Riding from point to point
You know a race is tough when most of the competitors are simply trying to finish it.
That’s the case with the Park City Point 2 Point, a 75-mile mountain bike race through the vast Park City trail system that will be held on Saturday, Sept. 3.
Starting at 7 a.m. in Round Valley, 380 riders will set out on the long journey through Deer Valley and Park City Mountain before eventually ending at Canyons Village.
Race Director Jay Burke said he expects some fierce competition atop the men’s and women’s open division races, but said he has just as much fun watching riders battle themselves and the conditions to simply cross the finish line.
“I’ll talk to people who have done it multiple years and say they’ll never do it again and then there they are when it’s time to register again,” he laughed. “It’s the kind of thing that gets under your skin. It’s a challenge because it’s there. There’s really a differentiation between the people who race it and the people who have it on their bucket lists. Some people just have the goal of finishing — I’d say two-thirds of the people fall into that category.”
Still, the event remains very popular. When online registration opened earlier this year, Burke said the response was overwhelming.
“We sold out again in about five minutes, which is about as fast as the servers will process everyone,” he said. “We have 20 states represented in this year’s field. It’s a testament to the popularity of our trails that we can put together 75 miles of this race without repeating trails.”
Burke added that trail conditions may provide an extra challenge for riders in 2016.
“It’s been a hot, dry summer,” he said. “The trail conditions are going to be pretty dusty. I don’t think we’ll see times a whole lot faster than we had last year. We had pretty good compacted dirt last year. If [the weather] stays the way it has been, it’ll certainly be a factor.
“It just sucks the moisture out of your body. It’s going to be about planning and wearing hydration packs. That’s going to be the big thing this year.”
Now in its eighth year, the Point 2 Point will once again end at Canyons Village, where Burke said riders enjoy resting after a long day in the saddle.
“We’ve been ending there for eight years, since we started,” he said. “There’s plenty of room and we finish on the grass there. It’s always wonderful for the racers to lay on the cool grass and get off their bikes.”
Last year’s race winner, Rob Squire, finished in just over 6 hours and 30 minutes. However, most finishers crossed the line with times from 8 to 12 hours.
Though Burke expects finishing times to be slower due to the dusty trails, he said he still believes there will be great riding at the front of the pack.
“Alex Grant [who won the first six Point 2 Point races] suffered a pretty substantial injury early this season over in Europe during a World Cup race,” Burke said. “But we have Keegan Swenson, a local rider and one of [Grant’s] teammates. I’d call him one of the favorites, for sure.
“Robbie Squire won last year and he’s coming back. Those two are very different. Squire was eighth in the Tour of Utah, so his skillset is a little different than Keegan’s. It’s going to be really interesting to see how they square off in a really big male open field — anything can happen out there.”
Burke also highlighted Marlee Dixon, Gretchen Reeves and Parker Tyler as names to watch in the women’s race, which he said should be a tough battle, too. Last year, Evelyn Dong won with a time of 7 hours, 37 minutes and 33.85 seconds.
Though the race will be taking place for most of the day on Saturday, Burke said there won’t be a problem for any recreational riders who want to hit the trails themselves.
“It’s a continually moving race, so it’s really easy to be in front of it or get in behind it and get a ride in,” he said.
For more information on the Park City Point 2 Point, including a detailed course map, visit http://www.thepcpp.com/trail-impact.
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Tosh Martin, a Park City High School junior, was the Miners’ sole selection to the Class 4A UHSAA All-State soccer first team.