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CURRENT NEWS

February 2, 2024:

Imagine stepping outside in the morning. In March. In bib shorts and a short-sleeve jersey. The air is crisp. The sun, warm enough that you don’t get goosebumps. You’re surrounded by winter vacation homes, cacti, creosote bushes, and sandy trails. And there isn’t any snow.

Welcome to Fountain Hills, Arizona (just outside of Phoenix)—home of The Cactus Cup, where the mountain bike season starts for those of us who can’t stand another weekend on the trainer, away from knobby tires and chasing bikes. It’s for the racers who might not be “race-ready,” but have the attitude of “fuck it, let’s find out what my legs are capable of.”

November 28, 2023:

 

In Arizona, early March is a perfectly reasonable time to hold a bike race even if the rest of the country is blanketed in snow. And if you’re making a trip out to the desert for a bike race, why not do two?

The organizers of the Specialized Cactus Cup and Belgian Waffle Ride would like you to do just that. This year, the two races are joining forces for the ‘Duel in the Desert,’ a desert gravel and XC mountain bike collaboration.

November 20, 2023:

 

 

 

THE DUEL IN THE DESERT: A UNION OF CYCLING LEGENDS – SPECIALIZED CACTUS CUP AND BELGIAN WAFFLE RIDE ARIZONA

Cave Creek and Fountain Hills, AZ – [November 20, 2023]In a soon to be historic collaboration, two iconic cycling races, the Specialized Cactus Cup and the Belgian Waffle Ride (BWR), are set to merge for a thrilling back-to-back cycling extravaganza, the “Duel in the Desert.” Taking place on consecutive Saturdays, March 2 and March 9, 2024, this combination event of mountain biking and gravel racing promises an unparalleled celebration of cycling prowess, camaraderie, and the breathtaking Arizona landscape in and around the magnificent McDowell Mountain Regional Park.

 Race Details:

      • Dates: March 2 (Belgian Wafer Ride) and March 9 (Cactus Cup 40-mile XC race)
      • Location: McDowell Mountain Regional Park, Arizona

The Duel Challenge: Queen and King of the Desert Awards

Cyclists daring to conquer both events stand a chance to earn the prestigious Queen and King of the Desert Awards. This unique challenge combines the Belgian Wafer Ride’s 72-mile unroad gravel racing with the technical excellence of the Cactus Cup’s 40-mile XC race.

 

The Belgian Wafer Ride: First Event of the Duel 2024

The Second Annual Belgian Waffle Ride Arizona is a unique desert and mountain gravel experience known at the Hell of the North Desert. The Arizona event is the kick-off to the largest gravel series in the world, the Belgian Waffle Ride Series, as well as the Tripel Crown of Gravel. The BWR AZ, which will take place in Cave Creek, Arizona, on the fringes of the Valley of the Sun, embodies the three ingredients that make the BWR so special. 1) A dream destination, 2) varied terrain to accommodate an extremely dynamic racecourse, and 3) a cycling community that is both vibrant and desirous of the unroad experience only the BWR can offer. There are three different events gravelleurs can compete in at the BWR. The shortest is the Wanna Ride at approximately 36-miles, the Wafer at 72-miles (for the Duel in the Desert), and the full Waffle at roughly 120-miles.

 

The Specialized Cactus Cup: Second Event of the Duel 2024

The Cactus Cup is Arizona’s Original Mountain Bike Stage race, its history dates back to 1991.  This is 3 days of racing to crack open the season featuring Time Trial (age groupers) / Short Track (Pros), XC and Enduro events.  For the Duel in the Desert, riders can choose the one-day option of the Cactus XC 40-mile or compete in the entire weekend’s line-up beginning Friday, March 8th through Sunday, March 10th. Family and spectators will find this a one-stop weekend of fun and entertainment that unfolds under the warm desert sun. With bike racing for kids of all ages, shorter distance events for the first timers, large industry expo including food trucks and a weekend long beer garden. It’s no ordinary bike race. Pack your sense of adventure and join us for an unforgettable escape! You can join for 1, 2 or 3 days!

 

McDowell Mountain Regional Park: A Cycling Paradise

Nestled in McDowell Mountain Regional Park and home to some of Arizona’s finest mountain biking trails, both events take advantage of this paradise. The Cactus Cup covers over 40-miles of pristine desert trails. From technical terrains to friendly paths, the park offers a diverse range of landscapes, including cross country, flow trails, and a competitive short track. With 76 individual camping sites, including tent or RV options, the park provides a picturesque and sought-after camping experience.

 

Family-Friendly Fun:

The Duel in the Desert marks the beginning of the cycling season with combined mountain and gravel bike racing set against the stunning backdrop of saguaros. Both events cater to the entire family, creating an unforgettable weekend for cycling enthusiasts.

SEPTEMBER 28, 2023:

Check out our new series of Sage unboxing this year’s AWARDS for top finishers!

Awards for top finishes in 2024!

JULY 31, 2023:

The Specialized Cactus Cup is everywhere! I found this irresistible photo at the top of Nightmare on Baldy trail on Bald Mountain in Breckenridge, CO. It sure looks like the iconic Cactus of the Cactus Cup to me!

Don’t miss being a part of the deep roots and tradition of our 7th edition of the Specialized Cactus Cup! We want to express gratitude to our supporters and #1 to all the athletes! Thanks for being awesome, adventure-seeking mountain bikers!

Shout out to our sponsors! We are privileged to continue the tradition with Specialized as the title sponsor. They have been a part of Cactus Cup from the very first event in the 90’s and continue supporting the cycling community on large and small scales around the globe. ESI Grips are makers of outstanding products made by a great family right in Arizona! Our local bike shops Landis Cyclery, McDowell Mountain Cycles and Bike Masters play key roles in several events and in the expo. Hammer Nutrition; did you know Brian Frank (Owner/Founder) was part of the OG event and graciously continues his support? Huss Brewing our LOCAL brewing company is supporting our official charity Central AZ Mountain Bike Patrol with a beer garden all weekend. Pedal Industries maker of our custom RaceDay Bags is a system you need in your racing arsenal. Finally, Chasse Building Company – provides exceptional construction services and opportunities for healthy living. The people behind these companies have become our friends, our ride buddies, and an inspiration to continue to deliver a world-class event. See you March 8 – 10, 2024!

Rgistration for the Stage Race opens August 1st, all other events open September 1st!

Happy Training,
Sage and Mike Melley

THE SPECIALIZED CACTUS CUP

March 8-10, 2024

March 7, 2023 – STELLAR FORECAST

The Convention and Visitors Bureau organized for some amazing weather this weekend.
Bring water, sunscreen and be nice! – <3 mom

March 6, 2023 – START LISTS / START TIMES
(XC and Kids updated March 7 @8:00am)

Many of you are curious as to who you are up against, and in an effort to satisfy your curiosity, here are the start lists (start times are also on these links).  Bear in mind, we are not updating this every second of every day, and there are tweaks when people decide they need to change distances or categories – so take it with a grain of salt and get ready to ride!  Thank you for racing with us!

Time Trial  – p/b Landis Cyclery
Short Track – (Pros only)
MTB Camp – p/b Wild Bunch Desert Guides
Fun Ride – p/b Fountain Hills Bikes
XC – p/b ESI Grips
Enduro

2023 EVENT: FINAL ATHLETE INFORMATION

EVENT HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Registration for main events is closed. Any changes that need to be made to your race please email gail@virtualroster.com
  • Onsite registration is available for Kids Racing and Fun Ride until Friday end of day
  • The Huss Brewing Beer Garden is open all weekend! CASH needed to purchase. $4 per beer. All proceeds go to our official charity: Central Arizona Mountain Bike Patrol. Beer Garden F: 3-6p, S: 12-5p, S: 11a-2p
  • LIVE MUSIC with Dusty Tuffet: Saturday 12:20p – 2:20p
  • Food Trucks onsite Fri: 12p-5p, Sat: 10a-4p, Sun: 9 -1
  • Kona Ice – Saturday 10a – 4p
  • Single Speed Coffee Roasters Sat/Sun mornings
  • FRI 12 NOON: Shake out ride with mountain bike Legend Ned Overend – meet at the Specialized booth. Free and open to the public!
  • FRI 4PM: Pro Short Track event. Best spectator event of the weekend!
  • SAT 3PM: The Landis Cyclery Bunny Hop Competition Free and open to the public. Don’t miss this spectacle!
  • FRI – SUN: Yard Games at the Chasse Building/Shot Out Team booth. There will be a dunk tank too so get your team coaches over there!

CAMPING & PARKING:

  • Camping is in the Four Peaks Parking Lot. Move in begins FRIDAY at 8am. The cost is $22 per night and is paid at Point of Entry, directly to the park. There are no hook ups, dry camping only
  • Camping will be directed to the perimeter of the parking lot with daily car parking in the middle
  • Daily parking is $7 per car / per day. Paid to Point of Entry. Parking is in the Four Peaks Parking Lot and is a short ride or walk over to the main venue
  • **Please respect the 9PM noise ordinance in the Four Peaks camping area. Please respect the desert environment. No parking in the desert or hiking/biking off trail. Violators will be removed from the race

PACKET PICK UP:

  • Pick up your race # and goodies anytime at the Packet Pick Up tent onsite at McDowell Mountain Regional Park – Competitive Track
  • Friday 9:30am-4:00pm
  • Saturday 7:00am-10:00a
  • Sunday 7:00am-10:00am

TIME TRIAL NOTES p/b Landis Cyclery:

  • Pre-Riding Closes at 10am. First race starts at 10:30a
  • START TIMES are published
  • Start Line @ Cactus Cup Arch / Finish Line @ Pump Track

XC NOTES p/b ESI Grips:

  • Complete START LIST
  • 40 Mile
    • 2 Aid Stations:
      • Alpha @ Mile 17
      • Zen @ Mile 29.5
    • Cut Offs
      • 11:45am – Aid Station Alpha (mile 17)
        • Riders who do not make it by 11:45am will be directed to ride the paved road back to the venue
      • 1:15pm – Aid Station Zen (mile 29.5) – Coachwhip turn
        • Riders who do not make it by 1:15pm will not be allowed to enter Coachwhip and will be directed onto the 25 mile course
  • 25 Mile
    • Aid Station Zen @ Mile 14
  • Don’t forget to Thank a Volunteer!

ENDURO NOTES:

  • Complete START LIST
  • Once you check in and receive your race plate you do not need to check in again at the venue before your start. Proceed to Segment 1 for your start assigned start time
  • All starts are remote at Segment #1 – Top of Bluff Trail
  • It takes ~45 min to ride from the main venue to Segment 1 start line. Plan ahead

For more details please view: EVENT SCHEDULE and the INTERACTIVE SITE MAP

January 11, 2023 – Happy New Year – let’s ride!

We’ve got two group rides coming up on January 22nd and February 26th. All of the details are on our Community page. Mark your calendars and join us! Win swag, eat BBQ and get ready for the 2023 Specialized Cactus Cup!

September 1, 2022 – Welcome Back Specialized!

Specialized Bicycles was the title sponsor of our iconic event throughout the 1990s and a supporter since its rebirth in 2017. We are pleased to announce that they have stepped up support as title sponsor for three more years.

The Cactus Cup was integral to the development of North American mountain bike racing. Legendary athletes, including our own Ned Overend, shaped the sport we love on these desert trails. Specialized is proud to support the next generation of mountain bikers through our commitment as title sponsor,” says Fiona Swartz, Specialized senior sports marketing manager.

We’re hard at work ensuring the 2023 Specialized Cactus Cup has something for everyone. Our family-owned mountain bike festival features world-class competition in a fun, inclusive environment with activities for mountain bikers of all ages and ability levels—including children.

The top professional and amateur mountain bike racers will go head-to-head in pursuit of a $7,000 cash purse, March 10-12, 2023. There will also be sport, beginner, age group, and e-bike categories that cater to riders of all fitness levels. In addition to racing, the 2023 Cactus Cup will feature non-competitive rides and family-friendly events, including a kids’ mountain bike camp that will allow parents to race while their kids develop new skills and make new friends. We look forward to seeing you in March!

July 21, 2022 – Registration Opens September 1st!

Stay tuned for 2023 Registration Link available starting September 1st at 6AM AZ Time. In the coming weeks we will have some exciting announcements that include Sponsorship News, Prize Money updates and addition of NEW events. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter or follow us on FaceBook to stay in the know.

March 14, 2022 – THANK YOU!

After a fantastic weekend of amazing weather and outstanding racing – we want to take a quick second to say THANK YOU!   Thank you to our sponsors, our staff, our volunteers and most importantly YOU for racing with us.  It’s not easy to put on a 3 day stage race with a lot of moving components, and our small but mighty team worked tirelessly fueled impart by the positive energy of you the athletes.  Thank you.

Now, if you pardon me for a minute, I may go take a nap!

Results are HERE
Photos from our friends at Let’s Wander Photography

November 28, 2023:

 

In Arizona, early March is a perfectly reasonable time to hold a bike race even if the rest of the country is blanketed in snow. And if you’re making a trip out to the desert for a bike race, why not do two?

The organizers of the Specialized Cactus Cup and Belgian Waffle Ride would like you to do just that. This year, the two races are joining forces for the ‘Duel in the Desert,’ a desert gravel and XC mountain bike collaboration.

November 20, 2023:

 

 

 

THE DUEL IN THE DESERT: A UNION OF CYCLING LEGENDS – SPECIALIZED CACTUS CUP AND BELGIAN WAFFLE RIDE ARIZONA

Cave Creek and Fountain Hills, AZ – [November 20, 2023]In a soon to be historic collaboration, two iconic cycling races, the Specialized Cactus Cup and the Belgian Waffle Ride (BWR), are set to merge for a thrilling back-to-back cycling extravaganza, the “Duel in the Desert.” Taking place on consecutive Saturdays, March 2 and March 9, 2024, this combination event of mountain biking and gravel racing promises an unparalleled celebration of cycling prowess, camaraderie, and the breathtaking Arizona landscape in and around the magnificent McDowell Mountain Regional Park.

