|Sweet tracks. Photo credit Roberta Mullin.|
Time for a much more upbeat race report than my last one.
We should start with this week overall. I was freaking out a little bit that the Birkie was in three weeks and I didn’t think I had as many longer skis in as I did last year. I blame the cold and illness. I managed to get out for two 2.5 hours days this week and that certainly helps for the upcoming Birkie, but probably isn’t the best prep for a 25k race. I didn’t ski at all on Saturday and just focused on getting my skis waxed, hydrating and carboloading. Come Sunday morning I felt pretty good other than a little tired from the 5:00 am wake-up call to get to Cable by 9:00 am.
The nice thing about that 5:00 am wake-up call? My parents were going to come with and take some pictures and bring my boys to watch the race. This meant that my dad could drive and I could snooze on the ride up. Sweet! Thanks Mom and Dad.
For skis, I prepped following the Fast Wax recommendations for glide and Swix for kick. For glide I put in a layer of HS-10, two layers of LF-10, and a layer of HF-10. I don’t have any cold pure flouros so I skipped that. For kick I ironed in the VG-35 binder, ironed in a layer of Blue Extra (V40), and then did 3 layers of VR-30 making each layer slightly shorter than the previous. I haven’t classiced much previously so my kick wax skills are pretty weak and all I can do is follow the directions as best I can. How much binder do you put on and then iron? Do you cork after ironing? What is a “thin layer”? How do I “match the shape of my kick wax pocket”?
The verdict was that it all worked very well. My skis were on par with others I skied with. Maybe a little faster than some, a little slower than others. The kick was good without any noticeable drag. I slipped a couple of times, but that had more to do with technique and fatigue than wax I think. I was still kicking at the end so it all held up well for the 25km of cold snow.
OK, on to the race. I started in the fourth row right next to Jim Kelley. This is the closest I’ve started to the front. Considering there were only about 8 lanes there weren’t that many people ahead of me. The start was clean, except 100m into the race where it went from 8 wide to 4 wide, on a hard left onto the Birkie Classic trail, up a slight hill. Other than that little mess in which I didn’t see anyone actually go down it was clean.
|Me and Jim at the start of the race. Photo credit Kelly Randolph.|
It broke up into a few groups pretty quick. The leaders were long gone, but I found myself in a group of about 10 people. This group held together through about four of five km where I and two or three others came unhitched from the back of the group. For the remainder of the first lap I skied with two other guys. One indicated the guy pulling ahead on the double pole sections was a world class paddler. In general we skied as a group alternating leads randomly.
|Somewhere nearing the lap. Photo credit Kelly Randolph|
I lead the last km or so into the warming house for the first lap. I had a very momentary concern about going another whole lap. Then it went away. Pulling back out onto the main trail from the little connector trail from the warming house I noticed I had somehow dropped the two guys I had skied the last half a lap with and there were two guys a ways up the trail, but no longer out of sight.
Over the next few km I managed to reel in Ski Hut guy (per the results Casey Krueger) and UofM guy. Ski Hut guy had been a little ways back of UofM guy, but as I caught them Ski Hut guy and I pulled quickly away from UofM guy. We skied together for a few more km and then somewhere between the Timer Trail crossings we spotted a few more guys up the trail. Two specifically and one little glimpse of what appeared to be a few more. I asked Ski Hut guy if we were going to go get them and his was response was “I hope so”.
Well I went and caught the next guy, losing Ski Hut in the process. I then went after the next guy. Despite doing what I felt was hammering (it was actually going as fast as I had the first lap) he was slow to pull in. I caught him with about 1km to go. I pushed hard thinking I could drop him. Turns out I couldn’t, but I did still manage to hold him off in the downhill sprint to the finish line.
|Hammering for the finish. Photo credit Barry Mullin.|
|Post race festivities at Rivers Eatery|
|Nerding out comparing this race against past races.|