The cycling season is set to kick off this weekend with the first mountain bike race of the year, the inaugural Schoolyard Scramble, which is set for the Schoolyard Trails east of town.

Hosted by the University of Wyoming Cycling Club, the race is set to start at 10 a.m. today when the first wave of riders departs. The event includes divisions for collegiate and community competitors.

John Westenhoff, president of the UW Cycling Club, said his group organized the race as a way to expand the local racing calendar.

“There’s a lack of races that occur in the spring for mountain bikers, so we decided it would be great if the UW club organized a race,” he said.

It’s also a way for the UW Cycling Club to have a presence in the local community, as club members travel out of town for most of their races.

“We wanted to do something in Laramie that we can invite people to,” Westenhoff said.

The Schoolyard Scramble features a 6-mile course on Laramie’s newest trails. Depending on their division, riders will complete the loop up to three times.

Laramie BikeNet initiated construction of the Schoolyard Multi-use Development Project over the last several years on a section of state land that sits just east of Jacoby Golf Course. The system includes about 6 miles of single-track for all types of users.

The UW team rides the trails frequently during practice and has also helped build about 3 miles, Westenhoff said. Last weekend, club members used reflective paint and glass beads to mark sections of trail that cross exposed rock so riders won’t lose their direction.

He said the Schoolyard Trails, purposely designed by professional trail builders, are smooth, forgiving and sustainable.

“We don’t have to worry much about erosional damage out there if we have a lot of bikes on them, so that’s real important,” he said.

Novices won’t encounter anything too technical, dangerous or steep.

“This is a really good race for someone who’s never raced mountain bikes before,” he said.

Westenhoff was among a group of students who revived the UW Cycling Club several years ago, with a renewed focus on mountain biking. The roster currently has almost 30 people, and riders have placed in the top 10 at collegiate nationals during the last two years.

Now that he’s graduating, Westenhoff is focusing his efforts on training the next generation of club leaders and establishing an alumni group.

“We’ve definitely turned it around,” he said.

Proceeds from the Schoolyard Scramble will be used to help the club continue to grow, he said.

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