Simply put, caring for your base by having them periodically (usually annually) stoneground will maximize the time and money you spend on waxing them!

Specifically, stonegrinding your xc skis will:
  • "Exfoliate" your ski base:  Removing the old outermost dead layer of base material, and exposing a fresh and healthy new layer.  This will ensure that your ski bases actually take on the characteristics of the wax that you're working so hard to apply.  Freshly stoneground skis are proven to absorb up to 20 times more wax than skis that haven't been stoneground in over a year.  
  • Flatten your ski base:  Snow is abrasive, and skiing gradually rounds the edges of your ski base.  A flat ski makes the waxing process infinitely more effective (and easy), as well as makes your skis more stable and fun to ski (due to improved edge control).  
  • Precisely cut an optimal structure pattern into your ski base:  Our 3 step grinding process (see the video below) ensure a perfect, hair free, race ready structure pattern in your ski base.  While most Midwest xc skiers are best served by our Cold Universal Structure, see the structure menu on our Ski Service Page for details on our menu of structures (or drop us a line to chat details).
As has been the case since 2010, Frank Lundeen is personally grinding every pair of skis at Cyclova XC.  Frank's been stonegrinding skis since 1999 for everyone from Olympic Champions to first timers, and has literally trained in many of the nation's top xc ski tuning shops. Batches of skis will generally be processed on weekly for the remainder of this Winter, as demand dictates.  

Come on in to Cyclova XC to talk ski tech, stonegrinding, wax, and structure with our xc ski experts!

For more info on our range of xc ski services, check out the wealth of info on our following pages:
  • Ski Service Page:  Info on our services, service rates, order forms, etc.
  • Ski Tech Page:  Arguably the most extensive collection of xc ski tech articles and videos on the interwebs.

Mullin's 2018 Seeley Hills Classic Race Report

Seeley Hills is sort of the Midwest classic championships.  There isn't a freestyle option that day.  If you are there to ski you are there because you are going to classic.

Race Prep


I almost exclusively race freestyle, but I still love to classic ski.  Every year I say I should do more of it.  This year I have done way less.  In fact, I think the race may have been my fourth classic ski all year.

I had some great classic intervals on Monday.  It took a little bit, but I felt like I was really finding my stride.  At that point I was not committed to the race.  It looked like I had an impending work trip that would interfere with racing the following weekend so I was leaning towards it.  But it was also going to be stupid cold again and my classic boots are not very warm.

Then Wednesday night, per my last report, I crashed HARD doing the Wednesday night race.  Hard enough that I thought I might have broken some ribs.  Again.  After two days of not doing anything though I thought maybe it wouldn't be too bad so I committed to going up and racing.  In the -8 degree weather.  For the long race.  Making good decisions.


Pretty straight forward there.  More Start Green.  SG10 and MF10.  Make those skis SHINE!

Kick is also pretty straight forward in these conditions.  I started the thread on the Midwest Nordic Facebook group anyhow and there were some interesting opinions.  Ultimately I ended up waxing up my second skis with two options so I could test.  Swix VR30 on one ski and Start Green Synthetic on the other.  About 45 minutes before the race I took them for a quick spin.  Both had bomber kick as you might expect.  The Start ski felt a little freer during the glide though.  A little Rode Green Special over the top of the Swix helped, but still didn't feel quite as good as the Start.

Pretty simple, but lots of options.  Generally something green though.

Back to the van and three thin coats of Start went on the race skis and I sat in the car to finish my "warm-up".

Oh, and kicking around on my test skis, my ribs HURT.


Pretty much identical to the week before at SISU.  The only addition was a new pair of fuzzy over-boots to go over my classic boots.  That turned out great as my feet were cold, but never painfully cold which was a significant improvement.


No big strategy this time.  The goal was a nice long 42k (well 38k since they shortened it because of the temps) hardish ski.  A marathon paced workout I paid $80 for if you will.

Standing in the sunshine at -9F about 8 rows back at the start it actually felt pretty nice.  Clearly it has been pretty cold around here for a while.

