I'm jumping ahead in the week to today, Saturday and the Tour de Tucson. I decided early in the week not to participate because if I wasn't going to be fit for the 111 route, I wasn't going to schlep around on a shorter route or put in a crummy time on the long route. I was out early in the day and discovered radio stations were posting updates every 15 minutes and at around mile 25, the announcer riding in the pace car said, "There is still a large group at the front and no one is really pushing the pace yet." So I thought, "huh, probably 30-40 people right??? No!!!! they said there were still 1000, yes one thousand in the lead group.
The group was nearing a dry river bed crossing and at that point, may have had to cross another but not sure as I am not familiar with the route. Anyway, my wife and I walked to Oracle Road to wait for the groups to arrive. I have no idea what happened but when the cyclists arrived, there were two guys in front, then another guy, then a large group of around 15, then a group of 15 and then a group of around 20 and there was Tym Tyler, drafting at the back and I have that part of it on video. I'll try to put it on Youtube. Then, groups kept coming and coming and coming as 8800 cyclists had started one of 4 different distances. The 111 mile route had the largest contingent but I heard 1600 were at the 60 mile distance and 700 for the 80 mile and a huge crowd for the 40 miler. I jumped in the car and followed and eventually, on a climb, saw a cycling kit I recognized and hey! there was Lisa Tyler! I shouted out the window "Hey" but had to go as I was holding up traffic.
UPDATE: Tym finished 146 with a time of 4:19 and Lisa finished 362 with a time of 5:15.
I am unclear how far up the cycling food chain participants go but there is a large group of professionals and this is the real deal for a domestic cycling event. Former UCLA great, Bill Walton, baseball home run drug cheat Barry Bonds and others also rode in the event. A woman flew from the North Pole to participate and others representing 40 states participated too. I was impressed with what I saw. Much more to come, including my assault on Mt Lemmon, attack of wild animals, lots of hiking, etc...