Virtual Birkie

Scott Brown, a skier and cyclist from Minneapolis, shot this first-person point-of-view video last January on the Birkebeiner cross-county ski trail in northern Wisconsin.

Brown was participating in the annual “Birkie Tour,” a casual event held a month before the big race, which is the largest ski marathon in North America. He called it one of his “five best skis ever” on the Birkie trail. I’ve never skied it but the views of the trail through deep woods with big, long hills has me dreaming. The area was the scene of my one and only mountain bike race, when I did the 16-mile race as part of the famous Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival as a teenager.

This year, the Birkie Tour will be held January 22 and the race is on February 26. More information is available on the American Birkebeiner website.

An interesting footnote is another recent video, this one from the “Climate Wisconsin” project, which has produced several videos describing how climate change is affecting traditional Wisconsin activities, from trout fishing to farming to forestry. And the Birkie:

Since the first race in 1973, the Birkie has been shortened six times and cancelled once due to weather related conditions; with four of these adaptations and one cancellation happening since 1990. The weather plays a major role in determining the success of the event…

…for Ashland, WI, northeast of Hayward, researchers projected a decrease in the probability of frozen precipitation (e.g. snow, sleet), especially early and late in the winter. Since Ashland is slightly buffered from climate change by Lake Superior we can expect an even greater reduction in the probability of frozen precipitation for the Hayward area, which is further inland. Furthermore, a group of researchers from the Universities of Wisconsin and Iowa project that by the mid 21st century there will be a 25 to 40 cm reduction in snowfall and a 5 to 20 cm reduction in mean snow depth (on March 15th) for Sawyer County.


President’s Day weekend skiing

What can I say, it was all smiles at William O’Brien State Park on Saturday afternoon and some of the best skiing I can remember. I skied the perimeter of the park, sticking to the trails that circumnavigated the outer edge of the 2,200 acres of woods and wetlands. In some places, I think I was the first classic skier to go down certain segments. There was just an eighth inch or so of powder in the tracks, which made the skiing soft and silent. Some of the snow was hoarfrost which was melting and blowing down off the trees.

I wish I could say more. The below camera-phone photos will have to suffice: