Walking into the River’s Eatery on Saturday night (the Saturday that was supposed to see my 51K Birkie Debut), I was expecting to see a lot of very sad and grumpy skiers sitting quietly over their perfectly cooked pizzas while sipping on a feel better beer. Instead, the restaurant was pleasantly full of very happy people. Talking with owners Mick and Beth, I was asking how the Birkie cancellation (due to low snow/ high ice) had affected business and morale. Mick paused for a second and then said, “You know, I think this has been the happiest group of Birkie people yet. All the grumpy people just went home, and the people who remained are really here because they want to be.”
Several thoughts went through my head when the official Ben Popp (President of the Birkie, and hopefully future presidential nominee for the United States…he was that good) video surfaced online cancelling the Birkie. One, DAMN. Two, WHAT A BUMMER. Three, why couldn’t that storm have tracked 50 miles to the north. And finally, four, what are they going to do with all of the bananas?
A couple days prior (when the hail mary snow storm seemed to be on track to dump 18 inches of snow on the Birkie trail), Ben had posted a picture on Facebook of what must have been thousands of bananas. These, along with energy drinks, energy gels, oranges, brats, beers, and shots, were intended to help fuel the 10,000 Birkie participants along the beautiful Birkie trail from Cable to Hayward. But with the race cancelled, what would happen to all of that stuff (well, I knew what would happen to the brats, beers, and shots).
The Birkie team put out an incredible effort, and on Birkie Saturday had “Birkie Stock.” A nice 5K loop was put together, and all of the on snow demos, food, and music travelled from Hayward to the new Birkie start line in Cable. Nearly 10,000 people attended throughout the day (normally the Birkie brings closer to 30,000 people). I stuck around, and very happily skied some 5K loops with my mom, tried the official Birkie Brew-Ski, and watched some very joyful people dance to the live band. Earlier that morning I had ventured out on to what would have been the course, and much to my happy surprise skied 30 Kilometers (well, probably skied closer to 28 kilometers and walked 2 of them…and made a new pair of rock skis). I ran into a number of people on the trail. One guy had started in Cable and was trying to make it all the way to Hayward, whether he had to ski, run, or swim. Another individual said he didn’t do all this training for nothing, and was planning on hiking 25 Kilometers to the party. And another duo had already made it 25 Kilometers, and were shotgunning beers at 10 in the morning.
I’ve had some times this season where I feel like I have 10,000 bananas and nothing to do with them. Whether that something is me poling between my legs at the start of a sprint heat (a la the Michigan supertours), not selecting the right skis, or just some serious bad luck (blizzards, rain, hail), I’ve had some times this season where I just feel like nothing goes right. I’ve done all of this careful preparation and made so many improvements, only to feel like I didn’t have the chance to show it off. When this situation arises, I’ve learned (very valuably I think, although it took some time) that you have two options. Option one: Feel bad for yourself, play the victim, and do nothing with the metaphorical bananas. Option two: Make banana bread.
Everyone who stuck around for Birkie Stock in lieu of the actual Birkie opted for the latter. They took those 10,000 bananas and made some delicious bread. They still got outside (including many individuals who completed 10 laps of the 5K loop), hung out with an amazing community, ate good food, and danced their faces off (looking at you doughnut pants lady).
So for me, I’m currently taking my 10,000 bananas to Italy and Austria. I skied well enough at US Nationals to qualify for the Europa Cup Trip, and will be racing the equivalent of the World Cup “JV” circuit for two weeks. I’m excited to get some more high quality racing in this season before I actually do nothing but bake for a couple weeks, fueling up for another season of training.
I want to encourage everyone to make sure they surround themselves with bread makers. These are the people that make you feel empowered and important. I’m lucky enough to have a lot of bakers in my life. Plus…no one has ever complained about having too much banana bread
P.S.If you’re looking for a healthy banana bread recipe, head over to my food blog enduring eats. After a great week of races in Canada I had some extra bananas and buckwheat flour on my hands…and this delicious recipe came straight out of the oven into my tummy.