Saturday, December 6, 2008

LOTOJA 2006 - John's on the Podium!

John, Bob & Brian at the start line
9 September 2006

Welcome back to the 4th annual series of Lotoja race reports. This year’s race was great fun and mostly uneventful. One Podium spot (another sacrificed in order to stay with the team). One crash. One broken spoke. One flat. The weather was perfect and all 11 riders riding for team Norda’s finished the race. Congratulations to all.

This annual event has proven to be the only training program I have been able to stick with for a long period of time so I’ll be re-setting my odometer on my bike to zero on my return to Irvine and start training for Lotoja 2007 next week.

Eleven riders was the largest group yet and it sounds like most are already making plans to return next year. Registration filled up in late July in 2005 and early May in 2006. We all need to pay attention and monitor the website so that when registration opens next year we all get in early. No doubt this race is headed toward a lottery entrance soon.

This year’s race prep and strategy changed in early July when Mark Facer crashed on Newport Coast and broke his upper arm in a couple of places which knocked him out of the race and out as my long time and faithful early morning training partner. My plan to sit on his wheel for 200 miles was out. Lotoja would not refund his entry fee and they would not allow a transfer to another ‘team’ (I use the term loosely) member. They would only offer a $40 discount on 2007 – not as flexible as they once were.

Clark Wardle was knocked out of the race with an appendectomy a couple of weeks before the race so that left two paid entrance fees open. Tait’s brother Trent was eager to get in the race and took one of the spots and Mark Nebeker took the second spot.

After an early dinner on a rainy Friday night at the Olive Garden, many of the first timer’s went to the mandatory informational meeting and then back to mom and dad’s for some peach ice cream, final bike prep, food prep and getting our race numbers fixed to our bikes.

John, Bob, Trent, Brian, Paul, Eric, Mark

Saturday morning. Start temp was in the mid 50’s. Perfect. Most had arm/knee warmers and vests or jackets for the start. Along the way I noticed a few in full on winter leg warmers, booties and ear warmers. The trauma of last year still had an impact on a few. John and I left our vests with Casey and by the time we hit Preston the temp was comfortable enough that all cool weather gear could be left behind for the rest of the day with the exception of arm warmer which were handy on the descent into Bear Lake Valley.

Riz, Steve and Tait were first off, followed by the old guys 9 minutes later. Trent started with the old guys because he was wearing Clark’s number, as did Brian, who started 9 minutes ahead of his assigned start time. At the start time Brian waited nervously with his head down, legs straddling his start number and tucked in tight between Eric and me while the race official checked out the group to make sure all were in the correct group. No one noticed and he was off with the 1700 pack.

A little past half way to Preston our group caught the other half of our age group, the 1600’s. Most of us pulled through stayed near the front. Mark took some of the strongest pulls. I took 3 or 4 and Eric, Paul and Corte all moved threw and took some time at the front. Brian found himself back in the pack as the two groups merged into one and raised more than a few eye brows when he decided he didn’t like the yo-yo effect back in the pack and made a move up to the front with the rest of us by passing 20-30 riders who were more than a little surprised to see a 1900 number moving by them so fast.

In Preston we caught Tait, Steve and Riz as they were leaving the feed zone and John caught us from his start 3 minutes behind us. John was looking for a podium spot so he grabbed his mussette bag from Casey and kept rolling. We grabbed our water and moved out to catch Riz and Steve for the first nature break just past Riverdale (for the record this is the first year I didn’t have to stop before Preston. Tait and Trent were close behind as we left Preston.

John was the last to start and the first one out of Preston. He was in first position on the road when rider number 1836 pulled up along side and asked if any others in their group were up the road. John replied that he didn’t think so and then the guy took off. John followed, got dropped and then caught him again on the descent into Riverdale and tried to hang with him through Mink Creek but had to give it up near the Diamond R ranch. The guy was too strong. It turns out the guy was Nate Pack who turned out to be the overall surprise winner - beating Kirk Eck, a CAT I rider who has won the race in the past (2002) and thought he had it won this year until this guy beat him by a minute and a half – all while riding mostly on his own while Kirk, based on the finish times, most likely had the benefit of riding with a pack of 8-10 Cat I and II’s.

We stayed together as a group of 8 for the first half of the climb up Strawberry then settled into our own comfortable pace as the grade increased with Mark and Paul off the front and Brian and I within sight behind them. Riz, Corte, Eric and Steve rode at a slower pace. Brian and I hooked up with Mark and Paul at the false summit and continued on up to the top where Brian and I followed Paul over the top while Mark lingered to check on the others. The three of us hooked up with a couple of riders and chased down another pretty fast group in Starbuck’s jerseys so we arrived in Montpelier ahead of schedule at 11:30.

Justify FullBrian leading Bob on the descent into the Bear Lake Valley

We found out that Casey had missed John with his 2nd mussette bag because he had waited a little too long in Preston to help the other support crews with directions to Soda Springs and then was stopped for speeding along the way. John lost a couple of minutes looking for Casey then finally getting water and energy drinks at the neutral support.

In Montpelier, Brian, Paul and I posed for a few photos then grabbed our food and drink and started an easy climb up Geneva thinking the others might catch us. Brian and I stopped for a nature break and Paul went on ahead with a group of about 7 riders. Brian and I caught the group we had left Montpelier with but Paul was powering on ahead on his own. On the descent we hooked up with Vernon Plott, from Kimberly (Twin Falls), ID. Vern rode most of the race and finished with John and I two years ago. He was wearing the same ‘White Lighting’ jersey and riding with his friend Dave Emerson. We hooked up with them and soon had Paul in our sights out on his own in the wind. We eased up as we passed Paul and he jumped on for the run up to Salt River.

Behind us Mark was on his own in no mans land between the two climbs and I understand Eric was also alone having climbed Geneva ahead of Corte, Riz and Steve. I believe they were together as a group of 5 before Corte pulled away on the Salt River climb.

I had thoughts of waiting on the top of Salt River but Paul, like a horse heading to the barn, went over the top and kept going so Brian and I followed with Vern and Dave. The five of us sat on a group of 15+ that came buy us all the way to Afton. We never did pull through. Vern lobbied hard for us to ride on with him and Dave but we decided to wait for the rest of the crew. Corte rolled in about 25 minutes later and Mark, Riz, Steve and Eric about 15 minutes later.

After a little over an hour break, Paul, Brian, Corte and I were eager to roll so we picked up our bikes and started to ride. Eric, Steve and Riz looked ready to go but after an easy spin for a couple of miles it was apparent they weren’t following. It turns out they waited for Mark to finish his sandwich then talked to Trent who had rolled in right after we left. Trent reported that Tait was back waiting for a replacement wheel because he had broken a rear spoke.

Just outside of Afton, I flatted. I forgot to check my tires in Afton knowing that I had ridden though some glass on the way into town. Paul and Corte helped with a quick repair but we missed a couple of strong groups that passed us. With each group we were surprised that Mark/Eric/Steve/Riz weren’t with them. About a third of the way to Alpine, Kathe drove by and yelled that the other four were right behind us so we sat up and waited. Now back to eight strong the ride into the wind was a little easier.

