Hailey, Idaho

FUN RIDE Class Advice

First I want to state the obvious: Most normal people do not use the words “fun ride” and “206 miles ridden in a single day” in the same sentence. However, if you are considering participating in the LoToJa Classic, you aren’t normal…

Other veteran LoToJa riders have contributed great advice for those people racing. I wanted to submit my thoughts on training for the LoToJa in the “fun ride” category. The riders in this division ride for different reasons, but we all have the finish line before dark as our goal. I ride in this event because it has saved my life and at times, training for LoToJa gives me a reason to live. I know this sounds very dramatic, but it is true.

I entered and completed my first LoToJa in 2004. Earlier that year I had heart surgery to put a new pacemaker and leads in. With this increased range of heart beats, I wanted to find a way to test out my heart. So as any reasonable person would do, I chose to enter a double century event. I had so much fun that I signed up to do it again the next year – 2005. It is well known that LoToJa 2005 taught us to be prepared for all kinds of weather.

The 2010 event was very special for me. In January 2010 I went in for open heart surgery. As soon as I learned the news from the doctors, I called three friends and put a relay team together with the goal of riding eight months later. This is the part where training for the LoToJa saved my life and gave me reason to get out of bed. My training started while I was still in the hospital. I created a schedule of laps I had to walk around the hospital floor each day. My husband had a new kind of support crew job. Instead of having my food ready for me at the feed zone, he had to push my IV poles around with me. Everything was going great until I found out I needed to have lung surgery a few months later. It was rough getting through the surgeries but I was never a victim recovering from heart surgery. Mentally, I was always training for the bike race. I rode the last leg for our team and it was so awesome to cross the finish line!

So, what have I learned from my experiences preparing for the LoToJa? The most important advice I can give a “fun rider” is that you have to WANT to do this. It is not easy but it something you will remember forever. So you can have NO doubts that if you start this adventure you will keep going until you cross the finish line in Teton Village. It is a mental game you will play with yourself for 206 miles.

Riding - Be consistent and get your base miles in every week. Unless you are under the age of 25, you can’t just get on your bike and crank out a double century. It takes time to build your body up. Check out the charity cycling events in your area and enter the century rides. I normally begin riding my long rides in May. Remember to work on you climbing skills or at least having the patience to climb for a long period of time without burning yourself out. Don’t over train the last month!

Eating and Drinking - If you stay hydrated and keep your body fueled you really can go forever! Use the months before the event to find the best combination of food and drinks for your body.

Hydration - I use a Camelback hydration pack for water and I also have a water bottle with an endurance drink in it. The Camelback makes it really easy to sip water often. About every 15 minutes I take a swig of the endurance drink. This usually works well for the entire ride. At the feed zone I will drink an FRS mixture.

Food – Remember that your body will need different nutrients during the ride. I consume calories about every 20 – 30 minutes while I am riding. I hate the feeling of bonking so I just try to avoid it by eating often. I like the bulk gel bottle for easy calories. Then I mix it up with different textures of gel blocks, jerky, and bars. At the feed zone I eat a banana and grab roll-ups of hummus and turkey cut in pieces and put in a sandwich bag. This gives me something salty with protein that is easy to eat while riding. After the first 100 miles I find that I eat more jerky and salty foods. I stick to foods that I have tested and I know work well with my body.

The Mental Game – You can do all the training, eat and drink but if you don’t have the mental tenacity to finish you won’t. The first 100 miles is easy… yes, that is where the mountain climbing is, but your training will have included a few century rides. Things get a bit more difficult from mile 125 to mile 180. This is when my toes go numb and my butt hurts and I just feel like I have been sitting WAY too long. To make it through I mentally break down the miles in to chunks I can relate to. I think of my favorite 10 mile ride because I know I can do that easy. After a couple of games like that those 55 miles are behind me. Then it is just the last 20 miles. Each mile I complete is a mile closer to the finish. The final 5 miles are a blast and the adrenaline kicks in. When the finish line banners are in view that is when my eyes start watering. By the time I cross the finish I have tears streaming down my cheeks. I can say that it is the best feeling in the world! There is nothing like it… That is why I will be training to ride the next LoToJa!