I’m a true believer in Birkie fever.

Well the Birkie is over and what a spectacular event it was.  The new bridge crossing highway 63 and mainstreeet was so cool.  My nephew Matt Edling who was doing his first Birkie rode up with me and the first thing we did after we got our bib was go to downtown Hayward and check the new bridge that we would ski over.  We were both amazed how steep it was and huge it was.  Skiers were practicing skiing up and down the bridge and it looked really fun.  The bridge had a 15% grade going up and 18% grade going down.  I could only imagine the slingshot effect it would give all us skiers as we headed down the last 200 meters hearing the screams of friends and fans for the last push of energy to the finish line.

I woke up at 5:40 am on Birkie race day knowing this is the best day of the year for me.  I slept like a baby and was ready to bring it.  Paleo breakfast and off Matt and I were to catch the buses to take us to the starting line at Telemark.  This is when it gets to be a cluster.  We parked at Birkie ridge and finally got on a bus.  I wasn’t sure if I’d make it on time but it was smooth sailing and got their a good 25 minutes before my race went off.  I saw Tommy Krenz and he looked determined as ever.  I was running into people who I only see once a year and Birkie fever was totally in the air.

The gun went off and off I went at 8:10 am.  A nice smooth start and snow flakes hitting all our bodies it was a winter wonderland out there.  13 degrees felt very refreshing until the 5 k mark and the hills started coming.  Now it was time to concentrate, keep relaxed, and stride up those hills with confidence.

Kevy Rogers who was doing his 35th Birkie passed me like I was standing still at the 7 k mark.  Of all the skiers out there Kevy has the best technique.  He looks effortless as he went on to place 100th overall.

More hills until OO which is the halfway point of the birkie.  I loaded up big time on whatever would fuel my body.  I was halfway home and would now have a little reprieve from the hills until I hit Mosquito brooke and the 39K club.

I was starting to feel depleted a couple K before Mosquito brooke and  thank God Frank Lundeen was there with Coke and goodies to help replenish my fatiguing muscles.  Mosquito brooke generally isn’t to bad for me but this year it hurt.  All the hills hurt the last 15 K.

There was a nice addition to the course which added 1 kilometer and it was through the fish hatchery trail system.  I loved it.  I sure didn’t love  the climb up Highway 77 which is the last hill.  It’s a kilometer long but when you get to the top you can see the water tower of Hayward and it made me feel like I’ve been gone from home for months and I’m finally getting back home.   Oh what a feeling it is to cross Wheeler road and onto the lake.  I didn’t stop for Yager shots like last year because I was drafting in a group of guys and it sure helped.  3 k across the lake and a right turn and there was the bridge.  It was really steep and I herring boned it as fast as I could and down the other side the crowd was cheering everyone on as we were shot like a canonball out of a canon and one last and furious double pole to the finish and the Birkie was completed.

I couldn’t bend over to get my ski’s off I was cramping so bad.  A volunteer helped me and off I was to get my 23rd Birkie pin and get some warm clothes on.

It was off to anglers for a well deserved  brat and beer and to cheer all the other racers on.

Congrats to all the skiers.  There is something about the Birkie which makes me feel the most alive I can be.

There is an energy about not only doing the Birkie, but cheering fellow skiers on.  My nephew Matt Edling who just started skiing in December did the Classic Birkie in 5 hours and 44 minutes. I’m very proud of him for taking  the challenge on.  His ski broke but he was able to ski it in so that was remarkable.

My training partners Dave Leske and Duane Lee have been very supportive and I thank them for them for all the great ski’s.  Dave got sick during the week and wasn’t able to ski.  It’s impossible to ski such a grueling coure if you are sick.  Duane was right behind me and we all had a great time.

Thanks to Carrie O’Connell for a great feed friday night and Audrey Yunker for letting us stay at her Cabin.  A big shout out to my wife Mary Flood who puts up with me the other 51 weeks a year. Congrats to all my patients who skied the Birkie!!  Thanks Duane for the fast ski’s, and team Cyclova rocks!

A picture says a thousand words.

Now a little rest, and then it’s back at it for the next 51 weeks until next years Birkie.  If you want to really challenge yourself start training and maybe I’ll see you at the starting line of next years Birkie.  Anything is possible if you dream it and take some action.

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