At Alpine, we picked up our last food, checked out the porta-potties then made the turn into Snake River canyon where the promised tail wind was waiting for us. We spent much of the middle third of the canyon working in a counter clockwise double pace line like we had practiced on our last century training ride two weeks earlier. A lone girl in a pink jersey riding as part of a relay hooked up with us and had a great time riding with us. She said it was her first time riding in a large group. Mark did a fine job coaching her how to ride in a pace line. Toward the end of the canyon, a few of the group were on the rivet and didn’t have enough left in the tank to pull through (double metaphor alert).

We stopped at the neutral feed zone for some water and were ready to roll. Our lady friend in pink was waiting for the porta-potty and saw that we were ready to go without her so she got out of line (she was next) so she wouldn’t be left behind but we told her we would wait for her. On the run into Jackson her family was off the side of the road screaming support for her and she yelled back, “Look at my team!!”

Meanwhile, about an hour behind us, Tait and Trent were back together. Tait had a replacement wheel and a ton of determination. Trent was ready to quit but Tait wouldn’t let him so they rolled on.

We made the turn toward Teton Village. 11 miles to go. Brian and I were ready to finish this race and get off the bike so we took some long pulls along with Mark. Steve was also feeling strong and took his turns at the front. At this point, Paul, Riz, Corte and Eric were content to sit on and pray for the end. At 5 km from the finish the pace was too strong for some so we backed it off. At 3km, someone yelled “back one” but I figured everyone could make the last 3km so Brian and I powered on. Just after 3km I went to the front to spell Brian and told him to sit on my wheel and he would win. At 200 meters I was toast from my weak lead out and Brian sprinted around me to take the group “sprint” (I was impressed that Brian had enough left to sprint). Corte, Steve and Eric were still on my wheel and pulled up to let me roll in second. John, along with many of the support crew, was at the finish to cheer us on.

A few seconds behind, Mark had Riz and Paul on his wheel. He sat up for a second to check behind him and Riz touched his wheel and went down pretty hard – with the finish line in sight. Riz climbed back on his bike and finished - minus some skin on his left arm and a helmet that will have to be retired.

John, shown here descending Strawberry, had a podium spot his sights

At the finish John filled me in on his day. As it turned out two riders got in front of him in Montpelier while he was looking for Casey so he rode the whole race thinking he was in second place. His time of 10:09 is super impressive when you factor in that he was not riding with leaders of his group. He did get some help along the way but felt he may have been able to hang with the two guys who finished ahead of him in less than 10 hours if he had stayed on the course and not stopped in Montpelier. He definitely takes the award for strongest performance. I’m glad he finally had a chance to race unlike past years where he’s either had me, Corte, or Mark Facer behind him yelling, “back one” “easy” “slow down” “hold on” “what’s the hurry?”, etc., for most of the 200 miles.

Most impressive performance has to go to Tait (with a nod to Trent) who would not quit and would not let Trent quit. All you have to do is look at the results and see how many quit. In some of the citizen groups almost half of the starters failed to finish.

There were a lot of rookies in this years ride and all did great. Paul started strong and held on – along the way he showed off his newfound descending skills. Riz did his fair share, looked strong all day but at the end he said he thought he would be stronger. Eric, the elder statesman, put in a strong performance and had no trouble with the big climbs. Mark did more work at the front than anyone, which allowed the rest of us some valuable recovery time. Tait and Trent certainly showed some grit by staying on their bikes in the dark to finish just under (or perhaps slightly past) the official cut off.

That said, I’m handing my rookie of the year award to my son Brian. He’s been off the bike for two years. He has hardly had time to train this summer and had lost weight working as a valet so he had no reserves (unlike Steve and me). As the ride progressed he did more and more work and was strong all the way to the finish.

John, Brian, Casey and I showed up late to the awards ceremony on Sunday morning. Outside we talked to Ben Kofoed, a friend from Logan who has worked at Norda’s. Ben finished 4th in a friendly 2 man sprint in one of the CAT 5 groups where the Logan Race Club took the first 4 spots. He told John that if the group had more than 25 riders they were giving prizes to the top 5. John rushed in but missed his chance for the podium photo but did get his bag of swag (nice full fingered gloves, water bottle and some other stuff).

Brian was a little disappointed when we looked at the results at Jackson Hole High School after the awards ceremony. Had he, Paul and I stayed with Vern and Dave in Afton he would have most likely finished one hour faster and 3rd in his age group.

A special thanks to all of the great support team this year: Annie and Beth Emmett, Megan Mortensen, Casey Robles, Kim Badger, Kathe Espinili, Cheri Haggard and Angela Eyre. Annie has suggested that we do a little better planning next year and try to have two support members in each vehicle, which makes the day more enjoyable and a little less hectic. We really couldn’t do this ride without support. It is a long and stressful day for those driving cars with the other crazy support drivers and sometimes with cyclists on the road. It was fun to have all off you on the trip.

A very special thanks to mom and dad. They opened up their home for all of our race prep. Every spare bed (total of six) in the house and one couch was used on Friday night. They even made the drive over to Montpelier to support the team. Once again, the peach ice cream was a hit. Dad (with mom’s help peeling the peaches) put in extra time this year and made two batches and we were lucky they did. Sorry about the mess and all the laundry left behind.

This race is special to me because of the family connection, my home town and the fun I have sharing this long weekend with such good friends and family. Now you all know how to order a sandwich at the Italian Place, “John, I’ll have a Four Seasons on wheat and don’t burn the eggs.” He loves it when you talk nice to him.

Thanks to Pam and Gary for opening up their place at Teton Village to all for the post-race pizza feast and to Gary for making the drive into Jackson to pick up the pizza at Mile High.

See you all next year. Let’s plan to register as CAT 5’s so we can at least all start together. In 2007 let's all use “Norda’s” as our team name (no other teams are named after my mom). She did a bunch of cleaning and along with dad has been a great support the past four years and Tom's new Norda's Park City shop could use the publicity when one of us wins! I'm planning on a new kit for 2007 to replace the Quiksilver kits we've worn the past two years. More on that later.


The Results

1. John Emmett 10:09:26 4th Cit 27-34

2. Brian Emmett 12:15:33 7th Cit 18-26

3. Bob Emmett 12:15:47 26th Cit 46-54

4. Corte Haggard 12:15:47 27th Cit 46-54

5. Eric Mortensen 12:15:52 28th Cit 46-54

6. Paul Badger 12:17:22 29th Cit 46-54

7. Mark Nebeker 12:17:35 30th Cit 46-54 (Facer #1754)

8. Steve Turner 12:24:45 11th Cit 35-45

9. Riz Espinili 12:26:33 12th Cit 35-45

10. Trent Eyre 13:08:10 38th Cit 46-54 (Wardle #1751)

11. Tait Eyre 13:17:12 25th Cit 35-45

Friday, December 5, 2008


LOTOJA report. 10 September 2005


Mostly sunny, temps in the low 70’s with possibility of afternoon thunder showers was the forecast for most of the week leading up to the 23rd annual LOTOJA race. We arrived in Utah on Wednesday and were greeted by temps in the 80’s. We enjoyed watching my son Michael and the boys from UVSC destroy the USU men’s soccer team 9-1 in Logan that evening.

