Two mystery clues, six challenges, 30 miles and in the end, a big party with lots and lots of beer. This is New Belgium’s Urban Assault, the biggest bike scavenger hunt series in the world, and I was there competing. Tami Monaghan, a seasoned biker, graciously agreed to compete with me in the co-ed division of the 2009 Urban Assault as part of Team Vitalyte, which despite my lack of preparation, did very well. A week prior to the race, a quiz was sent out to all Team's and the scoring of that quiz determined starting order. I didn't take the quiz so we started at the end. Of course, prior to starting the race there are things one should do, something I quickly realized upon getting to the pre-race event in the morning and seeing all of the competitors with their trail maps outlining their prospective routes throughout the city to optimize efficiency.
A crossword puzzle on the website held the key to the location of the first mystery clue. The night before the race I did the crossword and discovered the location which I quickly plugged into the computer along with all the other stops and hit "optimize". The computer spat out a highlighted route which upon examination, looked perfect. I e-mailed the route to my Blackberry and with a smile, congratulated myself on a truly efficient and perhaps, new and improved, way of optimizing bicycle routes for just such an event.
Two things were ultimately wrong with this simple efficiency pick up. Those of you who are bikers already know one of my mistakes which I will get to in a second, the other issues is one I will have to take up with my IT department. Supposedly, my network e-mail server decided to sync with my Blackberry to conserve space and took all the e-mails on the blackberry and archived them to my desktop Outlook. So I show up to the race ready to amaze the masses with my new idea and no e-mail, which of course means no route, which means I don't know where the heck I'm suppose to go. This brings me back to the other issue which almost makes the 1st one mute. Traditional software packages that create routes for driving don't use approved "bike trails" and roads to create those routes, so all my work the night before probably would have been useless anyway.
Vitalyte Tip: In a bike race where you have to create your own route, buy a bike trail map.
Luckily we paired up with a team that was gracious enough to let us tag along. The race began at 9:00 am. We decided to make our first stop the mystery clue where we had to decipher a puzzle coded in numbers which would tell us the location of the second mystery stop. After decoding the clue which told us to go to a swimming pool, we took off for the farthest location on our map. Here Tami and I had to compete in a three legged race to get our bead (a clearance piece for each stop) before heading off to the pool. Once there, we had to strip down to whatever we could and still be family friendly, swim the length of the pool and collect another bead from a woman whose sole job this race was to sit in a tube and hand out beads. (Not a bad way to spend a Sunday)
From there it was a bike trip back to the other side of Denver. This obstacle required me to where a basket with a hole cut out on my head so Tami could throw wet sponges at me which I had to catch in the basket. Looking back I would have to say that she seemed to enjoy this one a little more than she should.
Three obstacles down, three to go. Luckily the final three were all in close proximity to each other and the finish line. So after riding a log ride at Six Flags, sitting on a skateboard and using a plunger to propel ourselves around a course collecting beer cans, a ring toss at the Rio, and a grand prix race course on a little kids tricycle, we crossed the finish line a little more than three hours later.
The finish area was a giant party, with beer, games, and the general fun that comes when a large group of people get together for such an event. I met up with some friends, old and new, traded war stories from the road and had a great afternoon knowing that I had completed my first bike race, already looking forward to the next one.
30 Days of Awesome might mean something different for each person. For me it is about the daily commitment to have fun, meet new people and experience things that I haven’t before. I didn't place first or win any medals but I had a blast at this event and that, after all, is what 30 Days of Awesome is all about.