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Diary of El Tour de Tucson(5 posts)

Diary of El Tour de Tucsondave woof
Nov 25, 2003 7:33 AM
Thought everyone might enjoy this.
From my friend Kari (cycling one year).

November 21, 2003 I headed down to Tucson with my friend Dave. We
have been biking buddies for over a year, and decided that I was ready to be
in the largest amateur cycling race in the country - El Tour De Tucson. The
whole route was 109 miles, but since before this my longest ride was 45
miles, we thought it best to do the 66 mile version. We packed up the
Passat wagon with our bikes, extra bike equipment, an array of cycling
clothing to account for any kind of weather, and some excitement and headed
south. Along the drive down, we saw many cars and trucks loaded up with
bikes headed towards the ride. We all honked at each other or gave a thumbs
up as we drove by. Everyone was exited and very friendly. We saw this one
guy at a rest stop that was headed down there - what a site! Huge hairy guy
with blue and white checked Capri pants and a bag of cheesy puffs. He had
the weirdest bike - sort of a cross between a mountain bike and a pleasure
cruiser - even a shock absorbing seat post. I guess if it works for you, go
for it.

When we got to Tucson, we checked into the hotel and unloaded everything and
headed down to the convention center so I could get my number and my timing
chip. We paid the ridiculous parking fee and headed inside. Dave was to
fidgety to stand in line, so I waited with all the rest of the riders like
cattle while he went and looked at all the vendors that were there (men and
their toys!) Everyone in line was sizing each other up .... This one looked
really fast, the other one looked like he could not even mount the bike let
alone ride it for any distance...tall ones, short ones, fat ones skinny
ones....any age, size and shape you could think of was entering this race.
Finally I got to head of the line and collected my plethora of numbers, free
stuff, advertisements, and lest we forget the T-shirt. I bought a new pair
of bike shorts - Kucharik brand (http://www.kucharik.com ). We went back to
the hotel and got ready for a short 1 hour spin. It was very nice out -
perfect riding weather - only if it would have stayed that way.

After the ride, we drove around forever looking for one of the bike shops we
like to go to so we could get some extra tubes. After about 45 min we
finally found it, but alas, everyone else had already bought them out of the
tubes we needed. Between the 2 of us we had 4 extra tubes, so we figured we
should be ok. All the cyclists were upset they were out of tubes. We
grabbed a quick bite to eat at Sweet Tomatoes, and headed back to get some
sleep.

Now it is the morning of November 22, 2003. I woke up and noticed my back
tire was flat. I must have picked up some glass on our short ride and over
night it deflated. Now we were down to 3 tubes. After we had free
breakfast at the hotel, we saw a few other riders there, which helped us get
psyched up for the ride. We checked out of the hotel and rode the 12 miles
to the start line. It was almost 70 degrees and sunny, so it looked like it
would be a great day. We left all our cold weather gear in the car, as it
appeared we did not need it.

We got to the start area around 10:15 am. There were people already lined
up so they could get a quick start - so many colors - so many riders. I
have never seen anything like it. We walked around for a while, and saw a
few folks from our regular Saturday ride, which made me feel like it was OK
to be there. The wind started picking up; we were told to ride carefully as
there was a wind advisory and to expect 30 - 40 MPH gusts for the rest of
the day. The announcer asked if anyone with free hands could help hold the
scaffolding. Apparently at the beginning of the 80-mile ride the wind was
so strong it knocked the scaffolding over.

Finally it was 11:00 am and time to roll out! Dave
re: Diary of El Tour de Tucsondave woof
Nov 26, 2003 8:44 AM
Finally it was 11:00 am and time to roll out! Dave and I waited for the
crowd to pass before we left. This turned out to be a very good idea as we
saw 2 crashes within the pack. Once things calmed down, we headed out. The
police had the whole 4-lane road blocked off for us! How great is that!!
Usually we are just happy for the cars to give us 12 inches clearance as
they blow by us at 50 mph. HAH!!! This time they have to wait for US!
YEAH!!!! FEELLING GOOD!!!

Within the first 2 miles Dave was harassed by one of the officials for not
having a number. What a dork! He should have paid the $80.00.

All the riders were getting in there groove, then only 4 mile into it we got
to the river crossing. From what I understand, usually there is not water
in the river and you just walk across it. This year there was 3 feet of
water. We waited about 25 min in line so that we could cross the rickety
bridges the tour put together for us. One was a ladder with plywood over
it, which was about a foot wide. The next bridge was about 3 feet across
and was much more sturdy. While we waited in line we got to meet some of
our fellow riders and took a few pictures. We got to the bridges and I was
very nervous crossing, as my balance is not the greatest anyway. I made it
across with no problem (this was a good sign). After I got all the dirt out
of my cleats we were on our way. The river crossing made the riders spread
out a bit, so we were not so crowded. Climbing out of the river crossing
was the steepest climb on the ride. It was though a neighborhood and many
of the residents were out side sitting in lawn chairs cheering us on. "GO!
Use those muscles! Only 8 more pedal strokes and you are over it!" I made
it about 2/3 the way up and my shoe came off the pedal. SH*T !! I HATE
THAT!! I had to walk up the last part - it was too steep to start climbing
from a dead stop.

