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Woolly Bike Race – 2018 Race Report

woolly bike race

The Woolly Bike Race has traditionally been the kick off event of the Minnesota Mountain Bike Series and draws a nice crowd of racers into the St. Croix River Valley. This was my first time racing the elite class for any type of XC series race. It’s also my local trail and as of this year, I’m also a board member of the club. Cyclova XC, the shop that I am part owner of was also the title sponsor of this year’s race. There is a lot of great stuff going on in the St. Croix River Valley. It’s really a unique place with a ton of potential to grow silent sports even more.

My kids had a ball with the kid’s comp race. I rode out to the various trail sections to check on them and I could hear them giggling, laughing and chatting as they rode through the trails. That was their first time doing one of the kid’s comp races vs the free fun race. They are excited to do some more of them, so we’ll likely be at more of the Minnesota Series Races this year.

Course

woolly bike race

Lap 1 of the elite race and actually I think lap 1 of all races except the comp class skipped West Ridge on the first lap and just followed the tree line around the High School. The start of the elite race was crazy fast and I can’t imagine what would happen if we tried dumping into the woods right away. We were bottlenecked and rubbing wheels all the way around the school, over the road and into the first short section of singletrack that connects to the bike path as it was. Something I really wasn’t prepared for.

woolly bike race

Lap 2 hit the full lap, so entering West Ridge was basically the start of lap 2.

We covered all of the trail system except for Riegel Park.

Gear and Nutrition

Gear

I’m riding a Trek ProCaliber 9.8SL this year. It’s pretty much stock except for a different stem and 15mm riser bars. I’m still playing around with some different fits on it and had just swapped out the bars and stem. I’m used to riding full suspension, but I really like the ProCaliber and am liking the simplicity of the hardtail. I’ve mentioned this to a few people, but the Woolly trails in particular might have just enough chatter in them, that I’m not sure if the hardtail is faster than full suspension or maybe it’s a wash. I love how the ProCaliber climbs and the IsoSpeed does help soak up the vibrations to the body if you’re in the saddle over some of the minor trail chatter vs other hardtails I’ve ridden.

I did get a new helmet the day before the race… Bontrager Starvos with MIPS. It’s a road helmet and only a $99 helmet as well. The fit is great, I really like it and will be using this helmet for all my riding for now. It’s the best fitting and most secure fitting helmet I’ve owned and I’ve had some pretty nice Rudy Project Helmets in the past to compare to.

Nutrition

I’m trying out some new things this year and went with 2 bottles of Scratch on the bike. I also taped 2 gels to my top tube for emergency. I should have just carried 1 bottle and took a hand up, but my wife was volunteering during the race and wasn’t guaranteed I’d be able to get a hand up. I did leave a 3rd bottle of Scratch with my wife just in case, which I ended up grabbing at the start of the 4th lap. I also took 1 of the gels, maybe 3rd lap or so. The Scratch seemed to digest well and didn’t load up my gut. I also didn’t feel like I was starved for fuel either, especially with throwing down the gel.

I also just ordered some Infinite Nutrition into Cyclova to try out as well. I was using Carbo Rocket last year, but I’m going to keep trying out some other options. The Carbo Rocket was working well for the most part, but I still had some issues here and there with it; especially in the heat.

Race

Lap 1

I lined up a few rows back, putting me closer to the back than the front. Even at that, the race was a really fast start and I wasn’t prepared for the aggressiveness of it. The elite race skips west ridge on the first lap and I can’t imagine what would happen if we actually tried to dump into west ridge. We had some bottle neck points just getting around the field and tree line behind the school. I ended up drifting back quite a few spots and did not get a real good start.

I knew at this point I had some work to do for a top 20 finish, which is what I told myself I would be fairly happy with, based on what I had seen of this field in the past. I did make up some ground when we got into the trails and reeled a few positions back. Based on sorting the lap splits from the results, I ended up coming through the first lap in 24th position.

I never really warmed up my legs other than about a mile total ride around the side streets before the start, so my legs were in a bit of a shock the entire first lap, but I was getting comfortable by the end of it.

Lap 2

I made up some ground early on lap 2 and picked off a couple spots in West Ridge and maybe another one out in Reigel Park. My legs were warmed up and I was feeling good now and seemed to get into a rhythm in the trail. I never could get in a train going down the Gandy Dancer and was always ripping it solo.

I would have people start to catch me on the Gandy, but I know the Erratic Rock climb well and could usually pull back away going up Erratic. I think lap 2 is when I set a bunch of PRs for the various Woolly trail segments set up in Strava.

The other thing that was happening in lap 2 is that the trail was just crumbling in some sections because it was so dry and it had been ridden so many times now with all the other races going on. It was crazy dusty and loose. Big Oak is one of those segments that is fairly flat, but with a lot of twisty tight turns. It was loose, slippery and unpredictable… but I still set a PR on my second lap through it.

I ended up coming through the 2nd lap in 21st place.

Lap 3

I got a little nervous in lap 3 when I had the hint of some leg cramps kick in. I hate that feeling… I don’t know exactly what my issues have been, but I’m guessing it has a lot to do with my diet. I also get myself dehydrated as I go through the day and realize I haven’t been drinking any water. I think I’m drinking too much coffee as well.

Anyway, I proceeded with caution through some of lap 3 as I was unsure where these leg cramps were going to go and lap 3 ended up being my slowest lap. According to the lap splits, I got passed somewhere during lap 3, but I really can’t remember where that would have been.

I remember getting caught on the Gandy by a guy right at the entrance of Erratic Rock, where he made the pass. We didn’t even get to the first left hand turn and I was on his wheel. I gave him a chance after the turn and then asked to pass and he didn’t move. We got to the flat and started up the next loose section and I needed to get around him and found a place to pass. I never saw him again by the time I got to the top of the Erratic Rock Climb.

I came through lap 3 in 22nd place and was feeling good to head into the last lap.

Lap 4

I rode a strong 4th lap and was able to reel back a few positions throughout the course. The course itself was getting crazy loose. I’ve never seen it that dry and dusty. Some of the off camber spots were just falling apart they were so dry and loose. You really had to be careful in some of the corners.

Anyway, it felt good to have the legs to stay in it at that pace for another lap and then reel a few people in on the last lap vs being depleted and falling back in positions. I was tired, my legs were going in and out of some cramps, but I was able to regulate my effort enough without dialing back to much and kept the cramps at bay. After the race, they never came back again either.

I ended up coming through the finish in 19th place out of 39 with a time of 2 hrs and 17 mins and a little over 13 minutes behind the winner Jeff Hall and just over 7 minutes from the 3rd place podium spot.

Final Thoughts

I’m still trying to register in my brain how and where I could ever pick up 3+ minutes per lap, which is how much faster Jeff Hall was per lap. That is a ton of time and hats off to Jeff for what he does out there. He actually had a 2 minute lead over 2nd place Brendan Bellew, who had a 3 and half minute lead over 3rd place Samuel Berkland. This put me over 7 minutes away from any podium spot.

I think I might do more of these races this year. I think it will be good for me and since they are on Sundays… it is likely going to be the easiest racing for me to fit in this year as it is a little easier for me to be out of the shop on Sundays. It was nice to do some racing again.

Race Data

woolly bike race

woolly bike race

woolly bike race

Strava File

Reference Links

Race Links

Minnesota Mountain Bike Series

Race Results

Woolly Bike Club

Endurance Path Links

Endurance Path on Facebook

Endurance Path on Instagram

Steve on Twitter

Steve on Strava

Cyclova XC Links

Cyclova XC website

Cyclova XC on Facebook

Cyclova XC on Instagram

Cyclova XC on Twitter

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Grantsburg Adventure Tri – 2018

grantsburg tri

The Grantsburg Tri is a fun, low key adventure triathlon in the small town of Grantsburg, Wisconsin. The main event is a 19 mile bike, 1.5 mile kayak and 8 mile run – in that order. Last year I took 4th place overall after leading the bike, dropping a place on the kayak and then dropping 2 more places on the run. I went into it this year, really not knowing how the run was going to go, since I hadn’t run in 3 weeks.

I did have 1 short jog in there to see how my foot was doing, but that was it. I was dealing with a small bout of potential Plantar Fasciitis and was saving my foot for the Tri. It worked out, just because my general fitness is really good. However, my general fitness will let me run a little harder and longer than my running muscles and joints are really ready for, which I paid for the next couple of days.

Course

I usually include details prior to getting into the race report, but my course images are within each section of the race. But, in short… The race starts with the bike at the local park in Grantsburg where the start and finish are at. You finish your bike out in the Crex Meadows area where you leave your bike and complete the kayak portion. Note: you staged your kayak out there in the morning. After the kayak, you run and finish the run back where you started the bike with some detours.

I’ve heard people say they wish the staging areas were all in the same place. But, this is probably the best way to work this one out as it is nice to have the start/finish area in the park, since there are actual facilities at the park. You just have to go back out to the staging area after the race to pick up your bike and kayak.

Gear

A gravel bike is by far your best option here, but I don’t own a gravel bike yet. I’m holding out and waiting on one of those new Trek Checkpoints. Anyway, I used my Trek ProCaliber, which worked out just fine. I used the stock XR2 2.2″ Cross Country tires on it that were set up tubeless with a fairly high air pressure (that I can’t quite remember at the moment).

I left my Altra Superior running shoes in my kayak and swapped my shoes during the kayak portion of the race.

I did not use bike shorts with a chamois, since the bike was only 19 miles. I just used some lycra running shorts, but still wore my bike jersey because I find the back pockets handy.

My kayak is more of a day tripper kayak, so not the fastest… But, also not the slowest.

Nutrition

I’m trying some new stuff this year and going back to some old stuff. I had one water bottle with Scratch mix in it on my bike that I completely finished. I also took a GU gel near the end of the bike segment.

I had a water bottle with plain water in the kayak to wash down the previous gel and hydrate for the run while I was paddling.

During the run, I took down another gel and then just grabbed water and gatorade at a few aid stations on course.

Race

A couple notes on the race before diving into the details…

The start goes off in waves. The first wave is the folks doing the race as a relay team, then there are multiple waves that follow with folks doing the individual race. I was in wave 2, the first wave of individual racers lined up next to Ben Mullin and Greg Atkinson, with Greg being the favorite to win the overall.

There is also no drafting allowed in this race.

Bike Segment

grantsburg tri

We started to roll off the start line and I didn’t get very far before I noticed Greg and Ben beside me dialing up the effort and I decided to go on the attack immediately. Any gap that I was going to put on them would have to be on the hills or gravel and we wouldn’t hit much gravel until a few miles into the race. This first section of the race was a long gradual uphill and I figured I should take advantage of it. I pulled away fairly quick and stayed on the gas all the way up the hill and through the sandy corner to immediately pull a big gap on them.

I was not ready for the run and figured my best tactic was to make them work harder on the bike than what they should, hoping to wear out their legs before the run. Then, I would just suffer through the run myself trying to hold them off as long as I could…

Once out on the pavement, I don’t think I put anymore gap on them as they were on gravel bikes while I was on knobby mountain bike tires. Ben might have even reeled me back a little bit on the pavement. By the time we were approaching Crex Meadows, I was coming up on some of the wave 1 folks. I think the 2 track section was likely an advantage from my end with a mountain bike.

After the 2 track section we had some more pavement, which is where I knew I could quickly lose my gap if I didn’t stay on the gas. I never really pinned it though and kept my effort to about what I would do for a 3 to 4 hour mtb race, with my heart rate averaging around 161 bpm over the entire bike ride.

Out on the pavement after the 2 track, I caught the leader of the wave 1 relay riders. I stayed pretty aero for most of the ride by staying tucked in and gripping my bars, just outside of the stem. I’m running a 1 x 12 GX Eagle drivetrain with a 34 tooth chainring, which was putting me back and forth between my 10, 12 or 14 tooth gears in the back. I may swap out my 34 tooth ring in the future for a 36 tooth ring as I don’t think I’ve had to use the 50 tooth gear out back yet.

