We called in the Convention and Visitors Bureau and ordered up perfect spring weather, and thankfully, they delivered. After a relatively wet and cold winter, event weekend brought with it amazing weather that did not disappoint. The flowers in the desert were starting to pop and riders were treated to a colorful desert backdrop amidst outstanding course conditions. Even with an increased field size for the time trial and the enduro the event sold out at the end of February. We had a SOLID pro field, featuring 30 women and 46 men in the Cactus Cup. New for 2023, we opened up the Mini Cup event to e-bikes, and brought back the Short Track on Friday (pros only).
Friday – Time Trial / Short Track
After much debate, we re-designed and brought back the Short Track for the pros in 2023 and it did not disappoint. Kenny Wehn and Sage designed an short, fast 1 mile course that offered up a good mix of single track, passing areas, pump track flare and spectator viewing that had us itching for more. On the men’s side Riley Amos took an early lead, threw down some tail whips and then took the win. It was a hard fought battle, but one we will not soon forget. On the women’s side there was an excellent battle across the entire field, but in the end Ruth Holcomb ended up taking the win and the extra $100 prem (is that how you spell that?). Going into day 2, the leaders only had a 1 second gap for both the men and the women.
For the age groupers – the e-bikers posted the fastest TT of 19:38, the next fastest time on an acoustic bike was Gabriel Payne (17 years old) posting a 20:35. Among the Jr Men 13-15 there were 4 national champions in the mix, which, arguably, outside of nationals, you would be hard pressed to find…anywhere! For the ladies, the top overall times were posted by Kristen Smith (40-49), Trish Thomas (40-49) and Sage Hummon (13-15) with less than 30 seconds separating them.
Saturday – XC
After a second place finish on Friday, Katerina Nash must have vowed to get some pay back and the veteran pro ended up taking the win for the ladies by just 0:01 over Alexis Skarda with Anna Yamuchi just 0:06 back! For the men, Riley came out of the gate with guns blazing and ultimately took the win by over 1 minute over Cobe Freeburn. On the 25 mile, Chris Vesley the e-biker again posted the fastest time with a 1:20:18, actually all 5 of the fastest times in the 25 were posted by e-bikers! The fastest acoustic bike time was posted by young Caleb Smith (16) with a time of 1:27:46. Many age group fields in both the 40 and 25 were separated by seconds and the racing action was stellar.
Not to be overshadowed by the big kids, the little kids were tested on the balance bike course and hosted by McDowell Mountain Cycles and their amazing staff. Later in the day we welcomed over 60 kids from Kindergarten through 8th grade completing laps among the desert flowers and tunes from our friends at Dusty Tuffet.
Sunday – Enduro
Riley ALMOST took all 3 days, however Zac Petruska snuck in and took back 10 seconds on the Enduro, which, given that it is not an overly technical course is pretty impressive. Not to be outdone, Geoff Kabush was right behind Riley, the seasoned vet still has some tricks up his sleeve and his new bike was not disappointing for the final stage! For the women, Ruth Holcomb would not be denied. She took the overall win for the enduro by 0:34 and moved up to 4th overall for the Cactus Cup.
Massive thanks to all the athletes, sponsors, spectators, volunteers and staff that help make this event possible. We sincerely appreciate you racing with us. We look forward to 2024, stay tuned for registration details!