Community Events: 2012 El Tour De Tucson

It’s 5AM in Tucson, AZ and 9000 cyclists are squeezing into every available space around the start line of the 2012 El Tour De Tucson. A contingent from our Arizona store support team set up a last-minute tune-up station, as most of our people and tools were already on their way out to our 3 aid stations out on the course. Sipping on free coffee and trying to stay warm, the buzz of the day fills the air.

El Tour Start 5amAttracting a crowd of 9,000 cyclists from throughout the United States and worldwide, “El Tour” is one of the premier organized rides in United States and also one of the top 3 fundraising rides (Perimeter Bicycling distributes funds to an array of local charities every year). The main event routes show off Tucson’s beautiful vistas of its local mountain ranges and Saguaro cactus, along a flat to rolling or moderately hilly course – although 2 dry but sandy river crossings greet the full 111-mile riders! All routes offer aid stations with water and snacks spaced about 7-10 miles apart, full police support at intersections and plenty of morale-boosting volunteers and spectators.

But this great event doesn’t begin on the cold streets of Tuscon, so let’s take a quick look back at the Expo and the leadup to this year’s “El Tour”.

Three days before the start of the event, we set up our booth alongside many other local and national vendors. We were lucky in that we were right across the aisle from the free t-shirts. The first two days of the expo slipped by and before we knew it, we were one day away from the race. The expo was packed and our booth was the place to be!

Maybe it was the free bike gear we were giving away. Or maybe it was the “Blind Folded Spin Doctor Challenge”! If you managed to change a flat tire faster than one of our blind-folded Spin Doctor mechanics, you were in for some great prizes.

But let’s get back to the real action. No, not the awesome Southwestern Cuisine in Tucson, although that was excellent . . .

No, we mean the real highlight of the weekend, the 30th El Tour de Tucson. In the blink of an eye, nearly 9,000 cyclists of all ages and abilities had lined up and were ready to head out onto the 111 mile course (although 85, 60 or 42 mile routes were also available).

It took more than 7 minutes after the starting gun fired just to get everyone rolling – but finally they were off! We quickly split up and headed to our respective aid stations.

Jeff Dalina (Chandler), Tom Flores (San Diego), Rusty Sattler (Scottsdale), Bryan Zittolosen (Tucson) at tech support stop #2.

As riders came up to the Performance Bicycle aid stations, they were treated to the finest in mechanical care. Just like every event we participate in, our services on race-day are completely free.

We lubed chains, fixed flats, and changed tires to make sure that no one had to quit the ride because of their bikes.

We fixed bikes no matter what they were – including this custom Ti recumbent with HED wheels and a stars and stripes cloth fairing! One of the best things about the ride for us, as with any ride, is seeing all of the Scattantes out on course (check out our album on the Performance Facebook page). All in all, we had a great El Tour and very much look forward to returning next year!

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