Park City Point to Point with Eric Porter
All Photos by John Shafer at @photojohnphoto and photojohn.net
“Why are you still smiling??” Everyone watching Park City Point to Point kept asking me this when I passed them with a big grin on my face. My answer? Why not! I get to ride my bike all day long on the best trails in Park City during this “race”! Sure it’s 76 miles of single track with 15,000 feet of climbing, but it’s just riding! Wait wait wait… how long is it? How much climbing??? Why would a freerider and ex Crankworx Slopestyle athlete be doing this? Well, after pushing myself with huge jumps and crazy tricks for so many years, it’s hard to just turn off the drive for progression in my brain, but since I don’t like being hurt as much as I used to, I channel that energy into mega trail rides! It’s also a return to my XC roots, having grown up in the cross country race scene in the Midwest. Everything else aside, if I could only do one thing on a bike, it would definitely be riding alpine single track, that’s the core of mountain biking to me.
So did I train for this event? Well that depends on what you call training. I figured out years ago that if I actually try to “train” and have a set program, I burn out quickly. I need variety and fun, and training is just exercise. Without knowing it, I’ve basically been preparing for this race for years, although until recently I thought people racing it had some screws loose upstairs. I love huge alpine singletrack rides, bikepacking, and generally using my bike to get as far away from civilization as possible. The problem with rides like that, typically, is that they are hard! So I started waking up early and climbing hills on my road bike, I started adding on miles and vert to my trail rides, I started eating better and drinking less. Over time, I gained the ability to ride trails all day long, day after day. I wasn’t training, I was just getting stronger and upping the endurance. Most importantly, I was having fun while I did it, which kept me coming back for more. The funny thing is, the fitter you get, the fitter you want to get, it’s a vicious cycle!
So maybe it was training, but I sure as hell didn’t call it that, or let that get into my mind. Luckily the benefits outweighed the pain, and I started being able to do big routes that I used to have to shuttle, or do once a year. My riding crew changed a little, riding with faster and stronger guys, seeking out bigger rides, doing routes I never thought I’d do. In short, I was finally ready for something like Point to Point.
When I committed to the race, friends were asking what I was going to ride, since Diamondback doesn’t currently make a full suspension XC specific race bike. In my typical fashion, I wanted to do the race on a fun bike, not suffer through it on a race hardtail. I started with my Diamondback Catch, a 27.5+ tire 140mm front travel 130mm rear travel trail bike. I did need to shed some weight and make it more of an XC bike, so I went through and shed weight everywhere I could. I started out with some Reynolds XC race wheels, 29” because they would fit in the frame, and some 2.2 Kenda XC race tires. Then I swapped my brakes for Magura MT8’s with 160mm SL rotors, and aluminum mounting hardware. Next, I threw on narrow carbon bars, you know 760’s from Deity, my kind of narrow! I finished out the setup with a Revelate Gas Tank bag, so I’d have easy access to food when I needed. Side note, I eat a LOT.
How did I do? Well, I didn’t finish last, that’s for sure, but I was still a couple hours behind the leaders, Keegan Swenson and Todd Wells, my good friends that are way too fast! I cruised up the climbs, took time to high five friends at the aid stations, stopped at the Bacon Handoff for some wheelies and an extra slice of bacon, I manualed down trails, and I hit every jump I saw. I finished just outside of 8 hours, which is respectable, and I can’t wait to come back for another lap of the race next year!
My advice to anyone thinking about something like this? DO IT! It always feels good to push yourself, ride more than you ever have in a day, and see what you’ve got! If you aren’t going for the win, then make sure to have fun! Let people pass, take your passes when it’s good, cheer the others on, and thank the fans! This is one of the best events in the mountain bike world, and now I finally understand why big endurance events are doing so well around the country, they rule! Huge thanks to Jay, Shannon, and their crew for putting on such an awesome event. I’ll be back!
Total Miles: A little over 75 Miles 90% Singletrack (Probably more, but we don’t want the other races to feel bad) Around 12,000′ + Elevation Gain (give or take a 1,000′)
Average Finish Time: 8.5 – 9 hours (Fastest, sub 7 hours, slowest a little over 12 hours)
More information on the Park City Point to Point race here: https://thepcpp.com/
Follow Eric Porter’s adventure here on his instagram at @PorterMTB