Fellow LOTOJA riders,
It has now been 5 days since the 2008 edition of the LOTOJA road race. The body has had time to recover and enough time to reflect on the day without the short term emotions that come from abusing the body without the expected results. I’m not much of a writer, however after reading several of my fellow riding friends stories, I feel determined to put my thoughts of the day in print.
After the race there were many emotions. The first was that I was glad that the race was done and had not listened to that voice that always seems to be nagging at me to quit. Second was the disappointment of not finishing with a time or finish that was hoped for. There was the pedal incident that I’ll get to later. I did estimate the time without the pedal breakage. It made me feel a little better. The third was boy do I feel sick and was it worth the effort? For two and a half hours the debate went on. At 9:30 I was able to get some water and food down. Realizing that I was not going to die, I headed to bed for some much needed rest.
A person can only lick their wounds for so long until they come to an epiphany. For me the words of our friend Greg and the thoughts of Gregtopia brought me to my senses. These words were “That’s when you realize that LOTOJA isn’t about a single day of racing/riding: it’s really about the summer of shop rides with friends that are bonded by the common occurrence of a Saturday in September”. What a wonderful way to look at it. It was after reading this that my perspective changed. The efforts of the LOTOJA ride can be both mentally and physically taxing. While I debate with myself if it is worth the effort, this one statement made it all worth while. The time that was spent with everyone on the shop rides and the LOTOJA specific training rides will no doubt give me the motivation to complete the objective again. Now that I’ve had the time to get to my happy place, I feel that it’s time to give my interpretation of the race.
Here it goes. The start was uneventful, however the situation changed very quickly. The group did not have much organization and the pace was rather slow. Determined not to use too much energy, I stayed toward the back of the pack until we were within sight of Preston. I hooked up with Sal through the feed zone. We then rode together with the plan that we had set up earlier in the season. Sal took the lead. We rode in a group of 10 to 15 riders to Riverdale. This was our first attack. The plan was to follow Sal until about 200 meters of the summit, and then hammer down until we had reach maximum speed coming down to Mink Creek, and then suck Sal’s wheel to the bottom (Sal is faster as you know coming down a mountain). The best laid plans don’t always work out. Sal got caught in the group. I had no idea. The turn onto Mink Creek left me with a lonely feeling. I didn’t have my riding buddy or any of the rest on the group. A couple of attempts were made to group with other riders, but none were riding at the required pace. I then soft pedaled and rode with the original group to the base of Strawberry. It was here that I saw Anna for the first time. It lifted the spirits to see one of the local gang.
Just after seeing Anna the incident happened. My pedal broke. It almost sent me to the ground. I wasn’t sure what had happened, pedal or cleat? The group was still within working distance. I caught on, but the difficulty of pedaling caused me to stop and check it out. Good news! It was not the cleat (no spare). The right spring in the pedal had broken. The mechanic at the top of Strawberry was able to radio down to my support to inform them that I needed the pedals off my spare bike. I was able to limp the bike into Montpelier. To my dismay there was no support crew or bike. After a 10 minute wait, I borrowed a phone. The race support people told my support people to come and get me at mile marker 21. The food station seemed almost deserted when I finally got going. I saw Anna again near the top of Geneva. The race may have been over, but if I helped Anna get to the finish it could still be a great day. She was fighting stomach flu and told me to go, which I did. Rob and Teresa were at a pull off prior to Salt River. They said Greg and Ken were only 40 seconds ahead. The goal was to catch them and ride to the finish. We hooked up at Allred stop. We rode together until the road started up. I lost sight of them and decided to keep going. I got help where there was some through Star Valley. The legs felt good as went I up the Hoback canyon. Skipped the neutral feed with the sights set on the finish.
There must be a triangle somewhere after the Hoback Junction. It was here that the day’s effort caught up to me. The wall! That 6% grade was a lowest gear situation. The rest of the ride was a solo for the most part. None of the other riders that were in the loose group would take a turn. The last 10 miles proved to be an exercise in determination. The finish was bitter sweet. I was there with Sal and his family, my wife Melissa, and my mom who has been my support every year. Thank goodness for moms. Mine sure has raised the bar. As stated earlier, I was so sick that nothing would go down for almost two and half hours. So thanks for all the stories that reminded me of all the good times that we’d had throughout the season. They have raised my spirits and have me thinking…..maybe next year the cycling gods will be more favorable at the big race.
Thanks to everyone for another year that I will think about when I’m sitting in the rocking chair reliving the experiences of the glory days. Kevin