Always looking for another challenge, I signed up for a slot in the LOTOJA race earlier this spring. The event sells out quickly so they have a lottery-type system for entry. Not sure if I got in due to past results or if they felt some sympathy for a guy from Indiana. Either way, after a great race in Calvin's Challenge 12hr in May, LOTOJA was my other big focus of the year.
Race week meant a lot of travel to get to Logan, UT. Leaving family in OKC 2 lugnuts snapped off the car leaving us stuck in Amarillo, TX for a night where the stomach flu from the niece and nephew finally hit me. Good thing I could stretch out and sleep some in the back of the wagon on the drive to Durango. Two days behind schedule and 3 days til the race I'm eating Jello and saltines hoping for some good luck to hit.
Like a well-oiled chain, we went off in waves every 3 mins to a nice cheer from the crowds in the dark. The race was neutral for the first few miles just like the pros. I was up in the front 15 racers or so knowing the slinky effect would be brutal on such a long day for anyone at the back. 66 in our group got stretched out early as the Spiderbait team went to the front and set a strong tempo. Oh, I almost forgot, my powertap died during the warmup and my Garmin watch would die in another hour or two leaving me to ride without any idea of speed, distance, HR, power, etc.
The first feed zone was at 34 miles and our brisk pace had us catch two of the groups that started before us. Knowing the next rest stop ways at the top of the Strawberry climb, I grabbed a quick bottle from Jenn and tried to cram some solid food in while riding. The lower slopes are easy, 1-3% grades for a long time. I had ridden these climbs on the Computrainer and felt confident I could hang until the steeper grades near the top. On a normal day this might have been the case. Saturday was not a normal day. The legs immediately had nothing to give and I found myself hitting the 34x23 and 34x26 waaay too early. My race just became a ride.
Watching group after group of racers ride by, I just tried to keep a steady effort, eat and drink as much as possible to fuel for the 150+ miles to go and enjoy the stunning views. I was nowhere near my limit physically but the legs could only do so much. FZ2 was neutral support only and they had a great spread. I choked down a Red Bull and 2 Gu's while zipping everything up for the descent, always the best part. I was able to work with a solid group on the flats before the next climb, not letting anyone past without jumping on the faster train.