While it was the 40th year for the LoToJa Classic on Saturday, one local cyclist was honored for riding more than half of those.
Greg Roper is the first member of the LoToJa 5000 club. The North Logan resident celebrated his silver anniversary on Saturday, being honored for starting and completing 25 LoToJa’s in a row.
But actually, it was the silver anniversary plus one for Roper. Saturday was the 26th time the 53-year-old has started in Logan and finished near Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
“I’m the only one that is that stupid,” Roper quipped. “Honestly, I was talking to Brent (Chambers) and he said there would be other people hit 25 years, but right now there is nobody close. ... This was year 26 total as I started in 1997, but 25 with Brent Chambers when he took over the organization in 1998.”
Chambers has been LoToJa’s race director since 1998. He started the program honoring cyclists that hit milestones like 25, 20, 15, 10 and 5 years.
“I’ve had friends come and do it different years and there are things that happen in races,” Roper said. “I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve been able to start and finish every one of them.”
The course has changed a little over the years, depending on construction and other factors, but it is roughly 200 miles each time. Recently the finish line has been at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and is 203 miles from Logan.
“I’ve seen a few things occur over the years,” Roper said.
Cyclists this year dealt with some head winds outside Montpelier, Idaho, going up to Geneva Summit and through Star Valley that kept the course records safe. There was also some smoke in the air in Cache Valley at the beginning of the race, but really wasn’t a factor once riders headed north and east.
There were some crashes that slowed some riders down. Construction between Thayne and Alpine, Wyoming, also played a bit of a factor.
A rider from Lincoln, Nebraska, turned in the best time on Saturday. John Borstelmann crossed the finish line in 8 hours, 41 minutes, and 47.77 seconds. He was riding in the Pro Cat 1/2/3 group and just barely nipped Nathan Spratt from Salt Lake City in a sprint finish. Spratt was hair behind in 8:41:47.93.
Rounding out the top five was Riverton’s Spencer Johnson (8:54:30.71), Farmington’s Danny Van Wagoner (8:54:31.00) and Millcreek’s Marc Spratt (8:54:31.30). They were all in the Pro Cat 1/2/3 category.
David Christensen of Providence also was riding in the Pro Cat 1/2/3. He finished 12th with a time of 9:21:42.26.
The top female was Aileen Pannecouvcke of Pocatello, Idaho. She was in the Pro Cat 1/2/3 for women and finished in 9>58:00.57.
The best time by a local rider, according to results on the LoToJa Classic’s website, was turned in by Joseph Camire. The Paradise resident finished second in the Men Master 45+A category with a time of 9:13:20.50.
“Joe is a very, very strong rider,” Roper said. “There was a guy that showed up from Alpine this year (in their category) that you could tell was extremely strong. We tried to do a couple of things early. Joe did a nice job.”
Roper competes in the same category and finished ninth in 9:25:52.35. In fact, five members of the Logan Race Club, which is sponsored by On Watch Malouf, were among the top 15 in that category. Joining Camire and Roper were Logan’s Michael Twohig (6th, 9:25:51.21), Smithfield’s Scott Smith (7th, 9:25:51.64) and Wellsville’s Lawrence Allen (15th, 9:55:33.95)
“I’ve helped a lot of people win races because I’ve always raced in a very competitive category,” Roper said. “Over the years I’ve taken second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, but I’ve never actually won the damn thing. I’m going to keep hitting my head against a brick wall even though I’m already bleeding so bad; it’s stupid.
“The event itself is fantastic and fun. Brent has done a really marvelous job in elevating the event to where it’s at, at this point. ... I do it because I like to ride my bike. I have an amazing family that supports me. My daughter is 28 now with kids of her own and she was one or two the first time I did it. My two older kids, that’s all they’ve know dad doing in the fall.”
Roper said to be competitive one needs to ride 3,000 to 5,000 miles in a summer in preparation for LoToJa.
“I don’t race a clock, I race the guys I’m with,” Roper said. “If they go slow, I go slow. If they go fast, I go fast. If I need to plan to set someone on my team to go off the front, the clock isn’t a big factor to, did we win the race?”
While Camire had the best finish of any local rider, there were others with top 10 finishes. Ellie Edwards of Hyde Park took second in the Women Cat 5 (10:28:56.90); Camilee Stringham of River Heights took second in the Women Master 45+Open (10:35:15.27); Christian Dursteller of North Logan was third in the Men Novice Cat 5 (10:03:43.00); Christian Thorn of Mendon (10:35:29.54), David Steed of Hyde Park (10:35:35.36) and Austin Gray of North Logan (10:44:44.87) were eighth, ninth and 10th in the same category as Dursteller; Brian Child of River Heights was seventh in Men Master 35+B (10:13:11.88), while Brandon Nakken of Nibley as sixth (9:57:57.51) in a sub category of Men Master 35+B; Mike Broadbent of North Logan was fifth in Men Master 55+Open (9:41:12.56); Martin Genova of Logan was third in Ride Men 25+; Rees Hatch of Logan (11:11:46.14), Jake Bowen of Nibley (11:22:04.54) and Jeremy Bowen of Nibley (11:22:05.54) were first, second and third, respectively, in Ride Mens/Womens Open.
Many former category winners from the LRC that have raced with Roper credit him for helping get them to the front. Roper just enjoys the club and riding in Cache Valley. Of course, he likes to punish himself yearly with the 200-mile ride.
“There are so many riders up here,” Roper said. “Logan is a mecca for biking. It’s just a fabulous place to ride a bike.”
There were many local riders that completed the more than 200 miles.
“The real heroes in my opinion are those that take 14 hours to do it,” Roper said. “It is a mind-blowing experience when you are driving back to see the number of people that are into this thing 14 hours. They are the real heroes. They are barely making it before dark (the cut off point), and there are lot of people doing that. They deserve as much credit as those doing it in nine hours.”
Welcome to the discussion.
We welcome comments, however there are some guidelines:
Keep it Clean: Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexual language. Don't Threaten: Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated. Be Truthful: Don't lie about anyone or anything. Be Nice: No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading. Be Proactive: Report abusive posts and don’t engage with trolls. Share with Us: Tell us your personal accounts and the history behind articles.