16 May 2010

Urban Assault Ride

Sometimes it really does take three tries as evidenced by us. In 2008 Shelley and I were not able to find the second mystery checkpoint, in 2009 we came in 2nd and this year we managed to win. WIN. I like the way that sounds… :)

The Urban Assault Ride is a combination bicycle race and treasure hunt and obstacle course. You ride (read: race) your bike from checkpoint to checkpoint and at each one you need to perform some sort of physical or mental challenge. Upon completion of said challenge you get a token and can then proceed to the next checkpoint. One twist is that the organizers only announce five of the seven checkpoints in advance and just give you a clue to the sixth one. Assuming you figure this out and get to the sixth checkpoint, that's where you get your only clue to help you discover where the seventh one is. I know, I know… stress! Local knowledge is obviously a huge plus.

There are SO many things that make this ride one not to miss.

  • All the sponsors. From perennial cycling advocate New Belgium Brewing [You get two free beers after the ride!] to Keen Shoes [1st place gets a free pair of shoes!] to everyone else that makes sure the finish line festivities are fantastic. This year Chipotle Grill showed up to give everyone a free burrito. Nice.
  • The organizers. These guys really understand how to put on a FUN event. Not only do they solicit fantastic sponsors (see above) but they also stage fun challenges and make sure lots of people win stuff via raffles and extra contests so not just the teams with fast times come away with prizes. With post-race contests like the now famous bike limbo contest, a 'mustache dance' and 'spear the rear' contest (is that porno sounding or what…) everyone can be a winner(?).
  • The challenges. Human bowling? A Big Wheel race? Piggy-back Polo? Paperboy toss? C'mon, how can this not be fun?
  • The costumes. At any race some people show up to win but at this one many people show up just to have a good time. And all the costumes proves they have the party spirit. From the wigs to the knee-high socks to the leather vests to the short shorts to that fake mustache just to get a chance to dance; party people were in full effect.

So here is how it works. Three days before the ride they give you this online quiz. If you score a certain percentage you get to start in the first wave. Thanks entirely to Shelley we were part if this first wave. Again.

NOTE – if you are not in the first wave you can pretty much kiss your chances of winning goodbye.

To make sure no one cheats (more about this later), each wave gets a different color sticker for your helmet. Then, with a few minutes to go they stage everyone at the start:

What happens next is barely controlled chaos. They blow the air horn and you leave FreeRange Cycles. You have to run through this row of bike corrals, gab your bike and then ride out of the staging area. Imagine about 80 people all trying to squeeze through a five foot wide chain link fence hallway WITH their bikes… Crazy.

But also crazy fun! Blasting out of Ballard we had decided to hit the downtown checkpoint first. After letting Shelley experience crossing the Ballard Bridge on the grating for the first time (hey, it was faster than getting on the sidewalk) we had our first near-death experience. Some guy was stopped at the light – while the light was green – and decided to turn left to get onto the sidewalk. We were in the process of passing him on the left doing about 25 mph and I have never hauled our tandem to a stop quite as fast. We also managed to do our first ever track stand on the tandem, for about one second. Then this guy finally heard me yelling and swerved to the right preventing him from getting t-boned. Whew… Seriously, there was no where I could have piloted our bike, we were already against the curb of the traffic island.

Riding down Westlake we noticed what was to become a familiar pattern. We would haul ass, pass tons of other teams or open a huge gap and then either have to watch them catch up as we got stopped by a red light or watch in disbelief as other teams simply ran the lights. One such team was another co-ed couple in matching red jerseys and we saw this pattern repeat itself all the way to the first checkpoint. Kinda takes some of the sport out if it don't you think red team? No need to reply, that was rhetorical. :)

Okay, first we are putting together a puzzle on the sidewalk of Pike Street. Then we're passing Metro busses on 3rd Ave. on our way to Chipotle (Jimmy Hendrix clue). Then we're climbing ALL the way up Capitol Hill to Broadway to the bronze statue and then we finally catch the red team.

Martin: "Hey you guys, please stop running the lights, it kinda ruins the race for everyone and it's also clearly against the rules, what do you think?"

Man on red co-ed team: "You're right, you're right, I'm really sorry… I just get so caught up in these events and my competitive nature gets the best of me."

Yeah, whatever. Bu-bye

Then it was down to Recycled Cycles (paper boy toss), over to Gas Works Park (piggyback polo) and all the way up (WAY up) the hill to Green Lake (human wheelbarrow). From here it was down 55th (another major test of brakes) to BikeSport in Ballard and then back to the start for the Big Wheel race and inflatable obstacle course:

And then? Well then it's time to chill. With the help of free Clif Bar samples, Fuze drinks, two beers apiece from New Belgium Brewing and that awesome burrito from Chipotle. You want veggie? Not a problem thankyouverymuch.

So there we were, Shelley:
and Martin:
sipping our suds and watching the contests.

Can I just say… Moustache Dance? Oh yeah, here are my two favorites.

Old but not down for the count.

That guy knew how to get DOWN. Who says a moustache isn't cool? Not his honey.

Or this guy. The Robot will never die!

Not so old but should probably stay on the mat.

