Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tour de Tucson: it's about the people

Sat, Nov 17, 2007 - 66.00 mi [Cycling]
66.00 mi in 06:48:42 hours at 9.69 mi/h on Giant Cypress. [Cycling] My first Tour de Tucson and first ride over 50 miles.
Posted from My Cycling Log
Today I did one of the most difficult physical things I've ever done in my life. I rode the 66 mile ride of the El Tour de Tucson. I started bicycling on and off, mostly off, since the mid 1990s. Since then one of my goals has been to ride in a century, a 100 mile single day ride. The most I had ever accomplished was the Rosarito-Ensenada 50 mile Fun Ride back in April 2000 and earlier this year in September 2007. I was a bit disappointed in my results in that ride, I decided to train a bit more and enter another organized ride.

The Tour de Tucson had many things going for it. One, it was a very well organized ride, this was the 25th anniversary of that ride. Second, it's a nationally recognized ride, as a matter of fact the League of American Bicyclists, declared the El Tour de Tucson the National Rally for 2007. Lastly, it was in Molly's home town and we had free accomodations at her mom's. Given these reasons and the fact that proceeds go to a wonderful cause, both Molly and I signed up and went for it.

It was Molly's first organized ride, so she took on what she would apologetically call the "Wuss Ass 33 mile ride." I'm pretty sure that by the end of that ride she realized there was nothing wuss ass about it. I took on the 66 mile portion, which I knew would be a challenge for me. Turns out I was right. I was good for about 50 miles, even with the the first 1/3 of that having some sort of hill climbing. I got through the last 10 miles by sheer will.

So, here are some lessons from my Tour experience. Although they are born from cycling, oddly enough they pertain to life in general:
1) When taking on a challenge, prepare. I rode for weeks before this ride, but not enough, and not with a purpose.
2) When going uphill...be patient, find your pace and keep turning the pedals. This is true in life as well.
3) It's not about what we accomplish or how fast we get to the finish line, it's the people along the way that make a difference.

That last point is really important. There were over 12,000 cyclists in this event and thousands of volunteers. Each and every one of them made this event great. The men and women of all ages that manned the aid stations were quick to refill your water bottles and to offer a banana or a sandwich. They were even quicker with words of encouragement and a "you're doing great!" no matter how late in the day it was. The police officers, which voluneered their time to keep us safe along a 109 mile route. And those yellow shirted bike patrol people? They were riding with us but were quick to encourage and stop to help. I saw them help with flat tires, and offer first aid. They were fantastic. It's because of this part of the experience that Molly and I are already planning on doing the 80 mile ride in 2008.

Some pictures from our ride: