The Long Road Ahead
By Gretchen Roufs
If you lived in Las Vegas, where the average mid-summer high temperature is 104 degrees Fahrenheit, would you spend your free time in July riding 100 miles on a bicycle?
Travis Brady, president of Brady Industries, a Las Vegas-based distributor, does.
Setting out at approximately 4:30 a.m. every Saturday in July, Travis rides over 100 miles on his bicycle. Beginning in May, he rides up to 40 miles a day before work as part of his five-day-per-week training regimen.
All of this riding prepares Travis for the LOTOJA Classic bicycle race, a 206-mile trek that starts in Logan, Utah and finishes in Jackson Hole, Wyo. Hence the name “LO-TO-JA.”
Travis belongs to a team of cyclists called Red Burro Racing. He said the team began as a group of friends that trained together. “We chose the Red Burro name because we often see burros when we train,” Travis said. “To us, the name represents that, while we take ourselves seriously as racers, it’s still about having fun.”
The Red Burros inspired Travis to enter the LOTOJA race, which is held annually in September. “A couple of guys on the team did the LOTOJA race years ago and got the rest of us going,” he explained. “It’s probably the longest one-day sanctioned bike race in the country. It’s mountainous, scenic and fun.”
About 40 Red Burros participate in the race, which requires cyclists to ascend and descend three mountain passes. The 1,000 competitors ride through three states: Utah, Idaho and Wyoming.
A race through the mountains makes many hard demands on the cyclists. Food, for instance, is tricky.
“It is difficult to eat anything substantial,” Travis said. “During the race, I exist on energy gels and bananas, and I probably drink about a gallon-and-a-half of water.”
Travis’ wife Laura, a past participant in the LOTOJA, serves as his support crew during the race. The race is so well-run that even crew members have specific instructions, including exactly where they can stand as they pass a food bag to their racer at one of the handful of designated “feed zones” located on the course.
Even going downhill is difficult in this race. “You don’t coast,” Travis noted. “You are either in a tough position to maximize your speed, or you’re just six feet away from the wheel of the guy in front of you. When you go down a hill at 50 miles per hour, you really have to concentrate.”
Successful cyclists also have to consider proper clothing. “In 2005, the forecast for the LOTOJA was partly cloudy with a high of 70 degrees,” Travis recalled. “About 40 miles into the race, a storm came in that started with rain and turned to snow. We were riding in short-sleeved spandex, and we were soaking wet.”
That wasn’t the worst of it. He said a state of emergency was called at the 85-mile point and paramedic crews set up medical checkpoints.
“Every rider had to go through the medical checkpoint in order to be cleared to continue the race,” Travis said. “After that experience, you bring every piece of gear that you own, including several pairs of gloves, multiple jackets, a couple of pairs of socks, and both short- and long-sleeved shirts.”
While the race sounds grueling, the training is really the hard part. “The race is just one day of pain compared to all the difficult months leading up to it,” said Travis.
Gretchen Roufs, an 18-year janitorial supply industry veteran, owns a marketing and public relations company in San Antonio. To suggest someone you think should be featured in “freetime,” contact her at GretchenRoufs@aol.com.