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Two Catalyst Bike Races Coming To SIU’s Touch Of Nature This Fall






by Christi Mathis

The Catalyst Race Series returns to Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Touch of Nature Outdoor Education Center this fall with two events, giving bikers the opportunity to compete on one of the Midwest’s premier, professionally designed and built mountain biking trail systems.
     The first race of the season is Sept. 9. Three levels will be offered: experts will race 3 laps while the sports class will do 2 laps and beginners and youth race 1 lap. Each course is 8-10 miles per lap and well-marked to assure all riders can easily find their way.
The top three male and female riders in each category will earn awards.
Lunch and drinks will be provided afterward.
Register online at

Spooky Racing Oct. 28

     The second race takes on a unique fun tone. The Spooky Catalyst is set for Oct. 28. As with the earlier race, there will be three levels with experts racing 3 laps, sports class doing 2 laps and beginners and youth racing 1 lap and each lap measuring 8-10 miles. But this time there will be a new TrailMix category welcoming bikers of all ages with all types of bikes.
     The top three male and female riders in each category will win prizes, and all can enjoy refreshments and lunch. In addition, everyone is welcome to enjoy a variety of family-friendly Halloween activities, including a costume contest.
     Sign up online at
     Proceeds from the race series will go toward continuing work on Touch of Nature’s trail system project.
The first phase of the multi-purpose trail system opened for public use on May 1, 2021, after five years of planning, fundraising, construction and thousands of hours of hard work, largely by volunteers. Most of the 12 miles is fast-flowing singletrack, but there are some creek crossings, small rock gardens and other special features. Plans call for the trail system to eventually expand to encompass about 30 miles of stacked loop trails, an adult terrain park, a children’s terrain park, an event center space and other trail features.
     For more information about the Catalyst Race Series, the multiuse trail system or Touch of Nature, visit, call 618-453-1121 or email

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