Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Official Report

Well, as best as I can remember anyway. I did drink a lot of beer afterwards, and hopefully didn’t kill any of the brain cells that are responsible for my recollection of the Urban Assault Ride. The day started off early, with nice cool temps. The Dirty Party Cycle met us at the house, and we headed down to my place of employment. I didn’t have to work, but the race venue was only a few blocks away so it made sense from a parking standpoint. There were tons of people already milling about when we got there.

A lot of them were dressed “creatively.”

After we checked in, we were told to set up our bikes along the fence somewhere. We found a spot near the exit so we could easily find them in the sea of people.

We were to head out in three waves, and the DPC and I were in the first one due to our super smarty-pants score on the quiz. All that stood between us and the first checkpoint was some pennant flagging.

We were off. We navigated through the herd of racers and found our trusty steeds. I was having fun already.

It was off to the first “mystery checkpoint”, which wasn’t really a mystery thanks to a clue given before the race. We took a few pre-planned shortcuts to get there, and when we arrived we were handed a package of beef jerky. Also, they showed us a photo which would be the clue for the second mystery checkpoint.

Was that a smile from a dinosaur statue? We had no clue what the hell it was, so I took a photo and decided that we could figure it out later. It was on to the next checkpoint, the Common Market (just a few blocks away.) Of course we took a few more shortcuts, beating the crowd that had just left the mystery checkpoint.

We got to the Common Market and were greeted with a line out front waiting for the challenge. Some people made that their first stop, so it was a little busy. It didn’t take long though, and before we knew it we were putting together a puzzle made out of foam bricks with the Clif Bar logo on it. After a little digging around, we found a missing piece and placed everything on a giant flying disc. After raising it above our heads (well, the DPC’s head because I’m much taller than him), we collected our bead for that checkpoint and were on our way.

We flew down the road, trying to avoid any traffic or being followed by anyone that didn’t know where they were going. After trying to take a shortcut to avoid a traffic light, we found ourselves having to catch up to the people that were waiting patiently at the traffic light. Shortcut fail.

We hauled ass down the road, passing lots of people. We took another pre-planned shortcut, and arrived well ahead of the group we passed. Next stop, the Smelly Cat Café for some big wheel riding.

Not big wheels as in 29er, but big wheels as in what we used to ride when we were kids. The line was short, so we hopped on the next available three-wheeled toys and made our way around a small course. It was fun, and I pulled off a few power slides along the way. I wanted to stay there and do it again, but we had places to go. We grabbed out bead and headed out again. Three checkpoints down, four to go.

We still had no idea where the second mystery checkpoint was, so we continued along our planned route and headed to Ray’s Splash Planet. It was a long ride along some busy streets (but not the off-limit ones), but a few short cuts through parking lots and such put us way ahead of our expected time. After arriving at the next checkpoint, I was surprised to see what the challenge was. Last year people had to slide down a water slide. This year, we were outside in a field. We saw lots of BMX-sized wheels with pegs on them, and we were instructed to use the wheel for a human wheelbarrow challenge. Challenge accepted.

The DPC was the wheelbarrow, and I was the pusher. We had to weave in and out of some strategically placed cones, and try to avoid those that were not as experienced in the art of human wheelbarrowing. We were just naturals, I guess. We collected our bead, but I was worried about the second mystery checkpoint. I gave Lunchbox a call and asked if he heard any chatter about what it might be, and he said no. Shit. I don’t know the inner workings of the city like a lot of folks around here do, but I was certain that it was located somewhere in the heart of the city.

We rode a little bit and I decided to pull over and use The Google to see if it would be any help. After striking out multiple times, and I finally decided to ask the next person that pulled up beside us.

Me: “Excuse me. Do you know where the second mystery checkpoint is?”

Random Dude: “Yeah, but we haven’t been there yet.”

That’s all I needed to know. I hear someone else ask him, but I didn’t really hear the answer. I told the DPC to follow that team, and we we got close we would know it. We ended up cutting through the NFL stadium, and probably ruined a lot of people’s tailgating experience with our big wheels and bell ringing. After a small shortcut, I saw lots of cyclists converging on one area in the heart of the city. The DPC saw it too, and we headed that way.

This was it. Not even close to a dinosaur. I guess I should get out more and experience the city life. They asked us for our beef jerky package, and I asked if I was supposed to eat it. The lady said no. They only need to see it to prove that you actually went to the first mystery checkpoint. We collected our next bead and headed on to the 6th checkpoint.

The second mystery checkpoint didn’t throw us off of our pre-planned route too bad, so we were pretty happy about that. After nearly colliding with a few automobiles (NFL game day around here is pretty busy), we cut through some neighborhoods and made our way to the Park Road Shopping Center, home of Bike Source (our next checkpoint.)

When we got there we were greeted with BMX bikes, and were instructed to have one person ride the bike while the other sat on the handlebars and collected flags. It was way too easy, and we got our bead rather quickly and headed out. A few more pre-planned cut throughs put us on a fast track to the final checkpoint, the Mint Museum.

We got there via our super-secret way (it was located on a street that was off-limits), and made our way to the front for the challenge. This time, one of us had to put on shoes tied together with an inner tube, and shoot other shoes (like a slingshot) into a bag held onto by the other teammate. It looked easy, but as the shooter, I fired the first shoe about twenty feet over the DPC’s head. The second one was aimed squarely at his head (not on purpose), and eventually we got them in the bag and grabbed our bead. That was it, and we were heading for the home stretch.

After crossing the street and cutting through a parking lot, I heard a loud clunking sound coming from my bike. I stopped for a second and found that my headset had worked itself loose (I had just cleaned and greased it the day before.) The DPC said, “We have tools, do you want to fix it?” I said, “Hell no, we ain’t stopping now!” We cut through all the back roads we knew, and got to the finish line lickety-split. We got to the park and found an obstacle course waiting for us.

The last thing we had to do was turn in our beads.

We headed right to the tent to clain our beer tokens, and commenced to drinking. I had no idea where we finished, but we did beat our goal of under two hours. That was good enough for me, but we probably could have finished a little quicker if we didn’t waste so much time trying to figure out where the second mystery checkpoint was. Also, we could have ridden a little faster if we had road bikes, but mountain bikes made it so much more fun. Half of the shortcuts we did wouldn’t have been possible on skinny tires anyway. It's not like we were taking it that seriously. I was only serious about drinking beer after riding my bike, which is par for the course for me.

It was an awesome event. We need more stuff like this around here. I saw all kinds of cyclists together that I wouldn’t normally see, and it made me feel good that we have a strong scene here in Charlotte. Lot of miles were ridden, lots of beers consumed, and lots of fun was had by all. I can’t wait to do it again next year.

Oh yeah, my GoPro ran the entire time we rode, so I have video of everything. It’s gonna take a while to edit it down to a watchable size, but when I do I’ll get it up here. From what I’ve watched so far, it looks pretty good. Almost like I was there.

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