 Race Details:

      • Dates: March 2 (Belgian Wafer Ride) and March 9 (Cactus Cup 40-mile XC race)
      • Location: McDowell Mountain Regional Park, Arizona

The Duel Challenge: Queen and King of the Desert Awards

Cyclists daring to conquer both events stand a chance to earn the prestigious Queen and King of the Desert Awards. This unique challenge combines the Belgian Wafer Ride’s 72-mile unroad gravel racing with the technical excellence of the Cactus Cup’s 40-mile XC race.

 

The Belgian Wafer Ride: First Event of the Duel 2024

The Second Annual Belgian Waffle Ride Arizona is a unique desert and mountain gravel experience known at the Hell of the North Desert. The Arizona event is the kick-off to the largest gravel series in the world, the Belgian Waffle Ride Series, as well as the Tripel Crown of Gravel. The BWR AZ, which will take place in Cave Creek, Arizona, on the fringes of the Valley of the Sun, embodies the three ingredients that make the BWR so special. 1) A dream destination, 2) varied terrain to accommodate an extremely dynamic racecourse, and 3) a cycling community that is both vibrant and desirous of the unroad experience only the BWR can offer. There are three different events gravelleurs can compete in at the BWR. The shortest is the Wanna Ride at approximately 36-miles, the Wafer at 72-miles (for the Duel in the Desert), and the full Waffle at roughly 120-miles.

 

The Specialized Cactus Cup: Second Event of the Duel 2024

The Cactus Cup is Arizona’s Original Mountain Bike Stage race, its history dates back to 1991.  This is 3 days of racing to crack open the season featuring Time Trial (age groupers) / Short Track (Pros), XC and Enduro events.  For the Duel in the Desert, riders can choose the one-day option of the Cactus XC 40-mile or compete in the entire weekend’s line-up beginning Friday, March 8th through Sunday, March 10th. Family and spectators will find this a one-stop weekend of fun and entertainment that unfolds under the warm desert sun. With bike racing for kids of all ages, shorter distance events for the first timers, large industry expo including food trucks and a weekend long beer garden. It’s no ordinary bike race. Pack your sense of adventure and join us for an unforgettable escape! You can join for 1, 2 or 3 days!

 

McDowell Mountain Regional Park: A Cycling Paradise

Nestled in McDowell Mountain Regional Park and home to some of Arizona’s finest mountain biking trails, both events take advantage of this paradise. The Cactus Cup covers over 40-miles of pristine desert trails. From technical terrains to friendly paths, the park offers a diverse range of landscapes, including cross country, flow trails, and a competitive short track. With 76 individual camping sites, including tent or RV options, the park provides a picturesque and sought-after camping experience.

 

Family-Friendly Fun:

The Duel in the Desert marks the beginning of the cycling season with combined mountain and gravel bike racing set against the stunning backdrop of saguaros. Both events cater to the entire family, creating an unforgettable weekend for cycling enthusiasts.

SEPTEMBER 28, 2023:

Check out our new series of Sage unboxing this year’s AWARDS for top finishers!

Awards for top finishes in 2024!

JULY 31, 2023:

The Specialized Cactus Cup is everywhere! I found this irresistible photo at the top of Nightmare on Baldy trail on Bald Mountain in Breckenridge, CO. It sure looks like the iconic Cactus of the Cactus Cup to me!

Don’t miss being a part of the deep roots and tradition of our 7th edition of the Specialized Cactus Cup! We want to express gratitude to our supporters and #1 to all the athletes! Thanks for being awesome, adventure-seeking mountain bikers!

Shout out to our sponsors! We are privileged to continue the tradition with Specialized as the title sponsor. They have been a part of Cactus Cup from the very first event in the 90’s and continue supporting the cycling community on large and small scales around the globe. ESI Grips are makers of outstanding products made by a great family right in Arizona! Our local bike shops Landis Cyclery, McDowell Mountain Cycles and Bike Masters play key roles in several events and in the expo. Hammer Nutrition; did you know Brian Frank (Owner/Founder) was part of the OG event and graciously continues his support? Huss Brewing our LOCAL brewing company is supporting our official charity Central AZ Mountain Bike Patrol with a beer garden all weekend. Pedal Industries maker of our custom RaceDay Bags is a system you need in your racing arsenal. Finally, Chasse Building Company – provides exceptional construction services and opportunities for healthy living. The people behind these companies have become our friends, our ride buddies, and an inspiration to continue to deliver a world-class event. See you March 8 – 10, 2024!

Rgistration for the Stage Race opens August 1st, all other events open September 1st!

