Leon Bergant was the surprise winner of the LOTOJA Classic race last week. Despite being in a lower classification, the Layton resident won the Logan-to-Jackson, Wyo., race with a record time of 8 hours, 57 minutes, 19 seconds. A native of Ljubljana, Slovenia, Bergant balanced being a full-time pilot and dad to train for the LOTOJA, which is the longest single-day cycling race in the United States. He fielded questions from the Deseret News' Aaron Morton this week.
Q: How DID You FIND out that you had won the race — and in record time?
A: I knew I won the race because there were just three of us at the end battling for the first place. I was not aware of the record until my father-in-law informed me after the race. It took me about 30 seconds to understand what he was talking about. I didn't know they were keeping track about the overall best time.
Q: Were you surprised that you won? Why?
A: The race went better than I expect it. How does one prepare for such a long race, is still my question. Obviously it was not all about the legs. I had to ride smart and trying to conserve as much energy for the most critical phases of the race. It worked.
Q: How did you train for such a long race?
A: That was the hardest part of the deal. With kids, wife, and a job, it was a hard undertaking. Luckily, I have a very supportive wife who was from time to time probably more excited about the race than I was. But I must say it was like adding another part-time job with all other responsibilities.
Q: What was your and your team's strategy going into the race? Did it go to plan?
A: Unfortunately I didn't have a team, so I was on my own. There were two most important things that determined the outcome of the race: One, legs and riding smart, and two, nutrition. All that combined with a bit of luck, is a good thing to have. For me, on that day, it all worked.
Q: This is the first time you've raced LOtoja. What other races are you planning to compete in in the future?
A: I can get carried away easily with things like that, but if I say, I would like to do LOTOJA again next year, then, I already have a lot of work cut out for me.