The El Tour de Tucson Arizona is the largest bicycling festival race 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 bike ride takes place every November in Tucson, Arizona. The first El Tour attracted nearly 185 riders while in recent years between 7,000 and 10,000 cyclists will attend. Because the Tour is so big, people in the bike industry are exposed to Tucson, and they know it’s a good place to ride. El Tour de Tucson helps put Tucson on the cycling map. Bike Magazine gives three initial reasons for ranking Tucson as the second-best place among cities its size for riding a bicycle: “Sunshine, sunshine, sunshine.”
There are several routes of differing lengths ranging from 109 miles (175 km) to 0.25 miles (0.40 km). The event offers fun and cycling tests for all levels of riders. The route weaves through and around the city of Tucson, which is surrounded by 5 mountain ranges, three of which rise over 9,000 feet. The courses range from rolling to moderately hilly, with the 35 mile route being fairly flat and the perfect course for beginners.
El Tour de Tucson has cyclists raise funds for Tu Nidito Children & Family Services, the American Parkinson Disease Association, Water For People, Ben’s Bells Project, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Diamond Children’s Medical Center, other Perimeter Bicycling charities, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. For the children and families at Tu Nidito, El Tour is much more than a ride. “El Tour is our livelihood,” said Executive Director Liz McCusker. More than 8,000 cyclists participated in the 2008 El Tour de Tucson, raising more than $200,000 for Tu Nidito Children and Family Services.
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