This fall welcomes the 32nd El Tour de Tucson, one of the largest road bicycling events in the United States! Thirty two years is a long time for an event to take place, and there is a reason for it. Tucson in November is absolutely lovely. The race happens the third weekend in November, just before Thanksgiving. You can expect sunny, warm days in the 70s, and brisk evenings in the mid-40s.
In 1983, 185 riders participated in the first El Tour de Tucson. In more recent years the number of riders has gone all the way up to 10,000! And that’s just riders, the number of organizers, volunteers, and spectators is vastly greater. Aside from gorgeous weather and a stunningly unique landscape, why is such a nationally acclaimed and popular road bicycle race here in Tucson?
Tucson has a way of attracting interesting and passionate people. One of those people is Richard DeBernardis, the founder of El Tour de Tucson. Once a friend of Richard’s turned him onto cycling while working for the University of Alaska in Anchorage he was hooked. In 1976 he bought his first bicycle and proceeded to ride all the way from Alaska to Mexico in 40 days! In 1979 he rode his bike around the entire perimeter of the United States. For 77 days in 1981 DeBernardis rode over 6,000 miles across four Japanese islands. When he returned from Japan he came to Arizona to train. As he rode around the perimeter of Tucson he knew he had found his home. On the hundred mile perimeter ride around the city surrounded by 4 mountain ranges on all sides, he realized this perimeter ride could attract thousands of people. He felt that through this ride all people could experience the journey that he experienced riding the perimeter of the United States. Thus, El Tour de Tucson was born.
Three decades since his original vision, the sheer number of people involved creates an tangible excitement as El Tour approaches. Imagine race day at the starting line! You can race 105, 75, 55, or 40 miles in the main event. All skill levels are welcome. Come and ride. Come and play. Come and stay at the Inns at El Rancho Merlita. You can register for the El Tour de Tucson here. There are early bird registration discounts though the end of October. In 2014 cyclists raised over $8.5 million dollars for 48 local charities!
All the best!