New Store Hours


Monday: 10am - 7pm
Tuesday: 10am - 7pm
Wednesday: 10am - 7pm
Thursday: 10am - 7pm
Friday: 10am - 7pm
Saturday: 8am - 5pm
Sunday: 10am - 5pm

2018 Kortelopet 29K and Prince Haakon 15K Wax Considerations

Time is running a little short so we will be providing an abbreviated wax tip considerations report.  Below we have provided links to local weather in the Cable/Hayward area and links to the wax recommendations from the major wax companies that we provide waxes for in the shop.

Ski Preparation:  If you have time before your race, and if you haven't taken advantage of our stonegrinding/hot box service at the shop, some basic ski preparation will set you up for optimum performance on race day.  To allow you to start with a clean base you can do a "hot scrape" of your skis by ironing on a layer of a base prep product such as Fast Wax Base Prep.  Before the wax cools simply scrape off the warm wax which will take away any dirt that had accumulated on your skis during Korte/Birkie training leading up to the races.  Let the skis cool, then scrape away any remaining wax and brush as normal. Then you can start hardening the bases by applying base layers of waxes such as Fast Wax HS20 Blue.  Iron on, cool, scrape and brush as normal.  Apply 2-3 layers if you have time.  This will set you up for your final wax layers.  Now you are set to follow the wax recommendations linked to below.

Friday February 23:

Kortelopet Skate and Classic 29K Events: Wave start times range from 10:45 to 11:50 AM
Prince Haakon 15K: Start at your own pace between 1:15 and 1:30 PM

NOAA weather forecast for Birkie Trail and the Highway OO intersection:

Thursday Night

Snow before 5am, then snow likely, possibly mixed with freezing rain. Low around 21. Southeast wind around 5 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. Little or no ice accumulation expected. New snow accumulation of 3 to 7 inches possible. 

Friday
A chance of snow and freezing drizzle before 9am, then a slight chance of freezing drizzle between 9am and noon. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 32. Light and variable wind becoming west 5 to 10 mph in the morning. Chance of precipitation is 50%.

The graphical temperature forecast as of Thursday, 6 AM is below




Wax Recommendations:

As you can see from the forecast above, the Birkie Trail may receive a considerable amount of snow Thursday night. Hopefully the crews will benefit from the later wave starting times and can get out and groom the trails prior to the start.  However, skiers should still expect soft conditions due to the new snow.  Be sure to check wax recommendations for updates prior to your final wax job if you can wait until Thursday night.  Wax recommendations from the some of the major brands for which we provide products in the shop are found below.




As a famous Finnish ski coach (whose last name rhymes with "bravo") once said, "You Masters skiers make waxing way too complicated".   If you follow the simple steps of starting with a clean ski, and layer with the above recommendations you will do just fine.  Our best advice is to take what race day gives you and simply have FUN!!!




Mullin's 2018 Pre-Birkie Race Report


Jeez, I'm getting bad at keeping up on these reports.  At least this time I didn't race this past weekend so while the report is being composed over a week after the event there isn't an intervening race to confuse in my head.

Prep

I almost signed up for the Vasaloppet instead.  The snow making loop they have developed in Mora is actually pretty cool and makes the race a sure thing (or nearly sure thing) every year.  I just couldn't bring myself to drop $125 for that race the week of, versus the $83 for the Pre-Birkie.  Maybe next year I'll sign up in advance and commit to it with a hope that it will be the real point to point race.

It was a bit of a light week going in.  The Sunday CoLL race pushed my training schedule around a bit so I ended up only getting a hard workout in on Wednesday.  Skiing over at Battle Creek has been pretty good lately.  Those hills are the real deal and the snow conditions have been good albeit slow and cold.

The race was yet another cold one.  They pushed the start back an hour so the start temp was actually above zero.  Waxing was another Start 10 kind of day.  This time I tried a little Holmenkol speedblock cold on top.  My skis were pretty underwhelming in the first half of the race.  Slowly drifting back on all of the downhills.  The second half of the race they seemed to pick up speed a little.

For a change I tried to be at this race on time.  For whatever reason I have a heck of a time getting to the start line on time for this race.  I did better this year, but still didn't get any chance to ski before putting skis on the start grid.  I also got a little carried away shoving my warm-ups in my drop bag and chucked it onto the truck before remembering to get my drink belt out.  Aid station hydration only for me this time.

