Oyster_The Race in Portland, Oregon
For the fourth year in a row Drodge, Tyler, and Will are suiting up in Nads green to hammer the streets of Portland in the Merrell Oyster_The Race | Portland. Over the three years covering nearly a hundred miles on bike and foot, we have
almost caught an oyster in the mouth in a two story drop, shuttled the Willamette on kayaks, been blind folded and placed miles apart from each other, tasted plenty of beer, and without 5000 more words I will just be barely scratching the surface.
We are looking forward to seeing all the other teams again as well as all the newcomers.
Oyster_The Race in Denver, Colorado
We do love the Great Urban Race, but it is a no brainer to do the Oyster. Oyster_The Race is The Nads longstanding favorite urban adventure race, and hands down the best urban adventure scavenger clue solving what-have-you race to look for in your community.
Great Urban Race in Denver, Colorado
Who are we kidding? If a lot of things go our way, we will be heading to the Great Urban Race start after finishing the Oyster in the morning.
We’ll likely only enter a team of two, so Drodge, Josh, and Tyler will have to draw straws to see who gets to hang out at the Oyster and drink the free beer while the other two hoof it around Denver that afternoon.
It may be a blessing or a curse that The Oyster and Great Urban Race are the same day; ask us the evening of the 25th. We will be the ones curled in limp balls of muscle cramps gitty with the days shenanigans.
We’ll post our 2012 Portland Great Urban Race NADS BLOG race report soon.
[UPDATE: Great Urban Race, Portland NADS BLOG post is up]
Race day started at 1:00 AM, not for everyone, but Andy and I were on the internet and trolling for clues. Challenge Nation gave us a few on Facebook which were about as useful as a waterproof teabag.
- Reach out and touch someone.
- Don’t blink, you’ll miss it.
- Ding Dong.
- They Switched to Circles, but Why?
- Does he have to do EVERYTHING around here?
The good: we knew reach out and touch someone referred to a phone number decoded from the singlet, so we were able to call that number before the race, get the “Self Made Man” statue clue, and take that pic early.
The bad: We thought ‘have to do everything’ was either from Ace Ventura Pet Detective or Uncle Buck…umm, no. I’m still not sure what that referred to, just like I’m not sure who would ever invent a waterproof teabag.
Eleven hours later we parked our car near the start, I walked ten steps, stuck my foot in a hole in the sidewalk, sprained my ankle, and held an impromptu yard sale on the sidewalk.
Twelve hours later we were handed our clues and got newbie, Matt Pflieger, on the phone to help guide us.
We had also scouted an out of state license plate with a W,X,Y,Z and so we had that one out of the gate. However, the bell we thought referred to “ding dong” in the FB clues was wrong. So we hit a Denver’s Road Home donation meter first, headed to the clock tower for a jumping pic, then went around to the corner of “the street number that corresponds to the emancipation president and the street that puts the “A” in “A-Basin” where we got 5 strangers to help us act out a scene from Star Wars…the kid in the middle almost threw up from stage fright but was able to hold up his blaster long enough to get the picture.
We struggled a bit with figuring out “Why are manholes round?” so I guess we’ll struggle in that corporate job interview if they ask that. But eventually we got to the square manhole across from the opera house and took our pic between 2 phone booths (hidden in the shadows…sneaky).
Stuff we picked up on the way to our next fixed location: fire truck at a stoplight!, the real bell (that one was lucky we saw other teams taking pics there), stranger from a state with an ocean shore with their license to prove it (yes, Georgia counted).
…OK, last 2 tasks. One was easy but far, back near the start line, to some bricks outside of Coors Field where we had to find a brick with the name of a famous baseball player or a US president. I’m going to assume that Mickey really does spell his last name “Mantle”.
And now for the only mandatory clue with inflexible timing. AFTER 1:30 PM we had to get two indoor photos exactly 5 minutes apart with our arms mimicking the hands of the clock time. So we got a pub computer screen at 1:46 and a retail store iPhone at 1:51, then ran to the finish.
Total time = 52 minutes. Place = 1st!
Second place was 2 minutes behind and the top 10 were within about 15 minutes…tight race!
Glad we drank our thirst aid (sponsor shout out to Gatorade), wore our hydration packs (sponsor shout out to North Face), and never took off our secret hologram bracelets (sponsor shout out to Power Balance)…jk, our only real sponsor is Oyster The Race, you other loser companies just wish you were sponsoring us.
