Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Urban Assault Ride!

Shocking news: I'm more of what you'd call an "indoor girl." I have my moments when it comes to running, swimming, and cycling, and I like to get out as much as I can for hikes, leisure rides, and the occasional run (or if I'm pretending to be chased in a "Oh no, the Vikings are raiding our shores and the one that looks like Chris Helmsworth is chasing me so he can kidnap me and take me back to Norway and force me to be his wife!" type-scenario)...etc, but if I asked my friends to come up with three words to describe me, "athletic" probably wouldn't be one of them.

Yet it's not a far stretch for me to say that a sporting event changed my life. About two and a half years ago, I went to Madison to watch my friend Dave wreck the swim, bike, and run challenge that defines the pinnacle of human speed and endurance: The Ironman. I will never forget the (ridiculously early) morning of the race - being up before dawn, the capital square dark and quiet as competitors stretched, race organizers got set up, and spectators packed into the Starbucks on the corner to gain Venti-sized coffees.

And then there was the start of the race, when families and friends crowded on the bank as the sun came up and a gust of wind literally came off the racers as they started their swim. I remember standing next to my friend Sonia, watching what looked like a mass of a thousand black birds flapping their wings in the water, and thinking that I would really love to be a part of more adventures like this. The swell of human athleticism matched with a bewildering challenge brought out this certain euphoria... In everyone. I told myself that I wanted to find a way to do more of this, what that morning had felt like,although I had no idea how, or even what to do to go about finding out how.

Two months later, on the same day that I walked away from a ten-year career in behavior therapy that was making me miserable, I was asked to join Groucho Sports Supply, a sports apparel start-up that this guy Jeff had started and that Dave had become a partner in after the Ironman. I gave an enthusiastic "fuck YES" and haven't looked back since.

Miracles, kids. And it all started with one sporting event.

Since becoming a partner in Groucho, I've had the luck to learn more about a lot of awesome rides, races, and adventure events for runners and cyclists. And adventure events are my favorite, because...well, obviously. On June 10th, one of the coolest is coming to Minneapolis - The Urban Assault Ride.

The  Urban Assault Ride™ combines the best parts of a bike race, adventure race, obstacle course, and a back yard party.

Here's how it works: You and your teammate will set out on a city-wide quest for 'checkpoints' on your favorite two-wheeled steeds.  At each checkpoint, you'll drop your bikes and complete a funky/adventurous obstacle course, then remount your bikes and hit the streets for more.
The goal is to complete all the checkpoints in the shortest amount of time. You choose your own route and checkpoint order. This means that the most clever are often the victors. Of course, it may also help if you can pull a mean big-wheel powerslide and fly across an inflatable slip-n-slide ;)
After your pedal-powered adventure, your team will cross the finish line and enter a massive celebration of bikes and beer. The after party is just as much fun as the ride itself, thanks to the craziest raffle prize contest you'll ever experience.

Most participants do the UAR just for fun (it's not the most competitive event out there). Everybody loves the obstacles (which change every year). Many participants walk home with awesome prizes either from their performance in the ride or from winning one of the after party contests.
It's a blast for buddies, couples, families, triathletes, runners, craft beer drinkers, mustache lovers, good music afficiandos, and people looking to experience one helluva celebration of BEER, BIKES, and BIG WHEELS!
 I love this one because they even say it themselves - even if you're not a huge athlete, like me, you can still score with this one. And obstacles like big-wheel powerslides and slip-n-slides. And why don't more races offer celebrations of beer after the finish line?!

While I can't participate due to a prior obligation (people get married in the summer. On weekends. I don't know if you guys knew that? But it happens. And usually on weekends when other stuff is happening), I do have a special in for anyone who wants to get a team together (it's 2 person teams only, but you can do a co-ed team, a female team, a male team, or even a family team (a parent and a child, but the child must be between the ages of 12-7) and rip that shit up. To sign up, head over here, and enter in the code MSP12Amber10off when you register. 

And, if you happen to be reading this from Austin, Fort Collins, Denver, Des Moines, or Chicago, the same goes to you - Urban Assault Rides are coming to your town later in the summer, but you can sign up and use the code now.  

And! Urban Assault is always looking for rad volunteers to help out with the event. If you're like me and like to know what you're getting into, this is a great chance to learn the course and event details up close so you can rally and conquer next year. Head over here to learn more about volunteer opportunities.  

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