How we camp and Cactus Cup Information

I want to thank everyone who has approached the coaching staff with their insightful questions about the Cactus Cup Mountain bike race and about how we camp.




When we travel to races, we do so together and we camp together. In normal times we would all travel in the vans together, with coaches or parents driving the team vans, and all the youth together. This is another opportunity for the kids to bond and to have shared experiences. We very much encourage and ask for kids to travel with the team.


However in these times we are not packing the vans to 12. We are only putting 8 total people in vans, everyone has to wear a mask the whole time, and we mandate a negative test that is not older than 72 hours.


We will have 14 possible spots for youth to ride up in the vans with the team.


Event dates are Friday March 12th to Sunday the 14th.


One van will leave at 9:30 am. TUSD does not have school on that particular Friday.

and a second at Noon, to accomodate the kids who are not in a TUSD school.




So at the McDowell Mountain Park I have reserved one of the group camp spots for us. There is space for 50 people and 6 rv’s I am told, so there should be ample room for us all.


In normal times we would use the team tents that we have, which are huge 12 person tents that you can stand up in. We have always camped in this group style as we believe it helps to build comraderie, friendships and a true team by sharing the experience.


In these Covid Times we are mandating that only siblings can share tents, and that all others must sleep in their own tents, solo.




We eat and cook together. In normal times we would have youth placed in shifts and they would help coaches and parents with the prep and clean up of every meal. Its a chance for youth to learn to cook and to be involved. Its also a time for the coaches to talk about proper nutrition and how to properly fuel for a race.


At Cactus cup we will continue to eat together and cook for the team however we will not have kids involved. We will only have adults involved so as to minimize that particular level of contact.



Preparing for the Race

I, Ignacio,  will be the coach at the race and will ensure that every rider properly warms up, gets to the start line and understands what to expect. The youth will be guided through the whole process from start line to finish line, except of course for the part where they are actually racing.


We are very aware of the different levels of comfort and factors that each of you as a family are contending with in these incredibly difficult times. We want to create as safe an environment as we can, while also allowing the youth to express themselves physically and to have a  chance to bond in that special team atmosphere. We are well aware that not everyone will be able to attend and we fully respect the decisions made by each family.


Please feel encouraged to ask any questions you might have, and you may email me directly if you like.


Team Presentation and New Opportunities

This SUNDAY February 7th from 1pm to 3 pm.


Team Presentation


All Senior Programming Youth are expected to attend and arrive at 12:30 pm at the latest. Please dress in your “Sunday School Best”.


In normal times this would be our sponsor appreciation event. This would be a chance for us an organization to thank the wonderful folks who support us and to give them the first look at our new kits. This would be the time for many of the community members who support us at the next level to get to meet some of the riders and here directly from them. It is also a time for parents to enjoy watching their kids be wonderfully acknowledged.


Of course this years event will feel and be diffirent but we still want to honor the moment and thank our sponsors.


We would like to have all riders and families present and we will do our very best to create a safe environment.


The event will be outside and everyone will be mandated to have proper face coverings.


All members of Bike Packing and Race team are being asked to attend.


As well all Senior youth are being required to write a one paragraph statement about: How EL Grupo has impacted you during Covid times?


We are asking that these essays be delivered to Ignacio or Gord no later than Thursday afternoon, so that we can have time to compile them for the event.


New Opportunities 

Chiracahua Camp Out 


This trip will be a team trip, in that all race team members will be invited.
The trip will be FROM Friday 19th – Sunday 21st.. This is a change from what I posted on the blog, as I have heard this works better for some.
The Team camp area will be on Pinary Canyon Road at a dispersed site. This means that no facilities are available, no water or bathrooms. We will camp in the same spot the two nights.
Youth will be encouraged to arrive on Friday night to enjoy the beautiful camp area.
Depart from camp will be late afternoon, approx. 3-4 pm which would have us back in town at approx. 6:30 –7pm to Tucson.
Food will be provided for Friday Dinner, Saturday 3 meals and snacks, and Sunday 2 meals and snacks.
My proposed camp spot is roughly here:
The drive to camp takes approx 2.5 hours, but that is at my speed, so likely shorter for most folks.
Health Protocols
Covid Test that shows negative results within 72 hours of the trip
         Please post test do your best to quarantine to ensure results
If you have been vaccinated that will suffice as long as you can show proof
No sharing of tents- unless from the same household
All participants will bring their own eating supplies, bowl, plate and utensil
Since we are outside we can do a very mindful job of giving each other space, but masks will be at the ready.
Food will served and prepared by only two people per meal
Family Planning 
The Chiracahua National Monument is just down the street from where we will be camping and has structured camp spots and excellent hiking.
This could be a great option for families who want to drop off their kids and enjoy the weekend at the park.
Information for the park can be found here:
This trip is best suited for those that have a gravel bike, but of course it can be ridden on a mountain bike as well. 
The intent of this trip is to enjoy another beautiful corner of our state while wonderfully challenging ourselves.
El Grupo will be providing food for the trip, so there is no extra cost for this.
I have been allowed the use of a van and trailer. I would be comfortable with 7 kids in a van. This would allow for only 2 kids per bench seat, plus one in the front seat. Masks would be absolutely mandatory in the van, as is a negative test. Please be very clear if you will need a ride. Also since I will have the trailer I can help transport bikes for those families that need that help.
Ride Distances
We will ride both Saturday and Sunday.
Each day is an out and back type ride.
The rides are very demanding and difficult and are best suited to gravel bikes.
What that means is that you do not have to do the 80 miles on each day. You can turn around and make it as long as you like.
I want to make that clear so that riders know they have options and can choose distances that work for them.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or suggestions especially about how to make this a safe trip.
I would like to have confirmation  by February 15th so that I may start to plan meals and logistics.