The gun went off and the field rolled out.  I got pinched out as I had been in the right hand lane and when the start area transitioned into the trail that track disappeared.  I lost a few places while trying to find a new opening to slot into.

This sort of worked out as one of the first things you do when heading north on the classic trail is bomb down a pretty big hill that has a few turns in it.  A big field on classic skis that can be kind of sketchy.  Since I had to wait to slot in a little break had formed and I had pretty clear trail ahead of me so I wasn't going to get taken down when anyone ditched it in front of me.

After that you have a big climb before things get sorted out well.  Unfortunately for me that is where the race start adrenaline wore off and I noticed how much my ribs hurt.  I was just a few seconds off the back of a big group that looked like a bunch of people I wanted to ski with.

Despite making an attempt I couldn't close the gap down.  I could stride reasonably, but any attempt to put any power into a double pole or kick double pole was agony.  Sharp shooting pains in my rib cage.  Slowly the field just pulled away from me.  Then the field behind me started streaming past.

One benefit is I did get a chance to have a short chat with someone who said they enjoyed my race reports.  Despite asking their name, I'm completely blanking on it now.  Sorry about that, but hey Tom!  Or was it John?  Dang it.

As we neared the turn around at the high point I was trying to decide if I should just soft pole it back to OO and go sit in the car and wait for everyone else to finish.  Things were starting to feel a little less terrible at that point though.  The pain wasn't quite as bad and folks were starting to come back to me.

The Strava Flyby really shows the story of the race.  About a mile strong, then fading quickly, then finishing strong.

There would be some flatish stretches where I wouldn't gain an inch on the people in front of me.  Then we would hit a downhill and my skis were just ripping fast.  I'd close the gap significantly and then we'd hit the next uphill and my striding would finish the job and I'd start looking at the next person.

By the time I got back to OO I must have finally fatigued the pain receptors and they stopped firing.  Sort of a "well if you want to be an idiot and aren't going to listen to us, we are going to stop telling you about the injury".  Since it didn't hurt any more I just soldiered on.

I was actually having a good time being later in a race and clearly feeling much better than those people I was steadily passing.  I guess there is some advantage to being in so much pain early in a race you can't push your aerobic system??

After hitting the turn around at the south end and catching a few more folks on the way back north I kept thinking each corner I went around I was going to find Picnic Table Hill and the signal that I had one climb left and a shot downhill to the finish.  Turns out there were a lot more corners and climbs that I remembered.

The end did eventually come and I was glad to be done.



Well, I probably shouldn't have done that.  I'm glad I finished strong, but I probably would have been much better served to let my ribs heal instead of trying to race on them.


I didn't expect much out of the comparison out of my Race Comparison Tool, but it turned out to be not as bad as I figured it would be.  I'm glad to see that even for what I thought was a not so great race I'm still competitive.

What's Next

Getting healthy!  I finally skied again on Wednesday evening.  Well, it looked like I was skiing anyhow.  There was very little power in my upper body.  I'm feeling pretty good on Thursday.  Or maybe its I'm feeling less bad.  Rib injuries are silly things that can take a long time to feel better.  Sadly I know from the last three times I hurt them.

I'm optimistic that I'm sufficiently on the mend because I am going up to the Noquemanon in Marquette in a week no matter what.  I'm looking forward to the race and then a bunch of rad fat biking up there.

CycleOps Indoor Trainers at Cyclova XC

CycleOps Trainers

It's been a cold winter and non -20 degree days have brought above freezing temps and fatbike trail closures. If you don't have have an indoor trainer, but just haven't been able to get out... An indoor trainer really is a great option. It's not just for hardcore training either...

We have sold trainers to all levels of riders. Infact, one of our latest trainer sales went to somebody with a Townie Cruiser and they just wanted to maintain some fitness through the winter, so they could be ready hit the Gandy Dancer Bicycle Path again in the spring. It's a convenient way to get a workout  in and maintain fitness in a short period of time vs packing up and driving to the trailhead or the gym. I would still prefer to get outside, but available time and weather doesn't always allow it. If you own an indoor trainer, you'll find it coming in handy during the spring, summer and fall months as well.