The best was saved for last when I was witness to my first ever game of Spear the Rear:

Hide your children.

Did I mention I was going to get back to cheating? Oh yeah… I think I did. :) Turns out team matching red jerseys beat us last year. No doubt by cheating! Thanks to some judicious use of Internet search engines Shelley found out they are a husband and wife adventure race team so you just KNOW they have high expectations.

But enough sour grapes – I love this event! UAR can count on us participating again in 2011. Bring it! I wonder if there is any way for the promoters to get New Belgium Brewing to increase their sponsorship? Two Ranger IPAs just makes you want two more…

Here are all the pictures and video.

09 May 2010

100 Miles of Nowhere

6 Body
of Day
9:45 AM Distance 100.03 miles [I accidentally went too far.] Power According to Tom, we were doing anywhere between 200 and 270 and usually averaging around 240-250?
2:35:18 [Which is when I ripped my cyclometer off my bars and tossed it onto the roof deck.] Time
Not a whole lot to tell you the truth. I got off the first time at 20 miles, again at 35 or so and then pretty much every 10 miles to stretch, shake my legs and grab a drink or stare at the view for a few seconds.

38.67 mph

53.95 mph [Which was just so I could say I went 50 mph on my rollers…]
If you count the three flights of stairs up to Tom and Lila's roof about 35 feet. Max
Breakfast 7:00 AM - cereal
Lunch 12:30 PM – 3 beers, 6 (small!) slices of pizza
Workout Food 2 large bottles each w/2 scoops HEED and 2 scoops Maltodextrin
Workout Type Not really sure… Endurance? Tempo? Stupid?
Weather upper 50s to low 60s, sunny, dry, light breeze
Course rollers on Tom's roof deck
Equipment Road Bike
Clothing Just my bib shorts, today I was shirt off guy. Hey, it was pretty warm out…

Back is the incredible.
Dumb animal.

That's right, last year was my first time to suffer this nonsense and so when Tom sent out the email about doing it again I was like, why not? My junk had not been numb in a good long time and the forecast was for sun so count me in. Some of you may have heard about the 100 Miles of Nowhere. It's (just one way) that the Fat Cyclist raises money for the LiveStrong Foundation. From my perspective it's totally unique and I like new challenges on the bike. So this last Sunday we did it again.

The original goal was to ride 100 miles on rollers but the event has morphed into riding 100 miles pretty much anywhere that dos not actually involve going very far. I hear people are doing laps on a track, riding a trainer indoors and even going to extremes like completely disengaging the resistance unit from their trainer. Hey, it's all in the name of raising money for cancer treatment and awareness so it's all good in my book. We opted for rollers and since one of us has an amazing facility we decided to ride outdoors and at least enjoy the sun since we were not going to enjoy any change in scenery. In attendance were Tom W, Clint C, Chris B and myself.

Our host Tom has this incredible roof deck.
100 miles of nowhere 01
I mean you can see EVERYTHING from up here. Plus it's facing south so bonus if you like to expose yourself to the sun which I do. Hey, if you're going to ride rollers for an ungodly amount of time, it might as well be up here.

As we got ready it was time for the obligatory 'pre' shot.
100 miles of nowhere 03
NOTE – we're all still smiling. That's because we have not been sitting in the same spot on our saddles for three hours yet. Also note that I have already turned into bare chest guy. Sadly this is my predisposition when the temperature climbs above 60 degrees.

The vibration from four sets of rollers is pretty damn loud!
100 miles of nowhere 04
Especially when you are riding on a wood deck and not some sort of more solid surface like the concrete infield at the track. Or sitting on your couch watching television; that's much more quiet.

Chris did not have any rollers but he's so game he showed up on his trainer.
100 miles of nowhere 05
If you look closely you will see a yellow LiveStrong bracelet on his right wrist. For this reason (and this reason only) Chris won the 'how well can you adhere to the theme of the event' competition. It was kind of a gimme and I can't believe none of us thought of this…

Last year I got a little burned by the sun so not wanting to mess with success I started this year with no shirt on instead of waiting 10 minutes to remove it like in 2009.
100 miles of nowhere 06
It's just how I roll. Someone had brought along a massive tube of some sort of skin cream… not sure what that was all about.

So we got started. Last year this took me 2:48:29. Roughly. And I was riding a 53x12. This year Tom had the brilliant insight to recommend we all use a 53x11 in order to expedite things. It seemed like genius to me except that it turns out I literally do not own a road cassette with an 11-tooth cog! :( In the end I had to kludge something together. I cannibalized the 11 off of our mountain tandem and then had to custom fit spacers on the cassette body as this cog was not the same width as the 12. My cassette looked ridiculous in the end with this big gap between the 11 and the 13 (there was no 12) but hey, I figured I would only need ONE gear and luckily I was right.

Did the 11 help? Not so much. This year I finished in 2:35:18. Not nearly the improvement I was looking for to be honest. Then again, 13 minutes is 13 minutes…

Doing this event is all about not thinking about doing this event. It's time to concentrate on things like blending your cycling tan lines as demonstrated by Tom.

Tom getting it done.