By Friday, the weather was starting to turn, as was the forecast for Saturday. Friday would have been a great day for the race as the wind was out of the south; no rain in sight and the temps had cooled to the low 70’s. Friday night’s annual carbo loading at Calloway’s was a great time. We discussed strategies and were eagerly anticipating the ride. Steve Turner would start first at 7:15 with the 35-44 year olds. Mark Facer, Corte Haggard and I would start 3 minutes later with the first pack of 45-54’s. Then bringing up the rear would be my son John with the first pack of 27-34’s. Steve would ride at a comfortable pace and expect to be caught by Mark, Corte and I some where on the long climb up Strawberry between mile 40 and 60. John, riding with the strongest age group would catch us early on the same climb. If all went as planned we would be riding together up the last part of Strawberry and then John could make a decision as to whether he was going to hold back and ride with us or decide to race with his age group. Mark and maybe me could then decide to help John get to Montpelier at mile 80.

So much for planning….. The weather on Friday night looked bad. The temp in Wendover was 77, a little to the west in Elko it was 64 and further west in Winnemucca it was 51. Cold weather was moving our way. At 6:30 AM on Saturday the rain band on the Weather Channel stretched from Snowville to Idaho Falls. As the five riders finished our breakfast and mixed our energy drinks I stated that I was not going to ride in the rain - a statement that I repeated often through the first 80 miles of the ride.

At 7:00 we pulled out from ma and pa’s and headed for the start line. Brother Bill was out to cheer us on – decked out in his team Quiksilver/Norda’s team jacket. After the start Bill was on his way to Preston to be our support team with fresh water and energy drinks. Steve was first off, followed shortly by Corte, Mark and I. The temp in Logan was falling to below 50. I was comfortable with my toe, knee and arm warmers, lightweight full-fingered gloves and vest. Steve and Mark were also wearing vests, Corte and John had on the team jackets. None of us had rain gear.

Friday’s wind out of the south was long gone and we were faced with a stiff wind from the northwest – right in our face or into our left shoulder all the way to Preston. Our group of about 45 riders was not in a hurry and we were content to let others do the work at speeds under 20mph. As we looked to the north toward Idaho, the sky was black and the rain was falling. It didn’t look pretty. 50% chance of rain looked more like 100%.

At the state line, Corte and I stopped for our first bio-break, in part to avoid the lines at the porta-potties in Preston. We were chasing back on to our group when I could see Mark had turned around to come back to help us chase on. This would not be the only time Mark would turn around on the road to go back and help. We quickly rejoined our group just in time for the first raindrop at Franklin. The guys at the front had finally worn down and Mark and I worked our way to the front with Mark taking a short pull just as we entered Preston – Mile 35.

Bill was there as planned and we grabbed our drinks and headed off to do the climb up Strawberry. Mark raced ahead to take a pee-break. The temp was continuing to fall and the rain was now coming down hard. Oh boy, 45 miles to Montpelier and the first 25 were up and over a 7500-foot pass. I thought I should have grabbed Bill’s jacket but decided that I was not going to ride in the rain and that if it was still raining in Montpelier I would quit. I can ride 45 miles in the rain – no problem.

Corte was not happy with the rain, cold or the wind. He was struggling to hold on to my wheel into a stiff wind at 14 mph. He’s too tall and I'm too short to knock down much wind. I was frustrated as a couple of large groups of riders passed us and we did not get on their wheels. Mark and I ended up riding ahead in search of Steve.

Soon John pulled up along side us. He was off the front of the first group of 1200’s (27-34) and had been riding with two guys from the 1200’s that started 3 minutes behind him. John’s group had caught the second group of 1500’s (45-54) just out side of Preston and then they, in turn, were caught by the second group of 1200’s so all three groups rolled into Preston together. John wanted to keep an eye on the two guys in his age category so we upped the pace in the rain. We rolled by the Diamond R ranch in Mink Creek without lifting my head to look for Garland Rasmussen. He had offered us a Fat Boy ice cream sandwich when we rode up Strawberry a few weeks earlier and stopped in at the Diamond R to get some water. I did not need a Fat Boy at this moment. It was still raining hard; the temp was now in the low 40’s and falling. Our toes and hands were soaked and frozen.

The big part of the climb was still ahead. Mark, John and I were now moving at a pretty good pace considering the conditions and keeping an eye out for Steve up the road. We would not find Steve. We passed a number of neutral support vehicles as riders were starting to use the CB or ham radios in the support vehicles to arrange for someone to come pick them up.

John complained that he was having trouble with his cleats. Soon he was free from his pedal. His SPD cleat was stuck in his pedal. He tried to continue pedaling but it was not going to work. After a mile or two we saw a support vehicle off the side helping a rider fix a flat. A second support vehicle stopped and we pulled over to see if someone had some vice-grips that we could use to pull the cleat out of the pedal. The guy was tied up getting his air compressor out to fix the other rider’s flat. After a few minutes we got the guy’s toolbox out and found the vice grips. I struggled to get a good grip on the cleat with my frozen hands but finally succeed in pulling out the cleat only to loose the washer and the two Allen bolts onto the side of the road. We finally found the bolts and started the process of getting the cleat installed.

Meanwhile, quite a crowd had gathered at the two support vehicles that were pulled off on the side of the road. One rider pulled up and took off both wheels from his bike, put the bike and the wheels into the van and climbed in. There was no seat for him but he was not going to take no for an answer and sat down on the cooler. Another rider pulled up shaking like a leaf in a hurricane. Mark said to John and me, “that guy doesn’t look right.” Sometimes body fat can be a good thing. Other riders were asking and begging to find someone with a cell phone with reception. No luck. The support guys had to get on their radio’s and call the ham radio guys who would then make a call to arrange for the riders to get picked up.

While this was going on John was standing in his wet sock while Mark and I worked on his cleat, each dropping the bolts with our frozen fingers. Finally after 20-30 minutes standing in the freezing rain John’s shoes were repaired and we were ready to finish the climb.

Summit of Strawberry

Still no Corte, I was a little concerned that he had not caught us during this long break to fix John’s cleat. Montpelier was my goal. I had made the decision not to ride in the rain and I wasn’t going to change my mind. It was difficult to get going again. We passed many of the same riders we had passed on the way out of Preston. At the top of the climb John saw the two leaders he had been chasing standing under the lifted tailgate of the same support van that had helped us. They were huddled together covered with blankets. We don’t know if they finished the race. Near the summit a photographer was standing on the side of the road snapping photo’s while an unknown rider sat in the passenger seat of his car warming up with the bike leaning against the front bumper.

At the neutral feed zone at the summit we saw our first Ambulance. There was quite a crowd on the side of the road. Mark, John and I crested the summit and started the descent into Bear Lake Valley. It was a little dicing coming down the canyon mostly because the riders were all over the wet road and it was tough to get past them. Plenty of them were using their brakes more than we were. A rider I talked to the next day in Jackson said he had to ride with no hands because he was shaking so hard he couldn’t stop from shaking his bike with his hands on the handle bars.

