Giffords to ride in Tour de Tucson

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords will ride on Saturday in El Tour de Tucson, her first major cycling event since the 2011 Tucson shooting.

Giffords will participate in the 11-mile fun ride with her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, according to her office.

“I can’t wait to ride in El Tour de Tucson with Mark, some good friends, and thousands of our fellow Tucsonans as we support the Special Olympics,” Giffords said.”One of the wonderful things about the Tour is people of all ages and abilities can participate while supporting such an important cause.”Giffords El Tour

Prior to the shooting, Giffords was a recreational cyclist and hiker and began getting back on the bike six months ago, according to her office.

The former Congresswoman sustained a bullet wound through the left side of her brain, which affected her ability to speak and freedom of movement on her right side. Now she rides a few miles a day on a three-wheeled recumbent bike.

The recumbent bike allows her to pedal and maintain control, and “she loves it,” Giffords’ office said. She frequently rides with friends around her neighorhood and across Tucson bridges where bat colonies congregate and fly away at dusk.

Giffords’ office said she chose to ride in El Tour because she enjoys setting “big goals” for herself such as her recent skydiving adventure, and she has always been proud of the attention El Tour has brought to the region.

“I’ve worked really hard to get back on my bike, and I’m ready,” Giffords said. “Southern Arizona always looks so beautiful by bike. So, let’s go!”

Sarah Muench