The Duel In The Desert: A Union Of Cycling Legends – Specialized Cactus Cup And Belgian Waffle Ride Arizona

November 21, 2023

two iconic cycling races, the Specialized Cactus Cup and the Belgian Waffle Ride (BWR), are set to merge for a thrilling back-to-back cycling extravaganza

Cave Creek and Fountain Hills, AZ /ENDURANCE SPORTSWIRE/ – In a soon to be historic collaboration, two iconic cycling races, the Specialized Cactus Cup and the Belgian Waffle Ride (BWR), are set to merge for a thrilling back-to-back cycling extravaganza, the “Duel in the Desert.” Taking place on consecutive Saturdays, March 2 and March 9, 2024, this combination event of mountain biking and gravel racing promises an unparalleled celebration of cycling prowess, camaraderie, and the breathtaking Arizona landscape in and around the magnificent McDowell Mountain Regional Park.

Race Details:

  • Dates: March 2 (Belgian Wafer Ride) and March 9 (Cactus Cup 40-mile XC race)
  • Location: McDowell Mountain Regional Park, Arizona

The Duel Challenge: Queen and King of the Desert Awards

Cyclists daring to conquer both events stand a chance to earn the prestigious Queen and King of the Desert Awards. This unique challenge combines the Belgian Wafer Ride’s 72-mile unroad gravel racing with the technical mountain biking excellence of the Cactus Cup’s 40-mile XC race.

The Belgian Wafer Ride: First event of the Duel (year)

The Second Annual Belgian Waffle Ride Arizona is a unique desert and mountain gravel experience known at the Hell of the North Desert. The Arizona event is the kick-off to the largest gravel series in the world, the Belgian Waffle Ride Series, as well as the Tripel Crown of Gravel. The BWR AZ, which will take place in Cave Creek, Arizona, on the fringes of the Valley of the Sun, embodies the three ingredients that make the BWR so special. 1) A dream destination, 2) varied terrain to accommodate an extremely dynamic racecourse, and 3) a cycling community that is both vibrant and desirous of the unroad experience only the BWR can offer. There are three different events gravelleurs can compete in at the BWR. The shortest is the Wanna Ride at approximately 36-miles, the Wafer at 72-miles (for the Duel in the Desert), and the full Waffle at roughly 120-miles.

The Specialized Cactus Cup: Second event of the Duel

The Cactus Cup is Arizona’s Original Mountain Bike Stage race, its history dates back to 1991.  This is 3 days of racing to crack open the season featuring Time Trial (age groupers) / Short Track (Pros), XC and Enduro events.  For the Duel in the Desert, riders can choose the one-day option of the Cactus XC 40-mile or compete in the entire weekend’s line-up beginning Friday, March 8th through Sunday, March 10th. Family and spectators will find this a one-stop weekend of fun and entertainment that unfolds under the warm desert sun. With bike racing for kids of all ages, shorter distance events for the first timers, large industry expo including food trucks and a weekend long beer garden. It’s no ordinary bike race. Pack your sense of adventure and join us for an unforgettable escape! You can join for 1, 2 or 3 days!

McDowell Mountain Regional Park: A Cycling Paradise

Nestled in McDowell Mountain Regional Park and home to some of Arizona’s finest mountain biking trails, both events take advantage of this paradise. The Cactus Cup covers over 40-miles of pristine desert trails. From technical terrains to friendly paths, the park offers a diverse range of landscapes, including cross country, flow trails, and a competitive short track. With 76 individual camping sites, including tent or RV options, the park provides a picturesque and sought-after camping experience.

Family-Friendly Fun:

The Duel in the Desert marks the beginning of the cycling season with combined mountain and gravel bike racing set against the stunning backdrop of saguaros. Both events cater to the entire family, creating an unforgettable weekend for cycling enthusiasts.

Event Highlights:

  • Belgian Waffle Ride: A spectacular weekend of unique unroad racing and the BWR Unroad Expo open to all.
  • Cactus Cup: A legendary weekend packed with warm weather, good vibes, and intense racing. Notably, the Cactus Cup is Arizona’s Original Mountain Bike Stage Race, with a rich history dating back to 1991.

Rules and Awards:

The Duel in the Desert will crown the fastest cyclists based on the combined time of both events. Only 1st place will be awarded King/Queen in each category based on Cactus Cup age groups (see below). Participants on the Cactus Cup weekend can register for either the individual XC or the full cup Stage Race (day 2 is the 40-mile). OmniGo! Timing will be on hand to score both events.

All category winners of the Duel in the Desert will receive a specially designed winner’s event-branded RaceDay Bag™ from PEDAL Industries!

Logistics and Merchandise:

Information can be found on both event websites along with official rules. Participants will register as usual for each event, and a skilled timer will produce a list of ‘Duel’ participants at Cactus Cup registration. Information can be found on both event websites along with official rules. Winners will be determined after the XC event, and they will be awarded the winner’s bag on the podium. These bags will also be available for purchase without the KING/QUEEN title.

Contact Information:

For inquiries regarding Cactus Cup: Sage Melley – sage@thecactuscup.com

For inquiries regarding Belgian Waffle Ride: Michael Marckx – mmx@monumentsofcycling.com

Join the fun!

The Duel in the Desert is poised to become a landmark event, uniting two cycling giants in an extraordinary display of athleticism and community spirit. For further details and registration, visit www.BWR.Bike or www.TheCactusCup.com

About Belgian Waffle Ride Arizona

(March 1 – 2, 2024) Located in the heart of the Sonoran Desert, on the fringes of North Scottsdale, the BWR AZ will start and finish at Stagecoach Village in Cave Creek and take in a seamless connection of beautiful desert and varied challenging terrain with breathtaking views and near-perfect riding conditions. The area enjoys over 300 days of sunshine and incredible scenery, with conditions that are perfect for exhilarating unroad riding, including moderate climbs to beautiful views of the surrounding desert. The destination is a picture-perfect town in the desert foothills that brings together history, culture, and nature in a unique atmosphere. The downtown area has plenty to offer the entire family, and the city is surrounded by many other destinations that you don’t want to miss out on. https://www.bikereg.com/belgian-waffle-ride-arizona

About Cactus Cup

The Specialized Cactus Cup is Arizona’s Original Mountain Bike Stage race, its history dates back to 1991.  This 3-day Stage Race cracks open the mountain bike racing season featuring Time Trial (age groupers) / Short Track (Pros), XC and Enduro events.  Event weekend is fun for the whole family! Get your teams, family, or friends together and grab a camping spot onsite for front row seat to the weekend’s action. Featuring a nationally recognized pro field competing for a $7k prize purse, bike racing events for all ages, including those little shredders, Saturday night outdoor movie & smores and a beer garden all weekend long. Registration is available for single events or chase the cup and register for all 3 days! https://thecactuscup.com

About RaceDay Bag™

RaceDay Bags™ are made by Pedal Industries. Pedal Industries designs and delivers custom cycling apparel and accessories. “Yes, we race. All the time. But racing is meaningless if the rest of life is a shambles… we are well-rounded RaceDay Rippers in a world out of balance, striving for excellence in everything that truly matters.”


Note: All details are subject to change. Please refer to the event website for the most up-to-date information.