Anyway, I tried to maintain my gap on the pavement and then tried to maintain that same pace once I hit gravel. I was hoping the gravel would level the playing field a bit between the gravel bikes and my mountain bike. I do think I increased my gap on the gravel some more. I downed a GU gel near the end of the bike and hit the kayak with a nice lead… Almost 2 minutes on Ben and almost 15 minutes on Greg, who had a flat and was now riding a disfunctional Walmart bike that a spectator had passed on to him to finish the ride. However, I did not know that had happened at this point and assumed he was a few minutes behind.

Kayak Segment

grantsburg tri

I had my running shoes and a bottle of water already in my kayak, which was waiting in the water for me. I got confused shortly though on my way to the water as I swear I saw my kayak still sitting up on shore in the staging area. I think they rearranged the kayaks after we staged them because there was an orange kayak that looked just like mine sitting in the very place that I had left my kayak in the morning. Anyway, short confusion, only seconds and then I realized my kayak was infact in the water waiting for me. They have a volunteer about a quarter mile from the finish of the bike with a radio, that calls the upcoming racer #s to the staging area, so they can get your kayak in the water and ready for you.

I jumped in and they pushed me off. Last year I had not kept a steady push in the kayak, but I was determined this year to not waste anytime. Before I made the first turn, I saw Mullin in the water and on the chase. He was in a faster kayak and I did not want to let him catch me before the run, I wasn’t sure I could hang with him on the run if we were to hit the run head to head.

Between paddle strokes, I managed to reach down and pop the BOA clamps on my shoes and then was able to kick them off in the kayak while I was still paddling. I also was able to reach down quick and orient my shoes so that I could get toes in them. I only had to reach down again and pull the heel of my shoes up and I was good to go, other than stopping to tie them once on shore.

I’m pretty sure Ben put a little bit of time on me in the water other than the few seconds that the clock shows. I only had to quickly tie my shoes, but I think I remember Ben saying afterwards that he still had to swap shoes on shore, so he likely made up a little time over what the clock actually shows.

Run Segment

grantsburg tri

I took off on the run feeling ok… As I mentioned above, I hadn’t run in 3 weeks other than a short jog about 2 weeks prior. I was concerned about some potential plantar fasciitis, but nothing was creeping up as I took off on the run. It was exciting to be in the lead still at this point, but I also knew that Greg would likely be running me down around the mid-point of the run. I also knew too, that Mullin had been doing some running and was nervous he might be able to run me down also. My only hope was that I stretched him out enough on the bike to fatigue his legs.

Everything seemed to be working as I headed down the gravel road until I made the left hand turn onto the short pavement section. My hamstrings locked right up on me and I was doing a straight legged walk. I wasn’t really sure what to do at this moment other than try to walk them off. I figured I didn’t have much time to waste though. Part of me was thinking there was no way I was going to make it the full 8 miles with these types of cramps only a few hundred yards into the run. As soon as they started to relax, I slowly started jogging again and ramping my pace back up.

I made my right hand turn onto the sandy 2 track that would wrap around the airport. I got a little ways down the 2 track and the cramps came back again. I thought it was game over for me at this point. I walked them off shortly until they relaxed and then started back up with a trot and then back to running again.

You can see in the graph above the various places where my pace spiked down… Not all of them were the cramps though. The one around the 2.5 mile mark was when I stopped to grab a cup of water and cup of gatorade at the aid station. Again, around the 4 mile mark I stopped shortly to grab more water and gatorade.

I made it through the sandy section and was out on pavement. As I headed down the road, I could see Ben back in the distance and knew I needed to keep my pace up. I made the left hand turn through the sandy corner that was near the start of the bike earlier in the day to start my gradual downhill back toward the original start line in the park. This is where the final 4 miles of the run hits the old ski trails. I looked back a few times and thought I saw Ben back there, but I think I put some distance on him as we came down the hill. It was at this point last year that Greg ran me down along with another runner. It was exciting to still be in the lead.

It had not dawned on me yet that Greg might have had a mechanical. I thought with my fast ride and then not wasting any time on the paddle… there was a good chance I could hold Greg off for a couple of miles further than last year.

When I hit the trails, I was starting to hurt. I was just feeling fatigued overall and wasn’t sure how these next 4 miles were going to shake out. The trail isn’t bad at first, but then gets hilly about halfway through with a few almost hiking pace hills in the final couple miles. I had my leg cramps fire back up at some point and had to walk them off. They were kind of going in and out after that and I would dial my effort back slightly depending on the terrain, to possibly avoid a full cramp up.

Around 6 miles in, I was really starting to look for Greg… It was at this point that I started wondering if he might have had a mechanical. About 7 miles in I was sure that he had a mechanical on the bike and then realized I could actually win this thing. Even if Greg had not had a mechanical… I certainly didn’t want to give this thing up in the final mile and I started creeping my pace up as much as I could.

I came out in a straightaway flat stretch along the river and saw a few RVs. I knew I was close and I couldn’t see anybody behind, but I still ramped it up and ran for the finish as fast as I could.

I ended up crossing the finish line in 1st place at 2 hrs, 18 mins and 50 secs with Greg coming in 2nd at 2 hrs, 21 mins and 30s and Ben finishing 3rd at 2 hrs, 23 mins and 18 secs.

Greg had actually completed the run segment almost 9 minutes faster than me.

Afterthoughts…

Running is so strange for me now that my fitness is really good all around. I seem to be able to run harder or longer from a cardio respect than what my legs are really ready for. I’ve got a good engine, but if I’m going to run, I really need to do it more often and start slowly ramping my miles up or I’ll end up hurting myself. I never got off my feet the rest of the day until going to bed after midnight and I paid for it the next day. I could barely walk the next morning when I got out of bed. My legs and hips just weren’t prepared for an 8 mile run.

Anyways, I’m doing the Wilderman in July which is an Iron Man distance offroad triathlon, which I’m not ready for. I really like riding my bike, so as much as I want to try this multi-discipline stuff out… I’m not sure how far I’ll take it. This is a fun event regardless though, even if I don’t get into the multi-discipline sports.

Reference Links

Strava Files



Race Links

Grantsburg Adventure Triathlon

2018 Granstburg Adventure Triathlon Results

Endurance Path Links

Endurance Path on Facebook

Endurance Path on Instagram

Steve on Twitter

Steve on Strava

Cyclova XC Links

Cyclova XC website

Cyclova XC on Facebook

Cyclova XC on Instagram

Cyclova XC on Twitter

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Loppet Duathlon – Winter’s Last Hurrah!

The Loppet Duathlon was an unplanned event for me, but a fun one at that. My involvement was spurred on by Ben Mullin as a little end of snow season fun showdown where I stand no chance against Ben on skis, but have a little leg up on him with the bike. Mike Halverson was also in on the fun. Again, I have no chance against Mike on the skis, but a little leg up on the bike. Things played out accordingly, where I got my tail handed to me on the skis. I was able to make up some time on the bike… just enough to catch Mike right before the finish, but not nearly enough to catch Ben.

Course

Total lap distance was less than 3.5 miles or close to 5.5k. I usually don’t get too geaked up about lap style races when it comes to mountain biking, but this was a fun course for both skiing and fatbiking and nice to see spectators around the course. With that, it was a nice course for spectators as well. The course itself wraps around a golf course.

We did 2 laps on skis and 2 laps on the fatbike.

The course was hilly and made you work. My elevation gain came out to just over 1200 feet over the 4 laps that totaled 13.2 miles.

Ski Segment

I lined up at the back as I knew I had no business mixing it up at the front on skis and I was right. We took off and I was sketchy. The snow was icy and unpredictable. Plus, I can’t ski worth a darn anyways. We all started stretching out and I found myself in the last handful of people. Someone told me that small ski races are much different from small bike races… Saying that bike races tend to have folks of all abilities, but small ski races are typically made up of people who are good skiers and serious about it.

Anyway, I spent the entire ski segment near the back of the field. Through about half of it, I kept finding myself behind somebody that was overly cautious on the downhills but faster than me on the flats and about equal on the uphills. I couldn’t seem to get around them and found myself having to hit the brakes all the time on the downhills. If I could pull my technique together a bit more, I would have been in a whole lot better shape.

I finished the first lap in 29th place out of 33.

On the second lap of the ski, I actually had a biker pass me that was on their first lap already… I had actually been lapped. There might have been 2 bikers that passed me. By the time I finished my second lap and hit the transition zone to grab my bike; I think there were only a few bikes left in the transition zone.

I was going to start the bike segment in 30th place out of 33.

Bike Segment

I jumped on the bike and got rolling… It was a bit weird going from ski to bike, but I was in my happy place and started my chase. I would pick out a rider in front of me and then chase them down, make the pass and then start chasing the next. I had a lot of ground to make up, but I was never going to chase back toward the front. The guys at the front that were good skiers, were also good bikers.

I made up 5 places on the first lap working my way up to 25th out of 33.

At some point, I think at the start of the second lap… I almost had a washout, which cause me to react with a twisting of my legs or something that fired up the leg cramps. I think I rode the rest of the second lap with my muscles locked up on my right leg from the knee down. I was still able to keep making up ground and kept reeling riders in.

At the end of it I think I ended up making back 10 spots, but almost lost a couple of them back at the finish. I had made a pass and didn’t realize these guys, 1 of them being Mike, had stayed on my wheel. I usually sprint for the finish regardless of whether I’m by myself or not and good thing I did or I would have lost both of those places right at the finish line.

I ended up finishing 21st out of 33 with my last lap on the bike being the 5th fastest lap time on the bikes.

Race Summary

Although part of me didn’t really want to go to this as I was running short on time… I am really glad I did and had a lot of fun with it. I probably should find some more stuff like this to do during the week that is low key and a fun workout. I’ll likely plan on this one for next year again if it happens. I thought it was a nice way to finish off the ski season.

Reference Links

Race Links

Loppet Duathlon

2018 Loppet Duathlon Results

Endurance Path Links

Endurance Path on Facebook

Endurance Path on Instagram

Steve on Twitter

Steve on Strava

Cyclova XC Links

Cyclova XC website

Cyclova XC on Facebook

Cyclova XC on Instagram

Cyclova XC on Twitter

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Fatbike Birkie Race Report – 2018

fatbike birkie

This was my second Fatbike Birkie and I had a little better overall finish than my previous. That being said, I felt fairly miserable for most of the race. I just couldn’t get my legs moving… They felt heavy and I just couldn’t get warmed up and moving. I felt like I was in trouble as soon as we hit the first hill and I started falling back.

Course

fatbike birkie

I like point to point races, but it sure is nice to finish in the same place that you started… I think I like point to point because I get bored of repeated laps, so a course like this with 1 big loop is the best as it feels like a point to point, but you don’t have to find a ride back to your car. The course followed the American Birkebeiner skate course out to OO and then took the classic course in reverse of the American Birkebeiner back to the start.

fatbike birkie

As you can see, the course is a constant up or down. There is very little flattish areas of the course. My elevation gain on Training Peaks came out to just over 3,000 feet. That’s a lot of climbing for a sub 30 mile course.

Gear

Bike

Trek Farley Carbon w/ Bontrager Carbon Wampa 27.5″ wheels and 4.5″ Barbagazzi Tires – I continue to ilke this bike and set-up.

GX 12sp Eagle with XO Cranks (was a closeout on the cranks when I built the bike) – I’m sold on the 1 x Eagle drivetrain and it’s pretty affordable now in the GX level.

Shimano XT brakes with non heat sink rotors – hard to beat these brakes.

