Spoiler Alert: It sucked. Bad.
If you read my post a few months ago leading up to the race, you’d know that I knew exactly what I was getting into. Kind of. I lived in Park City for 10 years and was familiar with the trails, the kind of climbing that I would be doing and where the course would take me. Yeah, that didn’t prepare me for this shit at all.
To say this race was the hardest thing I’ve done in my entire life would be an understatement. It was hard. Damn hard. I felt really good going into the race, tapering my training down to light workouts and lots of stretching in the week leading up to the race. Now, I’m not a racer…this was only my second race ever with my first race being the 6 Hours of Blankets Creek here in Georgia. And lawd knows I was not actually racing this thing but simply trying to finish with my buddy Matt who lives there.
If you’re not familiar with the race and are into endurance racing you NEED to check the P2P out. First off, Park City is such an underrated mountain biking destination. It was the first to win the IMBA Gold level status and if you’re flying from out of town, it’s so damn easy to get to. A lot of people talk about other races like Leadville in Colorado yet everyone I talked to that’s done both says that the P2P is much much harder and is actual mountain biking as opposed to riding fire roads all freakin’ day. Now, I’ve not done both but I can tell you that this race is about 95% singletrack and advertised as such. Which makes it awesome.
Big, fat DNF for this guy…
The race is about 72 miles long (although some people clocked closer to 75) with around 15k feet of climbing. I made it 52 of those miles before I DNF-ed. My cell phone died shortly before my last climb but Strava had me at 9,279k for the day. It should be noted that I was racing in the single speed category which was just stupid but I wanted the challenge. And got it. I should have known it was really stupid when my conversation with Nate Miller, Park City local mechanic and 3rd place finisher at the 2012 Single Speed World Championships went something like this:
Me: Hey Nate, you racing Point2Point?
Me: Single speed?
Nate: No. I’m not that stupid.
We drove over to Park City Mountain Resort early that morning and parked my buddy Matt’s truck at the base area where the cutoff point was. We rode the Rail Trail over to the start area and got treated with a badass Utah sunrise.
The vibe at the start was awesome. Kind of a nervous anticipation. I will say we were 2 of maybe 15 people wearing baggy shorts. Everyone was on carbon while I was on steel. Some real fast looking sons of bitches in this race. Needless to say we were waaaay in the back of the starting area. In fact, we were literally the last two to cross the start line. F*ck it. It’s gonna be a long day anyways so no rush.
We started the race really slow and maintained that we didn’t want to go out hard just to see ourselves blow up 20 miles in. And it actually worked…we both felt super strong as we started climbing up Deer Valley ski resort. Where I started to go wrong was about mile 25 when my hamstrings started to get super tight. Not cramping but just tight. I was hydrating well, using Carbo Rocket’s Half Evil (I’ll be writing a review of that later but man it is gooood) and drinking like a fish. On a single speed and especially during this race you are pretty much out of the saddle all-the-damn-time. With tight hamstrings it started to really tighten up my lower back.
Anyways, as we got to the first Aid station on course, my buddy Jesse from the local shop White Pine Touring was doing neutral support. He was instantly surprised I made it that far, called me a pussy and began going over my bike. Such a solid dude. We also had our friends Bobby and his wife Cheryl supporting us with water and general moral support. Right there, though, I knew I was in trouble. I’m a super flexible guy but could barely touch my toes my hamstrings were so tight. I needed every bit of that moral support.
As we took off heading further up Deer Valley and eventually over to Park City Mountain Resort I just told Matt to go and that I’d catch up to him. Well, I didn’t. The cut off time was 3:30 and right at mile 52. After consulting with my buddy Bobby (who was one of the MANY amazing volunteers) further down course, I decided that I was at least going to make it to the cut off and then bail out. Now I just had to make it there.
The climbing in this race is f*cking relentless. It truly is. It breaks you down and you start questioning why did you ever decide to do this shit. At one point I almost broke down emotionally and I’m not afraid to admit this. I dreaded calling the wife and telling her I didn’t finish. I dreaded all of the hazing my douche bag friends would give me because I didn’t finish. I also dreaded my friend Matt holding this over my head for the next 365 days (assuming he finished).
After a few super fun descents and heading over towards Park City Mountain, I started to get my second wind. I thought I could make it to the cutoff and then ride the short 23-ish miles to the finish. Riiiight. Guess what? More f*cking climbing. I knew it was an impossibility that I was going to make it so I just pushed the bike up the long, suffering climbs.
I finally (finally!) began my descent into the base area of PCMR right as the clouds opened up, it had been threatening to storm most of the day (scattered storms, the weather was otherwise perfect). It made for one hell of a descent and I hauled ass into the cutoff area only to be greated by wives waiting for their husbands to show up as they sheltered themselves from the rain. No half assed applause, no sympathetic high fives. Nada. Everyone had packed up and headed over to the finish for beer and bbq. Don’t blame them, really.
I saw Matt’s truck there so I knew he made it in time and was well on his way to finishing the race. I loaded my shit up, took his truck back to the Canyons to watch him finish.
The vibe at this race was incredible. Jay Burke, the man behind this race, has done a fantastic job at giving you a preview to just 72-ish miles of the hundreds of miles Park City has to offer. Granted, they are some of the hardest miles you could possible ask for but the point is that if you are looking for a challenge, want to ride actual trails and meet some pretty rad people this race is for you.
*For the record, I went back and finished the course 2 days later to alleviate any pride issues I was having. I swore that I would not do this race ever again but I’ve already started training for next year. I’m going to finish this bitch one way or another.