[UPDATE: Watch the Nad-Cam of the race on YouTube]
Tough Mudder in Beaver Creek, CO
Fresh off of his Super Dare win in Milwaukee, Drodge is punishing himself in this weekend’s Tough Mudder at the Beav. Last year he was looking good until the Electro Shock Therapy obstacle. The obstacle knocked him down but couldn’t keep him down; he and Hot Mess handily qualified for the World’s Toughest Mudder.
If you’re out there Saturday look for Drodge, cheer him on, but if he recommends a belly flop technique for Electro Shock Therapy, maybe go a different way.
Great Urban Race in Portland, Oregon
When Drodge and Tyler show up for this race, we hope they can find the start since absolutely everything they know about Portland they learned during adventure races - in downtown.
This year the start is at Prost! We hope you will join the Nads for a boot.
Oyster Off-Road Adventure Race in Bend, Oregon
Finally! Finally a taste of Oyster!
The Nads always love when the Oyster comes to town, and Bend is just going to have to be close enough.
John and Tyler are heading to the Deschutes Brewery to race in Oyster_The Race Off Road. They can’t wait to have as much fun as last year, which is saying a lot because Tyler capsized their boat plunging a blindfolded John into the Deschutes.
But, you can’t keep the Nads away from the Oyster, so we’ll see you out there in a few weeks
Challenge Nation in Denver, Colorado
Always scholars, the Nads prepared for Challenge Portland by reading Jill Diamond’s Challenge Phoenix blog entry, that and sampling every taco cart within a mile of the start.
You can eat a bunch of tacos or just read the Nads Blog to prepare for Denver this year.
In 2010 there were four clue solving urban adventures that held national championships; City Chase USA, CitySolve, Great Urban Race, and Urban Dare. In 2011, it came as a huge disappointment to the clue solving urban adventure community when the fantastic CityChase USA championship disappeared; last year they downsized to just the local Chicago race.
The last CityChase USA Championship to date was the fall of 2010, where the Denver Agents competed with seven other teams, including the Nads, for 36 hours straight in Orlando, Florida to win two Mitsubishi Outlanders. Until a big sponsor resuscitates CityChase USA to it former glory, we can only dream of its return and continually apply to the Amazing Race even though the process feels futile.
This year we are back to a Quadruple Crown because Challenge Nation is dropping its hat in the ring with a December national championship to be held in New Orleans.
Last month Drodgey and I participated in the Challenge Nation in Portland, Oregon.
As Drodgey was fantasizing about how nice it would be to have eleven fingers to count the completed tasks and verify we had indeed skipped one (see Drodgey’s telling of the 2012 Denver Citysolve), Doug, the man behind Challenge Nation distributed the clue sheets in sealed envelopes.
Jogging across the On Deck Sports Bar & Grill’s terrace, Drodge tore the envelope open with his boring five fingered hands to reveal the twelve clues.
Those clues were about to take us on a walking tour of downtown Portland, but we wouldn’t be walking and it would feel more like watching the Travel Channel in fast forward.
As Drodgey opened the clue sheet I could hardly contain my excitement to show off the new Nads head gear that is a clear message that the Nads put safety first and don’t mind looking like giant traffic cones.
Our first stop is a 6.5 ton statue of an elephant that we had a hunch would be a clue from the hints released on Facebook.
Stop two. We snapped a shot mimicking a movie scene of our choice (duh, Star Wars, I am Luke, Drodge is Obi Wan Kenobi, and the stranger is Darth Vader. obvious now right?); also hinted at on Facebook.
Third, we took a picture dunking under a flood’s high water mark; once again a leg up from Facebook.
Next stop Pioneer Courthouse Square where we took a picture of a donor brick. (Facebook hint: “think small names”).
Fifth. When ran a few more blocks south to the liberty bell at City Hall to strike a patriotic pose.
Sixth. Then to the riverfront to surround Mill Ends Park, the world’s smallest park, a clue solving urban adventure hot spot. Here we saw another team that we knew was always competitive, Quest 47. They also seemed to be heading back towards the finish.
Seventh. We were headed to the China Gate to act a scene from the 80’s when we saw a fellow in a Dodgers hat. He was willing to pretend he was waiting for a pitch; Andy joined him and I showed off how to pretend to field a ball if you haven’t ever fielded a baseball.