I personally own 2 CycleOps Indoor Trainers. I own the Jet Fluid Pro and Magnus...

Jet Fluid Pro

I have had the Jet Fluid Pro for a few years now and it has been a great trainer. I like the fluid trainer as it has an exponential power curve that is more in line with what you would feel in real life riding as you increase speed and work through your gear changes. The speeds that I ride on the trainer very closely match that of speeds that I would ride my road bike on the road, with the same gear selection and effort levels; both percieved effort and heart rate measurements.


I have owned the Magnus Wheel On Smart Trainer for a few months now also and again, really like this trainer. I had a Wahoo Kickr in the past, but the Magnus is half the price and works just as well. The wheel on option is slightly less accurate than a direct drive trainer when it comes to power measurement, but I make sure to pump my tire to the same 120psi and recrank down the wheel pressure knob before each ride. If I'm doing intervals where I want to make sure the power is most accurate, then I will hit the quick spin down calibration once the unit is warmed up and before I start my intervals. The Magnus will also fit 148mm boost hubs with an adapter kit.


I have also tested a CycleOps Hammer Direct Drive Smart Trainer and was very impressed. It felt smoother in my opinion than the Kickr that I used to have and was quieter. The Hammer will also fit a variety of thru axle frames, including 148mm boost. If I were to have spent the extra money for a direct drive trainer, the Hammer would have been my first choice.


We do keep a CycleOps Fluid2 Trainer in stock as that seems to be the more common trainer of choice and for good reason. It is a great trainer for the money. It's a very similar trainer to the Jet Fluid Pro, but slightly cheaper and you can get an adapter to fit 148mm boost frames in it vs the Jet Fluid Pro, that can only fit 142mm frames. It doesn't have the same painted finish and plastic shroud as the Jet Fluid Pro, so at the end of the day... You're getting about the same trainer, minus the fancy finish, but with more frame versatility.


I personally don't have any experience with rollers, but we do keep the CycleOps Rollers in stock as well. I know Frank and other experienced cyclists swears by using rollers in the off season to keep the legs spinning, work on pedalling efficiency and handling the bike on a trainer with a more realistic feel. I think they would be a great option for those sustained endurance/tempo rides vs a traditional trainer as the balancing act would keep it much more entertaining. Maybe, I need to go ahead and some point and add another trainer to my pain cave...

Trainer Specific Tire

I also use a trainer tire to avoid build up of black tire dust on my floor and wearing out my normal tire. You can do this by having an extra wheel for your trainer, but since it's winter... You won't be using that normal tire anyways, so just mount up that trainer tire for the winter on your main wheel. We also keep a trainer tire in stock as well.

Next Day Orders

As far as any trainers that we might not have in stock... We can usually have what you are looking for in stock the next day for you to pick up depending on the day of the week. Just give us a call and we'll make sure we can have what you are looking for in stock, so you don't have to make 2 trips in.

Regardless of what you you might be looking for, we can get you set up with the type of trainer you need for your situation.

Mullin's Wednesday Night Yard Sale Report

We are going to keep this one short.  Wednesday night there are some low key races held at Elm Creek.  7:00 is a freestyle race, 7:30 a classic race.

I'm on a Monday/Wednesday hard workout schedule right now so working a short super intense race into the mix on Wednesday's adds a little spice to the training mix and keeps you pushing hard.

With temps above freezing for the last 30 hours or so, and a HS meet having been held there that afternoon, the trails were pretty hard packed and fast, but still a little short of being a frozen skating rink.

I "warmed up", which included the usual easy skiing, and then a couple of 3 minute VO2 max efforts that would likely have been a key component of the workout had I not been racing.

At 6:55 I ditched my vest and lined up on the front of two rows.  After a little joking around with Artie about stepping on poles and a reminder from the race director that we were on an open course and to be careful and courteous to other skiers we were off.

About 100 meters later the lead pack is doing about 20 mph and a pair of non-racers decided to cut across the trail without looking first.  Talk about a close one as everyone managed to avoid a high speed collision.