The rain eased up a little as we rolled into Ovid. We passed another ambulance treating some riders for hypothermia on the side of the road. We had about 10-12 miles of rollers to get to Montpelier and since this was going to be the end of my ride I decided to put the hammer down as much as I could. The three of us picked up one rider, Jon Eric Thalman who now lives in San Francisco. Eric was with Steve’s group of Cit 35-44. Turns out Mark knew Eric as a teenager years ago in Claremont and had seen him earlier in the ride so when we went by Mark yelled to get on. We blew past several large groups of riders. I tried to take as long of pull as I could each time. No one was able to catch on to the back of our group as we blew by at 30+ mph. For the first time ever, John complained that I was going too fast. I was cold and I wanted to get into some dry clothes and get some food.

As we flew into Montpelier we caught a group of about 10 riders and Mark followed some of them through a red light. Having learned our lesson the year earlier, John and I stopped. The white haired lady at the light was traumatized and frozen. She didn’t dare come through the green light after watching a bunch of bike riders’ blow through. I waved her to come through just as the light turned red for her. She made it through and we continued up the road to the feed zone.

Mass chaos. There were firemen, EMT’s, fire trucks and ambulances everywhere. We saw my mom and dad along with our support team of Kristin and Beth. “I’m done” is how I greeted them. They said Steve had rolled in a few minutes earlier and was in Corte’s Tahoe warming up. Still no Corte. We rode over to the Tahoe and soon Mark and John were sitting in the front seats with the heater going full blast. Steve was in the back seat. I did a towel change in the parking lot and got in some dry clothes, socks and shoes and started to defrost. John pulled off his gloves and showed everyone his blue hands. “That doesn’t look right.” It freaked us out for a few seconds before I realized that the blue was the result of his blue gloves bleeding the blue color onto his hands for the past 3 hours.

After about 20 minutes Corte showed up. Frozen and wet like the rest of us. He had winter booties and gloves in the Tahoe that he should have been wearing. After hearing that I was quitting he decided to join me. For the next 30 minutes we found the warmest clothing we could to outfit Steve, Mark and John so that they could continue.

Meanwhile the public address announcer continued to announce every minute or two that there was snow falling at the top of Salt River pass and that no one would be allowed to continue if they did not have the proper cold and wet weather gear. As the riders who were going on rode past the timing sensor there was a line of firemen inspecting them and finally an EMT who stopped them and looked into their eyes to try to determine if they were suffering from hypothermia. Of the three, John was hassled a little bit because he had knee warmers and not the full leg warmers. He was wearing my lightweight gloves, which had dried out while the debate about continuing on had taken place over the past hour. John put on his Marmot windshirt and then a dry team jacket over the top and my new Castelli ear warmers. Mark was geared up the best. He scored Corte’s full winter booties and warm gloves and had changed into dry shorts and jersey and he had his clear plastic rain jacket, which had been packed, with his gear in the Tahoe. Steve was also in dry clothes and had his rain jacket on. Too bad none of us were geared up for the rain at the start.

Corte and I are warm and dry and Beth had a good book.

Now the rain was gone but the cold, wind and clouds remained as John, Mark and Steve headed up Geneva pass and onto the big Salt River climb. Now that Corte and I had abandoned, Kristin decided to go back to Logan with my mom and dad so Beth, Corte and I took off to drive south around Geneva and to hook up with the riders in the valley between Geneva and Salt River. An hour later the boys were spotted and began the long climb up Salt River. We pulled over at a pull out and John tossed us his Marmot windshirt. He later told me that my ear warmers were gone – Steve had offered to put them in his pocket on the Geneva Summit descent but they had blown out. Oh well. At the next pullout, John was off the front by a quarter mile or with some other riders while Mark and Steve had fallen off the pace. John tossed me his lightweight Quik jacket and said he wanted it back at the top. We pulled over on a couple of additional pullouts on the way up the mountain to cheer them on.

At the summit John looked pretty good. It was still cold and cloudy, but the snow we had been warned about was gone. We waited about 15 minutes for Mark and Steve but when they didn’t show up we pulled out to make sure we got to Afton, mile 125, before John so we could get him his lunch. As it turned out we made it to Afton well before John. When he pulled into Afton he looked pretty good but was cold. He took my spot in the driver’s seat of the Tahoe and warmed up. Corte was still in his wet clothes and finally changed into something warm and dry. It was 30 minutes before Mark and Steve would roll in. While we waited I talked with Ron Monson who was waiting to ride his second leg of the race for the Logan Rotary Club relay team.

When Mark and Steve rolled in they were beat. They had battled much of the past 15 miles in the wind by themselves. Steve would have liked to continue but said he was holding Mark back. He said Mark had u-turned on the steep section of Salt River to ride back and encourage Steve who was close to his max doing 5 mph on the climb.

John was ready to throw in the towel but Mark was not. If you know Mark, you know he’s not going to pay $100 to get in a bike race and not finish. He wouldn’t be getting his money’s worth. Mark was even begging me to get back in my bike gear and ride with them. It is something I would have considered except for the fact that the rain was once again on us and the temp was still in the low 40’s and falling.

John agreed to go on. He pulled Corte’s lightweight XL gloves on over my gloves and put a vest on over his jacket and pulled out with Mark into yet another driving rainstorm with no one to work with. I could have cried – and I think John could have also. They had 34 miles of rolling highway to get to Alpine Junction. It was about 3:30. The race bible says you need to leave Alpine Junction before 5:15 to get to Teton Village before dark at 8:15. That’s on a sunny day.

With the rain and the clouds it was pretty dark at 5:30 when Mark and John made it to Alpine Junction. While we waited we ordered dinner at Frenchy’s BBQ. I was sitting in the Tahoe eating my BBQ beef sandwich while Steve, Mark and Beth sat inside Frenchy’s across the street. Mark and John arrived at 5:30. Their faces were black from road grime. Mark ate ½ of one of my country style thick fries. John powered down 7 or 8 of the fries. I told them that they were 15 minutes past the recommended cut off. We had no dry clothes to offer them so of they went, frozen, wet and still 47 miles to go. Race rules prevent support vehicles from driving the Snake River Canyon. Instead they are supposed to drive west to Victor and Swan Valley and over Teton Pass to get to Teton Village.

John leads Mark and a few others through Snake River Canyon

We decided that we were not going to leave these two guys on their own in the dark and rain so we leap-frogged them all the way through the canyon. They were working with some other riders when they passed us half way through the canyon. After they passed us we pulled out and saw them stopped on the side of the road. Mark had his bike upside down and his rear wheel off. He had broken one of his bladed spokes and his wheel fell so far out of true it wouldn’t go through his chain stay. We quickly replaced his rear wheel with one of Steve’s extra wheels and sent them on their way. They continued to motor through the canyon with John taking the long hard pulls.

