LOTOJA is the longest one day sanctioned USAC race in America. And it is rad! beautiful course, lots of cyclists, and of course great racing. With just over 200 miles of racing you have to be extra prepared to finish at your best. We have raced this event for years now and will happily share some of our pro tips on prepping for LOTOJA.
Lets tackle nutrition first.
Any endurance event requires well planned and properly executed nutrition strategies. Many good cyclists fall short of their LOTOJA goals because they screw up their nutrition.
Eat and drink often. It is commonly understood that you will be able to absorb 250 calories per hour (give or take). Set an alarm on your watch or garmin device for a 20 minute reminder. Every time you hear that alarm beep make sure you are eating and drinking.
Test and sample every possible form of nutrition you think you may like. And do so long before the race. Everyone has different stomachs and can tolerate different things. I prefer to stick with a liquid form of fuel as chewing on the bike is sometimes hard when breathing to fast, etc. It bugs me. So I stick with all liquid nutrition. I’ve tried virtually every form of drink mix known to man for cyclists and endurance athletes and have changed several times over the years. Find what you like, and what you can tolerate by practicing on your regular rides leading up to LOTOJA.
Pro Tip– The first 1-2 hours of the race are fairly fast but easy and flat. Many cyclist screw up during this time by not drinking and eating enough during this time period. Your effort is markedly lower this first part of the race and so its easy to think you don’t need to drink. ESPECIALLY when the weather is typically cooler to down right cold in September at the start of the race. When it is cold you really don’t want to drink. But be warned, what you do the first couple of hours will make a significant impact on your last couple of hours that day…
Salt: I am still surprised at how many athletes still don’t take salt during their rides. Electrolytes are a very important part of your performance, your cramping, and your eventual bonking. Be mindful of your sweat rate. Pay attention to what is in your drink and fuel mixes so you know what additional electrolytes you need to use during the race. I like salt chews that are tangy orange. They taste like candy and are therefore so easy to get down. I used to do electrolyte pills, but have moved away from the pill floating in my stomach and moved on to chews or drops in my water bottle. Salt Stick makes a great “chew” tablet that is tangy orange and highly effective. I used it all through Race Across France, and the Race Across America with zero bloating or other stomach issues. Also never a cramp. They are effective.
What about those amazing Feed Zones?
In LOTOJA there are neutral and manned feed zones. The feed zones are your opportunity to stock up on water and fuel. The neutral ones are feed zones where your crew is not allowed to be. These are usually stocked with some water, bananas, GU gels (or something like it), and sometimes Gatorade etc. It is a good opportunity to grab some extra fuel of you are running short. I typically skip the neutral feed zones as I am trying to race and don’t want to stop and waste time. However, I have definitely taken full advantage of these precious neutral feed zones several times over the years when I was struggling or plain short on nutrition. They also often have volunteers stationed here who are eagerly on the side of the road with hand ups. The hand ups are usually the bananas, the GU gels, and water.
The Manned Feed Zones are the ones that you can send your crew to. Here you can have them hand you what you have already planned out. I typically have an ice chest or two at each one with our teams nutrition ready to roll. They are often in drawstring style nylon bags and labeled with each racer’s name. When we roll through we get our specific bags handed to us by the crew. I keep my stops to less than 60 seconds. I hand them my old bottles and grab new ones from them. Then sling my draw string bag on my shoulder and keep pedaling. While rolling out of the feed zone I empty the contents of my bag into my pockets and then ditch the bag in the appropriate trash zone as marked. This style of feed zone efficiency allows for much saved time over the course of the race. Also, if you are in a good group of cyclists you will not want to lose them because you stopped too long. Typically a group rolls in and there is some verbal negotiations wherein everyone meets up at the end of the feed zone in 1-2 minutes. Then you don’t miss out on a good draft and a good group. Be fast in teh feed zones. It is much better.
