When organizers of the 2013 LOTOJA bike race redesigned the course that spans 206 miles from Logan, Utah, to Jackson, Wyo., they were eager to see what impact those changes would have on the overall results. No surprise, the changes produced a new set of winners.
Andrew Neilson of the Logan Race Club set a new LOTOJA record of 8:57:14. Nate Pack was second at 9:00:05 followed closely by Mark Otterson at 9:00:33.
"What's most impressive is we have a new set of LOTOJA winners each year," said Dave Bern, race co-founder. "What this tells us is every year we have dedicated riders working and training throughout the year on becoming the best cyclist they can be for this epic event"?
The women's top finisher was Melinda MacFarlane of the Harristone/Sun Valley Mortgage team with a time of 9:35:00, setting a new women"s course record. She was followed by Brooke Parent of Boise, who posted a 9:35:01 and Shirly Leydsman at 9:35:01.
Weather conditions for this year's LOTOJA were near perfect. With moderate temperatures and a constant cloud cover, wind was not much of factor as in years past. Except for light rain in the late afternoon, most cyclists were treated to a dry day of riding.
"This is going to be a great day, let's go ride," exclaimed Dave Dansie of Salt Lake City prior to the start of the race.
Riders took two different routes from the start of the race. The USA Cycling licensed riders took a new course leading out of Logan going north on SR91 toward Preston, Idaho. The new Cyclosportive or "grand fondo" class followed the traditional route into the first supported rest stop in Preston.
"The new format really seemed to help out with the congestion at the start of the race and out on the road," said five time LOTOJA finisher Layne Devereaux of Salt Lake City. "In years past, you had so many cyclist converging on the first rest stop it was difficult to navigate through it. My hat's off to the LOTOJA crew for another great event."?
Some riders came to LOTOJA with a personal goal to finish the race no matter what the conditions. Roger Mooney a firefighter from Reno, Nev., came to this year's LOTOJA with one goal in mind — complete the course. Mooney was racing earlier this year in a criterium and going into a turn at high speed, bumped wheels with another cyclist and went down. Mooney suffered a broken leg and broken collar bone in that race as a result of the crash.
"After my crash, I used LOTOJA as a major motivator to help me get back on my bike and rehab from the accident," Mooney said. "There's nothing like having this race as a goal sitting out there to help you get out and train."?
Mooney did finish the race along with his cycling teammates.
But there were those participating in the race with other thoughts in mind. Among the focused racers were those who were riding for others.
Grant Taylor of Mesa, Ariz., came to this year's LOTOJA with thoughts of a close friend in mind.
"It's been a number of years since I have ridden LOTOJA ,and I know what kind of commitment it takes to train for this event," he said. "But for us, we came to LOTOJA with one goal in mind. We were here to dedicate this ride to our friend Rob Verhaaren. Our thoughts were with him throughout the ride today."
Taylor, along with a group of riders and a support staff from Team Verhaaren honored a close friend and family member who died in last year's race.
In the end, LOTOJA proved why it's considered one of the most challenging single day stage races in America. Those who participated were not disappointed.
A complete listing of final times can be found at www.milliseconds.com