Monday, January 26, 2009

So You Want To Be A Cyclist?

I'm a huge fan of fatty. I check in on his blog often - especially since we're seriously considering a move to his stomping grounds in Utah. On many occasions, the fatcyclist, aka, Elden, has brought me to tears - both of laughter ('How Not to Get Invited on the Next Group Ride and 'How to Size Up the Competition' are two of my favorites) and sorrow (posts about the ups and downs of his wife, Susan's, battle with cancer). Today's post titled 'So You Want To Be A Cyclist Part I: Choosing Your Equipment' is an instant classic. I was already laughing when I got to the part about the recumbent and unfortunately filled my nose with Diet Coke as I read it. Too Funny.

Now, if only I could figure out how to fit a pillow and a Russian phrasebook into my mini-wedge....

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Could I just get one elbow flick? That’s all I want is one – just one! And while you’re at it, how about pointing out the big pothole? Or, maybe if you’re not going to point, you could at least shout out a warning that you’re going to ride within inches of the right side of the series of giant and treacherous rumble strips in the middle of the road that warn of the stop sign coming into Ovid? This was also the year of the long slow pulls. Ugh. If I hear the word “slowing” while riding on gentle rollers one more time, I’m going to scream. To borrow a term used by Peter Harker, we were riding with a bunch of ‘gomers’ this year. I haven’t been this frustrated with my assigned pack of riders since the days of “bow-legged half-wheeler guy” in 2004.

If you want to eat at the Olive Garden on Friday evening, you better be prepared to eat early or wait a long time. Shown here, Bob, Corte, Kristin, Beth holding Lily, Annie, Jack and John

From the get go, I knew this was going to be a different ride from last year. Our start group had only Peter Harker and Corte Haggard riding for team Norda’s. Compared to last year where we had 8 Norda’s riders and similar number of ‘Bountiful Mazda’ riders and a handful of other experienced riders willing to work in our group of Open Cat 5 riders. This year we were back to the old days of Packs defined by age. In 2007 our pack of Norda/Mazda riders immediately went to the front and set a strong, not hard, but steady pace that caught the two groups in front of us – even with an earlier than usual group pee break about 20 miles into the race. This year there was no one to control the pack.

Bill helps John and I get our food and drinks organized early Saturday morning. Then Bill will make the 30 mile drive to Preston to hand out the musette bags.

Disclaimer: For those who haven’t been on a ride with me, let me say, I do have an opinion about how a group ride should go and I’ve been know to be ‘somewhat’ bossy when on a group training ride or in a race like LOTOJA. Back to our story…..

Tait is ready to roll

Peter, Corte and I stayed near the front, but had few opportunities to work at the front because guys like ‘fat guy in the green vest’ would go to the front and stay there pulling a weak 20mph. Then, when the guy finally came off the front, he would drift back and then signal with his arm that he wanted to get back into the pace line about 10 positions back from the front. This when I was about 12 positions back waiting to get to the front and try to rev the pace up a notch or two. It was all I could do not to ride up to the guy in green and yell, “that pull was pathetic, too long and too slow. NO PULL FOR YOU! Back of the line!”

John arrived in Montpelier near the lead and bloodied.

At about state line Peter and I were sitting about 7th and 8th in the line up. The guy in front of me goes directly over a big hole. Bam. I do the same then Peter follows. I can’t believe one of us didn’t pinch flat right there. The hard hit caused Peter’s plastic mount for his Power Tap Computer to break sending his computer flying. It took a moment for Peter to figure out that it was his computer bouncing down the road. He pulled up and u-turned to try to salvage it. If this was 2007, I’m pretty sure the Mazda/Norda’s guys would have all sat up and waited for Peter to chase back on, but this was not 2007. Most of these guys didn’t know how to work in a paceline, let alone any race etiquette -especially during the 30 mile warm up where there is never any attacking. I sat up and slow pedaled hoping to be able to help Peter chase back on once he retrieved his computer. Corte kept going. He figured, correctly, that Peter and I together would have no trouble chasing back on to the group. After a couple of minutes, Peter still was not coming. I could see our group riding away in the distance and the group behind just coming into view about to pass Peter. I figured he could use the next group to chase back so I took off on what was a tough 4 or 5 miles of riding at my limit to chase back on. I was screaming in my microphone for Johan Bruyneel to tell Corte to sit up and help me chase, but alas, I didn’t have a radio or a microphone and Johan was tied up denying rumors that Lance is coming back.

