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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    UA students train for 109-mile bicycle ride

    Corrine Walker, a molecular and cellular biology senior, trains for El Tour de Tucson for the second year in a row by riding 90 miles on weekends. Proceeds from El Tour de Tucson, a 109-mile bike ride on Nov. 18, will benefit Tu Nidito Children and Family Services.
    Corrine Walker, a molecular and cellular biology senior, trains for El Tour de Tucson for the second year in a row by riding 90 miles on weekends. Proceeds from El Tour de Tucson, a 109-mile bike ride on Nov. 18, will benefit Tu Nidito Children and Family Services.

    UA cyclists are gearing up to participate in the 24th annual El Tour de Tucson bike race to assist Tucson children who have experienced terminal illness or the loss of a family member.

    The Nov. 18 event challenges riders to a 109-mile perimeter around the city that runs from the Catalina Mountains on the north to Tucson International Airport at the south.

    Miles of preparation – despite the approach of midterm exams – are required for UA riders to make a good showing at the tour, which brought out 8,000 participants last year and is expected to be even larger this year.

    “”I have no ideal how I’ll finish, but I’m hoping to do pretty well,”” said Julie Goldstein, a nutritional sciences junior who is planning her first stab at the race.

    Goldstein hops on her carbon-fiber cycle to pack in between 200 to 250 miles during the school week in order to train for the tour, which is billed as “”Arizona’s largest cycling event.””

    “”Sometimes it’s a challenge balancing the two,”” Goldstein said. “”But it usually works out pretty well.””

    Corrine Walker, a molecular and cellular biology senior, said she is focused on improving the seven-hour finish time she delivered at last year’s race. She is working her way up to 90-mile hauls during the weekends via shorter rides during the week.

    “”It depends on the competitiveness of the person,”” Walker said. “”I want to do better, and I think that’s definitely doable.””

    Shorter events are also included in the tour – at 80, 66, 35 and 4 miles each – bringing out many riders who might otherwise be intimidated by the sprawling countywide circuit.

    However, those smaller runs would likely be considered “”sprints”” for Melanie Meyers, a geography senior who holds a slot on Ford Motor Cycling Team.

    Normally, Meyers would be among the front ranks of the riders on the Tour, obsessed with being first to blast across the finish line.

    However, this event will find Meyers hanging back and enjoying the scenery.

    “”To be perfectly honest, I’m taking two or three weeks off at the end of October for end of the season since I’m training all year,”” Meyers said. “”I’ll be doing long, slow rides to just get back into the groove.””

    That laid-back community vibe is present for many riders, who view the tour as a day of service-oriented bicycle camaraderie – although marquee cyclists like Lance Armstrong have raced the event in previous years.

    “”I sort of do (the Tour) more for the charity aspect,”” Meyers said. “”I think it’s great ’cause, something I’m willing to support – it helps to go out and ride your bike for someone else.””

    Other cyclists, like Goldstein, who raced a “”learning experience”” first season this year for her employer, Sabino Cycles, hang up their competitiveness for the day and show up for the little ones.

    “”The ride is cool in itself, but it’s even cooler that it helps these kids out,”” Goldstein said.

    The event is expected to raise $200,000 – 25 percent of the annual budget – for Tucson’s Tu Nidito Children and Family Services, said Ciara Manson, development director for the organization.

    “”We would not be able to meet the need without the support of the tour,”” Manson said. “”Not only are you out riding this nice ride, you’re out helping out too.””

    Children from Tu Nidito are present at the start and finish lines of the event, while riders this year will be wearing blinking lights on their jerseys – symbolic of “”being the light in the life of a Tucson child,”” Manson said.

    Tu Nidito, “”your little nest”” in Spanish, has provided individualized care and support groups for the past decade for local children who’ve battled serious illness or coped with the death of loved ones.

    In 2003, nearly 700 families benefited from the charity’s services, according to the Tu Nidito Web site.

    “”A lot of people hear about us through the tour, and that’s one of our biggest goals – to spread the word about what we do in the community,”” Manson said.

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