Happy Training,
Sage and Mike Melley

THE SPECIALIZED CACTUS CUP

March 8-10, 2024

March 7, 2023 – STELLAR FORECAST

The Convention and Visitors Bureau organized for some amazing weather this weekend.
Bring water, sunscreen and be nice! – <3 mom

March 6, 2023 – START LISTS / START TIMES
(XC and Kids updated March 7 @8:00am)

Many of you are curious as to who you are up against, and in an effort to satisfy your curiosity, here are the start lists (start times are also on these links).  Bear in mind, we are not updating this every second of every day, and there are tweaks when people decide they need to change distances or categories – so take it with a grain of salt and get ready to ride!  Thank you for racing with us!

Time Trial  – p/b Landis Cyclery
Short Track – (Pros only)
MTB Camp – p/b Wild Bunch Desert Guides
Fun Ride – p/b Fountain Hills Bikes
XC – p/b ESI Grips
Enduro

2023 EVENT: FINAL ATHLETE INFORMATION

EVENT HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Registration for main events is closed. Any changes that need to be made to your race please email gail@virtualroster.com
  • Onsite registration is available for Kids Racing and Fun Ride until Friday end of day
  • The Huss Brewing Beer Garden is open all weekend! CASH needed to purchase. $4 per beer. All proceeds go to our official charity: Central Arizona Mountain Bike Patrol. Beer Garden F: 3-6p, S: 12-5p, S: 11a-2p
  • LIVE MUSIC with Dusty Tuffet: Saturday 12:20p – 2:20p
  • Food Trucks onsite Fri: 12p-5p, Sat: 10a-4p, Sun: 9 -1
  • Kona Ice – Saturday 10a – 4p
  • Single Speed Coffee Roasters Sat/Sun mornings
  • FRI 12 NOON: Shake out ride with mountain bike Legend Ned Overend – meet at the Specialized booth. Free and open to the public!
  • FRI 4PM: Pro Short Track event. Best spectator event of the weekend!
  • SAT 3PM: The Landis Cyclery Bunny Hop Competition Free and open to the public. Don’t miss this spectacle!
  • FRI – SUN: Yard Games at the Chasse Building/Shot Out Team booth. There will be a dunk tank too so get your team coaches over there!

CAMPING & PARKING:

  • Camping is in the Four Peaks Parking Lot. Move in begins FRIDAY at 8am. The cost is $22 per night and is paid at Point of Entry, directly to the park. There are no hook ups, dry camping only
  • Camping will be directed to the perimeter of the parking lot with daily car parking in the middle
  • Daily parking is $7 per car / per day. Paid to Point of Entry. Parking is in the Four Peaks Parking Lot and is a short ride or walk over to the main venue
  • **Please respect the 9PM noise ordinance in the Four Peaks camping area. Please respect the desert environment. No parking in the desert or hiking/biking off trail. Violators will be removed from the race

PACKET PICK UP:

  • Pick up your race # and goodies anytime at the Packet Pick Up tent onsite at McDowell Mountain Regional Park – Competitive Track
  • Friday 9:30am-4:00pm
  • Saturday 7:00am-10:00a
  • Sunday 7:00am-10:00am

TIME TRIAL NOTES p/b Landis Cyclery:

  • Pre-Riding Closes at 10am. First race starts at 10:30a
  • START TIMES are published
  • Start Line @ Cactus Cup Arch / Finish Line @ Pump Track

XC NOTES p/b ESI Grips:

  • Complete START LIST
  • 40 Mile
    • 2 Aid Stations:
      • Alpha @ Mile 17
      • Zen @ Mile 29.5
    • Cut Offs
      • 11:45am – Aid Station Alpha (mile 17)
        • Riders who do not make it by 11:45am will be directed to ride the paved road back to the venue
      • 1:15pm – Aid Station Zen (mile 29.5) – Coachwhip turn
        • Riders who do not make it by 1:15pm will not be allowed to enter Coachwhip and will be directed onto the 25 mile course
  • 25 Mile
    • Aid Station Zen @ Mile 14
  • Don’t forget to Thank a Volunteer!

ENDURO NOTES:

  • Complete START LIST
  • Once you check in and receive your race plate you do not need to check in again at the venue before your start. Proceed to Segment 1 for your start assigned start time
  • All starts are remote at Segment #1 – Top of Bluff Trail
  • It takes ~45 min to ride from the main venue to Segment 1 start line. Plan ahead

For more details please view: EVENT SCHEDULE and the INTERACTIVE SITE MAP

January 11, 2023 – Happy New Year – let’s ride!

We’ve got two group rides coming up on January 22nd and February 26th. All of the details are on our Community page. Mark your calendars and join us! Win swag, eat BBQ and get ready for the 2023 Specialized Cactus Cup!

September 1, 2022 – Welcome Back Specialized!

Specialized Bicycles was the title sponsor of our iconic event throughout the 1990s and a supporter since its rebirth in 2017. We are pleased to announce that they have stepped up support as title sponsor for three more years.

