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just signed up for El Tour de Tucson

Old 07-28-11, 06:42 AM
  #1  
Bob Ross
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just signed up for El Tour de Tucson

My wife and I are doing the 109 mile El Tour de Tucson. We've cycled in Tucson a lot over the past decade (my parents retired to Tucson so we visit at least twice a year and have always brought or rented bikes there) but this is the first time we've done El Tour.

Anything we need to know? Any suggestions from Tour veterans on how to make it an entirely enjoyable experience?
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Old 07-28-11, 09:19 AM
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I did one of the shorter routes 3 years ago, and probably will not do it again. We found the police support and the sag stops to be excellent - but of course, most of your entry fee pays for that. I think our main beef is PBAA's attitude of "our rides are not races, but here's your timing chip, wink wink nudge nudge". Too many people "race" who have no experience with racing or even with group rides. I won't do any more of their events until they stop timing the riders.
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Old 07-31-11, 09:18 PM
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Last year was my first El Tour. I did the 109 and there are a few things I will do differently this year. I will go to Goodwill or Walmart and pick up some cheap sweatpants. That way when you get there early for the lineup you can sit down. I stood the whole time last year because I had my $$$ Assos bibs on and didn't want to sit on the pavement. Toss the sweatpants on a barricade right before the start as I was told they pick them up for a charity.

Make sure to have a good breakfast before the start. I didn't and was miserable 80 miles in after I ate all the energy bars and GU (and had 29 miles to go). Some of the rest stops have just water and fruit so don't totally rely on their food (bring electrolyte powder if you aren't a plain water drinker).

Be very careful. As LarryMelman points out above there are many people who either haven't or shouldn't ride in a group. Expect everyone you pass to swerve in front of you and protect your front wheel. I had to bunny hop 4-5 water bottles (there must be a lot of people using skinny bottles or those wire cages that get loose), had two accidents I needed to avoid and a friend that rode the 60 mile had a teammate break a collarbone when someone swerved and hit his front tire.

Most of the accidents and water bottles are within 5-10 miles of the start so be extra-careful there and you should be fine.

Even if they tell you the two washes are firm enough to ride across, get off your bike and walk it across them.

It was a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to this year...
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Old 08-20-11, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by kf9yr View Post
Last year was my first El Tour. I did the 109 and there are a few things I will do differently this year. I will go to Goodwill or Walmart and pick up some cheap sweatpants. That way when you get there early for the lineup you can sit down. I stood the whole time last year because I had my $$$ Assos bibs on and didn't want to sit on the pavement. Toss the sweatpants on a barricade right before the start as I was told they pick them up for a charity.

Make sure to have a good breakfast before the start. I didn't and was miserable 80 miles in after I ate all the energy bars and GU (and had 29 miles to go). Some of the rest stops have just water and fruit so don't totally rely on their food (bring electrolyte powder if you aren't a plain water drinker).

Be very careful. As LarryMelman points out above there are many people who either haven't or shouldn't ride in a group. Expect everyone you pass to swerve in front of you and protect your front wheel. I had to bunny hop 4-5 water bottles (there must be a lot of people using skinny bottles or those wire cages that get loose), had two accidents I needed to avoid and a friend that rode the 60 mile had a teammate break a collarbone when someone swerved and hit his front tire.

Most of the accidents and water bottles are within 5-10 miles of the start so be extra-careful there and you should be fine.

Even if they tell you the two washes are firm enough to ride across, get off your bike and walk it across them.

It was a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to this year...
^^^^^ pretty accurate assessment, however, I'd suggest carrying your bike 'cross style in the washes. Even walking it gives the opportunity to pick up thorns and other debris. Also, don't count on the Bicycle Patrol for help if you flat. As I understand it the BP is not given spare tubes, tyres, pumps etc. I was changing a tube on a hill and a Bike Patroller rolled past. Without offering to help, or to call SAG, he said "What a crummy place to flat" and pedaled on. Like there's a [I]good[I] place to flat? At another place, less than five miles from the end, a Bike Patroller was stopped with a rider who had flatted. I asked if they needed help and the BP said that the rider had deep V rims and asked if I had a long stem tube.

That being said, I still plan to sign up again this year.
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Old 08-21-11, 04:27 PM
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Yes, I carry my bike on my shoulder across the washes sorry for the inaccurate wording.

