Explorer staff report
El Tour is coming.
On Saturday, Nov. 20, the University Medical Center 28th El Tour de Tucson presented by Diamond Ventures expects more than 8,000 cyclists, 2,700 volunteers and 30,000 spectators in an event with a growing Northwest flavor.
This year, cyclists enter the Northwest off Skyline at Oracle Road, roll through Oro Valley on Oracle, Rancho Vistoso and Moore roads, then head to Marana via Tangerine. They'll run down the west side of I-10 through Marana before re-entering Tucson.
There is a new start location and title sponsor for the shortest of El Tour's main events, the sanofi aventis – Lantus 40-Mile El Tour, along East Innovation Park Drive in Oro Valley.
Ride day opens with the 109-mile main event, followed by the Sargent Aerospace & Defense 79-Mile El Tour, the Intuit 66-Mile El Tour, the 40-miler and the Diamond Children's El Tour Fun Rides. Kids activities, live music, a beer garden, food, massages and an on-going Grand Cycling awards ceremony round out the day's festivities.
Richard DeBernardis, founder and director of El Tour, addressed an enormous crowd at the Marana Town Council last Wednesday. Nearly everyone was on hand for the Marana Regional Landfill deliberation and decision.
DeBernardis said it is "a privilege for me to be able to work with you on the 28th El Tour." Cyclists are "riding for health," and for 13 charitable organizations, trying to raise $2 million for worthy causes. It's been a tough year, given the economy, DeBernardis said, yet the fund-raising goal remains, and he speculated this could be the third-largest Tour ever. "If you're not riding, and you would like to help us, please stay off the roads," DeBernardis said. "Come out and celebrate with us" by watching. He received an ovation from the crowd.
This year's tour is dedicated to the legendary John Howard – three-time Olympian, 18-time national masters cycling champion and founder of John Howard Performance Sports.
Among many accomplishments, Howard is the cycling 24-hour world record holder (593 miles), finished second in the inaugural Race Across America, and holds the land-speed record on a bicycle (over 152 mph). He is being recognized Thursday, Nov. 18, at the Tucson Convention Center.
El Tour is expected to bring approximately $50 million to the Tucson area during the course of the year, including at least $18 million on ride weekend.