73-year-old Tucson man completes Ride Across Arizona's 610 miles
A 73-year-old man from Tucson just became the oldest person to finish the 610-mile Ride Across Arizona. Mike Ingram, who rode solo and non-supported, bicycled across the northern part of the state in nine days, 10 hours and 50 minutes.
The 2023 route spanned from Topock at the California and Arizona border to Alpine, just shy of the New Mexico line, in which contestants experienced an elevation gain of 66,000 feet as they pedaled up and coasted down hills.
"I think I was a little out of shape for this one," Ingram said. "It was a hard one."
This year, 20 riders registered for the ride. Ingram is among 7 who have completed the route. Another 7 have completed anywhere from 107 to 335 miles of the course. Four are listed as "scratched" by organizers after they pulled out of the ride after completing dozens of miles. Another appears to have not started the ride.
Ingram spent four full days in the saddle of his Pivot mountain bike, and 5 days, 10 hours resting during the ride across the state, the event's online tracker showed.
Ingram has participated in various long-distance biking events, such as a ride from Mexico to Canada, which took about 30 days. He enjoys the sport "bikepacking," which involves backpacking along the route. During the cross-state ride, Ingram camped for five nights. He would wake up early, advance on the route, and rest during the night.
The scenery Ingram saw during the ride awed him.
"I saw a lot of cool animals," he said. "There were elk on the route and I don't think one of them knew I was there because when he saw me, he jumped a couple of inches off the floor."
He said something that was different about this experience was the wind they were dealing with as it could turn cold fast.
"The wind was cutting through me," Ingram said. "I had to stop and buy some stuff to layer. There was a part near Sunrise where there were still some snowfields."
The participants all have to make sure they have what they need as they're riding because it is self-supported.
"There is no one there waiting to give you a cold Coca-Cola or a bottle of water," Ingram said. "So you really need to balance how much food and water you're carrying."
Ingram is happy about the time he made and said he would do Ride Across Arizona again.
"I had a good time," Ingram said. "Part of it is pushing yourself. Some people I started it with didn't finish."
Another aspect of his experience he liked was the community's attitude and the positivity they shared.
"Although it's all self-supported, if you needed anything, someone would help," Ingram said. "The people who do this tend to be inclusive and supportive. No jerks allowed, you know?"
Ingram said he would like to do another race in Utah later this year but no set plans yet. A pastime he saw a co-worker doing became something he truly enjoys.
Editor’s note: Mike Ingram is the father of Sentinel reporter Paul Ingram.
Bianca Morales is TucsonSentinel.com’s Cultural Expression and Community Values reporter, and a Report for America corps member supported by readers like you.