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The ‘Conductor’ Pat Lopez helped guide El Tour to what it is today – the best cycling event in the USA
As we look forward to another year – our 40th for El Tour and Perimeter Bicycling – we look back to celebrate our outgoing chairman of the board – Pat Lopez, who has been his position with El Tour for a few years.
Without him, El Tour would not be where it is and where it’s headed. He steered us in the right direction and guided us through what may have been a bump in the road.
“Pat Lopez is one of the good, humble guys. He’s one of the great community leaders who knows about business,” said TJ Juskiewicz, El Tour’s Executive Director. “He’s helped me tremendously with ideas and insight. He’s helped shaped the organization to what it is today.”
He knows cycling’s importance in Tucson, given the popularity of it. After all, he’s a longtime cyclist and a frequent ride in El Tour. He cycled his first El Tour in 1990 and rode in more than 30 El Tours.
An attorney by trade, he became an “informal advisor” to former El Tour founder Richard DeBernardis later becoming a board member then the chairman of the board.
“I don’t know how I was nominated to do that,” Lopez joked, about moving forward in the last few years to what it has become today … one of the country’s best events and USA Today’s best bicycling road rides.
“I’m very proud of that but there’s a lot of people who deserve credit for it,” Lopez said of the last few years. “I’m not a musician and not good at it, but I think of it like me being a conductor.
“The conductor doesn’t play the music. He just points to various sections or instruments who play and do a great job. That’s what I tried to do. And we had some fabulous musicians. We’ve had board members who really stepped up and did a good job. Everybody involved has their strengths. And everyone contributed based on their strengths. To the extent that I did anything, it was simply trying to identify and organize great people.”
He also had the love of his life – Marilou – along for the ride. They were married for 42 years. After all, every cyclist needs a great companion. She passed away two years ago. She was an occasional cyclist.
“I met her in eighth grade,” he said. “We went to high school together, but didn’t start dating until after high school. She was a wonderful person.”
He recalled a few years ago when he rode the 100-mile event and Marilou rode in the 25-mile ride. When he finished his ride, he found her on the route and finished the last few miles of her ride … together.