The Cactus Cup was integral to the development of North American mountain bike racing. Legendary athletes, including our own Ned Overend, shaped the sport we love on these desert trails. Specialized is proud to support the next generation of mountain bikers through our commitment as title sponsor,” says Fiona Swartz, Specialized senior sports marketing manager.

We’re hard at work ensuring the 2023 Specialized Cactus Cup has something for everyone. Our family-owned mountain bike festival features world-class competition in a fun, inclusive environment with activities for mountain bikers of all ages and ability levels—including children.

The top professional and amateur mountain bike racers will go head-to-head in pursuit of a $7,000 cash purse, March 10-12, 2023. There will also be sport, beginner, age group, and e-bike categories that cater to riders of all fitness levels. In addition to racing, the 2023 Cactus Cup will feature non-competitive rides and family-friendly events, including a kids’ mountain bike camp that will allow parents to race while their kids develop new skills and make new friends. We look forward to seeing you in March!

July 21, 2022 – Registration Opens September 1st!

Stay tuned for 2023 Registration Link available starting September 1st at 6AM AZ Time. In the coming weeks we will have some exciting announcements that include Sponsorship News, Prize Money updates and addition of NEW events. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter or follow us on FaceBook to stay in the know.

March 14, 2022 – THANK YOU!

After a fantastic weekend of amazing weather and outstanding racing – we want to take a quick second to say THANK YOU!   Thank you to our sponsors, our staff, our volunteers and most importantly YOU for racing with us.  It’s not easy to put on a 3 day stage race with a lot of moving components, and our small but mighty team worked tirelessly fueled impart by the positive energy of you the athletes.  Thank you.

Now, if you pardon me for a minute, I may go take a nap!

Results are HERE
Photos from our friends at Let’s Wander Photography

November 28, 2023:

 

In Arizona, early March is a perfectly reasonable time to hold a bike race even if the rest of the country is blanketed in snow. And if you’re making a trip out to the desert for a bike race, why not do two?

The organizers of the Specialized Cactus Cup and Belgian Waffle Ride would like you to do just that. This year, the two races are joining forces for the ‘Duel in the Desert,’ a desert gravel and XC mountain bike collaboration.

November 20, 2023:

 

 

 

THE DUEL IN THE DESERT: A UNION OF CYCLING LEGENDS – SPECIALIZED CACTUS CUP AND BELGIAN WAFFLE RIDE ARIZONA

Cave Creek and Fountain Hills, AZ – [November 20, 2023]In a soon to be historic collaboration, two iconic cycling races, the Specialized Cactus Cup and the Belgian Waffle Ride (BWR), are set to merge for a thrilling back-to-back cycling extravaganza, the “Duel in the Desert.” Taking place on consecutive Saturdays, March 2 and March 9, 2024, this combination event of mountain biking and gravel racing promises an unparalleled celebration of cycling prowess, camaraderie, and the breathtaking Arizona landscape in and around the magnificent McDowell Mountain Regional Park.

 Race Details:

      • Dates: March 2 (Belgian Wafer Ride) and March 9 (Cactus Cup 40-mile XC race)
      • Location: McDowell Mountain Regional Park, Arizona

The Duel Challenge: Queen and King of the Desert Awards

Cyclists daring to conquer both events stand a chance to earn the prestigious Queen and King of the Desert Awards. This unique challenge combines the Belgian Wafer Ride’s 72-mile unroad gravel racing with the technical excellence of the Cactus Cup’s 40-mile XC race.

 

The Belgian Wafer Ride: First Event of the Duel 2024

The Second Annual Belgian Waffle Ride Arizona is a unique desert and mountain gravel experience known at the Hell of the North Desert. The Arizona event is the kick-off to the largest gravel series in the world, the Belgian Waffle Ride Series, as well as the Tripel Crown of Gravel. The BWR AZ, which will take place in Cave Creek, Arizona, on the fringes of the Valley of the Sun, embodies the three ingredients that make the BWR so special. 1) A dream destination, 2) varied terrain to accommodate an extremely dynamic racecourse, and 3) a cycling community that is both vibrant and desirous of the unroad experience only the BWR can offer. There are three different events gravelleurs can compete in at the BWR. The shortest is the Wanna Ride at approximately 36-miles, the Wafer at 72-miles (for the Duel in the Desert), and the full Waffle at roughly 120-miles.

