Yesterday, my Sorella teammate, Sage and I participated in the Urban Assault Ride. They lived up to their claim that it would be the most fun I've had on a bike all year.
It's sort of a combination road race, 'cross race, scavenger hunt and obstacle course. They warn that you might get wet and this was entirely accurate. The light sprinkle that was *supposed* to clear up to just cloudy and warm, instead became a downpour. If you'd told me that I would one day go out riding for over two hours in 50 degree rain wearing Keen sandals, I would've said you were crazy. But it actually wasn't that bad, thanks to race adrenalin and wool socks.
Before the race, there is a bonus quiz that you take to determine your start order. The quiz can give you as much as a 10 minute head start on your competition, so I spent way too much time and enlisted Jess's help, to try to find some of the answers. Here's a question that gives you an idea how hard the quiz is:
16. Swobo sells an item of clothing made of a material that comes from a distant land. Also from this country is a cyclist who many consider to be one of the greatest ever. One time in the Tour de France, he was in a breakaway with a teammate and a rival rider. He rode off the road and into a ditch. What was the name of the teammate that waited for him?
Our 75% score (the highest score was 89%) put us in the first wave.
There were six regular check points and two mystery checkpoints. I SUCK at figuring out clues, so I used my people skills instead and talked others into giving me both answers. You have to devise your own route between check points, so I planned out a clockwise route that would also give us the most downhill cruising.
At the start, we ran to our bikes and headed to REI, the first mystery check point, which fortunately, was right on my pre-planned route. It seemed most racers had the same idea. One person forgot this was supposed to be for fun and promptly went down hard on the tracks that curve on 10th and Morrison. Ouch.
I was feeling competitive, but as always, my first rule was to keep the rubber side down. I'd had a bike crisis that morning because of the foul weather, but Jess convinced me to keep my road bike as my vehicle of choice. It was a good thing too, because there was no way I ever would have kept up with Sage without it. There was also some scrambling involving the rules, since I had been completely misinformed by the woman at packet pick up, that we only had to go to seven of the eight checkpoints. It took some doing to find someone who knew the answer to this but I was very glad I checked.
At the Fat Tire Farm stop, there was bike jousting, catching rings on the joust pole. Then it was off to the NE Community Cycling Center to find a fairy on a bike who would give us our check point bead. We found him alright, but he wouldn't stop (even though Sage said 'Please' very nicely) until I cut him off.
After that we screamed down 33rd Ave toward Laurelhurst park. We saw another Sorella team mate, Kim, heading up the same street with her husband. They'd decided to go the opposite route from most folks. Kim is an excellent climber but there's no way I would have survived that route. And we finished a few minutes ahead of them despite some crowds at the challenges.
At the park, Jess was waiting for us, but didn't take many pictures. It was pouring rain by this time and she was soaked from riding around to check points trying to keep up with us. There were two challenges, keg walking--which Sage couldn't do in her bike shoes, so she promptly took them off. Those kegs aren't flat, and she still had a hard time (it looked painful) but she perservered. I found it much easier in sandals. Then it was over to the human wheel barrow challenge. I chose to carry, thinking Sage had bigger arms and would fare better standing on her shoulders, while I used mostly leg strength to push her along. We only fell twice winding between the orange cones. After we finished, she revealed that she'd been eating ice cream every day for the past week. Thanks partner. :)
The next challenge was only a few blocks away at Sunnyside school. Sage and I both rocked the bike limbo (on our own bikes) in one try. The hardest challenge was yet to come, at the Plan B Bar. A bag toss with the target hole on the ground about twenty feet away. Thankfully, if you didn't get four bags in, you could still leave after ten minutes. You could switch off at will so we both took tries and actually made our goal with a minute to spare.
Next up, River City Bikes and my favorite on-course challenge: a real live version of the Paper Boy video game. I rode a small red banana seat bike around in circles, tossing papers to Sage, who caught them in a plastic bin. We got our three catches in four tries and then it was over the bridge to the finish at Pioneer Square. Of course, we couldn't just ride in and be done. We were directed to put our bikes in a secure coral and then sent over to grab a big wheel and do a quick loop around a twisty course that invited lots of skidding out. I absolutely could NOT stop smiling riding that thing. Then off with our shoes and into a huge blow up obstacle course that was filled with puddles of muddy water from rain and previous contestants. By that time, we were too close to finishing for me to care so I threw myself into it with glee. We slide into the finish, completely soaked, but our reward was a second place finish in the women's division!
For our efforts, we got the prize I'd actually been hoping for--free Keen shoes, and some UAR socks. The winners got custom made UAR Timbuk2 bags. Thought they looked really cool, I definitely don't need any more bags. I don't need any more shoes either, but Keen finally came out with a clipless pedal version of their sandals and I've been wishing for a pair since they came out.
We retreated to the Visitor's center where I put on dry clothes (thanks to Jess) and we huddled under the bathroom dryers getting warm. The rain finally stopped and it actually warmed up a little so we went back out to enjoy the finish line party, which included a band and the mini-bike limbo contest. We also took a few more loops on the big wheel course. I may need to buy one. PMS crankiness is no match for the smiley power of the big wheel!
I got third in the limbo contest and just missed taking home one of those cool bags. Then we hung out some more while had a very long raffle and gave away literally tubs full of cool prizes, like bike computers, wool jerseys, hats, t-shirts, biodegradable lube etc. We didn't win anything, but the day was already such a success, I didn't mind.
Next year, Jess will be all healed up and I'm sure we'll have a blast riding the course together. I can't wait.