This was a back-to-back race weekend, with the Sabino Canyon Sunset run on Saturday, and the Urban Assault Ride on Sunday. Zac and I had done the UAR last year as team PirateGirl and Mr. PirateGirl dressed as pirates, and we would be repeating our appearance this year. During the week the UAR folks posted a quiz, and the results of the quiz would place racers in their starting waves. I love doing the online quiz! It is truly an exercise in Google skills. Zac and I split the quiz up, with me taking the first half and him taking the second, and then we would both attack the questions we were stuck on. The quiz did require us to buy the latest issues of Dirt Rag and Bicycle Times magazines to get two of the questions. For the ones we didn’t know we guessed. We turned in our results and scored a 95%, which put us in the first starting wave!
The Urban Assault requires teams of two to ride their bikes around Tucson to various checkpoints. Five of the checkpoints are known: Sunflower Market on 1st, Tahoe Park, Summit Hut, Fairwheel Bikes, and TriSports. Two of the checkpoints were mystery checkpoints. For the first mystery we had to solve a crossword puzzle online, and that revealed we would be going to Himmel Park. We would only find the clue to the next mystery checkpoint there.
You can ride to the checkpoints in any order that you wanted. On race day Zac and I staged our bikes in the bike area, and got at the front of the starting corral. We would have a 2 minute head start over the other wave. I had figured out how to get to each checkpoint, so once the gun went off we were running for our bikes and hitting the streets of Tucson. I had decided to go straight to TriSports first, to get away from the crowds. Crowds can cause lines to form at each checkpoint, which can slow you down. We hit the bikepath with a group. I dove behind an alley and onto the Aviation bike path, with another guy from the crowd right behind me. I turned around and the guy wasn’t Zac, and Zac wasn’t there! Oh well. I knew he knew we were going to Trisports, so I wasn’t going to wait. We crossed over the snake bridge, and Zac finally caught up. Then it was onto the basket bridge and the rest of the Aviation bike path. I’ve done a lot of commuting in Tucson by bike, so I knew the routes pretty well. I pulled the lead with Zac drafting 6 inches off of my rear wheel. We were flying down the bike path at 20 mph. I could feel my legs from the previous night’s run in the canyon, but I had to hold up my half of the team.
We were dicing back and forth with a girl team. I guess they didn’t like getting passed by people dressed as pirates? Anyways, they got out in front and pushed it hard to ditch us. However, I had superior navigation skills because they didn’t pass us again until Palo Verde road, just before Trisports. We hit the Trisports parking lot in 21 minutes and got to the first checkpoint. Each checkpoint requires teams to perform a challenge to earn a colored bead before they can proceed to the next checkpoint. Trisports had a flag course setup and we were to ride kid’s bigwheel bikes around the course twice. It was awesome! I grabbed a pink bigwheel and set off after Zac, who was already out on the course. These things have no breaks so to get around the corners you tend to slide out. I flew around the course on the first lap, and passed Zac when he had to reach across the cones to grab his wallet and phone that had fallen out of his pocket (amateur misake). I crossed the line and started lap 2. But the transition between laps was on a downhill with a turn, so as I slid around the corner my inside wheel lifted. I corrected by leaning hard to the left to weight the inside tire. Dang these things could use softer compound tires! I punched it out of the corner and caught up to another guy on a pink bigwheel. He was NOT smooth in the corners, so when he spun out I tried to pass but couldn’t get by. I was being held up on the bigwheel course by a guy that couldn’t handle the pink! I finally made the pass and crossed the line for the conclusion of the second lap. We parked our bigwheels, got our bead, and got back on our bikes to head to Summit Hut. It took us 2:33 to complete the challenge. Yes, I took splits of everything!
We rolled out of Trisports and immediately our legs felt funky from pedaling the little bigwheels. That sensation subsided after about a minute and we were back to cruising on the bike path. The girl team was ahead of us, but we got held up by a red light. Red lights are death, so since there were several ways to get there, we dove up 22nd street to cut over rather than wait at the light. The goal was to keep constantly moving. We got to Summit Hut in 22 minutes.
The challenge at Summit Hut was human bowling on skateboards. One team member had to sit on a skateboard with their hands tucked under and their feet out front on the board. The other member pushed them up to a line and let them roll down the course like a bowling ball towards a set of pins. Since I was smaller I was the bowling ball. Zac’s first inclination is to brute-force everything, so he pushed me hard. I only had to roll about 20 feet, but I went unstable and careening down the course from the force of his push. My legs came off and I drug my feet to keep from falling. “Oh my god I almost died!” I yelled at him. We had to do the challenge again, and this time I told Zac to push me easier. This time I coasted into the pins, and we were awarded our bead. Total time for this challenge was 2:33. The split would have been smaller had I not had gorilla boy shoving me through the pins on the first pass.
