75 miles of singletrack. 10,000 feet of climbing. 7 hours and 46 minutes. I have always considered myself an endurance athlete. I excel at longer events, but, to me, longer events have always been in the realm of 90 minutes to 4 hours. When I signed up to race the Park City Point 2 Point I was both excited and nervous. I was excited to see just how I could do at a test of true endurance, but nervous wondering exactly how I would react to the race nearly 2 times the length of the longest event I had ever done.
This event was a true test of my endurance, mental fortitude, my understanding of physiology, and pure, blind faith in God and myself. I spent hours preparing my race equipment. For a usual 90 minute race it only takes a few minutes to put a few gels in my pocket and fill up my bottles with mix. This race took hours of counting carbohydrates, fluid ounces, and organizing feed zone bags. I had to begin racing days before the event topping off my glycogen stores and calculating exactly what it would take to complete an event of this length.
I woke up at 4 am to get one last big meal before hours of consuming nothing but blocks and gels. I made pancakes in the morning and soon found myself sitting in the car in the dark and cold hours of the morning. I was ready, but was it enough?
We began the race at a quick clip, wasting no time at tackling the 75 miles. Two riders went on ahead setting a blistering pace, but I knew my body and held back anticipating the hours ahead of me. I soon found myself sitting in a group of 3 riding from 3rd to 5th place. My legs felt heavy, and it was tough to maintain the pace. I was sitting in 5th and repeating my early race mantra: “You have time.” You have time…to recovery, to attack, to feel stronger, to race. Ninety minutes into the event, a switch flipped and I began to feel stronger. I moved into 4th. 3rd place and I separated ourselves from 5th place. Two and a half hours into the event, 3rd place pulled ahead and I began my new mantra: “Ride your own pace.” I felt confident. I stayed exactly on my nutrition plan, consuming either blocks or gels every 30 minutes throughout the entire event. 4.5 hours into the race, I caught 3rd place. I increased the pace and charged up the long climb. I gained a small gap.
As I entered the 2nd feed station, I was in a daze. I was hanging on a sting. I was 5 hours into an 8 hour race. It was difficult to imagine 3 more hours of pure suffering out on the bike. My feed crew surrounded me. I felt like I was in the middle of a NASCAR pit stop. Someone was lubing my chain, someone else placing a camelbak on my back, and Clayton pushing blocks into my shaking hands. After hours of solitude this moment passed like a blur. As I pushed out of the aid, I said “Ok.” That was all I needed. I was ready for the final 3 hour push.
Fourth place was only 30 seconds behind me at hour 5 as I left Aid 2, but 200 meters later at the top of a steep climb, I was already 1 minute ahead. I wasn’t going to look back. I knew if I wanted to secure my third place finish, it was now or never. My body begged to slow down and stop, but my brain reasoned that I had to go harder. There is something so raw and beautiful about this feeling. Treating your body like a machine for hours on end, while maintaining all of the emotions of a human shows me who we truly are. This creates an out of body experience for me. I am reminded that my body is just a vessel, and my true feelings, worth, and will power are located in my heart, soul, and head.
I pushed hard for the final 2 hours of race, counting down the miles 1/10th at a time. I crashed 2 miles from the finish line and as I scrambled to remount my bike and rushed to continue onward– I smiled. Over 7 hours into racing, I still wanted it. I was still rushing, I still had to ability to give it everything I had. When is the last time you focused, endured pain, and felt burning desire for over 7 hours? 7 hours 46 minutes and 39 seconds later I crossed the finish line in 3rd place. I felt so much joy to cross the line. I love that feeling. I love being completely depleted but completely satisfied. I can’t wait to come back next year.
One thought on “Park City Point 2 Point”
Great write up Hannah! While we all recognize that our worth isn’t in what place we take we all struggle with the desire to do our best and we want it show with a podium. Thanks for making this relate-able to pros and those of us who just ride. I love the fact that this race has an award for the “I’m somebody” – the average of us who buy whatever it is the pro’s are using! Keep writing and we’ll keep reading!