dnt giffords bike race_00011126.jpg
Gabby Giffords rides in 11-mile bike race
01:18 - Source: KGUN

Story highlights

Cheers and applause greet Giffords as she crosses the finish line

Bike ride marks another milestone in her recovery from 2011 shooting injuries

Giffords' husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, joins her in El Tour de Tucson ride

"She wants to do everything she used to do before," Kelly says

CNN  — 

Former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords completed an 11-mile cycling event Saturday, marking another milestone in her recovery from a 2011 mass shooting.

She was greeted with cheers and applause at the finish line.

Alongside her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, Giffords crossed the finish line of El Tour de Tucson riding a recumbent bike, which has three wheels and puts the rider in a reclining position.

Organizers say some 9,000 people participate in the annual ride, which they call America’s largest perimeter cycling event for cyclists of all ages and abilities

Giffords was an avid cyclist and athlete until she was critically injured by a gunshot wound to her head. In January 2011, Jared Lee Loughner opened fire at a Giffords meet-and-greet outside a Tucson supermarket, killing six people and injuring 17 others. Loughner pleaded guilty in 2012 and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Giffords’ injuries forced her to resign from Congress.

Earlier this year, she threw out the first pitch at the congressional women’s softball game in Washington – a game she used to play in.

Kelly said his wife has been practicing for the Tucson ride and also uses a treadmill and rowing machine.

“It’s important to stay active, and she wants to do everything she used to do before,” Kelly told CNN affiliate KGUN.

Giffords gets most of her pedaling power from her left leg, Kelly said, which “makes it a little more difficult, but she’s been working really hard at it.”

Giffords and Kelly rode the 11-mile Fun Run around downtown Tucson on Saturday. As for next year, Kelly says, “it’s one step at a time. I think she said next year – and I’m not holding her to this – but next year she wanted to do the 40-mile.”

A life forever changed: Giffords’ comeback