This year was my first year riding Lotoja. Surrounding this race is so much hype and so much excitement – it actually becomes somewhat intimidating. Well after all was said and done this year, I can truly understand how big a deal people make it. By the end of the day I was so fried and so beat that I didn’t want to touch my bike ever again.
We started the ride before dawn. I froze my butt off. It felt great to ride through the towns before dawn, though – where all you can see is the blinking red lights in front of you. It was amazing how many flats there were in the first stretch into Preston. The blinking red lights littered what seemed like every single lawn that we rode past. Luckily nobody in our group got a flat.
Our ride unfolded nicely, though a few members of our group were either ill prepared or just plain ill. The strongest member of our group had been sick the 3 days prior, and was not feeling well. By the time we got to Montpelier, we had to pump 2 liters of fluid via IV into one of our guys. At this point the team was done, and I was on my own.
The remainder of the ride was fairly painful. At mile 120 I was the last of 3 bikes that went down in a pileup. I lost some skin on my knees and put holes in my gloves. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my knee was jacked and my butt had the biggest bruise of all time. What option did I have though? I could either get in the support vehicle and ride the rest of the race in a van, or I could keep riding. Riding, of course, was the answer. So I kept on mashing through.
My feeding went very well up through Alpine. This is the last stop before the finish line – and the point at which people often consider themselves “done” even though there are a few hours of riding to go. I was no exception. The climb through Snake River Valley was one of the most beautiful places I have ever ridden. Especially in the soft light that meant one thing: I better hurry because dark was approaching. It is just unbelievable how rich everything in that valley appears.
I crossed the finish line – barely. My knee hurt. My butt hurt. My feet hurt from shoes that were half a size too small. I could barely walk. In fact, I did end up losing a toenail in the process. After the race I swore I would never do that again. Of course that was then. This is now. Of course I’ll give it another go.