Eighth. The recurring Nad, John of the Avenging Narwhals and his brother, had joined us that day to help with clues via phone. For our next stop we were to act out a historical moment from the 1980’s at this spot. John’s voice on the phone “Might I suggest the tearing down of the Berlin Wall”.
Ninth. Next we needed to get the clock tower at Union Station to take a picture from a specific bridge with the clock hands at a five minute interval and mimic the clock hands with our own.
At 2:40 we headed to the fountain at the quadrilateral homophone of the world’s best selling Irish booze, Jameson Square. We had to wait a bit for the fountain to turn on, but luckily we saw an out of state license plate with a W on it and checked of our tenth clue.
Eleventh. We made a “OR” with our bodies with the running fountain. A sprint to the finish. We checked in with Doug with no teams in site. It turned out Quest 47 had a few more clues to check off on their way back than we did.
See you in Denver later this month and in December at the Championships, Challenge Nation!
Thanks for the phone support Narwhals and as always, thanks for the support Oyster_The Race.
PS. Check out the account of Yellow Tie Racing’s experience of the same race.
Tyler: “All right guys, take off for the finish.”
Josh: “Tyler, which one did we skip?”
Tyler: “Oh my gosh guys, I completely forgot about the skip.”
That’s the conversation I heard as we were hauling it to Stoney’s.
Stoney’s was where the start and finish of Citysolve Denver took place. The race started out with the same format as past Citysolves. A big banner was rolled out with a multiple choice trivia question. The correct answer gave you cross streets to pick up your clue sheets.
When the banner was rolled out Josh was able to pick out the answer right away and was the first person out of the bar where I was waiting for him. How did Josh know the answer so quickly? Almost the exact same question was used in our very first clue solving adventure race we did 2 years ago. It was Citysolve Denver 2009.
We were the first team to the clue sheets and I noticed a clue on the 16th street mall right away. It’s the perfect place to start because you can hop on the 16th street mall ride and solve clues while you’re moving at the same time.
“Oh give me a home……
After taking a pic at Mermaids Bakery, the mandatory clue put us somewhere “just as far up the 16th St Mall as you can go without walking into the river.” So we end up on the other side of the Millenium bridge which is the end of the 16th St Mall before the river. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. No businesses partaking in a charity event. So we head back over the bridge and stop at a bakery to take a pic of someone eating a cupcake.
As we are heading back down 16th, we are about to turn towards the Wynkoop when we see a group of people at Wazee and 16th. Ahhh, the mandatory clue we ran right by. We raced over, did our “Amazing Race” like challenge (which was to just donate $5 to the charity, not very challenging) and snapped a pic of the charity’s banner. The banner contained the word “nonprofit” on it which was a two minute bonus.
After the Wynkoop, we dashed over the the Voodoo playhouse and then to the Horseshoe. The Horseshoe was in last years CS so it was easy to find. Around the corner was the Yelp Challenge where we had to find a drink on the menu named after a cookie.
We then hoofed it to Colfax where the Satellite bar was located. On the way down I remember asking Tyler how many clues we had done and he said we had finished eight. In my head I was thinking, “Cool, we have one more to go.” But my head was racing trying to look for signs that had “nonprofit” “not for profit” or “leadership” on them for bonus time. I was also trying to think of places that had John Denver postcards or T-shirts, also for bonus time.
We snap the Satellite pic and start heading towards Stoney’s when Tyler says that the last clue is on 13th somewhere. We head to east 13th and there was no Dozens there. I catch a glimpse of the Agents running down Lincoln back to Stoney’s and I start to panic. Uh oh, it was west 13th, luckily, only 4 blocks away. We snap our pic at Dozens and that’s when the little snippet at the beginning of this blog occurs.
Back at Stoney’s we see the Agents and tabulate our finish time. We end up losing by less than two minutes. That is almost the exact same amount of time that we beat the Agents by last year. I guess paybacks a … you know what. Best 2 out of 3? To tell you the truth, the Agents are way ahead of us if we were keeping score.
Anyhoo, we say our congrats to the Agents and are psyched about our friends the Go Dads coming in 3rd. They were later bumped to 4th after they made a mistake and didn’t take a pic with themselves in it. They remedied that by finding someone on the porch eating a taco\quesadilla and then finished again.
