Pro Tips: 2017 Cactus Hugger
April 22, 2017
April 22, 2017
The I-Cup series is heading south to Hurricane UT for round two of its 2017 calendar and this all-new course will likely be scorching fast! The race will utilize much of the well renowned Jem Trail, which is a rider favorite in Utah for its fast, flowing nature, as well as sections of the Cryptobiotic and Hurricane Cliffs trails all linked together with some section of BLM dirt road for an 8.5 mile lap of ripping terrain.
While this new course isn’t technically difficult, comprised of mainly smooth and rolling trail (with the exception of a bit on Hurricane Cliff Trail just to make sure you’re paying attention), this shouldn’t lead anyone to assume the racing will be easy. After short stretch on dirt road after leaving the start, the battle will be intense for the entry into the singletrack. Positioning on this course promises to be a huge factor, as much of the singletrack is tight, twisting and difficult to pass on. If you’re setting out for a good result, you’re going to want to make sure you don’t drift too far back in the start; this is not a race easily won by coming from behind. As always, if you have the opportunity to pre-ride the course the day before it’s a good idea. If you can’t manage that, checking out at least the start to singletrack section can be crucial.
The second thing that will be deceivingly difficult about this new course is how much pedaling there actually is. While that may sound like an odd assessment the fact that the course lacks much steep or prolonged climbing might point to an easy lap but it is, in fact, a double edge sword because it where there is no long climb there is also no major descent. This whole course will be spent “on the gas.” The effort needed to constantly “punch it” on all the uphill rollers on Cryptobitic can really sap your energy later in the race. Even the notorious Jem Trail, while technically being a descent, is a very shallow grade and to go fast requires a constant effort top to bottom. The flatter profile of the course also means the speeds will likely be higher and the racing between individuals and groups closer, so make sure you’re fresh and snappy coming into the weekend.
The one big variable of the how the racing will play out might just be the wind. Given it’s location on a largely exposed mesa, the course can be buffeted by winds at times and this has the potential to make the race much more tactical. Because it’s relatively smooth and fast drafting can actually have a significant effect on this course, not just on the dirt roads, but also all along the descent of Jem Trail. If the winds are blowing, you’ll want to try your hardest to make the splits and be in a group rather than fighting the wind by yourself. You might also want to pay attention to the wind direction, and strategize about which sections of course it might be advantageous to not be on the front on (headwind), and where might be good to attack (headwind that will shortly be a tailwind).
For those of you who might not have ridden the Hurricane area this season (or ever) one piece of beta that might be good to know is that much of Jem Trail and Cryptobiotic saw some heavy hoof traffic from cattle herds this spring and those prints will be a constant reminder of why riding these trails in the rain is a bad idea. That being said, it might be prudent to run slightly lower tire pressure than ordinary for you since the course is mostly smooth and it will help take the edge off some of the chunky hoof prints. Regardless of hoof prints, this course promises to be a blast of a race and likely some of the fastest average speeds of the race season out there.
Enjoy, and good luck!