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El Tour de Tucson


5 Rides to make a difference

5 Rides to make a difference 

Only 18 miles left for the JDRF riders

Five rides to make a difference, to change lives and to find a cure for diabetes.  The last JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) ‘Ride to Cure Diabetes’ was the El Tour de Tucson in the beautiful desert terrain of Tucson, Arizona, which has become known as the most prestigious bicycling event for cyclists of all ages and abilities. Bicycling Magazine selected this event as "one of America's ten best centuries."

JDRF riders arrive at the JDRF aid station
Approximately 170 riders from around the world ride the whole race or sections of the popular perimeter ride through the saguaro studded landscape of the Old Pueblo.   These riders have two challenges:  raising money needed to fund research for better treatments and a cure for diabetes, and reaching a personal training goal to prepare for a destination cycling experience.
                                            LtoR: Allison Sytz, Joe Maissano, Lauren Sytz and Molly Sytz
                                                         In the middle:  tons of food to fuel the JDRF riders

Luck, fortune, karma, blessing or a combination of all landed me in Tucson during the El Tour and a connection with a friend on the JDRF support team, Manny Casillas, who opened an opportunity for me.  We set up an aid station at miles 28 and 93 to furnish the JDRF riders with fuel, drink, humor and smiles.  Our insanely crammed van included Manny, Joe Maisano, and the Sytz cheering squad:  Lauren, Molly, Allison and myself.  Even though Lauren was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes 14 years ago, she will be playing on the varsity field hockey team this year!  Her father, Steven, pedaled the whole El Tour course like a pro, seeing as this is his 7th year of participating in Ride to Cure Diabetes.  The gals received a well-earned shout-out and were rewarded as co-winners of the ‘Spirit’ award for their awesome participation! 

Field Hockey time for Lauren Sytz

LtoR:  Lauren, Allison and Molly Sytz: the Cheer Squad!

This was a first time for Ethan Erickson, a 13 year old with Type 1 diabetes who cycled through 111 miles of insulin pump challenges and rolled through the finish line with an incredible effort.  Ethan even pocketed the ‘Best Youth Rider Award’. 

                  Adam and Ethan Erickson

All the riders and crew would shared a life changing-memorable experience.  Ethan’s mother, Tiburon Erickson, said it out well when she said, I believe the best way to beat diabetes - riding to cure it.                                                                     
Ethan Erickson taking care of business (both on and off the bike)

 JDRF will add a 6th Ride to Cure in 2013 with a stop in Nashville, TN.
2013 Ride to Cure Diabetes Events:
Burlington, VT - July 25-28
La Cross, WI - August 15-18
Lake Tahoe, CA - September 6-9
Nashville, TN - September 19-22
Death Valley, CA - October 17-20
Tucson, AZ - November 21-24
For more details visit

-Dave Nevins