El Tour de Tucson

I rode the 2006 El Tour de Tucson on November 18, 2006. El Tour is
a large event that draws over 8,000 cyclists half of whom circumnavigate
Tucson metro area. A frustrating day for motorists as the police
close intersections to manage the volume of cyclists making their way
around town. The ride is 109 miles on surface streets, with two
river crossings that require riders to dismount and carry their bikes.
I used a small Canon Point & Shoot camera (PowerShot SD400) to capture
bits and pieces of my ride. Mostly I only took pictures while off the bike.
Below are some of my favorites.

 

The 109 mile course. Note the river crossings near miles 10 and 60. (d)

 

 

My watch tracked the day's elevation profile, generally accurate to about 50 feet.
For the day, the total ascent was estimated at 2,743 feet. (d)

 

 

Thousands of riders assemble in the dark, trying to stay warm an hour before the 7:00am start. (d)


 

Finally, the sky begins to light up as we approach our 7:00am start. Floyd Landis is
on the podium ahead and wished the riders best of luck. The first 15 miles of this ride
are chilly, as you often hit 20MPH in 45 degree temperatures. Early on, it's also common
to see ambulances assisting felled riders that got tripped up amongst the inital launch excitement. (d)

 

The first river crossing at approximately mile 10! Bikes as far as the eye can be seen ahead.
The lead riders jog with bikes on their backs through this crossing. Fortunately, this river bed
is dry, unlike former years when riders would wear trashbags or other improvisations on their legs
to try and keep their feet dry. (d)

 

 

I am now nearing the finish of the first river crossing. (d)

 

 

The sun begins to rise, warming the chilly air. (d)

 

 

Behind me, thousands more. You can hear cattle calls below, and a Mariachi band at the top.
While you can roll your bike on the dirt, you increase the risk of a flat tire shortly after. (d)

 

 

Back on the road again, around 8:30am, 25 miles done, 84 to go!
The good news is it's warming up, and shaping up to be a beautiful Tucson November day. (d)

 

 

Generally, the intersections were closed in favor of riders. Once in a while the stack
of accumulated cars required that the intersection be re-opened briefly, causing
us riders to pause (a welcome break, for some of us). (d)

 

 

The second river crossing near mile 60. Still plenty of cyclists but not in the same volume as
we are now dispersed over many more miles. 49 miles to go! (d)

 

 

I took a break near mile 75, very close to my house. It was tempting to ride straight home! 34 miles to go! (d)

 

 

Every ten or so miles we had very well supplied rest stops. This stop was near mile 90, with 19 to go! (d)

 

 

Finished! I'm celebrating (#967) with two friends that I periodically rode with during the day.
Amongst the thousands, with a time of 6:35, I finished roughly middle of the pack, with riders coming
in for the next several hours. The winner typically comes in around 4:20. (d)

 

 

 

2006 John Miranda