Historical Cactus Cup Returns to McDowell Mountain Regional Park March 8-10!

Historical Cactus Cup Returns to McDowell Mountain Regional Park March 8-10!

The Specialized Cactus Cup Mountain Bike Stage Race will take place March 8-10, 2019. Over 1,000 bikers from across Arizona and the Southwest will gather at McDowell Mountain Regional Park in Fountain Hills, Arizona to celebrate this iconic spring event. The 2019 Cactus Cup is sponsored by Specialized Bicycles (Specialized). Taking place over three days in March, the Cactus Cup includes three races for professionals, amateurs, and juniors. This is 3 days of racing to crack open the season featuring a Short Track, XC and Enduro event. To chase the Cactus Cup and capture the overall title, all 3 days of the stage race must be completed.

Founded in 1991, the Specialized Cactus Cup is rooted in Arizona’s mountain biking history and is credited not only for bringing awareness to the sport, but for also contributing to trail development and the advent of mountain bike racing in the state until the last race in 1999.  Revived in 2017 by Hub Events, today’s Specialized Cactus Cup is continuing the tradition of bringing professional and amateur mountain bikers and their families together for a weekend of competition and fun, while encouraging a new generation of enthusiasts through the addition of kids’ races and activities.

According to Sage Melley Race Director, “The Specialized Cactus Cup provides something for the whole family; challenging race courses for the beginner to seasoned athlete, kids’ racing for all ages, food trucks, live entertainment and a Huss Brewing Beer Garden!”

Before the last race in 1999, the Cactus Cup had become the sport’s noted season opener, gaining international attention and growing to attract thousands of riders annually. Over the years, the race has drawn some of the biggest names in mountain biking, including Ned Overend, John Tomac, Dave Wiens, Travis Brown, Tinker Juarez, Juli Furtado, Alison Sydor, Susan DiMattei, and Ruthie Matthes, as well as renowned Arizona locals like Scott Paulsel, Doug Roether, Andy Gelle, Jon Milliken and Dan Basinski.

Specialized will sponsor the race for the third consecutive year. During the original series from 1992-1998 Specialized was the original title sponsor of the Cactus Cup and resumed that role when the event was reborn in 2017.

“Specialized is excited to continue its support of the original preseason Mountain Bike Race, the Cactus Cup. Specialized will be supporting the 2019 Cactus Cup with an Elite Team of Racers, neutral mechanical support, a hospitality booth for everyone to hang out, swag, demo bikes to tryout, an Epic Pro for raffle, 50 helmets for the first Juniors that register and a few surprises including the first ever cross-country ride along with six time NORBA National Mountain Biking Champion Ned Overend,” said Scott Paulsel, Arizona Market Developer at Specialized Bicycles.

A prize purse of $5,000 will be distributed among the top five elite male and female finishers of the Cactus Cup, and the top elite male and female finishers of the short track. Unlike other races, competitors do not need to be qualified professionals to register for the elite race. Racers must compete all three days of the event to be eligible for the overall title.

Saturday, March 9th is the Kids race including a Balance Bike Race for kids ages 1-5 and a Pedal Bike Race for kids ages 4-12.

Registration for the Specialized Cactus Cup is open. Competitors may register at https://thecactuscup.com. For Adults/Elites, the Cactus Cup is $109; the Mini Cup is $95. For Juniors (9-18), both the Cactus Cup and the Mini Cup is $65. The kids’ race is $10. Promo code for additional children is available.  For more information visit https://thecactuscup.com

The Cactus Cup supports a number of local non-profit organizations including: Gravity Riders of Arizona, Mountain Bike Association (MBAA) and the Central Arizona Mountain Bike Patrol. The support includes financial, co-promotions and volunteering throughout the year. Projects include trail maintenance, adding features to terrain parks and trail user (bikes, hikers and horses) sustainability. All Huss Beer Garden proceeds will go directly to Central Arizona Mountain Bike Patrol.

Check out some of this year’s inspiring Cactus Cup participants:

Meet Lori Kanouse of Scottsdale

Lori Kanouse of Scottsdale, a busy mother of two, is training to get ready for her first Cactus Cup with the goal of enjoying a great family event.


