In 1983, the famous El Tour de Tucson bicycle race was founded. It all started when a man named Richard DeBernardis was traveling around the United States on his bicycle. Upon visiting Tucson, he fell in love with the weather and thought this would be a perfect place for a bike ride. He checked the Old Farmer’s Almanac and learned the best time to have this event would be in the fall, the week before Thanksgiving, because it rarely rains that week.
The first year, the event had fewer than 300 participants and raised about $500 for local charities. Today, 40 years later, over 9,000 people participate each year and the event has raised over $110 million. There are three different routes adults can enjoy, 32-, 63- and 102 miles. Children can participate in 1- or 3-mile races and there will also be a bike decorating contest for the kids.
El Tour De Tucson is a three-day event. Thursday and Friday, Nov. 16–17, people will gather to collect their registration packets, meet each other, and explore various vendors. The actual race will be all day on Saturday, Nov. 18 starting at 7 a.m. downtown at the Tucson Convention Center. Streets will be closed to normal motor traffic to ensure a safe route for cyclists.
People from all over the country come to Tucson to participate in or watch this special event. With beautiful views and fun for everyone, this is a great opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, promote healthy activities and support a good cause. Come celebrate 40 years of El Tour De Tucson!
While the race is the top cycling event in the country, the giving side of El Tour de Tucson is just as amazing. El Tour Bikes for Change gave 500 new bicycles to underserved kids in the Tucson area last year. But this year, Bikes for Change has teamed up with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson, Jim Click, Canyon Ranch and others to give 3,000 ready-to-ride bikes to kids!
Over the Oct. 14 weekend, 1,500 bikes were put together and given to kids at the Boys & Girls Clubs! Each bike also came with a helmet, lock and light. Another 1,500 bikes were built and distributed to kids at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, the Serve Our City Network and also to kids in Sierra Vista, Gila Valley, Bisbee, Nogales and Flagstaff.
“Of course we were extremely excited about that partnership (with El Tour Bikes for Change),” says Denise Watters, Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson chief. Local volunteers assembled bikes. “Our kids live in neighborhoods where they really need our hand and our mentoring and our guidance,” Watters continues. “And being able to hand a kid a bicycle, you see their face light up. It’s so fantastic.” She loves this new partnership with the cycling community.
For more information, visit www.eltourdetucson.org.