Perimeter president and El Tour de Tucson creator, Richard DeBernardis, said ultimately the decision to discontinue the ride after Saturday’s event same down to economics.
It’s something the group has been wrestling with for the last three years.
“It took three years to make the decision,” DeBernardis said. “I really didn’t want to let it go. It’s like losing a family member.”
They finally decided to end the event after seeing this year’s registration numbers.
300 fewer cyclists are registered for the event, which is the lowest it has been in 15 years. The decrease in riders this year represents about a $30,000 loss to Perimeter.
He said having two events in April may have led to the decline in ridership. They host the Tour de Mesa ride in early April and the Tour of the Tucson Mountains at the end of April. He said on 25 percent of the cyclists attend both rides.
He hopes the move will increase the ridership for the Tour de Mesa rather than have people decide to do one or the other.
DeBernardis said there are so many other non Perimeter events in April that is makes it tough for cyclists to find the time to ride them all. He said cyclists are sending them a message about the ride and it’s importance.
“If cyclists are not going to support it then there is not reason to have it especially if we are going to lose on it,” he said.
DeBernardis said he didn’t want to risk the health of Perimeter as a whole to protect Tour of the Tucson Mountains.
“If we keep losing on this. it could take down all of Perimeter and we don’t want that,” he said.
The move leaves the group with El Tour de Tucson, The Cochise Classic and El Tour de Mesa, but DeBernardis said he’d like a fourth race that doesn’t compete with the others and is looking outside of Arizona.
He said Colorado Springs has contacted him about hosting a ride in the summers and even offered to pay the group $100,000 to organize it. He said they aren’t sure they will end up there and are looking elsewhere including in parts of Canada. He he said he does want to create a ride in June or July somewhere that cool weather.
In the interim, DeBernardis is coming to terms with the decision and believes it is the best way to ensure the health of El Tour de Tucson. He is however saddened to lose the second race he ever created.
“It breaks my heart to lose it.”