I finally chased back on about a mile outside of Preston and then went to the front as we rolled into Preston which was a good thing because there was a section of gravel road under repair and ‘team Gomer’ was struggling to ride across the gravel. I was first into the feed zone. I threw my vest and full fingered gloves at my brother Bill (aka YPR, super soigneur), grabbed two fresh bottles, told Janet that Peter had lost his computer and was a few minutes behind and then took off.

Corte carried his extra water so he rolled right through the feed zone. I caught him out of town and we discussed where our first comfort stop should be since we missed our chance before Preston. Corte pulled off for a comfort stop on the climb out of Preston just as we were caught by the leaders of the two groups behind us, including my son John who started 6 minutes behind. There was no way I was going to stop when there was a group this strong pulling me up the hill. Like the movie ‘Groundhog Day’, that was the last I saw of Corte for the day. I descended into Riverdale at the front of the group. My extra girth combined with good wheels and a skier’s tuck helped me go by dozens of riders on the downhill, knowing full well most would come by me when the road turned up on the way to Mink Creek.

I hung with John as long as I could. He told me Peter had rolled into Preston with his group so that was good news to hear. He also said he left Casey behind at the feed zone.

Lance Armstrong says you can really only go full out for about an hour in a long race. I had spent way too much time and energy on the chase back into Preston and I was about to pay for it on the climb up Strawberry. In 2007, stomach problems were my down fall and this year, the solo chase into Preston would be cause for concern. I would need to save a little on the Strawberry climb if I was going to survive the day.

Soon I was dropped by the leaders of the 1400, 1500 and 1600’s and even the sole leader of the 1700’s – Nate Pack, the overall winner two years ago and the single fastest rider in the race for the past three years. He must not have an annual racing license because he rides in the Citizen Race category like we do. Each year he does the 30 mile warm up ride into Preston then proceeds to do a 170 mile individual time trial that is amazing to see. Two years ago when he won the overall title, he was in John’s group and the two of them left Preston as the two leaders until he blew John off his wheel after Mink Creek. This year, no one was on his wheel. Note: turns out he finished 10th at 9:15, one minute behind the winning time of 9:14 by nine CAT 3 riders.

I rode by the Diamond R and saw Robin Fife’s mom out front washing windows. I shouted, “Hello Rasmussens” and got a nice wave in return. A ‘Fat Boy’ would have been good right about then.

As I approached the false summit, first Peter, then Casey came by. Peter had his computer taped to his handle bar. I told Peter that I had waited for a couple of minutes after he lost his computer and he replied, “Yeah right”. I don’t think he believed me…… Even though I wanted to sit on their wheels, my legs refused to ride at that pace.

With the false summit in view, I caught Tait (and shortly there after, his brother Trent). Tait started 6 minutes in front of me. I rode along with him and then tried to pace him across the saddle and up the real summit. He was having none of it (turns out his wheel was out of true and was causing his brake to rub – something he didn’t figure out and fix until over 100 miles into the race. I’m sure Tait will send his detailed report on your request). I even stopped for a pee break that I didn’t need and still pulled him back. Even though we had discussed this exact scenario of me catching him on Strawberry and then rolling over the summit together, it wasn’t going to happen. I rode away and left him to suffer. (I’ll need help weaving this part of the story into a church talk).

Grab and Go with Peter and Casey right behind me

I missed hooking up with a fast group going into Montpelier and hooked up with some fairly fast girls and a few knuckleheads. I barely survived the rumble strips in Ovid. In Montpelier, Peter and Casey were standing at the feed zone having a leisurely snack. I grabbed my musette bag and kept on rolling with a “wait for me” and a “here I come” from Peter and Casey. Peter pulled up and I badgered him a little about waiting for me and not trying to win the race. He said his power meter computer was now officially dead and he wanted to ride with me so off we went. They told me that John had crashed and was up the road. I immediately thought he must have crashed in Ovid where I had a scare.

