An endurance cycling event will take place at MERA

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September 29 — LA GRANDE – Local mountain bikers get ready for a long ride.

The Blue Mountain Singletrack Trails Club is scheduled to host the 2021 Sasquatch Challenge at Mount Emily Recreational Area on Saturday, October 9. The event is an endurance challenge to see which rider can complete the most laps on the Sasquatch Challenge loop at MERA.

“It’s not a real high pressure event,” said Tyler Brooks, chairman of the board of the Blue Mountain Singletrack Trails Club. “I hope it will be just a nice community event and that strangers will participate as well.”

Riders will complete as many laps as possible in six hours on the Sasquatch Challenge Loop, which totals approximately 9.5 miles per loop. Event organizers have extended the loop by about a mile this year so that the route begins and ends in the parking lot. Brooks hopes this will make the event more social and allow competitors to set up support stations.

The Sasquatch Challenge is entering its fourth year at MERA, with last year’s event being changed due to COVID-19. In 2020, the challengers timed each other and there was no group event during the competition. Brooks and club members are hoping for a solid turnout this year after the event has drawn 30-50 bikers in previous years.

“We’re hoping to build on that a bit,” Brooks said. “It’s a tough year as people have lost touch with some of the local annual events, but we hope to have a good turnout.”

Last year’s winner completed six laps, totaling approximately 50 miles of trail biking. Brooks noted that the event is open to all skill levels, with some competitors in the past having only completed one loop and enjoying the social experience.

“It’s open to everyone,” he said.

Registration for the event is $ 20 per person, which will be used to maintain and build trails at MERA. Brooks hopes the event will spark interest in joining the Blue Mountain Singletrack Trails Club and their mission of caring for MERA. He noted that the club emphasizes not only cycling, but also hiking, running and other uses of the recreation area.

“We would like to continue this use and increase it to build more trails and maintain the ones we currently have,” Brooks said.

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