The final details first:
time 6:58, which put me in the Gold, which is where I thought I would wind up.
I got in to town on Friday, picked up my packets, and had dinner with some friends. Got up early on Saturday and lined up in the middle of the silvers (your supposed to choose three places to line up Gold, Silver, or Bronze, based on you abilities. The Golds start first, followed by the Slivers, and then the Bronze) Another member from my club showed up right after me, so I had some one to talk with for the hour it took to get started. Floyd Landis put in and appearance and tired to talk on my cell phone to a couple of other club members to see where they were at.
The "race" started. Frankly I was expecting Congress street to be lined with broken bikes and folks clutching their shoulders. There was one rider down, but a whole lot of dropped water bottles, Hammer Gel Flasks, and other junk that would put you down on the asphalt.
One of the unique features of EL Tour is the river crossings. Twice in the race, you have to dismount and carry your bike across a wash (Southwest American for dry River or Creek bed). I was told the first one helped to thin out the crowd. It didn't . Part of this my have been that I wore some very Ratty tights to the start, and discarded them there. I was having problems find a hole to pass folks without crossing the double line, which was supposed to be a DQ. But other folks were doing it, so I Did a couple. Also saw several folks on areobars with race bibs on thorough the day.
I was bypassing most of the rest stops, but I stopped at one to take my jacket off. before I knew It. I was at the second wash crossing. I started having problems with my jacket. I had bought when I weighed 300+ pounds, and it was too big for my jersey pockets. It would fall out, and then a Boy Scout/Girl Scout/ another rider would pick it up and carry it to me. It did this about 6 times.
We turned on to Oracle highway and stayed on it for a long time. I , unfortunately , saw the aftermath of a bike-car collision. we rode in to the city of Oro Grande and though sun city, when I got on tangerine, I had pacelines passing me on both sides, even thought I was about 6-12 inches from the shoulder. Got Stopped by a train at the 10 Freeway and turned onto Sliverbell for the run back downtown. I noticed a lot of folks cramping here. Part of is that El Tour is actually 109 instead of 100 miles, and people did not plan adequately(my guess). Also, The even does attract folk from all over, so they were not used to riding in the arid Southwest. I remember some folks asking me why I was not cramping, and I said "when in doubt, DRINK!" I had a 70 oz camelbak, and two water bottles with Hammer Preputum in them.My Jacket fell out a Final Time, and this time it got jammed in the cassette. I made back to convention center, turned in my timimg chip, and went to get my Gold medal, only to be informed that they all gone! Seriously, the only difference is a sticker on the back, and I'm planning on sticking in a frame. went back to my hotel, showered, Had lunch with some friends who had gotten platinum (The top award, <5>Plus, if you are plantinum, you get start ahead of the golds, and don't have to wake up at 3AM to get a good spot), and then went back to expo area to await the club's other members (The gentleman from my club that I was with at the start was 30 minutes ahead of me). we had dinner afterwards., I was supposed to call a guy from Bike Journal to arrange breakfast, but spazzed that one.
I'm still debating on doing it again. It was a very well organized, it just that's too many who are in over the heads. It's up to you to line up. I enjoyed it, It just having a summer of FallingOffTheBikeitis, I'm not sure I want to trust my body to 8,000 strangers.