For the 2nd year in a row, my son John dedicated his race supporting me. Last year in his role as guardian angel, he worked for me to insure I finished – 3.5 weeks after breaking my left collar bone. This year his goal was to help me achieve my first sub 10. We accomplished the goal finishing in 9 hours 48 minutes.
The rest of the story ( 17 minutes > 17 seconds)
When Allen Barbieri and I signed up at the last minute to ‘ride’ Lotoja in 2003, finishing time was not part of our discussion or planning. In 2004, Corte Haggard and my son, John, signed up for their first Lotoja and the goal, once again, was to finish. In 2005, it rained and snowed and I was over it by the time I got to Montpelier. A quick towel change in the parking lot at the feed zone and my day was done. That was the year Corte coined the term ‘LoToMo’, Logan to Montpelier. That year, Steve Turner pushed on to Afton before giving in to the horrible conditions. From Afton, John led Mark Facer the final 80 miles in a cold steady rain to the finish. Mark got more than his money’s worth that year. No talk of PRs that year. In 2006, Brian ‘raced’ for the first time. John was on his way to his first podium that year and Brian and I wasted an hour in Afton waiting on others and blew what would have been a sure podium for him in the 18-25 category. That was the last year of ‘waiting’. From 2007 on, Lotoja has been about doing your very best that day. Sure it involves team work,but, working with others doesn’t have to be the same friends you’ve been training with all year. This is the one day each year where you don’t wait at the top of the climb and regroup (OK, Some people, like John for instance, wait at the top, but that because he's a highly compensated domestique and that's his job). This is a race.
John and I were back together this year in the same start group, Masters 35+ B2 group (500s), joining The SoCal Rokform boys - Tait Eyre,Shayne Kennedy, Tyson Manning and Nate Cazier along with Chris Parkin from Adobe, who would end up staying with John and me for most of the race. Chris and John met each other for the first time the week of the race. This would be Chris' 4th Lotoja. His previous times had been 14, 12 and 10 hours. Since his first Lotoja he had put in significant miles and dropped a lot of weight. He saw John’s name and expected ride time of 9:30 on the Team Adobe spreadsheet. He sought John out because John was in his start group and had a similar goal. John explained that his lack of training time had forced him to change his goal. No longer was 9:30 his goal, rather it was to help his dad finish with his first sub 10. That matched up with Chris’ goal so a plan to ride together was put in place.
Last year John and I started with the 35+ A group, 12 minutes ahead of the boys from the OC. Even though I had broken my collar bone 3+ weeks earlier, John and I held them off, finishing 11 minutes and 43 seconds before Tait (yeah, yeah, yeah….. 17 seconds). This year we found our way to start in the same group so we had the vision of all of us finishing together in a sub 10. As with years before, things happen and the group ends up finishing in a handful of smaller groups.
Michael was also racing his first Lotoja. He’s tried a couple of times before, but a torn ACL kept him out one year and the UVU – USU soccer game forced him to abandon in Montpelier two years ago so he could go back to Logan for the game. Michael was on his own starting in the 1400s cat 5 group starting at 7:27, 42 minutes after our start time. As it turns out, Michael’s amazing race would turn out to be the story of the day. I felt a little guilty not being with Michael for his first full Lotoja as I had been with John and Brian. Michael seemed fine with it. He had only 600 year to date training miles, had never before ridden 100 miles in one day and in fact, his longest ride ever was his 80 mile LoToMo two years ago. The expectation for him to crush it was low, in fact the expectation was it for him to get crushed trying to complete his first century and first double century on the same day. As you will see, on this day, Michael was the baseball bat, not the windshield.
