John Howard said he's still deciding whether he will ride in El Tour de Tucson in November.

At age 63, Howard, a three-time Olympian and 18-time masters cycling champion, still rides daily. He has ridden in about 10 El Tours, and on Thursday, he received the ultimate honor from Perimeter Bicycling - he was named the dedication recipient for the 28th annual race at a news conference at Tucson Convention Center.

"I'm thrilled," said Howard, who is also a four-time U.S. national road race champion. "This has always been one of my favorite events. Even though I don't entertain any plans of winning it at 63, I can still be competitive with the top ranks. That's what it's all about.

"These are pro cyclists, and anybody who wants to ride can ride with them," he added. "That is unprecedented in professional sports. I find it unique."

El Tour officials also revealed changes to race events, which include the trademark 109-mile race; races of 79, 66 and 40 miles; and fun rides on Nov. 20.

The 40-mile race, a 35-mile event last year, will begin along East Innovation Park Drive south of Rancho Vistoso Boulevard. Perimeter Bicycling president and CEO Richard DeBernardis said the change allows a bigger area for the start of the race.

In addition, cyclists will use North Oracle Road northward to Rancho Vistoso Boulevard to Moore Road. That's a change from last year when construction on Oracle had to be avoided.

DeBernardis said that alteration will save money, because last year's path required extra costs for barricades and police.

"We're all happy we're going to go back up Oracle," he said. "It's going to be much safer and much more convenient for the whole community."

The course will also use a freeway frontage road, instead of Silverbell, because the frontage road is safer, DeBernardis said.

He said registration has projected to about 8,500 cyclists participating in El Tour. In 2009, 8,245 cyclists participated, the fourth-highest total in 27 years.

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