by Ilyasah Molina, beginning journalism
For the 17th year, Pueblo’s Road Warriors participated in the world-renowned El Tour de Tucson, which was held on Saturday, Nov. 17; three students and three faculty members were among the more than 9,000 riders.
Seniors Andrew Romero and Jose Antonio Pesellin and junior Leo Parra, along with faculty members Mr. Ernesto Somoza (sponsor), Ms.Marie Little and Ms. Tina Bruce, all made it to their finish lines.
In the past, Somoza has bicycled from Oceanside, CA to San Diego, about 50 miles. He’s also cycled from the U.S.-Mexico border to Ensenada, Baja California.
Two Pueblo students, Pesellin and Parra, finished the 100-mile race, as did teacher Somoza and his sister, Melissa; Somoza’s father, Xavier Somoza, also participated.
“Practicing was easy,” Pesellin said, “but riding 100 miles was a bit challenging. After the race, I had to see an on-site medic because of the pain in my leg muscles.”
Parra said, “The race was tiring. It was tough, but it was really important to me to reach the finish line.” He added that he raced on his Scatante bike and completed the race in eight hours. Parra plans to beat his time next year as a returning member of Road Warriors.
Teacher Somoza completed the full 100-mile course—mostly to ensure that students would be safe and that they would finish the complete race.
Somoza has participated in many races in the past several years, including 50-miles rides in California.
Another teacher, yearbook and exceptional education teacher Little, participated in the event for the first time, finishing her 25-mile course.
“I will definitely be doing this [El Tour de Tucson] next year,” Little said, “and I will be challenging three of my family members to join me.”
El Tour de Tucson began in 1983 with just a few dozen riders. In the past several years, as many as 10,000 riders have participated in this event, held each year on the third Saturday in November. This year, a record number of riders dominated the streets of Tucson (an estimated 11,000) in different distance races.
“It’s not necessarily about finishing first, and El Tour de Tucson is not necessarily a race,” Little said. “Being part of the Road Warriors is about having fun. All of the training that prepares us for El Tour really is effective. We hope to get even more students and faculty members involved next year.”
Sponsor Ernesto Somoza also adamantly encourages students to join the Road Warriors Club if they are looking for something to do after school that’s a little bit different than just joining a sports team.
“Road Warrior members have the opportunity to meet other bicyclists in the community. Tucson is truly a bicycle-loving and bicycle-friendly city,” Somoza said.
He added that earlier this month, the club had a new member drive that added nine new cyclists who did not participate earlier this semester. These students will continue to participate in monthly rides until the end of the school year. Rides, which will last about five miles, will beheld on the first Thursday of each month from 3:45 until 5:30 p.m. No prior experience is required, Somoza said.
Somoza said that bicycling has been very therapeutic and allows his mind to rest, and he would like others to discover the mental and physical benefits of bicycling. “If I’m really stressed out, I just go hiking or biking,” he said. “This helps me take my mind off of the chaos in this world.”