Thursday, December 4, 2008

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?

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