Spare Parts & Tools

Topeak Hexus Multi-tool

25g air cartridge with Genuine Innovations Air Chuck

Sram Power Link

Nutrition

I can’t actually remember exactly what I did for nutrition, but I believe I had a bottle with Carbo Rocket and 1 with water. I think I also had a package of CliffBlocs. Somewhere along the way, somebody handed me a can of Mountain Dew also. I haven’t had one of those in years, but it was good at the time; although a bit sweet for my liking.

Race

To Timber Trail

fatbike birkie

The start of this race is awesome with such a crazy wide trail. The gate is super wide, so even if you are in the second gate, you end up only being a few rows back from the front line once everybody rolls up. I do remember during the rollout, one of the gate 1 guys yelling back at people to stop moving up because it was a neutral rollout…

Not to poke… but I found it amusing in a couple of ways… For one; the trail is 50ft wide and people are going to fill in the gaps and squeeze up. If they don’t, they’ll just start losing spots to everybody else that is squeezing up. Secondly, what’s that guy have to worry about if he’s a gate 1 racer… He afraid some gate 2 guy might beat him…? Anyways, I didn’t see anything going on that was out of the ordinary for any other typical rollout.

So the race was on and I was somewhere up in the mix between the gate 1 and 2 folks as the pace started dialing up. We hit the first hill and then I knew it was bad. I didn’t really feel the greatest anyways, but I just didn’t have it and felt like I was going backwards. This whole first section is uphill with some downhill dips along the way. Things started spreading out fast and I went from being in this thing mentally for a decent race to damage control in a hurry.

I hadn’t had a chance to warm up or loosen my legs before the race as I had gotten there just in time to get my number plate, chat with a couple of folks and then drop my bike in the gate. I wish I would have been able to spin the pedals for 10 minutes at least. In hindsight, it actually probably wasn’t all that bad when I look back. It’s not like I was a slug, but I just wasn’t feeling it that day.

This went on through the entire first section of trail and then some.

To Fire Tower

fatbike birkie

The overall elevation continues to gain and I was remembering some of these hills from the American Birkebeiner a couple of weeks prior. I struggled to get up the hills on my skis also. My power is actually up a little from this time last year, but my overall weight is up also. Losing 8 to 10 lbs would do me some good.

I still felt terrible through here and actually was probably feeling worse at the end of this section than I did at the end of the previous section. I was actually getting to a point where I just didn’t even want to be out there anymore. I had some bad attitude problems for a while. Don’t get me wrong… This was far from some sufferfest slog that the long endurance races bring. This was simply just not feeling it and suddenly just not wanting to be out there anymore.

Regardless, I kept pushing on.

To Boedecker

fatbike birkie

So after feeling like I was going backwards since the start of the race, I hit some downhill sections and gave my legs a little break. My head wasn’t quite in it yet, but I was now 45 minutes into this thing and at the end of the day… I wasn’t going to quit even though I didn’t want to be there in those moment(s). I wasn’t suffering, I wasn’t in pain, my hands weren’t frozen, etc… I was just tired and didn’t have the legs that I wanted that morning (happens more often than not I guess…).

Anyway, I think by the time I hit Boedecker I was starting to come around from the point of not wanting to be out there to… Well, I’m here and I need to finish the job the best I can.

To OO and Back To Boedecker

fatbike birkie

By the time I hit OO my legs were actually starting to feel like they were ready to race. I didn’t have the power that I wanted, but I was starting to get my head into the game more. I made the turnaround at OO and knew I was past halfway now and just needed to bring it home. I started working a little harder on the flats and taking some more risk in the downhills. The risk in the downhills was helping me pick up some places and bringing back my motivation while stomping out the whiny negative attitude in my head. I still wasn’t climbing well, but I was mentally getting back in the game.

By the time I got back to firetower, I was mentally in full race mode… About time as I was over an hour into a race that wouldn’t take much more than 2 hours to finish.

To Fire Tower

fatbike birkie

I was starting to race harder now. You can see it in my average heart rate for these last 2 sections if you look in the lap charts. My average heart rate was up 4 beats per minute in the last 2 sections of the race. I was still struggling on the uphills, but I found myself fighting harder to stay with people vs just letting them go. I would then make up places on the downhills. I was actually starting to race my bike…

To Timber Trail

fatbike birkie

I think I mentioned this in my Birkebeiner ski race report… But, these trails all kind of just blend together for me. It’s not like singletrack where I remember very specific sections of trail… This is wide groomed highway through the woods. It’s amazing, but it does blend together for me mentally.

The further I got into this thing, the more serious I was feeling about racing and I actually started making up some spots on the climbs now. I don’t know whether that was the fatigue of others or me working harder. I think it was a mix of both.

To Finish

fatbike birkie

On to the finish… You keep thinking that it’s all downhill from here, but like I mentioned earlier… It’s all up and down. You might lose overall elevation through a section of the course, but you are going to climb repeatedly on your way down. I was in race mode here. I think I continued picking off a few more spots on the way to the finish, but I was still struggling on the climbs. My legs were fried when I crossed the finish line, but I felt better in my head as well for having pulled things together and getting into race mode.

I ended up finishing 83rd overall out of 486 racers with a time of 2 hrs and 7 minutes – 18 minutes back from the winner.

Wrap Up

Even though I didn’t really enjoy the racing much, I enjoyed the day and overall event. I was able to catch up with a bunch of folks that I either know from the Cyclova team or from just getting out to events. I also ran into Ben Welnak from Mountain Bike Radio… which led into us recording a podcast. There is a link below to it.

All said and done… This was probably one of the best winters I’ve had for winter sports in general. I got out on my fatbike quite a bit, went skiing a few times and even did my first American Birkebeiner. That being said, I’m ready for summer now. It’s been a long, but great winter. Until next time…

Mountain Bike Radio Podcast

Was great catching up with Ben Welnak and I really appreciate him having me on the podcast. I really enjoyed it and to be honest… I think I kind of missed doing some podcasting w/ Ben and Mountain Bike Radio. Ben actually did a whole series of podcasts for Fatbike Birkie, 6 in total. You can check them out here:

Fatbike Birkie Series w/ Mountain Bike Radio

Other Reference Links

Race Links

Fatbike Birkie

2018 Fatbike Birkie Results

Endurance Path Links

Endurance Path on Facebook

Endurance Path on Instagram

Steve on Twitter

Steve on Strava

Cyclova XC Links

Cyclova XC website

Cyclova XC on Facebook

Cyclova XC on Instagram

Cyclova XC on Twitter

Posted on

Birkie Fever – My First American Birkebeiner

american birkebeiner

This will be a new one for folks that have been following along here… The American Birkebeiner was my first ski race, so this will be my first ever ski race report… I got some classic skis when I moved to Minnesota 5 years ago and used them a handful of times. I borrowed some skate skis from a friend a few years ago to try them out once and then didn’t get my own until last fall. I got out on my skate skis 3 times last winter and 4 times this winter. So, I am by all means a newbie and just getting started. I’ve heard about the Birkie and skiing is quite popular around here, so it was just a matter of time before I got into it. Plus, Cyclova XC – the shop that I am now part owner of… Is more than a bike shop, it’s a ski shop also! So… I am all in on the ski scene at this point!

From my understanding the American Birkebeiner is the largest and longest ski race in the US. It is also part of the World Loppet and racers do travel in from all over the world for the American Birkebeiner. The skate race, which is what I raced… is 50 kilometers long (31 miles) and is hilly. For those that have done the Chequamegon 40… You’ll be familiar with the course as the Chequamegon 40 rides part of the Birkie course, but in the opposite direction. Just know that when the Chequamegon 40 dumps out on fire lanes and gravel roads, the Birkie course is still going up and down hills. You can see the elevation profile below.

There were 3,654 people in the 50k skate ski race itself, so it’s a big event. In fact, the start of the race takes an hour to get all the waves started. It’s a lot to take in and the most impressive event I have been part of to date. I now get why people talk about getting Birkie Fever… It’s a really awesome experience and I’m already looking forward to next year. I even pre-ordered a new set of Madshus skis for next year. I didn’t go all the way high end, but I did order a nice set of race skis. We recently put in a big order of skis for Cyclova XC next year and we will have a nice selection of new skis for next year.

One note about my race details and report… It gets thin as the race goes on, but I’ve still provided the aid station splits so you can follow along on the course as I work through these. Each section still has its own little detail. It just thins out along the way, but then full memory comes back to me for the final section.

Note: Reference links and strava file link at the bottom of report…

American Birkebeiner Skate Course

Route

american birkebeiner

The course starts at the official Birkie Trailhead in Cable, Wisconsin and winds its way southwest through the woods to finish in downtown Hayward, Wisconsin. It also crosses the length of a lake just before dumping you into Hayward. It’s a wide path with a couple of road crossings, which is every bit of impressive. They actually shut down route 77 for this race with snow plowed and groomed right across the road for the race. That is some local dedication to a ski race!

Speaking of that… They actually shutdown the entire main street of downtown for the weekend, where the finish line is at. They haul in snow and groom the entire street for a nice finish line shoot that has a slight uphill grade. Plus, I have to mention the bridge that is hauled in and assembled just for the Birkie. This bridge is assembled over route 63 to avoid shutting down the entire corridor. There is a lot of work that goes into this event.

The skate and classic course both start from the same spot, but split off shortly after starting the race and then reconnect about halfway through the race. This is good as it gives the skaters and classic folks their own course for a good portion of the race and then they don’t reconnect until later when traffic is more thinned out.

Elevation

american birkebeiner

It’s all hills… There are only a few short spots that level out throughout the entire course, except for the lake crossing at the end of the race. This course makes you work! My Training Peaks account shows me 2,105 feet of elevation gain for the course.

You can see that the course works its way uphill from the start, but check out the grade of those hills at the back end of the course. You hit those hills in the last 10k of the course when you’re deeply fatigued.

My Gear & Nutrition Set-Up

Skis

Rossignol ZyMax SK 180 w/ Recent Cold Universal Stone Grind and hot box

Ski Notes: These skis might be a little short for me and I am also a little heavier than I was last year when I fitted them, so my effective touch points on the skis are fairly short. They feel a little skittish… partly from me still figuring out what the heck I’m doing, but they’re likely a little on the short and soft side for me this year. I have a new pair of Madshus Nanosonic Carbon Skates on order for next year in a 190 length and 60 to 75kg flex range. I would be approaching the high end of the flex on these also if I gained more weight, but I should end up right in the middle of the flex with very little weight cutting.

As far as wax… I went with Fast Wax 20 across the board.

1 layer Non-Fluoro Fast Wax 20

2 layers Low-Fluoro Fast Wax 20

1 layer High-Fluoro Fast Wax 20

Wax notes: I did not put on a top coat as I just didn’t think my abilities warranted me putting on a full flouro top coat. I also didn’t follow the exact wax recommendations… Not that I have enough experience to really feel the difference, but I already had some High Fluoro Fast Wax 20 in my personal wax box. I also figured putting on that warmer wax was really only going be relevant for about 20% of my race anyways, so I stuck with the 20 for my final high flouro layer. Additionally, it was going to be cold the night before, so the snow was still likely to be fairly cold, even though the air temps were going to rise later in the race.

Poles

One Way Diamond 9 Max

Boots

Rossignol World Cup Series

I think my boots are about a half size too big, so I have a new pair of Madshus Nano Carbon Skates on order for next year.

Getting To The Birkie Start Line

I drove up to Hayward on Friday to pick up my # bib and get my cool Birkie backpack that would be my drop bag for the finish line. You can use the plastic bag they give you or this year you could buy a nice backpack. I went for the backpack as it didn’t cost very much and is a nice pack. Anyways, the expo was cool and I got to see the whole scene on Friday. I didn’t have a place to stay in Hayward, but drove back toward home and met my wife and kids at a hotel in Hinckley, Minnesota. It didn’t save a ton of time, but it did save me about 50 minutes of driving back home Friday night and another 50 minutes of driving toward the startline on Saturday morning. You can pick up your # bib at the startline, but not your backpack and I wanted to check out the whole scene on Friday anyways.

