Sunday, September 18, 2011


LOTOJA 2011 Race Report
Executive Summary:  High Hopes, Mediocre Performance.  Race time:  10:39, 14th place in Masters 55+.  One minute slower than last year.
This was my 9th consecutive year lining up for LOTOJA.  Every year is a unique experience with highs and lows and lessons learned.  
Last year my expectations were quite low; I was pretty sick in the week leading up to LOTOJA and Dad was into his final few weeks of his earthly existence so I found myself spending a lot of time in Logan to be with him and mom and let my LOTOJA training slide to the minimum required.  I was happy with my decision and grateful that I had the time to be by his side many days during the summer.  I would never trade of minute of watching dad work so hard exercising with his walker, helping him get in and out of his chair, bed and the bathroom, helping him eat a bowl of peaches or giving him his last haircut.  The summer of 2010 was a special time for me and LOTOJA was a very small part of it rather than the primary focus it has been in the past and was again this summer.
This year I was much more dedicated to early morning rides up American Fork canyon and long Saturday rides.  For the first time in two years, I felt my training was adequate.  I have several 100+ mile training rides in my legs including 170+ miles at the Tour of Park City.  I was focused on my weight more than ever before – committed to getting my winter weight of 175 down to sub 160.  My final weigh in before LOTOJA showed a new low of 158.2.  I started to think that being 5-10 pounds lighter than previous LOTOJA’s might be the difference in me being able to stay with the leaders over the first climb which I believe is the most important thing I can do in my eternal quest for a top 10 finish and a sub 10 time.

The weekend got off to a good start gathering with Tait & Angela Eyre, Paul & Kim Badger and James & Anjanette Paul, Scott Belnap and Casey for an Italian Place sandwich prior to check in on Friday afternoon.   Following check in I went out for a short spin with Paul Badger, Nate Cazier and Nate’s dad.  This innocent afternoon spin tuned out to be a dark cloud of warning.  My Look cleats had worn out so I replaced them three days before LOTOJA and was never able to get the positioning right, especially on my left shoe.  I left the training ride early and spent the next hour trying to find the right positioning.  I estimate that between Thursday night in Highland and Friday afternoon in Logan I tweaked my cleat positioning 25-30 times.  Even though I had carefully traced the position of my old cleats prior to installing the new cleats, it never felt right.
Friday night the gang gathered for dinner at Calloways in Smithfield.  This has been our secret spot for the past few years, but the secret is out and the place was packed.  We took a large table in the back.  Up front were about 12-15 Fusion-io compatriots and their support teams along with my neighbor, workmate and friend, Tyler Smith, and his friends and family.  I would be seeing more of Tyler the next day.
After dinner the gang gathered back at mom’s for some traditional peach ice cream with raspberry ice cream on the side.  Musette bags were prepped and it was time for bed.  Kristin wasn’t going to arrive until after midnight, but with 8 years’ experience, John and I were confident that she would have everything under control and we were right.  This was going to Michael’s first LOTOJA.  He got in last year but a blown ACL kept him out.  This year he got in, but had only been on a few training rides and had reluctantly decided that it might be best for him to ride the first 80 miles to Montpelier and then head back to Logan for the USU – UVU soccer game.  It was UVU’s season opener and Michael plays center-mid so it was the right call.

  ice cream social on Lotoja eve

Lack of training was only part of my worries about Michael.  He hasn’t had the experience nor has he taken the time to get confidence that he can change a flat – especially using a CO2 cartridge.  The night before the race he said he was glad John was in his group just in case he got a flat.  I had to break it to him that this is the one day of the year where John will not be helping him – in fact, no one will be helping him.  LOTOJA is a race and John can’t get on the podium if he stops to help his little brother with a flat.  I had set up Michael’s bike with brand new Continental tires so with any luck, he would not hit something and flat.

After a restless night’s sleep I was up at 4:30 for breakfast.  A couple of waffles, energy drink, banana and Diet Coke had me ready to go.  John and Michael were up before 6 which gave us a chance for a self-portrait in the kitchen.

Paul and Kim getting Paul ready for his 5:45 start.  Good to see Paul still sporting the Norda's team kit.  A true classic.

