LOTOJA Owns The Road

LOTOJA is fast approaching and the faithful are preparing for the pilgrimage. The 206 mile route is a worthy trial, and I wish all the riders well, but there's always been something about LOTOJA that bugs me. More like several somethings.

I've already ranted about the high cost of the event, the crappy no refunds or transfers policy, the annoying logistics, the prevalence of the car window stickers. But now I have a new zit to pick - evidently on that day, LOTOJA owns the road. Check out this warning from the Guidelines, All Cyclists (I'd provide a direct link, but it's not possible with their Flash website):

23. All cyclists are required to wear a wristband, timing chip and race number before they will be allowed to start. These items must be worn throughout the day until arrival at the finish. Security personnel and course marshals will be located at the start and throughout the course to remove participants without these three items.

Security personnel? Do they have their own brute squad?

Let me get this straight, if I'm out for a ride on the holy day of LOTOJA and stray onto their blessed route, a "security personnel" or course marshal can remove me from a public roadway?

OK, maybe this is just some saber rattling, a shot across the bow, by the organizers to prevent poaching, but do they need to sound so nazi? Throwing down this gauntlet makes me want to ride the whole course just to see if someone really will attempt to remove me. And if they do try, I'm very curious what their response will be when I challenge them to prove they have the authority to take such action. If I'm not using any of their services (feeds, bathrooms, etc.) I can't see what grounds they'd have.

It's fair for the LOTOJA organizers to discourage poaching, but by taking such a hard line they only reinforce the elitist, "we're big shots" image. And what do they have to be all high and mighty about? Oh, it's a "race". Yeah, right. OK, maybe it used to be a race, but it's a group ride now and has been for years. If asked, 80% or more of the LOTOJA-ites would say their goal is to just finish, or finish in some time, not win the race. So let's call it what it is: a big group ride with a race thrown in.

I noticed that LOTOJA doesn't have a slogan, and with my rekindled angst I've come up with several ideas:

LOTOJA - the Primal Wear of cycling events.*

LOTOJA - there is no confusion, we're a race, damn it!

LOTOJA - because your cycling addiction isn't annoying enough to your family and friends.

LOTOJA - registration: $150, lodging: $210, gas: $110, the sticker on your car: priceless.

LOTOJA - the Tour de France of middle-aged, middle / upper class, western states men.

LOTOJA - because your family / friends have nothing better to do than waste a Saturday crewing for you.

LOTOJA - we don't care that Jackson Hole hates us.

LOTOJA - voted most popular cycling sticker 10 years running!

* "If you don’t know what no-man’s land is, it’s kind of like that period after you learned what the cycling-related jokes on the Primal jerseys meant, but before you figured out that it was totally uncool to wear them, so you just rode around alone wearing a Primal jersey and looking ridiculous." - BikeSnobNYC


Rhonda said...

This is the funniest blog post I have read in quite some time, beats Fox! :) you should feel honored that you made me laugh !

KanyonKris said...

Indeed, I am honored. Thank you for the feedback.

To all readers: feel free to suggest your own LOTOJA slogans (I'm sure I've only scratched the surface).

UtRider said...

Ride it so you can finally say 'Yes' when your overweight neighbor asks if you've done that LOTOJA thing.

UtRider said...

LOTOJA: The only $150 sticker in the world!

Utah Mnt biker said...

Great post!

My wife would vote for slogan #3.

I don't think they could enforce the non-registered rule on the road. I'll watch for the brute squad this year. I think it's one of the those things to scare people who might be afraid of getting caught. I think you should come up and ride Preston to Montpelier Saturday.

I do you think your statement about race vs ride could be applied to most any race. How many mountain bike races did you do this year with your goal being to win? Should we call the 5-mile pass ICUP race the 5-mile ride since most people that participate are just trying to finish or finish in X amount of time or finish in the top X?

I think you have sticker envy and I'll donate my sticker from this year to your vehicle if it makes you feel better. :)

Utah Mnt biker said...

LOTOJA - Because rednecks need another excuse to hate cyclist.

LOTOJA - Since you spent $12,000 on a Trek Madone to be like Lance you might as well ride it once in a while.

Anonymous said...

I have a Tour de Park City sticker you can have, Kris. It'd look nice on your car.

