It was a fine day for a bicycle ride - sunny, mild breezes, temperatures in the upper 60's.  Getting to the ride, not so much.  The drive down to Tucson featured a white-knuckle trek over the I-25 Raton Pass - snow pack, blowing snow, single lane 20mph travel.  Not even the aggressive drivers were passing.  Stopped earlier than planned at Santa Fe, NM and had to chip the ice off my bicycle before bringing it into the hotel room.

The rest of the drive was uneventful and I arrived in time to attend the Rotary pre-race dinner.  Lots of fun with more fund-raising and a chance to meet up with Rotary friends from across the country.  This ride was the 37th El de Tucson charity ride and the 10th year for the Ride to End Polio portion sponsored by Rotary International District 5500.

There were just under 7,000 riders in all the races.  Distances of 100, 50, and 25 miles were offered and a shorter fun ride for kids was also on the agenda.  Traffic control was stellar and the City of Tucson and ride organizers went all out to provide an amazing ride for the participants.  Participants came from all over the United States and I even met a couple of Rotarian riders from Italy and Germany.

After mile 21, which followed a long uphill push of perhaps five miles, I was ready to quit.  Hadn't put in enough training miles for that kind of punishment.  But at the top of the hill, the Marana AZ Rotary Club aid station was an oasis of recovery.  I stayed awhile refreshing my energy with bananas and oranges and resting my legs for the last half of the ride.  The grueling uphill punishment was rewarded with a long downhill ride of about 15 miles to the final stretch which was composed of rolling terrain.

My goal of averaging 10 mph over the 50 miles and finishing in about five hours was busted.  It took two hours longer than anticipated, but I did finish ahead of the the course closing...barely.  The happy news is that my goal of raising $1,000 for PolioPlus was exceeded.  The final tally for my first Ride to End Polio was $1,855 before the 2:1 match from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Next year?  Thinking the 25 mile course is good.  Looking forward to another fun time raising money for a worthy cause.  Perhaps there will be other District 5610 Rotarian riders next year?

Thank you to all who pledged to support my ride.  It really was you who helped me get back on the bike at mile 21.

Ina Winter
District Governor 2019-2020
RID 5610

Together, we see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change - across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves.


The start of the 50 mile ride.  This was the event with the most riders.  All kinds of human-powered vehicles were used.  One guy even rode a unicycle in the 100 mile ride!

The start of the 50 mile ride.  This was the event with the most riders.  All kinds of human-powered vehicles were used.  One guy even rode a unicycle in the 100 mile ride!


The Marana AZ Rotary Club Aid Station with some of the Rotarian riders posing in front of District 5500's semi-trailer decked out in End Polio messages.


Judging by the smiles, this was either at the beginning of the race or on the long downhill reward after the Marana aid station.


This is what my bike looked like at the Santa Fe stop.  Despite the thick coating of ice and snow, the bike worked well during the ride.