Joe Quinn hasn't been riding competitively too much longer than his El Tour de Tucson counterparts.

Then again, he didn't get his first serious bicycle until age 65.

Now 85, Quinn has ridden in every El Tour de Tucson but one since 1994. To commemorate turning 80, he rode the 80-mile race five years ago.

On Saturday, he and his sons, Will and Matt, will ride in the 66-mile event. With all that experience, the Star asked Quinn for tips on how to compete in El Tour.

"Nobody's asked me for advice before," he said.

The father of six and grandfather of 11 then explained his regular routine, and what others could glean from it:

• Prepare physically. Quinn, who has had hip and knee replacement surgery and missed the 1995 ride because of a cycling accident, still rides three times per week.

As El Tour approaches, he tests himself. One day last week, Quinn rode 48 miles.

"I was wondering if I should have ever signed up," he joked.

Quinn, a member of the Vistoso Cyclists club, rode Monday and Wednesday before tapering off.

He said he enjoys riding year-round "to stay in shape," reaching about 30 miles with his club members.

"It's kinda a social thing, too," he said. "We stop and have coffee, and sit around and talk for a half-hour."

• Carbo-load. The night before every El Tour ride, Quinn gathers with his extended family at a niece's house for dinner.

"A lot of pasta," he said, "and a little wine, a little beer."

• Be alert. Even on El Tour day, Quinn makes sure to be on the lookout for cars. He's had too many close calls not to pay attention.

"You have to be very careful in observing traffic and observing traffic signs and stop lights," he said.

• Team up. His sons, who fly in for the race, ride side-by-side with their dad, a former Milwaukee mining industry sales manager.

"We always go across the finish line together," Quinn said. "We ride together, and we cross together. I've got pictures of us every year that we've gone across."

Charlotte, Quinn's wife and Will and Matt's mom, is always waiting with Gatorade.

Quinn has tried to buy a poster or T-shirt every year, too, to commemorate the family event.

• Celebrate. After the race, the Quinns have the same routine.

They go back to Oro Valley and prepare a big steak dinner. Charlotte makes twice-baked potatoes.

"We sit out and light up the chiminea with firewood and sit around and have our steak," he said. "It's real nice."

Up next

• What: El Tour de Tucson bicycle race (109, 79, 66 and 40 miles)

• Where: Around the perimeter of Tucson

• When: Saturday

• More info:

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