Possible trip to Miami for the championship? We shall see. Once again, thanks Jason and Mitch for the fun race and thanks Oyster_the race for sponsoring us.
All right!!! Let the 2012 season of adventure racing commence. The Nads started off 2012 with a race we haven’t done before, Denver Urban Beer Hunt. Beer, good. Urban hunt, good. $500 for first place, real good. All things that we really like.
UBH started out with a very unique but very fun starting line. There wasn’t one. Their website sets a boundary and they text all the clues at 12:00 PM sharp. Josh and I pick a central location and there we were, staring at our phones. I notice about a dozen teams doing the same thing. Bing! First clue comes in. We start heading west where we are supposed plank (face up for some reason) in front of this bar with beer in hand.
All beers during the race were a dollar, nice, but getting through the crowds to get the beers, not nice. As we are running to the first bar all I hear is Bing! Bing! Bing! 11 clues in all. T-Nad is on the phone at this point.
We knock out three clues at the first location. We planked, spelled out our “favorite” beer with any object, and got strangers to take a sobriety test with us.
T-Nad directs us east where we propose to someone with beers in their hands, raise our beers to a particular bar, and take a pic with us holding a cardboard sign with the answer to the question, “What would you do for beer?” 3 beers down, 5 clues to go.
A little further east, we drink a beer at a bar without our hands, feed each other beers at another bar and take a pic with a person with a blue shirt on because that is the color the mountains turn when a Coors Light is super cold. 5 beers down, 2 clues to go. Good thing Josh and I did all that training with The Colorado Outdoorsman. But wait a second. Where’s the finish line. Bing! Bing!
T-Nad chimes in and says that the first clue for the finish line won’t be texted until 1:00 and subsequent clues every 15 minutes after that. “Well, what time is it now?” I ask Josh. “It’s 12:30.” BONG!!! There goes our “lead” and sense of urgency. So we take our time with the last two clues. We first go to a park to play leap frog with some strangers.
We then have to find a body of water to dive in to. No fountains close by so we walk into a restaurant and go straight to the bathroom. We squeeze into a stall and snap a pic of us diving into the toilet. As we do that, someone walks into the bathroom. Josh blurts out, “It’s cool. We’re just two men in a bathroom stall.” The person just starts cracking up. Oh, urban adventure racing at it’s finest.
“What time is it now?” I ask. Josh, “12:40” Son of a….. We start speculating. 16th street mall, Lodo, Coors field, Skyline Park?
1:00. Bing! “The finish line is west of Broadway.” What the…. That tells us nothing. Man, we should of enjoyed those beers a little more instead of chugging them.
1:15. Bing! “The finish line is between 16th street and 26th street.” Again, that doesn’t narrow it down at all. So we go north to Fodo’s near Coors Field because we have no idea where else to go. At this point, everyone is in the same boat as we are. Whatever lead we had is completely gone.
1:30. Bing! “The finish line is somewhere on Stout street.” Of course, we are the furthest away from Stout you can get, but we sprint. All of the sudden everyone around us starts sprinting for Stout street. It’s a race! 30-40 teams sprinting the streets of downtown Denver. We finally get to Stout with 8-9 other teams, zip right by this guy in a red t-shirt, and all of the sudden I hear behind me, “I got it!!!” Guy in the red t-shirt was the finish line. He was then mobbed by 20 other teams. What place did we finish? No clue and neither did the guy in the red t-shirt. They do a pic check of the first three teams and that’s all they keep track of.
Well, off to the bar to drink beers, slowly. Fun race with a design flaw. You could say that it wasn’t really a race but more like a crap shoot in the end. We loved the start and drinking beers made things fun but you need to be lucky when those last clues come in because finishing the first 11 clues quickly will not get you anywhere. Again, thanks T-Nad for the ear and thanks Oyster Racing Series for the support.
You get the letter.
It is curious. An invitation to attend a gathering of sorts.
Maybe you go maybe you don’t. Maybe you find you are racing for a large some of money. Maybe you get a free meal and try to figure out who killed Mr. Boddy with what in which room. Maybe you end up having to saw your own leg off to survive.
An eccentric millionaire nerd with unknown intentions inviting you to gather to compete against complete strangers in a mysterious competition may not be in your future. But if you live in a major city, can find a similarly inclined partner and are willing to shell out an entry fee, you can get a taste of the thrill of a scavenger hunt race.
