North American Vasa 2018 -103 days

11.0 km; 1:01:47; 029 m elevation; avg 5:49/km; MonSki Dunedin circles

The history of the Birkebeiner’s founder reminds me of my Dad’s story of bringing cross country skiing to Michigan’s Thumb. Both men had a vision of what the sport could bring to their areas, as well as the gumption to make things happen. From the American Birkebeiner page:

American Birkebeiner was founded in 1973 by Tony Wise, alpine ski resort owner of village Cable. In the beginning of the 1970s he understood that surrounding rolling hills and wooden trails were ideal for cross-country skiing, which was not yet popular in America. Wise, who had roots from Norway, brought to life the American version of the Birkebeinerrennet to attract more customers to his resort. Within a few years thousands of skiers were participating and his dream of becoming an international race came true. With the American Birkebeiner well on its way, Wise started to work on his dream of an international cross country ski series, which finalized in the founding of the Worldloppet. Today the American Birkebeiner ski event hosts over 10000 participants.

And from the Cass City Chronicle’s article, referenced earlier in my blog entry:

Guernsey is one of the pioneer cross-country skiers in Cass City and loves it just as much today as he did when he strapped on his first set of skis about six years ago.

Since then, the sport has grown from relative obscurity to a family sport enjoyed by an estimated 200 Cass City residents. And by all indications the boom has only begun.

It wasn’t’ always that way. Less than a decade ago, no one had seen a cross-country skier around Cass City, much less knew anything about the sport.

“I remember when I first started. I’d ski down the street and people would stop what they were doing to look,” Guernsey recalled.

Today, things are different. Just five years ago, 20,000 pairs of cross-country skis were imported to the United States. Last year, that number jumped to a half-million.

What’s the fascination with a sport knows to Scandinavians for hundreds of years? Simplicity, Guernsey says.

“It’s inexpensive compared to downhill skiing,” he says. “Your equipment is simpler, and it costs you less. And you can do it locally. You don’t have a long trip to make to a ski resort.

“And once you’ve bought your equipment, that’s it. You don’t have the expense of a rope tow each time you want to go skiing.”

Guernsey took up the sport after reading an article in a newspaper. He saw his first pair of cross-country skis at Marshall Fields in Chicago and decided to give a presentation on the differences between cross-country and Alpine skiing for Gavel Club.

“I borrowed a pair of skis from a shop in Bay City for the lecture and from there I talked myself into it,” he says.

You have got to hand it to people who can make things happen and start others moving in a positive direction. Where would we be without them?


2018/01/27 -089 days Noquemanon Ski Marathon
2018/02/10 -103 days North American Vasa

North American Vasa 2018 -104 days

SunSki1 17.2 km; 1:30:21; 035 m elevation; 11.4 km/h; SatSki bridge climb 4x
SunSki2 03.4 km; 0:17:58; 016 m elevation; 11.6 km/h; FriSki bridge climb 2x
SunSki2 00.5 km; 0:05:20; 019 m elevation; 06.4 km/h; ThuSki bluff climb 6x
SunSki2 00.5 km; 0:03:07; 000 m elevation; 10.2 km/h; ThuSki bluff climb 6x
SunSki2 03.8 km; 0:20:40; 020 m elevation; 11.3 km/h; ThuSki bluff climb 6x
total        25.4 km; 2:17:26; 090 m elevation; 11.9 km/h; not sure why these don’t add up, but I will leave it to the number crunchers;

Towing Tires

Grand Rapids Rollerski Race, Nov 5.

..with twist! All participants must compete pulling … a car tire.

Cross Country skiers dragging tires around? What are you people thinking? This does not enhance the sport and belongs nowhere the word NORDIC. You do not take something graceful and aesthetic and beautifully fluid and drag a tire behind it! We have seen this tire dragging thing elsewhere.

naVasa2018-104.Victoria Padial can climb

Someone has convinced this young, otherwise nubile Italian woman to ski while dragging a tire. This is not becoming, neither to a nubile young Italian, nor to the sport of Nordic Skiing, in general. Don’t get me wrong, Victoria Padial can climb. In this video she attacks a mountain with average 12% grade (max 22%) with a tire). Very impressive, but Stop It!

I’m talking to people like you, Andy Liebner. Please, think what complete strangers to the sport will think of us. It is bad enough getting jeered with comments like, “Where’s the snow? HaHa!” Where is the inspiration? What self-respecting kid who has never seen someone roller ski before is going to want be like that guy dragging the tire?

2018/01/27 -090 days Noquemanon Ski Marathon
2018/02/03 -097 days White Pine
2018/02/10 -104 days North American Vasa
2018/02/24 -118 days Birkebeiner????

