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El Tour time again (or, I lost the coin toss)

November 20, 2010

El Tour de Tucson is a 109 mile cycling event that runs every year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.  I’ve ridden it four times, and finished three of them.

The first time, in November 2004, was funny; it was shortly after I’d taken up cycling, and my longest ride up to that date had been 75 miles.  I figured I’d be ok, since I was riding it on a tandem with my brother.  Now, I know I’ve talked about his tandem riding prowess (WORLD CHAMPION!) before, but El Tour 2004 that was only about his third ride ever on a tandem.  His second ride was the night before, when we picked the bike up from his coworker, and rode a nine mile loop around his neighborhood in the dark to get the feel for it.  That was my first ever ride on a tandem.  He was either still a Cat 5 (novice) or newly-upgraded to Cat 4 (slightly-less novice) and I didn’t even have a USCF license yet.  We started at the BACK of the field of about 7000 people:

See the arches? No? Well that's the start line.

Everyone’s time starts when the leaders start.  It took us almost six minutes to actually cross the start line, which was really annoying at the end when we finished in 6:04:17 [Ed: I just looked up our official results, and it shows my age as 21.  Holy crap, it doesn’t seem like THAT long ago].  I felt fine until about 80 miles in, go figure, and then I started to lose it.  By the time I begged my brother to stop at a rest area around 90 miles in, I almost punched a Girl Scout.  We suffered the rest of the way to the finish, but it was great fun.

[Ed: In looking up the result above, I see that the fastest tandem that year rode a 4:25:01, which you can see is considerably faster.  Fast forward to April 2009, and my brother and I kicked the crap out of that same tandem, ridden by two men, in the Tour of the Tucson Mountains.  Yee Haw.]

So now it is El Tour time again, and DH is going to be riding El Tour, and I am not.  We didn’t actually toss a coin to decide who would ride, but when he said that he wanted to ride, it was pretty much implied that I would not be able to.  DH and I have gotten to ride together a few times since LM was born, but not for more than two hours.  Six hours (which would include jostling for a good position at the start, gorging on Oreos and stretching at the finish, etc) is pretty much out of the question.

But to feel like I’m still ‘part’ of things, I went downtown to the El Tour Expo today to roam around and visit with people.  That is a fun thing about being so involved in the cycling community, you get to know people so there’s always someone to talk to.  I knew the guy who was giving the orientation talk when I walked in; I knew a few of the people handing our race numbers and event t-shirts; I knew a guy selling homemade energy bars who lives in Oregon but happens to be in a long distance relationship with a woman I know, so he got to see LM for the first time; and I knew every one of the guys at the CLIF bar booth.

And tomorrow, around the time DH is due to finish the ride, I’m going to pack up LM in the Burley trailer and roll the six or so miles to the downtown finish area to again feel like ‘part’ of the crowd.  I know, I sound like some freshman in high school who wants to be part of the in-crowd, but losing touch with the cycling community is the one thing I wish didn’t have to happen when I had LM.  I miss being able to ride up Mt. Lemmon every Sunday and then sit around a cafe drinking coffee for as long as I wanted, or doing four hour rides in the winter with everyone bitching about the cold weather and trying to one-up each others complaints of numb body parts.

But I’m going to get back into racing shape, even if I have to spend four to five days a week on the trainer.  Which I will.  The first race is January 29th, which is 11 weeks from tomorrow.  Time to lay off the Nutella.

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 21, 2010 7:54 am

    My mom rode the 40 mile version today and said the wind was pretty bad. She also said that in the shorter version she saw a lot of kids including one lady with a baby in a seat and a younger kid on one of those bikes that hooks onto the back of a normal bike…Maybe you don’t have to be totally out of it for too long.

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