Pops and his boys - John and Michael

It was the warmest Lotoja morning I can remember.  Mid-50’s is much better than low 40’s or even 30’s of previous years.   Arm warmers were my only cold weather gear.  I was starting 9 minutes ahead of John and Michael so I rolled out of moms at 6:30 for my 6:40 start time.  It was just enough time for a quick porta potty stop and then into the corral for the start.  This was the first time ever that I started the race without any friends or teammates.  I was a little nervous about that.  Along the way I chatted with Patrick English who would go on to win the 60+ category and Kevin  Keenan who would go on to win the 55+ category.  This was Kevin’s first LOTOJA.  He’d flown in from San Francisco the night before and had a lot of questions about the course.  
Just like last year, our group lollygagged our way to Preston.  This year I planned to take a more aggressive strategy to stay with the Cat 4’s when they caught us.  Sure enough the Cat 4’s caught us at about mile 18 and I worked my way to the front to keep our group with them.  It was not to be.  The peloton boss, I believe it was Elton Reid of FFKR/Sports Base On-Line, demanded that we let them go and not work with them.  Dang it.  So much for my plan.  We let them go, stopped for a pee-break and just like last year gave up about 7-8 minutes to most of the other groups in the first 30 miles.  Elton would go on to finish 2nd on the day and I suspect he was the one who protested Kevin’s win on the results sheet posted at the awards ceremony.  I don’t have any details on the protest.  I doubt the protest is that Kevin was too fast.
For the first time ever, I told Bill that he didn’t need to stick around in Preston and wait for us (he was there early to support Tom and Shelly). I had a 3rd bottle in my back pocket and rolled right through the feed zone with the leaders.  Soon we were through Mink Creek and there I was still with the leaders.  The group was down to about 14-15 guys when we passed the winter gate and the road turned up.  I popped, but felt good that I’d held on for almost 50 miles.  Moments later John and Tyler Smith cruised by with their Cat 5 Group.  No sign of Michael.  I guess his bladder got the best of him and he stopped for a break near Riverdale.  
I was suffering on the climb but got a second wind just below the false summit when a couple of Cat 4 Ozone guys, Matt and Rob, went by.  I jumped on with them and rolled over the summit with Rob, leaving Matt behind at the feed zone.  A good group formed going into Montpelier and it was there that I caught Tyler.  Rob stayed behind; I believe to wait for Matt.  Tyler and I took off.  Since Tyler had been dropped by the leaders he was content to roll along with me.  We were only 4 minutes outside a 10 hour pace.  My hopes picked up.  Maybe Tyler could lead me to my first sub-10 time on this course.  
John flying down Strawberry into Bear Lake Valley
Michael is all smiles

My pedal problems were starting to show and I experienced a variety of cramps on the Geneva climb.  Dang, this was going to turn out to be a long day. On the descent of Geneva, I spotted a Sho-Air kit up the road.  Soon I could see it was Shayne.  That was not good.  Shayne had a 9 minute head start on me and I didn’t expect to see him at all, let alone this early.  I tapped him on the back and said “Let’s go buddy”.  He just shook his head in disgust.  Later that night I found out that he was suffering with an acute case of EIA - 'Exercise Induced Asthma' - and would be forced to abandon after taking an hour off his bike to try to recover.  Two bad years in a row for Shayne.
I stayed close with or close to Tyler on most of Salt River.  I saw him go by Tait about 200 meters from the summit.  I yelled at Tait and challenged him to a race to the top.  He wasn’t amused.  I rolled by Tait looking for a porta potty.  I could see Tyler roll over the top just ahead.  I was a minute behind and in need of a break.  I decided to let Tyler go, take a pee break and head to Afton with Tait.  I was now 18 minutes off a 10 hour pace and the only way to hit that time would be to have a strong group and a tail wind.  Neither materialized.   At Afton, Kristin had everything I needed, the most important being a bottle of cold water that I downed on the spot.  I was catching up on my liquids, but failed with my food.  I couldn’t eat the dry waffle stingers that I had used in training – the weather was too hot and windy.  I failed to make up the difference with gu or honey stinger chews.

Tyler and I are all smiles rolling at the start of the Salt River Climb
I was not happy to see that as we entered Star Valley, the normal head wind was waiting.  The forecast was for a Southeast wind.  Unfortunately, that wind didn’t arrive until Sunday.  Tait survived a bee or wasp sting along the way and at the feed zone we caught Scott and Nate.  The four of us hooked up with a potpourri of relay, women and other riders.  It was not a well-oiled pace-line.  We got stuck behind a relay girl who was holding us back and not coming off the front.  Tait rode up to Nate who was sitting second wheel and told him to go around.  Nate obeyed.  Everyone obeys Tait.  We soon found ourselves again suffering behind the same girl relay rider (see last year’s report for my true feelings on relay riders messing up the pace-line), I rallied the troops and we went by on the outside and upped the pace considerably, maybe too much.
Even though I was eating Hammer Endurolytes like candy, I was still battling cramps in both hamstrings, quads and calves as we rolled into Alpine.  Tait, Nate and I left Scott behind in Alpine to suffer on his own and started up Snake River Canyon.  We had some help arrive but both Tait and I had gotten behind on our food and water and were in for a tough finish.  Tait popped first and then Nate dropped me.  I was hanging on for dear life with some guys when an Adobe/Omniture guy on the side of the road held up his hand and wheel begging for someone to stop.  I yelled, “What do you need”?  He yelled back, “60mm tube.”  What the heck, I was cooked, he was desperate, so I stopped and threw him a tube and a canister, leaving me with nothing.  Probably a stupid move, but I was thinking about what might have happened to Michael if he flatted and hopped that someone might stop to help him if necessary.
While I was stopped, Tait and a group rolled by so I chased on with them.  At we approached the neutral feed at Hoback, I told Tait I needed to pee.  He needed water.  When I saw they were handing up water, I decided to pass on the pee break, grab some water and go.  My trick (Tait has bought in that it was miscommunication so don’t tell him it was a trick) worked and Tait stood around and drank 3 bottles of water while he waited for me to come out of a porta potty.  Since I was up the road, I never emerged.  I rolled into Jackson and on to the bike path with very little help.  Soon after getting off the bike path Tait and a large group rolled by.  Tait had new life after the 3 bottles of water and was up near the front hammering for the last 10 miles.  I managed to hang on, never having to go to the front and finished in the same group as Tait.  Completely spent.

