On race day, when cyclists begin to roll out from the starting line, across from Sunrise Cycling in Logan in Saturday’s early morning hours, most of the riders will all have one goal in mind. Make it to the finish line in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
But for others, this day is more than just a bike race. Some cyclists will be riding as a day of remembrance and service to honor the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Their thoughts and memories will be on all those who sacrificed in order to allow us to have the freedoms we enjoy and to help a race like LoToJa, (pronounced Low-ta-juh) to continue.
“We’re looking forward to a remarkable day of bicycle racing through some of the American West’s most breathtaking landscape,” said Brent Chambers, who has been LoToJa’s race director since 1998. “To all cyclists, support crews, event staff and volunteers, I say let’s celebrate the day, while also remembering and honoring those who lost their lives on 9/11, 20 years ago.”
The significance of the day is important to co-founder Dave Bern. Bern along with 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 riding in the race remembering 9/11,” said Bern. “As well as remembering those who have died due to this global pandemic. The significance of this day and the times we are living in won’t be lost on the cyclists or the race.”
For Jack Boren of Salt Lake City, who is riding in his first LoToJa, the significance of this race marks a celebration of his many months of training.
“I’ve been looking forward to this race all year. I have closely followed my training plan and I’m excited to ride. My goal is to reach the finish line with my team,” Boren said.
Boren will be riding for the Mi Duole Cycling Team of Salt Lake, and he acknowledges the importance of the race falling on Sept. 11.
“Of course, 9/11 has left a lasting impression on me, so having the race on this 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 almost didn’t happen last year due to the pandemic, but race organizers implemented procedures to ensure the safety of volunteers, cyclists and supporters throughout the day. All cyclists, support crews, volunteers and event staff will be required to follow 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 races that was able to successfully operate by following these guidelines.
“We have again worked tirelessly to include several COVID-19 safety adaptations to mitigate the health risks to all participants and the communities that LoToJa passes through,” Chambers said. The two separate finish lines in Jackson are key parts to those health risk mitigation efforts. The two finish lines were used in last year’s race.”
Chambers added that while the pandemic continues, LoToJa will adapt with effective health safety measures to keep the race moving forward. A complete list of LoToJa’s COVID-19 adaptations, along with other event-related information, can be viewed at lotoja.com.
As another LoToJa race is set to begin in Logan, riders know there is still 203 miles that will need to be covered to complete the course. For most of the LoToJa riders, with a ride of that distance, cyclists are likely to say, “Mi Duole,” which translates from Italian to mean “I ache” or “I’m suffering.”
It’s a creative team name and great way to describe how a rider feels at the completion of LoToJa.
Glenn Seninger lives in Salt Lake City and is a 12-time LoToJa finisher.