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Word From The Wax Bench...

A Farewell to the Birkie Trail, Spring, 2019

Photo: Steve Morales

Saturday, March 23: If you don’t hit the snow early this time of year, you may as well forget it. It’s maple tree-tapping time with overnight lows in the teens and daytime highs in the 50’s. After some French toast, I strike out at 9 am on our local Brook trails, which also serve as the lead-in to the Prince Haakon race. It is brick hard underneath with a half inch of powder revealing some snowshoe tracks probably made this morning.

After a kilometer, I come to my objective: the Birkie Trail. Turning right would take me up the 39K hill toward B Hill (The official Birkie designation these days), and I don’t want to do that so I go north and cross Mosquito Brook Rd. Here the grooming has been more recent, and while nothing like mid-season conditions, the trail has features that skater’s love: a near frictionless highway of crusty snow that makes downhills an adventure but uphills easier. Note, I didn’t say easy! I see what appear to be shorebird talon imprints on a sandy beach … no, they’re long brown pine needles lying everywhere.

Photo: Steve Morales

Normally when my skis make noise in the snow, it’s because it’s zero degrees Fahrenheit and the sound is the snow squeaking and impeding my glide. But today there’s no squeak – rather it’s a crunch from the ice crystals that facilitate glide and yet allow each ski to gain purchase for a solid push-off on each skate. On smaller hills I can V2 up as the elites do. It’s empowering to imagine I might look like them even for a moment in these friendly conditions.

I head up a steep hill that is cut in half by a snowmobile trail and I’m pleased that I still have the energy at the top to jump in the track to rest on the gentle decline that follows. One could classic in the still decent tracks on either side of the trail but why would you waste an epic skate day striding? This is the third bluebird day in a row and the shadows of the surrounding trees are etched into the brilliant white skate deck.

That deck is punctured in places by wind-blown small white pine boughs, pine cones, and oak leaves that absorb the sun’s heat and sink an inch or so into the snow surface. They are spread out and not so numerous as to impede my skating in any way. I greet a skier heading south and almost take a tumble due to inattention to my task. I see another skier up ahead… no, it’s the shadow of two trees in just the right shape to mimic two legs.

 

I have on a light ski jacket and a baseball cap which seemed a bit chilly when I began but now feel perfectly comfortable. The kilometer markers have been a frustration to me because a couple of years ago the Birkie Foundation reversed the numbers to count down instead of up. That makes sense but to one who has identified each area by a given number, I now have to subtract the number on the sign from 52 to remember where I am. The old marker for the 39K hill (in addition to the new 13 K marker) was left in place for the party folks who offer shots to skiers who wish to partake… but that’s another story.

I stop at the 20K marker (32 in the old system) which is at the top of the hill that descends to gravel pit road and the feed station there. I look down and remember the many times I cursed it’s steepness during the race. It’s a good place for me to head back. I ski this section of trail numerous times each year in the eight winters we’ve lived here. Going south there are certainly several challenging uphills but overall the trail is fairly benign in this section and one can make pretty good time.

A tiny, skinny vole darts across the trail in front of me. I pass a young couple heading back north that I had previously seen going south. We talk briefly, and I tell them I am inspired to write about this perfect day we are experiencing. I think to myself of how lucky they are to have many years ahead of them to enjoy this world-class trail. When I was their age, I was an average Alpine skier and had never heard of Nordic skis.

Coming to the top of the hill cut by the snowmobile trail I hesitate to listen for the whir of engines that could ruin my day if we happened to meet on my way down. Hearing nothing, I scrape my way down in a chicken snowplow, my skis desperately digging in to slow my descent and I ski on toward home.

It’s sad to say goodbye to this familiar section of trail but I’m consoled, knowing that off-season in the Northwoods is a pleasure all its own, and I know next winter will bring back these wonderful times once more.   -Scott Smith

Scott Smith moved to Hayward in 2011, and has become a core part of the silent sports community here in the northwoods. Scott is also a soccer referee, crossfitter, serial volunteer, avid gardener, traveler, and craftsman. As a PSIA certified ski instructor, Scott particularly loves to teach nordic skiing to others. Send him an email at trinord2943@gmail.com if you are interested. All abilities are welcome!

 

 

Rex Clinic Recap

This past weekend I had the pleasure of hosting the Hecker family on behalf of Rex Ski Wax for a liquid wax clinic at the Samuel Johnson Nordic Center at OO (in our fancy smancy New Moon Wax Room no less!) Another perk of the job is that I was able to get out for a short bit to enjoy a bit of top notch spring skiing.
We sprayed, we brushed, we conquered. It was a great way to showcase what is turning out to be a paradigm shift in waxing. Jeremy Hecker led the demo, representing not only the Rex brand, but his new role as the Head Nordic Ski Coach for the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. The event was well attended, and we had our hands full during the whole demo, waxing skis and getting everyone up to speed on how to apply these new waxes. The trail had just been groomed on Friday, so the skiing conditions were excellent. It was ideal spring skiing with a firm and fast deck, but not so icy that you couldn’t get an edge.
Later in the afternoon we headed back to the shop for a “happy hour” with some apres ski snacks, beverages, and further wax wisdom. It was a great event to host as a follow up to our success with Rex over Birkie. Thank you to the whole Hecker family, Mike, Connie, Chris, and Jeremy for being great partners and representatives, but also for all they do in the Nordic community in our region and abroad on the World Cup circuit.
We will definitely do this event again next ski season, so keep your eyes on our events calendar in the Fall. In case this was the last weekend of truly great skiing for the season, I hope you enjoyed this winter as much as I did! -Ian

Spring Skiing & Fat Biking?? Well, Yeahhh!

