El Tour De Tucson 2023

I am super happy to complete my hat-rick 100 miler historic race(El Tour De Tucson) in Tucson, Arizona beating my 2 previous ride timings.  If you have not read my previous 2 ride summary, please click the links below



Last year was one of my busiest year with hectic work schedule, taking up a new job function, family events, strength training, injuries, recovery but yet it is one of my strongest year. One of my favorite activity for for last week of every year is to look back, cherish and decode key facts for the year. This year I wrote things I should continue, improve and stop

Top 3 things I should continue 

  • Strength training & Cycling
  • Read for 15 mins daily
  • Measure consistently & Pivot

Top 3 things I should Improve

  • Active listening
  • Let others fail & learn
  • Focus on long term outcomes

Top 3 things I should Stop

  • Impulsive purchase
  • Adding too many solution options for every problem
  • Too much focus & stress about outcomes
Looking back into 2023 and questioning how did I accomplish my personal goal of completing classic 100 mile race in less than 6 hours ? Well, I am able to confidently draw 3 major themes  Listen, Learn & Launch. Like many others, I start my year with clear goals but often fail to consistently measure, pivot as needed and ending up in missing the goal or getting a sub-optimal outcome. This year I had a strong focus of learning how to measure my progress and pivot consistently. To experiment my focus area and apply my learning themes, I need a challenge that is hard enough to fail me often and allow me to pivot. Going by my passion for cycling, I set a challenge for completing classic 100 mile Tucson race in less than 6 hours. Lets see how I executed :

100 mile under 6:15 hours


Before we begin executing any goal, defining the problem to solve is very critical. Going by last 2 years of racing history in Tucson, I defined the problem to solve as " How to complete a Tucson race better than the last 2 years with shorter timing after race recovery". Key results that I need to accomplish are :

  1. Complete the race well under 6 hrs:15 minutes
  2. Post race recovery should be less than 6 hours

                                 Last two year race completion time

Often times, we tend to jump too quickly to solve any problem without listening to internal or external perspectives. In my case, I had considerable internal perspective on how much strain my body both physically and mentally go through to complete the race. I also have various training data points from my last two years. What I was lacking was external perspective. How to get external perspective? May be we need to get help from endurance athletes, coaches. It's funny that my year one of racing had a dedicated cycling coach but I excelled the race as there were no expectations. On year two, I had very high expectations but did not hire a coach. I ended up with a mediocre outcome. On year three, I had super high expectations, but didn't have a plan yet. As usual, I was super confused where to focus and my mind was over fed with too much data. My gut feeling and internal talks said keep it simple. But the brain had too much data to pick a strategy. I decided to seek an external help. I hired my personal strength conditioning coach who had tremendous patience to listen to my need, overflow of concerns and datapoints from last 2 years. After 10 days of analysis, he came back with a simple strategy  

Strategy to achieve the goal are

  1.    Create adaptable strength training plan[Resistance Training at least 3 times a week)
  2.    Improve cycling efficiency(1 short ride in week day and 1 long ride during weekend)                    

Sometimes you need an external perspective to arrive at a simple adaptable strategy. I learned how the art of listening will create a clarity to pick the best possible options. Now its time to learn the skills


Listening provides great thought clarity and allows us to pick an execution plan with incremental outcomes. Coming from a background of strength training, I was slightly over confident and tried to outsmart my coach but soon he made me realize that it is time to unlearn bad traits. He made me to start from level 0 and focused on my eating habits. Any training plan with no proper diet is a wasted effort. I had to make my body learn to eat balanced protein & carbs portions every meal. Second he focused on the form of exercise. What I did in year one & two of my racing was just churning out hours of workout with poor form which lead to fatigue, injury. He made me to unlearn all the bad postures in my training with a goal to improve my strength with no injury. Learning new skills, habits is the second phase of my strategy. After 3 months of consistent training, I can see my bike recovery time started improving. Time to change gears now by testing the outcomes.

Test  : Complete 60 miles in 3.5 hours with 8 hour recovery. 

 I was able to finish the goal of completing 60 miles in 3.5 hours but had a very long post race recovery of 2 days. I succeeded one goal but failed in other. Sometimes it is better to fail fast and pivot early. In my case, I had to make

Test 2 : Complete 100 miles in less than 6:24 hours with 12 hour post recovery

With high protein diet, consistent weight training and cycling efficiency, I was able to complete my dry run of 100 miles well under 6:24 hours and post race recovery of just 6 hours. I had great stamina, strength and recovery 

With ample cycling miles, training, I feel confident to face the challenge. There is a saying that how much ever we prepare, it all matters on how much you execute on race day.  One of the pivotal change I did this year was to get help from my sci-fi friends. Yes, you heard correct.Sci-fi friends are someone who are attention to the detail personality.  Most network will have atleast one person of this type :). Identify and employ them to help you achieve the goal. I had my childhood friend Raj who is one of the nerdiest person of my lot and who had time & energy to help me. He did simply amazing job of churning through ton of scientific artifacts on how to prepare my race day. He gave me great cheat sheet of energy consumption chart, pacing strategy, resting strategy. 

