Saturday, March 24, 2018

Jim and the Locavore Birken

Some good Birkebeiner stories out there! Jim Felty and Doug Holtan did the mighty trifecta: the Canadian, American, and Norwegian Birkebeiners, all in one winter.  Rune did the mighty double: the American and Norwegian, with top-notch results in both.  And now Jim Slyfield has pulled off his second Locavore Birken, right here on the Cabin Creek trails, on the same date as the Norwegian version.   I admire his gumption: his version is feed yourself, time yourself, cheer for yourself; no fee, no medal, no glory.  Last year he did it in the pouring rain, all 54k with a pack on his back.  This year, well, here is his story.  Way to go, Jim!

Finish line photo from Alex Horner-Devine.  You know it's a good race when the observers outnumber the racers!

Locavore Birken at KSC


I accomplished my goal of classic skiing 54Km, with 3.5Kg pack, in a reasonable time. Same date, distance, and program as in Norway. No jet-lag and no rain, either. 

Jeff McGrew picked me up at our home at 7am, then to the Issaquah Transit Center to get Victor. At the cabin we talked to Joe McNulty about his new skis.   Finally ready and at 9:05 I was underway. 

First lap was the Berg-Viking (6.5Km), then five times around the (9.5Km) Berg-Viking-Road that we use for the Ozbaldy. Classic Technique, 54Km total distance, with 3.5Kg pack. 

Weather was decent.  Just below freezing at the start, some clouds/some sun-breaks.  Warmed up during the day.  Low 40’s by 4pm.  Harsh morning snow thawed to mush during the day.  Timing system was the “Swix o’clock” and a clipboard/pencil in the timing shed.  Write down the time of day at the start/finish of each lap.  9:05am start time and 2:35pm finish time for 5:30 total time. 

Some notes--- 
Lots of skiing—54Km and 5:30 total time start to finish. 
Most laps were almost an hour, which included 4-5 minutes to eat/drink.
Had to re-apply Klister 3x.  Took about 5 minutes for each of these.  
The first 6.5Km B-V and 9.5Km B-V-Road laps were fast with good traction. Then it started to thaw and the abrasive snow wore off the wax.
2-3rd laps were slippery, had to really be delicate and deliberate setting my wax or I’d slip out.
** Joe’s new mohair skis would have been worth trying at this point!
Mushy snow on 4-5th laps  Finally got better traction after re-waxing at the start of the 4th lap.   (More Red Klister.)

Clothing was fine.  No issues. Wore my 2016 American Birkie ‘Classic” hat and flip-up visor.  Costco light weight gloves. Helly-Hansen light weight long sleeve t-shirt and Brooks top, wind briefs and tights.  Filson wool sox and Madsus boots. On my 2002 vintage Fischer RCS skis and RRS poles.  

Carried my Gerry “Day and a Half” pack that I bought when at SEAL Team ONE.  Waist band kept the weight off my shoulders.  String tie for replacement chest strap worked well.  I did not have any chafing.  (Had major whine factor during the Canadian Birkie). D ½ Pack had what I’d need if I got stuck on the high plateau.  (Focused on ten essentials.) Wind pants, wind breaker, fleece top, Lycra shirt, and poly-pro t-shirt.  Dry hat, sox, and gloves in a zip loc bag.  500ml water—I’d bring a small thermos if this was the “real deal”.   Don’t need to carry an ice cube for ballast.  Zip loc bag with hand & toe warmer packets, lip balm, sun screen, TP, headlamp, etc…

Water bottle butt-pack in front, got in the way, but the bottle was accessible.  Zippered pouch was awkward to get into.  Carried a spare tube of Red Klister, scraper, Clif Bars, GU’s, and TP.  Cell phone, didn’t use it, but the battery was almost dead when I finished. 

I think I paced myself ok.  First laps were fast snow conditions, but I tried to not push it too much. 4th lap was slow, but it was mostly due to two stops to re-wax.  Had to mentally ‘stay in the game’ on the last 2 laps.  Found myself stopping to talk to other skiers.  Gotta keep it going.

Nutrition/hydration:  OK, but I know I started to drag later in the race.  Ate 2 PPJ’s in ¼ chunks.  Drank both 24oz water bottles and my 800ml thermos of hot chocolate/coffee. To do it again, I’ll try to expedite the food stops and get the wax figured out better.  That should take 0:30 off my time. 

Waxing at KSC is always interesting.   I ironed in Chola binder, then red/silver klister.  Still had issues.  LF10 on tips and tails, with a couple passes of the coarse riller, was ok for glide.  Ski speed was ok, but could feel the wax dragging at times.  If I late kicked, it slipped out.  Pay attention to technique!  Especially when tired. Balance, weight transfer, and forward knee drive to get as much glide as you can. Ski flex with additional pack weight was an issue, but not as noticeable with the 3.5Kg Norwegian pack weight, compared to the Canadian Birkie 5.5Kg pack weight. Actually, the Norwegian race USED to be 5.5Kg.  Some years ago, they modified it to the current only 3.5Kg.  The American Birkie does not require a pack.  It is an option in the Canadian race.  

Momentum kids were zooming around the stadium area most times I came through on my laps.  Happy campers!  As I finished, they had just ended their party and were heading home. Nice to have a cheering section at the end! 

I’m ok with my final time of 5:30.  This is in there with my previous US and Canadian Birke times. The American and Norwegian Birkebeiner winners are usually about 3 hours. There is always room for improvement.  

Taking a hot shower, dry clothes, and getting some food afterwards was really nice.  Elizabeth picked me up at the interchange and we went to my folks near Ellensburg. Dad’s 89th birthday party and dinner was a very good evening with family and friends.

Other considerations—I looked at this a test run for what to carry, skiing with the pack, eat/drink, ski-flex, in a ‘no-fail’ situation that did not cost me a huge amount of money.  Maybe next time we’ll get some others who do not want to spend $3,000 to fly to Norway, pay for a car, hotels, restaurants, or 1,000 Kroner entry fees.   

But I didn’t get that ‘FOR REAL” ambiance, either.   

And, it didn’t even rain!

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