Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Tucson, AZ
Bikes: Custom Zona c/f tandem + Scott Plasma single
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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 !