Race

I lined up next to Chris Halverson this time.  We've been racing together all year so it seemed like a good place.  He usually starts slower than I do so I thought it would be good for pacing me.  The start this year seemed narrower than usual so it looked like there may be a fair bit of chaos to get started.  Big E and Tim W were on the far right about three rows back of me.  There were a few other Cyclova peeps out too with Denny K, Micah B, and Katie B repping the Green.  I also saw one other person in Cyclova kit that I didn't recognize, but I never had a chance to say hi to.

The gun went off and there was chaos.  I only saw one person go down in the first kilometer or so.  Thankfully I think no one ran them over or we could have had a huge pile-up.  By the time I was clear to even start thinking about skating Chris was no where to be seen and Big E was ahead of me.  I assumed Chris was way up the trail already and I had gotten a bad start.

Eventually things streamed out a little bit and we were actually skating and hopping off the lake about 1.5km in and getting across Duffy's field.  Things get serious in a hurry.


First up is climbing up the back side of Duffy Hill (or 77 hill).  It is a lot better coming down that hill towards Lake Hayward with just a few km to go to the finish of the Birkie.  At the start of the Pre-Birkie everyone is all amped up to go fast and hard.  The trail is plenty wide and people are making moves left and right.  I was skiing "in control".  My hr monitor claims otherwise.  Above 175 is not a good place for me to be early in a race.  I was skiing at the tail end of the group that was led by Denny K.


After dropping down that hill and crossing 77 you ski around Rosie's Field and climb up the back side of Sunset Hill (or Rosie's hill).  This is the "new" hill that was added a couple of years back.  It also isn't any fun.

Coming down the backside of that you ski down into Hatchery Creek.  My legs were a bit tight at that point and there are a couple of higher speed turns going into the trailhead area that made me a bit nervous.

After going through Hatchery Creek I knew I needed to back off a bit.  My legs were tight and I was struggling to keep any sort of technique together hanging on the back of the pack.  Similar to last year I started letting groups go by hoping to find one to latch onto.

Up and over the backside of B Hill, down Mosquito Brook, through the aid station and then onto the long stretch between there and OO with only Gravel Pit to break it up.  Very shortly after Mosquito Brook Chris Halverson came roaring past me.  I was positive he had been way up the trail from the beginning.  Not so.  But unlike all of the previous races this year I couldn't hang with him.  It didn't take him too long to disappear up the trail.



In fact right around there the trail got pretty lonely.  I was passing classic skiers steadily, but I couldn't see any skaters ahead and I wasn't looking behind but I didn't hear anyone.  So I just slowly churned away by myself.

It was the last uphill before Picnic Table where I finally could hear some skiers coming up behind me.  I took a glance and found a group of 5 closing in on me.  When they finally closed down the gap and no one went to make a move around me I thought I might have a group to ski with.  I eventually pulled over and then slotted into the group.

Aside from the 26k skier, this was the group I spent the remainder of the race with.  Shout out to Mike Kokotovich.  He asked at the finish line if he would make the race report this time.  Thanks for joining me for the last 17km Mike!

I think it was Mike at the finish line that described our group as "not overly ambitious".  That sounds about right.  We were rotating pulls reasonably well, but it certainly didn't seem like anyone was super excited to get to the front and put in a hard effort.

I was finally feeling better here.  I don't seem to mind the first 3km of a race all jacked up on adrenaline, but those next 15km are usually a huge drag as I try to convince myself I like racing and I won't die before I reach the finish line.


The whole loop north on the classic trail to just past Boedecker things were going well.  As we climbed the Boedecker hill on the way back south it seemed as though I was climbing well relative to the rest of the group.  Just like with the previous races this year where I was skiing in a group I started thinking about racing the guys I was around instead of racing the clock.

Last year I made a move on the climb up to OO.  I figured I would do the same thing again this year.  I tried to time my turns on the front such that I would be back near the front at the bottom of the climb to OO.  I think I was probably second when we got there so I just pulled to the side and started digging a little deeper.

After the initial big climb there is a little relief and then another short punch before the flat to the road.  I glanced over my shoulder and saw that our group had strung out, but there was still one guy, Jesse Cook, that I hadn't shaken.  I led across the road and then let him lead through the Korte start area.  Another glance over my shoulder and the other two guys were starting to close the gap again.

