Payson Riders Pedal In Tucson Race

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A trio of Payson riders were among more than 8,000 cyclists drawn to a Tucson-area charity ride that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Ken Shepherd, Angela Shepherd and Cynthia Pool successfully pedaled their way through the 23rd Annual El Tour De Tucson Nov. 23.

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Ken Shepherd and his daughter-in-law Angela Shepherd were among those participating in the 23rd Annual El Tour De Tucson held Nov. 23.

The largest charity donation earned by the three came from the Mazatzal Casino, Angela Shepherd's employer.

The casino awarded a check of $1,000 to the tour benefactor -- Tu Nidito Children and Family Services. Tu Nidito's mission is to provide support to children and their families as they deal with serious illnesses and death.

In addition to benefiting Tu Nidito, the tour also raised money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the American Parkinson Disease Association.

Although all proceeds have not been calculated, El Tour officials said they expect to raise more than $200,000 for Tu Nidito. It's unknown what has been raised for the other two charities.

The tour featured races of four lengths -- 109, 80, 66 and 35 miles.

The three Payson riders competed in the 66-mile event.

Cycling was nothing unusual for Ken Shepherd, who has long been a competitor on the Mountain Bike Association of Arizona racing circuit.

Pool, a Payson High School chemistry teacher, is a seasoned athlete, who said she competed in triathlons while living in Pennsylvania.

Pool won the women's division championships at the 2005 Payson Area Habitat Home Run and the 2004 Monsoon 5K.

Angela Shepherd, Ken Shepherd's daughter-in-law, is new to the sport of cycling.

Last summer, Angela -- a 24-year-old mother of two -- practiced during evening hours with a group of hardcore racers, including her father-in-law.

"It's a whole new thing, it's working different muscles," she said. "Biking is fun. I want to prepare so I don't hold the group up."

The main event of the Tucson tour was over a 109-mile course.

Charter Funding, a home mortgage lender, and Diamond Ventures, a Tucson real estate company, sponsored the race.

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