Turn training for El Tour de Tucson into a part of your commute

Use your commute to train for the El Tour de Tucson. (Photo courtesy of Perimeter Bicycling Association.)

A new year means new goals. What if you could take a few different goals and wrap them into one other goal, such as training to ride in El Tour de Tucson? The local bike racing event is less than a year away, and you can use your daily commute to help train for the race.

El Tour de Tucson is the largest perimeter bicycle race in America and draws riders from all over the world but is also a fantastic way for local cyclists to put their skills to the test. Whether you want to ride the full 102 miles or just partake in one of the short fun rides, incorporating cycling into your commute can be a terrific way to carve out time to train for the race.

How does one get started? Assuming you have your bike and have some experience riding in the community, here are some tips on ramping up your training while commuting.

Want to get started cycling but don’t know where to start? Check out PAG’s How To Start Commuting in a Bike Friendly Community guide.

Pima Association of Governments’ Senior Transportation Planner David Mitchell oversees the annual bicycle and pedestrian count. He has raced in El Tour three times and used his work commute as a part of his training.

Mitchell said using your commute time is a way to avoid the excuse of “I have no time to train.”

“I used my commute time, usually 30-plus minutes when you consider driving, parking and walking from the parking lot, and put it toward exercise time,” said Mitchell.  “So, a two-way trip that would normally be an hour of commute time would become an hour of bike riding time.”

In deciding to use your commute to train, the first thing to do is pick the distance you want to ride. Working up to the El Tour fun ride distances of 1, 5 or 10 miles will not be much of a challenge even to inexperienced riders, but the 32-, 63- and 105-mile races are ones most newer riders will need to work their way up to.

Mitchell also suggests starting with at least one long ride a week “with the objective of extending my ride distance each time.”

“It is a technique to get started and over the hump of thinking there’s not enough time to train or ride a bike,” Mitchell said.

Incorporating long rides into training is key, and if your work commute is longer than 10 miles from home, it can be a perfect way to train without taking up too much time from your day. You already commute to work, and, in some cases, riding can be nearly the same amount of time as driving a car.

If you don’t think you are ready for the full commute to work on your bicycle, you could drive part of the way and ride the rest of the way. Mitchell suggested trying one of the many parking options near the Loop and fitting in a bike ride for as much distance as possible.

As you build up endurance, increase the distance you ride and then increase the frequency of your rides as part of the commute.

Share your journey with us if you use your work commute to train for El Tour de Tucson and compete in November. You can reach out to us through your transportation coordinator or info@pagregion.com.