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Heritage Park at Gladden Farms: El Tour’s 28-mile ride starts there, expect some fun under the sun

Chris Carbonneau is a cyclist who comes from a family of cyclists who in turn has turned his family into cyclists.

There are several of them up in the popular master-planned community of Gladden Farms, where the growing development has plenty of space for outdoor types – including cyclists. Gladden Farms boasts over 8 miles of paved inter-connected trails.

More than 800 cyclists are expected at the El Tour de Tucson 28-mile ride – Chris and his 12-year-old daughter, Brelee being among them – as they begin their journey at the Heritage Park at Gladden Farms, just northwest of Tucson.

It’s a casual course any expert or novice will enjoy.

Carbonneau and his family have lived in Gladden Farms since 2005 – right as the community was getting started.

“It’s super convenient,” said Carbonneau of the course and area. “We like the area. And it’s good to have more families around. I like that it’s still just a neighborhood. You don’t feel like you’re in town.”

The popular Marana area “offers a wide array of exciting amenities, including parks, trails, playgrounds, sports courts, ball fields, a pool, a splash pad, a community garden and even a working farm,” according to its website.

It’s a perfect setting for the growing – and popular – ride that has cyclists wanting to be part of the event but not the entire 102-mile ride.

Carbonneau has been preparing his daughter for the event as he knows best, “riding five miles during the weekday and into the double digits on the weekends to get her ready for the ride. She really enjoys getting on the bike. She’s motivated to get faster each time.”


In years past – when not riding in the 100-mile event – Carbonneau has been out to the Marana starting line a couple of times, cheering on riders as they prepared to start their ride.

“I really like the ride,” he said. “To have a major event in our hometown where we can represent (is cool). I think it’s a great event and I love that it helps so many nonprofits.”

OK Rihl knows of what Carbonneau speaks. He’s ridden in El Tour for 20 years. He says that “Gladden Farms is “a fantastic community for a fantastic event.”

“It’s a superb event and we’ve been involved in it for years,” said Rihl, who is the director of new development for Gladden Farms. He’s witnessed every one of the 2,500 homes being created along with every mile of pathway and each and every park. “It’s a community that enjoys a very active lifestyle. I know that there are lots of cyclists here so it makes perfect sense for Gladden Farms to get involved with El Tour de Tucson. It fits well with the community and what we’re all about.”

Click here to see what the Gladden Farm Association provides: August 2021 did you know