Then about 100 meters later, as I was about fourth or fifth and wanting to make a few hard skates to close the gap to the leaders, I planted a pole between my skis.


That hard pack now has a pretty deep impression of my ribs in it.  It was quite easy to locate during a post race inspection.

About 17.5 mph to zero in 5 seconds.  It would have been a quicker deceleration but the guys behind me said I slid a fair ways before coming to a stop.

Thankfully no one ran me over while I was sprawled in the trail.  But by the time I got back up again the race was GONE.  Unfortunately not only did I get the wind knocked out of me, I aggravated the ribs I busted up mountain biking back in September.

I did get moving again though and managed to work it out mostly and finished the "race" as a hard workout.

I'm not sure I had previously seen 184 this year, so I was definitely not slacking at the end.
While I love racing, this really wasn't about the race so that was a big loss.  It is still a bit of a bummer to crash out of contention.  Hopefully the ibuprofen keeps any swelling at bay and I'll feel up to racing Seeley this weekend.

Keep the Ptex side down and the pole plants lateral to your skis everyone.


Mullin's 2018 SISU Ski Fest Race Report

It is finally time.  That time when you get to waste several thousand words of your daily reading allotment on a long winded ski race report.

As the first report of the season I'll ramble for a paragraph or two about season prep and plans, but then I'll dive into the usual format.  The usual being race specific prep, the race itself, and finally some analysis and a what's next.

Season Prep

You may have heard, last year was the "Year of the Bike".  And bike I did.  My training log is a bit disheveled at the moment since I've been in a bit of a transition of platforms so I can't say exactly how many miles or hours I rode, but it was a lot.  For me anyway.  Pretty much from the day after the sad Birkie Fest until October I was exclusively bike.

This fall, as the "Year of the Bike" came to a close, I slowly transitioned into ski season prep trading the mountain bike rides for dark roller ski intervals up Ravine Road in Dresser.  I did throw in a few final rides including the Beat the Dark Century in cold and crappy conditions as well as a pair of cyclocross races.  But biking has become a recovery tool instead of the key training tool.

My original recollection of last year's fall training was that I was really nailing it with consistent workouts.  Upon actual inspection of the training log... I was good for about two weeks before I got very inconsistent.  This year, I've made a reasonable high level plan, and have actually been scheduling and hitting weekly workouts very consistently.  As of today, just 48 days to go...

That is 48 days until the Birkie if you weren't sure.  That is the big one obviously.  Between SISU and then my goal is to race less this year than past years.  Previously I've raced pretty much every weekend except the one immediately prior to the Birkie.  And been pretty spent by the Birkie.  This year I'm going to trade some traveling race days for local workout days.  Right now I'm only committed to the Noque and the Birkie, though I'm certain I'll add probably two more races in there somewhere.

Race Prep


On to the usual programming.  This past week just happened to be a "recovery" week on the master calendar.  That meant lower volume and shorter intensity work.  It wasn't intentional with the first big race, it just happened.  I wasn't complaining though.


It has been stinking cold here for a few weeks, and about the same in Ironwood.  The difference though is that they have, and kept getting, a bunch of lake effect snow.  So while we are confined to the man made glaciers here, the full 31k course was in prime condition.  Just with crazy cold snow.

That meant Start Green on the skis.  I actually waxed up two pairs of skis.  My soft flex cold grind Fischers, and my stiffer flex uni grind Rossignols.  They both got brushed out good, a cleaning waxing with some blue wax, then they both got hardened up with several coats for SG10 and a top coat of MF10.  I was originally going to do a base graphite layer, but it completely slipped my mind until I was almost done and I wasn't about to start over.

Overnight the area got another inch or two of snow, but the majority of the course was groomed again after it stopped snowing and was pretty firm corduroy.  When testing skis on that it wasn't even a contest.  The Rossignols were substantially faster.  Another fine example of the ski flex being more important than just the wax du jour.


