Thousands of cyclists from Tucson and beyond are gearing up for the annual Banner-University Medicine El Tour de Tucson – now in its 39th year – which kicks-off Saturday, Nov. 19.
And for the second year in a row, the event’s longest, 102-mile route will bring riders south of Tucson through parts of Green Valley and Sahuarita.
TJ Juskiewicz, executive director of El Tour, estimated that of the roughly 7,500 cyclists participating this year, about 3,000 riders will be taking the long way.
“Being able to bring riders down there really just gives us an opportunity to show off a different kind of geography, and just the diversity of the area,” Juskiewicz said.
“Going through the mine area, seeing pecan fields, some great hills and views, and now with some brand new roads down there, it’s really just a gorgeous route to be riding on,” he said.
Aside from the great views, one of the most important parts of the ride, Juskiewicz said, is the safety of the riders and the communities they’ll be passing through.
“Safety is important for our cyclists as well as the automobile drivers who will need to get around our route,” Juskiewicz said. “We want to make sure everyone is prepared for our road closures as they plan their day.”
All rides on Saturday will begin around 7 a.m. in Tucson and will go until 4 p.m., with roads being closed along the routes at various times.
Riders on the 102-mile loop will be in the Green Valley and Sahuarita area anywhere from about 9 a.m. to about 2 p.m. on Saturday, Juskiewicz said.
They’ll be following a route that will take them onto Sahuarita Road, Old Nogales Highway, Continental Road, Duval Mine Road, Mission Road and Helmet Peak Road before getting on to Nogales Highway again headed north to Tucson.
Local law enforcement personnel, including the Pima County Sheriff’s Department and the Green Valley Sheriff’s Auxiliary Volunteers, will be on-hand in various sections of the route to help direct traffic and protect cyclists.
But to save time a reduce congestion at busy intersections, here’s a few road closures and areas around town that you might want to avoid if you’re out and about on Saturday:
According to the Green Valley SAV, no west turns will be allowed on Abrego Drive and Continental Road as cyclists are moving through the area.
Similarly, drivers will not be allowed to make west turns on La Canada Drive and Continental Road with cyclists in the area.
Continental Shopping Plaza is also expected to be a busy area – no right turns will be allowed out of the main entrance/exit as cyclists move through.
•Westbound Valencia Road (from Benson Highway to Alvernon Way) will be closed from 10:29 a.m. - 2:10 p.m.
•Southbound Houghton Road (Mary Ann Cleveland Way to Sahuarita Road) will be closed from 8:25 a.m. - 11:15 a.m.
•Westbound and Eastbound Continental Road (between CPAC and Duval Mine Road) will be closed from 9:30 a.m. - 1:10 p.m.
•Northbound Mission Road (from Duval Mine Road to Helmet Peak Road) will be closed from 9:30 a.m. - 1:55 p.m.
I-10 and Houghton
From 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., the traffic interchange at I-10 and Houghton Road will be under the following restrictions:
• The I-10 eastbound off-ramp will be closed.
• The I-10 westbound off-ramp will be open with left turns restricted (as southbound Houghton Road will be closed from Mary Ann Cleveland Way to Sahuarita Road).
• The I-10 eastbound and westbound on-ramps from southbound Houghton Road will be closed (as southbound Houghton Road will be closed from Mary Ann Cleveland Way to Sahuarita Road).
• Northbound Houghton Road will be closed between the I-10 eastbound and westbound ramps (northbound Houghton Road traffic will be detoured on eastbound I-10 to Wentworth Road, and back to the Houghton Road interchange via westbound I-10).
• The I-10 westbound on-ramp from northbound Houghton Road will be closed (as northbound Houghton Road will be closed between the I-10 east- and westbound ramps).
• The I-10 eastbound on-ramp from northbound Houghton Road will be open (all northbound Houghton Road traffic will be diverted onto it, as described above).
I-10 and Wentworth/Colossal Cave
From 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., all ramps at the traffic interchange at I-10 and Wentworth/Colossal Cave will be open. There will be flagger(s) present on the eastbound ramps to control traffic.
I-19 and Continental Road
From 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., the traffic interchange at I-19 and Continental Road will be under the following restrictions:
• The I-19 northbound and southbound off-ramps will be closed.
• The I-19 northbound on-ramp will be open with flagger(s) to control traffic.
• The I-19 southbound on-ramp will be open.
• The I-19 east side and west side frontage roads will be open with flaggers to control traffic.
• Left turns from the west side frontage road onto westbound Continental Road will be restricted.
I-19 and Sahuarita Road
From 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., all ramps at the traffic interchange at I-19 and Sahuarita Road will be open with flagger(s) to control traffic.
To view a full list of road closures during El Tour de Tucson, visit bit.ly/3hyWiyT.
To view a full map of the route, visit eltourdetucson.org/el-tour-de-tucson/route/.