LOTOJA 2010, a race diary. PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jason Armstrong   
Thursday, 16 September 2010 22:02
The start was similar to last year; dark, cold, and anxious.  We had planned well and I wore my jersey, bibs, knee and arm warmers, and GAS jacket.  It was about 40 degrees.  I was going to dump the jacket at the first support stop, Preston, and put on my wind vest.  The food was planned out and I made sandwiches the night before because Heather barely made the support stops last year after making sandwiches, letting the dog pee, and watching Nollie play.  Oh, and waiting in upwards of 45 minutes of LOTOJA traffic.  What a scene.
The bike was great and a wonderful fit this year, thank you Guru, so none of the ergonomics to worry about that I had last year on the borrowed bike.  We did the first 36 miles in an hour and 15 but oh my word I had to go.  I should have stopped 5 miles back and then made my way on but instead I went off the front with about 500 meters to go to try to pee before the group took off again.  An aside, there may be TMI in here for some of you but bodily functions become a factor over 200 miles.  So, I didn't realize until I started to go that I was also frozen down there.  It was bizarre because I had no idea it had happened.  There's a million dollars idea in there somewhere.  A 30 second stop became 5 minutes of pain and slowly but steadily the hustle and bustle of the group outside quieted down; letting me know that the cat 4s were long gone.
It was interesting to listen to people chit chat at each feed zone; "that was the hardest part," "no the next part's the hardest," "oh my gawd I'm dying" and so on.  The hardest part of this race is right out side of Preston.  Just past the feed zone but before the slopes of Strawberry, it's like a mini Cow Country.  Up and down with short punchy climbs again and again and again.  I was in zone 4 and 5 trying to get back on for about 20 minutes.  I kept looking at my HRM and thinking, "too hard, too hard."  So I settled in and settled down.  I was cruising the climb passing a lot of people and feeling pretty bitchin' when the entire Cat 5 peleton came by.  So much for cruising and feeling bitchin'.  I went passed the neutral feed, passed a lot of the cat 4 group, then hit the summit and just bombed into Montpelier, mile 80.  In the meantime, the cat 4 group re-passed me like I'm a club racer.  Right, I am a club racer.  Food and water and I'm off.
Now, I had a nice big breakfast at about 5 a.m.  Start time was 6:43.  Everything settled and the morning ablutions (look it up) were all taken care of.  I drank plenty and gued up.  But, at mile 90, I started to feel hungry.  i didn't bonk but the signal was all too clear.  I waited way to long to get something in my tummy.  Water and gu then I unwrapped the turkey and cheese.  Women's cat 1-2-3 came roaring by and I see I'm climbing this hill at about 8 mph.  Must get food.  At 100 miles my onion is peeling and at 100.1 miles someone or something peeled my onion, kicked it around the floor of the kitchen and then put it down the disposal.  I'm thinking things like: "Wow I'm going 14.1 miles an hour and my heart rate is 141, it's like . . .  a double rainbow."; "I am going to cause pain on the order of organ failure to that dude with the freewheel that clicks over at 250 decibels."; and "Would I die if I flew of that bridge and landed in a foot of water?"  The thoughts arrive like butterflies but not the type of thoughts butterflies might usually bring.  Mile 105, one mile from the start of the steepest climb and a neutral feed station, I see Heath and pull over.  It's all I can do not to weave in to traffic and I really miscalculated this one.  "I'm done darlin', I'm a danger to myself and others."  "There's a neutral station just ahead."  "Okay, I'll see you at the top of the KOM and let you know."  The turkey sandwich is kickin' in, I eat 4 wedges of orange, drink about 12 ounces of gatorage and then pass the sign saying 100 miles to go.  !  Then it occurs to me, since people have been slicing oranges for others to eat, since when, the advent of AYSO maybe, a long time anyway, no one but no one can slice an orange correctly.  My onion is reassembling itself but incorretly.
Right, I go good to the top of the KOM, 3 miles at 7%, tell Heath the game is afoot, and then descend at 50 mile per hour.  Boo ya!  (The dude in front of me has a high speed wobble that I am not quite certain is real).
Mile 120, Ashton, a new fresh kit, socks, and some coke.  Then it happens, "Watch out!" he yells.  Not, "on your left" or "jump on" just "Watch out!".  Is that right?  You're riding so hard that I'm preventing you from winning your Cat?  Dude your race is over just like mine and, I think, your onion is peeling.  I jump on his wheel and sit there, we catch some others and soon were going along at a very nice 25 mph.  It's too much for Watch Out dude and he's off the back.  His freewheel was really loud anyway.
At 150 I really want to quit but the Snake River Valley is gorgeous and Heather tells me that she's turned off her phone so she'll see me at the end.  I really didn't train this year for this.  My longest ride was an 80 miler.  It was always in my mind but the race was not in my legs.  I did spend 10 of the last 14 days putting in a lot of time on the trainer but at this point in LOTOJA, if you're not trained, you're struggling.  For example, Heather saw Matt Lavin of BMV at Alpine about 15 -20 minutes before me.  Then she saw him in Jackson about an hour before me. (the numbers don't shake this out because Lavin KILLED it this year but Heather knows the kit well.)  So, off I go up the valley.  I see an Osprey fishing in the river, lovely green water flowing, and soon the Tetons.  It occurs to me that it hasn't been much above 60 all day and I'm really, deep down really, cold and have been all day.  People line Teton Village Road, cheering us on.  5K, 4K, thanks to my riding partner I've been with since Alpine, then over the finish line.  12:36, fully 38 minutes slower.  Weird, I felt better throughout.  My HRM suggests I burned 8000 calories later confirmed by the scale indicating I lost 4.5 pounds in 24 hours.
Sunday, everything hurts but I realize that for that time nothing else mattered.  Burning Qur'ans, parents using their kids as wedges during divorce, all the stuff that's out there filling my head was gone if only for a short time.  For 12 hours and 36 minutes I rode through pain, and hunger, and dementia and came out feeling pretty damn good.
Monday the times were posted and all of the romance and some of the fun of my epic was drained.  Unless you really can race this thing, don't worry about your time.
Thanks to my wife and son, GAS/Intrinsik and all of my sponsors, and everyone who encouraged me along.  It is such a hard and committed ride, if you're committed, that I can't do it alone.  Now that I've finished it twice I'm hoping to convince some of you to join next year to make it more fun and more than just a "I'm going to finish this thing" kind of goal.  I hope you will come along.

Montpelier, 80 miles in 
Montpelier, 80 miles in.
Ashton, 120 miles in.
Ashton, 120 miles in.

Done.  I took off my kit.
Done.  I took off my kit.

You get the idea.