By the time they pulled into Jackson it was pretty dark. We pulled ahead of them and made the turn toward Teton Village, 10 miles to go. We pulled over and waited for them to make the left turn. I grew concerned because riders that had been behind John and Mark were making the turn and still no sign of John and Mark. I was starting to get even more worried when Steve spotted them rolling up to the light. Whew. John later told me that Mark pulled over just before the light and said he needed to stop for a minute. John thought he needed a pee break and decided to take one himself. Mark didn’t need to pee. He said he thought he had bonked. No kidding, 196 miles in the cold and rain. Mark sucked down a gu and drank some recovery drink and started peddling again.

As they went by us a group of about 10 riders caught them and 3 or 4 or the riders had lights. John and Mark gutted it out in the dark and finished at Teton Village at about 8:30. Very dark and still raining. Only Corte had planned ahead and had a room reserved in Teton Village (the rest of us had rooms in Jackson). That was great for John and Mark who were able to take a warm shower in Corte’s room and get in dry clothes before a late dinner at the Mangy Moose at 9:30.

Mark and John are tough!

Final time for John was 13 hours 6 minutes. Mark’s time was 13:12. John finished 17th in his age group (only 19 finished). His time was pretty respectable considering that he lost 30 minutes to a mechanical in Strawberry, 1 hour to getting warm in Montpelier and another 30 minutes waiting for Mark and Steve in Afton plus unknown minutes of not being able to work with a group of strong riders if he would have stayed with the 1200 leaders. Mark finished 34th of 43 finishers in our combined 45-54 group of 85 riders. 42 riders abandoned along with Corte and I. Steve’s Uncle, Pat English, took first in the Citizen 55+ with a time of under 11 hours.

All I can say is congratulations to John and Mark for finishing what everyone says was the toughest LOTOJA ever. Steve made a gallant effort but the rain and cold just took too much out of him. He did, however, win the team race to Montpelier. Mark did his best to stay with him and keep him going but it was not to be this year. Corte and I felt great. 80 miles in the cold and rain was plenty for us. Corte is calling the 2005 race LOTOMO (LOgan TO MOntpelier). See you next year.

Bob Emmett, Irvine, CA Cit 45-54

Mark Facer, Mission Viejo, CA Cit 45-54

Corte Haggard, Mission Viejo, CA Cit 45-54

Steve Turner, Irvine, CA Cit 35-44

John Emmett, Midway, UT Cit 27-34

Moab October 2003

Flyin' the last berm on the descent from Porcupine Rim. Brian, Bob and John.

Moab October 2002

Brian and Bob on top of Porcupine Rim.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

LOTOJA 2004 - John, Corte and a Red Light in Soda Springs

12 Sept 2004


Early this year there were big plans of a big group going on the ride this year but things happen. Allen broke is neck, Steve’s been laid up with an abscess in his “lower back”, Chris Halloran lost interest when too much travel interrupted his training and Mark Facer had a trial scheduled to start on Sept 13.

In the end, five of us made it too Logan; Dave Preszler, Bill Bussiere, Corte Haggard, John Emmett and me. Dave Preszler just finished moving his family to Utah earlier in the week so it turned out to be a good time for him. John, Bill and Corte committed early on and were ready to go.

I flew into SLC on the Wednesday before the race. That afternoon, John took me for a short but hard training ride from Heber up toward Kamas and almost killed me. On Thursday Tom and Jeff Shephard took Corte and I on a 90-minute ride/tour of the south end of cache valley and on Friday Corte, Bill and I did a shorter tour of the south end of the valley as our final tune up. I was ready.

The race is a little whacked. Too many people and too many rules. They filled all 1000 slots. This year they added additional start times to make each starting group smaller. Last year about 120 of us started together in the 45-54 age group. This year they split us up into 3 groups. Sign up order determined the groups so a lot of people were complaining that they didn’t get to start in the same group as their friends. They warned us that if you start in the wrong group you’d be disqualified. If you work with riders outside your start group you will be disqualified. Bill, Corte and I all signed up early so we were in the first Citizen 45-54 group scheduled to start at 7:18am. Dave was in the group 4 minutes behind us and John’s 17-26 group was 24 minutes behind. It was always the plan that John would start with us. We didn’t expect problems and in fact no one said anything when he started with us. The worst that would happen I thought is that he would get a DQ next to his name for starting early.

Dave didn’t start with us because he wanted to ride to win his group. He had his wife Mary Beth and his two boys at the feed zones with a musette bag filled with water and food so that he wouldn’t have to stop. Our plan was to ride strong but stop at the feed zones for a couple of minutes, stretch, grab water, cytomax, other food, comfort stop, then get back on the bike. I thought John, Corte and I could finish the race in about 10 hours. Bill had a more conservative goal of 12 hours.

Bill and Tom ventured out to see us off at the start. The weather was balmy compared to last year with a start temperature in the mid-50’s. I started with my shorts, Rock N’ Road shop jersey and arm warmers (John, Bill and Corte were also in RNR shop jerseys – making us the ‘dominant’ team in our group). The arm warmers were off before Preston and soon we were riding in 80-degree sun. On the way to Preston we got acquainted with a few members of our group. One guy named Vernon took a liking to John and me. I found out he lived in Twin Falls, married a girl from Logan who was a grade ahead of me in high school. He has two boys on missions right now. One in Oklahoma and one in Texas. Their missions border each other so they are scheming as to how they can see each other before the older boy comes home. He definitely felt a kinship with John and as John can tell you he was looking out for him for much of the race. I know he (like me) is looking forward to riding with his boys in the coming years. We also met a big guy named Paul. I called him Big Bob for the first 50 miles because his jersey said Bob’s bike shop on it. I finally asked him his name some where between Grace and Preston. He was from Alabama and said he made the mistake of signing up after having too much wine while visiting friends in Jackson earlier in the year.

I also heard someone behind me say he had lived in Irvine. I dropped back and asked where he had lived and he said University Park. He asked if I knew the Haglunds and I told him that I had been in the Bishopric with Bruce. I asked him his name just as I recognized who he was – Alan Green. I told him my name and he said, “My daughter has a crush on your son!” We laughed about that and I told him that she had been over to our house last summer. John caught up on his older boy Cort – who’s mention got Corte’s attention. I asked Alan who he was riding with and he said his friends were in a different group and so he’d ride along with us. After Preston we never did see him again.

Just before Preston, I decided to pull over for my first comfort stop rather than wait in line at the porta potties in Preston. John, being his father’s son, was ready to join me. A third rider also pulled over. We had no problem pulling back to our group who seemed to be in no hurry. We stayed near the front for the first 30 miles but didn’t go to the front. Just as we entered Preston, about 30 miles into the race, the group 4 minutes behind us caught us. I didn’t see Dave Preszler but he saw us getting our water and he continued up the road.

We spent a few extra minutes waiting for Corte at the porta potty. I told Bill there was some climbing up ahead so he took off. Corte, John and I caught Bill on the climb up to Riverdale and then left him to his own pace on the start of the long climb out of Riverdale to Treasureton pass. During this stretch we formed an OK group of riders. Vernon, Paul, Corte, John and I could have worked all day together but we had a bunch of other guys and a couple of idiots that wanted to work with us. Two of them were pretty sketchy riders that were constantly half-wheeling, moving side-to-side and most annoying of all slowing the pace down and staying on the front too long. Coming out of Grace at mile 60 I finally ‘scolded’ the guy in the purple and green shark jersey for half-wheeling me. I told him to ride behind me, not beside me. I then went to the front and took the pace up to about 24-mph to put some hurt into him. John told me that Paul was complaining about the pace I was setting. John and Vernon got left behind on my attack so Vernon told John to work with him and go 24 mph and they’d get back on. They had no problem getting on and I didn’t drop either of the idiots – shark boy or ‘bow-legged’ red jersey man. Both of these guys would pull too long, pull too slow and then not fall all the way to the back of the group.

An old lady almost got a few of us on the right hand turn onto highway 30 that leads into Soda Spring. Highway 30 is a divided four-lane highway and they had the right hand land coned off for cyclists. She was coming south on 34 and we were going north on 34. When she turned left onto 30 she came all the way across into our lane. She was confused by the orange cones and scared to death and stopped in the middle of the road as about 20 riders went by on both sides of her car. No yelling, no profanity, just smiles.

As we approached feed zone 2 at mile 80 in Soda Springs, some of the guys, particularly Vernon wanted to know if we were stopping and if so for how long. We planned on just loading up with Motrin, fresh water and cyto and then moving on. I risked a DQ by calling Kristin on the cell phone and reminding her to bring me citrus (not fruit punch) cytomax and to have some Motrin ready. As we came into town Corte was up front as the light turned red so we stopped, turned right and did a u-turn back up to the main street and on to the feed zone. Kristin and Beth had the drinks and more. I ate part of a banana and drank part of a Dr Pepper then we were off. On the way out of town Corte and John rode on the wrong side of the cones and missed the timing sensor. The girl at the sensor was not very aggressive or loud so I had to tell John and Corte to U-turn and go back and ride through the sensor. On the right hand turn out of Soda heading to Montpelier, the wind turned against us for the first time. Our average speed the first 80 miles was almost 22mph!! Now we were going about 10 mph on a climb into a strong headwind. We picked up Paul and a few others on the way out of town but no sign of Vernon. We soon reeled in Vernon and a couple of other guys then set our sight on a group of about 25-30 that had stopped in mass for a pee-break (the lead groups in each division have some honor and etiquette that the rest of the riders don’t have). Corte went to the front and blew by this group, dropping everyone but John in the process. Soon I pulled about 8 other guys up to Corte and John and we were off. Paul and Vernon bridged the gap with me but purple and green shark boy and bow-legged red jersey man were left behind (they soon re-joined).

The dynamics of the group was staring to get on my nerves. A few of us would get to the front and keep the pace at 20-24 mph, then some of the others would get to the front and pull for too long and bring the pace down to 16-17. Finally as I came off the front after my pull I told everyone in the group to pull for no more than 1 minute up front. This was the RNR group and I was the boss – or at least I was the ‘bossiest’. It worked much better. As we came into Montpelier we still had the headwind but we were descending slightly. We blew by dozens of riders with a pace of 26-27mph. About 1 km before the feed zone my first cramp of the day appeared in my right hamstring and I had to pull up.

I limped into the feed zone at mile 114. I had a quick PBJ, some salt and vinegar potato chips, a Dr Pepper, half of a Snickers energy bar and half of a banana. By now I had consumed 3 bottles of water, 3 bottles of Cytomax, a banana, a couple of Dr Peppers and about 6 Gu packs in 5.5 hours of riding. Grandma and Grandpa Emmett, Tom, Shelley, McKinley and Alex were in Montpelier to cheer us on. Tom was waiting for his relay riders to show up. Annie rode over to Montpelier taking the short cut through Logan Canyon with Grandma and Grandpa Emmett and now joined Kristin and Beth in the support effort. We only took about 10 minutes to eat. Then we were off.

Vernon was up the road so it was just Corte, John and I to start the first big climb over Geneva Summit, about 7000 feet. Corte was hurting a little from the pace of the previous 120 miles and soon was off the back. John and I continued to climb with John hearing only a few words from me – words like, “slow down” “easy” “back it off a little”, anything to get him to stay with me. What a great kid. Like Allen last year, he could have easily taken 30 minutes off his time had he stayed with a couple of small groups that passed us on the first climb. As we went over the top there was no sign of Corte, but I figured he’d rather ride the last 60+ miles at his own pace so we raced down into Wyoming. My top speed was 53.8 mph. John’s was 48. At the bottom of the descent we passed the guy I had yelled at for half-wheeling me. He didn’t even attempt to jump on our wheel. I might have hurt his feelings.

On the valley road approaching the big climb of the day, Salt River Pass, elevation 7700 feet; we caught the lead rider of John’s age group. This kid was alone on the road in first position. He had started 24 minutes behind John and was a little shocked to see John’s bib number. John explained that he had started early to ride with me so he would not be a factor in the overall standing. That was a relief to the kid. He asked if we were father and son and said that was ‘cool’. I liked the kid. He asked to work with us and to allow him to get the king of the mountain points at the top. We agreed to let him go over the top ahead of John. The only thing is the kid didn’t work with us. He sat on our wheels for an 8-mile stretch through the valley without coming to the front once. About half way up the climb John attacked – the deal was off – John went over the top about 4 minutes ahead of the guy. He went on to win but John felt good about showing the kid he could compete. As it was the kid sat on my wheel for the entire climb and thanked me as he accelerated about 100 meters from the summit. John and I picked up fresh water and cytomax at the top from the girls (another rules violation). Then I sent them back to check on Corte because I was concerned he wouldn’t know to get water at the neutral feed zone at the base of the climb (turns out he did).

John and I were off with no plans to stop again. We had almost 50 miles to go with the first 10 being a fast descent into Star Valley. For the first 15 miles of Star Valley we worked mostly alone. We blew through the last feed zone at Afton then outside of Afton we had a very strong girl riding the final relay leg pass us. Fresh legs, strong legs and a slight downhill with the wind in our favor for the most part. I couldn’t react due to my cramping. Soon another, even stronger girl came by with 3 guys on her wheel. This time we jumped on. These girls were racing for a win and couldn’t risk a DQ working with us so they stayed on front. We picked up another 4 or five riders along the way including our old friend Vernon and the kid John dropped on Salt River Pass. We all just hung on while these two girls powered through Thayne and into Etna. Only one idiot in a yellow jersey caused a few problems. He worked his way between the two girls and was horrible to follow. He would lose the wheel then sprint to catch up. John and I could have shot him.

Then I cramped once again. I told John to go on and race the last 10 miles with the group but he stayed with me. I recovered and we crossed the line about 20 seconds behind Vernon who had also been dropped by the two girls.

Bob and John cross the finish line in Alpine Junction

We were finished. 9 hours 51 minutes on the bike, 189 miles, 19.1 Average speed. Even with the additional climbing, this was quite an improvement over last year fighting the headwinds. John’s computer showed a higher average speed and about 5 more miles.