If you are reading this you probably already know about these “clue solving races”, and you know sometimes it can be difficult to explain what they are. I have no intentions of providing a solution to that problem. I just wanted an excuse to post and a decent introduction to the following video. Enjoy.
If you don’t know about these races, check out our race history page for a long list of links to races.
A severely incomplete list of moderately relevant movies:
What is your favorite treasure hunt/clue solving movie?
The Off Road Oyster held in Bend, Oregon a few weeks ago can be summed up in one word: totalfreakingblast!
Have a seat in that comfy chair and maybe grab a beverage because the Off Road Oyster gave us seven “passports” to nine locations to do at least twelve different tasks on bike and foot, and here is the race log.
Jason, the race director asked the crowd containing 67 teams of two to four members “Who here is an Oyster virgin?” Just about everybody raised their hands.
This was John’s first race as a Nad; he typically races with his son as an Avenging Narwhal. Although John was holding his hand up, I can’t get enough Oyster races. I have done four Urban Oysters and I am sure after this race John will be thirsting for more. We could only hope my experience would help because everything we knew about Bend we had learned the night before, and besides, this Oyster was Off Road - an entirely new animal. Not to mention there was a lot of spandex in the crowd; if you read Drodgey’s Glenwood Springs Off Road Oyster post, you know exactly what I am talking about.
Jason continued and the group was quick to laugh at his jokes; you could feel the camaraderie as Jason spoke of sportsmanship and the friendly nature of the Oyster.
The Oyster isn’t your typical race; you find yourself making alliances, rooting for strangers and cheering on your competition. Although it was clear every team was ready to compete, we knew it was going to be a fun day on the Oyster course with them.
The passports containing our first task were distributed, after a few minutes for everyone to get one, read it, and plan their first move, over the loudspeaker was Jason’s voice, “Go!”
The first task was on foot; we were to find two of three specific sculptures shown with three photographs, and snap a team picture with them. We immediately recognized one because you could practically see it from the transition area (TA), and John recognized the other from a park about a quarter mile north. We anxiously sprinted to the park to the north, snapped the photo, then to the sculpture just south.
By the time we got back a good number of teams were getting on their bicycles to head to the next challenge. We were to ride three miles south to the Tetherow Golf Club driving range to hit a ball through some Merrell windjammers.
After being passed by a team wearing pink tutus, we rode into the golf course parking lot. As John and I compared notes on how long it had been since either of us had touched a golf club and the proportional relationship of a decade to John’s 50 years, versus my youthful 35, we both grabbed clubs and did our best to emulate a golf swing.
An innocent bystander commented on it being a good thing John had a bike helmet on after his first few shots. I managed to get a ball on target; we got our passport punched, received our next one; then we were back on our bikes.
We were to head to Phil’s Trailhead to find the Flaming Phoenix/Chicken. We knew a road route to the trailhead. As we started our route, we saw a few teams, but certainly not the majority, head off road on a single track cutting a seemingly shorter path. We stopped for a second, discussed, and took a leap of faith that the local teams knew a shortcut. This was the Off Road Oyster, right?
The thing about a leap of faith is it is easy to make such a snap decision when you have a number of people whom you can rely on. I can’t speak for John, but this trail turned out to be a bit more technical than I was used to, since I am used to asphalt. As one team nicely asked to pass, I crunched through totally inappropriate gears and needed a moment to sort out some issues anyway. At that point it became clear that it may be a bit of a challenge to stay with the other teams. If we had lost them, we really would have had no idea where we were in the trail system. After a few dozen near misses on the trail, we caught up to a few groups at the Flaming Chicken, and we snapped our picture.
The other half of this task, was to pick up five pieces of garbage while on the trail. John and I both commend the Oyster on that.
67 teams x 5 pieces of trash = 335 pieces of trash.
Not to mention John and I were working independently so we had eight; I am guessing most teams also had more, and a lot of teams had three or four members. What a great way to use the mob to make an impact. Well done!
After taking a successful, yet complete blind risk by following a fire road to get back to the TA, we felt we were in the lead mix of teams.
