On Sunday, my friend Paul and I teamed up and took part in the Urban Assault Ride. This is a fun bike race, sponsored by New Belgium Brewing (think Fat Tire Beer) and is a 30 mile race through the City with 7 different check points. The check points have different tasks that need to be completed before you move on to the next check point. You can do the check points in any order and besides being fast on a bike, knowing the City is key to doing well. Five hundred bikers competed in total and we survived, finished in the middle of the pack (see below), but more importantly had a blast.
As you can expect, the race was dominated by tattooed, beer loving 20-somethings and the whole thing has a groovy, eco-friendly, peace and sustainability vibe. Sponsors include the requisite bike shops, Cliff Bar, Peace Coffee, and bike apparel companies. All of whom are very funky, and tout sustainability and bike/earth-friendly policies on their web sites.
Besides the known check points, there were two "mystery check points" one of which was given as a clue in the form of an anagram a couple of days before the race. The second mystery clue would be given out at the first mystery check point. I was able to figure out the anagram and we felt pretty good going into the race. We had a route figured out that gave us ample flexibility for the second mystery spot -- hopefully without any backtracking.
We completed a quiz that actually gave us (and about 100 other bikers) a 150 second head start and we were off. The first checkpoint was close and entailed throwing wet sponges at our partners who had a bucket on their head. Three sponges in the bucket and you were done. The second checkpoint was the first mystery spot and when we got there this is what we found:
Of course we were stumped. Now knowing that something like this was going to happen we had an I-phone with us. We tried to google the pic to no avail. (most everyone else was stumped too) We decided to head to the next check point which was at REI in Bloomington, a good 7 mile trek away. Now the trip to REI is where the speed demons separate themselves from the pack. From the second check point at 34th and Lyndale to REI at 84th and Lyndale then back downtown, we are talking 130 blocks or nearly 18 miles. Even someone who on average is even 2 miles an hour faster is going to leave everyone else in their wake.
The REI task was the toughest. Both team members got on a skateboard, using no hands or feet and just a toilet plunger, had to navigate a course. We did ok and we spent more time on the I-phone and found the second mystery spot. Even better, it was very close to our known third checkpoint in the Warehouse District so we were on course with no backtracking.
From the Warehouse District to Dinkytown to the Seward Neighborhood back to Peace Coffee we were going as fast as we could. The final checkpoint was where we started and you had to do a big wheel race and then go through an inflated obstacle course and then turn in the seven beads you received at all the check points before you could be officially counted as finished. Even though we finished in the middle of the pack, if there had been an over-45 category, we would have definitely been near the winner's circle as I said above, the race was dominated by people much younger than us.
Afterwards is the big party, we got two free beer tickets and I scored a 3rd ticket for being in a mustache contest. There was some other contests and we tried to score some swag to no avail. After some fun people watching we gathered our bikes and slowly aching bodies back to the car and we were done. I am definitely making this an annual event with the goal of bettering our time and showing those younger dudes that we 40 year olds can still throw down on a bike.
Check back I may update with more photos if we show up on the UAR photo page.
Results Update: We finished 32nd out of 78 in the Male Category and 58th total out of about 240 teams. That's in the top 25%!!!