I jumped in the SUV about noon Friday and headed down to Tucson, eating a couple apples on the way. Linda booked me a room at the La Quinta Inn on Priceline.com, designed to save me a couple hours of sleep Saturday morning.
I went straight to the expo at the Tucson Convention Center, downtown at Congress and Granada. It took a while but I finally found free parking on a side street. Jules had come down earlier in the week, so I called her once inside the building, and we quickly met up. I also ran into Court Phillips, the PMBC friend I’d ridden with in the Silverbell Century.
Registration took only a few minutes, and our computer timing chips were activated. The floor had dozens of booths set up, selling endurance fuels, bike socks, helmets, jerseys, gloves, tools, and lots of bikes. Some local bike shops had a full mini-shop set up. The strangest bike I saw was a frame with both top and down tubes made of carbon nanotube molecules, fashioned into an open frame helix sort of structure. I also hefted a 9 lb bicycle made almost entirely of carbon fiber (carbon handlebars, carbon brakes, carbon crank even). Unbelievably light.
We met up with Sky and Randy from PMBC, plus a couple more new friends, one from Tucson and the other from Edmonton. Picked up tee-shirts and posters, the usual routine. Mary Ellen and John finally showed up and the 7 or 8 of us stood around gabbing for over an hour.
We discussed our plans for the morning. Court and one of his friends planned to line up in the Gold section at 4:00AM to secure a front spot. Randy said he planned to roll up at 6:50AM, pedal away from his car and just keep rolling over the starting line at 7AM. There was no way I was going to stand in the dark and cold for 3 hours, so Jules and I decided to get there about 5:30AM and see what happens.
Mary Ellen, John, Jules and I met up at a Home Town Buffet for dinner. That turned out nice for me because it was walking distance from the La Quinta. All-you-can-eat, basic fare, not bad. We all even talked politics and the economy for a while, which was pretty entertaining.
Back in the room by 8:30, I munched down another apple and pinned my rider numbers onto my jersey, #498. I then readied all my riding crap, and set the alarm for 4:10AM, figuring the parking by the Start area would be a madhouse.