2004 El Tour de Tucson

Last Saturday, we headed down to Tucson, Arizona for a big bike race there called El Tour de Tucson. There were 4 distance options:

111 miles (3692 finishers)
81 miles (255 finishers)
66 miles (876 finishers; 996 starters)
35 miles (801 finishers)

5624 finishers in all. Our unicycling group was:

Scot Cooper - 66
Beau Hoover - 66
Nathan Hoover - 66
Megumi - 35

Plus Scot’s girlfriend Dez biking the 35 and my cousin Becca biking the 66.

The course would seem to be relatively easy since there isn’t much climbing (only about 1000’ in 66 miles). But actually miles and miles and miles of flat riding is not that great on Coker. Beau and I had to stop at all 10 rest stops plus a couple of times in between. The unfortunate thing about the timing is that the 66 mile race doesn’t start until 10:30am so you only have about 7 1/2 hours of light to complete the race. Beau and I just barely made it, finishing in 7:19. As we were nearing the end, a sag vehicle pulled up and the guy told us we’d have to stop riding in 20 minutes and we still had 12 miles to go. It sounded impossible but he checked his chart and it turned out it was only 7.3 miles. From that point, we rode all out, blasting along for those 7.3 miles. We were never passed by another bike and stopped only 30 seconds at the last rest stop. The start of the 66 mile race was the best: almost 1000 riders all together, with our side of the 4 lane highway completely closed to cars - beautiful warm weather and everyone in such a great mood. Throughout the race, except the last few miles, there were multiple traffic officers at every intersection, waving us through and stopping the cars.

All the unicyclists got so much positive feedback from the bikers that it was amazing. The organizers said that they would love to add a unicycle category if we get a few more people next time. Megumi received the best comment: a marriage proposal! I was a little worried before the race since we had done so little training beforehand, but it turned out ok. Beau was the best riding partner I could have, cheerful and strong, the whole way.

Megumi made up 2 more wheel bags so we could travel in style together. This time, I added a couple of refinements. We cut out thick cardboard circles, just the size of the wheel, with a hole in the center. To protect the hub and bearing, I slit a tennis ball and stuck one on each side. This worked perfectly and adds almost no weight. Airline people have no trouble with these and barely give them a second glance. Scot used his usual method of a bike box, slightly modified to fit the 36" wheel. He was lucky and didn’t have to pay the bike fee, but this is hit or miss. My backpack was pretty heavy with 3 frames and seats, 6 pedals and cranks, plus tools, but it works out fine.

My photos
El Tour De Tucson website
2004 Results


That’s awesome. I’ve done this ride several times on my road bike and the feeling of camaraderie and the support of the community are fantastic. It’s my favorite big biking event. I’m still fairly new to uni and don’t ride well enough to do this event but I look forward to the day that I can.

Nice ride Nathan! It’s great to do rides with so many other cyclists huh? Love the cacti…

Awesome post and great pictures. It’s really nice to see family unicycling together. I’m working on convincing my wife to try out the ole Torker. She falls into the category of people who say ‘Oh, I could never do that, I’d kill myself’, so it’s gonna be tough to get her on it.


What size cranks did you use

Re: 2004 El Tour de Tucson

They’ll have to consider an earlier start time too. :slight_smile:
A 10:30 AM start time for a 66 mile ride on a unicycle is a bit late, especially with it getting dark early and their firm cutoff of 6:00 PM for the finishing time.

Well done on the ride. 66 miles is a long way. I’ve done one 100 km ride on the Coker and was getting pretty wonked at the end. It takes training to be able to comfortably do a ride like that and 100 km was almost double my previous longest ride.

Oh, and remind Beau to tuck in his shoe laces. :slight_smile:

I’d love to start doing some of those long bike rides. I’ve done a couple in Hawaii, but my longest distance was only 40 miles. It was on my 24 inch stealth Torker :D. One of these days I’ll get around to getting a Coker.

Congratulations to your family for completing the ride.

Re: 2004 El Tour de Tucson

Sounds like a great ride!

>Megumi received
>the best comment: a marriage proposal! I was a little worried


Klaas Bil - Newsgroup Addict

“Deflating pi does not reduce calories, it just concentrates them. - billham”

Awesome photos, and congrats on the nice long ride. If you need more riders next year to bolster the category, I might be into trying it. My longest to date is 54 miles, but with another year of training under my belt I could see it happening.

Beau made a rockin’ choice of color on his new Hunter 36. That’s one fine looking roadbeast.

With that sunny winter ride under your belt, maybe you should continue your Switzerland training with the “Chilly Hilly” up here end of February.


JC and Unirene did it on 36-ers last year, and I predict there will be more Seattle riders on board this year. The website has the elevation profiles, temperature data, etc. JC has a gallery someplace of their ride last year. I imagine he’ll pipe in at some point here.

Give it some thought. Lodging no problem…


Chilly Hilly 2004 gallery

The ride is only 33 miles and the weather is guaranteed to be questionable. For the week before the ride I was watching the weather forecast and it was looking like it was going to rain on the day of the ride. It was raining the days prior to the ride. I even bought a rain jacket just in case. We lucked out and had good weather.

I plan to do the Chilly Hilly again next year.

Amazing ride - sounds great, well done to all four unicyclists, I can only begin to imagine riding in some an environment and for so long!

More power to your legs!!


Thanks for the nice comments and I’m glad you liked the photos. On a ride like this it is really difficult to get good photos. I really need a smaller camera I can just keep in my pocket all the time.

To answer the question on crank length:
Scot: 140mm
Beau: 125mm
Nathan: 125mm
Megumi: 152mm

110mm would’ve been better for me although there were two short steep (16%) sections that were ok with 125 but would be harder on short cranks. Scot was wishing he had used 125mm.

About the Chilly Hilly, we may not be able to fly up just for a 33 mile ride but it sounds tempting. I’m actually planning to not do much Cokering the next few months - just Muni. We’ll start road riding again in March.

Also, Beau says he kept meaning to tuck in those laces, but never did…


Good job guys and gals!

That looks like fun to be involved in a big ride like that.