After holding out throughout the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Laramie Range Epic mountain bike race announced this week that the 2020 event will take place virtually.
The largest race on the local calendar, the Epic draws hundreds of riders from around the country to the Pole Mountain unit of the Medicine Bow National Forest for either one or two 30-mile loops on singletrack trails.
Board president Abby Lozano said organizers prioritized the health and safety of participants, volunteers and sponsors in making its decision.
“We’re really bummed,” she said.
Other popular local mountain bike races, including the Laramie Mountain Bike Series and the Gowdy Grinder, have also announced cancellations.
Instead of a live event, the Epic will move into the virtual realm. Starting July 25, registered racers can ride their own events at any location and submit photos, routes, times and stories about their experiences.
“We’ll have contests like the fastest ride on the actual course and the most exotic location,” said race director Dewey Gallegos.
Participants will receive a T-shirt and swag, including a restaurant voucher for dining in Laramie that won’t expire for a year. That way, participants can use it when they return to town for next year’s edition.
“That’s a way to say thank you to the restaurants that have always supported us and taken care of us,” Gallegos said.
Lozano said the Epic board plans to maintain its focus on supporting youth mountain biking, women’s mountain biking and trail building.
“We’re also going to be taking donations for that because we want those to be viable,” she said. “They’re a big part of our community, and it’s a huge priority for us.”
The organization plans to spend its time off this summer fine-tuning the current course so it’s more sustainable. But within a few years, they envision the Epic returning to its roots as the oldest mountain bike race in the state, when it was the Laramie Range Enduro and it started and ended in Laramie itself. Thanks to the near completion of the Pilot Hill Project and with it the establishment of public land connecting town with national forest, that goal could be realized soon.
“That is something we’ve been looking at for a couple years,” Lozano said. “That is the dream, to be able to start in town and end in town.”