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El Tour de Tucson 2024

November 23

road cyclists at El Tour de Tucson
Last Updated April 2, 2024

This year will mark the 41st annual edition of El Tour de Tucson, one of Arizona’s largest and longest-running participative events. Held the Saturday before Thanksgiving every year, Perimeter Bicycling Association  brings together this fundraising ride that features nearly 7,500 cyclists of all ages and abilities from the United States and worldwide. The team at Strambecco considers it to be one of the Best Road Cycling Event in the Southwest and it was recently rated by USA TODAY as the top road cycling event in the country. Participants range from novice to professional as they ride the 102, 63, and 32 mile rides. Fun Ride distances are 3 and 1 mile (and a 5k run/walk) bringing great options for kids and families.  Main event routes feature beautiful landscapes of Tucson and Southern Arizona and the crisp, cool air of the Tucson winter. Of course, mountain ranges and the desert’s signature saguaro cactus are highlighted throughout the route. Course profiles range from flat to rolling or moderately hilly. Over its 40 year history, it has continued to grow in popularity - one participant shared "Loved the ride. This is the 18th time I’ve done the ride and hope it comes back next year bigger and better."

What sets El Tour de Tucson apart is not only the breathtaking scenery but also its inclusivity and charitable spirit. Since 1983, it has propelled nonprofit fundraising to astonishing heights, transcending the typical race to become a vehicle for change. Whether you're a professional athlete or a philanthropic rider, this event offers an opportunity to indulge your passion for cycling while contributing to a greater good.

Event & Course Info

As the sun ascends over the Tucson Convention Center, the starting point of all El Tour de Tucson routes, a palpable excitement fills the air. Cyclists from across the nation, and various corners of the globe, converge here, bringing the community to life. As dawn breaks on race day, it's common to find dedicated cyclists queuing from 4:00 am, respecting the ethos of 'no fence jumping.' For those in wait, thrift-store sweatshirts provide temporary warmth, soon to be discarded and donated, embodying the event's charitable spirit.

The Century Ride, a 102-mile journey, is the crown jewel of the event, commencing at 7:00 am. The route, with an elevation gain of over 2,800 feet, is not for the faint of heart. But it's the promise of cycling through the Davis Monthan Air Force Base, the Old Spanish Trail, and the historic Colossal Cave that makes the early rise worthwhile. For those considering this event, it is worth checking out the Prologue Camp with the pros to help you prepare for the event.

For those seeking a shorter adventure, The Metric Century at 9:00 am spans 62 miles with a gentler climb of 1,600+ feet, while The Half Metric Century introduces novice riders to the thrill of the tour, offering a 32-mile route with 500+ feet of climbing. Each course is meticulously designed to challenge and enthrall, with staggered start times ensuring every participant gets their moment to shine.

Aid stations are your oases, dotted approximately every 7-12 miles, offering sustenance, mechanical support, and the warm encouragement of volunteers. But take heed, these havens operate on a strict schedule to ensure the routes clear by the 4:30 pm closure.

Another unique element to the vent is that El Tour de Tucson bestows a 'Platinum Designation' upon its most elite riders. This accolade is reserved for professionals, top-ranked amateurs, and those who've previously earned their stripes. It's a commitment to safety, ensuring the most adept cyclists ride in unison, and it's a badge of honor that signifies the pinnacle of pack-riding prowess. Attaining Platinum is no small feat. One must finish a qualifying Perimeter Bicycling event within stringent time frames (100 mile in under 5hrs for men and 5.5 hrs for women) or hold a current, distinguished USA Cycling/UCI racing license. The standard is high, the reward, a position among the best.

The Casino del Sol Expo & Fiesta, located at the vibrant Tucson Convention Center, serves as the heart of the post-race celebration. Revel in the live music, savor local food, and unwind in the beer garden, all while basking in the glow of your accomplishment.

The essence of El Tour de Tucson transcends the physical challenge. It's about the unity of cyclists, the shared pursuit of endurance, and the joy of giving back. As more than 12,000 fans and cyclists converge, it's clear that this is not just another cycling event; it's a pilgrimage for the pedal-driven heart, a celebration of the cycling spirit, and a journey through one of the most mesmerizing landscapes the Southwest has to offer.

