Last Saturday, me and a few friends from the next town over went up to Tucson and participated in the 2011 El Tour de Tucson 111 mile ride.
The weather was great for a long day on the bike. It was probably in the upper 50s to lower 60s and overcast for the entire ride.
The group of us were riding together, but eventually one-by-one we got separated and then I was riding solo for probably the last 45ish miles. It stunk to not have anyone I knew to ride with, but during that period of time, I tried to work on my drafting/group riding skills. There were a couple of times where I was pacing with a group at 25+ mph and that definitely helped keep me going.
This was my first organized ride that featured this such a distance and this many people. Apparently there were over 8,000 people who entered the various length rides. Even though I was out there by myself, I wasn’t out there by myself if you catch my drift. Being out there with that many people and that distance I had a few concerns.
- What would I do if someone in front of me crashed?
- See # 1.
- Would I run out of food?
- Would I be able to make it the whole way?
Well.. no one crashed right in front of me, but there were people who had crashed at some point in time and there was some carnage. One guy was bloodied, being put into a sling, and doing the moan-groan thing.
I didn’t run out of food. I actually feel like I had TOO MUCH food. I had like 5 Honey Stinger waffles, 3 Honey Stinger chews, 6 Oreos at one of the aid stations, and as far as hydration I had 3 bottles of Carbo Rocket then several bottles of water along the route.
I did make it the whole way, but not without some aches and pains. One area that I was particularly worried about, the male manly bits soft parts area, I did not have any issues with at all. No soreness, no chewed-uppage, and life was grand in the taint region for me (YAY!). Some areas that I wasn’t concerned with at all that gave me issues were my quads and my knee. About mile 75 I noticed that I had quite a bit of muscle fatigue. I was thinking that I would go the whole ride unscathed from muscle fatigue for some reason. I should have known better because I had never ridden any distance over 80 miles before. There were some climbs after mile 75 that got me out of the saddle and made me feel like my legs were going to just give up on me and leave me on the side of the road. Coupled with the muscle soreness, I started to get some pain on the inside of my right knee. The muscle fatigue and the knee pain started right around the same time. I don’t know if that is coincidence or just plain luck that they did.
The last 20 miles or so were pretty horrible for me because my legs were toast, my knee would hurt anytime I needed to unclip (stop light or aid station). My pace definitely fell a great bit from when I was pacing with a large group. I felt alone and defeated at this point. I pushed on and the last 3 or so miles I found someone to ride and talk with who was, like me, just trying to finish.
The finish line was a sight for sore eyes, legs, and knee. I was done physically, and done mentally. I would have never thought that it would also take mental toughness to complete an event like this. It definitely seemed like it would NEVER END.
I am glad that I had a great group to ride with even though we weren’t together the whole time. I feel accomplished and very proud of myself and everyone else that completed the ride.
Some things that I learned…
- Training is something that I probably should have done more of.
- Endurance is something that is gained over time.
- People with super expensive bikes don’t necessarily ride better. (ain’t this the truth it is about the engine not the bike)
- Being in the saddle for 6+ hours is a LONG TIME!
- One pedal stroke after the other will keep you going.
I finished the ride in 6:56:57:68 with right around 6:20 in the saddle between the stops, catching or waiting on the group, and aid stations.
Next year I will train and try to aim for a sub 6 hour time or better! Gotta have goals right?
Garmin Connect Ride Data: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/129719980
Pictures taken by Mertie..thanks man!
It definitely was a great day and a lot was learned. I look forward to kicking butt next year!