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Creating community through cycling: Pueblo High School students train for El Tour de Tucson

Pueblo High School students train for El Tour de Tucson
Posted at 6:59 AM, Nov 19, 2021

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN9) — In the crisp morning air, Pueblo High School teacher Ernesto Somoza and his group of cycling students get their bikes ready. With air in the tires and helmets on their heads, the group begins their several mile bike ride around the city.

“Every weekend since august we’ve been training,” Somoza said. “We have 14 students and staff members who will cycling in the tour de Tucson."

They are training for the big day - El Tour de Tucson's return. About 6,500 people are set to cycle in the races. From 102 miles to 10 miles, cyclists choose the route they want to ride. For the Pueblo high school students, they couldn't be happier. TJ Juskiewicz is the new executive director for El Tour and he said the routes are beautiful.

"For those riding the 102 and 57 mile, they’ll start and end at armory park," he said. "And they’ll go out past Sahuarita and the Pima mines and then they come back and end at armory park."

Pueblo High School senior Iasc Rangel is the president of the school's cycling club, Road Warriors. He said he really missed the tour last year but is glad about its return.

“Last year there was no tour and no equipment to do the 100 miles, we did 75 miles last year so I really want to be my record," he said. “I’m really excited there’s going to be a lot of people there and we’ve been training for a couple of months for this."

Rangel's fellow classmate and cyclist David Rojas is also looking forward to Saturday morning. Rojas and Rangel are both doing the 102 mile ride.

“I’m feeling good honestly and honestly really excited," Rojas said.

Since August, the once isolated and learning from home students are able to get outdoors with their friends. Sophomore Alan Munoz said it's a welcome change from being in his room all day.

“I want to know my community more and explore it more and I’m usually in my room all day so I kinda want to go out and see what’s there," he said.

They train every Saturday morning and some days during the week. Somoza said it's creating community not only between the students themselves, but with the rest of Tucson.

"We go out riding on the Tucson loop and it’s just something that like you dream about and to see it actually happen," Somoza said. "Like students are just happy, they’re smiling and getting to know each other.”

Munoz is doing the 57 mile ride on Saturday at 10 a.m. and he said he is proud that last week he rode 42.2 miles. But more importantly, he said his group of cyclists are part of why he rides his bike.

“It’s been really fun and I think that’s my motivation you know, doing it for them and for Tucson," he said.