'10 C'Dale Tandem RT2. '07 Trek Tandem T2000, '10 Epic Marathon MTB, '12 Rocky Mountain Element 950 MTB, '95 C'dale R900, "04 Giant DS 2 '07 Kona Jake the Snake, '95 Nishiki Backroads
Mike ...we do quite a few rides and have debated the long drive to do this one on our tandem for a nunber of years, but haven't been able to decide if it is worth the effort and the challenge of so many entrants.
Hope you can help with a couple of questions.
What time did you actually get to the start and were you able to ride right off or did you still have to wait a while to be released? Did you walk the bike through both crossings or just the second...I assume both are dry or was the first one wet? It sounds like the hordes of riders were manageable from a saftey perspective or were you being kind?
How strongly would you recommend it as a fun Tandem ride..will you do it next year?
We arrived about 6am but after unloading, bathrooms etc. we lined up about 6.30 and waited 30 mins for the bell. Its a timed event so when the bell goes they let everyone go starting with the alleged fastest. We waited about 10 minutes before we started moving as there were nearly 4000 people in front of us. The first mile was very slow and then the road opened up and people began to sort themselves out. Getting there earlier would be a better idea.
There were a number who weren't really comfortable riding with lots of people, but frankly being on a tandem and habitually riding with singles you get used to this to some degree anyway, that said the people we ride with know our different rates of acceleration/deceleration, so it was more of a mental exercise than normal.
I only noted one with an Ipod playing and most were pretty with it when it came to shouting out a warning. We did make every effort to clear the hordes of TNT fairly quickly as there were definitely a high percentage with limited confidence and awareness.
The river crossings were both dry. You could have ridden through the first if it hadn't been packed with people and bikes. If you are in the front then you ride it, but the vast majority walk. The second you definitely walk or run and carry or push the bike.
We will probably do it again. Given the weight to power advantage we have over most people its often been hard work riding with others at the group speed and so being a timed event this is a good performance metric. Its not the most scenic and the food offering isn't great but there are many many spectators and all seem very pro the event. Its a big charity thing so many people come out and wave and shout. free massage offered at the end. Beer tent and festival atmosphere is good. Its also well worth the experience of going full tilt through red lights. For people who regularly race then its less of a deal, for the rest of us those aspects are quite fun....
There were some fast tandems out, but obviously we weren't one of them, that said I think at 8 Beth was the youngest `Centurion'. Rather less impressive is that we (and many others), got beat by a 12 year old - so we'll be gunning for him next year!
On the tandem question . . .
We have ridden El Tour 15 times on our tandem.
Depending where you start (109, 80, 66 or 35 miler) get there a minimum of 1 hour ahead of time. Does not pay to stand around shivering at 4:30 a.m. in the chill of the desert morning!
If you do stand around, stuff a couple layers of folded newspaper between chest and jersey . . . great insulation. Arm/leg warmers or vest, depending on your comfort level can also be used.
Starting any of the shorter distances, you put up with smaller crowd (1,500 starters at the 35 miler and the 80 miler usually has the least participants) and temps are much nicer.
Your timing chip does NOT activate until you cross the start line, so there is no actual loss of time; same at finish line.
Yes, there will be a huge crowd to navigate through; remember, everyone wants to be FIRST (not gonna happen!). First 25 miles and first river crossing will be close quarters/hectic. Riding a tandem, watch your corners . . . singles have no idea that we need a bit more space (ride with elbows out if necessary).
On the river crossing: dismount, carry the tandem (don't wheel it through the dirt/rocks). With our team, the pilot carried tandem while stoker ran along.
The river crossings have not always been dry, but usually are. If wet crossing: remove shoes/sox put 'em in jersey pocket. Hoist the bike and go. When you hit pavement DRY off you feet. with cycling cap/bandana. Otherwise sand granules will give you blisters after several miles.
The last 25 miles a few folks are a bit wobbly as they have overextended themselves a bit, so beware.
After 15 El Tours on our tandem, stoker Kay decided that was enough for her!
We rode many years as Bike patrol so we were in no huge hurry to finish.
This was my 25th ET out of 26 . . . missed one in the early 1990s when boss would not let me off work and threatened to fire me if I called in sick (nice guy?!).
Raced the first few El Tours (on a single) and on the very first one finished either 26th or 27th out of about 190+ riders and was one of the 'older' participants. Less crowded for sure with more stops but not nearly as well organized as it is nowadays.
There are loads of sag/potty stops. This year had banana, 2 brownies 1/4 orange and water refills. Bring own favorite snacks/gels/bars/drinks etc.
At ages 76, and 73 we still pedal on TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem !
Some stats on the El Tour de Tucson XXVI . . .
8,636 total riders
4,539 did the full109 miles
4 hrs 20 min 35 sec was the winning time
4 hrs 32 min 2 sec for the fastest tandem duo
12 hrs 8 min 39 sec was the last official finisher of the 109 miler
166 folks rode as Bike Patrol
go.azstarnet.com/eltour for some highlights