El Tour de Tucson Races Through Downtown on November 19

November 14, 2011

The hugely popular El Tour de Tucson bicycle race on November 19 has a new start/finish location on Sixth Avenue at Armory Park across from the Children’s Museum.

A crush of bicycles will pour along Downtown streets this weekend. Photo courtesy of Ed Tunstall.

Ride day begins with the 109-mile main event followed by the 79-mile El Tour, Intuit 60-mile El Tour, sanofi aventis 40-mile El Tour and Diamond Children’s El Tour Fun Rides.  Kids activities, music, a beer garden, food, massages and an on-going Grand Cycling Awards Ceremony round out the day’s festivities.

Held annually the Saturday before Thanksgiving, The University of Arizona Medical Center El Tour de Tucson presented by CenturyLink is a fun ride attracting over 9,000 cyclists of all ages and abilities from throughout the United States and beyond, consisting of novice, intermediate, advanced, and professional riders.

Cyclists enjoy El Tour and its festivities simply due to their passion for cycling, while others choose the event as part of a healthy lifestyle change or even as part of their wellness program as a survivor from cancer or other life-threatening illness. Many are attracted to El Tour’s fundraising programs for its many charitable agencies, for which the event raised over $1.6 million in 2010.

Participants may cycle 111, 85, 60 or 42 miles, plus the 6, 3 & 1/4- mile Diamond Children’s El Tour Fun Ride presented by McDonald’s, open to all abilities. Main event routes showcase scenic areas of Tucson, with beautiful vistas of its local mountain ranges –  three rising over 9,000 feet – complete with the backdrop of the mighty saguaro cactus, icon of the Southwest’s Sonoran Desert.

Course profiles can be rolling to moderately hilly, though the 42-mile route is basically flat and is often a family affair or for beginners.  Two often dry but sandy river crossings will greet 111-mile riders, while 79-mile cyclists experience just one. No crossings for the 60 & 42-mile participants.

El Tour de Tucson will bring rushing bicycles to town. Photo courtesy of Ed Tunstall.

All routes offer aid stations, spaced each 7-12 miles, full police support at intersections and plenty of morale-boosting volunteers and spectators. The Fun Ride offers an exciting 6-mile route and an easy 3-mile route, highlighting special cultural aspects of Downtown Tucson.

The 111-mile start line (and finish line for all events) is located at Armory Park, across the street from the Tucson Children’s Museum in Downtown Tucson at the corner of South 6th Avenue at 13th Street. Upon crossing the finish line at the end of their ride, cyclists collect a special finisher’s medallion to commemorate their accomplishment.  El Tour’s Downtown Fiesta will be in Armory Park featuring  food vendors, kids activities, the Michelob Ultra Beer Garden, El Tour Perimeter Store merchandise booth, and non-stop music and celebration throughout the day!

El Tour cyclists will raise funds for Tu Nidito Children and Family Services, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, American Parkinson Disease Association, Water For People, Ben’s Bells Project, Diamond Children’s Medical Center, Humane Society of Southern Arizona, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Team Lizzie Bell, Rotary International Polio Plus, AZ Friends of Foster Children, Beads of Courage, Blue Marble Institute, Casa de los Ninos, League of American Bicyclists, Lions Club International, my Team Triumph, Project L.I.F.E., Susan G. Komen for the Cure and The Haven.

El Tour is dedicated to Rahsaan Bahati – 2008 US Pro Criterium Champion, seven-time national cycling champion and founder of the Bahati Foundation. Rahsaan, a pro cyclist since 2001, does work through his non-profit foundation to inspire and empower underprivileged inner-city youth to rise above their circumstance through the sport of cycling.  The world-class cyclist and champion of youth is the epitome of this year’s event theme, “El Tour…all about giving.”  Rahsaan will be honored at the Dedication Dinner on Thursday, November 17th at the Tucson Scottish Rite building.