Beyond Birkie Fever
Author: Walter Rhein
Genre: Memoir, 237 pages
Published: 2011 by Cyclova XC
Reviewed by: Bill Mathis, http://www.billmathiswriteretc.com
A humorous and inspiring story of one man’s challenges with his love affair of cross-country (X-C) skiing and how it expanded his small world of growing up in Northern Wisconsin. With a mother who loved to X-C ski, a grandfather who hosted international X-C ski competitors in his home and told crazy stories about driving on black ice, did author Walter Rhein even have a chance at not liking X-C skiing? Growing up in tiny Cable, Wisconsin, which hosts the annual American Birkebeiner with thousands of national and international competitors and known as the "Birkie," Rhein took his time, but did acquire the taste in his teen years. Then he was hooked.
In Beyond Birkie Fever, Rhein writes with great skill and insight how he came to catch Birkie Fever, the intense efforts to practice, get in shape, gather skills—sometimes through learning the hard way—and to gradually get better. Not only did he get better at the sport, but he learned personal insight and caught a wanderlust spirit when he started registering for international X-C ski competitions. Along the way, he ran marathons to keep him in shape for the winter X-C skiing. He writes with great hilarity of getting "Bonked" when he failed to bring snacks to sustain his energy level, resorting to scavenging cast-off energy bars and powder packets, even beer from marathon onlookers, and scraping mold off of bread found in his car to eat in order to have enough energy to drive home.
Besides his self-depreciating humor, wit and laugh-out-loud descriptions, Rhein’s writing is inspirational. He expresses wonderful insight into the human condition, the need to challenge oneself, to experience life outside of our comfort level, to focus on our surroundings as we work toward our goals and to enjoy the trip as much as the results.
Those who have X-C skied, even if only recreationally, will enjoy this book. Those who haven’t will not only learn much about the sport, but will be equally inspired by his experiences and his humor. It’s a great read!
Reviewer Bill Mathis is an award winning author. His three books, Face Your Fears (2018), The Rooming House Diaries – Life, Love & Secrets (2019) and The Rooming House Gallery – Connecting the Dots (2020) were published by Rogue Phoenix Press. Two more novels are in progress. Bill resides in Beloit, WI and enjoys writing, reading, photography, volunteering and travel.
This is a very kind review! Thank you so much!
Wisconsin Writers Association
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