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  1. #1
    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    El Tour de Tucson Question

    "My wife and I are considering driving down to Tucson for this ride (109 mi. version). Hard to say what our time might be on our Tandem, but probably 7 hours. it's certainly not a race for us and my inclination might be to start in the back and just pick our way through as things thin out (do they ever?), but I'm thinking there might be a lot of slow single bike riders back there and picking our way through a pack might be a problem. Our flat land cruising speed is probably in the 19 mph realm, darn slow for a tandem, but faster than slow singles for sure. Any suggestions out there from those of you who have ridden this on a tandem?"

    Note: above is a modify cross post from the Southwest sub-forum. I realized afterward that the single bike riders might not appreciate the bit of uniqueness that comes with riding a tandem.
    Rick T
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    I haven't ridden it in the back so I don't know what it is like back there but I know the washes are a PITA in the middle because there are so many people you are stuck walking. If you are faster you can ride across them (that's what I prefer) because the crowds are thinner. I would guess that no matter when you start, unless you are in the very front or very back, you will have to deal with crowds. You're going to have people passing you and you're going to be passing people, there's no two ways around it. I don't think it matters when you start. You'll most likely end up with a big tail of single bikes behind you. I just ignore them or chat with them. Don't worry about where you start, just have fun!
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  3. #3
    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    Thanks. Sounds like great advice.
    Rick T
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  4. #4
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    BTW. TDT utilizes a series of "mass" starts. This is to spread people out a bit. I would suggest that whatever group you end up in you should try and either be in the front or in the very back. I like to be in the front so I don't have to deal with the inevitable crashes that happen mid-pack. Last thing you want to have happen is to be taken out by someone else's mistake before the ride even starts. Once you are a couple miles out it's pretty easy to keep out of harms way. People spread out in long lines. Especially after the first sand wash. Don't forget to enjoy the Mariachi bands. I'm going to try and make it again this year. If I do, I'll be on the tandem too.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  5. #5
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    We've done all distances except the 109 on tandem, and the 55 on a quad. I've done the 109 a few times on a single. It won't matter where you start unless you're planning on hanging with the lead pack, and that won't happen unless you have a pass to start in the platinum corral. Just ride the first 10 miles safely and it'll thin out. You'll find a pack/packs to work with at a pace that meets your needs.

    And if you think the washes are bad on a tandem, you ought to lug a quad across one....

    MR

  6. #6
    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    If we sign up for this ride my wife and I will figure out how to do a portage with a tandem.
    Rick T
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  7. #7
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    Don't wear your road cycling shoes. Wear a MTB shoe/cleat that you can "portage" in and you'll be fine. With the tandem, I hold/lift the stem and wifey pushes on her saddle, and away we go.

    It's all good....as long as it's not one of those rare years where there's water in the wash!

  8. #8
    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    DMR - good advice. We've only been on a tandem for 15 months, but realized immediately that road shoes were not (for us) the way to go. We use cyclocross-style shoes which have a very rigid sole, but lugged so you can walk a bit. As senior citizens we do sometimes have to walk when the captains power output proves insufficient
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  9. #9
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    Portage? Isn't that something you do with a canoe?? If I can't ride across the washes (I try that first) then I just pick the bike up and carry it across. It's not that far of a walk. I do it in traditional road shoes and haven't had a problem.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  10. #10
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    For those that haven't seen a pic of the "portage"....this is the longest of them.


  11. #11
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    That is exactly why it's better to go faster! There is no riding through or around that many people. Plus by that time the sand is so soft it'd be very difficult to ride through it anyway.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  12. #12
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    El Tour ded Tucson

    Have missed one El Tour since its inception and done it 15 times on our tandem. Raced it the first two years, then started riding for the fun of it and doing Bike Patrol.
    Best way to cross Santa Cruz (first) wash: DO NOT try and ride it it unless you are in the very front pack (not likely!) or have mt. bike tires. Walk it.
    The last wash (Sabino Creek) is very rocky and sometimes water running. Our way to cross that one is for stoker to walk/run it and for pilot the hoist tandem over shoulder, cyclocross style.
    Riders line up by groups for the 109 miler as to when they expect to fnish: Platinum (you must pre-qualify) and be able to do 5 hours or less; gold, silver or bronze categories. Check their website for more info.
    First 25 miles can be a bit hectic. Watch the corners as singles tend to crowd you a bit; ride with your elbows out!
    With nearly 10,000 riders now, it gets a bit crowded, but things do thin out a bit; lots of packs forming, lots food/water/potty stops. Cops on most major corners, Bike Patrol riders to assist mechanical/physical/mental(?!) impaired participants.
    It's a great event and extremely well done and supported.
    It has only rained once during El Tour . . .
    Come and see what it's all about . . .
    Pedal on TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
    Attached Images Attached Images

  13. #13
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    I forget myself sometimes, as Zona and Dmark suggested it's best to not try and ride across the washes unless you are near the front. I probably shouldn't suggest it because someone might end up on their head and get mad at me. I've ridden across all the washes but I'm usually in a position where I can do that. They aren't that technical but if too many riders have gone before you the sand can start getting deep so you need to have some off road skills. You also need to have speed to get through them and if there are people walking ahead of you there isn't any other choice but to walk. As Zona said, it is well supported and great fun.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  14. #14
    Tandem Vincitur Ritterview's Avatar
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    I found this pic at Flickr.



