Sunday, April 3, 2011

Urban Assault Ride 2011

March 20, 2011   Tucson, AZ
"I will not biff it on my bike.  I will not biff it on my bike," I repeated to myself as we drove to the start line of the Urban Assault Ride.  Last year, my bike and I had an unfortunate run-in with trolley tracks that forced me to eat asphalt before the race.  Determined not to let this happen again, my mantra this year was: Bike tires cross perpendicular to trolley tracks.  It worked.  I did not biff it on my bike.

My wonderful husband and teammate.  Really, he is happy to be there.
Whoo hoo!  Number 1!

Josh and I arrived to the start line about an hour before the race was set to start.   Apparently, I was trigger happy registering for this race because we were assigned race number: 1!   We dropped our bikes in the bike drop and made our way over to enjoy some music while waiting for the race.  We sported red stickers on our helmets for our excellent performance in the pre-race quiz.  It's optional, but the Wednesday before the race, Urban Assault posts a quiz that has questions about all the sponsors.  The quiz is not easy.  It is about 30 questions and requires a lot of internet searching.  Thankfully, I was on spring break the week before the race, so I had a lot of time on my hands.  We got an 84% on the quiz which qualified us to start in the first group.  There was a group released 2 minutes after us and then another group 2 minutes after that.

As the airhorn blew, we started running across the parking lot of Maynard's market along with 50 other teams in a desperate attempt to make it on the road and to the closest obstacle before the crowd.  Urban Assault is set up as a series of checkpoints around Tucson that you can choose to do in any order.  Planning requires a bit of strategy since there are two mystery checkpoints: one where the clue was posted online before the race and the other you don't know until you get to the first mystery checkpoint.   You get a colored bead to put around a chain (one teammate carries) at each checkpoint. 

We arrived at the 4th avenue checkpoint before a line formed.  Yes!  Our task:  There's a bucket attached to two long poles.  Fill up the bucket in the kiddie pool and run it to fill up a clear bucket on the other side of the parking lot.  Oh ya, the bucket you are carrying has holes in it.  We were a little unclear on how to claim your bucket at the end of the parking lot.  We almost filled up an entire bucket, but another team claimed it as their own as we went back to refill.  Grrrrr.... 

2nd checkpoint: 1702 Pizza.  The first mystery checkpoint.  We got our bag of Jack Links beef jerky and were told to show the jerky to a race official at the next mystery checkpoint to claim our bead.  Only clue: a picture of a rattlesnake tail.  Cake.  Even Josh, who's not a Tucson native, immediately realized it was the pedestrian bridge across Broadway.

3rd checkpoint:  Himmel Park.  Josh laid on his back, strapped on a pair of slingshot shoes (I want some) and launched pairs of shoes at me that I had to catch in a bag.  It took us a couple of tries-and a broken pair of slingshot shoes- but we did it.

4th checkpoint: Edison Park.  This one was hard.  Josh had to hold my legs and wheelbarrow me across the grass.   However, I had to balance my entire body weight on a wheel with handlebars.  Holy upper body strength Batman!  We were about to take a penalty, but Josh had the idea to support my entire lower body so all I had to do was hang off of him and point the wheel in the correct direction.  Whoo hooo!

5th checkpoint: We took a long ride up Mountain to Sunflower Foods.  In the parking lot were bikes with large front handlebars.  I sat on the front handlebars and Josh pedaled the bike.  My task was to get a red, a white and a blue coaster off the ground using a grabber claw.  I surprised myself with my coordination in this.  It could have ended disastrously.

6th checkpoint: Summit Hut.  Our first very long ride across town.  It took us an hour to reach this checkpoint, on some not-so-nice roads.  My "biffing it" fears came back to me,  At Summit Hut, we threw footballs at a basket.  Easy :-)

7th checkpoint: Risky Business.  The puzzle obstacle.  Josh is the master at puzzles so I stood back and let him handle it.  He assembled our blocks to read Clif Bar and then we lifted the disk that supported our Clif bar tower over our head, all while making sure the tower stayed upright.

8th checkpoint: Rattlesnake pedestrian bridge.  Home stretch.  We took a nice, 6-mile ride back down Broadway.  Broadway is such an amazingly fast and smooth street- not to mention downhill.  Awesome last ride.  We showed the race official our beef jerky and headed back to the finish.

Going down under the bridge, Josh had his cruiser going so fast that the chain popped off.  Thankfully, we were a block away from the finish line, so we walked our bikes in.  After we dropped the bikes, we waited in a very long line (20 minutes!) to do our last obstacle: pedaling big wheels through a course.  Then we climbed through a huge inflatable dome with water and hills.  Finally, we approached the tent where our times were recorded.

We finished all the checkpoints this year!  Happy Dance :-)
Tired and showing off my checkpoint bead bling.

The after-party was fantastic with free New Belgium beer and burgers to purchase.  If Urban Assault is in your area, and you have a friend with a bike, I recommend this event.  Nice break from competitive races, and challenging!  Josh and I biked 24 miles that day.


  1. Awesome! It's sounds like it rocked. I'll have to do this next year. Chance JUST got a mountain bike so I bet we could do it with that. I'm just waiting for Muddy Buddy. Come back to Phoenix please!!

  2. That sounds like great fun! My friend and I are thinking of doing the San Francisco Urban Assault race...we can't use bikes though - we have to be on foot. Then again, I don't think climbing the hills in the city would be that much fun.