We were to proceed on foot to a location on the river trail where we were to receive further instructions. John and I ran to the trail to find volunteers who instructed us to locate a an unknown number of short lengths of rope visible from the path. Below the ropes were numbers to help us solve the puzzle on the passport, and the passport read “you will use your answer on a future passport”. So needless to say we didn’t want to mess this one up because if we got it wrong we wouldn’t find out until later.
We headed down the path along with the team that blew by us on the single track earlier. We slowly jogged taking care not to miss any ropes; our concerns slowly grew that we may have missed some ropes because we had covered a considerable distance.
I was seriously considering backtracking to make sure we hadn’t missed any ropes when a good-hearted fellow from another team came running around a bend toward us with a fistful of ropes. Apparently, this gentleman had thought the task was to collect the ropes. So we had passed several numbers, there just were not any ropes to signal their location because they had been removed by this man. Now, aware of his mistake, this good sport told us the numbers we had already passed.
After talking to a couple of other teams, all with conflicting information we pieced just enough of the puzzle together to get the answer, Foot Zone. It was a bit of a guess but we knew they were a sponsor, so we thought - safe enough.
John had seen a team in yellow, who most likely successfully solved the puzzle before it was
disrupted fubared, heading back on the other side of the river a few minutes before, so we knew there was at least one team ahead of us, although we assumed there were more.
Back to the TA for the next passport, which we received after giving the correct answer to the puzzle: on bike to Foot Zone.
As we arrived at Foot Zone, we saw the yellow team John had seen across the river leaving for the second task on the passport. At Foot Zone there was a puzzle that only one team member could view at a time. We traded turns looking at the puzzle, took a few minutes and found our next location was the Deschutes Brewpub just a few blocks away. Two teams right behind us at Foot Zone, we hopped on our bikes.
At Deschutes there was a quiz on characteristics of four of their brews. Despite me inadvertently trying to royally screw up the task, John finished the quiz handily without even tasting the beer. Bravely done.
The volunteer told us there was only one team in front of us.
With the boost of adrenaline from the news of our standing, we rode back to the TA and we received our next passport.
On foot, we were to find the correct canoe launch at Farewell Bend Park. This proved to be a downfall for The Nads and quite a few other teams. The correct location was only 200 yards from the TA on the Farewell Bend part of the river. But unfortunately for us, the quickest way to Farewell Bend Park did not go by the intended location. After spending 20 minutes looking all over the park, some other teams caught up to us, but we never caught sight of the team ahead of us.
We ran around with the other teams and eventually we made our way north to an area quite a distance out of the park, but still in the Farewell Bend portion of the river, to find the intended location.
There were plenty of other teams in the river already, but luckily not so many that we had to wait for a canoe. John got a bag on his head and a paddle in his hand and I was to navigate our way to a Deschutes River Conservancy volunteer for a passport punch.
Nuts! I forgot the passport, and didn’t realize it until we were on our way and John asked “You have the passport right?” Back to the launch to get the passport.
Take two: we were on our way, and I clumsily guided John to run aground a few feet from the volunteer with a hole punch. I push us back out, then reach a bit to far for the passport punch, as I overcompensate and we are both dumped backward into the river. As I fall I thought, “it could be worse, at least I don’t have a bag on my head.”
Back upstream to the canoe launch and we got our final passport directing us to a obstacle course at the TA. After a log roll on a keg and some stacking of kegs, we slid down the giant slip and slide, then ran through the finish.
The winners were the yellow team (team name: “Sponsor Name Here”), but John and I came out with our heads high representing the Nads with a Men’s Division win. It was a proud Nads moment when team “OMG for Serious” started a chant during the awards, “Go - Nads - Go - Nads - Go - Nads…”
That is the stuff, my friends. That is the stuff.
It was a gorgeous day in Bend and after the race the Oyster took care of all participants with music, food and beer, as well as raffles for Merrell gear, all followed by an after party at the Deschutes Brewpub.
Thanks Oyster for a awesome Saturday, and we will definitely see you in Seattle on July 23rd.
This past weekend Portland was jumpin’. It was the conclusion of the Rose Festival, which not only culminated in the final days of Fleet Week and the CityFair on the Waterfront, but also the Floral Parade. The parade traveled from the Rose Center over the Willamette River then back and forth through downtown before it disbanded two blocks from the Hotel DeLuxe.
The Hotel Deluxe was also the start and finish for the Portland Great Urban Race. And the race was going on at the exact time the floats, bands and all other parade marchers finished their grand route and took over the neighborhood.
