I first published this article to the Suite101 website on November 21, 2007. Over one year has passed since the article was first published, so I am now free to submit it to other sites.
El Tour de Tucson, A Century Road Bike RaceArticle OverviewThe El Tour de Tucson is one of the largest road bicycling events in the United States.
The El Tour de Tucson was started in 1983 by cyclist Richard DeBernardis, current president of the Perimeter Bicycling Association of America. The ride takes place every November in Tucson, Arizona. The first El Tour attracted nearly 185 riders while in recent years between 7,000 and 9,000 cyclists will attend. The 109 mile century ride attracts the most bikers but there are also 80 mile, 67 mile and 33 mile options along with a few shorter, kid friendly family rides.
El Tour de Tucson is a major fundraising event for charity organizations including Tu Nidito Children & Family Services, American Parkinson Disease Association and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society trains cyclists from all over the country to ride in this event as part of their Team in Training fundraising program.
The ride starts and ends at the Tucson Convention Center which is located in the heart of the downtown area. The first few miles of this ride are spent circumnavigating the downtown area as cyclists work their way to the outskirts of town to do the rest of the ride in and around the perimeter of Tucson. Tucson is surrounded by the Tucson Mountains, Rincon Mountains, Santa Catalina Mountains and Tortolita Mountains which make for a very scenic ride. Memorable points of interest throughout the tour include riding past the Pima Air & Space Museum, cycling alongside portions of Saguaro National Park and a rest stop at the entrance to Catalina State Park which is at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains
El Tour de Tucson is an interesting ride even for the most experienced biker. There are two dry river beds crossing the route which are filled with sand and small rocks. Cyclists must dismount their bike and carry it roughly ¼ mile across the river bed to get back to the paved road. A Mariachi band greets riders as they exit the Santa Cruz River bed crossing which is located approximately 8 miles into the ride. The second river bed crossing, which crosses Sabino Creek at mile 46.7, takes riders through the privately owned Canyon Ranch Resort property.
Rest stops are located every 5 to 10 miles along the route and are run by volunteers including members of the local Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Moose Lodge. The rest stops are stocked with water, animal crackers, bananas, oranges and grapes along with port-a-potties. Bikers can take a much needed break from the ride and replenish their water bottles and energy stores. The average rider will burn nearly 6,000 calories throughout the duration of this ride.
The winner of El Tour de Tucson crosses the finish line around 4 hours and 15 minutes after the 7 AM start with an average speed of 25 miles per hour. Riders will continue to cross the finish line and be eligible for medals until the 6 PM cut off time. Cyclists that haven’t finished the course at this point can continue to ride as long as they have a light for their bicycle. For many riders, the goal is just to finish the ride. A century ride is an epic, once-in-a-lifetime event for the average cyclist.