Written by Warren Gerow Wednesday, 30 September 2015 00:00
The first time I read about the Park City Point 2 Point I knew I wanted to do it. A 75+ mile mountain bike race where nearly all the miles take place on single-track. Oh, and there would be lots of climbing.
Registration takes place in February and it sells out in less than five minutes. In 2013, I chickened out on that cold, dark February night moments before registration dropped. Too far to travel, too much money; there is always an excuse. I sucked it up in 2014 and made the commitment. Taking place over Labor Day weekend meant I would have all summer to find some fitness.
I finished the race in 2014. It went reasonably well and I learned this race was really really hard; especially when you live at sea level. In 2015 I was going to be faster, stronger, smarter, and of course I would have the advantage of knowing the course. My first change for 2015 was arriving in Park City sooner than I did in 2014 for obvious reasons.
The first miles consist of high desert riding in the Round Valley area on the outskirts of Park City. This year the RD changed the route through this area completely. It wasn’t harder or easier, but it was better. A lot of twisty single track climbs and descents; it is a virtual warm-up with some hard efforts. We exited Round Valley after about 14 miles and connected to the next zone known as Prospector. This zone connects you over to the Deer Valley Ski Resort where things get legitimate. I learned last year, Prospector riding should not be taken lightly. It packs a punch with sharp rocks, steep climbs and tricky descents. At mile 26 you start the first of the major climbs - this one being nine miles and 2000 vertical feet, topping out at an elevation 9,000’ at the top of Deer Valley. This is all switch-back climbing on single-track; you are not tortured by climbing fire roads or double-track in this race. I was a couple hours in and feeling good. Folks I was with on this climb were riding slow I thought, but I controlled myself and kept saying this slower pace would pay off later in the race.
Starting the initial descent off of this climb I tore a sidewall, ugh. My riding group was gone, and people were passing me. I was close to a road crossing where unbeknownst to me, parkcitybikedemos.com had set up a party/aid station for the day with their box truck and a fully mobile bike shop. This was my lucky break. It was like NASCAR when they saw me pushing towards the road. They had me back on the trail reasonable quickly and I didn’t have to do anything but eat and drink. They had beer, bacon and water. What more could I want. I needed the breather as the previous climb had put me up against the wall more than I cared for.
The next 10 miles start with a big fast flowy descent (with enduro section) followed by some mild climbs that connect you to Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR). I was hoping to recover some on this section as I knew there was a 6 mile climb to be tackled, with two miles of soul crushing steeps in the middle; at least this year I knew about the soul crushing part. At the top of this climb you are in a picturesque alpine area, made even nicer this year by pelting hail, rain, and wind. This kind of weather is quite motivating. Equally motivating is the prospect of a 6 mile descent. I am not a great descender but I tried to make up some time. You never really make up lost time from a mechanical.
The descent ends at the base of PCMR where there is an aid station and you start the last big climb of the day - climbing on the Armstrong trail up and out of Park City proper towards the Canyons Resort. Even though this climb is nearly 60 miles into the day it is a super nice climb. It is so good I always re-visit this climb at some other point in my trip. Both years I have found the remainder of the race to be fast and furious. There aren’t any big long switch-back climbs at Canyons, and there is tons of really fast down with some technical side hill traverse riding. The descents are super smooth and there is no speed limit. Much like last year I felt good on this section and went hard. My ultimate goal was to be under 9 hours. There is a short nasty climb within earshot of the finish, but I knew this section was somewhat shortened this year. It wasn’t until I had less than 2 miles to go that I was confident I would be under 9 hours. I had hopes of being faster, but I wasn’t. I can’t help but think of how many minutes were wasted on the flat tire, but that is racing. I made respectable gains over 2014, but there is more work to be done. I will be back in 2016.
Huge thanks for the support from bikeman.com over the summer in getting ready to race the P2P. I can’t say enough good things about this race and the riding scene in Park City. If you ever get a chance, I highly recommend checking out some of their 450 miles of singletrack.
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