Dave Preszler was still hanging around the finish line. He finished almost an hour ahead of us. Second place in his group and as it tuned out 8th overall in our age group. Corte pulled in 36 minutes behind me. The kid that took first in John’s age group was lying on the asphalt with a couple of family members or friends working on him. Tom, Shelley, Mac and Alex were also waiting. For his portion of the relay, Tom took off from Montpelier about 15-20 minutes behind us and caught Corte on the run into Afton, then he jumped in the Van and drove by John and I halfway between Afton and the finish in Alpine. Now the only question was, ‘where’s Bill?’

Tom and Shelley were already on their way to Jackson to meet us at Mountain High Pizza. Corte had problem because his duffle with his clothes was in Bill’s car, driven by Bill’s brother Ed. I didn’t have Ed’s cell phone number programmed into my new phone so I thought I’d call Bill. It had already been an hour and a half since Corte rolled in. Bill called me back and said he was past Thayne – about 12 miles still to go. Ed was behind him so we couldn’t get Corte clothes. I loaned Corte a shirt and we headed into Jackson to get some pizza. Bill and Ed finally got clothes to Corte later that night in Teton Village. BTW, Alan Green finished after Bill at 13 hours +,

Sunday morning I got up to go look at the final standing to see how I had done. I saw Dave Preszler in 8th place and found Corte’s official time of 10 hours 48 minutes. Bill’s time was 12 hours 45 minutes. Finally down below on the list I found my name with DQ as my time. “DisQualified?” Is this because I was riding with John who wasn’t part of my start group? Getting water on the side of the road outside a feed zone? Cell phone use? Busted. I checked John’s time. Same thing, DQ. This was not unexpected since he had started early. I stood around and waited while the race official explained to the girl who thought she had won find out she had a 15 minute penalty for using a radio which would knock her to 5th place. She was in tears. I asked to find out what my time was from the guy with the computer. He told me my time was 10 hours 12 minutes. I checked the sheet and there was Vernon at 10 hours 12 minutes in 28th place (out of about 140). That lined up with my ride time of 9:51 plus about 20 minutes off the bike. That means my time was good enough for 29th place but I still wanted to know why I was DQ’d. I finally found a guy who explained that John and I were DQ’d for running the red light in Soda. Actually we followed Corte and stopped (California style), turned right, u-turned and continued on but the official wasn’t in the mood to negotiate after dealing with the crying girl. I don’t know how Corte escaped the sharp eyes monitoring the red light. All I know is that Mark Facer will be proud to know that my disregard for a red light got me in trouble.

Other people were DQ’d for support vehicles driving dangerously, parking in non-approved zones (Annie, Beth and Kristin received a warning), working with groups other than their start group (usually this rule was only applied to violations in the lead groups), shorting the course (usually a result of not riding through the timing stations like what almost happened to John and Corte). The bummer about John getting DQ’d for the red light is that we don’t know what they would have done, if anything, about him starting with the wrong group.

Corte at the finish

I checked that time against John’s age group and that would have been good enough for John to place 6th. If he had not waited for me John would have had a top 3 finish time and I believe he could have competed for the win if he had musette bag support set up and had started with the guys his age.

The Jacuzzi at the Teton Club (Thanks Pam and Gary!) was excellent. A good night’s sleep and I felt pretty good except for some tenderness from the saddle. I’m a little annoyed with how anal these guys are about start time and riding rules but I will not rule out riding again next year. One change they may make next year will be to add a club or team category that is not defined by age or sex. That could be fun (I use the term loosely). There is a reason that more then half the riders each year are doing it for the first time. Many riders do it once and cross off that double century goal and move on.

Following the ride Steve Turner, Allen Barbieri, Mark Facer and Todd Brown all called to check in and get a race report.

All in all it was a great weekend. My parents enjoyed meeting my riding buddies and watching the race. Delicious fresh peaches and peach ice cream may keep me coming back.

John, Corte and Bob

Dave. 9:20.18 AWESOME. Second in group 2 and 102nd overall.
Corte. 10:48.31 10th in our group and 405th overall
Bill. 12:43.05 28th in our group and 705 overall
Bob. 10:12.42 Without DQ my 10:12 was good for 6th place in our group and 305 overall.
John. 10:12.41 Without DQ would have been 6th in his group and 304 overall

LOTOJA 2003 - Why Not?

I decided to start a personal blog to keep track of my cycling and skiing travels. What better place to start than by publishing my report of my first LOTOJA in 2003.

We Did It. Allen Barbieri and I completed the ride on September 13 in 10 Hours 38 minutes (on bike time was about 9H 50M) finishing 34th and 35th of the 70+ riders in our age group that finished the race (about 90 started).

It’s all Allen’s fault. For years I’ve talked about doing LOTOJA but have never had anyone call my bluff until Allen did a few weeks ago. I had pretty much given up on the idea following my crash in late March that resulted in a broken collarbone and a few broken ribs and delayed my training program. However, the attraction of doing the ride in 2003 was quite strong because Kristin is in Logan at Utah State and John, Beth and Brian are in Provo and next year Beth and Kristin will have graduated, John could find a job outside of Utah and Brian could be anywhere in the world (his mission papers go in this week) so I thought it would be fun to do the race with so many of my family near by to watch me suffer.

As the deadline for early registration came and went August 1, I didn’t think I had put in the miles required so I was leaning toward not going but just as the August 19 deadline for registration approached Allen shamed me into signing up. I filled out the forms on the final day and dropped them off at Allen’s and told him that he could fax the entry forms in if he was going to do it. We were in.

Annie and I planned to drive to Logan with Allen and Nanci Berg but a business trip changed my plans. Allen and Nanci still drove (hauling the bikes and Brian’s mtn bike, guitar, printer, golf clubs, etc.) and Annie flew in from Orange County and I flew in from San Jose. Allen and Nanci picked us up at the airport on Friday

afternoon then it was off to Logan to get signed in and pick up our packets. Kristin was our team leader and attended the mandatory meetings for support personnel. She paid attention, took notes and as a result our support team of Kristin, Annie and Nanci was perfect.

While Allen I and were waiting to check in we recognized a young pro bike rider we first met at Moab last year – Bryson Perry. Bryson also recognized us. We were soon reacquainted with Bryson and his father-in-law, Kevin Hall. Kevin is a friend of Peter Vidmar and Todd Brown and he is also one of the owners of Guru’s. I first met Kevin when he joined us for our annual Moab trip several years ago.

Kevin and Bryson offered some great advice about the ride/race. Both are riding to win – Bryson in the Pro category and Kevin in Masters. They will ride for 8- 8.5 hours without touching their feet to the ground. Bryson suggested we follow their plan and not stop during the ride. Kevin offered tips on how to handle the cold weather

(40 F at start time). He even loaned me a pair of knee warmers to use in place of my full-length leg warmers. We agreed to meet at the Mangy Moose in Teton Village following the ride and check in with each other’s success.