What's for lunch?

Jackie helps Brian with his musette bag while Super Soigneur, Grandma Norda, holds his bike

The stress of the support brought on a severe migraine for Jackie, but she was a trooper and carried on in pain. No stress for the veteran Kristin.

Later I found out that John and three other from his 1600 group were approaching the false summit and John and another guy got dropped. They were chasing the leading two across the saddle with John sitting second wheel when they caught two other riders from another group. John assumed that they would just roll past the two slower riders, but the other guy in his group decided to tuck in and draft. John wasn’t expecting this and rode up on the guy and crashed. His head bounced on the asphalt a couple of times, cracking his helmet and he left skin from both knees, his right hip and thigh. He was able to climb back onto his bike and chase. By the end of the day, he was coming into Jackson, bloodied and in a battle for 3rd and 4th place. The other rider in his group, Jess, was sitting on John’s wheel hoping to come by him in the sprint – which included a handful of riders from other groups. When Jess tried to come around, John revved it up and came back around at the finish to win the sprint and take 3rd by a wheel length, much to the delight of the 1st and 2nd place riders in John’s group, one of whom yelled out, “that was @#*$ awesome! John was very excited about the finish. Congratulations to John for being the only Norda’s riders to make the podium. Next year he’ll need to pack an extra vest to wear on the podium because, like me, he left his team vest behind with Bill in Preston during the race. He still looked good in his older Quiksilver jacket.

Peter’s pace up Geneva was good for me, but too strong for Casey so we left him behind. Casey is normally a much faster climber than me but was suffering just a little. Peter’s new found descending skills were on display as we approached 50 mph on the descent. We worked with a random group of riders in the headwind on the way to Salt Creek. That is one steep climb. This year, with Peter’s fine pacing, we averaged 10.2 mph on Salt Creek, which is much better than my normal 8 mph average.

Peter setting the pace on the way to Salt River.

We grabbed our food in Afton and kept right on chugging. Outside of Afton we caught the main group of Larry H. Miller Lexus riders who had started at 6AM, 1 hour and 16 minutes ahead of us. At first I was excited to catch onto a big double pace line, especially because of the notorious Star Valley headwinds. Soon I figured out that this was no blessing. The pace was too slow – which is great for the Lexus riders that just wanted to finish – but was of no use to Peter and me if we wanted to crack the top 10 and set a personal best. After several miles of sitting in and hearing the word, “slowing” way to many times, we pulled away from them when they decided to take a comfort break.

Last feed zone in Alpine and we were off. Here we hooked up with two pretty strong riders and found ourselves in our first powerful group of the day. One of the guys was a fresh relay rider and we benefited from his fresh legs. For most of the race, I had kept to my strategy of staying out of the wind and taking short pulls when it was my turn up front. Peter, on the other hand, is a hammer head. He had taken dozens and dozens of long hard pulls since we left Montpelier and was running on empty. Once he was sitting third wheel with me behind him and our two friends started to open a gap so I gave him a shove to close it down, but on the next step section we had to let them go - but we were able to chase back on as soon as the incline leveled out a bit.

By the time we rolled into Jackson, Peter was feeling a little stronger. At the new turn off for the new section, we both bridged up to a faster group and left our new found friends behind. As we approached the finish line we were both saying, “you go ahead”, but I ‘out sprinted’ Peter by sitting up and tapping my brake so he crossed just in front of me for 8th place in our group at a time of 10:36. We were both very pleased with our top 10 finishes which were 8 minutes out of 3rd place – which was within reach had we not hit the pothole early in the day.

Photo Finish as Peter and I cross the finish line.

Peter is already plotting strategy for next year. First off, he and I are going to buy an annual license and race Masters 45. This will give us an earlier start time; put us in the company of skilled cyclists that will be both a safer and faster group to ride with. You can’t break 10 hours riding at 20 mph on the flats with team Lexus. This will take away any chance for me to podium since I will get dropped by the leaders somewhere on Strawberry – but there will be other faster and safer riders to hook up with after I get dropped so my chance of improving on my time and getting closer to the sub 10 hour goal increases.

