October 2021

38th Banner-University Medicine El Tour de Tucson

The Race Returns

By Valerie Vinyard

Since 1983, El Tour de Tucson has attracted cyclists of every ilk.

That first year, fewer than 200 cyclists participated, raising $4,500 for charity.

How things have changed. As the years went on, thousands of cyclists – up to 9,000 – would participate. El Tour de Tucson is now the flagship event organized by the nonprofit Perimeter Bicycling Association of America and one of the largest cycling races in the United States.

The 2020 event initially was postponed from its usual November start, but then ultimately was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year in its return, the route will take riders south of Tucson for the first time.

“We have a brand-new route, which is really exciting,” said Christiana Benson, Perimeter’s director of business development. “They allow us to showcase Tucson and areas that we haven’t been able to show you before. This is a way for us to all come together after COVID.”

When Benson drove the full route on July 14, she was impressed.

“The 100-mile route and the 57-mile route are spectacular,” she said. “I think I saw parts of the city that I have never experienced in this way.”

During the drive, she raved about seeing “purple mountain ranges speckled with majestic saguaros,” along with the beautiful scenery of prickly pear, chollas and ocotillo. “It was this whole symphony of cacti,” she said. In addition to the roads of Tucson, the route wends cyclists through Green Valley, Sahuarita, Vail and Marana.

In Tucson, participants will ride by Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, enjoy a closed route on Aviation Parkway, follow along Old Spanish Trail and pass by the historic Colossal Cave. The new route also will take riders by the pecan groves in Green Valley and the mines in Sahuarita.

This year’s event will feature 102-, 57- and 28-mile routes as well as 10-, 5- and 1-mile fun rides. As it did before the pandemic, the event will take place the third Saturday in November. In 2019, the race attracted more than 6,000 cyclists and Benson hopes to achieve similar numbers this year for a race that speaks to both the competitive and the leisurely.

“You don’t have to put your head down and go 100 miles per hour,” said TJ Juskiewicz, Perimeter’s executive director. “Some people want to keep their head up and see the neat things while they’re riding.”

It’s Juskiewicz’s first time helming the event. The 56-year-old New Jersey native, who moved from Iowa to Tucson last year, boasts an impressive resume in the cycling community. After he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sports administration at the University of Florida, he served as the university’s athletic director and then worked at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

He was the director for Bike Florida, a nonprofit organization that helps Florida communities improve through bicycle tourism, from 1999 to 2002. He worked at RAGBRAI, which stands for Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Race Across Iowa, from 2003 to 2019.

When Juskiewicz moved to Tucson, he was familiar with both the city and El Tour. “It’s such a great bike community,” he said. “It’s a bike mecca. It has so many things going on.”

Though Juskiewicz didn’t take part in mapping out El Tour’s new route, he’s excited for riders to experience it. As always, safety is a top concern. By using less-traveled roads with little traffic, organizers hope there will be less of an impact on drivers. Like previous years, the race will begin and end at Armory Park. Presenting sponsors are Casino del Sol, Chapman Automotive, TMC Healthcare, Town of Marana, Gladden Farms and Rio Nuevo.

El Tour and the events around it also raise money for various charities. In 2019, the total money raised surpassed $101 million. This year’s main beneficiary is Diamond Children’s Medical Center. More than 40 national and local nonprofits will also use El Tour as a platform for raising money.

Other events will include an expo from Nov. 18 to 20, which will be free to attend and feature about 30 vendors that will include local bike shops, bands and food and drink. Ten55 Brewing has created a special El Tour beer, which visitors can enjoy in the expo’s beer garden, and eegee’s will feature an El Tour flavor.

The November event needs hundreds of volunteers, and Juskiewicz hopes Tucsonans respond. “The course spreads over 140 miles,” he said. “There’s all kinds of different ways of getting involved.”

“This is an exciting community event where you’re doing something together,” added Benson. “What better is it to do something so important for Tucson’s economy and the charities we serve?”

September 2021

Amazon to Open New Distribution Center in Marana

August 2021

Tucson Listed in Top 25 Best Fall Trips in the World

Road Bike in Tucson, Arizona

There are few better places in the U.S. for world-class cycling than Tucson—at least outside the triple-digit heat of summer. The city of 500,000 has become a magnet for serious bikers in winter, but fall may be the best time of all, with afternoon highs in the 80s (and mornings much cooler than that). The aspen and maple trees in the canyons of Santa Catalina Mountains turn bright gold and deep red, and locals come out of their summer hibernation to host a series of fall events, which includes gem shows and artisan markets that are huge draws for the artists that have put Tucson on the map. For cyclists, however, the focus is blacktop, and the sheer number of road options is the real attraction. There are easy rides, like various sections of the Loop—a 131-mile network that connects all corners of the city to one another with butter-like pavement—to classic epics like Madera Canyon, a 61 to 80 mile out and back that’s popular with the pros who train here in winter. In fall, one of the best rides may be the city’s most famous—Mount Lemmon, a nearly 7,000-foot climb over 59 miles that will take in the aspen trees in the Catalina Mountains. Back in town, there a number of new restaurants to try, including Barrio Charro, a joint project between chef Carlotta Flores of the Charro restaurant family and Don Guerra of Barrio Bread, with menu items like Southwest-inspired “tortamanos” sandwiches, with pulled pork and prickly pear BBQ sauce on house-baked azteca bread. Opening in mid-September, The Citizen Hotel (from $200) is a 10-room inn in a converted downtown building that once housed Tucson’s oldest newspaper. The property is a joint project between hotelier Moniqua Lane and Arizona winemakers Sarah and Rob Hammelman, and it will feature a 5,000-square-foot wine barreling and tasting room in the basement, an easy way to wind down after a ride. —R.K.

July 2021

Tucson Ranks No. 9 Among New U.S. Tech Markets

CBRE: Tucson Ranks No. 9 Among New U.S. Tech Markets

In its 2021 Scoring Tech Talent report, CBRE ranked Tucson No. 9 among 25 up-and-coming U.S. tech markets.

The annual report, which analyzes 75 U.S. and Canadian markets on their ability to attract and grow tech talent, noted that Tucson’s total tech growth increased 47% in the past five years while its tech wage growth increased 13% over the same period. Total tech employment in Tucson for 2020 was 15,850 with total wages averaging $85,786.

“Fostering talent development in lesser-known and underdeveloped U.S. and Canadian markets could offer additional talent pools to employers seeking to expand their geographical reach and uncover opportunities,” the report said. “These 25 smaller markets represent potential and in the U.S. are concentrated in the Midwest and South.”

The 25 potential markets were ranked separately from CBRE’s scorecard of the 50 larger tech cities, based on their relative strength in eight of the 13 metrics used for those larger cities. Those included tech talent supply, wages, tech-talent concentration, recent tech talent growth rates and their outlook.