Allen and I then jumped on our bikes and did a short spin around Logan in a very strong wind. We didn’t work too hard, stopping at Norda’s to visit and at Annie’s mom’s house. Dinner with my family (Mom & Dad, Bill & Lorie, Allen & Nanci, John & Beth, Brian, Kristin) at Callaway’s in Smithfield was the perfect chance to carbo-load.

Our start time on Saturday morning was 7:20, Pack 6, Citizen age 45+, 50 minutes behind the Pro and CAT 1 and 2 riders. It was a cold ride through the west side of the valley to Preston, ID. The entire group stayed together and by the time we reached PrestonChad’s Bishop in Chicago years ago. my toes and fingers were coming back to life. Along the way we talked with several riders including Tom Rugh, who was In Preston the group blew apart at the first feed zone (mile 33). The serious riders kept spinning while Allen and I made a bathroom stop priority one (neither one of us have a goal to learn to pee while on the bike unlike Kevin Hall who brags – and Bryson backs him up – that he is one of the most talented ‘bike pee-ers’ in the race). After a stop at the city park bathroom we found the girls waiting with fresh Cytomax and Gu. I ate part of a banana and we were off.

The fun part of the race was now over. As we left Preston we were now on our own and the wind was starting to blow hard. There was a short downhill run into Riverdale then the long hard Treasureton Pass climb (about 10 miles of climbing) began. Allen and I found a group of 4 or 5 riders at the start of the climb but I got blown off the back when my right calf began to cramp. I slowed down and stretched it out and continued on. Allen pulled back to check on my condition. Pretty soon the lead group of Pack 7 (Cit 14-34), which started 10 minutes behind us, caught us. The group was being lead by 5 or 6 strong riders from Bountiful with about 15-20 others trying to hang on. We stayed with them for much of the climb but with less than a mile to the Treasureton Pass summit my heart rate was above 170 and I knew if I continued to hang it could ruin my chance of finishing so I dropped off and rolled over the top with another guy. Allen stayed with the group to the summit but pulled up and waited for me along with some guy in a yellow jersey who was waiting for his buddy that had been dropped with me.

Together the four of us took off on the short descent and soon caught the same group who had been slowed by a crash. On the climb out of Mound Valley I was once again dropped like a musette bag while Allen once again held on and rode with the pack into Grace while I limped in with a couple of others who had been blown off the back.

Allen waited for a while in Grace but left just before I arrived (nature call just before town delayed my arrival) and headed to Soda Springs where the support crew had lunch waiting. He hooked up with a small group and arrived in Soda a few minutes ahead of me. I rolled through Grace, picked up some water then pulled a couple of girls and a couple of guys the 11 miles to Soda, the last 6 miles we had the wind at our back which was a great improvement over the previous mostly uphill 25 miles. The girls were waiting with my PBJ and cookies. I sat down for a few minutes and Kristin worked on my right calf – WHAT A LIFESAVER! Working with the WHS football team trainer her first year of high school paid off and I was in good shape for the rest of the race. Soda Springs was the toughest mental test of the race. I had been on my own or with weaker riders for the last 16 miles and I still had more than 100 miles to go. Allen had given up about 20-30 minutes in time by waiting for me instead of hanging with the Pack 7 group.

As we headed out of Soda we turned north and once again the wind was in our face and Allen and I were on our own or with one of two other riders we picked up along the way. Our support girls passed us and pulled over to cheer us on. We stopped (don’t tell the race officials) and Allen picked up some caffeine free gu – he was a little wired. While we were on the side of the road a group of riders in blue jerseys passed us by. We quickly pulled them in and started riding with them. They were a solid group of 6 from SLC and Park City, a little younger than us and not quite as


We worked well with them riding in a single file pace line into the 3rd feed zone at Wayan, about 120 miles into the race. Allen and I pulled out of Wayan ahead of the ‘Blue Man Crew’ and started the final big climb up Tin Cup Pass – the highest point in the race. Tin Cup was a breeze compared to Treasureton Pass. We were heading east and for only the second time in the ride the wind was at our back. We took a nature break and rode leisurely down the backside waiting for the boys in blue to reel us in. They never did. Apparently they were back in Wayan sitting down and enjoying some pizza.

We crossed into Wyoming at Freedom and turned north into the same annoying wind. The boys in blue finally caught us just a mile from the final feed zone at Etna, mile 144. Motivated by the wind, Allen and I waited to pull out of the feed zone until the blue man crew started rolling.

At Alpine Junction we turned to the northwest back into Idaho. The Palisades were just ahead and the finish line at Swan Valley less than 30 miles away. “Just a simple Laguna Canyon loop ride”, I said to myself. I was wrong. The last 30 miles were mostly uphill and the wind never let up. We would have really suffered without the blue man crew, which had now grown to about 12 riders. Allen and I took our turns a

t the front but had to let the group go as once again we were in pain from drinking too much. We soon pulled back to the group. On the road into Irwin and Swan Valley, the LOTOJA film crew pulled up along side the group while I was in front and filmed us for a few minutes and followed me when I pulled off the front and slid to the back of the group. I may have to buy the video just to see if I made the final cut.

As we rolled into Swan Valley I felt pretty good. Sore shoulders and neck (and a sore rib from a run-in a week earlier with my baby boy, Michael, but that is another story…) but my butt and legs felt good. I had probably taken in too much fluid but I think the 12 Gu packs, PBJ, 2 bananas, 4 cookies and a Dr. Pepper were just about right. As we approached the finish line Allen and I let the group ride ahead so that we would have a better photo op. 184 miles. 10 Hours 38 minutes. 4 food stops and several more convenience stops. A great feeling of accomplishment.

Our stellar support crew of Kristin, Annie and Nanci along with John, Beth and Brian were waiting with cameras, cheers, water, Diet Coke and Krispy Kremes. We then jumped into the cars and drove over Teton Pass to Teton Village. Annie’s sister Pam arranged for us to stay with her at their deluxe 3-bedroom time-share at the Teton Club. A change of clothes (no shower yet) then off to a late dinner at the Mangy Moose. As expected, Kevin, his wife and Bryson were having dinner. I tried to return Kevin’s Castelli knee warmers but he told me to keep them. It was a nice gesture and I accepted because they are really the perfect accessory for riding in 50-60 degree temperatures.

Bryson told me he had finished 3rd in the Pro Category in a sprint finish (as it turns out the race was won by James Yorgason, a 35-44 Master rider, who started 10 minutes behind the pros). Kevin finished in the lead pack of 45+ Masters – also in a sprint finish - and finished 8th. The times this year were about 30 minutes slower than last year due to the wind.

My position following the race was “Been There Done That” with no real desire to try it again. But a quick recovery combined with a great weekend with family and friends in Jackson will most likely force me to soften my position.

I do not have a desire to ride again with only one teammate. I know I held Allen back but I would gladly have done the same for Allen if I had the legs and I know he was not eager to be out on the road alone either, even if it meant a 9 hour time. To ride again I want to find a team of 7-8 like ability riders who are willing to ride together and wait for the weakest rider (or bladder) in the group. I know Allen is ready to do it again. My son John is in for 04. Who will the other 4-5 riders be?