Monday, November 23, 2009

El Tour de Tucson

*Warning* You might want to grab a cup of coffee, this is gonna be a long 109 mile post...

This weekend we flew to Tucson, Arizona for El Tour de Tucson, the largest bicycling event in the US. Peter, a friend of ours talked Bryce into competing in the crazy 109 mile road race across Tucson about 8 months ago and he's been donning his little lycra shorts and training for it as often as he could ever since.
On Saturday morning we got up at some ridiculous hour (5am'ish) to join the thousands of people who willingly do this race every year.
It was quite the spectacle seeing the sea of helmets and lycra - people come from all over the US and the world to compete
look at him in his bright orange jersey with tyres to match - we thought for sure we'd be able to see him coming in this get up!
but it seemed you needed to be a bit more creative to stand out amoungst all these bikers
The race started at a chilly downtown Tucson at 7am with over 2000 bikers heading off for the 109 mile part of the race. The sun was hardly up and being the desert it was freezing cold
Peter kindly brought his tandem bike along so he and I could ride the first part of the race with Bryce to cheer him on
but the place was a zoo and we lost him straight away - everybody just looked the same on all those bikes... so we decided to ride for a while and see if we could see him.
Riding a tandem bike was a new experience for me, and at first a little freaky since I was in the back with no control of the steering or the brakes and I just basically had to keep my feet on the peddles and make sure I kept up with Peter.
but it was kinda cool, with my hands free I got to take some good shots :)
this guy was the craziest guy we came across, and I am not just talking about that outfit...
here he is (bad photo) on a unicycle...
Yes! see him behind me? that's right 1 wheel for 109 miles... talk about madness!
there were all sorts of people on all sorts of bikes
and lots of police presence to make sure everyone stayed safe - all the roads were closed down to let the bikers through.
here we decided that we were not going to be able to catch Bryce and thought we'd take a shortcut and head him off at the next spot
so we headed back to the car crossing the finish line on the way (only about 5 hours too early...) but I cheered out loud and pretended that we won anyway - just for the fun of it :P
So with the bike on the car (my butt was so happy to not be on the bike anymore...) we made a quick pit-stop at Starbucks at U of A
we grabbed a much needed coffee and some breakie, saw this cool car and then started heading out to where the race was continuing
We took the scenic route
which was spectacular - you could see all of Tucson from up here
and lots of cacti
and then some more
the day was so clear and the sky so blue
then we came across some bikers and proceeded to look at every guy in an orange shirt with a white helmet, in hopes of seeing Bryce to give him some protein bars and water and stuff
but we still couldn't see him - if only he had worn an outfit like this guy... we might have stood a chance
we jumped back in the car and headed to the river crossing as we were sure we'd be able to catch him here. this is the place they had to get off their bikes and walk across a dry river bed for about a mile in those little biker shoes they all wore... (we saw lots of people crash here) as if riding your bike for 109 miles was not enough, they had to throw in some danger to keep it interesting...

It was here that Bryce said he saw a guy with 1 leg competing - he had no femur (so no leg at all) and here he hopped along the dirty rocky riverbed using his bike as a crutch - that's what I call determination!
we found some guys in orange shirts - but no Bryce...
we were turning out to be a bad sag (support and gear) vehicle...
but on the flip side I was getting a wonderful tour of Tucson myself!
and some great photo opportunities :)
here is a shot of some kids that were competing in the shorter leg of the race - just a wee 35 miles... it was here that my phone rang - it was Bryce and he was at the finish line!
so we headed back downtown and finally we found him!
not sure how we missed him in all that orange...
he placed 1276 out of 3633 in his 109 mile class (about 7000 people raced in total) Congratulations honey! :*


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