It finally broke, that is the Birkie fever.
After 52 weeks of training, numerous times when I just didn’t feel like it, many doubts, and times when I wanted to do something else, the race has come and gone.
That’s how life is, that is how health is. If you want your health you have to work at it, it’s as simple as that. You have to eat well when tempted by all the goodies out there. You have to move your body when you may want to just sit and veg watching T.V., and you have to think well despite all the negative crap going on in the world which can suck one in if they don’t watch it.
This year’s race was particularly interesting for me since I was doing the traditional classic Birkie. 54 kilometers of some of the most beautiful trails in North America. We finally had a year when it wasn’t below zero at the start. We did have 8 inches of fresh snow on friday and the groomers did a great job grooming but the snow did not transform and the hills broke down early in the race and were like mash potatoes. This made it extremely energy consuming since I herring boned every single hill.
The spectators were out and about and were really loud and in a festive mood. A mile away from the halfway point you could here the screams, cheers, and cowbells which was inspiring for me. I was already hurting at this point but some more fluids, goo energy gel, and it was offf to downtown Hayward.
This was the one year I am glad I did not do the skate race. The classic tracks were really fast on the downhills and the skate lane skiers looked like they were struggling as I would pass them on every downhill.
Everyone was saying thier time was 30 minutes slower than last year so it was a tough one.
By the time I got to Mosquito Brook I had only 14 more kilometers to go. This is a good climb and there is a group of rowdy people every year who are partying and the drums are drumming to what seems like our racing heartbeats. They have a shot-ski where if you are inclined you can do a shot of yagermeister. I was pretty focused but got a good chuckle out of the Mosquito brook crew.
I was feeling pretty good as we crossed highway 77 for one last hill climb. This is a nasty 6 minute hill climb. If you can just get over this hill it’s all downhill and then you hit Lake Hayward where you just pray it will be fast on the lake.
I Hit Lake Hayward and made one last push but my right triceps was cramping. It wasn’t all that fast but I was double poling by the skate skiers so I knew my tracks were much faster than their skate lane. I felt for them.
You can see Hayward as you cross the lake and then you start hearing those cowbells and you get a little adrenalin rush. When you get off the lake you have about 500 meters to go and it is getting louder. You ski south 100 meters, and then you turn on to mainstreet and it’s like coming out from a tunnel at the super bowl. Thousands of people are cheering everyone on to give it there all after 30 some miles of skiing. This is why you do all those workouts and discipline yourself for this one minute of pure joy as tears roll down your face knowing you have given it your all.
It’s a great feeling crossing the finish line totally exhausted. I always say a thank you prayer for total graditude for being able to do and finish this race.
I’m glad this years race is done, I’ve got the the Great Bear Chase in Calumet Michigan in 10 days and then my season is done.
It’s been a really fun year classical skiing. I haven’t done it for 20 years and I’m loving it. I was 130th male and 146th overall in the Birkie Classic. Congrats go out to Caitlin Compton Gregg who has been a patient and is a friend of mine. She won her second womens Birkie. Now she is focusing on next years Olympics .
Thanks to Audrey and Bruce Yunker for hosting us again this year. We had a big crowd of skiers from team Cyclovaxc. Thanks to my training and skiing partners Dave Leske and Duane Lee for their friendship and being there when I may have not wanted to. Way to go everybody who skied the Birkie.