We headed out of the river valley and started to feel the wind. I could not
believe how strong it was. It was quite comical watching the people with
loose clothing - like big sails going down the road. I was sure that had to
be slowing them down. I was trying to pass someone and the wind almost blew
me into her. I ended up hitting her in the butt with my fist to keep us
from colliding - sort of like a bumper I guess. Luckily no one went down.
WHEW! I apologized profusely and passed her giving a lot more room.
People's numbers were being blown off their helmets, shirts and bikes. Dave
picked up one of the numbers that blew off so he at least looked legal. I
hope part of the entry fee was for trash pick up. Between that and all the
empty sports gel packets and water bottles we saw on the ground there was a
bit of littering going on.

We stopped at a few of the sag stops they had for us. All were stocked with
port-a-potties, bananas, oranges, grapes, water, powerbars, and sometimes
cookies. All the volunteers at the stops were very nice and super helpful.
They had stops about every 10 miles along the way, I think we stopped at 3
of them. Dave favored the cookies (cooooookieeeeees!), I preferred the
bananas and oranges. I wanted the potassium so I would not get cramps in my
feet and legs. I tend to get cramps in my feet a lot while riding.

We rode over lots of long rolling hills ranging in speed from 7 - 29 mph.
Almost at the top of one of the rollers, I got a flat in my front tire. Dave
helped me change it and we were on our way. Now we had 2 tubes left. Off we
go - more hills, more wind and it was getting colder.

Tucson was doing some road construction in one of the new developments that
was being built so we had to ride about a mile or two down a dirt road. It
was actually in better shape than some of the crappy pavement we had to ride
on. It reminded me a lot of ridding down our limestone road when I was a kid
- only it
re: Diary of El Tour de Tucsondave woof
Nov 26, 2003 8:45 AM
Tucson was doing some road construction in one of the new developments that
was being built so we had to ride about a mile or two down a dirt road. It
was actually in better shape than some of the crappy pavement we had to ride
on. It reminded me a lot of ridding down our limestone road when I was a kid
- only it was more red. Shortly after that, we were on Tangerine Road. This
was a nice long decent (About Freaking Time!) so we had a chance to
chat about last year and eat a balance bar. This is the road where Dave
and I pulled over to watch the ride last year. It was very satisfying to
see that and remember at that time I had a different set of wheels. I'll
take a bike over a wheelchair any day. We got to the bottom of that hill
and stopped at our last sag stop. We both had bananas (they were out of
cookies) and then we were off.

We crossed under I-10 and rode along the frontage road for a while. Semi's
and cars where honking at us cheering us on. We made a right turn and worked
our way around a few mountains. The views back there were surprisingly
beautiful. Undeveloped hillsides, and lots and lots of saguaros. Tons of
them. I should have gotten a picture but I was getting silly at that point
and just wanted to keep going. I started to notice that I should have lubed
my chain and pulleys a bit more. Man I was NOISY. So noisy I was ruining
the view for myself. It was really getting cold now, and we were mostly in
the shade once we went though the pass.

The last 20 or so miles were relatively flat, really nice views, and cold.
Everyone knew that the end was coming so they were all starting to push it.
Every 3 seconds someone said "on your left". Then 2 min later we were
saying "on your left" to them. It was pretty ridiculous. I was not sure if
they were trying to improve their time or just push it to keep warm.

Then, one of the cops on the side of the road told us we needed to obey all
traffic rules. All day they were holding traffic for us, making the cars
wait for us. It was getting towards 5 pm, so we figured they were trying to
keep traffic moving as best they could. We rounded a corner and there was
one last set of nice police women stopping traffic for us. "Nice going
ladies! Good ride Girls!" I think Dave was a little offended, :), but
that did not last long - the road curved to the left and there it was...Down
town Tucson!!! YEAH!!! Ok, now we had to sit up, smile, and look like this
was easy for the big finish. Dave turned off before we got to the finish
line so he would not be asked about his number again. I rode through the
finish line 5 hrs and 44 min after we started. Man, I DID IT!! I was DONE
and still had enough energy to get to the car.

I put on my "Gold" medal and we started the 2 miles back to the car. We got
about half way there, and I noticed Dave was pointing out some glass on the
road. It was too late....I went right though it. PISSSTTTTT! There went
my back tire. Crap! Well at least it happened there and not on the ride.
Dave helped me change it and we were on our way. Now we had just one tube. I
just get my cleats on the pedal and PISSSSTTTTT! There went the front
tire. F*CK! THAT'S IT!! Even though we had 1 more tube, I was not in the
mood to deal with it. It was starting to get dark and really cold. I tossed
Dave the keys and walked to the 76 gas station at the corner of St Mary's
and the frontage road to wait for him to bring the car. He was there in
short order and we were off. We were both freezing, by now it was around
50o F, still windy as ever. It gave us a chance to test the heated seats in
the car - they work very nicely by the way.

We stopped at the Cracker Barrel for dinner and to get changed. Even though
Dave thought I was a dork, I wore my medal into the restaurant (just till I
got to the ladies room to change - I earned at
re: Diary of El Tour de Tucsondave woof
Nov 26, 2003 8:46 AM
We stopped at the Cracker Barrel for dinner and to get changed. Even though
Dave thought I was a dork, I wore my medal into the restaurant (just till I
got to the ladies room to change - I earned at least the right to do that!).
We ate dinner and were on our way home - still people were honking and
waiving. Very cool!!

All in all a great experience. The plan is to do the 109 next year.

Talk to you later,
Kari
re:Your "Friend" Daveasgelle
Nov 26, 2003 9:47 AM
Let's be clear. By taking advantage of the services provided for Tour riders without registering, Dave is no better than a common thief - taking things which didn't belong to him without paying for them.