Just as we started to turn to go back towards OO on the old skate trail I tried to go wide and get around Jesse but couldn't quite make it.  I got in as close as I could on the long downhill to the finish because the short little uphill with the gradual left and the short finishing straight are extremely hard to pass on.

As we hit the bottom of the short uphill I skated for all I was worth and just managed to pull around on the right side.  Sprinting it out for 40th place...

Analysis

Subjective

Despite the strong finish, I felt pretty blah about the race.  I was happy to have again finished a race without bonking.  I still need to work on finding the right pace for the opening few km and not feeling like death for the rest of the first half of a race.

Having raced in the vicinity of Chris, Garret, Dan and a few others earlier in the year, finishing 3 to 5 minutes down on them wasn't an encouraging result.

Objective

The mystical Birkie Predictor wasn't as harsh on me.  In fact the last three races have all been within two places of each other.  Not elite wave predictions, but still better than last year (I mean 2016...).


What's Next

Um... the Birkie?  T-6 days.

One more short intensity workout and a few easy skis between me and it now.  I'm pretty excited about the weather forecasts.  Snow or no, temps a handful of degrees either way from the current prediction, doesn't matter.

From now until then it is all about controlling the things I can and not worrying about the things I can't.  Plenty of sleep, good food, lots of water.

And a little light reading.


See you all in Hayward!

Mullin's 2018 City of Lakes Loppet Freestyle Report


Say, where did last week go?  Between prepping for my Birkie Adventure presentation for Cyclova (check out the schedule of upcoming events you won't want to miss here) and Woolly Bike Club stuff, I kinda missed out on writing a race report.

So now I'm a race removed from this one already.  Thus, in an effort to catch up and not fall further behind, you get the shorter version this time.  Somewhat.

Prep

I didn't sign up for the race until probably Wednesday.  When I heard they were running the full point to point race I decided I wanted in again.  CoLL was my first marathon race when I got back into skiing in 2009/2010.  I did two years of the Loppet before the weather got pretty crummy and the race turned into the Loopet Loppet on the man made loops at Theo.  I skipped one year I was registered for and hadn't registered since.

Now since I hadn't done it in the last few years and they have pretty well spelled out wave qualification criteria I knew I was going to get assigned a random wave start.  That meant wave 3 for me in this case.  That really didn't bother me as I was really just interested in paying for an excuse for a good marathon pace workout.

A few inches of snow during the day on Saturday and pretty cold overnight meant more cold waxing.  I opted for the stiffer Rossignol's again which have more of a universal grind on them than a cold grind.  But my Fischers with the cold grind are softer and really only run well in the powder and there just wasn't that much snow.  Despite starting in wave 3 the snow was pretty firm everywhere so I was happy with my choice.  If the Birkie is looking cold in a few weeks and the trail is still as firm is it is now I'll be getting a ski grind on those Rossi's before the big dance.

Race

Again, racing out of wave 3 I figured it was going to be mostly a day for solo skiing and a lot of passing.  I did notice that Dan Gjertson was going to be in my wave so I was kind of hoping we could make a tandem and ski through the field.  He blasted off the start line though and a km into the race I knew I couldn't hang with him.  He went on to beat me by EIGHT minutes.  Two more wave 3 skiers also took off ahead of me in the opening few km and I never saw them again.

Pre-race "game face".  I've been digging the Frost Tape this year.  3 races with below zero start temps and my face hasn't suffered.  Definitely worth picking some up for the cold races.


I enjoyed the race as best you can when you are working hard for two hours.  The opening 8km on the back 9 are pretty challenging.  Lots and lots of climbing in there.  The first two times I did this race I pretty much blew up before leaving that section.  I managed to work hard this time without blowing up which was nice.  My HR was definitely spiking in there though touching 178 and 179 on the climbs.

The next 7km are pretty flat as you roll your way through the front 9, then over across Wirth Lake twice before entering the flower gardens.  All through here I was counting people I had passed.  I was up to around 110 by the time I got off of Wirth the second time.  I never really felt held up by all that passing, though it did take its toll as I usually had to get off the best line to go around people or do little bursts or double poling.  I lost track of people at that point, but post race math on the results says I passed 215 people on the day.

