The mountain biking highlight of the summer is set to return to Pole Mountain this weekend, but with a new look and a new format.

The Laramie Enduro is scheduled to start at 7 a.m. today, but riders won’t be following the 72-mile course they’ve become familiar with in the last 12 years. Instead, they’ll start from a new location on Headquarters Road on the Pole Mountain Unit of the Medicine Bow National Forest, and they’ll follow a 32-mile loop. Riders can choose between doing one lap or two laps.

The course will take riders east for a circuit of Twin Mountain before they return west for a tour of the trails in the vicinity of Pole Mountain.

Niesey Heckart, who runs public relations for the Enduro board, said the course changed three other times since it first took place in 1998. The original course started and ended in Laramie and took riders up to the national forest.

“This year’s evolution was inspired by several factors,” she said. “The course hadn’t been changed for a while, and organizers got the feeling it needed an update, especially as mountain biking has become more popular.”

“There are a lot of new races that are popping up every single year,” she said. “People had more choices, so we thought now’s a good time to change it to give people another choice here.”

The new course features almost 70 percent singletrack, making it more challenging than the previous version, which followed mostly dirt roads.

“Even though it’s shorter, it actually is quite a bit more difficult because there is more singletrack,” Heckart said.

“A lot of what was in the 72-mile course was four-wheel-drive and Jeep roads. You logged bunch of miles, but a lot of it was flat, open road.”

Heckart said adding singletrack to the course was done in response to requests by participants.

“There is so much singletrack in the area that this was a pretty easy evolution,” she said.

Giving the riders an option between one lap and two laps also opens the race to riders of different abilities and experience levels. Riders that might have been intimidated by the thought of logging 72 miles in the saddle now have a chance to test their fitness in a shorter format.

Heckart said the almost 450 registered participants are split pretty evenly between the two divisions.

“It really shows you that there’s been an interest regionally for something a little more approachable in the area,” she said.

The new course doesn’t have any highway crossings and avoids pavement altogether, which simplifies logistics for organizers and increases safety for riders.

As usual, riders and volunteers are invited to join an after-race party that will feature food, live music and raffle prizes, all made possible by support from a bevy of local sponsors. Others are welcome to join the fun for $10.

“We have great sponsors this year,” Heckart said.

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