LoToJa: 39th annual cycling race will honor those who sacrificed themselves on September 11
On race day, when the riders start to exit the start line, opposite Sunrise Cycling in Logan in the early hours of the morning, most riders will all have one goal in mind. Meet at the finish line in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
But for others, this day is more than just a bike race. Some cyclists will ride as a day of remembrance and service to honor the 20th anniversary of September 11th. Their thoughts and memories will be on all those who sacrificed themselves to allow us to have the freedoms we enjoy and to help a race like LoToJa (pronounced Low-ta-juh) continue.
“We look forward to a remarkable day of cycling racing through some of the most breathtaking scenery in the American West,” said Brent Chambers, LoToJa Race Director since 1998. “To all riders, support teams, staff of the event and volunteers, I say, let’s celebrate this day, while remembering and honoring those who lost their lives on September 11, 20 years ago.
The importance of the day is important for co-founder Dave Bern. Bern and Jeff Keller, owner of Sunrise Cycling, founded LoToJa 39 years ago while Bern was a student at Utah State.
“I know we have a number of cyclists who will be participating in the 9/11 Memorial Race,” Bern said. “In addition to remembering those who died from this global pandemic. The importance of this day and the times we live in will not be lost on cyclists or racing.
For Jack Boren of Salt Lake City, who is competing in his first LoToJa, the importance of this race marks a celebration of his many months of training.
“I have been looking forward to this race all year. I have been following my training plan closely and am delighted to be riding. My goal is to reach the finish line with my team, ”said Boren.
Boren will ride for Salt Lake’s Mi Duole cycling team, and he recognizes the importance of the race on September 11.
“Of course September 11 left a lasting impression on me, so having the race that day is really special. I will never forget that day 20 years ago. I was sitting in my kitchen having breakfast before school with my mom and she was watching the news when the first plane hit the World Trade Center.
LoToJa hardly took place last year due to the pandemic, but race organizers have procedures in place to keep volunteers, cyclists and supporters safe throughout the day. All cyclists, support teams, volunteers and event staff will be required to follow the strict COVID-19 safety guidelines that were put in place for last year’s race in response to the pandemic. LoToJa was one of the few breeds that could function successfully following these guidelines.
“We have again worked tirelessly to include several COVID-19 security adaptations to mitigate health risks for all participants and the communities that LoToJa passes through,” Chambers said. The two separate finish lines in Jackson are key components of these health risk mitigation efforts. Both finish lines were used in last year’s race.
Chambers added that as the pandemic continues, LoToJa will adapt with effective health security measures to move the race forward. A full list of LoToJa’s COVID-19 adaptations, along with other information related to the event, can be found at lotoja.com.
With another LoToJa race set to start in Logan, riders know there are still 203 miles to go to complete the course. For most LoToJa cyclists, with a race this distance, cyclists are likely to say “Mi Duole”, which translates from Italian as “I’m in pain” or “I’m in pain”.
It’s a creative team name and a great way to describe how a runner feels at the end of LoToJa.
Glenn Seninger lives in Salt Lake City and has finished LoToJa 12 times.