You can’t park at the startline, although I do think there is some special parking that you can pay for ahead of time. That being said, they have a great set up with a massive parking area outside of town where buses pick you up and take you to the start line. It was a non-issue and worked out well. I got off the bus at the start line with my wife and kids, (they wanted to see the start) and was in awe. I’ve never seen so many skis. It was a really awesome site to be seen…

Skis all over the place, a huge tent, a barn and tons of people. They had drop bag vehicles all set up and porta-jons as far as the eye could see. It was impressive! I arrived there about an hour before my wave start, just in time to hear wave 1 take off. The race is organized in waves for the start to seperate out the traffic. It works much like the Chequamegon 40 where each time you do the race, you can try moving up waves as you achieve faster finishing times. The difference is, that the Birkie waves actually start at different times and you get the chip start time as long as you are not in the elite wave. I was in the very last wave.

So you have all your warm up stuff on over your ski suit clothing to stay warm, but about 15 minutes before your start time you need to start peeling it off and get in line to enter the start gate. Once they let your wave into the start gate, everybody runs up as far as they can to try to get toward the front of the wave. This happens a couple times as they stage the waves. Once your wave is on the start line, it’s time to lock into those ski bindings and wait for the start ribbon to lift…

The Race

To Timber Trail

american birkebeiner

As I mentioned above, I was in the last wave (wave 7). I was lined up in the tracks about 4 rows back from the front of the wave. The start ribbon went up and we were off. I was slow… We basically double poled our way out of the start shoot until there was some clearance around us to start skating, but it was really soft. I struggled with it and felt like I was going backwards as people from the rest of the wave started passing me.

Shortly after I got to experience the hills that I had heard about after the start, where lines form and you end up just walking up without any glide. After about 5k, I was starting to get nervous about how long of a day this might end up being. I was feeling good fitness wise, but it was slow going for sure. The snow was soft and I was struggling to get in any type of good rhythm.

Going into the first aid station… was a new experience for me. It was packed and hard to find a spot to grab a quick feed. There were lines forming as people were looking for fluids. I can’t remember the difference at this point between the various aid stations, but I think I actually stopped and tried to find some fluids at this first one.

To Firetower

american birkebeiner

I noticed this more and more as I moved through aid stations later in the race, but the traffic on the trail seemed to thin out a little more after each aid station. I can assume each aid was picking up more folks that were stopping and taking a little more time to feed, therefore I was moving up the field a bit each time.

I really don’t remember the various milestone points on the trail. To me it’s all just up and down hills. However… it’s mostly uphill in the first part of the race. Up to this point was still slow going for me. The trail was still soft, especially on the uphills and I just didn’t have a good rhythm going. I stopped a few times to drink and then dig into some cliff blocks. I couldn’t figure out how to do that while moving quite yet.

This entire section was mostly uphill and felt like a slog. I was a becoming more concerned about how long this thing was actually going to take me. I can’t remember if I stopped for a real long time at this aid station or not. One of them, I mostly blew through because the lines were long and I thought I’d try to move past and catch an open feed on the backside of the aid station, but couldn’t find one and kept moving…

To Boedecker

american birkebeiner

Finally some sustained downhill sections… I’m not really sure, but I think this is the long Birkie roller climb during the Chequamegon 40, except we went down it in the ski. It was fun and I think it really gave me a chance to get comfortable and find my balance on the skis. Somewhere in this area might have also been the first of those steeper downhills that I had heard about where it’s pretty much frozen toboggan runs from people snowplowing… Even though, I am new to the skiing… I think I have a bit of a comfort level in going fast downhill as a carry over from biking.

Anyways, I remember coming into one of them and getting locked into one of the toboggan runs to find myself coming up on a guy really fast. I couldn’t slow down fast enough and he had the brakes on hard. I actually started yelling out to him “go, go, go…”, “I can’t slow down fast enough…”. I ended up coming right up on him about the same time a guy went down next to him… He went down also and then I went down right behind him and then the guy behind me, etc… It was a good show for the trailside crowd that was gathered in hopes of seeing that very spectacle.

To OO

american birkebeiner

I think it was around this point that I started getting more comfortable and getting into a rhythm. It’s really hard to say when and where. The Birkie is all up and down hills and I have a hard time remembering back many of the sequence of events like I do with mountain bike races. I do remember specific hills and parts of the trail along the way, but I really can’t remember where some of those hills were actually at.

At any rate, I also was starting to get the aid station stuff figured out also by this time. It might have been because the traffic was thinned out, but it seemed like I was able to ski in to the aid station, grab some fluids quickly and be on my way.

To Gravel Pit

american birkebeiner

Traffic was really thinning out after OO and I think this is where the trail widens out for a little bit. I felt ok here and if I remember correctly… I think I was starting to get in a much better rhythm by now and was slowly but surely picking people off and making up spots in traffic from at this point. I think many of the spots I picked up in traffic toward the beginning of the race was more about being efficient in aid stations, but by this time I was actually passing people on the skis.

I tried to be as efficient as possible on the downhills and would tuck in as much as possible. You would think the downhills would be a bit of a break, but those quads can start to burn after holding a good tuck time and time again. Then, you’d come right out of that tuck into a double pole and then skate again to get up the next hill without losing momentum.

Somewhere in here I took a nice big crash on a slight downhill. I was getting more comfortable to the point that I was skate a little further into the downhills to go faster… I got my ski caught in a rut and splattered myself across the trail.

To Mosquito Brook

american birkebeiner

I knew there would be some Cyclova crew out at the Mosquito Brook area, but wasn’t sure if my wife and kids were going to make it over there. I made it to Mosquito Brook and it was cool to see some my  wife and kids out there with other Cyclova folks. They all looked like they were having a great time! I didn’t stop though as I was in a good rhythm and kept going.

To Hatchery Creek

american birkebeiner

There were a couple of climbs in here that really got me. I was basically to the point that I wasn’t gliding at all anymore on the climbs and was just stepping up them, or at least I remember that for 2 of the big ones. I felt like I was in the home stretch though. I actually skipped this last aid station all together.

To Finish

american birkebeiner

The biggest memory I have here is the lake crossing and finally seeing that bridge over hwy 63. I crossed over hwy 77 and remember somebody yelling out something to the effect of “keep it up 1st time birkie…”. I was thinking I was close to the lake now, but as it turns out… There were a couple of climbs before we made the decent down to the lake. I was exhausted at this point and was definitely struggling on the uphills, but I was giving it everything as I was thinking we were close…

I finally hit the lake and figured this was it! I picked up the effort a bit and you can see that my heart rate had a bit of a slow and steady climb until the end of the lake crossing, before spiking up a bit at the end. I tried getting in a draft across the lake, but never could quite match someone else’s pace. I didn’t want to hold back at this point and sit behind someone going a little slower than I wanted, but then I couldn’t keep up with some of the other folks that were on the hammer.

The lake was also longer than I thought. I felt like it went on forever. I don’t remember the wind being very bad, like I had heard it could be. I was just ready for the finish though.

I remember finally hitting the end of the lake and then making a left hand turn and seeing the snow covered street lined with people. My form was horrible at this point and I’m terribly inefficient on skis… I wasn’t fast, but I put in one heck of an effort to get to this point and I started feeling a bit choked up as I realized I had finally made it to the finish. It really hit me when I made that right hand turn and saw the “bridge”… I teared up a little with emotion as I struggled to get up the bridge.

My legs were spent. I was a little wobbly by the time I got to the top and had to steady myself a bit before going down the other side… I really didn’t want to crash on main street. I made it! Then, I put in a hard and later confirmed by pictures… one heck of an ugly effort of Main St. to the finish line. That was hard, but that was one of the most spectacular race finishes I’ve experienced!

I ended up finishing in 4 hours and 38 minutes and in 2,815th place out of 3,652 racers. Like I said… That’s far from anything fast with the leaders this year finishing just over 2 hours, but I feel decent about my finish with my limited amount of skiing.

Final Thoughts

This whole Endurance Path thing and me getting back in shape was for stuff like this. I never had the Birkie in mind and quite frankly, didn’t know anything about it when I started getting back in shape. But, my reason for getting back in shape was to have the ability to go do things like this on a whim. My entire goal with maintaining a high fitness level was to not to be the fastest guy out there or ever really focus in on one specific thing. My entire goal was to carry enough fitness to be able to go out and do epic stuff like the Birkie and many of the other things I’ve been doing; whenever I wanted and be in good enough shape to enjoy it and have a respectable finish.

All that being said, I think as human beings… we like to improve at things that we do. I love continuous improvement both from a professional working/career level and a personal level. I bring up the working/career part as I’ve spent most of my post college career working in some level of continuous improvement capacity and it has carried over to everything else in my life. Anyways, I’m geeked up about improving my ski abilities, just like I work on my biking capabilities each year and now throwing some trail running into the mix. This whole subject could probably use its own write-up down the road.

Anyways, I’ll see you at the Birkie next year…!

GPS and Heart Rate Data

I made the image links clickable to expand so you can open them up to view better if interested.

american birkebeiner

I spent a whole lot of time in my heart rate threshold zone. Note that it was mostly below threshold, which is why I was able to maintain. This fairly significant for me during this time of the year. I’ve done some fat bike racing in the past, but I believe this to be my hardest sustained effort at this level for any activity in the winter. It bodes well for my current fitness as long as I can carry this into the spring/summer without crashing.


american birkebeiner

This is just another look at the length of sustained effort. My heart rate threshold on the bike is over 170 and I am probably in the best all around cardio condition that I’ve ever been in. Which can be taken 1 of 2 ways… It’s really great situation because it’s winter and I haven’t ramped up any serious training or 2… I’ve just used up one of my peak conditioning periods for the year and my target season hasn’t even started yet… Time will tell, but I think it’s the first one and I’m just starting out the year in a really good place relative to past years.


american birkebeiner

This is just the splits from each section of trail.


Feel free to follow along on my Strava account if interested.

Reference Links

A friend passed me this book a couple years ago and this helped inspire me to get into skiing and eventually take on the Birkie. I also know the author of the book now as well. It’s a great read and you would enjoy it, even if you are not into skiing. FYI… It’s also an affiliate link, which I don’t do often, but I will get a small commision from Amazon if you make a purchase after clicking the link.

Beyond Birkie Fever by Walter Rhein

Race Links

American Birkebeiner

2018 American Birkebeiner Results

Endurance Path Links

Endurance Path on Facebook

Endurance Path on Instagram

Steve on Twitter

Steve on Strava

Cyclova XC Links

Cyclova XC website

Cyclova XC on Facebook

Cyclova XC on Instagram

Cyclova XC on Twitter

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Training & Stuff From March

instagram

Once again, this update is a little late, but not as late as last month… There are a few new things to mention and some is more of the same, but here are the highlights…

  • Finally got a new podcast out – Polar Roll w/ Todd Poquette
  • Raced the Fat Bike Birkie
  • I made a short guest appearance on Mountain Bike Radio at the finish of Fat Bike Birkie
  • I posted a short race report from the Fat Bike Enduro Runs
  • Did my first winter duathlon
  • I finished the month off with a threshold test

March Training Summary

Cycling

March Mileage – 260 miles

March Duration – 16 hrs, 59 min

2018 Mileage – 648 miles

2018 Duration – 53 hrs, 12 min

I keep feeling like I am not getting much riding time in, but when I look back at my calendar… I have been fairly consistant with activity. However, I just haven’t gotten in any long endurance time. Most of my time is 1 hour or less and quite a bit of it is fairly low intensity. The problem is that the low intensity is not long enough durations to make a big impact on my endurance. That being said, it’s still beneficial as I’m keeping my legs spinning and I’m active. I’m busy and on my feet all day long, so I am building some endurance into my legs that way as well.

