In September 2009 I raced the inaugural Park City Point to Point endurance race. 78 miles. 12,000 vertical gain. Unbelievable singletrack. I had a solid race. Good legs. A toothy grin. And a sharp mind. But a late mechanical, and some of my own boneheaded miscalculations left me restless for redemption. Or at the very least, reconciliation. And so, all throughout the winter of skiing and the spring of desert dirt and blackbrush and throughout this summer of aspen and singletrack the 2010 Point to Point has lingered in the far reaches of my mind. It has whispered faintly, taunting and nagging. Delusions of grandeur have danced in imaginative mental collages of smooth trail, bouncy legs and long, solo breakaways wherein I ride myself into the canon of mountain bike legend and lore.
That is, until I’m broadsided by reality.
It was with the Point to Point rising on the horizon of everyone involved that a group of hearty mountain bikers set out to demystify portions of the route—despite prior experience and knowledge. I was, I realized immediately, going to suffer. My riding companions were hard riders who dispatch of journeymen such as myself with an easy regularity. This was not going to be a typical and recreational tour of Park City’s finest dirt. Duff Johnson, Aaron Stites, and The Holleys—Chris and K.C.—set out to cover a lot of ground. A veritable buffet of world class singletrack. The theme of the day was: Hang on. If you can.
I daydreamed with impunity. It was easy to imagine oneself riding the actual race while trying to chase down my companions. I had to work hard, dig deep. And, although I have no proof, I think at one point I was forced to open up a suitcase of courage just to remain on the fringes of inclusion into the group.
“There’s one more back…we think.”
I thought of race day. And of dancing up the switchbacks of the Steps climb and into the alpine of Crescent Mine. Of riding away from wheels behind me, gliding easily up to 9,000 feet, and through the gnarled forest of John’s 99. I saw myself floating over the Spiro switchbacks, the Mid-Mountain Trail, and the rugged Flagstaff Loop even as I flailed and bumbled and bumped over them presently.
All the pain and the heat and the chasing of riders who reside in a realm far and beyond my own was for that day. For race day.
Indeed, all the bleeding out of the eyes and the bursting of lungs and burning of legs and Alpine Loop time trials, dirt patrols, cross-country races, rest days, scale watching, and icy post ride plunges into running streams and rivers are for that day.
I fell asleep with running singeltrack racing through my brain. Trees and roots and rocks and sky whirled by me. Left over visions from a day of sensory overload. It was as if my mind was dumping data it could not process or find any useful place to store away. Pointless. I rested easy. And smiled broadly. Though that automated data processing part of my head had no comprehension of what it had recorded that day, there was a small, seldom used part that knew exactly the point of all the green and blue and brown streaming seamlessly and beautifully into the nether.