I also carry Speedplay cleat covers in my back pocket and pop them on and off so my cleats aren't full of "stuff" as the 30 seconds it takes is not a big deal to me...

I flatted last year but had a spare tube (and didn't see any B.P. but I may have had a scowl on my face while I was changing tubes so they just kept their comments to themselves).
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Old 11-09-11, 06:06 PM
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This will be my 28th El Tour.
Raced it the first 3 years and did the rest as Bike Patrol various distances.
Participants are expected to be able to do their own minor repairs, including flats. Riders are expected to carry flat repair stuff including spare tube, pump/inflator.
Having stated that, as Bike Patrol have fixed lotsa flats, chains, saddles, broken spoke, etc. Taken care of roadrash, cramped muscles (offer ibuprofen if they want it) and even one person with a concussion.
But many folks carry nothing . . . including a gal on a gorgeous new custom bike that only carried a water bottle . . . yup . . . she had a flat.
Stopped to offer assistance and asked 'who usually fixes your flats?' Her answer 'my boyfriend or I use my cellphone'. 'Where's your boyfriend now?' Answer: 'In Minnesota'. 'Want to call him or would you like me to fix it?' Funny in a way . . . some riders are just totally unprepared.
Another had a puncture and I asked if he needed help. "Yes, and I have a patchkit and pump but no spare tube and have never fixed a punture or removed my back wheel." Told him he had to watch close and maybe learn something as I fixed the flat then let him pump up the tire. Hopefully a lesson learned.
Is it a race? No, but there are lots of pros who use it as a race/training venue. Yes, there is recognition for 'winning' this non-race for all distances and types of bikes.
Also loads of wannabe racers who have no clue how to ride in a group/pack. Folks who drop a water bottle in the middle of the road and promptly hit the brakes to retrieve it and then wondering why everybody screams or crashes all around them.
All in all, as in any event, keep your eyes peeled for folks who may not be as skillfull as you (or as savvy as you *think* you are).
It is an extemely well organized ride; lotsa police, lotsa food stops, spectators and usually great weather but with a rather chilly start for the folks doing the 111-mile event.
If you are amongst the earlybirds and don't want to carry lots of clothing suggest you use arm/leg warmers, put a couple sheets of newspaper between your chest and jersey for extra warmth and think warm thoughts!
So come on out and enjoy the happening that's El Tour de Tucson!
See ya on the road!
Pedal on!
Rudy/zonatandem
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Old 11-14-11, 11:58 PM
  #7  
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This will be my first... I am going with a friend who will help with the vehicle/parking so that at least is not so stressful, he was going to ride but he picked up a kidney infection and was Very down for a while and is just barely recovering... for those who are coming down from Phoenix Metro, what day are you heading down/picking up your packets?
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Old 11-16-11, 07:56 AM
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Originally Posted by zonatandem View Post
This will be my 28th El Tour.
Raced it the first 3 years and did the rest as Bike Patrol various distances.
Participants are expected to be able to do their own minor repairs, including flats. Riders are expected to carry flat repair stuff including spare tube, pump/inflator.
Having stated that, as Bike Patrol have fixed lotsa flats, chains, saddles, broken spoke, etc. Taken care of roadrash, cramped muscles (offer ibuprofen if they want it) and even one person with a concussion.
But many folks carry nothing . . . including a gal on a gorgeous new custom bike that only carried a water bottle . . . yup . . . she had a flat.
Stopped to offer assistance and asked 'who usually fixes your flats?' Her answer 'my boyfriend or I use my cellphone'. 'Where's your boyfriend now?' Answer: 'In Minnesota'. 'Want to call him or would you like me to fix it?' Funny in a way . . . some riders are just totally unprepared.
Another had a puncture and I asked if he needed help. "Yes, and I have a patchkit and pump but no spare tube and have never fixed a punture or removed my back wheel." Told him he had to watch close and maybe learn something as I fixed the flat then let him pump up the tire. Hopefully a lesson learned.
Is it a race? No, but there are lots of pros who use it as a race/training venue. Yes, there is recognition for 'winning' this non-race for all distances and types of bikes.
Also loads of wannabe racers who have no clue how to ride in a group/pack. Folks who drop a water bottle in the middle of the road and promptly hit the brakes to retrieve it and then wondering why everybody screams or crashes all around them.
All in all, as in any event, keep your eyes peeled for folks who may not be as skillfull as you (or as savvy as you *think* you are).
It is an extemely well organized ride; lotsa police, lotsa food stops, spectators and usually great weather but with a rather chilly start for the folks doing the 111-mile event.
If you are amongst the earlybirds and don't want to carry lots of clothing suggest you use arm/leg warmers, put a couple sheets of newspaper between your chest and jersey for extra warmth and think warm thoughts!
So come on out and enjoy the happening that's El Tour de Tucson!
See ya on the road!
Pedal on!
Rudy/zonatandem
Rudy - nice perspective, thanks. I'm coming to Tucson for Thanksgiving with relatives and plan on riding El Tour for the first time. I live in NC and am wondering if any special prep needs to be taken for road riding in AZ - particularly in the area of tire choice? Would you recommend using a heavier duty tire - like a Conti Gatorskon or the like as opposed to a regular GP 4000? I know mountain bikes there are very weary of cactus thorns and debris, but didn't know if the same concerns were taken for the road. Thanks for any thoughts.
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Old 11-16-11, 09:35 PM
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I plan on driving down late morning on Friday. I wanna check out the expo for a bit then check into the hotel early to take it easy.

Originally Posted by MikeyBoyAz View Post
This will be my first... I am going with a friend who will help with the vehicle/parking so that at least is not so stressful, he was going to ride but he picked up a kidney infection and was Very down for a while and is just barely recovering... for those who are coming down from Phoenix Metro, what day are you heading down/picking up your packets?
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Old 11-16-11, 09:38 PM
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I think you'll be good with the GP 4000s. Just take some extra care at the off road crossings.

Originally Posted by rmr49 View Post
Rudy - nice perspective, thanks. I'm coming to Tucson for Thanksgiving with relatives and plan on riding El Tour for the first time. I live in NC and am wondering if any special prep needs to be taken for road riding in AZ - particularly in the area of tire choice? Would you recommend using a heavier duty tire - like a Conti Gatorskon or the like as opposed to a regular GP 4000? I know mountain bikes there are very weary of cactus thorns and debris, but didn't know if the same concerns were taken for the road. Thanks for any thoughts.
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Old 11-18-11, 05:00 PM
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rmr49:
You'll do fine with the tires you've got.
Suggest when crossing the dry (or wet) river crossings that you shoulder your bike.
Don't ride at the very edge of the road.
Enjoy your visit and ride in Tucson!
Pedal on!
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Old 11-20-11, 11:38 AM
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A first class and well supported event. I only did the 60 (doc says no more than 3 hrs on the bike), and was quite impressed with both sag/rest/LE support. It was quite a ride and a beautiful day for a good hard effort.
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Old 11-20-11, 05:31 PM
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I'll second the great event comment.

I had about 20 friends come down from Phoenix to participate and everyone had a good time (well one of the guys was run into from behind and dnf'd).

He said the nurse at the emergency room told him he was the 8th patient and they normally have a lot more so this was a safe year in her estimation. He needed a couple of stitches in his arm and his road rash scrubbed so it wasn't a serious injury.

I had a great time and drafted a few tandems...
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Old 11-25-11, 07:17 AM
  #14  
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I just got back from our Arizona vacation, which included riding the 111-mile El Tour. I must say on some levels it is a very impressively-run event. The road closures & police/sheriff support at traffic crossings must make being a non-cyclist that day a complete PIA but for riding it was an exquisite luxury. And just the infrastructure to get 8700 people out & back must take a ton of planning & support personnel.

But holy crap, I would happily give up at least half of those rest stops (do we really need a rest stop every 5 miles?!?!?!) just to have one or two that were stocked with some decent food! Twenty freaking rest stops and all they could muster was bananas, oranges, & pretzels? That's ridiculous!

And having no (free) food at the start or finish is just unconscionable.

So I'd give it a 6.5 out of 10.
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Old 11-26-11, 12:06 AM
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Gee Ross, you do not HAVE to stop at all the rest stops, but maybe you should have!
There were also stops with peanut butter/jelly, raisins, chips and delicious huge homemade brownies . . . and I utilized only 3 rest stops.
This was my 28th El Tour, my 25th year of riding it as Bike Patrol. Perhaps you did not need Bike Patrol help, but quite few folks did. Because you do not need something does not mean that others should be ignored.
And you may not have noticed, but at the finish line in Armory Park there was FREE food available.
Have done well over a hundred centuries and many rallies/events in my 40 years of cycling. El Tour is one of the better organized events; but then that is only my opinion.
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