Fitness has always been important to Lori and mountain biking is a perfect way to help her stay healthy while raising her children and taking care of her family. It started out as a hobby with her husband and has turned into a fun activity for the whole family to participate in together. Lori is thrilled to do the Cactus Cup for the first time this year alongside her family.


Her daughter Hannah is 5 years old and her son Connor is 3 years old. This will be the children’s second year participating in the Cactus Cup. One highlight of getting ready for the Cactus Cup is biking on Sundays to their favorite local breakfast spots.


Biking is a great way for Lori to teach her kids the importance of practicing and working hard to reach goals. The Kanouse family are all excited for this year’s race and Lori has already set a lofty goal for herself “to not stop biking at all” which means no resting during the 25-mile race. Lori is a beginner and new to cycling; to prepare for the race Lori is cycling at the gym twice a week and running 3-5 miles once a week. Lori is a role model for her kids and is a great example of how to be a healthy and active mother.


Meet Chase Kulseth of West Valley

Chase Kulseth is an inspiring 11 year old mountain biker with Asperger’s. His high level of focus accelerates him to achieve greatness. His love for biking started when he was 7 years old and by age of 8, he was the youngest person racing in the Whiskey 15 Fun Ride. One of his most impressive feats was his 105-mile solo ride. He races on his own and he has learned how to be independent when it comes to his favorite hobby!

Chase’s father pushes him to be able to do complete bike maintenance without the help of others. He practices changing his bike tires on old rims at home so if he needs to change his tires during the middle of a race, he won’t be penalized by asking for outside help. He also knows how to patch his tires and fix his bicycle chains so if they break in the middle of a ride, he can continue to ride his bike instead of walking it back. This year will be Chase’s first year doing the Cactus Cup Mini Cup for the smaller race of 25 miles. He loves long distance rides and is excited about the Cactus Cup. His strong determination has led Chase to begin training with a coach to help him continue to improve his mountain biking skills.


Meet Dan Ryan of Ahwatukee

Dan has been a mountain biker his whole life! He raced for 10 years on a competitive mountain biking team. Dan is one of the original founders of the Central Arizona Mountain Bike Patrol and continues to be an active volunteer. The Central Arizona Mountain Bike Patrol is essential in keeping mountain bikers safe. There are 35 volunteers who give medical support on the trail including changing tires, giving directions and more. Some of the volunteers include doctors and EMT’s. After the team volunteers on the trails, they will serve beer to all participants at the Huss Brewing Beer Garden where 100 percent of the proceeds will go to charity.


Meet Scott Paulsel of Phoenix

Baseball isn’t the only sport that has spring training. Mountain bike professional and original founder of the Cactus Cup, Scott Paulsel reminisces about how the original purpose of the Cactus Cup was to be a spring training bike race for mountain bike professionals interested in getting warmed up for mountain biking season. Scott shares the moment that he had this idea for the early race and how his misfortune turned into a brilliant idea.

It was 1991 and Scott was on his first race of the season and he didn’t adequately prepare himself for the intense race. He bombed the trail and was having a hard time biking back. A co-employee from Specialized Bicycles, Tom Hillard, who was serving as technical support for the race, picked up Scott from the trail and took him to get some food to help him recover from the race. While replenishing his calories the two men came up with the idea to have a spring training bike race to help prepare riders for the intense season of mountain bike racing. This idea blossomed with the help of Specialized Bicycles’ support and became a famous mountain bike race making its way to such amazing countries as France, Australia, Japan, Canada and Germany. Scott is excited to be able to participate again in this year’s mountain bike spring training and proud to announce his company Specialized Bicycles is the title sponsor of the Cactus Cup.


Meet James Bruce of Cave Creek

James Bruce is an avid racer whose whole family races! James has been the coach for Cactus Shadows High School Mountain Biking team in Cave Creek for 6 years and is the winner of the State Championship. The name of his team is Watermark and is comprised of 70 kids valley wide including Brophy, Xavier, Boulder Creek and of course Cactus Shadows; from beginners to state champions.


The Bruce family is easily spotted on the trails as Tristan Bruce, James’ son, is known for always having his dog a miniature rescue pincher in his back pack!

James has also put together a corporate team called the Watermark – for his company Watermark Estate Planning. Be sure to look out for the Watermark team this year since they will certainly be making a “mark” on the trails.


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