The Chuck Huckleberry Loop will look a little different to cyclists, runners, and walkers Saturday.
There will be more bicycle traffic — or at least that’s what the folks behind El Tour de Tucson are expecting for the Pima County El Tour Loop the Loop presented by Rio Nuevo.
The free event runs from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.. The festivities continue with an after-party at the Ramada Tucson from 11:00 a.m. to 1 p.m. with music, food, and raffles.
“Loop the Loop is one of the special things in America,” said Richard J. DeBernardis, president and founder of Perimeter Bicycling. “It’s bigger than ever.”
The Loop the Loop is the official kickoff to El Tour season, which culminates with the Nov. 17 El Tour de Tucson, the largest participatory sporting event in Southern Arizona.
Saturday, riders can hop on and off at any point of the 65-mile event route. Nonprofit organizations will man 14 stations handing out free raffle tickets. Prizes, including a KHS Bicycle Mountain bike, will be raffled off at the after-party. Loop the Loop will also include art; riders can stop and view nearly 50 pieces.
Tucson was ranked No. 5 in People for Bikes’ list of most bike-friendly cities in 2018, mainly due to the Loop. The list looked at the availability of high quality bike infrastructure.
The Loop is now 131 miles long, with plans to grow. The Pima County Regional Flood Control District and Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation Department are looking at four new extensions — Catalina State Park, then north along the Canada de Oro Wash to the Pima County Line or Miraval Arizona Resort and Spa; along the Tanque Verde Wash’s north bank from Craycroft Road to Tanque Verde Road; along Pantano Wash to Cienega Creek Natural Preserve; and along Santa Cruz River south of Valencia Road.
DeBernardis said he hopes to see Loop usage grow.
“Tucson is recognized as bicycle capital, yet, a lot of people in Tucson still don’t know about the Loop,” he said. “We have to do more promotion to different groups on the route … and when you are coming to El Tour, you can get on the Loop to get to all of the events. We need to communicate that you don’t need to bike on the streets; we have a cycling freeway for our community.”