North American Vasa 2018 -105 days

105 days [Sat] 23.1 km; 2:26:11; 173 m elevation; 09.5 km/h; SatSki bridge climb 4x
106 days [Fri] 13.0 km; 1:17:23; 087 m elevation; 10.1 km/h; FriSki bridge climb 2x
107 days [Thu] 10.3 km; 1:03:31; 098 m elevation; 09.8 km/h; ThuSki bluff climb 6x

Today’s ski was 1/2 the ski marathon distance With moderate elevation gain [173 m is a PR for me!]; challenging, but not de·bil·i·tat·ing. It has been cooler out this week and I got out early enough to avoid the heating of the day. Slowly gaining confidence.

Sidewalk Cracks
Do not plant your pole tip into the sidewalk cracks. Just onto the Clearwater Beach “board walk” at Pier 60 [no boards, just concrete sidewalk, with cracks], I “did a Toula”. Remember that scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding when Ian walks into Toula’s travel agency office and Toula’s head gets held back by her headset cable while her body continues forward until she is flat on her back? [twit·ter·pat·ed]
Just so with me today. [ #NotTwitterpated ] The woman seated nearby, after the standard, “Are you OK?” said, “Just when I was about to say that looks like so much fun!” Yep. After a brief moment at near horizontal with my right arm stretched out behind and my skis (up where my poles should be), I went down on my right hip, mostly on the gluteus maximus. So, No Damage!

Sand Key Bridge.
Older than the Memorial Causeway Bridge and way less ski-friendly. Mind the expansion joints, nearly as wide and deep as a roller ski wheel. Prepare to stop and step over or jump completely over at speed. I did the slow step over method for all but one, which I did not see in time to jump completely over. Nearly. Got the front wheels over, but the rear whells took a good “thud.” Fortunately, I was also holding on to the rail, so No Fall, No Damage!
Also, the pedestrian pathways on the bridge are too narrow for climbing. Better to step over into the bike lane for climbing, then hop over the barrier and ski down on the pedestrian path. The sidewalk is Ok for descending while sliding a hand down the hand rail for stability and braking. #MindTheJoints Not sure I am ready for descending in the bike lane with the expansion joints and no rails, especially with No Brakes!

Sand Key Park.
Don’t bother skiing, pavement too rough for small wheels.

2018/01/27 -091 days Noquemanon Ski Marathon
2018/02/03 -098 days White Pine
2018/02/10 -105 days North American Vasa

2018/02/24 -119 days Birkebeiner

Am I about to enter a third ski marathon, the Birke?! It will be a long drive across the Upper Peninsula, but it looks like a Great Event, even part of WorldLoppet, whatever that is. Hey, will that help me qualify for the 2020 VasaLoppet?

North American Vasa 2018 -108 days

15.5 km; 1:20:36; 27 m elevation; 11.5 km/h; WedSki

Forward Body Lean changes everything. Well, not everything, of course. I am still roller skiing – skate, mostly V2. It does not completely change Every Thing, but it has an effect on every little thing, and so, it changes everything. Forward Body Lean could also be called Falling With Style!
Trying to stay forward and keep my weight more on the balls of my feet, I keep forgetting to breath out, only in. I feel mentally on the edge, even if my weight is only fractionally more forward than before.  But I did notice today’s tick up in average speed. Stay tuned.

2018/01/27 -094 days Noquemanon Ski Marathon
2018/02/03 -101 days White Pine
2018/02/10 -108 days North American Vasa

North American Vasa 2018 -109 days

-109 days: 14.5 km; 2:27:05; 144 m elevation; 10.0 km/h; TueSki 3x Memorial Bridge

-110 days: more rain after work, but finally a “cold front” and some less Florida-like temperatures.

-111 days: delayed too long and got rained out;

I am going to be faced with the task of selecting and purchasing my first pair of skate skis within the next 100 or so days. My fact gathering begins with the article, All About Skate Skis presented by This article, and the ones it links to have been very helpful, but equally helpful are the comment sections and Kim McKenney’s responses to specific questions. As usual, I am not the first to have questions, and McKenney’s style is friendly, to the point, and encouraging.

Here is an example of McKenney responding to a comment from Paula on the Buying Advice page on February 12, 2017 :

[Paula] But to be fair you’d already being on skate skis (beginners) for 3 years, so had a lot of experience. Maybe that is why the upgrade made such a difference. I could barely balance and fell over twice. Is a sport ski going to make me love the sport if it makes the first few weeks even harder??

[McKenney] Paula – you’ve been on skate skis once, right? And you said you loved it, even though it was difficult. That day was the only “first” day you’ll ever have. Next time you will have some muscle memory, some residual balance and a little more comfort than the first time you tried it. You will be better, even if only by a tiny amount.