Peter’s also going to start weight training and is encouraging me to get a power meter so I can take my training to a new level. I think Peter should just hire me to be his coach. While I’m grateful that he took a ton of long, hard pulls for my benefit this year, my only advice for him next year is that when he gets to the front, go hard, get off and measure your time in the wind in seconds, not minutes. He is such a strong rider, I think that by staying off the front and saving his legs, he should be able to hang with the Masters 45 leaders all the way to Jackson next year.

Note, along the lines of staying off the front: Brian occasionally listens to his dad and brother who told him at dinner the night before to stay out of the wind. He told me that he was about 120 miles into the race this year before he took his first serious pull. He eventually caught Corte after starting 21 minutes behind and they rode together most of the way with Brian finishing a respectable 11:37 after riding very little this year (three jobs, one marriage and two honeymoons got in the way of training). Proof again, that Brian was only half joking last year when he said something like, “I don’t see what’s so hard about this race?”

Meanwhile, no power meter for me. I don’t doubt that they are an effective training tool, I just prefer to do my training more socially with the morning and Saturday ride group where I can compare notes with Paul about who’s grandkids are cuter, learn about Steve’s trip to D.C., hear Mark’s stories about helicopter rescues on Mt Whitney and all the other good stuff we cover on the rides. I’m staying true to the original club name, ssRcc – semi-serious Recreational cycling club. I think if I ride more and lose a few pounds, I should be able to improve my time next year. It’s worth a shot.

Last. I can’t thank enough those that provide support for this ride. It is a long and very stressful day. My daughter Kristin is the best! My best investment each year is her plane ticket to SLC. This year she supported John and me. She mixes the energy drinks, and is always there ready to go with the musette. This year, Jackie provided support to Brian and Mark Nebeker (that’s a story for another day) and found out first hand how quickly a migraine can set in when you’re not sure where to go, if you have time for a bathroom stop and all of the other unforeseen things that happen. Having Bill in Preston does so much to take the stress of those providing support for the other feed zones. A big thanks to him also. One of my favorite pictures from the race is of my mom, Norda herself, holding Brian’s bike while he grabs his food and sheds his toe warmers in Montpelier. Who else has their 81 year old grandma as a personal soigneur?

Beth and Kristin are all smiles - and who wouldn't be? They're hangin' with Lily

Beth, Lily, Jack and John

Once again, John was back on the Podium with a 3rd place finish. Way to go John!

The Storm of Christmas 2007

Some of my favorite photos of a the fine powder we found on the backside at the 'Beav on the day after Christmas.






Bill leading Jake

John and Brian
Even though Tom missed the day after Christmas, he was still able to find some room for fresh track on the 2nd day after the storm. p.s. No need to let others know about this little secret.

LOTOJA 2007 Race report - Sept 8, 2007

25th Annual Race

My 5th LOTOJA.

My brother Tom owes me dinner. He also laid down the law at this year’s race. Having raced LOTOJA just once before as part of a relay team, Tom signed up to ride the full race this year. He didn’t just ride, he rode hard. Twice during the day he rode me off his wheel. First up Strawberry and then again on the Geneva climb – never to been seen again until at the finish line. His last words at the start line were, “first one to Jackson buys dinner”. I’ll take the 22 oz. bone-in rib eye with some crème Brule for dessert.

Next to the 2005 race in the cold and rain, this was the most difficult race for me. The weather looked like it was going to be perfect. No vest, toe warmers or full fingered gloves were required at the start line. Many didn’t even have arm or knee warmers. What we didn’t know was that a brutal head/cross wind would torment us from Salt River to Alpine.

The 5400 start pack at the start. (l-r Todd Udall, Dave Preszler, Peter Harker, Paul Badger, me, John Emmett, Brian Emmett and Corte Haggard).

