Sunday, September 4, 2011

Park City Point 2 Point 2011 Race Recap

I've left a piece of me in Park City, Utah. Somewhere on the singletrack just raced upon, maybe where I laughed out loud and by myself at the pure joy of it all. I still have a cheesy grin on my face and remember all the great people I met - racers, supporters, locals. It was a weekend that even before it was underway, something told me, I'd never want it to end. I loved the atmosphere.

Like the "M" on Lookout Mountain, Park City has theirs.
The Park City Point 2 Point race was 80 miles by 14,000 feet of climbing. 95% of the trail was singletrack and the rest, fire road or double track. The Bailey HUNDO should take some notes. Mile for mile, the singletrack was even better than the Breck 100. When it was rocky, it was hella rocky, the roots were ginormous, but if and when you could smooth out some lines, it was ultra fast considering how late in the season it is. I once and only once had the opportunity to raise my head and take a mental snapshot of my surroundings before I was required to focus all of my attention back on the trail.

On race day morning, I was up at the first strike of my alarm at 4:30am, well before sunrise. I had the typical race day jitters, intimidated mostly by my own expectations. Breakfast was the usual race day fuel, I collected myself, and set off onto the dimly lit bike path toward the start line in nearly freezing temps at 35 degrees!


Many other racers were shivering at the cold like I was, it made me feel a tad warmer that I wasn't alone. They divided the racers according to their anticipated finish times. Therefore, I started with the second wave of riders in the 8-9 hour finisher group. When Jay announced the "ready, set, GO" I immediately launched off the front of the pack of who knows how many. I'm not sure if I was simply fired up, if I was the only realistic 8-9 hour finisher, or because I operate best in cold temps, but a minute after the start, I was way ahead of the group entering the first singletrack. I looked back once because I've never experienced such a quiet start and saw that the riders were a hundred yards behind me. The first 12 miles were at Round Valley in order to organize riders before hitting narrow singletrack up a switchback climb. This climb eased into 2400 feet of climbing with minimal descending, reaching the first aid station along the way at mile 28, where I could resupply my own nutrition products. I swear, I felt like there was an army of volunteers meeting my needs and I couldn't thank them enough! I then set off to finish the rest of the climb, prompting myself to eat and hydrate regularly and ensuring that I was riding on the cusp.

I have difficulty remembering a huge chunk of the race. It's all a blur. I do remember a guy in the woods outfitted with a swamp thing or yeti costume handing out fresh and crisp dollar bills to racers passing by. Random and freaking hilarious, I love the people at these events! After the mile 37 water station, I descended like a madman into the forest of gargantuan roots and trees just wide enough to allow my handlebar through. I took off screaming downhill because I knew Sonya Looney was behind me and was picking up speed. She's a badass rider and inspiring to the local riders and race scene. So, it's always special to race with her, and the likes of Kelly Boniface, and Rebecca Rusch to round out the top female riders yesterday. As for the male riders, Alex Grant got the win, followed by Tinker Juarez, and Josh Tostado who was helpful during the course recon the day prior. Back on the trail, I was successful at the downhill slalom amongst trees until one had gone unnoticed. It was hidden behind another tree and surprised the hell out of me. I hit the tree hard first with my shoulder, then I ricocheted to the other side of the trail and hit another tree with my hip, all in mid air. I picked up my bike in a state of uncertainty, fearing that I may have broken my collarbone. I must've looked like I got tossed out of the ring by an MMA fighter, it was ugly! I next picked up my mangled bike and collected myself. In the meantime, Sonya Looney passes me groaning at the side of the trail. That was the last time I saw her and later realized that I finished ten minutes behind her and a few minutes behind Rusch. Not bad!

As anticipated, it became a race from feed station to feed station. There was another sustained climb and tough descents that make the Steamboat Stinger and Breck 100 feel like a cake walk. I arrived at the mile 56 feed station where I could resupply with my own fuel for the second and last time. Again, the volunteers were tremendous and in my daze, I remember having four fellas helping me at the same time. Typically, as the race grows older, the more brain dead I become. So much that I initially had a volunteer looking for a Denver Broncos cooler which was back at aid station one, 30 miles away. Damn it, I can't be trusted late in a race! I eventually found the right bag and pounded half a Coke and a Honey Stinger waffle, not knowing what was in store.

Up until then, I had felt like my legs had shown up for a race for the first time since the Gunnison Growler in May. They were solid until mile 56 and I had no complaints. But, after the feed station, I felt like I had hero legs and was able to crush the course. Since I'm very calculative when it comes to crunching numbers during races, when I reach mile X, I can turn it on as if the race is nearly over. Mile X was mile 56 this time, two thirds of the way through until the finish. It also could have been the Coke or possibly that it takes hours and hours to for my legs to warm up and firing on all cylinders (i.e. at the Breck 100 it took 8 hours). Climbs became flats, flats became descents, and descents were the most synchronized moments I've ever had on a bike. It was more of an extension of my body than ever. It was surreal. I think in 24 miles, I must have passed at least a dozen riders, my Dad would say I was riding "like a bat outta hell."

I officially crossed the line in 8:46:05 for 9th of 87 riders in the 30-39 Age Category and 61st of 355 total riders for the Overall. Had I entered the Open Class like I should have, I would have finished in 36th. Final results here. Garmin stats here.

Relaxing at Stefan's place for the weekend. Nothing like the U.S. Open to ease me before the big race. Go Nadal!
This was hands down, the best race of the summer in regards to the course, event production, and personal results. Jay Burke organized the event and I was fortunate to have the chance to thank him for his efforts. Also, I was able to introduce myself to the CarboRocket founder, Brad Keyes, who shared tons of CarboRocket support at the aid stations along the way and continues to support me in my dream to make it onto the podium. Another huge thanks goes out to Schwalbe for tire support, the Racing Ralphs were perfect for this race! Thanks to Honey Stinger for their Gels, Chews, and Waffles which coupled with CarboRocket Half Evil 333, it's helped sustain proper nutrition throughout the long and brutal races. We'll see how they do for the upcoming 24 hour solos!

A special thanks to my friend Stefan, who despite not being in Park City at the time, he was incredibly hospitable in allowing me to stay at his place for the weekend. It made for an incredibly relaxing and successful weekend!

This race was right up my alley and a great springboard for my first ultra endurance solo race, 24 Hours of Colorado Springs National Championships, where I anticipate doubling that amount of climbing in one day. I've been waiting for this race all year and couldn't be more excited.

Here's a quick video of this year's race, watch for swamp thing handing out dollar bills!

I'll be back in Park City next year!