El Tour De Mesa History
Monday, March 2nd, 2015
25 Years of Holualoa El Tour de Mesa
a History Lesson
By Michael Murphy
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Holualoa El Tour de Mesa – although it wasn’t always called that.
Twenty-five years ago, El Tour de Mesa began as the “Scottsdale Scenic Century.”
Then it became “El Tour de Phoenix,” even though the route never entered Phoenix.
Finally, in 2011, Perimeter Bicycling partnered with the City of Mesa and El Tour de Mesa was born.
“It has always been a Perimeter event,” explained Wayne Churchman, the current tour’s director and one of its founders.
It was Churchman, who lives in Mesa, and three of his East Valley cycling buddies who approached Perimeter founder and President Richard DeBernardis in 1989 about creating an event similar to El Tour de Tucson in the Phoenix area. With DeBerdarnis’ support, they began the yearly ride that has morphed into a major three-day cycling festival.
In its first year, the event attracted a few hundred riders. Organizers marketed the ride as “El Tour de Phoenix” in the 1990s to boost attendance because they worried nobody knew where Mesa was located.
Since then, Mesa’s population has skyrocketed and so has El Tour de Mesa’s popularity.
Last year, El Tour de Mesa attracted 1,578 participants, 320 volunteers and 5,843 spectators.
Churchman expects up to 2,000 cyclists to sign up for the 2015 El Tour de Mesa.
“It has just mushroomed,” he said.
Churchman attributes much of the growth to the partnership between Perimeter Bicycling, the City of Mesa and Two-Wheel Jones, which stages the El Tour Criterium in downtown Mesa a day before El Tour de Mesa. This year, El Tour Criterium also will serve as the state criterium championship.
“The event has the potential to be an economic engine for Mesa like El Tour de Tucson is for Tucson,” Churchman said.
Besides El Tour de Mesa and El Tour Criterium, the event features the City of Mesa’s CycloMesa, which includes a zip line, rock wall, BMX Freestyle and kid’s zone. For adults, there’s a beer garden, vendors and food trucks.