Saturday, 31 January 2015

Preliminary Birkie Wax Discussion #2

It's been a week since our last Birkie update. Things have changed!

Summary (in case you don't want to read on):

Glide options:

  • Underlayer - Rex RCF Pink
  • Paraffin - Holmenkol Racing Mix (mid or cold, depending on temperature); OR
  • Paraffin - Holmenkol Speed Base (mid or cold, depending on temperature)
Kick options:
  • Base layer - Vauhti Superbase
  • Kick wax - Vauhti K-line hardwax
You're going to want this stuff.


We now return you to your regularly scheduled winter! Cold air has dropped into the region and snow has fallen. With the potential for more on the way! Temperatures look to tumble to the -10 to -15 range for highs for this weekend and the coming week. Long term models indicate some warming by next weekend with daytime highs bouncing back to as much as 0 degrees.

Trail Conditions:

The trails continue to have an extremely transformed based, but the snow that has fallen has covered that up nicely. The improvement is dramatic. However, as the groomers prepare the trails, tilling will bring that old snow back to the surface.

Preliminary Glide Recommendations:

Base layer:

As a result of the new snow, the graphite underlayers we discussed in the previous post may pose a liability in terms of speed. Given the old (ancient) snow that is forming the based and the need for speed during the entire race, an underlayer will continue to be very important.

At the moment, Rex RCF Pink appears to be the way to go. Realistically, I would be shocked if this changes.

Race Paraffin Options:

We're at a little bit of a crossroads with respect to race paraffins, so you'll want to stay tuned on this one.

If there is significant snowfall prior to the race - Holmenkol Racing Mix (mid or cold, depending on temperature).

If there is not significant snowfall prior to the race - Holmenkol Speedbase (mid or cold, depending on temperature).

We love the Holmenkol paraffins as a stable, low liability solution that is fast as heck. There will be other reasonable options available from other manufacturers. We will provide some suggestions closer to the race.

Preliminary Kick Recommendations:

Based on the recent snowfall, it seems much less likely that the race will be skied on straight klister.

Base layer options:

  • Vauhti Super Base - This is hands down our favourite hardwax binder. Super Base as the uncanny ability the not only improve the feeling and durability of the kick, but also make your skis faster. Neat, huh?

  • Vauhti K-base Klister - If klister end up being in the mix, which seems less and less likely, this is what you are going to want. The elasticity and durability of this base klister makes it the best. No question. 

Kick wax options:

Stay tuned for kick wax options as we get closer to the race. At the moment, the Vauhti K-line kick waxes are working extremely well. 

What happens next?

We will be posting updates with increasing frequency as conditions change and as we approach the day of the race. 

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Preliminary Birkie Wax Discussion #1

Event Information:

Saturday - mass start, classicRace notice - Birkie race notice

Looking ahead, afternoon temperatures stay below zero for the next two weeks. No significant snow in the forecast.

What happened to Old Man Winter?
Trail conditions:
By all accounts, the trails are extremely abrasive in the mornings, but in otherwise good condition. There is a substantial base, although that may have been impacted by last night's rain. 

Preliminary glide recommendations:
Base layer - Rex RCF Black or Rex RCF Pink - this is a critical step to ensure durability and speed throughout the course of the entire race. If we get minimal or no snow before the Birkie, RCF Black will be the right answer. If we get additional snow, RCF Pink will be the right answer.
Ski*Go LF Graphite would also be a very good option.
The graphite waxes from Swix and Toko would not be good options. These are very soft waxes and serve a different purpose.
Both RCF Pink and RCF Black can be a bit tricky to apply. A demonstration video is above. 

Base layer options
  • Vauhti K-base klister
If the kick ends up being klister, obviously you will need a klister binder. If the kick ends up being hard wax, Vauhti Super Base or Vauhti K-base will be the best choices. These base layers have an uncanny ability to improve not only the feeling of the kick in old snow, but ALSO improve the speed. Neat, huh?

Kick wax options - At the moment, it is very much looking like hardwax will not be a good option for kick. The trails are extremely abrasive and the snow is old. Hardwax that kicks well at first (if you can find any) is likely to wear off in the first few minutes, even with a base layer. 
Based on the current conditions of the trails and the fact that there is little/no snow in the forecast, it seems highly probable that the 2015 Birkie will be skied on klister. Options to consider would be a mixture of universal and violet klister or perhaps straight violet klister, depnding on how conditions end up. PowerGrip may also be an option with excellent kick and durability, although likely slower speed.
Please note that the kick wax options are VERY subject to change as we get closer to the event. 

Pole straps - Now would be a good time to inspect your pole straps to make sure they aren't any significant frays or tears. There is nothing worse than tearing a strap right at the start or, even worse, half way through the race. 

Bindings - Now would also be a good time to quickly inspect your bindings to ensure that everything appears tight and well in place.

Updates - We will be posting updates with increasing frequency as conditions change and as we approach the day of the race.


We're in the midst of another warm, wet weekend. But, this may be the last REALLY warm weekend we get for a while. Colder air drops in next week & Edmonton will likely be 10-15 degrees colder by next weekend (Jan 31/Feb1).
Don't worry about the temperature range on these waxes. The other qualities of the wax are what we are after for the underlayer.

Race paraffin options - Given the extremely old and transformed nature of the snow, Holmenkol Speedbase Mid will be an amazing choice. This wax has the added benefit of having an extremely high flouro content and a very reasonable price. This will ensure speed not only at the beginning, but over the course of the entire race. 

Preliminary kick recommendations:

Other things to think about:

What happens next?