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EL TOUR HAS BEEN POSTPONED TO APRIL 10, 2021: After carefully monitoring the ongoing public health concerns brought on by the coronavirus pandemic and an abundance of caution for the safety and wellness of our cyclists, volunteers, staff and the communities through which we pass, the 38th Banner - University Medicine El Tour de Tucson has been postponed to Saturday, April 10, 2021.

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Accidental Tourist finds Southern Arizona ‘a great cycling community’

Call Jen Murphy the accidental Southern Arizona tourist … and, well, she loved it.

Originally set to take a trip to wine country in Sonoma and Napa Valley last fall, Murphy’s trip was cancelled at the last minute due to wild fires.

With few options for a trip to take, Murphy, a freelance travel writer, chose Southern Arizona.

“I had never been to Tucson, but I had heard some amazing things about the national park,” said Murphy, who lives in Boulder, Colorado, another big cycling community.

She’s heard many big-time cyclists from Boulder train in Tucson, so her curiosity piqued.

“I thought, ‘that’s interesting,” she said in a telephone interview with Tail Winds.

It just so happened she arrived a day before El Tour de Tucson in November “and I was like, ‘wow, everyone in this town is here (riding).’ I almost jumped into the ride, but I thought that may have been too ambitious.”

What she found was what many do when they visit Tucson and Southern Arizona: the beauty of the desert – from Patagonia to Tubac to the Saguaro National monument to the Santa Catalinas.

“Quintessential cactus country,” as she called it.

She saw what we see on the daily – Tucson’s colors and uniqueness of the winter. Cool days, brisk nights and great cycling rides.

She observed and thought, “it’s such a great cycling community. I was blown away by the bike paths. I was impressed with the diversity of riding. You could really challenge yourself with climbs or do a mellow ride.”

She and a group of riders – part of a Northern California-based active travel company called Backroads – spent a week cycling in and around Southern Arizona. Her intention of the visit was to write a travel story for the Houston Chronicle. It was published in April.

“It was great,” she said of her week in Tucson. “The bikes paths, The Loop was so well-paved, the bike lanes were really impressive.”

Below is  an excerpt from her Houston Chronicle story. Click on the publication’s link for her entire experience in Southern Arizona:

“The region’s exceptionally diverse riding, every-changing scenery, fantastic food and rich culture tick all of the boxes for a dream itinerary. And the city of Tucson, flanked on each side by trail-laced Saguaro National Park and home to the Loop, a network of 131 miles of paved bicycle paths, boasts the friendliest bike culture in the Southwest.”

Thanks for visiting Jen – hope to see you in November for the 38th El Tour.

Photos courtesy Jen Murphy