LOGAN – Some 2,000 cyclists and their support teams will be in Logan Friday night and Saturday for the 37th annual Logan to Jackson bicycle race, known as LoToJa.
This year’s LoToJa will be held on Saturday, September 7. The 206-mile race has grown from seven college friends trying to make a long distance bike ride to a popular cycling event that fills its rider cap in just a few hours after it opens.
“We believe this incredible growth is due in large part to the amazing team of volunteers that work tirelessly to serve LoToJa’s cyclists each year,” a race official said in their event guide.
Dr. James Matthews is one of over 600 volunteers stationed along the way keep the event alive, organized, positive, and most importantly safe. He does the race every other year and during the off years he volunteers at a station along the race course.
The course passes through northeastern Utah’s, southeastern Idaho’s and western Wyoming’s most scenic terrain. The finish line is right at the base of the Grand Tetons.
“I’ll be at a feed zone up in Strawberry Canyon this year,” said the family practice doctor. “I was there two years ago and there are usually about 15 to 20 volunteers at that station to help.”
Strawberry Canyon is past the Mink Creek area, on Highway 36 Northeast of Preston on the way to Montpelier, ID.
“In 2015, I was in Montpelier at a relay transition zone,” Matthews said. “The race couldn’t go on without volunteers.”
He said LoToJa is a very exciting thing for the valley.
Cyclists will climb three mountain passes that total nearly 10,000 vertical feet. Some of the athletes compete to win their respective class or category. They are in the Race Class, while others just ride to cross the finish line before dark; they are considered to be the Cyclosuportive Class .
The race starts in Logan at 138 North 100 East, where it all began in 1983.
LoToJA has grown into one of the nation’s premier amateur cycling races.
With 1900 racers on the road at one time, they will be separated into small groups. The groups will be released three minutes apart and alternate classes to space the participants a safe distance from each other.
Groups of cyclists will wind through Cache Valley on two separate routes. The racers stay on Highway 91 from Logan to Preston while the riders and relay teams travel north through Benson, Amalga and Lewiston before they head north to Preston. The course for both groups merges in Preston then heads west over Emigration Canyon to Montpelier, Idaho then on to Jackson Hole.
Motorists should be advised of traffic delays in some areas, particularly Saturday morning.
Brent Chambers, president of Epic Events (the company that now manages and owns the race), added that cyclists generally come from nearly all of the continental United States, plus Canada and Mexico.
The age of cyclists this year ranges from early teens to their 8o’s. Some are part of relay teams.
Chambers said LoToJa has become a major fundraiser for the Huntsman Cancer Foundation, Autism Spectrum Disorder Connections, and other medical research foundations.
The LoToJa event guide said riders and support crews need to be aware that there is still road construction near Hoback Junction for a short stretch.
The current course record for an individual male was set by Spenser Johnson from Riverton in 2018, completing the race in 8 hours, 18 minutes and 29 seconds.
The current women’s course record was set by Melinda MacFarlane of Draper, in 2013, at 9 hours, 35 minutes.
LoToJA is the longest one-day bicycle race in America that is sanctioned by USA Cycling, the sport’s governing body.
Due to the mountainous and remote terrain, more than 150 volunteer ham radio operators from the Bridgerland Amateur Radio Club provide race communication.
The route and additional information about the race are available at www.lotojaclassic.com.