Boasting more than 500 miles of metro bikeways, Tucson was recently named the third-best cycling city in the country by Bicycling magazine. Road bikers will feel right at home on the paved streets of the Old Pueblo, which feature wide, designated bike paths on most of its roads.
Incredible Road Bike Rides
Competitive road bikers can not only train in Tucson, but also compete here in Southern Arizona's premier cycling event: Perimeter Bicycling's El Tour de Tucson. This 110-mile road bike race attracts more than 9,000 participants each November and is the largest "perimeter" cycling event in the country. El Tour de Tucson has events for all riding levels, with courses ranging from 31 miles to the 110-miler.
Join local pros and top amateurs for the Shootout Ride on Saturday mornings from FairWheel Bikes. The ride gets out of town nice and leisurely and then picks it up to just subsonic once it hits Valencia Road. Call Fair Wheel Bikes for start times, and expect groups up to 200 riders in the winter. Be aware, the Shootout is not recommended for beginners.
Road riders seeking a muscle-busting challenge can take on the 26-mile (one-way) Catalina Highway, which twists and turns from the desert floor to the top of Mount Lemmon's Ski Valley - a 2-plus-hour, 5%-grade, uphill excursion that takes adventurous riders up roughly 6,000 feet in elevation. The climb upward takes bikers from the cacti and warm, arid desert climate to the high-elevation pines and 30-degree temperature drop atop the mountain. Though the trip up is slow, bikers can enjoy a neary all-downhill cruise back down the mountain, reaching speeds of 40 miles per hour in places.
A popular training route begins on the north side of Tucson and stretches up through the Town of Oro Valley. Beginning at River Road & Oracle Road, the ride is all uphill one way - with both gentle slopes and steep climbs. Riders head north past the western slopes of the Catalina Mountains as far up Oracle Road as they wish, before turning around for the relaxing coast back down to Tucson.
The 34-mile McCain Loop route begins in midtown Tucson at the campus of the University of Arizona and loops over scenic Gates Pass and through the towering cacti of Saguaro National Park. The ride takes bikers past downtown and through sloping mountain passes, to the flat, fast roads near Tucson Mountain Park.
Many other routes created by local Tucson cyclists can be found on the MapMyRide.com website as well as the Greater Arizona Bicycling Association (GABA) website.
Like to hear the crunch of dirt under your two wheels? Take a look at all of the incredible mountain biking trails that Tucson has to offer.
Cycling Businesses & Routes
Phone: (520) 338-8536
Phone: (520) 745-8020
Contact: Kylie Walzak
Title: Program Manager
Phone: (520) 261-8777
Phone: (520) 825-2751
Phone: (520) 296-4715
Contact: Mac Graham
Phone: (520) 885-3666
Phone: (520) 327-2265
Alt Phone: (520) 797-9330
Contact: Jimmy Bultman
Title: Numero Uno Bike Dude
Phone: (520) 488-4446
Toll-Free: 800-979-3370 (tickets only)