Getting to the Point
August 31, 2010
Jay Burke has always known where the most rugged mountain bikers want to ride, so he decided to take the matter into his own hands and find and build a course that would appease the salivary glands of the nation’s best riders.
"It’s about going back to the roots," Burke said. "It’s a sort of personal conquest."
The second annual Park City Point 2 Point mountain-bike race is taking place this Saturday, Sept. 4. An endurance-based race, the Point 2 Point is 90 percent single track, in contrast to the traditional lap-based mountain-bike races.
Burke, the race’s founder, is an avid mountain-bike racer and has been for some time. He admits that it is a pain that he has organized something this special, but won’t able shoot down the trails himself. Could be a good thing, though. Burke expects some of the most in-shape, experienced riders to fall victim of the hills and trails of Point 2 Point.
"Tons of riders won’t finish," Burke said. "Probably more than a 25 percent attrition rate. This course is hard. It is really hard."
The event’s name is derived from the fact that the race is a legitimate point-to-point race. Riders will never cross or even use the same trail twice. The course stretches 78 miles, while climbing an absurd 14,000 feet. Originally, Burke envisioned a 100-mile course that would be an absolute rigorous display of endurance and biking ability.
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The course will be starting at Quinn’s Junction Recreation Complex, wind its way around Deer Valley, Bald Mountain, toward Park City Mountain Resort and end at the Canyon’s resort.
"We wanted to do closer to 100 miles, but (the idea) got shut down," Burke said. "We’re pushing 80 miles with all sorts of unique trails. Endurance races have turned into lap races. No rider wants to do that."
One of the main lures Burke has found successful in the past is the fact that Park City is typically envisioned as a snowy getaway. He realized that the mountains are just as appealing not covered in white, and wanted to capitalize on it.
"This is huge for the city as a summer sport," Burke said. "Tourism keeps (Park City) ticking."
Huge is a bit of an understatement if we’re going off the first two years of the Point 2 Point.
The number of entrants has doubled since last summer, jumping from 160 riders to a whopping 320 this year and Burke and his office still continue to field calls from riders pleading their way into the race.
"It just kind of exploded. It’s just crazy popular," he said. "We sold out (this race) in five hours back in February."
Some of the country’s best riders are expected to be at the race, including last year’s winner, Alex Grant, along with Josh Toastado, Ben Sonntag and Jeff Kirkland.
Burke said about 40 percent of the riders entered this year are from outside of Utah. He also expects some of the best female mountain bikers around, including the winners of this year’s Laramie Enduro and the Breckenridge 500.
But organizing and putting the race together wasn’t that easy.
Aside from just getting the Point 2 Point name out there on a national level, finding the course itself was difficult, but Burke’s persistence worked out in the end, and with tremendous results.
"Getting the course laid out was tough, but it’ll carry on," Burke said. "But it carries this wicked appeal. Riders always want what they can’t have."
Burke mentioned that the track will not be changed annually and he preached familiarity as a key cog to attracting former participants back. He believes it’ll be a good challenge to riders, who will want to beat past years’ times.
Burke would like to eventually develop Point 2 Point into a nationally recognized event, preferably within the next three years or so. Also, he wants to expose the kind of hidden treasures there are in terms of mountain-bike racing in and around Park City.
All in all, Burke could not be more excited about Saturday’s event and knows it can be something special.
"This idea has always been a flicker in the back of my mind for a long time," he said. "I wanted to build a brand to shine a light on Park City mountain biking."
He believes wholeheartedly in the product he’s selling.
"It’s definitely the event to do in Utah in terms of endurance."