Competitors in cycling race receive local, national support
Published: Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 30, 2013 22:09
LoToJa, a 206-mile road-bike race, stretches from Logan to Jackson, Wyo. More than 4,000 bikers want to be part of this extreme race yearly, but an average of 1,500 people are accepted to compete. This race attracts people nationwide, but was started by valley natives including Dave Bern, a USU alumnus and the communications director of the LoToJa Classic.
LoToJa has grown from a small group of friends biking together to an event cyclists mark on their calendars.
“I was here in 1983 at the very first LoToJa,” Bern said. “It started here at Sunrise Cyclery. We had less than ten people here at the start line and everybody finished that first LoToJa.”
Bern never expected the event to grow as much as it has.
“That first year I put the event on, and I asked everybody is this something they would love to do and come back and do again and again,” he said. “They all said ‘Absolutely, this has got to be about the coolest thing that I have ever done.’ Well, here we are today. We have nearly 4,000 plus people who register for this event every year. We can only take a little more than 1,500.”
Members of the Logan Race Club are often annual cyclers in LoToJa. Kirk Eck is one of these members, and this year marked his eighteenth time competing. He has won five times: the first two times in the lower categories, the third and fourth times in the highest category. In 2012, Eck won in the masterclass.
“I tell people I’m stuck in a rut, and I can’t get out of it,” Eck said. “It’s fun for me to prepare for it. I enjoy riding bikes with my friends all summer, so having this kind of looming in the distance gets me out on the bike all summer long. It’s a great event. It’s fun to do the race itself, but I think just the drive to get out of bed and go for rides all summer long is another huge benefit for me doing it.”
Being an accountant helps Eck see the financial benefits LoToJa brings to the valley.
“Just all of the people brings in more money to the valley,” Eck said, “From an accountant’s perspective, I can see all of the revenue that it brings into the valley, into our restaurants, into our motels, gas stations and convenience stores. All of that benefits from the race, starting here.”
Many charities are part of LoToJa. The Huntsman Cancer Institute usually is the biggest partner and contributor to LoToJa. Members call themselves “Huntsman Hometown Heroes,” and the 2013 race was the organization’s tenth year with LoToJa.