I Am an Urban Adventurer…er

1 Aug

I can’t move my legs. The big toe on my right foot is purple and can’t bear weight. The rest of my body feels like one giant bruise. Liz is missing part of her knee. But oh am I happy. So so happy. Urban Adventure kicked my butt but was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.

First things first. We biked 20.26 miles total. As Patrick said, we basically biked a marathon. Have I mentioned that Liz hasn’t biked since she was twelve and I hadn’t biked since college. Yeah. So there’s that.

Anyways, we were giddy in the days leading up to it. We were obsessing about what we were going to be packing, what our strategy should be, what we were going to wear. We were so consumed with thinking about it that we completely forget to register and pick up our packets on Friday night. Oops. Luckily we could do it extra early Saturday morning.

Around 6ish in the am, Liz came by and we filled up our bike tires, sunscreened up and headed over to Coveleski Stadium where the race would begin. The parking lot was filled with trim, toned  athletes wearing marathon shirts and oiling their bikes. I dispelled any notion that we were serious competition when I pulled my bike out of Liz’s minivan and promptly dropped it, shrieking and hopping out of the way.

Inside the stadium, the atmosphere was much like Sunburst, music blaring, people getting excited. We were split into Open and Elite divisions (I’ll let you guess which one we were in) and the organizer, a women not unlike Sue Sylvester, went over all the rules. Then the secret maps were handed out and teams fanned out to strategize. We decided to hit the furthest points first, saving the most popular spots around the river for mid-way through the race so we wouldn’t get stuck in lines, like we heard happened last year.

We lined up towards the back of the pack for the start of the race. We began by running a half mile lap around the Cove, then picking up our bikes and swarming in all directions. It looked like most people were headed downtown so our plan was looking good.

Our first checkpoint was the Budweiser distribution center on the west side. Here we had to haul twelve super heavy beer kegs across a long warehouse and restack them on pallets at the other end. People seemed only able to move two at a time per person. Liz and I, however, are used to hauling heavy things. The kegs were large, but at least they didn’t squirm and kick. We had this covered. We hauled three of them at a time on dollies across and heaved them up on top of the pallets like pros. I think we took everyone standing around by surprise. It was a good way to start the race.

At this point, I’m just going to breeze over a few of the major checkpoints. I was going to write a full description of the race but I know some things are repeated year after year and I don’t want to ruin the surprise for anyone who happens to google Urban Adventure South Bend. After all, part of the fun for us was speculating what we would be doing.

Anyways, suffice it to say we biked all over the town. We were on the westside for a couple of checkpoints then biked down to a city park where we heaved ourselves down a giant downhill slip n’slide. At the bottom Liz realized one of the safety pins holding her race number had come open and fallen off on the slide. She mentioned it to one of the volunteers who shrugged and said “well, someone will find it.” Ouch.

We headed through my part of town and over to the farmer’s market for another checkpoint, then up the river for another one, then to Potawatomi Pool where  we jumped in the pool fully clothed to swim a lap. Once we emerged dripping wet, we started heading for the giant water slide. The volunteers waved us off, telling us that the slide wasn’t part of the challenge. We didn’t care and they let us do it just for fun.

Now thoroughly soaked, we biked off on a wild goose chase. We had been given a mystery picture of a certain location and needed to find it. We were pretty sure we knew where it was but we were wrong. Like several miles each way wrong. So we headed downtown to the East Race Kayak Course. This is an Olympic training course, so it’s pretty serious. We got into a raft with another team who were slightly more competitive than we were and seemed a little put off when we kept spinning in circles. Nonetheless, we managed not to flip but still got completely soaked. At the end, we were supposed to paddle to the side to grab a rope and be pulled in. We had been warned that another team didn’t make it and ended up floating quite a ways down the river, where a rescue attempt was currently underway. Of course when we got to the end, what did we do instead of paddling to the side? We turned in circles of course and almost found ourselves heading to Michigan. Luckily someone on shore had a pretty long throw and was able to get the rope to us.