A faster than normal start got the group into Preston about5 or 6 minutes faster than previous years. I started to think sub 10 might be possible. Thirty miles in and I had already picked up half of the 11 minutes based on last years’ time. We were in the back half of our 65 man group for the first 30 miles, but near the Idaho border, John and I started to move up and the others followed. On the descent into Riverdale, I was off the front of the group and was the first to make the turn onto Highway 36 and begin the climb to Mink Creek and Strawberry (aka Emigration Canyon). For the first time ever, I didn’t need to stop for the first group bio-break and slow pedaled through Mink Creek with others who didn’t stop. From there the group splintered. I helped a second group chase back on to the leaders as we left Mink Creek, but was soon spit out the back while John and Nate rode off with the leaders. I rolled over the false summit with Jordan and soon had Tyler Smith and the M45+ leaders setting the pace to the feed zone. John had been dropped by the leaders and was waiting there for me. The race for sub 10 was on. We had our second fastest descent into Ovid. The group we hooked up with didn’t work together like I would have liked, but we did reel in the M45 leaders group which included Chris and some others from our group and made good time to Montpelier. Heading into Montpelier we made all three lights and found my brother Tom and his daughter Sam ready and waiting. I tossed my bottles and arm warmers at Tom’s feet, grabbed some food, fresh bottles and we were off. Leaving town I could see the boys in pink (Porcupine Racing) just up the road. I’ve ridden with those guys over the past few years. They treat Lotoja as a ride and unlike us, regroup at the top of the climbs. We caught and passed them at the summit of Geneva. We found just the right amount of guys to ride with up Salt River valley heading toward the last of the major climbs.
|John descending Salt River|
|Bob descending Salt River|
|Michael on Salt River descent|
Kristin and Annie were waiting for us in Afton. Having Tom and Sam cover Montpelier was a life saver. After we grabbed our stuff, Kristin and John’s three older kids headed to Alpine for the last feed zone while Annie stayed behind to wait for Michael. I can’t overstate how important good support is for this race.
|John, Bob and Chris tucked in behind the M55 leaders rolling into Alpine|
|Michael standing on the Strawberry climb because his saddle was loose|
Uncle Tom to the rescue. In Montpelier, Tom chased down the right Allen wrench and fixed the saddle. Michael suffered up Geneva and the run from Idaho to Wyoming through Salt River valley. At the start of the Salt River climb, he was ready to give up. Completely bonked and depressed that he was on his own. He has the ability to eat more than John or me on the bike and had run out of food. The people he had passed on the previous climbs were now passing him. At the top he took a break and ate four bananas and drank some extra water. FOUR bananas!! By the time he rolled into Afton he was feeling great.
|Michael getting some much needed help coming into Alpine|
|Story of my day. Sitting on John's wheel in Snake River Canyon while Johns peeks over his shoulder to make sure I'm still there.|
As we came into Jackson, I got popped by our group of six at ‘Back One Hill’ (I don’t think Brian Emmett has trademarked that name yet). John, Chris and I regrouped after the left hand turn off the highway. In this section we had our second relay guy sit on, then try to ride away from us a couple of times. This time we just sat on his wheel. John was right behind him and at the bridge just before the right hand turn toward Teton Village he tried to get John to pull through but John refused – not saying a word in the process. Finally he slowed enough to force John to pull through. John pulled through and made the turn. The Tetons were in full view and you can smell the finish line. The hammer was down and our relay buddy could not get back on. Thanks for the help buddy!
|Finish Line. Getting pipped by a relay rider while John rolls in behind me|
We caught another relay guy in the final 10K and he was happy to work with us. At the 200M sign, John was confused about which side of the cones he should go so I got the jump on him and took off for the finish line. My relay friend jumped onto my wheel and came around to pip me at the line. He tried to apologize as we turned in our timing chips but I complemented him on his finish and told him that I love giving the finish line fans a full gas sprint at the end. John and I finished 15thand 16th in our group. Pretty respectable for an old man and someone who had only a few hundred training miles this year.
|Michael's strong finish|
|Cool Down while we wait for Michael|
|Jack, Lily and Isabel helping break in the Madsen|
Final times for our group:
Bob Emmett (9:48 PR), John Emmett (9:48), Michael Emmett (10:31 PR), Shayne Kennedy (10:06 PR), Tait Eyre (10:06 PR), Tyson Manning (11:08), Nate Cazier (9:05PR and podium), Jordan Turner (10:06 PR).