The forecast was calling for a race start temp of about -8, so they pushed the start back 90 minutes.  And then it didn't get as cold as the forecast said.  I'm not sure what the exact temp ended up being at race start, but it was probably around zero.  The blazing bright sunshine and lack of wind made it feel ten times warmer than last year though.

The picture from last year actually.
My gear was almost identical to last year.

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 Flip goggles that only fogged up a little when climbing a few hills, but when flipped up cleared up right away.

Hands: Toko mid-weight gloves, Toko overmitts Toko Artic gloves, these are the next step up from the mid-weight gloves before you get to the mittens or lobsters.  For my relatively hot hands these were more than enough and left me with the dexterity to get feeds that the overmitts from last year didn't.

Feet: Wool socks, toe warmers, ski boots

I was toasty all day long.  I wouldn't change a thing given the chance.


With skis tested I got a super short five minute warm-up in and then threw my skis down on the inside lane front row moments after the elite classic wave started.  I then dumped my warm-ups and drop bag and got ready to race.

Heck yeah.  Happy to be out in the sunshine and snow getting ready to race!


Only 900 words and I'm to the race.  I must be getting lazy.


I didn't have a firm strategy in mind.  I wanted to start clean, go hard, find a good group, settle in, and then push my limits.  See where my training has been leading me.

Actual Race

As I said, I took a spot on the front row.  That may have been a little too far up.  The gun went off and I got to double poling.  The start has about 100 yards of double poling before you hit the skate zone and start a sweeping right hander and off onto the course.  I was 4th at the corner... not bad.  I was about 9th at 1k and held that position until probably 2k.

Heading up towards the Hilltop House about 1k in.  The lead pack is cresting the hill.  I've just been passed on my left by eventual 3rd place finisher Adam Swank (white hat) and about to be passed on the right by eventual winner and Olympian John Bauer (orange suit).  Photo Credit: ABR Ski
I lead the big chase pack for a kilometer or so into the Pit Point Loop before letting folks pass in small groups.  The first k had plenty of room for passing as can be seen in the picture above.  After that it is really just one skater wide.  I'm pretty sure I did an acceptable job of stepping aside and letting people by at reasonable times.  No one jumped on my poles or ski tails.

I was looking for the group to hang onto as they went past.  This was instead of trying to bridge up to the right group like I did last year.  A different strategy that had its own source of pain.  This came from the initial hard effort as opposed to the intense bursts from last year.

First 20km of the course all on the ABR trails.

It felt like the entire field had probably gone by me before I finally found a group.  That wasn't true of course, but it always feels that way when you are working really hard and can't find a group you feel like you can hang with.  Coach K finally passed me around the four k mark which was quite a bit longer than I figured.  But he kept going and I couldn't hang.

As we hit the Hautanen Highlands around the 7k mark I was finally skiing in a group.  I'm not sure who I was with but as we made our way up that first climb I settled in.  There were still a few people that went streaming by in the next couple of k including Brent Kann, Dennis Curran, Rhett Bonner, and Chris Halverson.  Brent seems to always pass me somewhere around the last 1/4 of a race so it was a little surprising to see him go by so early.  He was looking good though.  None of them made the pass super fast, but eventually a little gap would open and they would work away.

I should also note that while most of the course was groomed to hard pack corduroy perfection, the Highlands had 1-2" of fresh snow on them.  My skis were definitely better on the hard pack.

Eventually I was settled in behind I think it was Ethan Kennedy.  Who incidentally I believe is my main competition for the "best of both" Noque/Marquette Trail 50 competition, but I didn't know that at the time.  As we were nearing the end of the Highlands I was feeling better, just like last year.  I also noticed that the group that had Rhett and Chris in it was only about 20 seconds up the trail and not getting any further away.

Knowing that we had a nice long downhill out of the Highlands back to the swamp and there would be an aid station right there I decided to get prepared to try and pull that gap back down.  I took a nice drink out of my still not yet frozen bottle of Green Tea Buzz Tailwind and prepared to blow through the aid station.