We squished our way the half-mile back to our bikes and Liz refilled the water while I overheard a woman talking about where the mystery picture location was. Score! We headed over to the event we’d been anticipating the most, the zipline over the St. Joseph River. After being assured that no one had fallen in the river yet, we climbed up a rickety ladder and got strapped in and zipped off. It went pretty fast and was such a rush! Definitely my favorite checkpoint. Once we landed we rushed back to the beginning to give our harnesses back and headed downtown. There were a variety of checkpoints there that local restaurants and theaters set up. We also headed to the mystery photo location and got that knocked out.

From there we headed several miles north (and unfortunately uphill) to St Joseph High School where we found ourselves wearing rubber gloves and flinging giant dead carp at each other. Yeah, that’s right. Carp. You each had to catch it and if you dropped it you had to go straight to the back of the line and try again. For the first ten minutes we were there we didn’t see anybody catch it, the line was getting pretty long. The grass under our feet was slimy with fish guts and the whole place reeked. We dropped it on the first go. The second time around though I donned a nasty fish gut covered poncho  so I wouldn’t be scared of grabbing that fish. Sure enough, we each caught it this time. We jumped up and down cheering for ourselves and rushed back to our bikes, wiping fish guts off the whole way.

We did a couple more checkpoints and then started heading over to St. Mary’s College for the next one. We were cutting through some grass and gravel when I heard a huge CRASH. Liz was sitting on the ground holding her knee. She had road rash all down her arm and leg and a pretty good scrape on her knee. We had a tiny first aid kit with us so we cleaned it up and bandaged it. Her pants were mangled and torn. We took a few minutes to recuperate and decided to head to the Notre Dame checkpoints. We had four to go. At this point we were dehydrated, hot and exhausted. When we got to Notre Dame Stadium though, the fire department had set up a fire truck with the hose going. We rode through it a couple times and then headed inside the Stadium where we had to run a lap around the field without touching the grass. We sang the Fight Song as we did, wheezing and panting the whole time.

We hit the final three checkpoints and finished with 17 minutes to go (the race shut down at 1pm). We were pretty freakin’ proud of ourselves. We rode the several miles back to the Start/Finish, dropped our bikes and ran the last few yards to the Finish Line. Liz headed straight for the medical tent, where we witnessed a guy with bloody road rash on the whole lower part of his face. Ouch. I wandered off in search of food. We sat in the shady bleachers with sandwiches and water and zoned out in exhaustion.

Urban Adventure was intense in a lot of ways. It really pushed us to the brink physically, as we found out the next day when our bodies wouldn’t work. It was the perfect way to say goodbye to South Bend. It was also a great experience to have with a good friend. I wish I had gotten to know Liz better a long time ago so we could have done lots more fun things before we moved. But I’m pushing for her to move to SoCal so we can live nearby and start an urban farm/kid ranch. Either way, we’re working on a project together that we’ll be unveiling soon so you’ll be seeing lots more of our adventures/disasters. More on that to come soon!

3 Responses to “I Am an Urban Adventurer…er”

  1. Grandma LeAnn August 2, 2011 at 2:31 pm #

    What an adventure! But methinks it pales in comparison to what awaits you: crossing the plains in your very own covered wagon with three terrorists who I’m sure you will want to leave in unmarked graves at some point on your journey. I’m just glad that Javy will be along to protect the innocent.

  2. Mickey Standiford August 4, 2011 at 9:13 am #

    I am so jealous! I totally wanted to do this and just didn’t make the effort to get it done. I am putting it on my calendar for next year, so I can take over for you two champions. Great job and awesome documenting of the event. Love the video mixed in with the pictures.

  3. Lisa Adams August 26, 2011 at 1:45 am #

    what a very cool adventure! would love to do that, but in my own hometown that i’m familiar with. i’ll have to tell my friends about it who just moved to south bend to go to law school.

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