What a day! From start to finish it was a blast. I loved the people I was with, especially my warrior teammates: Kristin, Andy, Adam and Spencer. This is my 3rd time racing LOTOJA and each year I go home feeling overwhelmed by the love my wife and partner shows me. She loves to see me race, ride hard and work with the Mi Duole boys. She is enthusiastic and proud. She is selfless and never complains. Nothing is better then rolling into Teton Village for that hug when the day is over.
Two weeks ago Adam and I crashed hard at the base of American Fork Canyon. After coming down the canyon my front wheel crossed with Andy's back and I went down into a 30mph asphalt power slide. Adam catapulted over the top of me and we ended the ride with a trip to the hospital. Covered in road rash and lucky it wasn't worse we both wondered what today would be like. I am thankful we where healthy and healed enough to ride this year.
We left SLC on Friday and took our time eating dinner at Maddox. Steak, way to many rolls and lots of laughs. We rolled into the Marriott around 8:00pm and got all our gear set up. Bikes tuned and numbers attached. We woke up at 5:15am to eat, shower, sunscreen, and band-aids to the remaining road rash. I had a new full kit for the day that included the new Voler Axiom jersey - it was the tightest single piece of clothing I have ever pulled onto my body. We rolled out of the hotel at 6:25 and made our way to the start line for the 6:48 gun (Masters 35+ Cat 4/5 800s). It was warm enough to shed shelves early as we made our way through Logan. Pretty soft paced group with lots of chatter and talking. I even added some low-key Utah Fight Song whistling. It wasn't until the first climb out of Mink Creek that the group started to break apart - although it was surprising how many dudes made it up and over together. We had 16 guys together moving into Montpelier. Got our goodies and moved onto the Geneva climb. Strong pace, but I don't think anyone dropped. We got to the Salt River climb, but no one broke away or made a move to really push the pace. Andy had a crazy scare at the top of the KOM when he got cut off in the feed zone and went over his bars. He landed on his chest, but popped right back up. We closed the gap on the descent and pushed into Afton with about 8 guys. Andy is one tough dude. It was an honor to represent Mi Duole with him all day. We finished the final 30 or so miles into Alpine with a HUGE tailwind. Each taking turns on the front and working hard. Steve, in our group kept telling dudes "No free rides in this group." I loved hearing that. Riders took turns at the front or moved out. We made a quick stop at Alpine and moved up the Snake River. The pace was fast, but not crazy. We didn't really know who was behind us from the 800s, but the group was tracking to finish in a little over 9 hours so wasn’t a big worry. Ted, Don, Toby, Steve, Andy, Shawn and me made it to Hoback Junction together and made the final push to Jackson. Don, Toby and Steve made a break at the little hill going into Jackson and I got caught sleeping with Shawn and Ted. As soon as we turned off the main road I felt my front tire start to go flat. It was a slow leak that I thought I could ride out, but it went all the way down and Ted and Shawn moved on with out me. I pulled over to fix it and Sean Jager, who was riding with the 700s pulled over to help. I met Sean last year during LOTOJA. He quickly pulled off his whole front wheel, handed it to me and told me to go. I was blown away - overwhelmed that a friend would do that. It was one of the best moments of the whole day. I love working and pulling for other guys, but this was next level. I made a break to get back with Ted and Shawn but I knew it had been at least 5 minutes. Andy rolled up behind me and we crossed the finish together in 9:14 total time.
The race is always an adventure, but the people make this event special. Grateful I could compete. A little disappointed I couldn't sprint for that finish line. Blessed to have ridden with strong, supportive dudes all day. Changed by Sean's sacrifice. Thankful for a beautiful wife and partner.