For any cycling enthusiast who enjoys a little competition, strategy and all around fun, look into the Urban Assault Ride. This cycling event is only offered in select cities.
Brought back by popular demand, UAR will once again be held in Des Moines, Iowa. And yours truly is attempting to participate in it for the first time ever.
UAR started in Austin, Texas in 2003. Think of this cycling event as a triathlon - bike race, adventure race, obstacle course. Or as I like to describe it, "bicycles, big wheels, slip 'n slides, scooters and water slides." It's the multi-athlon of cycling! For a good visual, check out the video below.
This year it was no surprise that a good friend asked me to be her partner for the ride. Oh boy. I haven't had a chance to ride my bike more than once this summer and now she wants me to do this race with her.
No time like the present. I aired up my tires and we decided to get a nice 35 mile ride in to warm up. Hitting trails and avoiding potholes, we rode through town and out into the country past all the alfalfa fields and farms to a little remote town known for their Taco Tuesday and Steak Wednesday events. Here, she and I brainstormed our route and mapped out our way around town.
We made it home, a little sore and only hitting one pothole leaving me with a flat tire. At least I can say I have now successfully changed a flat on my own. Victory in itself.
A few days later, she and I braved the 93 degree weather and the humidity and set out on our route. Holy hills. We managed to put all the hills and climbs at the beginning of our route so that the last 4 checkpoints are all coasting downhill. About mid-way through our route we have our biggest and last hill that just can't be avoided. I will be sucking wind as I'm climbing that hill, trying to cross over I-235.
Now that we have the route figured out, we plan to ride it at least one more time before the big race in two weeks. We decided for the race, that we both will be wearing GoPros on our helmets and/or bike tracking our progress.
It's two weeks until show time. Wish us luck.
UAR - How it works: You partner with a teammate - one who preferable knows the city trails and streets well OR one who is great at acting like a kid and has a competitive side to get through the obstacle courses. In my case, both my partner and I are highly competitive AND know the streets and trails of the greater metro area of Des Moines.
After you sign up for the event, there is a map with different checkpoints - anywhere from 7 to 10 checkpoints around the city. You are allowed to ride on streets and/or trails to get to your destination - obeying all traffic laws. Helmets are required to stay on at all times. Even if it involves having to jump into the pool to retrieve balls - ladies, don't worry about helmet hair, we'll all be styling interesting do's that day.
At each 'checkpoint' you drop your bike an complete a funky adventurous obstacle course, collect a bead (it's something to do with your time) and then get back on your bike to hit the pavement to your next checkpoint.
Don't forget to check for any mystery checkpoints. These are usually released just before the race begins.
The route you take to each checkpoint is up to you. The team with the shortest amount of time to all the checkpoints wins. It may mean you have a clever strategy in your route, or it may mean that your partner can 'pull a mean big-wheel power-slide and then fly across an inflatable slip 'n slide.'