What does it take to complete LoToJa?

Johnson Elite Orthodontics, Kinetic Ambassador Justin Wagner’s team, represents on the 2019 LoToJa Classic podium.

Johnson Elite Orthodontics, Kinetic Ambassador Justin Wagner’s team, represents on the 2019 LoToJa Classic podium.

This past weekend, the 37th annual LoToJa Classic bike race took place. It’s a grueling 202 mile USA Cycling-sanctioned race from Logan, Utah to Jackson Hole, WY. This year’s overall win went to my Johnson Elite Orthodontics teammate Roger Arnell, with other teammates Spencer Johnson and Nathan Manwaring not far behind in 3rd and 4th place respectively. Taking 3 of the top 4 spots in such a high-profile race is certainly quite an achievement, although being their teammate, I am also not an unbiased source! I was proud to be supporting the team at the event even though I was unable to compete due to a recent unfortunate incident.

You are probably thinking, who in their right mind would attempt a 200+ mile bike ride, and even worse want to race it?! The significant others of any participant may answer that question simply with “nobody”, and while they might be right, as a past finisher of the event myself I’m here to give a little insight on the kind of training that is required to tackle this daunting challenge.

Hopefully this doesn’t come as a shock, but preparing for a 9+ hour event requires, well, lots of riding and endurance. Just how much you ask? Well, how much time do you have? How competitive do you want to be? Do you just want to complete it, or do you want to win it? Your specific answers to these questions will direct how much training volume is right for you. One trick that I’ll mention is that generally speaking, each hour of training on an indoor trainer is worth more than an hour of outdoor riding, since outdoors there are obstacles and distractions that make you stop pedaling. So if you are very time crunched, then you can accelerate your training with the right amount of indoor trainer work added into the mix.

For those interested in just what it takes to complete the event, I offer the experience of my brother Brad Wagner as an example.  He just barely started to ride a bike in February of this year, in a competition to lose weight at work, which led him to complete a 60 mile ride in March, then his first 100 mile ride in April. He then continued to focus on steadily increasing his training volume and recovering when his body needed. He then completed another 100 mile ride and a 120 mile ride in August, before conquering the massive 202 mile ride in the first week of September (this past weekend). Did he lose weight? Yes, about 30 pounds, but more importantly, he uncovered a highly gratifying sport that is great for keeping that weight off long term!

 — Justin Wagner, Kinetic Ambassador