The highlight for me was doing a threshold test and showing some improvement over last year, before really getting into any structured training for this year. My 20 minute power was 297 Watts, which calculates out to a 282 Watt threshold. I’d like to see that number bump over 300 Watts in the near future…

You can see from my calendar that I didn’t plan my workouts ahead, except for 1. It’s not that I wasn’t planning ahead… I had some plan, I just haven’t had the time to get my own stuff into Training Peaks ahead of time. I do usually go into the week with an idea of what I’m targeting to accomplish though.

Take-aways

  1. I think I’ve carried a lot of fitness through this winter because of a little bit of the skiing and mainly getting out on the fat bike more often this winter.
  2. I did a much better job this winter of managing myself and have avoided getting sick.

Running

March Mileage – 9.5 miles

March Duration – 1 hr, 21min

2018 Mileage – 34.4 miles

2018 Duration – 5 hrs, 12 min

I started some running in March and probably some more discussion to come on it in April. My fitness it really good right now and I’ll need to be careful with the running… When I start running; I feel like I could run all day from a cardio standpoint which will or has already gotten me in trouble on 2 of the runs. My cardio will basically allow me to outrun what my knees can currently handle from an impact standpoint. I’ll need to be careful on my ramp up.

Take-aways

  1. I’ll need to manage my ramp up slowly or I may overdue what my knees are ready to handle, even though cardio is good and ready.

XC Skiing

March Mileage – 6.6 miles

March Duration – 43 min

2018 Mileage – 72.4 miles

2018 Duration – 10 hrs, 30 min

I am messy on the skis and my historical lack of coordination definitely shows through on the skis as well. At anyrate, I did pre-order a new set of skis for next year with our Pre-Season ski order at Cyclova from Madshus. Side Note… We put in a big pre order of skis for next year at Cyclova and will be a full ski shop next winter. Bring on the snow!

Take-aways

  1. Very few recreational skiers show up to small ski races… I got my tail kicked in the ski portion of the duathlon.

Totals for All Disciplines

Total March Mileage – 276 miles

Total March Duration – 19 hrs, 3 min

Total 2018 Mileage – 55 miles

Total 2018 Duration – 68 hrs, 55 min

Strength

It’s pretty much been random push-ups and pullups for me and I’ve fallen out of a regular routine.

Nutrition

Same story… I’m heavy and need to cut some weight before the summer. I’d say I’m about 8 to 10 lbs heavier than I want to be. I’m actually the heaviest I’ve been in a few years, which is about 160 – 162 lbs. That being said, I’m still focused on getting stronger on the bike and I’ll error on the side of making sure I’m fueled vs not being fueled enough.

Upcoming Events

Well, this is a tough one… I really wanted to hit a couple road races in late April or even had some big throughts about ripping down south for the Cohutta 100 at the end of the month. Right now, I’m not sure any of it is going to happen. I’m pretty swamped with the ownership transition at the shop.

May 12th, 2018: Grantsburg Adventure Tri

Podcasts

I finally got a new podcast episode out in March and I think it turned out well. I had guest Todd Poquette on to talk about the 906 Polar Roll and then recapped my race report all in the same show. You’ve probably figured this out by now, but expect these podcasts to be few and far between for the time being until I get my feet under me, with my new endeavor of bike shop ownership.

Listen on Google Play Music

Listen to Stitcher

New Podcast Episodes

906 Polar Roll w/ Race Director Todd Poquette

polar roll podcast

New Race Reports

Fat Bike Enduro

fatbike enduro

Other Media

I ran into Ben Welnak from Mountain Bike Radio at the finish of Fat Bike Birkie and we ended up recording a short podcast for Mountain Bike Radio. There is also about 5 other podcast that Ben did with other guests around Fat Bike Birkie. Check it out…

http://mountainbikeradio.com/fatbikebirkie/

New Race Registrations

Only 1 new race registration during this month…

May 12th, 2018: Grantsburg Adventure Tri

Gear

No new gear updates in the month of March, but I will have some stuff to talk about after April with a new road bike… Trek Emonda SL 6 Disc!

Cyclova XC Bike, Ski & Run Shop

 

The shop is still taking up a ton of my time right now… We’ve brought in a couple rounds of new bikes and are remodeling the shop. We’ve also started bringing in some new product as well, across the board with helmets, Garmins, accessories, gloves, shoes, etc… I’ve had some late nights at the shop, even with the family. I’ve got a picture somewhere of my son that had fallen asleep on my office floor at the shop at 2 or 3 in the morning one weekend night while we were there late doing some painting. Lots of work, but we’ve had some good feedback from folks.

The new website is live now also: www.cyclova.com

Personal Training

I work out of the following gyms, plus offer virtual training/coaching over the web, phone or in person for local folks… Contact me for availability.

North Branch, MN Snap Fitness

Available by appointment

Rush City, MN Snap Fitness

Available by appointment

St. Croix Falls, WI Snap Fitness

Available by appointment

Virtual / Remote – I also provide Personal Training & Fitness Coaching services for non-local or non-gym goers through phone or web video sessions. If you are local, I can meet in person for sessions or a free consult.

Instagram Account

Only a couple pics up on Instagram from last month…

Link: Endurance Path on Instagram

instagram

On To Next Month…

Thanks for following along. If you have any questions about anything I shared, feel free to hit me up using my Contact Me page.

-Steve

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Fatbike Enduro Runs – Polar Roll 2018

fatbike enduro

This one is short, but I like documenting all these events… I wasn’t sure what the Fatbike Enduro Runs were going to entail, but I had the opportunity to stay in Marquette for another day and figured why not… I’m glad I did, because it was a ton of fun and the 3rd run pushed my riding limits or at least got me to loosen up a bit.

The Fatbike Enduro consisted of 3 downhill runs that you had to ride, or push your bike up to the start and then you were timed going down. We had a few hours to get it all done and the winner was the person with the fastest combined time for all 3 runs.

These all took place on the Marquette South Trails.

Run 1 – Eh Line

fatbike enduro

This run is actually in the Marji Gesick 100 race and is not a technical downhill, but a smooth and bermed jumped line instead. It felt like the top was a little slick, so I went into it a little conservative as I figured sliding out would completely ruin my time. I could have definitely went faster and eventually realized that traction was really good. It was too late though and I think I had about a middle of the pack time down Eh Line.

Run 2 – Flow

fatbike enduro

I don’t believe I’ve ever ridden down this trail in the summer. It’s called Flow Trail, but I don’t know that I really had too great of a flow down it. It was really narrow and I think snowshoed in the night before. I again went into it a little slow as I feel skittish in really narrow trail, but picked up speed toward the bottom. There are some narrow bridges to hit and then another bridge near the end that you will catch air off the other side if you come into it with any speed. Again, I think I had about a middle of the pack time on this run.

Run 3 – Chunder Muffin

fatbike enduro

Chunder Muffin was awesome. It actually had some rocky drops in it. You roll down some of them or just send it and I don’t know what got into me, but I sent it…! It was a really narrow trail with some really tight turns and multiple drops. I found myself coming over a drop, picking up a little confidence… Letting it fly a little more over the next and then just letting it go after that. I did slide out once into a small pine tree, but quickly got rolling again. Then again at the bottom, I slid out on the last turn right before the finish line. Some of the folks that were not riding had all hiked up and were cheering the riders on. It was scary and fun all at the same time. I actually had the 2nd fastest time down this one.

I was all smiles at the bottom and decided I “need” to do more of this. I spent the rest of the day dreaming of long travel bikes…

Eh Line Train

fatbike enduro

Photo Credit: Bryan Dew – Thanks for the photo!

While they were reviewing the timing, we all went back up to the top of Eh Line to record a video of everyone coming down. At the end, we opted for some more shenanigans and set up for some photos with fatbikes catching air. It was a good day and hope I can stick aroud for this again next year.

Reference Links

Related Race Reports

2018 Polar Roll Race Report

2017 Polar Roll Race Report

2016 Polar Roll Race Report

Race Links

Polar Roll

Polar Roll Results

Jeff Wolf Photography – Check out the photos and videos

Contrast Coffee – Coffee before the ride hit the spot

Blackrocks Brewery – Beer after the ride hit the spot

My Links

Endurance Path on Facebook

Endurance Path on Instagram

Steve on Twitter

Steve on Strava

My Shop Links

Cyclova XC website

Cyclova XC on Facebook

Cyclova XC on Instagram

Cyclova XC on Twitter

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Old News… February’s Recap

instagram

This is about 2 weeks late. I started it over a week ago and just never got back around to it, but figured I’d finish it up and get it out there.

I have been able to race a couple times in February, but I have been sinking as far as time goes and I’m starting to fall behind on just about everything now. I have a lot going at the Cyclova shop right now that I’m trying to work on, which is pretty much taking up most of my time whether I’m at the shop or not. I have a lot of things I want to do with it and my mind is running 100 mph non stop. Anyways, here is the February update…

Podcasts

Again, I have not recorded any new podcasts this month, but I do intend to keep them going. I am closer to working out a schedule that I can dive back into my Endurance Path work a little more by late spring. I will get some audio out of my races for sure and I am lining up some special guests again. In the meantime… You can catch up on old episodes.

Listen on Google Play Music

Listen to Stitcher

New Race Reports

906 Polar Roll – Fatbike Race

polar roll

January Training Summary

february

Cycling

February Mileage – 184 miles

February Duration – 19 hrs, 35 min

2018 Mileage – 388 miles

2018 Duration – 36 hrs, 13 min

February was a great month of riding! I got out on the Woolly Bike Club Trails a handful of times and also put in a few structured workouts on the trainer. I’m not following any specific trianing plan right now, but I was a little purposeful with some of my rides and trainer workouts to be somewhat prepared for the Polar Roll. I hate that flat legs feeling at a race. It worked out well and I felt like I was in decent shape for Polar Roll.

My peak ride time during the weeks leading up to Polar Roll was about 6 hours for one of the weeks. I’ve said this in the past, but I feel decent about my results for the amount of ride time I am actually putting in. That being said, I would like to up the anty a bit. We’ll see what I can work out schedule wise as I will need to start ramping up my trail running game to prepare for the Wilderman in July.

Take-aways

  1. Just getting out and doing some trail riding on the fatbike was huge for my bike handling.
  2. A couple longer fatbike trail rides helped figure out my on bike nutrition – I’ve ditched the hydration pack and went to bottles (at least for fatbiking).
  3. A single hot lap, just over 30 minutes on Wednesday before the race was really great to make sure my legs were alive and ready to go. Although, it might have been a little too much effort or a day too close to the race.

Running

February Mileage – 0 miles

February Duration – 0 hrs

2018 Mileage – 24.9 miles

2018 Duration – 3 hrs, 51 min

I did ZERO running in February…

Take-aways

  1. None

XC Skiing

February Mileage – 41.1 miles

February Duration – 6 hrs, 23 min

2018 Mileage – 65.8 miles

2018 Duration – 9 hrs, 47 min

I picked up 2 more ski sessions in the month of February to try and figure things out before the Birkie, for a total of 4 ski sessions this year. Less than 2 hours of my ski time was accumulated in those 2 sessions. I might actually get some roller skis to mix things up this summer/fall and be better prepared for ski season.

Take-aways

  1. I loved the Birkie and want to do more skiing.
  2. I really need to figure out how to ski efficiently. I have a good engine, but looking at pictures and watching others… I look like a mess when it comes to form.
  3. When I originally started out on this fitness path, I really just wanted to be in good enough shape to go do stuff like this on a wim and I can certainly do that now… But, I also love being able to push further, so I’d like to figure this skiing thing out and see what I can do with it.
  4. I have no regrets about not training more for the Birkie. I loved it, got to experience it and see what it was all about. It was awesome to go out to an event like that and have almost no expectations for a change. But as I mentioned above… now I’d like to see what I can do with it and move up the waves.