Nice job Tom! Maybe some day I'll get him to try a sleeveless jersey or even [gasp] roll up his shorts.

If you are a stud then in lieu of distracting yourself you could of course choose to focus on the task at hand. Like Guy is here for example.

Guy = machine

You will notice how the sheer intensity of Guy's effort caused Clint to climb off his bike. During any training ride (and it does not have to be on the road obviously) it's paramount to beat down your teammates psychologically; beat them down hard. Oh the intimidation! Actual race results are incidental and insignificant – it's all about the psych-out while training. If you look closely you will also notice that Guy's wheels are spinning in reverse. Turns out he had the slowest time… Coincidence? Perhaps. But no matter. Mental attrition good, actual results no big deal.

Without a doubt Guy wins the 'my wheels are cooler than yours' competition. Hands down. He had more carbon going on than all of the rest of us combined.

A contrast in styles was Chris.
100 miles of nowhere 13
Opting to employ alternative technology (trainer, no rollers) and to ride to the tune of a different drummer (Oakley Thump pumping out god only knows what), Chris was so distracted he threw up a victory salute that was WAY premature. He tried to brush it off, "I was just practicing…" but inexperience stands out like a pair of (non-bib) Performance shorts at a bike race. I mean c'mon Chris, show a little respect for the effort and at least fake it.

He did take his jersey off at one point. Proof that he was getting warm at least. Of course he did say something about finally getting his trainer resistance 'dialed in' so it was probably just the sunny weather.
100 miles of nowhere 19

While Tom and I had an 11-tooth cog and Guy had his high tech wheels and Chris had his dubious resistance, Clint chose to run what he brung and soldered through the entire ride on a 50x12.
100 miles of nowhere 17
And truth be told, that might have been the most amazing feat of all. A true hard man of the NW, Clint never has been one to shy away from a challenge or balk at adversity. Clint should be featured in an Old Spice commercial.

And me? I tried to make light of this event but truth be told I was kinda tightly wound myself.
100 miles of nowhere 23
Note strained expression, hands tightly gripping bars, eyes riveted on front wheel. Seems I had a tad bit of trouble staying on my rollers last year so this year I positioned myself well away from anyone else. No bigger faux pas than bailing off your bike and falling into your friend. Especially when you aren't even moving! And since cyclists historically like to set the bar REALLY low to guarantee they can exceed their expectations (Martin is no different in this regard for sure), having the uber macho 11-tooth cog on meant anything slower than last year's time would be utter failure. Truth be told, athletes – even no-hoper, amateur ones like me – are experts in making a mountain out of a molehill.

Did I mention Clint isn't racing these days? See for yourself.
100 miles of nowhere 26

As time went by Chris decided to give rollers a shot. To his credit he was able to ride them! Speaking of rollers, it turns out that selection is key. Tom, Clint and I used the industry standard, Kreitler 4.5 rollers with aluminum drums. Guy was using a bad-ass looking set of Weyless rollers with steel drums. Unfortunately 'bad-ass' does not always equate to 'super fast'… Occasionally we would query each other to see how far everyone had ridden. Guy is a track racing MONSTER and so it came as a big surprise to see him fall of the pace a bit and slowly get further and further behind. Towards the end after I had finished he switched to my rollers and had an epiphany. Turns out his drums – although the same size as mine – are harder to spin so he was fighting just that teeny, tiny, miniscule extra bit of resistance all the time. "Dude, this like 7 mph easier!" I think were his exact words.

Let's recap then shall we? Here is Guy on his Weyless rollers.
100 miles of nowhere 34

And here is Chris politely waiting for everyone else (read: Guy) to finish before he attacks the pizza and beer.
100 miles of nowhere 40

And here is Clint (and Lila) doing the same.
100 miles of nowhere 41

Hahahahaha… Okay, I need to come clean and let you  know that all these pictures are not exactly in the proper sequence and Guy actually did really well. But what good is your own blog if you can't take creative license? None. My point exactly.

Here is proof positive that Guy was killing it all morning long.

Guy on Wayless

And here is proof that he kept right on killing it after switching rollers.

Guy on Kreitler

In the end it went pretty well for everyone. Tom had a nagging mechanical (his chain kept skipping intermittently in the 11) that we could not fix but dutifully completed the ride. Clint talked himself out of finishing and then talked himself back in – way to go. Guy conquered his equipment adversity and Chris did not succumb to our endless barrage of 'you are riding a trainer instead of rollers and don't even have to balance yourself' taunts. I did not fall of my rollers! Yeah for me. Lila called in our pizza order before we were done, brought up drinks on ice (I know!) and even tried to keep us company before the deafening THRUMMMM… of the rollers drove her away to walk the dogs. Once done we all relaxed and enjoyed the view for a change. And the food.

We even got a mention on Fatty's blog. Nice.

Thanks to Tom and Lila for hosting; to Guy, Clint, Chris and Tom for the excellent company; to Fatty for thinking of this nutty event in the first place, to LiveStrong for doing good things with the money we raised and to Twin Six for the generous schwag. And to pizza and beer as recovery food! I'll be back. I think.

Here all all the pictures and video.

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