There were three different start packs in this year CAT 5’s registered as team Norda’s. Tom and four other local Norda’s riders were the first off with the 5200’s at 6:52. Three minutes later 5300 Norda’s 2 departed with a mix of Irvine and SLC including a few first time riders. In this group I believe only Tait, Trent and Eric had done the ride before. The 5400 pack included the last group of Norda’s 3 at 6:58. This group had a little more experience with John, Brian, Corte, Paul, Dave and I with past experience while Casey Robles, Todd Udall and Peter Harker riding for the first time. A photo of the 5400 start is here:

When I looked at the various start groups, I correctly predicted that the 5400’s would catch the 5300’s and the 5200’s before Preston. We had a bunch of riders from Bountiful Mazda who had placed first, third and fifth in their group last year with sub 10 hour times and I remember Bountiful Mazda guys being the guys that killed me when I tried to hang with them the first year when they were riding in the Citizen 25-35 group that caught Allen Barbieri and I outside of Preston (for the record Allen stayed with them all the way to Soda Springs and then waited for me at the feed zone).

As we left Logan, the Norda’s guys were at the front with each of us taking a couple of turns in the rotation while some interloper from the 5300’s sitting about 10th wheel kept telling the guy coming of the front to go in front of him. On my second time coming off the front, I declined and told the Mazda guys to fell free to work with us. They willingly went to the front and kept a good pace along with a couple of guys with Rocky Mountain Spine and Sport jerseys.

We caught the 5300’s about half way to Preston but instead of passing them, we took a group bio-break then chased them down a few miles up the road. We said our hello’s as we rode by. One of the 5300’s jumped into our group pace line about 5 positions in front of me. When a second rider tried it just two riders in front of me I yelled, “Hey!” and he moved back into his own group and muttered, “Sorry”. Ever the enforcer. A few minutes later we passed Tom and the 5200’s. All three groups rolled into Preston together. That confused my brother Bill who had musette bags for 5200’s and 5400’s and was surprised to see the 5400’s right behind the 5100’s. It took only a few seconds to get that straightened out and soon we were off. Corte and Brian missed Bill in Preston and had to turn around. Corte also struggled to get his leg warmers off. Those few seconds cost him and Brian because the rest of the leaders kept cruising. Brian hooked up with a couple of fast riders and chased us down a couple of miles out of Preston, but Corte was off the back for the rest of the day.

As we passed the Diamond R ranch in Mink Creek, we were cheered on by some “ssRcc Rocks!” and “Fat Boy?” banners. I found out later that Robin Fife had made the signs while visiting her parents the week before. A couple of years ago on a training ride we stopped in for some water and Robin’s dad, Garland Rasmussen, not only gave us some water, but offered up some Fat Boy ice cream sandwiches.

The pace up Strawberry was more than I could handle. I had some pretty ugly stomach cramps bothering me so I settled in at a steady pace and kept looking over my shoulder for Corte to appear. Brian, John, Casey Robles and Kurt Anderson were long gone with or just behind the leaders. Tom and Dean were also pulling away but in sight. I’m pretty sure Peter, Dave and Todd were making time up ahead also. Jeff Shepherd and I settled in for the climb – neither feeling that great. Besides my upset stomach, I had my first of many cramps during the climb. Jeff never did feel good and would later abandon at Afton. These cramps were on my inside of my thigh where I tore an abductor muscle three weeks ago while riding along PCH on a training ride. I rode away from Jeff when the incline turned up a notch near the top. I could see what I believe was Tom and Kurt’s group as they rolled over the summit but I needed to stop for another quick nature break. I tried in vain to chase them down on the descent. When I got to the valley I was alone so I slow pedaled for a few minutes until a group of 7 or 8 guys picked me up for the run into Montpelier. Along the way I noticed that someone had thrown up on the side of the road and smiled with relief that it wasn’t me.

I heard from Peter that Tom was feeling it on Strawberry. According to Peter, “Tom passed me like I was standing still – and taunted me by saying, ‘Come on, you’re not going to let Bob’s little brother beat you up this hill are you?’” Peter said rolling with the large group at top speed into Montpelier was the best part of the race. He said he felt like a champ. I’m pretty sure that feeling faded soon enough.