Totals for All Disciplines

Total February Mileage – 250.6

Total February Duration – 23 hrs, 53 min

Total 2018 Mileage – 250.6

Total 2018 Duration – 23 hrs, 53 min

Strength

Push-ups and Pull-ups are my main deal. If I’m short on time, I’ll be swapping reps of those. When there is more time, I’m adding in Romanian deadlifts and rows. That being said, I’m doing about the bare minimum right now.

Nutrition

I’m heavy and need to cut some weight before the summer. I’d say I’m about 8 to 10 lbs heavier than I want to be. I’m actually the heaviest I’ve been in a few years, which is about 160 – 162 lbs.

Upcoming Events

March 10, 2018: Fatbike Birkie

March 15, 2018: Loppet Duathlon

New Race Registrations

I added another race to the schedule. It was actually just a last minute registration for Fatbike Birkie.

March 10, 2018: Fatbike Birkie

Gear

Not a lot of new gear this month, but I did get a pair of Bontrager Velocis Halo S1 Softshell Bibs. They rock! I used them for skiing twice, fatbiking and raced with them at Polar Roll. They say for above freezing, but they are perfect for race intensity down to some really cold temps.

I’m becoming a big fan of the Clif Blocks. I used 3 of them for Birkie with just 1 bottle of CarboRocket and then water from the aid stations and they just worked out really well. I seemed to digest them well and the packaging makes them super easy to use. I’ll be using them more in the future.

Cyclova XC Bike, Ski & Run Shop

The shop is taking up a ton of my time right now, but working on a lot of good stuff. I just brought in some new bikes. We made a ski order for next season – yes, we are going to continue on as a ski shop. I’ll be bringing in another round of new bikes soon along with more accessories and clothing options.

Here is the shop’s blog/website: www.cyclova.com – A new site is in the works!

Personal Training

I work out of the following gyms, plus offer virtual training/coaching over the web, phone or in person for local folks… Contact me for availability.

North Branch, MN Snap Fitness

Typically available Mondays and Fridays, plus other random times throughout the week by appointment.

Rush City, MN Snap Fitness

Typically available Mondays and Fridays, plus other random times throughout the week by appointment.

St. Croix Falls, WI Snap Fitness

Typically available Wed and Thursday morning

Virtual / Remote – I also provide Personal Training & Fitness Coaching services for non-local or non-gym goers through phone or web video sessions. If you are local, I can meet in person for sessions or a free consult.

Instagram Account

A few pics from the past month…

Link: Endurance Path on Instagram

instagram

On To Next Month…

Thanks for following along. If you have any questions about anything I shared, feel free to hit me up using my Contact Me page.

-Steve

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2018 Polar Roll Fatbike Race Report

polar roll

This was the best Polar Roll yet. This was my 3rd one and I think maybe there has been 4 total, so I can’t speak to the earliest of them. The trails were dialed and I really liked the course layout. I know the snowmobile trail is not very popular, but I think it provides a great balance to the race and if you ever get in to fatbike ultras… You better get used to snowmobile trails. I haven’t done one, but I know that type of riding is a large part of fatbike ultras. So, I really think they did a great job with the course. There was some great singletrack, steep and long climbs (for the midwest), a couple sections of really tight singletrack and then the snowmobile trail. It was balanced out well and had a great mix of everything. Enjoy the report!

2018 Polar Roll Course

Course Layout

polar roll

The course started in downtown Marquette… It rolled out of town on the lakeshore bikepath/snowmobile trail down to the south trail system before hitting singletrack. We had to do some climbing to get up into the south trails, but the south trails were dialed and provided for some pretty amazing fatbike riding.

From the south trails, we took the snowmobile trail (some of the bike path in the summer) to Ishpeming before connecting with the Hill Street trails.

The Hill Street trails are great as well with a few steep hills that will force most into a hike-a-bike situation and some fast downhill sections.

The last section of trail is the singletrack between Ishpeming and Negaunee. It’s great riding with some really tight and narrow singletrack sections for the long race.

The finish was in downtown Ishpeming at the High School where you had a nice place to warm up after the race.

Course Elevation

polar roll

It’s all uphill… There are of course some great downhills, but yeh, you work your way uphill to the finish line. There are 2 opening climbs are grinders… The jeep trail up to HWY 553 and then Benson Grade. The snowmobile trail can catch you off guard as it’s uphill. The grade isn’t bad, it’s more of a false flat. Outside of the second half of the snowmobile trail, there really isn’t much sustained flat sections of course. You’re either going uphill or downhill.

Gear and Nutrition Setup

Bike

Trek Farley Carbon w/ Bontrager Carbon Wampa 27.5″ wheels and 4.5″ Barbagazzi Tires – I’m digging the 27.5″ wheel setup.

GX 12sp Eagle with XO Cranks (was a closeout on the cranks when I built the bike) – I’m sold on the 1 x Eagle drivetrain and it’s pretty affordable now in the GX level.

Shimano XT with non heat sink rotors – hard to beat these brakes.

Spare Parts & Tools

Topeak Hexus Multi-tool

25g air cartridge with Genuine Innovations Air Chuck

Sram Power Link

Nutrition

2 thermo bottles and 1 regular bottle (Thermo bottle is too tall to fit in seatpost cage under top tube)

Started race with 1 full thermo bottle on downtube and 1 full thermo bottle in jersey pocket

The regular bottle just had CarboRocket powder in it, so I could just stop at an aid station later and fill it up when the other bottles ran empty.

Clothing

Sturmfist 4 Gloves – Hands froze at the start and took about an hour to warm up. Started getting cold again toward the end. I seem to always have cold hand issues.

Bontrager OMW Boots – Toes got cold toward the end, but overall pretty happy with these. I did have a toe warmer in each one.

Bontrager B2 Baselayer, Cyclova summer jersey as mid layer and Cyclova Ski suit top as outer layer – The Bontrager B2 baselayers are awesome and seem to regulate well. That combined with my Cyclova Ski Suit top from Mt Borah is a great combination.

Bontrager B1 Velocis Thermo Bibs w/ summer baggie liner chamois shorts underneath – This worked out really well also. The B1 Velocis Thermo Bibs say for above freezing temps, but they were perfect for racing at 15 to 20 degrees and could probably be used for colder temps.

The 906 Polar Roll Fatbike Race

Downtown to 553

polar roll

Folks were starting to line up in the gate, so I headed in from the back and found my way to about the 4th row. I stood there for a few minutes and could see a bunch of empty space in the second row, so I went ahead and moved up. I’m getting more confident with my ability to roll out hard from the gate and thought there was a good chance I could finish in the top 20. The first couple rows added up to about 20 people.

We took off with a controlled rollout, made our right hand turn and hit the snowmobile trail much quicker than I anticipated where 2 lines quickly formed. I think I ended up getting pushed back a little bit, but then worked my way back up into the top 20 as the 2 lines shifted back and forth.  We crossed under the bridge and were quickly dumped into the first singletrack and moving at a good clip.

I hadn’t been on the trails up here yet, so I didn’t really know where my traction was at quite yet in the corners. I could feel my fingers freezing up already as well. After a few twists and turns in the singletrack we started heading up hill and the work began. It was a steep grade and probably about the steepest you’re going to find when it comes to fat biking. We were climbing hard and I don’t believe I ever shifted into that granny 50 tooth gear.

You could look up ahead and see the gaps starting to form as a rider here and there couldn’t keep the pace. I made up a few spots on the climb with a couple other folks on my tail chasing, but not fast enough to avoid a gap forming in front of me. This section is what I believe is considered to be the jeep trail. We dumped out at the top and headed across some open parking lot area to cross under 553 along the creek. My wife was there taking some pictures and said I was sitting in 15th when I came by.

553 To Snowmobile Trail

polar roll

We took an icy path, that had been sanded, under the road along the creek to avoid crossing the road. On the other side was more singletrack and climbing. We hit a little bit of twisty singletrack that went up before hitting Benson Grade and starting another long and steep climb. I can’t remember exactly how things went up Benson. I might have gotten passed, but can’t remember.

At the top of Benson Grade, we dumped down what I believe is called Pipe Dreams. It was a fast downhill ride and I had a little space in front of me and a few riders back with plenty of breathing room. I was also realizing that I probably had a little more traction than I thought I would have. Even though the trail appeared to be a little slick, it was actually fairly tacky.

At the bottom of Pipe Dreams… I was rolling pretty hot and completely blew a right hand turn. The turn was marked, but I was moving out and blew right past it with the skids on. I yelled back “turn right!” to anyone that was behind me as I got myself turned around. I ended up dropping 3 spots there and got back on the chase as more folks were coming in.

The first guy was hauling out pretty good, but I was back on the wheel of the 2nd and 3rd one fairly quick with another rider coming up on my wheel now. I was patient and then we eventually came to an opening where I made my pass with a couple other folks coming with. I had one rider that was catching me on the hills and then I would pull away on the twisty stuff. He eventually ended up passing me and dissappeared out in front of me.

Somebody yelled from behind that these trails still weren’t quite as good as Woolly, or something to that effect… Woolly Bike Club Trails are my local trail and my jersey has a Woolly badge on it. Woolly trails have been about the best you are going to find lately, but it’s darn hard to beat the trails in Marquette. They were in great shape and there is miles and miles of them.

Back to the racing… I think I dropped a spot or 2 somewhere in this section, but I may have picked up another spot along the way also. I do remember my fingertips really starting to freeze up on me. I hate that feeling.

Anyways… The trails in this section were absolutely dialed. There were a couple icy downhills that had been sanded, but you almost couldn’t ask for better snowbiking conditions. This section of trail is also some of the most fun intermediate level trail riding you are going to find. You can ride it as fast or slow as you want. It’s just really flowy and gets more challenging with the more speed you carry as you start coming into corners a little hot.

This section of the race was my highest average heart rate of 160 bpm and where I hit my max heart rate on the day of 172. This actually is a bit conservative for me in a sub 4 hour race. That being said, it’s early in the year. At the end of the day, I was pretty comfortable for most of the race… Aside from those leg cramps that fired up about 3 and half hours in.

Snowmobile Trail to Hill St

polar roll

The first set of singletrack was done and now I was on the snowmobile path to Negaunee. This would be a long and fairly steady uphill grade. More of a false flat than uphill though. I was expecting the trail to be soft, but quite honestly it was amazing. Maybe it wasn’t amazing, but my expectations were low and I thought it was fairly hardpacked.

Anyways, there was an aid station when we first dumped out on the snowmobile trail, but I rode straight through as I had my own stuff and didn’t feel like stopping or spilling water on my gloves. After crossing the road on the other side of the aid station, I relaxed a bit and grabbed my own water bottle. I saw a couple people up ahead, but I didn’t realize anybody was behind me and I must have drifted over a bit as a guy came up my right side. We clipped bars and I went down as he rode away and latched on to the group ahead.

I saw him later at the finish actually and he brought it up and appologized, but there really wasn’t anything to appologize for. That’s just part of riding and to be expected. I think I drifted over as he was coming by and he probably figured he had plenty of space since we were on the snowmobile trail and didn’t worry about yelling ahead.

Anyways, I got back on the bike and moving forward again to catch a solo rider that was split between me and that small group ahead. I was feeling good and wanted to catch the group ahead and ended up taking the pull till we caught the small group ahead. When we caught the group ahead they were kind of sitting up or nobody was really taking the lead. I was too low on my effort and wanted to pick up the pace and took off the front. I figured I was either going solo or was going to inspire some help, but I wasn’t going to sit up and slog down the snowmobile trail waiting for somebody else to take the lead.

