New course for ‘Red Rock Cactus Hugger’ promises to be good for all abilities

A mountain biker heads out on the Dead Ringer trail part of the Hurricane Cliffs Trail System, Hurricane, Utah, April 11, 2015 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

HURRICANE – Mixing inspiring scenery with a challenging and new course, the “Red Rock Cactus Hugger” welcomes hundreds of mountain bikers of all ages and abilities to Hurricane Valley Saturday morning. Online registration is open through 11:59 a.m. Thursday.

This 2014 file photo shows St. George News reporter Hollie Reina riding a portion of the JEM Trail, Hurricane, Utah, Nov. 1, 2014 | Photo by Dave Amodt, St. George News

“The event has nearly 30 different categories, which means it offers something for every type of mountain bike enthusiast,” Joey Dye, marketing director for Red Rock Bicycle Company, said. “We have families with children as young as 3 participating.”

Dye is expecting approximately 350-400 competitors to participate in the event, he said. An estimated 80 percent of the participants are out-of-town guests and those guests are expected to bring an average of three people with them.

In previous years, the course was in the Green Valley area of St. George but is moved east this year near Virgin. The new course incorporates single track from the JEM, Cryptobiotic and Hurricane Cliffs trails for 8.5 miles.

The ride starts at 9 a.m. and the payoff is in the gorgeous views.

“This is one of the best times of the year to get outdoors with our warm spring temperatures. Add to that the adrenaline competitors generate during the race along with the stunning views, and you have a pretty amazing event,” Kevin Lewis, director of the St. George Area Sports Commission, said. “For out-of-town visitors, events like the Cactus Hugger provide an excellent introduction to the area and, as is often the case, they become enchanted with our region and want to return.”

Cactus Hugger, in its 13th year, is one of eight “Ride Southern Utah” events and one of just two with all-dirt tracks. The other is the Red Rock Rampage, which has had a home in St. George since 1996.

The Cactus Hugger and Red Rock Rampage are the two longest running cycling events in the area,” said Dye. “These events have done a lot to bring cycling culture to Southern Utah and to put St. George on the map as a cycling destination. Both events are known for having actual mountain bike courses that require skill to race.”

To sign up for the race, go to ridesouthernutah.com/events/cactus-hugger. Registration varies in price depending on category and ranges from $10-$50. Online registration is available until Thursday at 11:59 p.m. Late registration will be available at packet pickup Friday from 4-7 p.m. at Red Rock Bicycle, 446 W. 100 South, St. George.

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