    1st Place Tandem Tour De Tucson

  15. #15
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    That doesn't surprise me, TDT is about as perfect a course as you can get for a tandem!
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  16. #16
    Tandem Vincitur Ritterview's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Homeyba View Post
    That doesn't surprise me, TDT is about as perfect a course as you can get for a tandem!
    This couple did not have the fastest time, but apparently the fastest tandem time. But I couldn't find them (#38 & 39) on the site with results for previous years.

    The fastest tandem time for Tucson has to have been when Arnie Baker had Floyd Landis as a stoker in 1997, and were reputedly the top finishers, with a time of 4:18:25 however, I don't see them in the 1997 results.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ritterview View Post
    This couple did not have the fastest time, but apparently the fastest tandem time...
    So, I can't read...not the first time, probably won't be the last either.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ritterview View Post
    The fastest tandem time for Tucson has to have been when Arnie Baker had Floyd Landis as a stoker in 1997, and were reputedly the top finishers, with a time of 4:18:25 however, I don't see them in the 1997 results.
    I bet an Arnie Baker/Floyd Landis tandem would have been fast but they probably disqualified Landis for doping... Now that I think about it, even though TDT is very tandem friendly it would be very difficult to drop any single that are tagging along. There's probably no getting away on a tandem.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  18. #18
    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    Really looks like this would be great fun - I'm going to make a hotel reservation this evening, hopefully close enough to ride to the start of the 109 mile ride. It's a (long) one-day drive for us from NorCal so we'll drive down on Thursday, visit some friends on Friday and have a blast on Saturday. Appreciate all the good advice and anecdotes. We will work on our "portage" skills
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  19. #19
    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    Any comments on what's available at the rest stops? We heard from some friends in Tucson who have done at least one of the distances that the snacks and drinks available were pretty minimalist. We can pack our own, of course, but it's nice to find something at each rest stop.
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  20. #20
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    I don't use the stops but I wanted to mention, that you should make sure you take in the festivities on Friday night if you can. They have a tone of vendors and other cycling related stuff to share. btw, there are some convenience stores along the way if the food stop cuisine doesn't cut it for you.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  21. #21
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Usually a variety of stuff at food stops, and varies at each stop..
    Water, some sport drink, bananas, cookies, oranges, etc.
    However. we always carry some of our favorite foods . . . that's what jersey pockets are for!
    Before the El Tour, when you pick up your packets, be sure to visit the vendors . . . lots of neet stuff and some freebies . . .

  22. #22
    Senior Member
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    I know this has been cited many times but I still get a kick out of it each time I read it:

    http://www.slowtwitch.com/mainheadin...lo/tandem.html

  23. #23
    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    That link is great - there is a veritable grand canyon between the tandem experience described and my wife and I on a tandem.

    Our friends are in town (in Tucson) that weekend so I've signed us up for the TdT. BTW, we don't actually ride for an hour/eat for an hour; my stoker is more than willing to work hard for 20-25 miles provided there is a short respite, a banana, M&Ms, some fruit, whatever Really looking forward to what I would classify as a flat century; we can do 3K - 4K of climbing on a 100K or century, but are not yet up to the moderately hard centuries around here - the Marin Century, for example; we'll get there.
    Rick T
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldacura View Post
    I know this has been cited many times but I still get a kick out of it each time I read it:

    http://www.slowtwitch.com/mainheadin...lo/tandem.html
    Anyone coming in for the race let me know. There will likely be a good party the night of the race, and we'll get you the details as it gets closer.

    Jimmy will be there, I'm sure. If you think the article is funny.....

    MR
    Tucson

  25. #25
    Used to be Conspiratemus
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    Quote Originally Posted by Homeyba View Post
    Portage? Isn't that something you do with a canoe?? If I can't ride across the washes (I try that first) then I just pick the bike up and carry it across. It's not that far of a walk. I do it in traditional road shoes and haven't had a problem.
    That's how you portage a canoe, too: one person picks it up and carries it on his shoulders (albeit upside down, bow tilted up a little so you can sort of see where you are going.)
    "I did not know that!" -- J. Carson

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