Monday, September 19, 2011


I signed up this year for a few reasons. My older brother had his leg cut off and now was going to do 206 miles with one leg and my fat dad was going to buckle down and get on a training program and do LOTOJA for the first time at 65 years old. I also have reached the point where i qualified to receive my 1000 mile club award.

My one legged brother is actually riding stronger now than he has ever ridden and qualified to race the paracycling world in Denmark so he bailed on me. My mom's health was rapidly declining at the time of registration so my dad decided that his time was better spent with her.

I knew going in to LOTOJA that considering the events that took place this year, my fitness was not what it could have been. Still, i paid my $169 entry fee and had 2 hotels booked so i figured i was going to do it. Early on, i was afraid i was going to have to do it self supported, but
eventually i was able to talk my wonderful wife into finding a place for the 4 older girls to stay and to bring the twins and strap them on while she drove for countless hours while feeding me and them between stops.
We had 8 guys from our team signed up in the cat 3/4 group and with the field that had signed up this year, we had a good chance of having a strong finish.
The temperature at the start was in the 50's which was a pleasant change from the 30's we have been starting in the last few years.
We took off a little after 6:30 and did the neutral roll out of town. We made the right hand turn into the outskirts of town and immediately a guy named Tom from USU attacked. I figured that my fitness wasn't great, i might as well go with him and try and get a head start on the
Strawberry climb. We worked together for the first couple of hours. We caught and passed the masters 45 group ahead of us and started the rollers out of Preston. I could tell that although
Tom was a little bigger than me and could do a good pull on the flats, he was not going to be good at the climb. Within a few miles i asked him how he was doing and in a strained voice he told me he was done. With that, i left him and tried to climb at a comfortable pace while still
pushing it. Toward the top of the strawberry climb, i was caught by the leaders from my group. I rode with them for about 5 minutes, but the 3 hours of early effort along with my lack of
fitness let me know that i was not going to be able to keep this pace up for another 6 hours. I knew i could not win. Kevin was in the lead group and was looking good so i told him to go
ahead and i would wait. I sat up and waited for my brother Zach and cousin John.
This was Zach's second year. He finished last year in 11 hours and some change with cramps and this was johns first time doing LOTOJA. I rolled along slowly waiting but i eventually got in to Montpellier with out them catching me. Someone came in and told me that Zach flatted before Preston. John came in 20-30 minutes after i got there and Zach eventually rolled in almost an hour after i got to the feed zone. Going hard for the first 3 hours, then sitting for an hour is hard on the legs. Zach rolled in and said he was cramping and he was done. My words were something like "I have been sitting here waiting for you for almost an hour, get back on that #$*& bike and lets go"
Reluctantly, he remounted his bike and zach, john and i headed out.
I could tell this was going to be a long day but i kept thinking back to my first LOTOJA and how Cousin Kevin and the Doctor helped me get through it after my bike broke, i cramped at mile 40 until the end and then my bike broke again and i had to carry my bike the last mile to the finish. I figured, i could help Zach finish and i would never need to do this race again.

After we got going i could tell immediately that Zach's legs were not wanting to pedal so i told john to jump on the back of the next big group that came by and just go. Within a couple minutes he was gone and i was standing on the side of the road with zach while he tried to stretch out his legs.
This continued several times over the next stretch of miles. Zach developed a case of situational Tourette's syndrome every few minutes and we stopped several times before we hit the bottom of the last climb at salt river. As we approached the climb i could see a group of cyclists on the side of the road all standing around one rider who was sitting on the guard rail not looking good. It was a group of guys i ride with and i recognized what was going on. One of them had an ice pack on his shoulders and was suffering form heat stroke.

My wife happened to drive by at this point and pulled off a few hundred yards up the road to see if they could help. Zach saw this as his exit strategy and unceremoniously withdrew from the race and went and got into the car. Yep, although my dad always taught us as kids that we as Bradley's don't quit, he quit. At exactly 103 miles into the ride, he DNF'd.
Remember the scene from the Man from Snowy river when all of the guys are chasing the Brumby's and the Brumby's jump off the cliff and go down the very steep hill. All of the riders stop there because it looks too hard, and one of the guys says "You can bid the mob good day." But then young Jim Craig rides through the group and jumps off the cliff and cracks his whip and single handedly brings the pack of wild horses in. He didn't do it for the reward money. He did it because just like me, his dad taught him not to quit. I guess that lesson was lost on Zach.
After Zach abandoned, i ended up riding with this other group of friends. I figured i still had 103 miles, i mights as well do it with a group. We started up the last climb and it was obvious that one of the guys was not doing well.

This is how we ended up getting him up the climb. we eventually got to the top of the climb and he abandoned with severe heat stroke. Chills, shaking and incoherent and in no shape to make the 45 mph descent down the backside of the climb. The warmer temps at the start made for about 10 degrees warmer than usual in the middle of the day.
I rode with these guys to the Afton feed zone where we pulled up and grabbed my feed and was ready to go. Everybody else pulled up and started eating their subway sandwiches and relaxing. When i am doing an event like this, my legs just like to keep going at a steady pace. The starting and stopping and changes in effort are much harder on them than just going. But knowing i still had a long way to go and this was a group of around 15-20 guys i waited for them to finish lunch and rode with them. We got to the Alpine feed and i experienced a similar situation. John's wife told me that john had left 5 minutes ago and that i could catch him. I figured i would just wait for them to get their food and stretch for another 10 minutes. This time i was a few hundred
yards away at the opposite end of the feedzone. As soon as i saw them get on their bikes and start rolling out, i started pedaling slowly, waiting for them to catch me. I coasted and pedaled slow for several minutes and they still were not making up any ground on me. I finally decided that i was just going to put my head down and go hard and try and catch john. I caught him at the next neutral feed zone and rode with him to the finish.
It was the longest day i have ever spent on my bike. My Garmin has an auto-pause and i actually only had a ride time of around 10:20, but my finishing time was over 12 hours. I took dead last in my category. I finished over 2 hours slower than i have in the last 3 times doing this event. But the good news is that i finished and Zach didn't so i can make fun of him for the rest of our lives.

Mitchell had a good finish in 8th for his first time riding it.
Kevin wasn't paying attention and got dropped by the lead group going through a feed.
The Robot showed that he is vulnerable to the elements and while in a two man break off the front and looking good was hit with the stomach flu....but he still finished.
John rode with me and finished his first time and decided that next year he will save the money and just have someone kick him in the crotch and go on a tropical vacation instead.
Thanks again, Megan!