 

The Specialized Cactus Cup: Second Event of the Duel 2024

The Cactus Cup is Arizona’s Original Mountain Bike Stage race, its history dates back to 1991.  This is 3 days of racing to crack open the season featuring Time Trial (age groupers) / Short Track (Pros), XC and Enduro events.  For the Duel in the Desert, riders can choose the one-day option of the Cactus XC 40-mile or compete in the entire weekend’s line-up beginning Friday, March 8th through Sunday, March 10th. Family and spectators will find this a one-stop weekend of fun and entertainment that unfolds under the warm desert sun. With bike racing for kids of all ages, shorter distance events for the first timers, large industry expo including food trucks and a weekend long beer garden. It’s no ordinary bike race. Pack your sense of adventure and join us for an unforgettable escape! You can join for 1, 2 or 3 days!

 

McDowell Mountain Regional Park: A Cycling Paradise

Nestled in McDowell Mountain Regional Park and home to some of Arizona’s finest mountain biking trails, both events take advantage of this paradise. The Cactus Cup covers over 40-miles of pristine desert trails. From technical terrains to friendly paths, the park offers a diverse range of landscapes, including cross country, flow trails, and a competitive short track. With 76 individual camping sites, including tent or RV options, the park provides a picturesque and sought-after camping experience.

 

Family-Friendly Fun:

The Duel in the Desert marks the beginning of the cycling season with combined mountain and gravel bike racing set against the stunning backdrop of saguaros. Both events cater to the entire family, creating an unforgettable weekend for cycling enthusiasts.

SEPTEMBER 28, 2023:

Check out our new series of Sage unboxing this year’s AWARDS for top finishers!

Awards for top finishes in 2024!

JULY 31, 2023:

The Specialized Cactus Cup is everywhere! I found this irresistible photo at the top of Nightmare on Baldy trail on Bald Mountain in Breckenridge, CO. It sure looks like the iconic Cactus of the Cactus Cup to me!

Don’t miss being a part of the deep roots and tradition of our 7th edition of the Specialized Cactus Cup! We want to express gratitude to our supporters and #1 to all the athletes! Thanks for being awesome, adventure-seeking mountain bikers!

Shout out to our sponsors! We are privileged to continue the tradition with Specialized as the title sponsor. They have been a part of Cactus Cup from the very first event in the 90’s and continue supporting the cycling community on large and small scales around the globe. ESI Grips are makers of outstanding products made by a great family right in Arizona! Our local bike shops Landis Cyclery, McDowell Mountain Cycles and Bike Masters play key roles in several events and in the expo. Hammer Nutrition; did you know Brian Frank (Owner/Founder) was part of the OG event and graciously continues his support? Huss Brewing our LOCAL brewing company is supporting our official charity Central AZ Mountain Bike Patrol with a beer garden all weekend. Pedal Industries maker of our custom RaceDay Bags is a system you need in your racing arsenal. Finally, Chasse Building Company – provides exceptional construction services and opportunities for healthy living. The people behind these companies have become our friends, our ride buddies, and an inspiration to continue to deliver a world-class event. See you March 8 – 10, 2024!

Rgistration for the Stage Race opens August 1st, all other events open September 1st!

Happy Training,
Sage and Mike Melley

THE SPECIALIZED CACTUS CUP

March 8-10, 2024

March 7, 2023 – STELLAR FORECAST

The Convention and Visitors Bureau organized for some amazing weather this weekend.
Bring water, sunscreen and be nice! – <3 mom

March 6, 2023 – START LISTS / START TIMES
(XC and Kids updated March 7 @8:00am)

Many of you are curious as to who you are up against, and in an effort to satisfy your curiosity, here are the start lists (start times are also on these links).  Bear in mind, we are not updating this every second of every day, and there are tweaks when people decide they need to change distances or categories – so take it with a grain of salt and get ready to ride!  Thank you for racing with us!

Time Trial  – p/b Landis Cyclery
Short Track – (Pros only)
MTB Camp – p/b Wild Bunch Desert Guides
Fun Ride – p/b Fountain Hills Bikes
XC – p/b ESI Grips
Enduro

2023 EVENT: FINAL ATHLETE INFORMATION

EVENT HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Registration for main events is closed. Any changes that need to be made to your race please email gail@virtualroster.com
  • Onsite registration is available for Kids Racing and Fun Ride until Friday end of day
  • The Huss Brewing Beer Garden is open all weekend! CASH needed to purchase. $4 per beer. All proceeds go to our official charity: Central Arizona Mountain Bike Patrol. Beer Garden F: 3-6p, S: 12-5p, S: 11a-2p
  • LIVE MUSIC with Dusty Tuffet: Saturday 12:20p – 2:20p
  • Food Trucks onsite Fri: 12p-5p, Sat: 10a-4p, Sun: 9 -1
  • Kona Ice – Saturday 10a – 4p
  • Single Speed Coffee Roasters Sat/Sun mornings
  • FRI 12 NOON: Shake out ride with mountain bike Legend Ned Overend – meet at the Specialized booth. Free and open to the public!
  • FRI 4PM: Pro Short Track event. Best spectator event of the weekend!
  • SAT 3PM: The Landis Cyclery Bunny Hop Competition Free and open to the public. Don’t miss this spectacle!
  • FRI – SUN: Yard Games at the Chasse Building/Shot Out Team booth. There will be a dunk tank too so get your team coaches over there!

