Friday, September 15, 2017 9:28:56 AM America/Phoenix
LoToJa is a cycling race that spans over 200 miles and conquers 3 mountain passes. It was started by two men who wanted a race that resembled the difficulty of a one-day European classic like Paris-Roubaix or the Tour of Flanders. This is the longest race in the country and people travel from all over the world to participate. This year LUX-PRO sponsored rider, Larry Peterson.
Larry loves riding and strives to ride 14K miles per year. The majority of his training takes place in Utah, however, he also rides in England, Spain and the west coast. Since his first LoToJa race in 1998 he has learned a lot about what it takes to prepare for a race of that magnitude and has improved his speed with better training and riding with skilled athletes. Training for LoToJa is a lifestyle and he rides at various intensities year-round. When I talked to Larry about this year’s race he was very positive about the experience he had, even though he faced some logistical issues that tested his mental and physical strength.
For a race like LoToJa where you are racing at high speeds for over 200 miles you must get yourself prepared mentally and physically. Larry said, it is as much a mental race as it is a physical one. Mentally you need to know just how much effort you can put in and how much it is going to hurt so you can prepare yourself to work through it. During the entirety of the race you watch yourself carefully, because you have an idea of how far you can push yourself so it’s important to know where you are and where you can go. “Your usually capable to go a lot further than you think,” he said.
There are a lot of logistical aspects to plan and prepare for as well. You need to make sure your bike is in good shape, tire pressures good, aid station food and support planned and ready. Larry said, you can do all the training, preparation and pay attention to all the details before a race, but you are still left completely open and vulnerable to things you cannot control. Weather, personal health, etc.
This year was the best in terms of temperature and wind conditions, compared to years in the past, where he has raced in the rain and started races in below freezing morning-temperatures. The sun was out and cross winds were minimal, making for a gorgeous ride. A few days before the race Larry caught a serious head cold. He had calculated his speed according to how he felt the morning of and unfortunately, he over estimated his time. He passed the first aid station 10 minutes earlier than the fasted quote he gave this team.
The combination of his speed and their delay made for a tough ride for the rest of the day. The team missed him at the second and third station, as well. Riding for 9 hours without the proper fuel and electrolytes will take your mental game to the next level. Larry said, “after I missed them at the first site I started worrying and when they weren’t at the second one I came to grips with not seeing them until the finish line, so I had to mentally prepare for that.” Not having your food and nutrition makes for a major mental and physical challenge.
With the head-cold and not enough electrolytes he became very dizzy and his speed slowed down significantly towards the end of the race. He went from riding with the leaders in his race class in 2nd place to slowing to a speed that brought his to finish at 6th. Although he faced challenges and took a fall he could finish with a positive attitude. He understands that things happen and he said, “when we finally got together at the finish line no cross words were said”
“In any race you should never take yourself or anything else too serious and just be happy that you made it passed the finish line on the bike and not in the hospital.”
LUX-PRO Flashlights was honored to sponsor, Larry Peterson this year. He has been racing LoToJa for 12 years now. Since his first race, in 1998, he has improved his time by nearly 1 and a half hours. He has taken 6th place, 2nd place, and 1st place 2 times and is looking forward to being the oldest rider, not only in his riding class, but in the entire race next year.