Next up was Mystery Checkpoint #1, Himmel Park. We weren’t allowed to ride Speedway, so we shot down neighborhood streets to get to the park. We arrived in 17 minutes. The crossword puzzle clue told us to look under the jungle gym for someone wearing an afro wig and a tutu. We found the guy in this outfit, who didn’t look too happy about his attire. Maybe he lost a bet? Anyways, I had no sympathy for him because we were roving around the streets of Tucson dressed like pirates. We got our bead and our next clue was printed on a board. The clue said “find this” and pointed to a photo of a city pool. All you could see was a shallow kid’s area and a water slide. I immediately knew what it was! It was Quincie Douglas pool. There was a crowd standing around looking at the photo trying to figure it out, but I grabbed Zac and we got our bikes. I told him it was Quincie Douglas on 36th and Campbell. I had swam there a bunch during lunch workouts. It paid off to be a swimmer! Zac admitted he would have had trouble with that one, so we got on our bikes and rode to Tahoe Park. We decided to hit Quincie Douglas at the end. Besides, since the checkpoint was at a city pool, most likely we would be getting wet. Total time at Himmel Park was 2:43.
We made the short trip to Tahoe Park, which was just a few minutes away, and arrived in 17.5 minutes. The challenge at the park was for one teammate to climb piggyback on the other and swing a mallet to move a ball down the course, around a tree, and back. I climbed on Zac’s back and we started to smack the ball. The only trouble was, with how tall he was the mallet wasn’t long enough. I kept telling him to bend forward so that I could reach the ball. We got around the course in 2:23 and rode off to Sunflower Market on 1st Ave.
It took us 14 minutes to reach Sunflower Market. The challenge here was the newspaper toss, which was the most difficult. One teammate had to grab their bike and join a carousel of riders that were riding clockwise in a circle. They were given a sachel with rolled up newspapers inside. While riding around in the circle they had to toss a paper to their teammate about 25 yards away, who had a cardboard box to catch the papers. The tough part was that the catcher had to stay behind a roped off flag line. Since Zac is a trials rider and can trackstand, he was the tosser and I was the catcher. On our first round gorilla boy appeared again and I caught the paper, but he had tossed it so hard that it bounced out of my box. I told him to aim behind me and loft the newspaper, rather than chuck it. The volunteers at the challenge told us we didn’t have to catch the papers thrown by our partner, so then things got violent with the elbows. It was a good thing we were wearing helmets. We had to catch 3 papers, and I finally got 3 of them. It took us 6:28 to complete this challenge.
By this time it was getting hot out. We were filling our water bottles at each checkpoint to stay hydrated. Our next stop was Fairwheel bikes down by the university. As we rolled through town, people would honk their horns or yell to us to cheer for the pirates. We got to Fairwheel in 19 minutes, and the next challenge was a puzzle. The puzzles were just square pieces of carpet that had been cut into triangles and trapezoids. We had to complete the puzzle within 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes was up, if our puzzle wasn’t done we could move on. Since Zac is a mechanical engineer, and it’s tough for two people to do one puzzle at once, I let him take the lead. At first he was told by the volunteers that he was being “too scientific” about it. Finally we realized that you had to look at the grain of the carpet to solve the puzzle. Once that happened the puzzle was together and done. We spent 5:07 at this checkpoint, which still got us out before the 10 minutes was up.
Up next was Quincie Douglas, Mystery Checkpoint #2. We took 15 minutes to get there, and there was a board identifying it as the correct checkpoint. For this challenge one partner had to remove their socks and shoes, get in the pool while wearing their helmet, and swim to a guy in the middle of the lane floating on an inner tube to get the bead, then swim to the other side. Once I heard the instructions I was pulling off my socks and shoes and Zac said, “Well I guess you’re doing this one.” Um, yes, of course! I ran to the end of the lane, hopped in, and did the lifeguard stroke over to the guy in the tube. Swimming with a helmet on wasn’t that easy, but at least it was only 25 yards. I got out, got my shoes back on, and we plotted our course back to downtown. Total time for this challenge was 2:40.
We got back to Maynard’s in 12.5 minutes. We had pushed hard to each challenge because they said we had to be back by 3:15 PM to get a time. We arrived at 2:50 PM. We parked our bikes and the last challenge was the inflatable. You climb up a slope on one side, and slide down the other into a pool. Once Zac and I were down the slide we were able to check in. We arrived at 2:50 PM with all of our beads. It turns out they left the course open over an hour later. I think they realized it takes people longer to get to all of the checkpoints.
We rode a total of 32 miles that day. We had an awesome time terrorizing the streets of Tucson dressed as pirates for the second year in a row. I can’t wait until next year’s assault!
There were a ton of photos from the race photographer posted here: http://www.cubbieownsyou.com/gallery/UAR_Tucson_2010
Some of the favorites of Zac and I:
Zac and I at the start line:
Arrr! I be bombin’ your photo pirate style!
The start of the race:
Rolling out on the streets of Tucson: