a few months ago i met a new friend. we initially met and bonded over a mutual love for the Ironman Wisconsin finish line. (well, that’s how i remember it…and what’s not to love about the Ironman Wisconsin finish line?) flash forward to November -a few months later along with a few messages and ultimately a handful of pottery classes later, with winter upon us – we were both deeply immersed in wedging some clay at the start of class and my new friend turned to me and said, “shayla, what are you doing this weekend – saturday and sunday? do you have plans?”
i replied that i was busy friday, but my inquiring mind also asked, “why? what’s up?”
and then she quickly responded, “do you want to take a trip up north to kick off our Birkie training?”
you see, she and i had briefly talked about doing the Birkie a while back and then another friend of mine mentioned that she was new to skiing, but also signed up – so i bit the bullet and committed to skiing the Birkie in 2015.
my brief history with cross country skiing is as follows: in 2010 i decided to spend a decent amount of money on a pretty good skate ski setup. i skied a fair amount that winter, a little bit in 2011-2012, and very few times over the past two winters. some of it was cold (read: me being wimpy) and some of it was life (read: excuses), but i actually realized over the past two winters that i really enjoy being outside and being active in all of Wisconsin’s seasons – winter included. and what better way to get out and enjoy it than to ski an ultramarathon event? (yep, 51km!)
so, after a day or maybe two i let my friend know that yes, i was indeed in for a mini ski adventure weekend!
we hit the road early(ish) saturday morning towards Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (the UP). admittedly, i knew we were headed to a place called Ironwood but i didn’t realize until we were there that it was in another state. oh, details…
when we arrived, driving down back country roads to the trails we were greeted with this:
a snow-covered winter wonderland! i think at one point we both turned to face one another and somewhat giddy, said, “WOW!”
after pulling into the packed place and some fun banter with the guy working the gate, we quickly (ok, me pokily) changed and headed out for some solid ski time. my first 20 minutes were close to awful. i hadn’t waxed my skis since February and i felt like a fish out of water or some other appropriate analogy. after watching me struggle, my awesome friend swapped skis with me (so i could glide a bit and attempt to keep up). we toured around a bunch of trails and i only wiped out once. it was a perfectly balmy 35-degree day and we ended up logging at least 10 miles.
here we are early into day 1 – fresh faced and obviously excited for the adventure ahead.
we soon called it a day, but not before snapping some photos of the amazing scenery:
we spent the remainder of our saturday relaxing, eating dinner with the locals in nearby Hurley, Wisconsin, and each enjoying glasses of the best $3.50 wine i’ve ever had.
sunday morning we were up again relatively early – well, early enough to grab some breakfast before arriving promptly at 9am when the trails were slated to open. sunday morning the weather was 20 degrees colder. we were sitting pretty at about 15 degrees (with a bit of a windchill), so we both bundled up a bit more ready to tackle a few more hours before heading back to Madison. my friend skated with me a bit and also got the opportunity to laugh at me as i attempted to climb and descend some of the biggest hills on the trails. let’s just say that my descents especially need some work. when i lost my balance i simply tried to kind of sit down or bail softly to the side. after we finished that first 5k or so i said i would be done with hills for the day. we skied a bit more – parting ways once or twice and i snapped this (not fantastic) selfie at some point. at least you can see how much more frosty i was on sunday than when we were out saturday.
then, a bit later, after a break in the warming house, my friend switched to her classic skis, we went out, and voila, i could finally keep up! i snapped another picture as i logged my final miles for the day!
all in all, i think i logged a bit over 20 miles in the two days we were out there. i’ve definitely got a bit of work to do, but i feel a lot better knowing that i successfully started building a skiing base.
thank you Ironwood and Hurley for the loads of snow. thank you body for holding up for me to log some awesome first miles of the season. and thank you friend for asking me to take this adventure with you into the north woods to kickoff our 2015 Birkie training! really, here goes…