I think I put a little gap on them, but it didn’t take long for them to get organized and latch onto my wheel. I pulled for quite some time and that probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do. But, I wasn’t willing to dial the pace back either, even if that meant pulling the whole way. Just before Eagle Mills, one of the guys came up around front and took a pull and kept the pace up as well!

I had emptied both of my insulated bottles of CarboRocket at this point and pulled off at the Eagle Mills aid station to refill. The aid station volunteers filled one of my insulated bottles with water and then filled up the extra bottle that had the CarboRocket powder already in it ready to go. The rest of the group rode through, so I was on my own from here to Neguanee unless I could reel them back in again.

For reference… Eagle Mills aid station was less than halfway to the Hill St. Trails, but probably a little past the halfway point of being on the snowmobile trail. For a short period, I thought I was going to reel them back in, but it never happened and they maintained their gap until hills or turns got in the way of visibility and then I never saw them again and solo’d my way all the way to hill st.

On the way up Hill St. I decided to dip into my can of Red Bull that I had been carrying in my jersey pocket. I had already drank the other bottle of CarboRocket and figured I was going to need something to get me through the last hour on the trail. I took it easy up Hill St. as I downed the Red Bull before trying to get the empty can stuffed back in my jersey pocket. I heard something hit the road as I got back on the hammer and sure enough it was my Red Bull can…

I stopped and just left my bike in the street and ran back to pick it up while a rider came flying by me and then I saw another group making the turn up Hill St. and they were on the gas. I got my Red Bull can stuffed back in my jersey pocket and raced my way up to the entrance of the singletrack before getting caught by that next group.

Hill Street Trails

polar roll

I was familiar with this trail entrance as this was the start of the 2017 Polar Roll. I put in a little extra effort to give myself some space from the chasers and was successful aside from 1 other rider starting to sneak up on me. I had to bale and hike up the first part of one of the really steep hills about halfway through the loop. I had to hike up a bit of this same hill the previous year.

We didn’t ride all the Hill St. trails from the previous year, which would have probably added another 5 miles to the race. I don’t know, maybe Todd’s getting soft on us… There were some good climbs in those other trails.

I came by what I believe was a bunch of folks from Blackrocks Brewery that looked like they were having one heck of a good time and then sent it down the long and flowy trail with the lake off to the right. This was fast, but I was feeling confident and it helps when there is a bit of hoot’n and holler’n going on as you head into it.

I believe that chase group was starting to reel me in just before this. But, only 1 of the guys stayed with me and we put a gap on the rest of them by the time we made it around the lake. The climbs back out of this area around the other side of the lake are really tough and at the edge of traction loss, but I made it all the way up. I dumped out on the wider path that leads to the Division St. crossing with the other rider right on my wheel.

To The Finish Line

polar roll

I can’t remember exactly, but I think I asked the rider behind me if he needed to get around, but he mentioned he was starting to cramp… I was too. I could feel the warning signs coming on. I was doing ok still and then we hit the really tight singletrack and my legs locked up as I headed up one of the climbs and fell right over sideways into the snowbank, still clipped in. He asked me if I was ok. I said I was good and was just going to sit here for a second and try to get these cramps out.

I eventually got up and then just walked my bike in an effort to try and stretch out the cramps and get them to calm down before I got back on again. I had forgotten to replenish my pickle juice shots, so I didn’t really have anything to help get rid of the cramps other than have to dial my effort way back and try to walk them off. I was a bit frustrated, because overall I had raced somewhat conservative as far as effort goes. I hadn’t been lazy, but I didn’t feel like I was overpushing it at all.

I got back on the bike and soft pedaled for a little bit and eased my way back into it. I think I ended up getting passed by a couple more racers soon after this. I hadn’t looked at the course map much and wasn’t quite sure where I was at on it. I eventually came out to the Bacon and Hugs aid station, but kept pedaling. Now I knew where I was at and was on the long stretch that led back to Negaunee. I came up on a rider that I ended up passing and he asked how much farther. I told him my GPS was reading around 35 miles at this point, but we were headed away from the finish line and toward Negaunee.

I dropped down the flight of stairs going into Negaunee and then up the short flight from the Marji Gesick. They were easy in the snow, since they were completely packed in. You wouldn’t even know there were stairs there. Again, I hadn’t looked at the map too closely and was thinking we were a near direct shot back to the finish line, but I was wrong… We did get dumped into some more really tight singletrack.

It wasn’t a lot, but I was out of fuel at this point and fighting off the leg cramps. I didn’t really have anybody around me when I entered it, but I got caught fast. Between the trail being a little icey and me getting a little twitchy on the bike with my fatigue and cramps… I felt like a pin ball bouncing back and forth off the raised snow edges of the trail and eventually went down – a couple times. I ended up giving up more places in traffic again before dumping out of this section.

Finally, I was out of the trail and recognized the snowmobile trail back toward the finish line. I made that last left turn onto the pavement and gave it everything I had left and sprinted across the finish line solo. I like doing that as it’s my last little win of the race, whether I’m sprinting to the finish with somebody else or not. I ended up finishing 22nd place with a time of 3 hours and 51 minutes.

The Jan Roubal Classic

So this was a fun little event at the after party that only 5 of us did while a couple hundred folks from the after party cheered from the bottom of the ski hill. The deal was you had to ride your bike at least to some marked points on the hill. From there, you could push your bike the rest of the way to where 3 people were standing. 1 was holding nothing, 1 was holding a $1 bill and the other holding a $100 bill. The first 3 people to claim a spot/person got what they were holding.

I took off slow because I figured it was going to be a grind up the hill. I also figured I would zig zag the hill vs going strait up. That was actually a mistake as it was hard to get turned up the hill without fear of slipping out. I was headed up left and was finally able to get turned back to the right, but not uphill enough. It took me going across the entire hill to finally make it. I got about as far as I could before coming close to hitting the fence and went to turn up and slid out. I looked back to see that I had just cleared the marking post and started pushing. I actually think I was the 4th person up, but a couple of the others had headed back down the hill early. There was also a free set of 45NRTH tires at the bottom for the first person back down. Anyways, I ended up with the $100!

Fatbike Enduro…

I think I might just write up a whole different post for the fatbike enduro. That was a ton of fun and was an awesome way to finish off the weekend.

Final Polar Roll Thoughts

This was the best Polar Roll yet! I really liked the course layout and the trails were amazing this year. I do like longer races and I thought this was balanced out well. The shorter race last year was fun, but this year had a bit more epicness to it, which to me… makes it more worthwhile to plan a weekend around.

polar roll

Reference Links

Race Links

Polar Roll

Polar Roll Results

Jeff Wolf Photography

My Links

Endurance Path on Facebook

Endurance Path on Instagram

Steve on Twitter

Steve on Strava

My Shop Links

Cyclova XC website

Cyclova XC on Facebook

Cyclova XC on Instagram

Cyclova XC on Twitter

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January – Neck Deep In It

It has been an interesting and busy month… I’ve been neck deep at the Cyclova XC shop with the transition of ownership and running the shop. We have a ton of stuff in the works, which is consuming a lot of my time right now. A lot of stuff to figure out with running a brick and mortar business and planning for the future. I think I mentioned to someone the other day that I feel a bit like I am drinking from a fire hose. Anyways, more to come on the shop stuff… Exciting times for sure and looking forward to the future!

Podcasts

I have not recorded any new podcasts this month, but I do intend to keep them going. I’ve been tied up with Cyclova and the podcast along with some other things I’ve been working on have kind of taken a backseat for now. My hope is to have a schedule where I can get back into this stuff consistantly again by spring. In the meantime… You can catch up on old episodes.

Listen on Google Play Music

Listen to Stitcher

New Race Reports

No new race reports this month. I had booked myself up on Saturday’s with the Get Fit – Eat Right workshop series and was in work catch-up mode on most Sundays, so I just wasn’t able to get out racing. I have the 906 Polar Roll and the American Birkiebeiner coming up though, so stay tuned.

January Training Summary

Cycling

January Mileage – 204 miles

January Duration – 16 hrs, 38 min

My riding has mostly been a bit adhock, but there has been a few purposeful sessions. I’ve been fitting in the riding or workouts wherever I can.

I did hit a few interval workouts of varying intensity. In particular I hit some 30s high power intervals. I remember that I was always feeling flat this time of the year and am hoping to wake the legs up a bit prior the the 906 Polar Roll. I also did a subthreshold interval workout that I’ve done in the past. It’s a bit early in the season I guess to be ramping into that, but I just wanted to see where I was at. My heart rate settled in lower than it had in the past for the same power output, but my muscular endurance was not up to par and I skipped out after the 3rd interval.

Looking back at my calendar, I realized that I did have a week in January that I actually rode every single day. Two of them were warm up rides before running on my treadmill.

Running

January Mileage – 24.9 miles

January Duration – 3 hrs, 51 min

This is all treadmill mileage with 2 of the workouts being interval workouts. Not all out intervals, but more long distance pace intervals. I’m not really in any running ramp up now, but I do need to work up some mileage for the Wilderman in July.

XC Skiing

December Mileage – 21.7 miles

December Duration – 3 hrs, 24 min

I got 2 ski sessions in during the month of January and a 3rd session just as February started. The Birkie is probably going to be a long day. I am definitly not the smoothest guy on skis for sure.

Totals for All Disciplines

Total Mileage – 250.6

Total Duration – 23 hrs, 53 min

Strength

I had this conversation with some folks this week during the Get Fit – Eat Right workshop that I was doing… I rarely get my entire strength workout done in one session. Probably only 1 time per week does it happen all at once in a focused session. Most of my strength work happens randomly throughout the day. No excuses, right… Push ups here and there, Pull ups here and there, keep weights on the bar in the basement, so you can knock out a set of whatever when you get a chance. Anyways, that’s how a lot of my workouts happen.

Nutrition

I had a bad time with nutrition this month and have gained some weight. You know how it works, right…? A couple bad choices lead to a domino effect of bad food choices or overeating. I have been getting home well past dinner time from the shop and then eating really late right before going to bed. I need to to just pack my dinner with me and then not eat again when I get home. Of course, I have been packing food, I’m just eating too much at the moment.

Upcoming Events

February 17, 2018: Polar Roll Fatbike Race

February 24, 2018: American Birkebeiner

March 10, 2018: Fatbike Birkie

New Race Registrations

I did sign up for a few races this past month as I was starting to look at my summer schedule…

February 18, 2018: 906 Polar Roll Fatbike Enduro

I figured… What the heck, should be fun!

June 16, 2018: Chequamegon 100

I keep hearing more and more about this race and know a few folks going. Should be a good time!

September 15, 2018: Chequamegon 40

I’ve missed it the last couple of years and it is the weekend before the Marji Gesick, but I figured it was about time I got back to it again.

Gear

I have been using the Bontrager Transmitr Lights for fatbiking and really like them. They connect to my Garmin and just turn on and off when I turn my Garmin on. I find it convenient. They are also, just really nice lights and solid products for the price range as well.

The other Bontrager gear that I’m geaked up on is the baselayers. I’ve been using both the B3 and B2 layers and they rock!

Anyways… with owning the shop, I’ve been buying and testing various gear that we carry that I might not have had experience with in the past to make sure I can speak to it and also make sure it’s something that I want to carry in the shop as well. I actually had not used much of the Bontrager gear in the past, but am really happy with it. The lights and the baselayers in particular are some items I was super geaked up on recently.

Cyclova XC Bike, Ski & Run Shop

Lots of good stuff going with Cyclova for the future. New website in the works, Adventure Talks are scheduled, putting together a new spring inventory plan and we just opened the shop for 7 days a week.

You can find me at the shop now Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday every week and on the weekends if I don’t have a race.

Here is the shop’s blog/website: www.cyclova.com – A new site is in the works!

