Thursday, January 22, 2009

Irvine World News previews Irvine cyclists racing Lotoja 2007

Publication: Irvine World News;

Date: Sept. 6, 2007;

Section: People;

Page: 3

They just won’t rest

Bicyclists train year-round to race from Logan, Utah, to Jackson Hole, Wyo.


Early Saturday morning on a sleepy street in Irvine’s Oak Creek neighborhood, the Emmett house is already bustling. Six bicyclists in full team kit gather, pumping tires, reminiscing about rides. Fifty-two-year-old Bob Emmett is discussing today’s 50-mile route; a final training ride before the group races 206 miles at the LOTOJA Classic on Saturday.

LOTOJA stands for Logan, Utah, to Jackson Hole, Wyo., is the longest one-day USCF sanctioned race in the country. Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, the event attracts 1,000 high-caliber bicyclists, professional and amateur. The timed race crosses three states with three major summits near or above 7,000 feet along the way.

A 206-mile, one-day ride is, “extremely uncommon,” says Loren Mooney, associate executive editor of Bicycling Magazine. “The double century is cropping up to satisfy those who have to keep trying the next extreme thing.”

For Emmett, a double century was his beginning in road racing. His interest in road riding, primarily for cardio training, escalated in 2003. When Emmett, a Logan native, saw LOTOJA as an opportunity to visit family he began training. But in April that year a bicycling accident that broke his collarbone and ribs crushed his desire to race.

With encouragement from a co-rider, Allen Barbieri, and the thought of family members who would be there, Emmett got back on his bike in time to prepare for the September race. Emmett finished in 10 hours 38 minutes and was satisfied to say, “been there done that.” Yet the weekend with family motivated him to ride again.


Now preparing for his fifth consecutive race, Emmett says, “It’s a family affair.” Two of his four children, John, 28, and Brian 22, and Bob’s younger brother Tom will be racing again this year.

In 2004, John’s first race, Bob Emmett recalls, “I had severe leg cramps.” John slowed his pace and stayed with his father to the finish. This year, John is vying for a top finish.

Over the years his wife, Annie, brother Bill, daughter Kristin, and daughter-in-law Beth have

driven support vehicles. They make drops of fresh water and energy drinks at intervals along the course, allowing the Emmetts to ride continuously to the 120-mile marker. Bob Emmett’s parents, John and Norda, wait roadside in Montpelier, Idaho, around mile 80, to cheer for their sons and grandsons.

The biggest challenge of the race is Salt River Pass in Wyoming, midway point of the ride, a steep climb to a 7,800-foot summit. “When you finally get over the top, you know the worst is behind you,” Emmett says. Finishing the race is “A great feeling of accomplishment.”

Without hesitation Emmett says 2005, the year he didn’t finish, was his most memorable ride. At mile 80 he faced pouring rain and freezing temperatures. He abandoned the ride.

“Hundreds of riders abandoned, many into ambulances.” His son John continued the final 120 miles allowing a friend, Mark Facer, a first-time rider with a desire to finish, to draft behind into the night for an 8 p.m. finish in Jackson Hole.

Each year Emmett’s enthusiasm draws more riders. This year, 22 riders associated with the Semi-Serious Recreational Cycling Club will join him. From Irvine; Tait Eyre, Paul Badger, Eric Mortensen, Scott Muir, Peter Harker and former Irvine resident Corte Haggard.

Emmett equips himself for the race with a lightweight carbon fiber Specialized Tarmac S-works bike with a “Fizik” saddle. A comfortable saddle, his position on the bike, and a new set of durable tires are the things he considers most before the long ride.


“The training goes all year,” Emmett says. Winter training averages 60 miles a week. By summer that doubles to 120 to 200 miles per week. Emmett logs more than 5,000 miles a year to prepare for the race.

Working as a sales manager, along with family and church commitments Emmett says, “If we don’t ride early morning we don’t find the time in the day.”

Most who train with Emmett juggle similar responsibilities; somehow finding a spare seven hours a week for bicycling. Rides get worked around swim meets, Scout events, soccer. Some sacrifice sleep.

At 50 years old, Corte Haggard, four-year veteran of the race, boasts, “I’m in better shape than I’ve ever been.” Paul Badger enjoys the camaraderie. First-time rider Scott Muir admits to pre-race jitters, “Major worries and anxiety,” he says, chuckling. Training has already helped Muir lose weight and lower blood pressure. Tait Eyre, with experience, says, “I know it’s going to be hard, but I know what to expect.”

One by one team members mount their bicycles for the final training ride. Emmett calls out specifics of the morning route. The snapping of shoes locking into pedals echoes as conversation fades. A few circle until the team pulls out single file; ready for Saturday and 206 miles.

EMMETT is ready for his fifth 206-mile bicycle race, which starts in Utah and ends in Wyoming.

(right front), and a handful of friends, are preparing for a 206-mile bicycle race that stretches through three states. Here, they ride through Shady Canyon on one of their 50-mile morning practice rides. (In this phote left to right, Peter Harker, Corte Haggard, Emmett, Paul Badger)

EMMETT (right) and other cyclists meet in Irvine for training rides.

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