Thursday, November 22, 2012

30th el Tour de Tucson

So work was good enough to be hosting a Geostatistics training course in Tucson with the renowned Clayton van Deutsch and I was invited to join in. This proved to be a great learning tool but also provided an opportunity for me to be in town over the following weekend when the el Tour de Tucson was taking place. The el Tour allows for cyclists to choose one of 4 distances from 40 to 111 miles with the later basically covering a lap of the outskirts of Tucson, Arizona. This ride had 9000-ish people coming from about 18 countries this year and all USA states.
This is from not even half way back from the start line for the group doing the full distance. It took 10 minutes for me to "start" after the official go time and there were a lot of people still to go. One poor guy had the joy of being the first one to fall before we'd even got close to crossing the line to start. This was due to trying to pedal rather slowly and getting caught up next to the barriers. Still, at least he didn't need an ambulance. This was unfortunately the case for a couple of people out on the course, be it from clipping wheels, falling at a corner, and one or two who still managed to meet cars at intersections, despite the best efforts of the police and sheriffs who were directing bikes and cars throughout the day.
After the ride started (it's not officially a race, though there are prizes for the leaders of different categories), we had a reasonable pedal for about 16 km before the first river crossing of the day. The 111 mile ride has two of these where dismounting is required and carrying the bike through the thick sand is a wise move. Then it's back into hard pedaling again.
The upside of the ride is that it is quite scenic. Tucson is surrounded by mountain ranges in pretty much all directions, but the ride itself was reasonably flat, though there were some rolling hills throughout. But as a fan of the Saguaro cactus and the Mesquite trees, it was a good ride. Especially as the day was overcast and not too cool or warm. And the breeze was pretty reasonable until about 145 km in when we turned east and hit it. Then the next 25 km on some cracked roads was not good for the buttocks either.
The last few kilometers did involve smoother roads and when you know there isn't long left it makes it a lot easier to find that last burst of energy as well. So the pace picked up, the enthusiasm lifted, and the smiles returned. After crossing the line there was a recovery area, complete with beers, foods, massages and music which had a very festival atmosphere. People were happy relaxing, sharing stories, working away the previous hours of pain, and generally enjoying the achievement of finishing an (almost entirely) enjoyable days riding.

No comments:

Post a Comment