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Hundreds of riders are currently challenging themselves with tough riding schedules getting ready for the big 206.  How many of us are using local races to improve your speed and endurance for LOTOJA?
During the best days of the Tour of Utah (when Amateurs were allowed) I was privileged and honored to endure mountains, winds, flats, fast packs and crits.  I went to TofU as ready as possible.  The same way many Pro riders prep for Le Tour De France by competing in the Dauphine, TofU was perfectly timed as a prep for LOTOJA.  However, I would also participate in about 30 races leading up to the TofU.
How can races help with LOTOJA prep?
Races offer a number of advantages for LOTOJA riders of every level.  First, racing offers a fantastic avenue to hone in your drafting and pack riding skill.  These very basic skills are essential for any cyclist, especially a LOTOJA rider who wishes to enjoy their ride with others.  Drafting and pack riding skills will save you energy and help you go faster in an efficient group.  Not to mention, it's usually more enjoyable to ride and compete alongside others.
I'm often asked, "How long should I pull into the wind?"  I would say 20-30 seconds.  Taking turns at the front with shorter pulls will keep everyone fresh.  Staying on the front for too long will quickly make your legs tired.
Second:  Don't underestimate the power of intense speed work (aka racing).  Many of the top Race Across America (RAAM) riders are national caliber USA Cycling racers.  They have spent years racing at high intensity levels and continue to use speed work as part of their RAAM prep.  
As luck has it, intense workouts can also boost your endurance!  Riding miles and miles has it's advantages, especially when it comes to training your body to become efficient and maintain tempo.  Also including racing (or very intense workouts) to your LOTOJA training will offer the extra kick you'll need going over big mountains or powering through the wind.
Racing has a number of advantages that may give you the edge over your friends or fellow competitors.  Using local races can improve your speed and endurance, adding to your list of race day weapons as you prep for LOTOJA.
-Cameron Hoffman

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