Mountain Bike Racing Competitions at Touch of Nature Starting August 28 | Sports

JOHN D. HOMAN for the south

CARBONDALE – SIU’s Touch of Nature, just south of Carbondale, has three races scheduled in the coming weeks on the new multi-use trail system.

The series of races – August 28, September 18 and November 20 – serve as the official launch of the Touch of Nature trail network created after seven years of planning and preparation. The first phase of the nation’s only university-affiliated multi-use trail features 10 miles of single-track, natural surface trail for use by cyclists, hikers, runners and walkers.

JD Tanner, director of the SIU’s Touch of Nature Environmental Center, said he started the project with input from the International Mountain Biking Association.

“Planning and development began in 2015 with the help of a graduate assistant (Molly Maxwell) and continued with the next graduate (Isaiah Tanner). Molly assisted with planning and grant applications. worked on the actual build with volunteer crews,” Tanner mentioned.

The races should attract a crowd, both participants and spectators.

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“We’re hoping for 40-50 runners for the August 28 and September 18 races and maybe 75-100 for the November 20 race,” Tanner said. “For the race course, we worked with the Bike Surgeon of Carbondale and the Shawnee Mountain Bike Association. The course was designed to showcase our best trails and give spectators as many viewing options as possible during the race. race.” We will also be including a few of our footpaths for the course to showcase Little Grassy Lake and our camps. The toughest logistics include a few crossings where campus police and volunteers will help out.”

Tanner said the ultimate goal of developing a trail system and specific race course is to introduce mountain biking to southern Illinois.

“Until May 1 of this year, there were no designated trails in the area for cyclists. We wanted to provide a new community health and wellness opportunity for the area, and with that, bring in money to tourism.”

Since its opening almost four months ago, the course has already proven to be very popular with motorcyclists. When completed, the trail system will include approximately 30 miles of stacked loop trails, an adult terrain park, a children’s terrain park, event center space and other trail features.

“The greatest importance of this trail system is to work to improve the quality of life in this area for locals while bringing tourist dollars to all the shops, hotels, restaurants, wineries, etc.,” Tanner added. .

Profits from the three races will be used to continue building the trail network project.

Patrick Work, representing the Bike Surgeon of Carbondale, said creating the trail has already brought many benefits.

“It provides a safe alternative for cyclists of all skill levels,” he said. “I have personally witnessed many first time hikes from ages 3 to 60 at Touch of Nature, and riding the road is very intimidating for many people.”

Mr. Work said he is confident that the new trail system will attract tourism.

“I spoke with several out-of-state bikers who told me they plan to bring their bikes back and compete.”

And when foreigners come to Carbondale to compete, they dine at local restaurants, shop at local stores, and sleep at local hotels.

“We haven’t had a mountain bike market since I opened the store in 2009. This trail opens up a whole new market for cyclists,” Work said. “And what’s great is that these trails are much easier for beginners to learn than those in the Shawnee Forest.” Although the trails are not technically challenging for the experienced rider, they are extremely well laid out with a lot of fluidity and are fun to go through. ride with a good drive. The best part is riders of all skill levels can ride together.”

Labor said more runners also means more volunteer workers.

“I also see more grants and private donations,” he said.

The first race is August 28

The fall mountain bike racing series kicks off with splits for riders of all ages and experience levels. Riders must wear helmets and will compete with staggered start times over varying course lengths. Divisions include:

  • Children (boys and girls), 13 and under
  • Junior men, ages 14-17
  • Junior women, 14-17 years old
  • Beginner men
  • Beginner women
  • sporty men
  • Sporty women
  • expert men
  • Expert women.

Winners will claim prizes in each division. Register online before August 26 for $35. The price includes lunch.

Race 2 in September

The second race will take place on September 18 and will feature the same splits and race format as the August race. Registration is also $35 per person and required by September 16.

For both races, race packages will be available at 8:00 a.m. in Freeberg Hall at Touch of Nature’s Camp 2 and a pre-race meeting will begin at 8:45 a.m.

Races for the August and September events include:

  • Men’s and women’s expert races at 9am including three 8-mile laps.
  • Men’s and women’s sports races at 9:30 am with two 8-mile laps.
  • Men’s and women’s beginner races at 10 a.m. consisting of an 8-mile lap.
  • Races for juniors 14 to 17 at 10:10 a.m. and children 13 and under from 10:20 a.m.

All race start times are subject to change. Check the website for updates.

Last race of the season in November

The final race of the 2021 Catalyst Race Series will take place on November 20 and will be part of a full weekend of cycling activity. More details about this exciting weekend will be available soon at

More event details

Parking for riders and spectators is available at the upper and lower parking lots at Camp 2 with additional parking at the main trailhead near the entrance to the Touch of Nature Environmental Center, approximately eight miles south of Carbondale near Giant City Road. Observation points will be available along the route, but spectators will need to walk to various locations from the main trailhead parking lot. Food and beverages will be available beginning at 10 a.m. The awards ceremony is expected to begin around noon.

Sponsors include Touch of Nature Environmental Center, SIU Credit Union, Bike Surgeon and Shawnee Mountain Bike Association. For more information on the new multi-use trail system or Touch of Nature, visit, call 618-453-1121, or email [email protected]

— Some information for this story was provided by the SIU News Service

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