Hayward, WI - the mountainFLOW team recently returned from the 49th Annual American Birkebeiner in northwestern Wisconsin and we had an absolute hoot despite dealing with logistical hurdles almost immediately upon departing Carbondale. We were confronted with the classic combo of historic storms and canceled flights but we rolled with it and ultimately decided that we would engage in some close-quarter team building while we drove to Wisconsin and back.
In case you're not familiar, The Birkie is a near week-long xc ski experience with never a dull moment or break in the action. The days preceding the race were filled by the Birkie Expo, an onsite gathering of vendors and event sponsors where our whole team was present to sell wax, do product demos, and take in pounds of fluorinated wax as part of our Fluoro Wax Takeback Program. We fielded tons of questions on best application methods, and most importantly, what formulation of mountainFLOW wax was going to provide optimal performance on the course. Given the classic Wisconsin cold and new snow accumulation, we were recommending a combo of our specialty blend moly wax as a bottom and a layer of our race cold on top of that. Below is a day-by-day recap of the highlights.
Day 1 - Wednesday, February 22: Expo Setup
After spending the previous 18 hours in the truck, we arrived in Hayward ready to roll. Luckily, our midwest sales rep, Doug, was around to set up our booth so it was up and waiting for us when we rolled into the Hayward High School gym. We quickly dove into product demos and soaked in the pre-Birkie vibes which were filled with stoke. For some of us on the mountainFLOW team, this was our first Birkie experience. The entire town of Hayward was abuzz with palpable excitement and things were just heating up, despite the sub-zero temps...
Day 2 - Thursday, February 23: Expo Day One + Races Begin
Officially, this was the first day of the Expo so we arrived at the Hayward Gym ready to educate, connect, and spread the mountainFLOW stoke to everyone we could. To the first-timer, Thursday's events dabbled in the whimsical: the Barkie Birkie Skijor, where the skier is pulled by a dog; the Barnebirkie, a 1km loop intended for the little ones; and the Birkie Giant Ski, where teams of 6 strap into the same ski and race head to head with another team doing the same. There was also the Junior Birkie, which had individual races as well as team sprint relays.
Day 3 - Friday, February 24: Expo Day 3, Kortelopet, Prince Haakon, & ParaBirkie
Kortelopet finish from the bridge
Friday marked the start of the more 'serious' races, at least from a distance perspective. Events included the Prince Haakon, a 15k classic and skate ski race that is billed as the perfect intro to Birkie racing; the Kortelopet, a 29k race that is effectively the half-Birkie, and the ParaBirkie, a 3.7k adaptive race. In the afternoon, our team split up with half heading back to the house to prepare for Saturday's race and the other half holding down the final minutes of the Expo.
Peter getting his skis race ready
Day 4 - Saturday, February 25: Birkebeiner Race (50km)
Saturday was the DAY. The skis were waxed, the suits were bright, and the mountainFLOW team was ready to skate and glide their way back into town. Our midwestern rep, Doug, held things down in the Elite skate category while the rest of our racers started a little later in the day. The non-racing members of the team posted up halfway at the OO Bridge where we passed out feed supplies and took in some of Peter's stoke (which was HIGH).
Day 5 & 6 - Sunday and Monday, February 25 and 26: On the road again
After the whirlwind of the expo and race days, the calm of Sunday morning was welcomed. We languidly enjoyed a huge breakfast spread before reinitiating the packing chaos that felt all too typical of our time in Wisconsin. The race team departed in staggered spurts and the mountainFLOW staffers slowly did the same in what had become quite the dialed ritual: pack up everything in sight and load the truck.
Upon leaving Hayward, we blasted southward to the Cities, stopping only at a dairy to fill the remaining room in our packs and stomachs with cheese curds and other edible souvenirs. Once we arrived in MPLS, we dropped Spencer at a hotel and proceeded to make our way into Sioux City, Iowa for the night.
The next day, we woke early and blasted the remaining miles to Denver to drop Dax and then Carbondale and finally, home. The trip was an absolute whirlwind but we wouldn't trade a single second of it and can't wait to do it all again next year... except we'll definitely fly.