Personal Training

I work out of the following gyms, plus offer virtual training/coaching over the web, phone or in person for local folks… Contact me for availability.

North Branch, MN Snap Fitness

Typically available Mondays and Fridays, plus other random times throughout the week by appointment.

Rush City, MN Snap Fitness

Typically available Mondays and Fridays, plus other random times throughout the week by appointment.

St. Croix Falls, WI Snap Fitness

Typically available Wed and Thursday morning

Virtual / Remote – I also provide Personal Training & Fitness Coaching services for non-local or non-gym goers through phone or web video sessions. If you are local, I can meet in person for sessions or a free consult.

Instagram Account

A few pics from the past month…

Link: Endurance Path on Instagram

On To Next Month…

Thanks for following along. If you have any questions about anything I shared, feel free to hit me up using my Contact Me page.

-Steve

Posted on

2017 Year End Recap

Major Highlights from 2017…

Took on part ownership of Cyclova XC Bike, Ski & Run Shop in St. Croix Falls, WI

Started personal training out of 3 different gyms

Completed Fitness Nutrition Specialist Training

Got a little bit more into trail running

Ran my first 10k trail run race – finished 2nd overall

Raced my first adventure tri in 15 years – finished 4th overall

Raced in 2 more states – Pennsylvania & Virginia

Built up a new custom Trek Farley fatbike

Cyclova XC Bike, Ski & Run Shop

Separate from Endurance Path, but I personally took on part ownership of Cyclova Bike, Ski and Run shop in St. Croix Falls, WI. I’m very excited about this opportunity! The shop has a great foundation and amazing community around it that I hope to build on.

I am typically available at the shop on Wednesday, Thursday, most Saturdays and various other times throughout the week. The full store hours are in the shop’s blog below, but stay tuned for updated shop hours coming very soon, an announcement of a new Grand Reopening Event this spring and an all new website for the shop and team. We have a lot of new stuff in the works.

Additionally, we have a bunch of winter stuff that we are closing out, so we can replace it with all the latest gear for the upcoming spring and summer season.

Here is the shop’s blog/website: www.cyclova.com

Podcasts

I launced my own podcast and started having some guests on the show. I’ve taken a little bit of time off from it around the first of the year as I’m buried in the transition of ownership of the bike shop, but I am still lining up new guests in the background. Stay tuned and check out some of the old stuff in the mean time.

Get subscribed to the podcast here and don’t forget to give me a rating or send me some feedback!

Listen on Google Play Music

Listen to Stitcher

Episode 1: Launch of The Endurance Path Podcast

Episode 2: My First Lutsen 99er

Episode 3: Chequamegon 40

Episode 4: Red Wing 4 Hr Lap Race

Episode 5: July 2017 Training Recap

Episode 6: Maah Daah Hey 100 Race Report

Episode 7: Ore To Shore Epic Race Report

Episode 8: Wilderness 101 Race Report

Episode 9: 2016 Marji Gesick 100 Race Report – Most Popular Race Report Podcast

Episode 10: Cheq 40 Fat Tire Festival

Episode 11: Shenandoah 100 Race Report

Episode 12: Training & Blog Recap

Episode 13: 2017 Marji Gesick 100 Report

Episode 14: John Petrylak “From Couch To Podium” – Most Popular Guest Podcast

Episode 15: Eric Olson “Journey of 100 Marathons”

Episode 16: Mark Kransz “Just Having Fun”

Episode 17: Jerome Dionne “Back On The Bike”

2017 Race Reports

I mixed it up this year with my racing and did a trail run and an adventure tri. Anyways, my season included fatbike racing, road racing, adventure tri, trail running, XC racing and endurance racing. I thoroughly enjoyed mixing it up. I had more fun mixing it up, even though I couldn’t focus in on one specific thing and that’s probalby the way I’ll roll going forward.

January: Freezer Burn – Fat Bike

February: 906 Polar Roll – Fat Bike

April: THK – Road Bike

April: Ken Woods Memorial – Road Bike

May: Woolly Bike Club 4 Hr Lap Race – MTB

May: Grantsburg Adventure Triathlon – Bike, Paddle, Run

May: Detroit Mountain 4 Hr Lap Race – MTB

June: Borah Epic – MTB

June: City of Trails 10k – Trail Run

June: Lutsen 99er – MTB

July: Wilderness 101 – MTB

September: Shenandoah 100 – MTB

September: Marji Gesick 100 – MTB – Most Popular Race Report

December: Solstice Chase – Fatbike

2018 Race Plans

Locked In…

February 17: Polar Roll Fatbike Race – Fatbike

February 24: American Birkebeiner – Skate Ski

July 14: Wilderman Offroad Triathlon – Ironman Distance Offroad Tri

Sept 15: Chequamegon 40 – Mountain Bike

September 22: Marji Gesick 100 – Mountain Bike

On The Table…

March 10: Fat Bike Birkie – Fatbike

April 21: Trail Mix – Trail Run

April 28: Whiskey Offroad – Mountain Bike

April 28: Cohutta 100 – Mountain Bike

May 19: Grand Junction Offroad – Mountain Bike

May 19: Superior Trail Race – Trail Run

June 2: Mohican 100 – Mountain Bike

June 10: IRONMAN 70.3 Wisconsin – Half Ironman Tri

June 16: Chequamegon 100 – Mountain Bike

June 16: Lumberjack 100 – Mountain Bike

June 23: Lutsen 99er – Mountain Bike

August 11: Ore to Shore – Mountain Bike

August 18: Crotched Mountain 100 – Mountain Bike

September 1: Shenandoah 100 – Mountain Bike

2017 Training Summary

Cycling

2017 Mileage – 3,880 miles

Average Weekly Ride Mileage – 75 miles/wk

2017 Ride Time – 290 hrs, 20 min

Average Weekly Ride Time – 5.6 hrs/wk

My ride time was down a little from the previous year, but I would say I had more quality in my riding than in 2017. I also feel pretty good about my results for the amount of riding that I actually put in. I had a few weeks in there that topped 10 hrs/wk, but most months I was averaging 6 to 6.5 hrs/wk. I of course had some downtime, which drops the overall average ride time to 5.6 hrs/wk.

Running

2017 Mileage – 182 miles

Average Weekly Run Mileage – 3.5 miles/wk

2017 Duration – 27 hrs, 46 min

Average Weekly Run Time – 32 min/wk

The data is a bit deceiving, as I had many weeks in a row that I did not run at all. Regardless, my run time is low for somebody wanting to get more into it. I’ll be doing some more running this year to prepare for the trail marathon portion of the Wilderman Offroad Tri in July.

Strength

I felt really good this year overall when it came to my core and upperbody vs the previous year. I put a lot more focus on my back, which really made a big difference in my opinion when it came to comfort on the bike. I’ve put on a little upper body muscle and strength, which isn’t neccessarily the right thing to do for the running and biking I want to do, but I’m more interested in becoming well rounded in the long run.

Nutrition

I passed the tests for a Fitness Nutrition Specialist program I had started. I think there is way more to learn there and I do not plan on providing any specific nutrition services myself. I think it is some good knowledge for me to have and complements my personal training services.

Personal Training

I work out of the following gyms, plus offer virtual training/coaching over the web, phone or in person for local folks… Contact me for availability.

North Branch, MN Snap Fitness

Typically available Monday, Tuesday and Fridays

Rush City, MN Snap Fitness

Typically available Monday, Tuesday and Fridays

St. Croix Falls, WI Snap Fitness

Typically available Wed and Thursday morning

Virtual / Remote – I also provide Personal Training & Fitness Coaching services for non-local or non-gym goers through phone or web video sessions. If you are local, I can meet in person for sessions or a free consult.

Instagram Account

Link: Endurance Path on Instagram

On To Next Year…

Thanks for following along. This year was big for what I have been working on and hope that it is only the beginning.

-Steve

Posted on

What Happened In December…?

A few highlights from the month…

I took on part ownership of Cyclova XC Bike, Ski & Run Shop in St. Croix Falls, WI

Completed Fitness Nutrition Specialist Training

Getting ready for Get Fit – Eat Right Workshop Series w/ Amy Sotis of Lumiaries Retreat

Built up a new custom Trek Farley fatbike

Cyclova XC Bike, Ski & Run Shop

Seperate from Endurance Path, but I personally just took on part ownership of Cyclova XC Bike, Ski and Run shop in St. Croix Falls, WI. I’m very excited about this opportunity! The shop has a great foundation and amazing community around it that I hope to build on. I am typically available at the shop on Wednesday, Thursday, most Saturdays and various other times throughout the week. The full store hours are in the shop’s blog below.

Here is the announcement post: http://www.cyclova.com/2017/12/cyclova-xc-under-new-ownership-and.html

Here is the shop’s blog/website: www.cyclova.com

Podcasts

Get subscribed to the podcast here and don’t forget to give me a rating or send me some feedback!

Listen on Google Play Music

Listen to Stitcher

Episode 17: Jerom Dionne “Back On The Bike”

jerome dionne

New Race Reports

December 16, 2017: Solstice Chase Fatbike Race Report

solstice chase fatbike race

December Training Summary

Cycling

December Mileage – 267 miles

2017 Mileage – 3,880 miles

December Duration – 20 hrs, 21 min

2017  Duration – 290 hrs, 20 min

This was about the same amount of ride time as last month and averages about 5 hours of riding per week. The one thing that I would mention is that some of my riding has been a bit more purposeful as I’m getting ready to start ramping things back up again.

I should also mention that I really like that CycleOps Magnus Smart Trainer.

Running

December Mileage – 33.4 miles

2017 Mileage – 182 miles

December Duration – 5 hrs, 9 min

2017 Duration – 27 hrs, 46 min

I did put in more miles this month than I had been. I had a few really nice trail runs and have also been doing a little bit of treadmill running. I will have to ramp up the running for this year, now that I have signed up for the Wilderman race in July. For right now, I’m just getting my legs moving.

Strength

I pulled back a bit on the strength work after about mid month. I just got really busy with taking on ownership of Cyclova XC and defaulted my available time to running and cycling.

Nutrition

I finally finished up my tests for the Fitness Nutrition Specialist program that I had started. I think there is way more to learn there and I do not plan on providing any specific nutrition services myself. I think it is some good knowledge for me to have and complements my personal training services.

Upcoming Events

January 2018: Get Fit, Eat Right – Workshop Series

February 17, 2018: Polar Roll Fatbike Race

February 24, 2018: American Birkebeiner

New Race Registrations

I did not sign up for any new races yet, but January will likely bring on some new race registrations. Stay tuned…!

Personal Training

I work out of the following gyms, plus offer virtual training/coaching over the web, phone or in person for local folks… Contact me for availability.

North Branch, MN Snap Fitness

Typically available Monday, Tuesday and Fridays

Rush City, MN Snap Fitness

Typically available Monday, Tuesday and Fridays

St. Croix Falls, WI Snap Fitness

Typically available Wed and Thursday morning

Virtual / Remote – I also provide Personal Training & Fitness Coaching services for non-local or non-gym goers through phone or web video sessions. If you are local, I can meet in person for sessions or a free consult.

Instagram Account

A few pics from the past month…

Link: Endurance Path on Instagram

New Custom Trek Farley Build

I finished this bike up the night before the Solstice Chase Fatbike Race and have only been on it twice to this point. There are some obvious perks of owning and working at a bike shop that is a Trek dealer and I didn’t waste time taking advantage of them. The bike is pretty sweet and most notable features are carbon frame, 27.5″ Bontrager Wampa carbon wheels, GX Eagle 12sp with an X0 crank. Maybe I’ll do a full write up on it at some point after I get a chance to get some more miles on it.

On To Next Month…

Thanks for following along. If you have any questions about anything I shared, feel free to hit me up using my Contact Me page.

-Steve