Friday, March 15, 2019:

We are keeping our fingers crossed here at New Moon for our favorite skiing and biking on the year. We seem to have weathered the big thaw, (no pun intended) with a lot of snow pack intact! Now we wait for temps to slowly creep back below freezing. As of this morning, brisk winds have locked in out of the NW are we even received a skiff of new snow overnight. Click below for the live video feed from the Birkie Start.

The weather forecast bodes well for weekend skiing and fat biking and continued good trails into next week. Regular freeze/thaw cycles are expected for the area. That will set up ideal trail conditions for both skiers and fat bikers:

Of vital importance, though, is that trail users – skiers, bikers, and snowshoers – watch the forecast and temps and get out EARLY on the warm days. Skis and bikes will leave irreparable damage if one goes out on soft snow late in the day. Stay off the soft trails!

NO NO NO! This bike and walker damage is nearly impossible for groomers to fix. Wait for the trail to freeze before you go!

Don’t miss out on the best trails for the winter season. Feel free to call New Moon or stop in the shop for the latest on our trail conditions. Users can also look at Birkie’s current trail updates for the scoop from the Birkie Grooming Crew. Birkie makes regular trail updates. Check this page often:

For fat bike conditions, CAMBA posts recent groomer reports as well:

 

PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT – March Wax Specials

Ski into Spring with some awesome wax specials going on through March.

 

First up is Swix FC8XWS. Original MSRP was $109, now only $79 while supplies last. Joel says, “Super spring ski wax! Works well over liquid, ideally crayoned on and roto fleeced.” This block form provides exceptional economy, allowing dozens of applications when crayoned in lightly. Like powders, though, 8X can also be be ironed like a traditional fluoro powder, just be sure to apply more heavily before ironing.

 

And, do not miss Fast Wax’s Special – 20% off through the end of the month. All in-stock, Fast Wax products are on sale! Fast Wax is a uniquely local partner for New Moon, based right in Minnesota, unlike most European-based ski wax companies. They are celebrating 25 years in business, too – Happy 25! If you haven’t tried out Fast Wax yet, here’s a great chance to save a few bucks and give it a go! Long-time favorites are HSF Tan for snow in the upper teens and 20s and HSLF Extreme White  for sub-zero cold-spells. Also popular are the economical 500g Bulk Waxes, easy-to-apply HSP Paste Waxes, and the Ultra-Fine Steel Brush. Don’t miss this rare chance for 20% off!

2019 FAT BIKE BIRKIE Preview!

Oh yeah, it’s time for that annual, bouncy-tire, bike party we all know as the FAT BIKE BIRKIE! There are some new twists this year and even more fun, prizes, yummies to be had. Here are a few notable items. Lets roll with Joe V, Ben Popp and yours truly…

1. Bib pick and Expo – Great Hall, Birkie Start Area. New Moon will be on hand Friday and Saturday supporting our great partners TOKO Gloves,  GU Energy Labs, and new this year, Anderson’s Maple Syrup Pure Fuel energy food.

TOKO: Take advantage of great deals on premier TOKO fat biking gloves and accessories. Keep those paws warm & have more fun! Meet US TOKO brand manager, Ian Harvey, one of the nicest, most knowledgeable people in the world of aerobic winter fun!

GU ENERGY: Dennis Porter from GU will help you formulate an energy plan for your race day. GU features a wide variety of energy nutrition focused on aerobic athletes. What’s your race energy plan?

ANDERSON’S PURE FUEL: New Moon is proud to partner with Wisconsin’s leading Maple Syrup producer, Anderson’s. Pure Fuel is 100% pure, USDA Organic Maple Syrup specially packaged in convenient, biker and skier-friendly packets, like other popular energy gels. Pure Fuel is the natural (and yummy) way to fuel your race!

2. New Moon FREE DIY S’MORES TENT. That’s right – S’mores. We’re bustin’ out the fire ring and the marshmallows for some tasty, sweet treats. Why, you ask? Because we can! Look for the New Moon tent right outside the Great Hall Friday and Saturday. We can gather ’round the fire and share our race stories!

 

3. All new, non-competitive “10K FAT BIKE TOUR”: In attrition to the popular, 47K and 21K races, a fun 10K has been added for newer riders or those looking for a less demanding option. The Tour will surely be a hit! Don’t be fooled though, it’s still a hilly course!

4. Specialized Fat Bike Demo Tent: Just like candy, but you get to ride it. Test out some sweet, carbon-fiber, 1X12, FAT-TIRE goodness from global bike leader, Specialized. On hand will be FATBOY Comp and FATBOY Experts in all sized. Be sure to reserve a test time! 5. After Party Fundraiser: New Moon and Specialized have teamed up to offer a lucky raffle winner a 2019 Specialized FATBOY SE! This FATBOY is snow-ready with tubeless-ready rims, 4.6″ tires and a 1X drivetrain ready to gobble the steepest climbs! A $1600 value! Just one of many other great prizes to be given away or auctioned that evening! All proceeds go directly to CAMBA FAT grooming efforts. It will be a blast!

6. Free Beer and Brats With GU & New Moon. And if all this fun isn’t qiute enough, Stop in at New Moon Sunday to help us celebrate the launch of GU’s all-new, craft-beer-centric energy gel flavor, “Hoppy Trails”! We’ll be sampling the new flavor along with Wisconsin Brats and Beer from local brewmeisters, Angry Minnow Brewery – all for FREE! Our resident beer expert, Ian Finch, noted that Hoppy Trails is “…quite delicious and sure to motivate thirsty, beer-loving racers to the finish line!” See you at New Moon Sunday!

One last look at the amazing 2018 race:

Good luck and see you at the start!

– Chris

 

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