But yes, the goon squad threats are just rhetoric trying to scare the leaches away from the ride.

Think about it, would you want to put on a race/ride of this size and have 200 people ride along, eating the food at the stops, confusing the actual participants who might be in the lead Cat 1 group only to see some 5 a.m. early leaver up in the distance and not know if that is a racer?

Not to mention the insurance risks of having unregistered cyclists out on the course creating hazards for racers, crew and themselves.

LOTOJA people do pay the police and highay departments for their services and for the road closures. Having freeloaders in the way is not a good thing.

But yes, it's saber rattling.

LOTOJA is far from perfect. But it is what it is. To work out a way for you to ride 206 miles from Point A to Point B next year without paying for the registration, I'll offer up a ride and support crew to you if you can out-fundraise me on the Hunstman Cancer Institute thing I did this year.

BTW, I love the slogans.

KanyonKris said...

I chuckled at all of the slogans - good ones.

utah mtn biker - Yes, the race vs ride thing is subtle. And maybe I'm unfairly picking on LOTOJA, but I get the sense that people think LOTOJA is prestigious because it has the race history, which in a way it does, but in the here and now it's mostly a big group ride yet many riders get so serious about it. Compare with the laid back vibe of Leadville which is also a race / ride.

Preston to Montpelier - hmm, I'm tempted.

If you give me a LOTOJA sticker I won't promise to display it unaltered. (evil grin)

IrideIwrite - I'd be more interested in the Tour of Park City sticker, but if display a sticker I better earn it. And after reading your report of ToPC this year it's on my riding list for next year.

StupidBike said...

I'm riding to the bank in a little bit, I'm making a sticker and charging 250 bucks to anyone who wants to join me. The feed zones are great, Starbucks, 7-Eleven, Crown burger to name a few, sorry, the feed zones cost extra. But the ride is around 5.6 miles.

kvigor said...

So, next year then, Kris?

// I mean, you *are* reading the website very closely for someone with no interest in the ride...

// LOTOJA: more dollars per mile than a Ferrari with the handbrake on.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Best LOTAJA Post ever! and Bob, where do I sign up for your ride?

Downhilldiva said...

LOL! I love the priceless slogan. And good news! If I'm supposed to be the goon squad you don't have too much to worry about. I'm just happy that enough people want to do this race/group ride that just for putting on baby blue I get a free trip to Jackson!

KanyonKris said...

stupidbike - Count me in! To have a first year LOTOBOB sticker for only $250? It's a steal!

kvigor - Yes, I have an unhealthy obsession with LOTOJA. Like those preachers who come in from all over the country to protest the Mormon conferences. I must show cyclists the error of their ways! (BTW, good slogan.)

kday - Thanks for the props.

downhilldiva - Uh, oh, I've been found by the LOTOJA brute squad - to the bunker! I'm just having fun with some of the LOTOJA policies - I sincerely hope all the cyclists enjoy LOTOJA and I respect those who work hard to make it happen (not an easy job).

Rick Sunderlage said...

You need to do it if you are a utah cyclist. It's required.

mark said...

Kris, Lotoja most definitely is a race. It's a race between my brother and me. And even though we will finish within seconds of each other, not contest a sprint, and work together throughout, it is still a race. A very, very serious one.

This theme will be repeated 300 times over amongst other participants. Another 100 are racing to win their category. The rest are racing themselves just to see if they can make it.

When we did the biathlon at Soldier Hollow, were you racing me? Thought so. Neither of us was contending to win our group, but we both knew where the other was throughout.

KanyonKris said...

Rick - The dubious title of "Utah cyclist" doesn't motivate me.

Mark - I'm sure there's plenty of competing going on. I was speaking of the formal race of who wins (or more loosely, who wins their category). But you're right, in the broad sense most every rider is racing against time, buddies, personal best, etc.

Anonymous said...

My wife, on her first day at a new job was just asked why her professional cyclist husband doesn't race the LOTAJA. Her reply: "He thinks it lame" They're reply: "LOTAJA is like the Holy Grail of bike races"

Using LOTAJA and Holy Grail in the same sentience is blasphemy.

KanyonKris said...

And that's why I consider my LOTOJA posts PSAa (Public Service Announcements). But I do admire how LOTOJA has reached such penetration - even non-cyclists know about it. Which of course makes me even less interested.