The 31- and 33-mile nordic-ski marathons at the Birkie are the largest in the U.S., with 5,000-plus entrants snaking through thick pine forests from Cable to a tent city in Hayward, where finishers are rewarded with local beer and brats. Although racers set off in ten waves, based on prequalifying times, the start is still no picnic.
GO FOR GOLD
GT wants to give you a mountain bike. And a pit crew. And cheerleaders. All you have to do is be the highest-placed amateur at one of the seven events in the Golden Bike Series, which begins with April's Sea Otter Classic. Your reward: Either a GT Zaskar hardtail or Marathon full-suspension bikein a one-off goldplus mechanics, eight cheerleaders, and both your entry fee and round-trip airfare for two to the next race. Win again and the good times continue; lose and it will all be taken away from you at the finish line and given to the victoryour old bike now the pumpkin in your Cinderella story. (Don't worry. At year's end, all winners receive a bike to keep.) gtisgolden.com