TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Thousands of cyclists crossed the finish line at Armory Park for El Tour de Tucson on Saturday.
It was an early morning start to get to that point, but for these cyclists, it’s not just about making it to the end -- it’s to enjoy the ride.
“Let’s get away from the Canadian winter and come down to enjoy the sunshine,” said Chris Gordon, in town from Saskatchewan.
She and her friend, Reagan Wildeman, took the 36th El Tour de Tucson by storm.
“It’s just great that no matter where you’re from - we’ve just been kind of accepted with open arms by the community here,” Wildeman said.
Together they were riding for a cause. Wildeman and Gordon rode in honor of Gordon’s late husband who died of pancreatic cancer.
“He was a phenomenal athlete, cyclist. We need to have a better diagnosis and treatment for pancreatic cancer patients,” Gordon explained.
These two among the 9,000 cyclists riding along the El Tour route this year. Louise Harrett, who has volunteered every year since the event began, was there cheering them on.
“We really enjoy it. We look forward to it all year long,” Harrett said.
She remembers when El Tour started with just a couple hundred cyclists.
“We have such a variety of people that ride. All different countries. It’s the life of Tucson. They share everything with the community,” she said. “It’s not only fun but it’s a way they can give back.”
Also giving back was Daniel Lust - who rode for the Cascade Foundation. He took in the scenery and the camaraderie of it all the way through.
“You just kind of come out here and suffer. You just get through it. When you’re with a bunch of friends, it’s not that difficult,” he said.
Wildeman and Gordon would have to agree, taking it all in on their first El Tour de Tucson.
“All the cheering and spectating along the way has really been nice,” Wildeman said.
The spirit carries through the volunteers, as well.
"You'll never feel bad when you leave after El Tour is over," Harrett said.
Though every rider has crossed the finish line at the 36th El Tour de Tucson, Harrett said planning for the 37th begins as early as January of next year.