The Longest One-Day USCF Sanctioned Bike Race in the Country
Living in Utah you can’t drive down the street without seeing at least three or four Lotoja stickers (usually on Subarus)
For non-Utahns, what on earth is Lotoja? It’s an abbreviation for a one-day 206 mile bike ride from LOgan, Utah TO JAckson, Wyoming. This all out sufferfest serperates the hard-core cyclists from the recreational riders. In fact, having completed Lotoja for a Utah Cyclist is equivalent to earning your stripes in the military or running your first marathon.
Lotoja is an exceptionally well-organized and supported race. The registration usually happens in early April. It’s a lottery event, so you don’t find out if you were chosen until early May, and then they charge your card.
The registration process is simple and straightforward. Actually getting selected is the hard part. Though they say there’s no way to get an advantage for getting in, my experience has shown that being associated with a team, where several riders are registering is very beneficial. They also have some more expensive charity entrance fee options that will guarantee a spot.
After being selected the next challenge is training. Their website includes some great resources to do the proper amount of training You could also work with a coach or ask other cyclists who have completed this race. I will simply tell you to ride a LOT, and do a LOT of climbing. Think about riding at least 4 centuries in late summer and ideally completing about a 140-mile well before the event.
The packet pick-up is well organized and they include a great deal of helpful information on their website and in your race packet. If you are new to the race you will probably want to attend the pre-race meeting held the night before the event usually around 7:00pm.
The actual race course is a stunning, beautiful ride taking you through 3-states. There are two major climbs during the race and overall 9,738 feet of climbing. This sounds like a lot, but I found the climbs to be very manageable and not anything as bad as some of the local canyons I ride.
It’s imperative that you have a support driver. I would recommend a driver for each racer. Some have tried to combine, but you never know how you will feel or what might happen. You don’t want to get to a rest stop only to find out your support crew is held up because of another rider. There’s always a neutral feed zone with the typical snacks, but there’s something about knowing a loved one is waiting for you with some of your favorite snacks. While this race is not the most environmentally friendly, they have started a program where you can buy carbon-offsets.
The race starts early in the morning and it’s exceptionally cold – so dress warmer than you think. I was a under dressed and I froze for the first 30 miles. Pay special attention to your gloves, you want something that will keep your fingers from going numb. Also, watch out at the beginning, because it seems like there are always accidents and crashes in the first 30 miles or so – usually until Preston, ID.
If you plan to be competitive and race, be sure to skip the first rest stop and then stick with your group through the feed zones. It’s much safer to stop for a minute, but you never know what your peloton might do.
For recreational riders, you only have until 8:15 pm or dark (whichever comes first) to complete the race, before they shut down the finish line, so you have to keep a steady pace and keep moving. There are options for multiple person relays for those not wanting to ride the full distance.
The Bottom Line ~
Lotoja is a beautiful, well-organized race. For westerners, it’s pretty much a given to earn your stripes in the cycling community. You’ll be delighted by beautiful views and usually good weather. You’ll need a dedicated, patient, support crew that can help you with everything from flat tires to emotional counseling. When you complete this race you’ll be rewarded by a huge feeling of accomplishment and saddle sores.