Hamilton Smith reporting on the Park City Point 2 Point 2014:
There is no mystery why the Park City Point 2 Point has become one of my favorite races in the past few years, and this year Paul Nash and I toed the line for Team Jackson Hole for possibly the very best edition they have had on offer to date. I’ve seen the good the bad and the ugly in Park City; from 6:00 a.m. lightening storms, to broken bits of bike, body and spirit. It’s all on offer as you embark on a geographic meet and greet of Park City’s three major ski resorts, and the incredible network of trails linking up the mega-park. Simple statistics include 75 miles almost exclusively on single track along a route that not once crosses or doubles back on trail previously travelled, hence the rare opportunity to ride a true Point-to-Point endurance racecourse. From the reasonable 7:00 am start at Round Valley to the finish line beckoning at the base of the Canyons racers ascend Deer Valley, Park City Mountain and the Canyons resorts.
If one truism persists, it is that you should never settle in or get too comfortable in one mindset here, because you always need that little something in reserve for a high-speed technical descent or a lurking, stomach-punch of climb right when you least expect it! The Point 2 Point is truly seductive in the opening hours, smooth and gentle, stoking the ego, only ever so incrementally steeping in grade, and luring you on ever faster. In the past it has been about 4 hours in, while climbing some scrabbly-ass switchback at 9,500 feet, that I have gotten the haunting notion that I waaaay overspent my budget, and had so little in reserve to make up the difference with hours left in the day.
This is the type of event that one can spend an entire summer building up to, a LotoJa of single track, and it is wise to approach it this way. The miles and/or elevation gain alone should not deter anyone, but combined with a track that includes enough chicken heads, shark’s teeth, and other intermittent gnarl to undo any air tight race preparation, combined with the typical suite of mountain weather curve balls, this one can go epic on a rider in a single pedal stroke, just about anywhere on the course. That is where this course demands true resilience, and maybe some patience.
I laughed to myself finishing such an epic in Sturgis earlier this summer thinking that I had survived what I had coined at the time as the 3:2:1 of disasters; 3 wrecks, 2 turns off course, and 1 flat – not totally unusual for this game, but during this year’s Point 2 Point, I kept a clean sheet, 0:0:0, not a single disaster, and to boot the course itself was in the best condition I had ever seen. Add to that the weather stayed almost perfectly in check, if not just a wee bit chilly & greasy during a spell of showers. I had nowhere else to look for performance or lack thereof, than within. In many respects I rode smart and within myself, preventing horrific bonks and dreaded cramps, but at the end of the day I sensed that I had spent too much time in little “r” mode (recovery) on the course, and not enough time in Big R mode (Racing) which resulted in too much left in the tank at the end of the day. I was left with that perplexing question of how the heck does one get to a faster level, w/o detonating into a miserable heap out on course?
One easy adjustment for a singlespeed rider is to drop a tooth from the rear cog. I went in a bit intimidated, and should have demanded a bit more from myself by running a taller gear. Second, I have been a bit smug lately about “flying blind” on the racecourse, meaning w/o computers tracking mileage, speed…let alone heart rate, cadence, or GPS tracks to latch onto or distract. This approach does cater to the zen-like state of settling in for a day in the saddle and exclusively following the internal power meter, with one goal, happiness…oh yeah, and one more, finishing! Check and check: however; in a very un zen-like way I am not entirely satisfied with the time slot I finished in, identical down to the minute with my 2011 result! Is it too much to ask to get older, wiser…and faster?
After the past 2 seasons I am now a firm believer in setting very real intensions, and I went into this year’s P2P very much with an intention of riding a clean, disaster free race, but also with the expectation of a faster final time. These are the seeds of learning that keep bringing us back for more, and as elated as I am about not sending the bike into the stout trunk of an aspen, or slicing through tire sidewalls, next time I think I’ll need to take the bit with that much more firmness, and ask for more from the steed! I would be remiss if I did not urge each and every one of you to go give this race a shot. It’s relatively close to home, an amazing long weekend that is incredibly family friendly – especially if you grab a room at the Canyons Resort, and well…super burly! In a good way. I threw the gratuitous racer pic in the story to show off the local non-profit Team JH has been riding for this summer on my sleeves! Check out Hole Food Rescue https://www.facebook.com/HoleFoodRescue and give them any support you can They provide an invaluable service in Jackson Hole, and stand for sustainability and reduction of our carbon footprint, by reducing food waste, helping to feed people who are in the greatest need, and pedaling bicycles to get it done. Wahoo to that!! And thanks for reading!!