The situation on the road now was Brian with the leaders, John and Kurt behind in another group and Casey behind them. Right behind were Tom, Peter, Dave and Todd. I was alone a couple of minutes back. At the top Dean sat up to wait for Shep. Somewhere behind me were Corte and Paul. Behind them the group of 5300’s who would stick together for the day with Corey and Richard Brand taking more than their fair share of pulls with Eric Mortensen, Scott Muir, Tait Eyre, Bill Freedman and Marc Fuller. Trent Eyre was now off the back of the 5300’s and would spend the rest of the day on his own. I’m sure each one of these guys has their own battle story to tell. Tait’s report is here:

John was the first to roll into the feed zone in Montpelier

The misery of Strawberry behind I'm feeling better and looking for Tom - who will not be caught.

Brian is over unloading his musette on the fly

When I rolled into Montpelier, Tom and Kurt had picked up their food and fluid and were just starting to roll out – Tom with a piece of pizza in his hand. Casey had decided that he was riding too hard (see the earlier comment about someone throwing up at mile 71) so he decided to wait for me. I told him to get going just as Dave and Todd started to pull out. As we left Montpelier Tom and Kurt were in front with me, Casey, Dave and Todd right behind.

Ron has a question for Casey

As soon as the road turned up on Geneva, Tom and Kurt pulled away for the second time that day passing Peter who must have rolled out of Montpelier moments before I arrived. As Tom passed Peter he told him we were right behind him so he sat up and said hello.

About the time we found Peter, Dave and Todd stopped for a nature break. Peter, Casey and I stayed together over Geneva and Salt River and rolled into Afton in pretty good shape. Salt River was as bad as I remember it. I could barely hold 6-7 mph on the climb but I did keep Casey and Peter in sight and they waited a minute or so for me at the top.

Up ahead, John and Brian had just rolled out of Afton. For the second time in his LOTOJA career, John was planning in vain to abandon in Afton. Two years ago Mark Facer talked him in to riding on in a driving rain and freezing temperatures. This year, it was not the weather but John’s knee that was doing him in. John injured an already tender knee on a 120 mile training ride three weeks ago when his the top strap of his Sidi cycling shoe broke early in the ride and the result of all that riding with a broken shoe left him with an inflamed patella tendon that was very painful. He had been off the bike resting for three weeks and had a cortisone injection on the previous Tuesday.

The rest and cortisone was not enough and he couldn’t get his knee to work on the steep incline so he was walking his bike up Salt River. Brian had lost the lead group on a pee break so he was now back with John. He decided to walk with John for a ¼ mile or so. Then John sent Brian ahead to tell Beth he was going to abandon in Afton. On the road into Afton, his knee loosened up and with a little prodding from Brian after he arrived in Afton John decided to continue.

When Casey, Peter and I rolled into Afton, we heard that John and Brian were about 30 minutes up the road and Tom and Kurt were about 15 minutes ahead. Dave and Todd arrived so now we were five heading into the meanest head/cross wind I’ve ever experienced at LOTOJA. Most of the time the wind was coming in hard at about 10 o’clock so there was no where to hide. We were mixed in with a big group of Franklin Covey riders from the 5300 and 5600 groups. Because of the cross winds it was very hard to hold your position in the pace line. I saw a split in the group and jumped ahead to the leaders and ended up leaving Dave, Todd, Casey and Peter behind.

I stayed with them as long as I could but eventually I had to sit up. I pulled over to give my arm warmers to Kristin and Jackie on the side of the road and heard Dave yell to jump on. He was coming up fast with a group of 5 or 6 riders so I jumped on and rode into Alpine with Dave. Once we got there, Dave said he was going to wait for Todd so I decided to get it over with and keep going. I saw two guys from Sugarhouse Cycling Club that I had ridden with earlier in the day and said “let’s go”. Their names were Stuart and Joey. Joey was the strongest of the group and did more than his fair share of the work, but Stuart and I did our best when we went to the front. We all wanted to get in under 11 hours.

Just before Kristin and Jackie stopped to get my arm warmers on the road into Alpine, Beth drove by in the truck. I wondered why she was still so far back and was pretty sure she was going to miss John and Brian in Alpine. Turns out she did. The girls tried to get a Subway sandwich in Afton but the lack of competent help made the wait way too long and she ended up missing the boys in Alpine. No worries though, the neutral support is so good that once they couldn’t find Beth, Brian and John just picked up water and Gatorade from the neutral support and kept on going.

