Tucson's Premiere Bicycling Event is usually held the Saturday before Thanksgiving. This year (2011) the big race is November 19th. Begun in 1983, this is a charity event for University Medical Center (famous now for saving Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords' life after a deranged man shot her in the head in January 2011. UMC = a serious trauma center. Do what you can to support them.)
El Tour offers several different events for all abilities: 109 miles; 79 miles; 66 miles; 40 miles; and even a children's ride.
Personally, I think riding around Tucson all day with 9,000 other bicycle fanatics borders on insanity. But then, I think riding a bike up to Mt. Lemmon is insane. Thousands of others disagree. And Tucson is known for being one of the nation's best cities for cyclists.
“Tucson best road-biking city in the country”
Outside Magazine, August 2010
“America’s Best Cities for Bikers” - Tucson #5
(Forbes.com, April 2010)
On any other day in Tucson, for a more serene riding experience you might consider Gates Pass.
- Tucson is touted as a bicycle friendly city, and many of the city streets have bike lanes. However, most of the more scenic rural roads are narrow and do not have bike lanes.
- If you are not a contestant in El Tour de Tucson, you are hereby warned: DO NOT attempt to drive your car anywhere in the city on event day. You will face substantial delays and detours.