That Loving Feeling

Elden hasn’t made much of the fact that we are riding Lotoja in about three weeks, because I spose he’s been all preoccupied with his fancy Leadville 10,000 mile belt buckle and his ever-elusive sub nine hour finish (smirk).

Well, Elden, Rick Sunderlage, and I are riding Lotoja in three weeks. And I’m afraid in a very particular way.

Lotoja is a road race, 206 miles, from Logan, UT, to Jackson Hole, WY, over several mountain passes. Rick S. raced last year, and nearly froze to death in a freak snowstorm. But he survived, and even finished. AND, he’s back for more. But I don’t know if he’s afraid of what I’m afraid of.

I’m preparing for Lotoja by following my usual very meticulous strategy of riding as much and as often as I can (which can be pretty random). Brad, who may or may not actually ride Lotoja with us, and I have been taking the following measures to prepare for the big day:

Monday or Tuesday: Emigration to East Canyon, 3 climbs, 2900 feet of vertical, 30 miles, bout two hours.

Wednesday or Thursday: Either Little Cottonwood Canyon to Alta ski resort (16 miles roundtrip, 3,000 feet of vertical, bout an hour and a half), OR Big Cottonwood Canyon to Brighton ski resort (28 miles roundtrip, 3400 feet of vertical, bout two hours. More on this in a second.

Saturday: My house at Suncrest to Top of American Fork Canyon and back (with optional backside descent/ascent to Sundance to add an hour and change), 40-60 miles roundtrip, 2-3 climbs, 4500-5500 feet of vertical, and 3-4 hours.

And sprinkled in there somewhere, a short mountain bike ride on the north side of Hog Hollow. On which I have never actually seen or smelled any hogs.

Today, we went up Big Cottonwood Canyon, but turned left at Brighton, and climbed to Guardsman Pass (which tops out at about 9,500 feet), adding another 25 minutes and 1100 feet of vertical and another 3 miles of climbing. The temperature was 95 degrees (in American degrees).

You would think that would do it. And yet, I fear Lotoja. Fear it like I never feared Leadville, fear it like I never feared 24 Hours of Moab. Those are mountain bike races, involving getting off the bike every once in a while.

My big, overriding, debilitating fear, is that my taint will lose feeling for so long, that I will never get it back. I fear that I will have lost that loving feeling. Forever.

Can that really happen? They would tell me, right?

–dug

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