cycling utah October 1999
By David Bern
It's 203 miles long, but the LoToJa Classic is renowned for producing solo breakaway heroes who defy the distance and put on an admirable display of courage and strength. A new hero emerged this year, and he did it in grand style.
On Sept. 18 Salt Lake City's John "Johnny O" Osguthorpe (Rhodes) counter-attacked before Soda Springs and rode 120 miles alone to win the 17th annual LoToJa in 8:32:11.
"I thought I was stupid when I went, but after 10 miles I had three minutes," said Osguthorpe. In the women's race, Salt Lake City's Kirsten Davis (Rhodes) showed that years of cycling experience are not required to win the LoToJa. She soared into Teton Village in 9:32:44 and added a major victory to her four seasons of racing.
"I was totally surprised to be in the lead and was ecstatic," said Davis about her feelings of winning the nation's longest one-day road race.
The LoToJa began 7 a.m. at Sunrise Cyclery with 287 licensed and citizen cyclists at the start line. Officials issued strong warnings about construction in Snake River Canyon.
The construction consisted of two long sections that were stripped of asphalt and lay bare with loose gravel and rocks.
His fifth time riding the race, Osguthorpe, 21, watched patiently as small attacks went off the front. After the second feed zone in Grace, the group rode hard to catch a small breakaway. As contact was made about three miles west of Soda Springs, Osguthorpe counter-attacked.
He didn't expect his move to be successful. He set a goal of being the first to summit Tin Cup. "I thought I'd at least pick up King of the Mountain and then hang on," he said. "But at the top I had five or six minutes, so I decided to go for it."
Osguthorpe flew down the east side of Tin Cup Pass and headed for the feed zone at Etna. After crossing the Snake River, he hit the first section of road construction.
The rough road didn't concern Osguthorpe. He was more worried about his support crew, caught in stopped construction traffic. He was out of fluids and went through the final feed zone without getting fresh bidons. Race officials, knowing that his support crew was caught in traffic, gave him a bottle of water.
Refreshed, he rode strongly into Hoback Junction. He knew he won as he began the final seven miles to Teton Village.
"To finish alone was totally awesome. This is the biggest win, and my first win as a Cat. II," he said. He was followed nearly 15 minutes later by Allan Butler (Rhodes) and Kirk Eck (Logan Race Club) who finished together at 8:46:23.
For Davis, 37, winning the women's race is a sweet reward. After finishing last year's race in 10:40, she required medical treatment for dehydration.
After riding with the Cat. IV's from Logan and deep into Idaho, Davis and second place finisher Michelle Weidner (Team Nissan) found themselves riding alone after Soda Springs. They rode together over Tin Cup Pass and into Wyoming, and then entered the road construction in Snake River Canyon.
Davis felt strong and was confident about her ability to handle the rough road, but she was concerned about getting a flat. Soda Springs was the last time she and Weidner saw wheel support for their group.
"If either of us would have had a puncture at that point, that would have been it," she said. "We were all alone."
Before Astoria Hot Springs, both women joined a large group that included a tandem. After Astoria, Davis noticed that Weidner had dropped off the back. Davis stayed with the group into Teton Village. Weidner finished at 9:39:14, her second consecutive year in taking second place. Taking third place was Chris Pappas at 10:10:53.