Sunday, November 20, 2016

Half Flesh, Half Steel

Yesterday Ed rode in the 34th Annual El Tour de Tucson, one of the largest road bicycling events in the United States.  How awesome is that?!

In support of Ed, Kim and I decided to ride our bikes with him to the starting point of his ride.  Route lengths vary from .25 miles to 109 miles - Ed was doing the 37-mile ride.

When we got there, a pretty big crowd had already assembled.  The group ahead of where Ed is standing is where he'd be starting, along with the 755 other riders participating in this route.

Since the starting point was just a few minutes from where we live in Oro Valley, we thought rather than driving there and dealing with the hassle of finding a parking spot, we'd just ride our bikes.  Not the best plan.  We thought it was just a mile away but it wasn't where we thought, and turned out to be 2.5 miles in one direction with a GIANT hill!

I know I sound like a whiner right now because 2.5 miles isn't far at all - I've ridden further - and because everyone else in this race will be riding many more miles than me, but the hill was almost the death of me.  I wanted to cry just looking at it.  Ed rode right up, but I had to walk it because my legs were jelly!  It felt like I was the one doing 37 miles!

Once I calmed down and caught my breath, I was able to take in the surroundings.  And in case you're wondering, after Ed left and we started to head back, the ride down that evil hill, with all the coasting and wind that was blowing through my hair, was sooooo worth the horror of going up.

People started arriving in droves once it got closer to the start time of the race.  All ages, shapes, and sizes.  All types of bikes - I saw several tandem bikes, recumbents, and even one with four seats for two little kids riding with their parents.  The riders from the longer routes, which started earlier in the morning, would also be coming through to meet up with this group once they started.  

This pack of kids, all wearing the same jerseys, were lined up behind Ed.  They looked very serious.  I feared they would trample him!
Here's Ed's signature hand signal - a big thumbs up.  He's always so damn happy! Especially when he's doing something he loves.

He's been riding for about a month-and-a-half now, getting ready for the El Tour.  It was a last minute decision - which culminated with the purchase of a new bike - but once he decided, he rode as much as he was able.

The event is a big deal in this town.  It happens every November and even if you didn't know it's coming, it's hard to miss with all the cyclists around town.  On the day of the event, roads are closed, traffic is snarled, and cyclists are EVERYWHERE.  And for the first time in more than thirty years of living here, I was (by association) going to be part of it.

The weather was gorgeous, not too hot, and no rain in sight.  The event coordinators and news said to anticipate wind - I guess that affects the riders and their time - but it didn't seem overly windy, either.  Really, it was a perfect day to ride.

El Tour de Tucson started in 1983, with just 185 riders in the first race.  Today, it draws 7,000 to 10,000 people from all over the world.  This year, Captain Mark Kelly and his wife, Gabby Giffords took part in the race.

This was the last time we saw Ed before the race started.  Once he left, we didn't see him again until we met up with him at the finish line.

Ed took this selfie once he reached the finish line downtown.  He rode 37 miles in 2 hours, 31 minutes, and 35.46 seconds!  In his group, the 37-milers, he came in 121st.  Out of 755 riders!  I think that's pretty damn great!  
I'm so proud of him!  Thirty-seven miles on a bike!  In traffic.  Up and down hills, through town, with thousands of other people to keep from running into.  Quite a feat!

Here are some of the photos taken by MarathonFoto, who photographed the event. They got some really great shots of Ed along the route.  I love the hands free one!

Ed is already talking about doing the ride next year.  And, of course, he's also talking about tackling one of the longer routes.

“The cyclist is a man half made of flesh and half of steel
that only our century of science and iron could have spawned.”
~ Louis Baudry de Saunier, 19th-century author

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
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2014: Delivering In The District
2013: Loving What's On The Inside
2012: When You Walk Like That, Talk Like That, Look Like That...
2011: Like And Loathing In Las Vegas
2010: Get Fresh With Me…Please!
2009: In The Blink Of An Eye
2008: Duck, Duck, Drake
2007: The Lady And Sons
2006: The Department Of Mindless Vegetables
2005: Ooo Rah Johnny Cash!

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