Sunday, April 26, 2009
Urban Assault Race pirate style
Because races are so much better when dressed as a pirate. (I am anticipating your question of "Why are you guys dressed as pirates?").
Zac and I watch The Amazing Race every Sunday and make fun of the racers for the idiot choices they make. Why do they always change from one task to the other when they started the first task and think the other will be quicker? It never is. And no, Zac and I will not be auditioning for the show. There is always an "eat something foul" stunt and being vegetarian, we would most likely be out. You know, like how many bull anuses you can eat in an hour and whatnot. My answer is zero.
The New Belgium Urban Assault Race came to Tucson as the first stop on their tour this year. It promised scavenger hunting and obstacles and bike riding in between. We are so in! Now, the key with crazy races like this, and the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo, is to wear a crazy costume. It makes it SO much more fun. We were pirates at the 24HOP, so we upped the professionalism a bit and ordered matching Team Pirate jerseys. Way cool. Zac was reluctant at wearing the hat again. "Shuddup you're wearing the hat" I said.
The Thursday before the race they posted a link to an online quiz, and how well you scored put you in your starting wave. There were 20 questions, so Zac and I split them up and started Googling like mad (never you mind that our office has 2 PCs and a laptop running at all times, with my PC having dual monitors). Some questions were un-Googleable, so we had to guess at those. I clicked "submit" and we got a score of 82%.
Also online was a link to a crossword puzzle, and the answers added up to the first mystery checkpoint. There were 5 regular checkpoints and 2 mystery ones. We didn't solve the whole puzzle, but got enough clues to figure out we were going to A mountain first. After that, we would be given clues to the next mystery point, or we could continue on to the 5 regular checkpoints which were (in any order we wanted): TriSports, SummitHut, Himmel Park, Tahoe Park (I didn't know we had a Tahoe Park), and Fairwheel bikes. We could plot any course that we wanted to get to each in the fastest time. I set to work with Google Maps and determined our course, complete with turn-by-turn cue sheets. Yes, these kind of races are candy to those that are Type A like me. I gave Zac the cue sheets, but had the routes memorized.
The day before the race we got lost downtown trying to find packet pick-up. Yes, let's just get the "getting lost" thing out of the way now before the race. The problem was, they were setting up for club crawl and a bunch of streets were closed. We finally found Maynard's Market and parked not far from the bus depot to walk over. I noticed all sorts of art things along the way, including a sign for Mary's fishies. The fishies were asleep though, so we proceeded on to the pick-up. We got our stuff and headed home for some much needed rest.
The next morning we hit the GABA bike swap, then parked for the race and got ready. We opted for our cyclocross bikes with road slicks as our bikes of choice. There were a lot of people on mountain bikes. We parked the bikes and got in our wave. The highest score on the quiz was 90, so since we got an 82 we were in the first wave. We took off at noon on the first day in Tucson over 90 degrees. Wee! Everyone was, of course, heading straight to A mountain. We would race between stoplights, only to have other groups catch up at the lights. We finally hit the mountain and started the climb up. When we got there, we got our first bead to prove we had made it, and the next clue for Mystery point #2. The clue just said "Find this" with a painting of a person with a spoon stuck on their nose. We hopped on our bikes and headed off back downtown. Turns out getting lost downtown the day before was helpful! I had seen the picture and remarked about it to Zac as we had walked to packet pick-up. I just had to remember where we parked. We rolled up to the back area behind the Chicago Store, and sure enough there was an EZ up and John Shouse standing under it with a bag of beads. Mystery point #2 was done! Now on to our regular race route.
We had decided on doing the furthest checkpoint (TriSports) first, and the closest one last. We wound around as we made our way to the bike path. "You really did memorize all of this!" Zack remarked. Duh! Of course! We hopped on the bike path and rode over the snake bridge. There were cyclists in the race passing under us, so we yelled "ARRRRR!!!" down at them. As we exited the snake, it rattled at us. We had never ridden over the bridge before, and I had vaguely remembered a story about how the snake rattled. We went over the basket bridge and then joined in on the Aviation bike path. I used to commute down to UA on this path from Rita Ranch to go to swim practice, so I new this area well. It was Zac's first time on the path. We rolled over the flag bridge on Palo Verde and headed to TriSports.
Being a Tri Girl, I go to TriSports a lot. Well, Zac briefly ignored the navigator and followed a group of racers into the turn lane at Columbia street. I yelled at him, but he didn't hear me, so I had no choice but to merge, yell at him and get ahead to the turn on Coach. We rolled up to TriSports and the back parking lot where the obstacle was setup. It was the bigwheels! We each grabbed a bigwheel bike and rode a serpentine cone course, finishing off with a powerslide a the end. It was so cool! We filled up on water at the checkpoint, got our bead, and headed back out. (Oh and check out this pic they caught of us on the UAR blog. We were at Trisports heading to the bigwheels. Zac is very focused on scoping out the bigwheels at that point.)
Our next stop was Summit Hut. We yelled "ARRRR!!!" at all the racers going the other direction. At one point we were waiting for traffic to make a right hand turn and a man pulled up in a car and yelled something to us in Spanish. I assumed it was something good because he was smiling and laughing. I just gave him the thumbs up and we rolled on.
At Summit Hut, the obstacle was for one person to wear blacked out goggles and the other to jump on their back piggy back style. The person on the back had to give directions to the blind person on navigating a twisty course. I let Zac have the pleasure of risking pink eye and hopped on. I gave him very simple, clear directions like "go straight" and "U-turn to the left" whereas other teams were saying things like "take 3 steps forward." We did good at passing teams, and Zac mentioned he was totally lost. "It doesn't matter, we're passing confused people" I said. We got to the end, got our bead, and took off for Himmel Park.
At Himmel it was a 3 legged race. You had to take off your bike shoe, put on one shoe that was tied to your partner's shoe, and there was a frisbee tied to the top with 3 tennis balls inside. You had to walk 3 legged style around a cone and back without spilling the balls. We did pretty well at that one. Water at that station was getting low, so we only refilled 1 bottle each. Off to Tahoe Park.
At Tahoe, you had to stand behind a flag rope and toss rope rings around 4 beer bottles and ring each bottle once. This took us about 5 minutes, with me getting 3 roped and Zac getting one. But we got it done and headed down Campbell for the last obstacle stop at Fairwheel bikes. Here you had to put a bowl on your head (while wearing your helmet) that had a cup stuck on the top. You had to fill the cup with water, fill your partner's cup, and ride your bike up and around the parking lot and back before you could dump your water in a bucket. Well, since we had pirate hats on our helmets, we couldn't do up our chinstraps on the bowl helmet. But the tops of the hat were round and the bowl fit down over them. We carefully rode around the course with water dripping everywhere. That kind of sucked because it would drip down your sweaty face, collect the salt, and drip that into your eyes. I finished that one half blind. We got our bead and headed to the finish.
At the finish back at Maynard's, there was one last obstacle. We had to park the bikes, pull our bike shoes off, and do a giant inflatable obstacle course that had water running through it. It was awesome! Totally like American Gladiators. I hopped out the other side with Zac just behind me, and the finisher's table was right there. We finished in 2 hrs 27 minutes, got all 7 checkpoints, and had traveled 27 miles around Tucson while dressed as pirates.
After the race we got some food, participated in the costume contest where we won some cool New Belgium socks. Since we had already won some schwag, we headed home. Later, we checked the results online and had finished 22nd out of 90 or so teams in the co-ed division. Overall it was a blast! The race should be coming to Tucson next year, so if it does, sign up early because it will be very popular. And the pirates will be back. :)