It couldn’t have been too bad if I’m not only planning on doing it again next year, but planning on doing the full thing (i.e., the full 109 mile route), so yes, I made it through the 80 mile portion of El Tour de Tucson on four months preparation. Didn’t set any records, nor was I trying to. Survival, no injuries, and a good time were my goals, and I accomplished those. Here’s a picture at the start line. My good friend Eddie McKee rode with me, and he even put a little sign on the back of his bike that said, “200 meters, 100 meters, Go DrO! AOMIN.ORG.” Of course, no one but I could make heads or tails out of that. The 200 meters, 100 meters thing is from a workout video he and I have both done (I many, many times), called “CycleRobix” with coach Troy Jacobson (www.spinervals.com). DrO is my in-channel nick, and of course, if you are reading this, you caught the last part.
   
I did see a few crashes, or at least the remnants of some. For some reason I had thought the race was capped around 4,500 riders, but I was completely wrong about that. We had 7,773 riders in all the segments of El Tour this year, a new record! Put almost 8000 riders on the same roads, and some of them are going to run into others of them. Saw one poor fellow on a back board with a neck brace waiting for an ambulance at one point. But I actually witnessed one crash. I was on the access road southbound on I-10 having just come off of Tangerine Road. I was pretty much alone, with a fellow about 20 yards ahead, and a big pack coming up behind me but still a good 150 yards behind me. Just riding along doing some mental calculations on how far I had to go, when the guy in front of me hits some railroad tracks crossing the road at an angle. The second rail grabs his front rim and slams him on the road. It was horrific to watch. Of course, though you don’t read these rules anywhere, you know what your duty is…I got across the tracks without crashing, jumped off my bike, and got over to him as quickly as I could. “What can I do for you? Do you feel anything broken? Do you want me to call anyone?” Pretty quickly the pack behind me came up and they started slowing and asking if we needed help. If I had said “Yes!” the entire pack would have skidded to a halt, I assure you. There is a real comaraderie in these races. But I had gotten him to his feet by then, and since we both had cell phones, we waved them on. He seemed to be ok outside of some road rash.

In any case, the weather for the ride was absolutely positively perfect, which was a blessing: I have ridden El Tour in years past when it never got above 45 degrees the entire ride (talk about miserable). My goal for next year is simple: FFF. Finish Feeling Fine. Time is irrelevant: I want to set my heart rate limits, not worry about the hammer heads flying past me, ride within myself, eat and hydrate properly, and come across the finish line feeling like I could go back out and do it again. Tall order, but that’s my goal. Oh, and I lost four pounds on the ride. You gotta work hard to lose four pounds in five hours.
   
Why even report on this? Some don’t like when I mention stuff like this. Ba humbug on you! I don’t know why, but some folks think apologists sit around all day arguing with someone about something, and that is all their lives contain. Hate to disappoint, but I have a family and interests and find that I do a lot better at those things when I feel well, am healthy and active. I was overjoyed over the summer to hear that I had encouraged some folks to get active again and start losing weight. I’m no fitness guru, but I can tell you that when the Lord gives you the ability to be fit, take advantage of the blessing while you can.

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