Tuesday, June 22

More New Belgium UAR: Beyond Thunderdome

Hopefully after reading yesterday's post the average reader walked away from their monitors knowing that I had a good time at the New Belgium Urban Assault Race. There were certain things that made the whole experience above average.

Organization: The whole thing went off like clockwork. At each checkpoint there were enough obstacles that we never had to wait for our turn. The volunteers were on top of things and got us in and out pretty quickly.

Beer: New Belgium beer is good.

Fellow racers: Sure there were plenty of stumped people riding around Queens University and the Booty Loop, but everybody was smiling at some point. If you were looking for a good time and you didn't find it I would say you pretty much suck.

After Party: Yes, beer was $4 a cup, and from a promotional standpoint I still don't get that... even with the money going to charity. That said, a little innovation, teamwork, and creativity went a long way, and Big Worm and I never touched our filthy money all day. In my world beer is like french fries... give a man enough of either and he will complain about nothing. Example? After my fourth beer I no longer wanted to kick the elusive mystery checkpoint Afro/tutu guy in the nuts. Win/win.

The wieners... I mean winners: Kevin Thompson and Josh Nol are locals and all around good guys. If Big Worm and I couldn't win it was at least nice to see someone we know up on the podium. Kevin brought his whole family down to the race, and since his mom was a key element in their win I hope he shared his schwag.

Unsupervised access to the Big Wheels: This was the most important thing of all. I had more fun than I had all day during the race right before they closed everything down. Many of us hopped on the adult sized three wheelers and started ripping hot laps in front of the stage. Since the course was an out and back the temptation to play chicken was strong... well maybe too strong when your adherence to logic and reason is slightly altered.

Mayhem ensued.

Carnage abounds when nobody steps in.

Yesterday I woke up quite sore, and my condition is not much better today. Multiple impacts combined with a few high sides in the hairpins have left me bruised and torn. An incidental collision with a pile of mini-kegs gave me a non lethal case of whiplash.

Young and old, man and woman, sober and less than sober...

Bottles and cones were being tossed about. Flagrant hits in the corners, blindsides, head-ons... there were no rules in the Thunderdome. High speed descents down a steep grade on brakeless freewheeling Big Wheels and T-bones being served up left and right.

It was all fun and games until the folks from New Belgium consulted their lawyers on their iPhones (it's a new app) who confirmed that someone would eventually poke their eye out and New Belgium would have to assume 12% liability.

I would love to know if this happens in other cities since this thing is a traveling event. They visit some pretty rowdy cities and get crowds five times larger than the one we had in Charlotte, so I can't imagine that when you combine Big Wheels, adults, and adult beverages the outcome could be any different.

By tomorrow my 7+ minute New Belgium Urban Assault Race video should be ready. Big Worm captured about an hours worth of footage, 22 minutes of which covered 70% of our search for mystery checkpoint 1 before Bill just shut the camera off. That was hard to watch and relive, painful as it was... I promise it's worth watching, and it will justify my sleeping in tomorrow and not really writing much at all.

All photos from Kevin Thompson and Mel Smith

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