Launch : Race Day

My race day strategy had 7 keys points. 

  1. Hydrate well before race day
  2. Rest well(8 hours of sleep)
  3. Eat 3x carbs atleast 4 hours before the race
  4. Pick a pace that I can sustain for 6 hours
  5. Eat carbs every 20 mins
  6. Take ample liquids that allows no drink stops until 70 miles of race
  7. Go all in approach for last 30 miles

I went to bed at 6:30 PM before race day. Felt super refreshed after strong 8 hours of sleep with heavy morning breakfast and black coffee 3 AM on the race day. 

Race Line 

As usual this year as well, the race had 2500+ participants for 100 mile category. All set to start my race along with some of the great riders of US and International cycling community. 

First 70 miles

As per pre-race strategy for first major segment(70 miles), I was supposed to ride at 19 mph for first 20 miles, 16 mph for next 30 miles then 13 mph for next 20 mph. This year I had no luck of finding a draft group that matched my speed, I ended up riding with a higher pace group(20 mph) for first 20 miles. I drained my energy bit more than usual. I had to ride 15 mph for next 10 miles (Bit slower than actual) but what turned to be great is remembering to feed myself every 20 minutes. I was able to regain my energy lost, body utilized the slow speed segment as recovery period and helped me to travel at 22 mph for next 20 miles. This single segment proved out to be one of my personal best ride for the year. Obviously too much excitement in me that did not last for long. I experienced a calve muscle pull in my right leg like last year exactly around the same segment(Mile 57 ). I had to drastically slow my pace to 14 mph which is still faster than my planned 13 mph pace. For the next 12 miles I had to cruise in my allowed limit without injuring myself further. At mile 69, because of my energy consumption strategy and slower pace allowed body to recovery. I regained all my lost form. My year long strength training and active recovery drills is showing results in a fascinating way. Body is capable of achieving anything as long as you allow time to recover. I crossed 70 mile mark with total ride time :4 hrs & 18 minutes. I still have 30 miles to go but had considerable leg power & energy left in the tank. Lets go!!!!

Fabulous last 30 miles

I had two choices in front me. Cruise through the last 30 miles and either finish the race matching previous two years or crush it in style. I have decided to go full gas mode with a confidence that I can always pull Plan B and still finish the race stronger. Mile 70 to 80 is downhill, so took a great advantage of it. I clocked 24 mph(My original target was 19 mph) between mile 70 to 84 allowing to gain 10 minute time save. I utilized to take 5 minute water refill break at mile 85. I had lots of pickle juice to reduce muscle cramps, water, peanut butter sandwich's. After gulping all energy, I decided to pick the fastest group and tag with them for reminder of 15 miles. To my advantage, 62 mile category cyclists were flying to complete their race. Sure enough, I jumped into middle of the group and threw all the power I had. I was at mile 96 and time clocked 5 hrs & 48 minutes. I had 12 minutes left to achieve my target but body battery had only less charge to compete. At this point, I definitely know I am going to beat my last 2 years record but will it be special that I can do sub 6 hours 100 mile race.  I remembered Kelly Clarkson's song : What doesn't kill you makes your stronger. The only way I can create a remarkable outcome is to remove any self doubt and continue the full gas mode. Though I got dropped from the group, last few miles had 100's of people cheering you to finish. One had to experience the adrenaline rush which definitely adds a nitro effect in you.  I was fast enough to complete the race by 5 hrs 58 minutes with 8 minutes break. 

It took a good 2 minutes to realize that I had achieved gold status group medal(Riders who complete the 100 miles in less than 6 hours). 44 weeks of trainings, 115 training rides, 121 strength sessions, 70+ recovery sessions, hours of online mental conditionings/learnings yielded desired outcomes. 


Lesson learned 

If you put your mind into anything with passion, clarity and consistent hard work, there is no reason you will miss the desirable outcomes. 

I want to Thank my wife, daughter, coach, friends and colleagues for their phenomenal support. It is simply one of the greatest year where I had tremendous learning, failed often with experiments and finally able to achieve the goals with great quality outcomes. With this positive energy, it's time to raise the bar high. Looking forward for new challenges to achieve in 2024. Thanks for reading the blog.Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!.


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