McKenney’s advice rings very true to me. This is exactly how my first few skate roller ski outings went when I was just starting out. That first day was challenging, and I did fall once or twice that first week (still do sometimes). But I did love it (still do), and I even talk about the improving comfort on the very next day. So, I tend to believe her when she says to buy the best pair of racing skis you can afford and to buy and get them fitted from a professional ski shop. I believe her when she says, “Race gear is lighter and more responsive. In the long run it’ll help you become an excellent skier more quickly. Race gear is faster. Everything about the skis, boots and poles is designed to help you ski faster with less effort. That’s fun..

[emphasis added, because I think “fun” is very important here, and McKenney is right, faster with less effort is fun.]

2018/01/27 -095 days Noquemanon Ski Marathon 
2018/02/03 -102 days White Pine
2018/02/10 -109 days North American Vasa

North American Vasa 2018 -112 days

33.3 km; 2:57:52; 86 m elevation; 11.3 km/h; SatSki Chimp Farm

PR roller ski distance: 66.6% of Ski Marathon distance

(without the hills)
(also, without the snow)
(also, without actual skis)

 The only thing I can presume might have contributed to that Huge [for me] 11.3 km/h average speed is my feeble attempt to implement what I learned from the youtube video I mentioned yesterdayForward Body Lean in Cross-country Skiing [by]. Could such a simple change make such a huge difference? I will be trying to learn more of this.

naVasa2018-112.chimp farm.chimpsThe chimps at the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary.


naVasa2018-112.chimp farm.paulThe chimps and I.

Noquemanon Ski Marathon -98 days

White Pine Stampede -105 days

North American Vasa -112 days

North American Vasa 2018 -113 days

14.2 km; 1:21:45; 134 m elevation; 10.4 km/h avg; 29.5 km/h max; FriSki bridge climb

[Clearwater woman 1] Look at that roller blading. Hey, you do yo thing! Look at him go. He’s doin’ his thing!

[Clearwater man 1] He’s roller skiing in cool socks. Cool socks, man!

I tried to apply two youtube instructional videos tonight, Forward Body Lean in Cross-country Skiing [by], which was difficult, and XC Ski Academy’s V2, V2A, No Pole Skate, Double Flexion & Extension Skate Skiing, which was easy. I saw that Forward Body Lean had an impact on speed, but I am not feeling more relaxed with it yet. In fact, it takes a bit more energy for me, at this stage of learning. Double Flexion and Extension seemed like it might be easy to over ex·ag·ger·ate, and that a lot of up and down could be a big waste [instructor frowns and crosses his arms].

Noquemanon Ski Marathon -99 days!!

White Pine Stampede -106 days

North American Vasa -113 days

japan aerospace

japan aerospace
exploration agency [JAXA]
confirmed the presence

from Discovery of 50km cave raises hopes for human colonisation of moon

Haiku is a poetic form consisting of 3 lines, containing 5, 7 and 5 syllables, respectively. Most haiku is believed to be man-made, but naturally occurring spec·i·mens surround us continually and can be found anywhere one cares to look.

How many can you find?

Bonus points if it also exhibits beauty and the traditional haiku elements of kireji [a cutting word], kigo [seasonal reference], or natural themes.

My point really is that not all poems are poetry, including haiku. Just because a phrase mechanically fits the pattern, as the above, it is not necessarily a work of art. That is a different standard. And don’t get me started on “free verse,” also known as prose.

North American Vasa 2018 -114 days

15.5 km; 1:27:03; 10.7 km/h; 27 m elevation; ThuSki north and south;

Not so much tonight, but I have been experimenting with Diagonal V Skate technique. See “Name that Skate Skiing Technique“, for explanations of different styles. It is kind of relaxing, but seems slower than V2 [aka One Skate]. The site confirms that my other technique is not named and possibly my own unique contribution to Nordic skating: V/3, or third V, a double pole every third stride. Anybody else have a name for this?

My biggest concern at this point is finding housing Up North in Traverse City, Michigan for my training and races in January and February. The North American Vasa Festival of Races are held on the Vasa Pathway (part of the Tart Trails) in the Pere’ Marquette State forest of Northern Michigan.

The race starts at the Timber Ridge Resort, which rents cabins and “Park Homes” – tiny houses on wheeled trailers (12′ x 30′), but Timber Ridge is not taking reservations until be beginning of December. I also had the thought of buying one of these, but the recommended lending institution, TBA Credit Union, no longer does this type of loan.

So, back to the drawing board. Condo? House? Apartment? Boarding? This is the final vital target. The last big hurdle before Feeling Easy.

Noquemanon Ski Marathon -100 days!

White Pine Stampede -107 days

North American Vasa -114 days