Area Accommodations & Things to Do

Tucson, Arizona, is a harmonious blend of cultural richness and natural splendor, offering an escape into its unique Sonoran Desert and storied barrio neighborhoods. The city's heart beats in its revitalized downtown, where a renaissance of arts, cuisine, and community thrives across six distinct districts, seamlessly connected by the Sun Link Tucson Streetcar. From exploring ancient caves and gazing at star-filled skies to experiencing the contemporary pulse of its urban core, Tucson invites adventurers and cultural enthusiasts alike to discover a world where the spirit of the Southwest roams free.

Due to the popularity and volume of participants for El Tour de Tucson, there are multiple hotel partners located within a mile of the start/finish including the Leo Kent Hotel, the Tuxon, and the Hampton. However, if you prefer a more home-like experience, check out one of the many vacation rentals available that will suit a variety of needs from adobe guesthouses to homes on 5 acres. Those looking to camp will enjoy exploring the many unique camping locations in the surrounding area.

Tucson's culinary scene is a vibrant tapestry of flavors, recognized as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy for its fusion of Native American, Mexican, and colonial Spanish influences, offering an array of authentic dishes from savory street tacos to sophisticated Sonoran-inspired fine dining. Local ingredients, like chiltepin peppers and mesquite flour, are celebrated in its bustling farmers' markets and innovative restaurants, capturing the essence of the desert in every bite. Check out Eater's List of must-visit restaurants in Tucson.

As November ushers in mild temperatures and golden sunlight, Tucson, Arizona, becomes a playground for outdoor athletes. The city's unique landscape and climate create the perfect conditions for a variety of high-energy activities. Here are three specific pursuits that outdoor enthusiasts are sure to relish during their November visit to this desert haven.

For cyclists, The Chuck Huckelberry Loop (often known simply as The Loop) offers over 130 miles of interconnected trails, free from the hustle of motorized traffic. November's cool mornings are ideal for mountain bikers to hit the Loop's mixed-use paths that traverse scenic river parks and desert landscapes. Riders of all skill levels can enjoy the well-maintained routes, with the added bonus of pit stops for local coffee or snacks at trailside cafes.

Hikers looking for an authentic Sonoran Desert experience will find solace in the arms of Saguaro National Park. In November, the park's towering cacti stand like sentinels against clear blue skies, and the temperatures are perfect for exploring the desert's beauty without the intense heat of the summer months. Specific trails like the Hugh Norris Trail offer a strenuous workout with rewards of breathtaking vistas, while the Valley View Overlook Trail provides a more moderate trek with equally stunning views of the desert basin and mountain ranges.

Mount Lemmon, with its towering granite peaks, provides rock climbers with a chilly but thrilling adventure. As the rest of the country cools down, Tucson's climbers relish the crisp November air that makes for perfect climbing conditions. The mountain boasts over a thousand routes with varying degrees of difficulty, ensuring that whether you're a beginner or a seasoned pro, there's a climb waiting for you. The unique ecology of the Sky Islands, with their diverse range of elevation and climates, not only presents climbers with challenges but also with the opportunity to witness a variety of wildlife and fauna that change with the altitude.

Related Events

The Perimeter Bicycling Association produces the El Tour Series of events which include El Tour de Tucson, El Tour de Zona in March and El Tour de Mesa in April.

For the multi-sport athletes out there, check out some of our best rated Gravel CyclingTrail Running, and Mountain Biking events that are held in Arizona and the broader Southwest.

Belgian Waffle Ride (BWR) Arizona from Monuments of Cycling, a purveyor of classic one-day bicycle races in the United States and their Belgian Waffle Quadrupel Series, Best Gravel Cycling Events in California, the NorthwestSouthwest, and the Southeast.

Epic Rides is a top producer of mountain bike events in Arizona including the Tour of the White Mountains,  The Whiskey Off Road, and 24 Hours of Old Pueblo.

Trail runners have their pick at a multitude of top shelf events in-state, including Black Canyon UltrasOld Pueblo Endurance RunsMcDowell Mountain Trail Run and the Xterra Black Canyon Trail Run which are both part of the Xterra Trail Run World Series.

El Tour de Tucson course map
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