Monday, September 7, 2009

“This Is What We Do” – the Park City Point 2 Point endurance mountain bike race

After our enjoyable experience at the Laramie Enduro 111k in early August, and a teaser email from the organizers explaining that there were no coed duo teams registered for the race, Lucy casually announced that if I were somehow able to manage not having to fly on Labor Day as a junior captain, we should enter. So two weeks ago when my schedule came out as we sipped coffee on the first day of our supposedly relaxing Steamboat Springs get-away, I looked at Lucy and said, “I guess we are doing the PCP2P.” I had called her bluff. Never the one to turn down a challenge, when I balked at the $240 late entry fee, she said to me, “Don’t worry about the money, Drew, this is what we do!” So we tossed our helmets, er, I mean hats, into the race.

The 5th of September was a Saturday. Smack dab in the middle of a beautiful Labor Day Weekend. People for the most part in Salt Lake City were fast asleep at 5 AM dreaming of picnics in the park, hot dogs on the grill, and another day away from the office. Our household had a slightly different experience: 5 AM was greeted with three alarm clocks blaring in unison. We rubbed the sleep from our eyes and looked at each other in the dark. A quick disregard for the multiple alarms and we could be back to sleep in nanoseconds, allowing us several more hours of sleep. The sun would be up, the birds would be chirping, and everything in our minds would make sense. Instead I murmured to my wife “time to get up and get ready for the Park City Point 2 Point mountain bike race, Dear”. We clambered out of bed and started our day.
After a few cups of coffee and a big bowl of oatmeal we found ourselves up at the start line for the race in Park City at 6:45 AM.

The Race
The Park City Point 2 Point is a mountain bike race dreamed up by some of our local friends. This year was the inaugural race and there was a lot of excitement from the local race community and racers around the nation. Most mountain bike races start and finish in the same location, but the PCP2P race started at the National Abilities Center in Park City and finished at The Canyons ski resort six miles away. However, six miles of pavement does not a mountain bike race make! The course was just about the longest and most circuitous route possible to get from point A to point B: 75-miles of 95% singletrack with an advertised 14,000 feet of climbing through a network of trails in Deer Valley, Park City, and the Canyons.

Out of 168 participants, 134 were crazy enough to attempt this epic race solo. The two of us are still able to make the occasional smart decision and entered as a duo-coed team. Lucy took the 1st leg, which was 36 miles long and had 4960 feet of climbing. With the sun just coming up at 7 AM, Lucy and many of our friends and teammates left the start line for the first ever PCP2P mountain bike race.

(PCP2P start line.)

Lucy's Leg
The weather in Park City provided cool temperatures in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s for the event. Approximately and hour into the event a passing rain shower soaked the racers and the course. Spirits were high and there were many muddy smiles out on the race course. During stage one, I supported Lucy as she climbed and descended on the trails. The determination on her face and the amount of zeal that she attacked the course with was nothing short of incredible. A mild mannered geologist by day she is a force to be reckoned with on her mountain bike. With her teeth coated by dirt, bike covered in mud, rain spitting on her from above, and temperatures in the low 50’s she kept pushing herself. Every time I saw her out on the course she would pass by and give me a slight nod and a smile as she pressed on. The biggest challenge of stage 1 was a 7-mile, 1900-foot climb from the valley floor to the top of Mt. Baldy on a nice singletrack which deteriorated to loose gravel road and then turned onto technical singletrack usually designated as downhill-only which took an hour and a half. Solo racers later said this was the most difficult part of the race. After 4 hours and 38 minutes on the bike Lucy finished stage one and passed the baton on to me.

(Lucy riding leg 1)

(Lucy's heart rate monitor profile. HR is the upper red line, speed is the blue line, and the elevation profile is the filled red area.)

Drew's Leg
Stage two was 42.5 miles long with 5807 feet of climbing for me. The fact that I was able to race on trails I normally train on made the course almost surreal. Familiar rock and root hazards presented themselves as I made my way across the mountain. After climbing for 2 hours I descended down to the 2nd aid station. With Lucy’s help I resupplied with water and gel packets. Three minutes later I found myself climbing back away from the aid station as I choked down the remnants of my peanut butter sandwich wedge.

(Drew departing aid station 2)

(Click on the image below for details of Drew's ride.)

The next 3.5 hours was a great experience. Riding through high alpine meadows, dense wooded forests and finally descending down to The Canyons resort to cross the finish line was incredible. Lucy and I finished 4th out of 6 duo-coed teams with a time of 10:04.

(Drew crossing the finish line.)

(Coed duo podium.)
All Done for Now
After the race we hung out at the resort to watch our friends finish and enjoy the free outdoor concert and killer raffles. I won a nice raffle package, that combined with our racers’ registration bag of goodies, probably equaled in value our entrance fee. The race was a success and we look forward to it growing over the years and becoming an established event in Park City.Perhaps now with racing season officially and positively over, we will have time to devote to our home-improvement endeavors and possibly a hike or two. But for this Labor Day, we are just going to sit back and take it easy.

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