This past spring, I was talking with Leon Smith, a.k.a. Captain America, following a Sunday Kokopedalli ride at Einstein’s Bagels. Since he was such an accomplished cyclist, I asked him to tell me his favorite ride, the one everyone must do. Without hesitation, he stated that the El Tour de Tucson ride was it.
I signed up for the ETT in early summer. My thinking was to register early, pay the money, and ink it onto my calendar. Otherwise, I might find a hundred excuses why not to do it.
In early September, I met with my buddy Jules Moore in Casa Grande and together we designed a training plan. I quickly learned that Jules’ idea of training was to ride and ride and ride! In addition to normal 40 mile club rides each Saturday, Jules and I scheduled and rode a different ride each Sunday as follows:
- 9/7 – 64 mile figure-eight around Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, and Apache Junction, with Jules and our friend Mary Ellen
- 9/14 – 72 mile ride from Marana to Tucson and back with Jules, partially onto the northern reaches of the ETT course
- 9/21 – 68 mile eastern leg of the upcoming Casa Grande Century course with Jules, from south chandler to Casa Grande.
- 9/27– 50-mile Rosarita-Ensenada ride with Phil (Jules didn’t make this one). We played golf in Ensenada the next day.
- 10/5 – 79 mile eastern leg of the upcoming Casa Grande Century, this time only to Coolidge and then a return to south Chandler. With Jules, Mary Ellen and Jesse.
- 10/12 – 64 mile PMBC tribute ride to Captain America, who died in early October. We supplemented the ride with a cruise out to Paseo de Chavez Park in south Phoenix. Also with Jules, Mary Ellen and Jesse.
- 10/19 – 75 mile “BeeUsery” ride, from my house over Usery Mountain to the Beeline, then down to Fountain Hills, visited the fountain, then back home via the Beeline and Gilbert Road, with Jules.
- 10/25 – 60 mile PMBC Memorial Ride for Safety, in north Scottsdale, nearly to Bartlett Lake, then back around Cave Creek (instead of the club ride), with Jules
- 10/26 – 105 mile GABA Tumacacori Century. From Sahuarita (south of Tucson) to the Tumacacori mission near Nogales and back, with Jules.
- 11/2 – Jules and I had planned to do our own version of the Tour de Scottsdale, but punted it for lack of detailed planning. I ended up doing a solo 55 mile loop from my house out to Gold Canyon.
- 11/9 – 100 mile GABA Silverbell Century. From eastern Tucson north then west over about half of the ETT course, with Jules.
The 10/25-26 weekend was interesting, my first attempt at doing back-to-back event rides at these distances. The PMBC Safety ride was hilly, and I pushed it fairly hard enjoying the hills. The next morning, I awoke at 3AM and drove down to Sahuarita to ride my first century in over 4 years. I ended up very sluggish and crampy for almost the first 50 miles, then amazingly, got some legs and finished it out strong.
I had a stomach virus the week before the Silverbell Century, and played it hour-by-hour on whether to go. Decided at the last minute to pack up and drive to Tucson, again at 3AM, then ride it. Amazingly, I felt quite strong for the whole ride, despite winds gusting to 35 mph, although I did stop for lots of minutes at every rest stop. I rode first with a group from PMBC, then with two other PMBC guys (Sky and Court), and finally with a group from the west Valley called the Bullshifters. It just goes to show that you never know what kind of cycling day you’re going to have.
At the third rest stop on the Silverbell, I picked up my bike to leave and found the rear wheel frozen against the brakes. I knew the wheel was out-of-true, but I’d been trying to ignore it. Discovered several completely loose spokes and then went on a hunt for a spoke wrench. Fortunately, a Samaritan from Pennsylvania helped me out and I was back on the road in 10-15 minutes.
Back home the following week, I spent a couple hours attempting to true that wheel, which was both out-of-round and out-of-true. I then discovered serious cracking in the wheel, emanating from most of the spoke holes. Checked it out on the web and, sure enough, lots of owners of this wheel (Bontrager Race) had experienced the same thing in only a couple thousand miles, especially heavier cyclists. It had taken about 11,000 with my weight. Bought a new wheel at Landis but submitted my old one for possible warranty credit.