What went wrong at the biggest Urban Assault Ride ever

If I had to choose one word to describe this year’s New Belgium Urban Assault Ride in Denver, it would be “junkshow.” If I had to choose two, “frat party.” This was not my first UAR, but was most likely my last.

The day started off well enough. Though limited in number, the porta-potties were sufficient and there were no major lines. There was lots of water available for people to fill up with (important, since it was approaching 80F for the start at 9am). Everything went to hell at about 9:01am. The first mystery location – which all participants had to get to in order to find out the second┬ámystery location, and thus plan the rest of their route for the day – was about five blocks from the start. This was a complete┬ádisaster, as every single participant swarmed there at the same time. I’d say at least 80% barreled the wrong way down multiple one-way streets to get there, which doesn’t exactly endear cyclists to the hearts and minds of the general public. Fighting through the crowd to get a bead took several minutes, which was followed by…fighting through the crowd to get to the clue for the second mystery location. The clue was a small photograph, placed on the ground. Pro-tip #1 for the Race Director: a large print that could’ve been hung on the wall or from a rafter can be printed at Kinkos for a few dollars. Pro-tip #2 for the RD: don’t put the obvious first stop five blocks from the start.

After seeing the clue (a portion of the mural on the wall of Salvagetti Bicycle Workshop – an awesome LBS and a clue that took anyone even remotely involved in the Denver cycling “scene” about half a second to recognize – though most were seen pulling out their phones to take photos to send to someone else to figure out what it was) I – wait for it – fought through the crowd one more time and was off.

The checkpoints seemed to fly by, and in retrospect, the entire course seemed shorter than before. All said and done it was about 20 miles; previous years seemed closer to 30. There was yet another mistake in route planning – the farthest point (which, for some reason, was a double checkpoint) was about equally as far away in the (non-official-yet-obvious) loop regardless of which direction you took, and everyone hit it at the same time. This resulted in a 10+ minute wait. Pro-tip #3 for the RD: don’t do this, especially with a checkpoint that can only handle a relatively small number of people at one time.

The obstacle in question? The big-wheel trike course that has always been at the finish. I did manage to pull off a powerslide so rad that one of the volunteers exclaimed a “NICE!” as I slid by, which was awesome. If only I could’ve combined the powerslide with a high five!

The finish was incredibly uneventful, in stark contrast to prior years (which had the big-wheel course at the end, where it should be). After checking in for our time and throwing a lock on the bike, it was time for the party. I crossed 16th St. Mall, got my two comped beer tokens, and immediately felt like I’d walked in to a frat party. The music sounded like the soundtrack from a LoDo bar at midnight on a Saturday night, complete with a lame DJ putting in random scratches and skips. Shirtless brolies were so numerous they were effectively uncountable.

It’s a shame that such a great event has gone so far downhill so quickly. Poor course layout, boring checkpoints, and a completely different vibe than is normally found at a New Belgium event (this is the first junkshow frat party of the eight NB events I’ve participated in, and hopefully the last – NB can put on a great event) has me completely uninterested in coming back next year. The brolies can have it.

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Mt. Evans Road Bike Ride

After an already-busy weekend in the mountains spent skiing 14ers, I decided I still needed to get exercise before the Independence Day heat hit. I once again was in bed early, and once again was up at 4:30 without the help of an alarm. Unfortunately, there were no new-to-me 14ers that were close enough to get to and back before going to celebrate with friends in the afternoon. On the other hand, the weather was going to be perfect for riding up Mt. Evans, something I’ve wanted to do for a few years now. I elected to start from Idaho Springs, some 6,700′ below the highpoint of the road, and was rolling by 6:45am.

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Grays Peak Ski Descent

After the previous day’s hike and descent of Huron Peak, I found myself at home trying to figure out what to do for the evening. Nothing sounded appealing – not watching a movie, going out, listening to music – except for going to bed. Being one to believe there’s usually a good reason behind it when all you want to do is sleep, I hit the sack early. I was planning on a relaxing day starting with sleeping in, but things didn’t really go according to plan.

My eyes popped open; I was wide awake . It was still dark and I looked over to the clock. 4:27. Before I’d gone to bed, I told myself – knowing that there was no way that it’d actually happen – if I woke up on my own really early, I’d go ski Grays. Knowing that I had plenty of time, I slowly went through my morning routine. Get dressed, deal with Scout, coffee, breakfast. I didn’t unpack my ski gear from the car the night before, figuring I’d be going up at least one more time for the long weekend, so all I needed to grab on my way out the door was a couple Snickers and some water. Continue reading

Huron Peak Ski Descent

After Capitol a few weeks ago, I decided I was hanging up my skis for the year. It just made sense, at least from a timing standpoint – I needed to be at work the next couple weeks, I had the Walker/Konsella wedding to attend the following weekend, and an Ironman the weekend after that. And surely I would require weeks of recovery before I could think about getting back after it in the mountains, right? That, of course, was not intended to be a factual statement. Just a few days later I started going stir crazy, and started planning for the weekend. I had been talking to Kim about conditions on Grays, and we both had Huron in mind, and settled on Saturday.

I started hiking from the lower TH at 6am; Kim, worrying that I was already at the upper TH, had driven up there a few minutes prior (my car doesn’t have sufficient clearance). Two miles later I find her, getting ready to start on the way up.

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