Where does one begin, in trying to recap a 9 hour odyssey that comprised some of the greatest singletrack on Earth?
At the beginning, of course.
But then, I wonder where that even is. For the Park City Point to Point has occupied my brain for far longer than the duration of the race itself. In fact, it seemed to creep into my psyche long ago. Immediately upon its official inception and its public proclamation the seeds started taking root, expanding, growing, until eventually the fruit they produced sprouted out of my ears and spilled over onto the ground in a rush of excited, nervous anticipation. Is it odd, I wonder, that grown men can become no different than small children who are caught up in a Christmas Eve like mess of apprehension and fidgety discontent before the simplicity of a bike race?
For months the PCPP lingered in the back of my brain. And when the AMC died its ignominious death, that lingering quickly hurried itself into a brash flurry of logistical plan-making and last minute ambition mongering. And then, at long last, there we all were, lined up together in the pre-dawn light of the Park City mountains, apprehensive smiles and jittery jokes were spreading throughout the field. I wondered, if like a herd of flighty deer, whether a loud noise would not spook us all into a frenzy, sending bikes and colorful lycra into a diaspora of chaos and confusion. But the group held the line, and its composure as we headed toward the unknown and the pain and the sheer, unmitigated joy of racing a mountain bike high in the mountains of Utah.
Thematically speaking, that was the dominant chorus of the day: joy. It was ever present, ever motivating. Despite the difficulty and the daunting nature of climbing up and up and up, and then descending down and down and down, only to have to rinse and repeat, there was never that hollow, cold, lonely feeling of enduro induced despair or self-condolment. There were no thoughts of retirement and retreat to the soft life of the couch and the easy living of processed sugary foods. Albeit, I did indulge in such – indeed I still am – for the time being.
But rather the day was, from end to end a demonstration of that elusive it. And a concrete answer to that perennial inquiry from outsiders: why? The intangible becoming reality and the mythical becoming historical. But, to be certain, it still challenged every aspect of my mind and body. From the long climbing to the exigent, arduous descending, the course came together to create a gauntlet of mountain bike idealism, like some fantasy encumbered dream from the mind and heart of a deranged and disturbed individual, a person rooted in a reality that simply does not connect with fact and common sense.
In other words, a mountain biker.
Which is why, I can only guess, that from start to finish there were giddy, stupid, muddy grins plastering the faces of everyone. In spite of the inherent pain. Indeed, most likely because of it!
Are we all not masochists?
For the first time in my life I am standing in the wake of an endurance race hungry to compete once again. Eager to challenge my mind and my body and my bike in yet another catechism of incalculable proportions. A vehement hankering to witness again the collision of the tangible and the mythical.
Alas, I fear that it will be spring before that opportunity arrives in earnest. However, I quite like the idea of spending a Utah Winter hungry and engaged.