Cactus Cup Mountain Bike Stage Race


We are wanting to make this a great team trip. Please acknowledge the dates and put it in your calanders. More information to come next week, however wanted to get this out.


March 12-14th

Phoenix, Arizona

McDowell Mountain Park

Upcoming Events

A New Year, A New Year!!!
Of course the flipping of a calander page does not change the world we live in, but it is progress and movement towards better times.
With that flipping of the page comes new opportunities and I want to take this time to look ahead at some of them.
Calendar of Events:
MBAA- Mountain  Bike Association of Arizona
This is the organization that puts on the local, or Arizona wide, mountain bike races.  The first race was this past weekend and you saw in Gord’s post 4 or your teammates went.
My impression was that it felt as safe as going to Target. I was impressed with the event and how people conducted themselves. Mask usage was about 100%, the amount of people felt safe, and there were enough racers that there was a true event. I never felt, in any way, that I was in a conjested space, or that people were being careless with masks. The event of course was outside in the desert and there was ample space to sread out.
With that information I feel safe encouraging kids to go and race, and Damiano will continue to attend, if subsequent races feel as safe.
This has been discussed with Sean, who raced along with his wife, and Gord, and we have agreed that we feel they have created a safe environment for us to enjoy.
The next two races are as follows:  All information can be found at 
January 23rd and 24th– MBAA Mountain Bike Race #2 in Phoenix at Estrella Park
February 6th and 7th — MBAA Mountain Bike Race #3  in Phoenix at White Tanks
These can be done in one day. You can drive up race and come home in the same day.
 Intermediate and Expert race on Saturday and Beginners on Sunday 
Categories are self selected and we can help 
Races cost $25– Grupo will reimburse you if you attend and race the event. We ask that you register yourself. 
The full spectrum of riders were at the last event, from wicked fast kids, to kids who had to walk sections. I feel confident that there is a category for everyone to enjoy competing in. Please feel free and encouraged to ask if you have questions.
If racing is not what motivates you and you want a different option then I have proposed a campout over the weekend of February 13th and 14th. 
This is the weekend that was to be the 24 Hour race and Valley of the Sun. Both of those events had to be canceled for their own reasons, but that gives us a chance to go camping.
I have proposed a Gravel Road Trip to the Chiricahua Mountains. This will be a two night adventure. We can help transport bikes, but unfortunately not people. The Chiricahua Mountains are South East of Wilcox. There is primitive camping on Pinery Canyon Road that is very adequate for our size of group. There is ample camping for families to enjoy the nature, however no facilities.
The riding is best for gravel bikes, however if you want to come out with your Mountain bike, you are welcome. There is no single track, just dirt roads up and over the mountains. The routes are very tough, to  be honest and clear.
We would follow the same protocalls that we did for the Winter Break Bike Tour. All rides would need to show a negative covid tests that’s within three days of us leaving. You will then be asked to quarentine post test to ensure results. Then at camp we would continue to follow best practices.
We would need to have family vehicular support, as we are still not using the vans.
Families there is a ton of space to camp in the primitive area, or you can camp down the street at the structured area at the National Park. There is also excellent hiking at the park, if you want to drop your kid off and enjoy the weekend for yourself or with your family.
After the Camp Out weekend: More racing 
March 6th– MBAA Mountain Bike Race #4– Lake Havasu
All races are on Saturday
The Race/ Event for those not sure about racing:
March 12th- 14th– Cactus Cup Mountain Bike Stage Race
                                McDowell Mountain Park– Fountain Hills, Arizona
This event has been taking place for a few years now, and we have participated in the past. It is a very unique race in that there are three events over three days that ultimately make up your time. We have really enjoyed it in the past as it gives us a chance to camp together over two nights in the beautiful park and enjoy some great racing. This would be a great first event/ race experience for many of you. So if you are not sure about the MBAA events, then I encourage you to put this on your calander as a goal, as long as things conitue to improve and the situation is safe.
We would really like to encourage everyone to do this event and to have fun testing themselves.
This is the team event that we would like to have well attended.
Again we would follow the same protocalls of having everyone take a test and then quarentine.
The team will take care of camping and food.
I don’t want to look too much farther ahead than that, as we might be in a different world come late March. However this gives us a course of action. It also gives us races to shoot for, and a fun camp out for those that don’t want to race. So trying to meet everyone’s desires.
I will be traveling to all the MBAA races listed. At this point I will be heading up on Friday night, as Damiano will now be racing on Saturday.


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