to the pain
September 6, 2010
Okay, let’s talk Park City Point to Point.
I registered for this bad boy way back in February because my brother in law, Sleepy, and I needed a reason not to get fat. And Sleepy texted me while I was travelling in Washington D.C. and told me the race was filling up fast.
So I was under a lot of pressure. You know. To not get fat and to not miss out. So I registered.
Speaking of getting fat (or not), I had the weirdest thought as I crossed the finish line–“Someone get me a scale! This might be my only chance to see the low side of 175 for the rest of my life! My kingdom for a scale!”
Nobody got me a scale.
All right, on to the race.
Lemme esplain. No, there is too much, lemme sum up.
I laughed. Then I cried. Then I finished (in just over 11:30—final times are unclear, since they used timing chips, and their website is not what you’d call 2.0). And I cried some more. Riding it with friends, and having Kim and Holden crewing for me saved me.
Seriously, this was the hardest race/event I have ever done. Bar none. In fact, the rerouted section of the mid mountain trail,which came about 60 miles into the race, was the nastiest, rockiest, worstest section of trail ever. I know of at least two people who cracked their frames on that section. (Both finished.)
Here’s how it all finished, in case you’re on a schedule:
Let’s back up.
Kim’s dad used to have a condo up at Silver Lake Village, in upper Deer Valley, so me n Sleepy n Sunderlage used to ride that stuff a lot. It’s pretty sweet. But apart from one time on the mid mountain trail, I’ve never ridden the rest before. Which turned out to be a good thing, because if I had known what was coming, I never would have left the Park City aid station.
Here I am thinking about not leaving the Park City aid station:
It was a close call.
My bike waited patiently:
Anyway. The race event.
The race started in something called Round Valley.
We we did a parade lap on low, rolling singletrack that lasted just short of an hour. Fun stuff. But lots of people there that had no idea how to self-sort. In retrospect, that might have been a good thing, and kept me from going out too hard. But still—I hate when people don’t know how to self-sort.
Here’s a tip: If in doubt about where you sort, always move farther back. Always.
The race from the start to about halfway,what they apparently call the first half, was simply awesome. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun in a race. It was pretty much all singletrack, all spectacular, and I felt great. Lower and Upper Deer Valley have awesome trail. I mean, really, really good trail. Trail that doesn’t suck. Which is a bit more than I can say for the trail a bit farther west/north.
I felt good, my arms and hands felt good, I was using Brad’s new CR333 for fuel, and apart from a couple twitches in my legs hinting of cramping danger, I was on top of the world.
Me n Jason White left Silver Lake Village for the second time together, and the climb up Big Bear gave no indication of the horror to come. Big Bear, TG, all good. But then we dropped over to Park City,where the trails went from buttery awesomeness to general shittiness. I slid out in a loose rooty bit of downhill whose name escapes me, and felt like I had split my kneecap.
But I’m telling you, the pain of my kneecap wasn’t near as bad as coming out above the Bonanza lift, seeing the aid station far below, being out of water, and realizing we had to turn back up and climb to Shadow Lake. Here’s a tip for the course marshals sitting there by their truck–have a cooler of water there. Please? It’s 30 hard, miserable miles between Silver Lake and PCMR. That’s one long, dark pain cave.
I hate Shadow Lake. With some venom. I walked the “Steps” in their entirety. But once around the lake, I dropped my bike, scrambled down to the shore, and laid my upper body completely in the water. That part of Shadow Lake I like. Oh, and I drank an entire bottle full of Shadow Lake water. Erik,who is a doctor, tells me the side effects won’t bother me for a couple of weeks. So I’ve got that going for me. Which is nice.
From there, the course could have gone down Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride from Lake Tahoe and I wouldn’t have been happy with it. I just wanted to be done.
Except the Park City aid station is only two thirds of the way. The true pain cave lay ahead.
Kim and company were supportive, helpful, cheerful, kind, loving, all that, but I did not want to get back on my bike. And sitting under a little bridge at the aid station, the cramps started up. And then, Kim gave me some pills, and magically, the mystery cramps went away, leaving me with no excuse to not keep going.
Just to add insult to injury, the first quarter mile out of the Park City aid station was a walker, up a stupid dirt road until we caught the Spiro trail. The Spiro trail is normally very pleasant, but by this time, nothing would be pleasant.
When I finally gained the mid mountain trail, any steep grade would knock me off my bike for a short walk. I welcomed every one of those walks.
And then, like Dante, I got to visit all the the circles of @#!*% . Except Dante was a pansy, just passing through, observing, recording. I was living it. Oh my @#!*% . The re-routed section of the mid mountain trail should be closed. Blown up. Made into a prison camp. For war criminals. But only the worst ones.
In short, I didn’t like that section of the trail very much. But like the Persian king who wanted something that would cheer him up when he was too sad and even him out when he was too glad, I just kept telling myself This Too Shall Pass. And eventually, it did.
My brother, who lives in The Colony portion of the Canyons, got a VIP pass to the secret Red Pine-ish aid station, and I’ve never been so glad to see him. But I couldn’t stay there, mostly because it wasn’t the finish line. 13 miles to go.
After I passed Red Pine, everything got a bit cloudy, but there was a short uphill double track section where I realized I was completely out of fuel and energy, and as I walked up this section, another guy on a singlespeed came by me, kept on a bit longer, then stopped, knelt down, and threw up for a minute. I stopped short of him, and forced myself to eat 3 Shot Blocks.
And partly due to the proximity of someone vomiting, and partly because after about 10 hours of racing my stomach could only be charitably described as “touchy,” I promptly threw up too.
But I knew I would never make the finish line without something to help me, so I forced myself to swallow another 3 blocks, and just held my lips with my fingers to keep from throwing them up. I mostly succeeded. Enough, anyway, to keep going.
The race ends with an endless downhill, but I was long past the point of enjoying any downhill. And of course, there’s the sucker punch climb right as you come into sight of the finish area, where you turn right and climb two miles and another 1,000 feet before you’re finally allowed to drop into the Canyons base area, and come into the finishing area.
As I turned the last corner, heard some cowbells and saw Kim running toward me from the finish line, I grabbed my head with both hands (because I’m a highly skilled bike handler, I can do this, but don’t try it at home) and started bawling like a baby.
I managed to shut off the tears before anybody got close to me, but later, sitting on the grass with the guys and wives, I had to shut my eyes hard several times to keep from bursting into tears again.
“To the pain” is right.
“Wrong! Your ears you keep, and I’ll tell you why. So that every shriek of every child at seeing your hideousness will be yours to cherish, every babe that weeps at your approach, every woman who cries out: “Dear God, what is that thing?” will echo in your perfect ears. That is what “to the pain” means. It means I leave you in anguish, wallowing in freakish misery, forever.”
Yeah, that about sums it up.