CAMPING & PARKING:

  • Camping is in the Four Peaks Parking Lot. Move in begins FRIDAY at 8am. The cost is $22 per night and is paid at Point of Entry, directly to the park. There are no hook ups, dry camping only
  • Camping will be directed to the perimeter of the parking lot with daily car parking in the middle
  • Daily parking is $7 per car / per day. Paid to Point of Entry. Parking is in the Four Peaks Parking Lot and is a short ride or walk over to the main venue
  • **Please respect the 9PM noise ordinance in the Four Peaks camping area. Please respect the desert environment. No parking in the desert or hiking/biking off trail. Violators will be removed from the race

PACKET PICK UP:

  • Pick up your race # and goodies anytime at the Packet Pick Up tent onsite at McDowell Mountain Regional Park – Competitive Track
  • Friday 9:30am-4:00pm
  • Saturday 7:00am-10:00a
  • Sunday 7:00am-10:00am

TIME TRIAL NOTES p/b Landis Cyclery:

  • Pre-Riding Closes at 10am. First race starts at 10:30a
  • START TIMES are published
  • Start Line @ Cactus Cup Arch / Finish Line @ Pump Track

XC NOTES p/b ESI Grips:

  • Complete START LIST
  • 40 Mile
    • 2 Aid Stations:
      • Alpha @ Mile 17
      • Zen @ Mile 29.5
    • Cut Offs
      • 11:45am – Aid Station Alpha (mile 17)
        • Riders who do not make it by 11:45am will be directed to ride the paved road back to the venue
      • 1:15pm – Aid Station Zen (mile 29.5) – Coachwhip turn
        • Riders who do not make it by 1:15pm will not be allowed to enter Coachwhip and will be directed onto the 25 mile course
  • 25 Mile
    • Aid Station Zen @ Mile 14
  • Don’t forget to Thank a Volunteer!

ENDURO NOTES:

  • Complete START LIST
  • Once you check in and receive your race plate you do not need to check in again at the venue before your start. Proceed to Segment 1 for your start assigned start time
  • All starts are remote at Segment #1 – Top of Bluff Trail
  • It takes ~45 min to ride from the main venue to Segment 1 start line. Plan ahead

For more details please view: EVENT SCHEDULE and the INTERACTIVE SITE MAP

January 11, 2023 – Happy New Year – let’s ride!

We’ve got two group rides coming up on January 22nd and February 26th. All of the details are on our Community page. Mark your calendars and join us! Win swag, eat BBQ and get ready for the 2023 Specialized Cactus Cup!

September 1, 2022 – Welcome Back Specialized!

Specialized Bicycles was the title sponsor of our iconic event throughout the 1990s and a supporter since its rebirth in 2017. We are pleased to announce that they have stepped up support as title sponsor for three more years.

The Cactus Cup was integral to the development of North American mountain bike racing. Legendary athletes, including our own Ned Overend, shaped the sport we love on these desert trails. Specialized is proud to support the next generation of mountain bikers through our commitment as title sponsor,” says Fiona Swartz, Specialized senior sports marketing manager.

We’re hard at work ensuring the 2023 Specialized Cactus Cup has something for everyone. Our family-owned mountain bike festival features world-class competition in a fun, inclusive environment with activities for mountain bikers of all ages and ability levels—including children.

The top professional and amateur mountain bike racers will go head-to-head in pursuit of a $7,000 cash purse, March 10-12, 2023. There will also be sport, beginner, age group, and e-bike categories that cater to riders of all fitness levels. In addition to racing, the 2023 Cactus Cup will feature non-competitive rides and family-friendly events, including a kids’ mountain bike camp that will allow parents to race while their kids develop new skills and make new friends. We look forward to seeing you in March!

July 21, 2022 – Registration Opens September 1st!

Stay tuned for 2023 Registration Link available starting September 1st at 6AM AZ Time. In the coming weeks we will have some exciting announcements that include Sponsorship News, Prize Money updates and addition of NEW events. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter or follow us on FaceBook to stay in the know.

March 14, 2022 – THANK YOU!

After a fantastic weekend of amazing weather and outstanding racing – we want to take a quick second to say THANK YOU!   Thank you to our sponsors, our staff, our volunteers and most importantly YOU for racing with us.  It’s not easy to put on a 3 day stage race with a lot of moving components, and our small but mighty team worked tirelessly fueled impart by the positive energy of you the athletes.  Thank you.

Now, if you pardon me for a minute, I may go take a nap!

Results are HERE
Photos from our friends at Let’s Wander Photography