Contributed by RL
Remember that day you got your first real bicycle? It was new, shiny, and it felt like we floated on air when we road, after we figured out how to stay up on those two wheels. This represented a freedom from our yard and block; in minutes we could explore the vast world beyond! As we expanded our riding range we found the vacant lot a few blocks away that offered our imagination a field of dreams. Then as we grew more confident with our riding our parents let us take the bike to school, after a little pleading. There we showed off our pride and joy at which time we were told, by others, that our bike was just ordinary and not as good or as fast as their bikes. Challenge accepted and off we raced to prove to everyone that our bike was by far the fastest and the best bike ever made.
Those days have seen a lot of miles go by both good and bad. But bicycle racing still goes on to prove who has the fastest bike and who or if we can endure the course. Bicycle riding is done for sport, fun, exercise, racing or to just get out of the house so whatever the reason many of us enjoy the ride.
This past weekend here in Bear Lake Valley (https://bearlake.org/), and passing by the front doors of Rainy Day Foods, along with the city of Montpelier as a stopping area (http://montpelier.id.gov/) for the bike racers, our little valley played a part in the LoToJa bike race. Being interpreted the Logan, Utah to Jackson Hole, Wyoming bike race. The race itself is at the end of the year, so to speak, for cycling racing events. So you can imagine the picture perfect ride through canyons with fall colors and cooler temperatures to help with the long ride (just over 200 miles) as an enjoyable temptation after the long summer heat of racing.
Each cyclist is encouraged to have a support crew in a vehicle to provide food, beverage, and mechanical support at the feed zones. Some items, but not all inclusive, that are needed by the participants on the support vehicles should include extra water bottles, first aid kits, emergency blankets, warm clothes to change into if they get soaked, hat, warm fluids (like soups and hot cocoa), sunscreen, medication if any and more liquids. It has been known to snow and rain during the course of the race and temperatures could and do drop quickly in the high altitudes.
The bike race itself started back in 1983 from the brain storming of two devout cyclists, David Bern, then a student at Utah State University, and Jeff Keller, owner of the Sunrise Cyclery bike shop. They had the high hopes of duplicating one of the more difficult European bike races such as the Paris-Roubaix race. With this in mind they planned and searched for an area that would give them the challenge they were looking for, the result was the first race from LoToJa (https://lotoja.com/) with 7 cyclists racing a total of 192 miles from Logan to Jackson. The winner of that race was Bob VanSlyke with a time of just over 9 hours.
The race has grown into one of our nation's leading amateur cycling races at 200 plus miles and is the longest one-day USAC-sanctioned (https://www.usacycling.org/) bicycle races. Couple that with the fact that the LoToJa is a major fund-raiser for the Huntsman Cancer Foundation (http://huntsmancancer.org/
Of course this year was no exception to the rule of the promise for a great day of racing. The weather started out fresh and clear in the early hours with a bit of fall in the air. Then clouds moved in over the mountains and a light rain fell for a time; being wet could not stop them, nor dampen their spirits; then a strong wind came slowing the pace, they kept going; pressing onward towards the finish line. For each rider knows that he must complete the race before dark or be disqualified because of the dangers of riding in the dark especially in these mountainous areas. There is always the possibility of a flat tire during the race not to mention a spill or two and a couple of near misses. There has only been one fatality of a racer since the inception of the race. So remember your P's and Q's of riding if you come to race.
This year's winner was Spencer Johnson from Riverton, Utah with a time of 8:18:29 in a close second John Jantz from Arlington, MA who, by the way, also won the King of the Mountain award with Marci Kimball from Salt Lake City, Utah being crowned Queen of the Mountain.
So if the itch to race that bike again has hit you, wander out to the garage and dust off that pride and joy then get out there and feel that “floating on air” feeling again. 'Til next time RL