In the Midwest, where I grew up, all trail-oriented athletes agree there are two seasons: Birkie training and Chequamegon Fat Tire 40 training. The Birkebeiner is a 52K Nordic ski race, the largest in North America, and the Chequamegon is a 40-mile mountain bike race on many of the same trails as the Birkie. Any competitor in these two events knows their PR, loves to talk about the best years and the worst years, and can describe in great detail how they felt at strategic parts of the course like “Martel’s pot hole” and “Bitch hill.”
But, when one event ends, the other begins. The Sunday after the Birkie is day one of cycling season. Same goes the day after the Chequamegon. Off comes the storage wax, boots are inspected for wear, and wax kits are restocked. XC season is here!
Jump forward to my adult life, living in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, I still have two seasons: Birkie training and Chequamegon training. I still focus my entire year of fitness and performance on these two iconic events--conveniently 6 months apart--a perfect fit for an athlete that likes to use periodization and training blocks.
Now that spring has arrived, it’s time to hang up those skis and get back on the bike. Since a trip to Northwestern Wisconsin for the Chequamegon Fat Tire 40 is probably not part of your summer plans, give yourself a training goal by signing up for one of Colorado’s many road bike tours or mountain bike races. The Tour de Steamboat, in my neck of the woods, offers 26, 46 66 and 116-mile routes. This non-competitive event is open to cyclists of all ages, and participants are encouraged to ride at their own pace and enjoy the majestic scenery of Northern Colorado.
Katie Lindquist is a Master competitor at the elite level in Nordic skiing, road biking and mountain biking. She is a former World Champion 24 hour solo racer, RAAM finisher, and Elite level cycling and Nordic ski coach.