Into the flower gardens it gets climby again, but now the trail is generally just one skier wide.  Here I definitely did get hung up some having to wait until the top of a climb to make a pass.  It was what it was though.  I didn't freak out about it and always thanked people when I had a chance to pass.

As we crossed over into the Quaking Bog section I thought I was about done with the climbing.  I forgot a few hills though.  I was ready to be down onto the lakes, but kept finding "just one more hill".

Swinging down onto Brownie finally I knew that I had about 12km of pancake flat lake skiing left.  This is where starting out of wave 3 was a real bummer.  Despite the wind generally being out of the north, it still sure seemed to be in my face enough.  And there wasn't anyone to share the load with.

The lakes were generally very firm so it was fun and fast skiing not counting the wind.  The worst part though was getting to the south end of Bde Maka Ska (formerly Calhoun) where the snow was drifting onto the trail making it painfully slow and then we had to turn and go the last 3km or so directly into the wind.

Analysis

Subjective
When I finished I felt pretty good about my race.  I went hard the whole time.  I never felt like I let off the gas.  I didn't bonk, was pretty wiped at crossing the finish line.

Objective
Objectively, it seemed like my times were quite a ways off from other people I'm normally around.  The Birkie Predictor says it isn't terrible, but it just seems... off.



Its hard to say what might attribute to that.  Not skiing with the normal people?  Being held up a little?  Not peaking like everyone else?  Slowish skis?

What's Next

At the time of this writing I have already finished what's next.  6 days after CoLL I raced the PreBirkie 42k Freestyle.  That is the next race report to write...  stay tuned.

******Cyclova ski stonegrinding schedule update*********

For those of you that don't want to wait until the week of the Birkie to get your race skis stoneground and hot-boxed we will be grinding a batch next week.  Just bring your skis into the shop by noon on Tuesday, February 13 and we will grind them that afternoon and get them hot-boxed and ready for pickup by Wednesday afternoon.  We will be keeping an eye on the long-range weather forecast and can make some early recommendations on which grind to choose for the Birkie.

After this batch, we will be doing one more batch of grinding for Birkie week and will be posting more details on that very soon.  As an early heads-up we will be offering some incentives for folks to get their skis to the shop for this final batch by Sunday, February 18.  Stay tuned....literally !!!!


'100 Marathons, 1000 Stories' coming to CyclovaXC February 20!





Many of us have on our bucket list to someday run a marathon --  26.2 miles! That was once true for Eric Olson as well.  And then it became two, then three....why not 100?!!! 

To say Eric is a runner on a whole different level is an understatement. While he likes to dismiss his accomplishments (jokingly saying he focuses on quantity, not quality) he also will blow your mind with his incredible feats and fabulous stories!


The northwestern Wisconsin native started his marathon career 15 years ago and has hit it steady ever since, never taking more than a two week break. He has run marathons all across the country including high-altitude mountains, deserts, ocean shores, indoors on a track and has even completed marathons on consecutive days.

He stands 6' 4" tall and 230 lbs and never gets injured! 

On Oct 1, 2017 Eric ran his 100th Marathon. Physical challenges aside, there are also many interesting stories on how he managed to find a way to travel the country, maintain steady employment and fit in this many events. (He's also known to be a bit of a storyteller)! He will be inducted into the North American 100 Marathon Club in the near future and is now working towards a marathon in all 50 states.

Eric is an Ironman Triathlon finisher, annual American Birkebeiner competitor, assistant high school cross country coach and long distance open water swimmer.

He says "every race has it's story" and friends often join him at events just to try and live the ordeal through his eyes. On Tuesday, February 20th starting at 6:30 pm, Eric will share his epic 100 marathon journey with stories and photos!  He promises to share not just his running secrets but all those crazy things that happen when you're not running!

(Also, keep in mind that will also the last chance to bring in your skis for the special Birkie Wax treatment. Wednesday the 21st is our last day for waxing before the Birkie.)

Facebook Event : 100 Marathons & 1000 Stories


This is the second Adventure Talk in our Adventure Talk Series.  Here's the complete line up for the  calendar:

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 ..no, Thriving at the Arrowhead 135Dallas Wynne and Angus Morrison
March 20 -- 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

6:30 - 8 pm at the store, 112 N. Washington Street in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin Always fun, forever free!