In 2007, I rode Lotoja for the first time. That year, I rode it the way most participants ride it: me against the course. Could I finish? Could I ride 200+ miles in one day? Placing was immaterial—we rode in the “rolling picnic” category, so there would be no official placing anyway. Steve and I rode together, starting among the last wave of riders, and had almost nobody to work with once we passed the first feed zone.
Having proven we could survive the course, the next year we decided to do it again, this time to try and improve on our time. We bought annual licenses just so we could race with the Cat. 5 annual license holders and have people who kind of knew what they were doing to work with. We ended up placing reasonably well in our category and decided this road racing thing was fun.
Last year we decided to race in the Cat. 4 group. Which meant we’d need enough race experience to qualify for an upgrade. So we started doing local races “just to earn an upgrade.” And so began an addiction. The season started with Lotoja as the primary objective. When I got injured a week before the race and wondered whether I’d even be able to compete, I should have been disappointed. I wasn’t.
Having done a bunch of events and having discovered that there are a lot of great events that non-racers aren’t even aware exist, the relative importance of Lotoja diminished. I ended up being able to race. I didn’t have a great day, and I didn’t particularly care.
This ambivalence towards Lotoja hasn’t gone away. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it when registration opened in April. I haven’t been sure I wanted to do it since registering. The argument Steve used to convince me to do it was that if the subject ever comes up that you race your bike, the first question anyone in Utah asks is “did you do Lotoja?” Because of the prominence of the event in this state, it’s almost compulsory.
I really should want to do it. The challenge is still there. Whereas the first year it was just a question of can I finish, this year, I’m signed up in the Pro/1/2/3 field. How will I rate? I don’t have any delusions of hanging with Cameron H. or Nate P., but can I stay with the bunch? Will I be in position to bury myself to set up a teammate? These are all questions I should want to answer. This race is an opportunity I should want to have. But I’m struggling to find the drive and conviction to really make it happen.
The one thing I’ve done the last couple of years that’s made this race more rewarding than it would be otherwise is to raise money for the Huntsman Cancer Foundation. I was motivated to do this by Elden and his wife Susan, as I watched them fight this ugly disease. Cancer took Susan last summer. It continues to take wonderful people in the prime of their lives.
Perhaps by racing, and racing to benefit the Huntsman Cancer Foundation, I’ll be doing something about this nasty disease. That should be motivation enough. Please click this link and make a donation and help me make Lotoja about more than yet another window sticker.