Fortunately, the cross winds turned to a nice but short lived tail wind as we turned into Alpine and headed up Snake River Canyon. While Joey and Stuart kept an eye on the old fat grandpa from California, Peter was chasing about 15 minutes behind and Dave and Todd just behind him. Casey’s suffering in the head wind was almost over as he was on his own another 15 minutes behind Dave and Todd.

Corte and Paul were still battling the winds. Once they made the turn into Alpine, Paul told Corte to go ahead so Corte left Paul behind and finished strong putting a half hour on Paul during those last 40 miles.

Even further on down the road the big crew of 5300’s was making pretty good time. Scott and Tait said they got over the climbs and felt pretty good considering. Eric’s cramping was not getting any better and even though they tried to keep a pace that would work he was falling off the back. Tait told me that Corey did what he could to keep him out of the wind, but in the end the cramping won and Eric decided to abandon the race in Alpine.

Even with Joey and Stuart doing all they could to help me, I couldn’t catch the young, strong, skinny and fast Tom. By catching Tom in Preston and again in Montpelier, I had a six minute lead on him when we were together because of our different start times. After Montpelier he gained over 11 minutes on me and finished with a time just over five minutes faster. Nicely done, especially considering that Tom suffered with calf and hamstring cramping for much of the day.

'Beat Bob' - with my slow start, Tom ran away with bragging rights for 2007. Here Sam and Mac show their team spirit in support of their dad.

Later Tom said his secret to climbing so much faster than me was me telling him earlier in the year that a he could easily ride a 13 hour time with the slower riders his first year. Turns out I was sort of right – he ‘easily’ rode a sub 11 hour time and that is no easy task. Nothing like an obnoxious older brother giving you some of the motivation you need accomplish an amazing feat (a lot of time on the bike also helped). Out of all of my friends and family riding in this race only a very few were able to come in under 11 hours. I not sure Tom would have made it without his two girls holding the sign ‘BB’ out the window of the family van when they drove by him. Rumor has it that ‘BB’ stands for ‘Beat Bob’.

The Emmett boys at the finish - John, Brian, Bob and Tom

Brian was the other superstar of the day. Before the race I stated publicly (see OC Register article and article in the Herald Journal on Sept 7) that I thought John would try for a podium spot and that Brian would probably hang with his dad because he hadn’t trained as hard as I thought he should. Brian didn’t say anything, but he sure proved me wrong being the last team Norda’s guy still riding in the leaders 90+ miles into the race only to loose contact because he needed a longer pee break than the others and the leaders showed some bad etiquette and didn’t wait for him. He could make a real statement in this race as early as next year. I think he has the bug and is going to start looking at other opportunities to race – preferably shorter distances where bladder size will not determine the winner. At the end of the race, John finished in 9th and Brian 10th out of our start group of 55 riders.

Props to Scott Muir, who worried more than all of the rest of us combined - and trust me, we all worried plenty. He took his large frame and bad back over some grueling climbs and into some ferocious winds and came in with a very respectable sub 13 hours time. I was also impressed that Peter Harker came on with a strong finish. I know he was concerned with an illness and loss of weight the week before, but like Casey, he only seemed to suffer in the wind.

I found that I can not ride the climbs in this race at my current weight, which was about 8-10 pounds heavier than in previous years. I need to shed some of the excess fat before next year and then hope that I can avoid the hamstring and abductor muscle tears that have hampered my training the past four weeks (no more touch football on the beach with the Young Men). I’m also going to be more selective on my pre-race breakfast.

Thanks to my mom and dad for letting many of us use their garage for pre-race prep and for the killer peach ice cream.

Even bigger thanks to Bill, Kristin, Beth and Jackie (close friend of Brian) and all the others who provided support. It really makes the race fun to have so many family members participate. No one was more excited than Annie about Beth doing support. That meant that Annie got to stay in Logan and baby sit 11 month old Jack all weekend. He is pretty attached to grandma. She really loves that.

Till next year.

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.