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Wednesday, 20 July 2011 17:55

Course for Cactus Cup a thing to see

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By Chris Jaster — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For two years, Dan Thombs and other cycling enthusiasts have been working on building a mountain biking course near Swift Current.

On Sunday, all their hard work will be on display when mountain bikers take the course they created at the inaugural Cactus Cup.

“It’s the first year for this. It’s exciting,” said Thombs, one of the Cactus Cup organizers.

Following the success of the road race series, a small group of people including Thombs decided they wanted to try hosting a mountain biking competition, but they weren’t aware of any courses in Saskatchewan west of Moose Jaw.

So, the group members decided to build their own. They purchased land and before developing trails, consulted with International Mountain Biking Association, which was in the area to do work with Grasslands National Park.

Instead of moving trees and logs to create the bike paths, which is what frequently happens in B.C., dirt had to be moved. The trails were eventually built and then tweaked to make them more challenging for riders.

Although there aren’t a lot of trees to look at, Thombs said riders will be impressed with the scenery they pass in the competition.

“We don’t have a lot of trees to make it exciting that way, so what we’ve done is a beautiful single track that winds you through these fields that are flowing with grass,” he said. “It’s really quite a stunning picturesque kind of prairie look and I don’t know if anybody else has as much single track as what we have here. It’s pretty nice and ideal for mountain bikers who enjoy an open landscape, and it does look so beautiful out there.

“Usually when you’re in the trees, there’s not much to look at except for the trees around you. Here, there’s a lot of country and it looks stunning and it’s quiet. It’s a very peaceful area to go mountain biking.”

Riders, however, will be warned not to get too caught up in the natural beauty of the prairies.

The course’s designers created mountains from the dirt and  made many technical elements that will challenge even the more experienced riders. Some bridges on the course are unique to the area and may cause riders to fall into the water. Other technical elements could cause a little more pain for some mountain bikers.

“There might be some areas where there may be a high chance of a wipeout,” said Thombs. “It will be fun because when you wipe out, you go flying into the dirt — you won’t get hurt because the dirt is soft enough, it’s not like the road — and then you get a surprise when you land on a cactus. The funniest thing is watching riders jump up and down and try to get the cactus out as fast as they can. It should be pretty interesting.”

Thombs is expecting more than 40 people to take part in the event. Activities will include pushing a bike through a course as well as a steak supper and music.

People may register for the event until 10:15 a.m. to the day of the Cactus Cup. Races start at 11 a.m.
Spectators won’t be charged admission.

“This is a really unique kind of draw for Swift Current and I think it shows there’s more going on in Swift Current than ever before,” said Thombs.

“This is part of a new climate of excitement. People are getting away from ‘I gotta go to work’ and they’re seeing and experiencing some other activities. That’s exactly what this is. It’s fun and exciting for the young guys.”

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