The move worked to perfection.  As I rounded the corner onto Bards Bump the gap to Rhett, Chris, and Garret Ping was only about 10 seconds.  Being back on the hard pack my skis were running better and I put in a good push to close the gap down quickly knowing I'd be able to sit in and recover.

I really like looking at the Strava Flyby feature to see how a race develops.  This is my time back to Rhett through the Highlands.  Time back is red, and elevation is in gray.  The sharp decline is where they hit the aid station and I skipped it followed by a hard push to close the gap down over the next km or so.
I recovered on the back of the group for a few km until I found myself on the front as we climbed Blueberry Bluffs back towards the start area.  I took my turn on the front and before I knew it we were already at the top of the hill turning down onto Meadow Ridge.

The course from ABR to Ironwood is a very gradual climb for the first 8km or so and then there are a handful of pretty punchy hills in the last few kilometers.

It was at this point that this group decided no one was really interested in pulling.  I think we all spent a fair bit of time double poling softly in the tracks waiting for someone else to pull through.  I was feeling OK at this point, but I was having flashbacks to last year.  Last year I was feeling good through here and up through Norrie Park and was taking turns on the front.  Only I was taking about half of the pulls out of a group of 3.  I ended up bonking the last few km and didn't want to over do it this time.  Eventually we all did our share of the work, but it was a bit like pulling teeth each time we rotated.

Coming into the River House aid station.  Garrett had just taken a feed and a small gap had opened up to Chris.  The gap got closed shortly after.  (Photo Credit: Linda Kangas Slining)
This pattern continued for the next 12km up until about the last 2km of the race.  I was feeling pretty dang good again.  I mean, I had already raced 20km, some of which I had felt pretty bad during, but I wasn't struggling.  In my mind I was saving up some energy to make a push at the finish rather than bonking like is my normal MO.

HR of the whole race with the group ski section highlighted.  During that stretch I averaged 168 compared with the overall average of 171.
Post race analysis shows that I was definitely going easier than I had been the rest of the race.  I will note that I didn't actually look at my watch during the race for a change.  I raced by feel and course markings.

During this stretch I was pondering how to ski the rest of the race.  It seemed to me like Rhett and Garrett were struggling and Chris was feeling OK.  I was pondering either taking a little harder pull to see if the group would break up or just keeping my pulls short and saving some energy for the end/not bonk.

Approaching the crossing of Range Rd.  Chris, me, Rhett, and Garrett all still cruising along as a pack.  This is the long grinding straight away that can be a real drag if you aren't feeling it.  (Photo Credit: Linda Kangas Slining)
At one point I did a short harder pull, but I didn't shed anyone one from the group.  I decided at that point to position myself to lead the last few climbs out of Miners Heritage Park and then rotate off the front as we skied down into the dump through the open.

After that there are two real butt kicker hills.  If you aren't ready for them they really just punch you in the face and you wonder if you are going to make it to the finish which is all of three and a half km away.

As we rounded the short field stretch before the last big climb I decided it was time to go.  I was sitting third ski at that point.  I hopped into the track, double poled hard and jumped in front of Rhett and hopped on the last short downhill and hit the climb hard.

The descent into the dump followed by the first short climb at 28km.  Then the final big climb just before 30km where I made my move.
Of all of the grooming that hill probably had the worst.  I'm guessing that the hill has a big rut down the middle even in the summer.  The grooming had flattened out the outer thirds, but the middle was still a big snowy rut.  You had to pick a side and do an off-camber V1.

It hurt bad by the time I got to the top of the hill.  I didn't look back, but just kept the gas down as best I could.  It is pretty much downhill from there, but that doesn't mean it is easy.  A couple of bumpy road crossings and a highspeed turn all with flooded legs keeps it entertaining.  I was also closing in on a skier I hadn't seen before.

In the end I couldn't quite pull in the skier ahead of me, but I held of Chris, Rhett, and Garrett.

More Strava Flyby showing the time I took back with the final push.  Rhett is in red at the bottom where I got about 10 seconds on him.  Dennis Curran and Laszlo Alberti in orange and blue respectively.