10:39 is a respectable time, one minute slower than last year, but not what I had planned on.  Last year was a breeze compared to this year even though my weight was down and my conditioning way up.  It just goes to show how important a strong teammate is.  Last year John stayed with me for the last 150 miles AND we had a tailwind in Star Valley.  Too bad I didn’t have those two key elements to help me this year.
Lessons for next year are to get my shoes and saddle dialed in well before the race.  I narrowly escaped saddle tragedy this year.  After the Tour of Park City it was apparent that my old Fizik Arione was not going to be acceptable for LOTOJA.  I spend a few hundred miles trying to get used to a Specialized Romin, but by mile 80, that saddle was not comfortable.  The week before Lotoja I purchase a new Fizik Arione with a center cut out.  It immediately felt right.  I lucked out. 
At the finish it was great to see Kristin, John, Jack and Lily waiting. I can’t tell you how important Kristin is.  I couldn’t do this without her.  She arrived in Alpine just as John’s group rolled into town.  She was running full speed trying to hold her pants up to get John his mussete.  She made it.  Money.
John, Nate, Tait & Bob
 Cold water soak

John’s report was especially exciting.  3rd Place!!  I listened as John told me about his day.  After making it over Strawberry with a fairly large group, fellow Ozone rider and eventual winner, Adam Krommenhoek, told John the group was too large and he planned to thin it down on Geneva.  John was willing to help and go with him, but didn’t have the legs.  John was sitting second wheel when Adam took off the front.  He looked and acted the part of the loyal teammate who wouldn’t chase down his own team.  Only one other rider went with Adam.  On Salt River John left the rest of the group behind and was on his own for most of the rest of the race as 3rd place on the road.  The 4th place finisher caught John in Snake River canyon but John quickly dropped him on the steepest second of that canyon.  Well Done.

John's 3rd LOTOJA podium.  

I’m going to open a job requisition for a domestique next year.  You need to be a stronger rider than me (that’s a long list), 55+ is a bonus (shorter list) and be willing to ride in the wind for about 180 miles (I’ll take the other 26).  Could mean free hotels and entry fee to the right applicant.  Dave Preszler? Mark Facer?
Training for next year starts now.
I have no idea who this is but he's sporting the classic Quiksilver/Norda's jersey I designed in 2005.  Love it!
Last seen here:
Masters 55+:
Bob Emmett:  14th

Cat 5 5100's (50 total)
Adam Krommenhoek:  1st
John Emmett:  3rd
5116 John EMMETT OZONE/SBR RACING  9:49:50
9th 5149Tyler SMITH OZONE/SBR RACING0 10:22:08
Michael Emmett: DNF

Team OZONE/SBR final standings:
Cat 3/4 (38 total):
Ryan LeMone:  2nd
Nolan Finlayson:  6th
Javier Vargas:  24th
Mike Oblad:  27th

Masters 55+:
Robert Emmett:  14th

Cat 4, 700's(41 total)
Steve Wilson:  1st
Colter Hammer:  6th
Val Gibson:  9th
Adam Jones:  13th
Darin Toone:  23rd
Hondo Vargas:  24th
Steve Newton:  30th
Dennis McIntyre:  35th

Cat 4, 800's (44 total)
Chad Curtis:  5th
Rob Jones:  19th
Matt Robbins:  22nd
Jeff Austin:  31st
Dave Ramsey:  32nd
Ryan Finlayson: 33rd
Heath Birchall:  34th
Rick Finlayson: 35th

Cat 5 5100's (50 total)
Adam Krommenhoek:  1st
John Emmett:  3rd
Tyler Smith:  9th
Shane Evans:  14th
Charles Butler:  39th
Michael Emmett: DNF

Women Cat 4 (23 total)
Alicia Finlayson: 16th

Cit Men 35+ (42 total)
Doug Ybarra:  8th

Cit Men Open (40 total)
Wayne Hartzell:  6th


  1. do you know steve wilson? he raced the cat 4 700s and "won". many groups were together at the end of the race, and with approx 4 miles to go the racers took it upon themselves to line up according to category so that the end of the race would be conducted against your own competitors. instead of obeying that protocol, steve snuck off with an earlier group in that line-up and cruised in, while the other leaders of the 700s were lining up for the end....meaning waiting for the 300s, 400s, 500s, then 600s to finish up.

    it was a little weak.

  2. I'm glad to see there is no more need to suck in your tummy during photos. Nice ride, again. Although, A little too factual for me... I like it better when you embellish your stories. Non the less a good read. #10Stub10

  3. Tom, I think the 2012 hashtag is going to be #Year10Sub10Top10