Urban Assault Race 2005
This year, I thought it would be fun to do a different sort of bike event, so when I saw that there would be an Urban Assault Race in San Antonio, it looked like just the ticket. First held in Austin, this year Urban Assault increased to a three-race series, with events in San Antonio, Dallas, and Austin. A combination of a bike race, orienteering, and scavenger hunt, two-person teams must navigate to a series of checkpoints, complete a task, and obtain a bead that proved that you completed the task. During the race, team members can be no more than 5 seconds apart, and some roads are off-limits (for our race, the major off-limits street was Broadway). First team to complete all checkpoints and return to the start, wins.
Though Jayne was a bit reluctant at first, by race day she was ready to go. We knew that there was no way we could win, particularly after seeing all the skinny young bikers who lined up for the race, but figured that the distance was less than our regular weekend ride, and could be fun.
Race Day Journal
Ready to Race! (photo by Scott Ericksen)
Out of the house by 7:00 to a pretty day - cool and clear. It's a quick ride to El Milagrito to fuel up on a chilaquila taco, then down to Maverick Park to the race start.
The park is a beehive of activity, with volunteers organizing the race, a family bike ride, and a volksmarch and cyclists getting themselves and their bikes ready. With over 60 teams, supporters, volunteers, and media on hand, things were looking up. Only one problem - no Porta-Potties. The race organizers announce a delay to allow participants to ride up to the Pig Stand and beg use of the john. I take a few minutes to walk around and visit with the reps from the Metropolitan Planning Organization.
We have the only tandem, only tricycle, and only recumbent in the race, so we get a bit of attention from other riders, and the photographers. The preferred bike for this event seems to be a slick-tired mountain bike, though there is one guy on a unicycle.
Our score on the bonus test was not high enough to start with the first group of riders, so after a 5 minute wait we were off with the second wave. We had noted that fewer riders had chosen to do the two southern checkpoints, so we headed down Alamo with 3 or 4 more teams.
First stop: Toussaud's Wax Museum. Task: Make your way through the museum and find the answers to 3 questions. Results: No problem, except not being able to find the rest room.
A quick run down Alamo takes us to stop two, the Blue Star arts complex. Task: Ride a Big Wheel around an obstacle course that loops around a building. Results: Hard for Steve to get traction on a ramp, but we make the circuit.
The course takes us back up Alamo, past the start line, and we eventually cross Broadway to continue north via Ave B. We play tag with a couple of other teams until we get caught by a stop light (if you get a ticket, you get disqualified). The next checkpoint is Chipotle Grill. Task: Ride a scooter through an obstacle course. Result: We're back on the course in minutes.
Avoiding Broadway, we're over to New Braunfels, where we continue north. The hills are short but steep and it seems that we're never able to get to full speed on the down hills due to stop lights. Despite the slow speeds, we're soon arrive at Brake Check. Task: Two large tires are connected by a length of rope. Each team member must drag the tires around the building (partially up hill) - twice. Result: We take the 5 minute time penalty and head on to Double Dave's Pizza.
This is a two part test - first, the team must eat a cup of pickled jalapeno peppers, then one team member sits on a furniture dolly holding 15 pizza boxes with one hand while the other team mate pushes the other around a short course - then they swap and do it again. Result: Since only one team member has to eat the peppers, Steve takes one for the team. The pizza box move goes off with minor hitches.
Despite a coughing attack brought on by the jalapenos, we make it to Coco's for another two part challenge. Tasks: The team mates face each other, hands behind their backs, and hold a grapefruit while walking a circular course. If you drop the grapefruit, back to the start. Task 2: One member lays on the ground. Second member stands on a bench, dangling a popsicle by a string. The person on the ground must eat the popsicle without touching it with their hands. Oh yeah, and the person doing the dangling is wearing a blindfold. Results: After 3 tries with the grapefruit, we take the time penalty for task 1. The popsicle is eaten (and helps cool the peppers).
From Coco's, it's a downhill run to the Quarry Market. At Chipotle, we solve three word problems and at Whole Earth Jayne's background in knitting and as a Girl Scout serves us well as she quickly ties three knots.
Despite the traffic on Basse, we grind our way up to Nacodoches for another downhill to our final checkpoints. At Bike World, we double up on a BMX-style bike and ride a short weaving course through some cones. The Roger Soler Sports task is a 3-legged race. We loop an old inner tube around our legs and have to walk around the block. It's loads of fun with our disparate leg lengths, but we make the loop without incident.
The final run back to Maverick Park is downhill and fast (for us, anyway), and we discover that we're not done. There's one more task set. First, we have to negotiate a short course (50 yard) by bouncing along on those inflated "bouncy balls", then do a sack race around another course, followed by a short sprint to an inflated obstacle wall. Despite the wall being equipped with a rope and foot holds which allow Jayne to scramble over like a monkey. Steve makes three attempts before walking around the obstacle while nursing a jammed finger and a couple of scrapes (he also notes that, in his defense, the obstacle was sprayed with water, was slicker than owl s**t, and was designed for 6 year olds).
Our finishing time is 3:10:04, which places us 24th in the Co-Ed division. Distance was 18.3 miles. Eleven teams finished after us and three teams did not finish. The winning time overall was 1:52, slowest was 4:12:48. We estimate that we were the oldest team in the race