Also, make sure your nutrition is planned out with everything you need. Put other things in there you MIGHT WANT just in case. Then if you don’t need it you can leave it in the bag and ditch it in the trash zone. Some teams even have spare tires and tubes, or even spare wheels at one or two of the feed zones for a quick change if necessary. Extra Co2 is sometimes a good idea as well. If you put any of these items in your bags, then make sure you tell your crew to go collect your stuff out of the trash zone so you can get your spare tires, tubes, and Co2 back.
Finally, if you have 1-2 family members who will be your crew and they are attempting to go to every feed zone for you… then you are in trouble. It is physically impossible to get from each of the Manned Feed zones in time. The route that the crew must take to get to the feed zones makes it impossible for just 1 vehicle to continually sag for you at each zone. You will beat them to the feed zones and then you’re stuck waiting for them or riding on without any of your nutrition. Some people cheat and drive on teh course to make sure they get there in time. If you are caught doing this you will be disqualified and will likely never be allowed back to this event. So make sure you get enough people to help where you can split up the feed zones.
The Condom Catheter…
Yes, that is what it is called. Several of us race with a condom catheter. It is an amazing way to not ever have to stop and pee. You can lose your group over your need to stop and urinate. To avoid that we race with condom catheters. It is exactly what it sounds like. It is a condom that connect to a tube so you can put it on and run the tube down your leg. It is tucked away so discretely that you can’t tell we even have them. We will slip to the back of the group and untuck the tube out of the bottom of our bibs and then pee. It takes some getting used too. But wow – so wroth it. Take time to measure properly and get the right size. But worth every effort.
In the first 1-2 hours of the race there has been a negotiated pee stop every year. What is a negotiated pee stop? Basically everyone in the main peleton is so uncomfortable with the urge to urinate that they all start talking about it, and then negotiate a stop by shouting out that we are all going to stop and pee. These are wonderful but can;t be counted on after this first one. Once the climbing begins the group breaks up so much that the pee breaks seems to be on your own. Without a catheter you will have to stop on the side of the road or at a porta potty and then light some matches to catch up. It is a waste of energy and effort. We vote the condom catheter. Sold on Amazon.
p.s. Not everyone on our team uses them… yet.
Bike Plate Number Holder
This is an awesome race and you actually get a legit race number that is stiff and designed to be mounted on a plate holder. They are inexpensive and can also be bought on amazon. Here is such a link: https://www.amazon.com/Thinvik-Number-Plate-Holder-Cycling/dp/B07BN1WXW4/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=thinvik+bike+race+number+holder&qid=1566335942&s=gateway&sr=8-3.
Get your hotels early. If you have the time and means then stay an extra day or town in Jackson Hole. It is beautiful. It is also nearby to so many attractions. But be prepared, the hotels in Jackson Hole are not cheap. And the hotels in Logan Utah (at the start) sell out early. We recommend booking early.
There is definitely more we can talk about, but for now lets leave the rest for another post. Have fun, train hard, and get ready for an awesome ride. We will most definitely see you out there!
Ben Dodge, Esq., Endurance/Ultra Cyclist
Bicycle crash and bicycle accident lawyer Ben Dodge
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Bike Accident Attorneys, PLC
Call Ben Dodge, the Bicycle Lawyer today at 1.855.663.3922. Reach him by fax at 1.800.958.8902.
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Mr. Dodge represents cyclists in the entire state of Arizona including but not limited to Mesa, Phoenix, Tucson, Yuma, Gilbert, Peoria, Glendale, Scottsdale, Ahwatukee, Tempe, Chandler, Prescott, Sedona, Flagstaff, Surprise, Kingman, Page, Lake Havasu City, Payson, Goodyear, Buckeye, Queen Creek, Paradise Valley, Show Low, Winslow, Maricopa, Nogales, Globe, Avondale, Cave Creek, Fountain Hills, Apache Junction, Carefree, Wickenburg, Pinetop-Lakeside, Strawberry, Anthem, Safford, and more. Ben Dodge is currently involved with bicycle accident cases all over the country and has founded BikeAccidentAttorneys.com a National Network of independent and incredible bicycle lawyers that can assist in representation in all 50 states.