For the past nine years, rather than the yawp of a bullhorn, pistol fire, or even an announcer yelling “Go!,” the Point 2 Point mountain bike race, scheduled for Sept. 1 at 7 p.m., has kicked off on the Saturday morning of Labor Day weekend in the same way: with a flurry of potato cannon–fired Fruit Loops.
Despite its goofy start, the P2P has been revered as one of the most challenging mountain bike endurance events in the US since it began in 2008. It’s also one of the few races where local amateur cyclists get to pedal alongside pros like Larissa Connors, Todd Wells, and local phenom Keegan Swenson. What makes it so tough? Where races like the Leadville 100 include stretches on fire roads, the P2P’s 75-mile, 12,000-foot-elevation-gain course is almost all singletrack, never runs on the same trail twice, and never crosses itself. “Riding that much singletrack for that long makes it very difficult to find places to recover and fuel the body,” says P2P Founder and Race Director Jay Burke. “Typically, about 20 percent of the field does not finish.”
Burke began conceiving his sufferfest more than 15 years ago. At the time, endurance racing was surging in popularity, and Park City was hungry for summertime events. “I had been doing the local midweek race series for a few years by that time,” Burke says, “and I figured, why not?”
Deer Valley’s Silver Lake Village (accessed via the chairlift at Snow Park Lodge) and Park City Mountain’s First Time area are the best places to glimpse the P2P firsthand. Join in the revelry—which will include food trucks and live music—at the finish, located at Kimball Junction’s Skullcandy headquarters. Or set your alarm and be there for the P2P’s infamous breakfast-cereal-christened start at Round Valley’s Quinn’s Junction trailhead, 7 a.m. sharp.