All hail the conquering hero! I have conquered the Tucson Mountains. They are mine! I OWN them. Ok, perhaps I’m overstating a bit…err…a lot. the truth of the matter is that I survived the weekend’s Tour of the Tucson Mountains bicycling ride put on by Perimeter Bicycling. Don’t get me wrong I did well. There were roughly 1200 starters, and according to the official website I came in 709th. Not great, but considering only 722 finished, not bad either. There were 478 riders that didn’t finish. Officially it took me 5:45:01 from start to finish, with an average speed of 12.8 mph. My cycle computer, which measures on seat ride time told an even better story. Without the 3 food stops,4 stretch breaks, and 1 “nature” stop, it took me 5:03 with an average speed of 14.2 mph. I’ll take it!
The course was one big 72 mile loop around the Mountains outside of Tucson. (Click here for course map). It was a relatively flat course with no real big climbs, just a pretty steady upward slope for most of the first half of the ride. Riders call these “false flats.” (Click here for a profile view). I have to say the toughest part about the ride was the wind. The wind was blowing in such a way that for most of the first half of the ride we were riding into a headwind. With the exception of the relatively long stretch of Ajo Road, we rarely had the benefit of a tailwind.
Overall it was a good ride for me. I improved on my average speed on both the El Tour de Tucson ride in November, and the Solvang half-Century in March. Plus I set a personal record for longest single day ride for me. I also learned some lessons about bicycling in general and myself in particular. Here are some:
1. I don’t mind so much when the 20 somethings pass me like I'm standing still…it’s the 60 somethings that really hurt the self-esteem.
2. I need to learn to eat on the bike. Food breaks take time and often come after I’ve depleted immediate energy stores. Eating on the bike would allow me to be more consistent in my energy level.
3. Kevlar tires rock! The Girl’s new Continental Ultra Gatorskin tires allowed me to do the whole route without a problem. T the half-way mark I heard a woman say she had already had 3 flats.
4. Do more hill reps! I need to get much more comfortable lugging my huge body over hills faster. On the flip side, it would probably be better if my belly had a lot less jelly in it.
5. It’s nice to get encouragement on the road. This ride I did some txtcasting to friends and family thanks to the iPhone. It was nice to get responses while riding. It was also nice to get encouragement from fellow riders.
6. Be nice to the people you pass…you never know when they’ll pass you.
7. Talk nice to your bike.
8. The right equipment makes a difference. I know I look ridiculous in my spandex bib-shorts, but the Performance Ultra bib shorts literally saved my ass.
9. Preparation is key. I know I could have done better had I ridden more over the last month. However, the fact that I’ve ridden over 785 miles this year alone have made a difference.
10. Wear Sunscreen.
And last but most certainly not least, support is critical. Molly has been extremely helpful and supportive of my riding. She’s been my cheerleader and my SAG wagon on many a ride. She’s made all the difference in this and many other areas of my life. And I promise to listen to her next time she says. "Wear sunscreen."