Monday, October 8, 2012

Old dogs, new tricks and Facebook

Hard to believe that the guy who almost never uses a cell phone has "discovered" Facebook. You can use it for posting photo's, sending messages, even keeping in touch. Who'd have thunk it.

I am using Facebook for everything from putting up hillbounding photo's to sending emails, pretty amazing this new techy stuff. You can check it out directly at!/mark.ernst.14 or just surf (computer term) your way there.

Now if I could figure out my heart rate monitor...............

Wednesday, September 19, 2012



The 2012 ski season kicked off with the Bairds Creek Hillbounding group Tuesday the 18th of Sept.
We typically expect 30-40 skiers and complete 25-30 reps up the hill with an emphasis on technique and power. This is a tough workout that is best accomplished in a group setting. We have a soft, mowed and well lit hill with easy access.

Bring dry clothes (you sweat a lot) a water bottle and a shorter (armpit height) XC ski poles. We will have some available as well. Partners are encouraged as we do some paired drills.

We start the warmup at 5:30pm at the top of the hill and typically conclude with a lactate interval at 7:00pm. Come dressed to sweat!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

It's been a while since we checked in last. The Tuesday Night Ride TNR is has been going and here at the store we are crazy busy. This has been a great spring with some up's and down but mostly up. The Cellcom Marathon is this weekend  and is adding a little excitment to the mix. Things are looking up and here is a review of this weeks TNR by our resident Master's Master Steve Peplinski.

As always; Stay on Two.

With only 9 riders of varying ability, keeping the group together was going to require some thought and effort. But we were up to the task, and everyone (except maybe Dan, who could have ridden away from the rest of us any time the mood struck) had their share of hard efforts and challenges. Dan led us out on Luxemburg road, and at 20 MPH, he must have felt like he was riding sweep at the Titletown Bike tour because he kept ramping up the speed. Before we knew it, we were touching 26 and echeloning across the road to deal with the cross wind coming out of the north. A quick glance backwards revealed a couple of riders off the back. Mark and I passed the word to try to avoid exceeding 21, and to my surprise people actually listened. The riding got a little tougher when we hit Rondezvous Road because we were riding straight into a 15 MPH headwind. It helped a little to hide behind Wayne or Mark, but I always felt the wind! We crossed highway 54 together, and gathered ourselves for the assault on the biggest hill on Rendezvous Road. With Dan off the front again, I charged to the front of our little peloton and gave it my best effort, thinking that as I approached the crest, Mark or Curt would shoot by to mockingly claim "KOM" honors. But no one did. Such was the ferocity of the headwind. On the flats, we didn't do a particularly good job of maintaining a steady pace or tight line. But I noticed that masters biker extraordinaire, Gil, was always tightly latched on to either Mark or Wayne's wheel. He knew what it took to avoid getting dropped.

When we got to the hill just before Thiry Daems Road, I announced that I didn't plan to lead up the hill again. But as the peloton slowed, I couldn't help myself. I didn't want to give up all my momentum just to tuck in, so I was fighting the wind in front again. As the road flattened out just before the turn, our speed had dropped below 12 mph. I know I was going as fast as I could. Everyone needed some recovery spinning. We were all glad to turn westward so that our only problem would be the cross wind. It was a pleasant cruise down Thiry Daems and subsequently Mary's road. Gravel Pit road brought another headwind, but since it's downhill almost all the way, it was easy to deal with. The payoff came on Nicolet drive. we had the luxury of a tailwind as we practiced our high speed tucks rolling downhill towards the final climb on Benderville hill. I watched Mark sprint out early to try to get a jump on Dan, Curt and I. Dan and Curt followed on his wheel, but I didn't think it was time to go just yet. I hit it hard as the road began to rise. I thought I was actually closing on them for a while, but as I slowed to 21.5 MPH at the crest, they were 50 yards down the road, and long gone if they so chose. But they waited for me, and the 4 of us cruised home taking turns pulling. We all knew where we stood in the pecking order. At the city limits sign, Dan slowly accelerated away from us to claim the traditional green sign sprint title. Mark gave chase, but Curt and I could see him give up just before they reached the sign. As we headed past UWGB, Curt took the lead, and pulled us along at 24 to 25 mph for a good long way. When Dan and Mark pulled out to contest the final sprint to the I43 underpass, Curt laughingly said to me "and they didn't even say thanks for the lead out!". I told him I'd give him a lead out to the underpass, and sure enough, as I spun up to my limit (about 28 mph), he jumped past me, beat me to the finish, and threw his arms in the air in victory.

We had no sooner turned in to the parking lot when Gil showed up about a quarter mile back. So Gil, I think you need a 15 pound bike. Then you'll not get dropped again!


Monday, March 19, 2012

Snow Spring Summer in 24 hours 3-19-12

Last year on this date I had a nice ski and then went into work to prep some skis and place orders for the following winter season. This year our bicycle service center has exploded in repairs. I have sunburned legs and face. My bike saddle is still not my pal and our skis are all travel waxed and bagged. What a difference a year makes! We just got back from San Diego where we toured with the kids. I have to say from a riding perspective we have it made here in WI. They have more terrain in Sou/Cal but we have roads and trails that they could not imagine. That said, riding bicycles (and walking, running, paddleing...) is omnipresent in CA, somewhat spurred on by $4.50 a gallon gas but also a healthy lifestyle. The traffic is a little overwhelming and the roads are so-so compared to here but they are out there doing it, in large numbers.

It is good to see other areas, to see other cultures but like my bud Dorothy said: There's no place like home. Summer returned to GB in the week we were gone and it feels good. The bikes have already stretched their legs, the trainer replaced by a hand pump and my daffodils are up, sweet.
I plan on making the Bairds Creek trail my second home this summer on my new Raleigh Furley Cross'er, watch for it here as it morphs over the summer. Meanwhile since we skipped spring this year we might as well go ride.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Birkie 2012 The Last Word

Tuesday night after the Birkie felt a little odd not having anywhere to go.
For those that made the pilgrimage to Hayward this year, 2012 will be remembered as the
great paradox. For those who live south of Highway 8 snow was a precious
commodity, groomed tracks virtually non-existent. What a great surprise to see the
trail in such great shape and to be rewarded with near perfect conditions. For
most of the skiers I know the Birkie raises the bar and you responded in kind.
Despite the lack of snow and training K's most of you had a great day and in
lieu of a great time, a great experience.

Anecdotally I have never seen Main Street as busy as it was. People were
hanging out and hanging in there. The Birkie has become a lifestyle with
something for everyone. From the whimsical Barkie Birkie to the Family Fun Ski or the
Junior events the Birkie offers a lot of reasons to stay motivated. As a
(relatively) ole' timer I am most pleased to see the kids skiing and more
importantly having fun. The Birkie has been instrumental in getting youth
programs moving again and for that they deserve our thanks. I look forward to
watching this current crop of youngsters develop and hopefully embrace the same
values and traditions that we have.

We have a lot of challenges trying to keep up a Nordic Lifestyle. This year
was a kick in the pants reminder of our fickle climate. I see the need for augmenting
nature with better manicured trails and man-made snow if we want to keep skiing
on the front burner. Expect to hear more about that in the future. It is going
to be hard but it's worth it. Watching the electricity at the start of the
Junior Birkie and the wall to wall smiles at the Family Ski is something I want
to invest in. The next few months will change your focus but not the target. Get
a goal, get a friend and get out there. I know my capabilities have certainly
changed in the last few years and I expect yours may too but there will always
be something if you just keep looking down the trail.

Every year there are countless stories of perseverance, challenges and
overcoming obstacles but I need to point out one racer in particular. My friend
Barb Klippel of Hayward, 79 years young, finished her 20th Birkie this season.
Barb and her late husband Jim have been a central part of the Birkie for
decades, Barb as a skier, volunteer and role model, Jim a race volunteer for
years. Barb's daughter Sue is the current Birkie Board President (and
Birchleggings member). To say that they epitomize the Birkie Family is an
understatement. This year Barb achieved her goal to be a Birchlegger, overcoming
time, and injuries to complete a journey that started decades ago. She says she
is done doing marathons now but I doubt she is through with this race. I hope
you all find that inner drive and keep lining up for the journey through history
and all the great things that the Birkie is.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Birkie Class Final T is for Technique

Twenty three weeks ago about 30 skiers started a ski season by bounding up the hill at Bairds Creek that will culminate this weekend at the 39th running of the Birkie. It
was a tough year for training, probably the worst I have seen in 38 years of
ski racing. I don’t know about anyone else but I now believe in global warming
more than ever.

There are three things I hope you remember as you toe the line on Saturday. Virtually everyone is technically much better than they were a year ago. As we age we concede physical prowess
but technical skills can always improve. Given a choice between being 10% physically
better and 10% technically improved I’ll take skill. ** A big motor does you no
good if you are tumbling down Snowmo Corner on your back! I have a good
perspective on skier’s technical skills and you will have to take my word for
it: It’s pretty darn good. Now it’s up to you to take advantage of it.

This year more than ever it will be crucial that you ski within yourself. Good technique comes from your brain sending the right message to the various muscles. Go too far in debt and
the message slows down, your stride shrinks and you then waste even more energy
and pretty soon your brain is sending out SOS signals. Watch the effort level
and keep it together mentally.

Lastly remember that this is not as much a race as a lifestyle. We chose to do this event to reaffirm the choices we make to be healthy, active and positive. How you do in the race is secondary and if you fall short of your goals there will always be next year but by
finishing you will have achieved the biggest goal and been part of something
that you can remember forever.

So, great year folks. I am working on some things and will keep in touch. The weather looks good, the snow promises to be fast and I look forward to seeing you at the finish. Well done.

** I can back that up statistically, just ask me.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Birkie Class, Valentines Day. Answer: GRAVITY

OK, I’m impressed. Our little balance ditty last night was great. Steady and stable. Balance comes not only side to side but also fore and aft. I saw that last night. Balance also comes
in both a static and a dynamic form. Static is the passive form like standing
on a 2X2. Dynamic is like when you ride a bike. Both are NOT mutually
exclusive. When you see a rider doing a “track stand” that is, balancing while
not moving they are blending dynamic balance with static balance. Skiing
involves mostly dynamic balance but the longer you can hold on to your glide
phase (static) the farther you will glide. (My track stand analogy works until
a rider applies pressure on the pedal while holding the brake but that is
another doctorate dissertation).

The point of this rambling??
Balance takes many forms, side to side, front to back, passive and static BUT
ALL CAN BE DEVELOPED! It happened while you were not looking. Whew!

It was a rewarding night, especially my schooling of Paul Braun on the finer points of ego mania. (Megalomaniac?) We finish up next week with a softer tune-up and some wax words and prognostications. Check out for updates and
this video on scraper technique. Ian scrapes like a pro. This is the right way,
there is technique involved. I would add that you only scrape 2-3 passes at
most. Great night, find snow, wax skis and we go again at 6:00 pm next Tuesday.