I was happy with my race for sure.  If you've read enough of my race reports you'll know I have a theme of bonking hard at the end.  Last year's report doesn't read a big bonk, but the "fatigue was adding up" was code for that.  And the fact that I lost about 2 minutes to Chris Halverson in the last 5k speak to that.

This time I took off hot and faded back to my spot in the pack, but then maybe took it a little too easy towards the middle stretch.  I think I really could have pushed the middle stretch harder and still not blown up.  Maybe.

This was a good opportunity to see where my training is at, learn a little bit about riding that line between going hard and blowing up.  As Ben Jonjak likes to quote Bjorn Daehlie, to paraphrase, "It isn't the going out to hard that is the problem, it is the blowing up".  Something like that anyhow.


The spread sheet is dead.  Sad I know.

But wait, it got way better.  The spreadsheet entered the internet era and is now online.  And you can use it yourself.

Steve said I can do a write-up on it, but I'll do that another time.  For this report I'll just focus on my race analysis.

Same as before, the tool looks at racers who did both races and builds a mathematical model to translate one race to another.  With the assumption that everyone else is the same fitness as last year and executed the same, and had the same ski quality, etc... yeah, lots of caveats... you can get an impression of how you did relative to everyone else.  On the average it seems to work pretty well despite all of the exceptions.

In this case, I'm selecting the 2018 SISU Ski Fest 31k Freestyle and the 2016 Birkie 51k Freestyle (remember, the 2017 Birkie was cancelled, yeah, I'm sure you needed a reminder of that, sorry).

So, 2:38:12 is my predicted Birkie finish time.  Seems close to the Elite Wave.

There is actually another tool over there though, the Birkie Predictor.  Just select your skier of interest and it will use all of the results from the last two years to predict a Birkie finish complete with Wave and place identification.

Ok, yeah, talk about squeaking in by the skin of your teeth.


That isn't quite all Cyclova peeps in that picture, but the majority of them are.  All getting our recovery on at Cold Iron in Ironwood after the race.

SISU Sweet Stout from Cold Iron in Ironwood.

What's Next

As said earlier, I'm planning to race less this year.  To that end I had originally planned to train through this coming weekend and maybe hit the Rennet next weekend.  Unfortunately a work trip is looming for the day before the Rennet so I'm back to thinking about Seeley this weekend and training through the following weekend.

SISU Ski Fest This Weekend

Nordic race season gets started in earnest this weekend.  The SISU Ski Fest in Ironwood MI kicks things off in the early marathon season with some great point to point racing from ABR to downtown Ironwood.

Cyclova usually has a pretty strong contingent up there racing.  Whenever you see anyone wearing Cyclova kit you are obligated to say hi even if you don't know them.  You are on the same team after all and you should get to know them if you don't.  It is my favorite part of being on the team.

Personally, I expect to be hanging out in the "VIP Room" prior to the race.  Not that I'm a VIP, that is just what that room is labeled.  It is the back room in the groomer shed.  If you are looking at the two big grooming shed doors, its in the very back of the one on the left.  If you are looking for a cool place to hang out I suggest there.

I know race morning can be hectic, but I'd like to see if we can't get a group picture before the race.  Let's meet at 10:00 (this was 8:30, but with the 90 minute delay we will push this back accordingly) right in front of (or maybe just inside since it is going to be COLD) the main grooming shed.  This is directly across the parking lot from the office where you normally buy your trail pass.  See the map below.  If you miss the group picture, try to grab a picture of yourself out there that day and send them to one of the Bens (Mullin or Jonjak).

If you need some hyping up (or distraction from trying to get real work done) here is a look back at all of the SISU reports found on Cyclova over the last 5 years.  Enjoy!

Jonjak 2012
Jonjak on the cancelled 2013 - I went out and skied 42k that day at Troll and used that GPS file to petition my way into wave 7 of the Birkie that year.  Jonjak promised me that SISU always had good skiing...
Jonjak 2014
Jonjak 2015
Mullin 2016
Mullin 2017

I'll be back next week with my in depth race reports you all know and love.