Some might say this was collision course for a turf war between marching bands from the Floral Parade and the Lady Gaga Great Urban Racers (the costume contest runners up to the Flying Monkeys). The Nads say, bring on the craziness! These races get even better the wackier they get.
Last year we managed to avoid noticing dozens of signs all over alerting us of the parade and ended up crossing the parade route no less than 5 times - not a recommended strategy for urban adventure racing, nor for making friends.
This time we wanted to step it up because we were representing our friends at the Oyster Racing Series, so we attempted to interrupt the parade as little as possible.
The Great Urban Race MC made sure the sealed envelopes - containing twelve clues, one of which may be skipped - were in all the teams’ hands. He counted down to a go, then a unified ripping of the envelopes marked the beginning of the Portland Great Urban Race.
With our limited Portland knowledge, we scanned the clues and Drodgey spotted a Lovejoy Street task; we knew that was a good distance to the north so we started hoofing it in that direction.
On the way, we managed to check off the Zoo Bombers living sculpture photo and get a high five from a police officer. We then bought some school supplies from Office Max and donated them to Schoolhouse Supplies at the Umpqua Bank Branch out of the goodness of our hearts (and because it was the task on Lovejoy).
Next, we were off to Harvey’s Comedy Club where we stumbled through an improv sketch that neither Drodgey, myself nor the judges quite understood, but we received a coupon to Harvey’s as proof of completion, and out the door we went. From there we ran south to the Roseland Theater to take a picture of its sign.
It was at this point that the much wiser teams took a train over the river to the next tasks. Wisdom rarely prevails in the Nads camp, so Drodgey and I ran over the Burnside Bridge to Woodcrafters. The Burnside Bridge was the parade route, and was miraculously our only brush with the parade; also, we got to take a picture with a parade spectator with tattoos while running through the crowd.
Once across, we went to Woodcrafters where we found a sample of a specific rare piece of wood, then to Burgerville where Drodgey fed me some fried asparagus, because sometimes I like to be fed and coincidentally that was the task.
From there we hit the Lloyd Center Mall where we needed to locate the Captain Henry’s Pirate Store. What, doesn’t your mall have pirate store? After we danced a pirate jig, the staff pirate there gave us a fake mustache trio that Drodgey gladly tore open and tried out. A soon to be very surprised, very popular person with an actual mustache happened to be in the store, so he was mobbed by Urban Racers who needed a photo with him. Can’t you see in Drodgey’s eyes how much he wishes this was his natural growth?
We headed south from the mall to Portland Rock Gym to hang one handed from a climbing wall before running back over the river for the last two tasks. We hit Lucky Spoon Frozen Yogurt where we sampled the goods, and I had to accept some jeering about my sweating prowess. Across the street was the Portland Historical Society where we went inside to take a picture with an antique car; then out the front door to book it back to Hotel Deluxe.
Seeing the finish line felt good, because we really pushed it that day; crossing to find we were the first team to finish felt even better. Thanks phone-a-friend crew for all the help, you deserve the lion’s share of the credit.
Great Urban Race puts on a really fun race. The clues are clever and challenging, and the tasks always have a goofy twist. You can tell they have a blast putting the race together.
The top 25 finishing teams qualified for the New Orleans Championship on November 12th. We were lucky enough to race in the morning race and the elite 8 race in Vegas Championship last year. There are more than twenty Great Urban Races left this year. I can’t encourage you enough to try to qualify and take part in November; without a doubt the Nads will be there. We will post later this Summer about last year’s championship, but in the meantime here are some links to photos of the event.
During the Portland post-party the course designers told us next year they may try to schedule the Portland race on a different weekend to avoid the parade. I say don’t, when else do you get to cross traffic against a marching band, rose float, or a cop balancing on a motorcycle.
If the fine police officer I nearly knocked off his motorcycle last year is reading this, please accept my apologies.
Stage Three: Urban Dare - Public Transportation Happens
Super Karate Monkey Death Car was breathing down our necks as we cross the street to Memorial Park. We pause for just a moment to scan the park for James Floyd. He is standing alone in front of the bandshell on the other side of the park.
After a final sprint to his location we drop and start grabbing tennis balls to check if our race number is written on the underside of each one; this proves to be tedious. Nope, nope, nope , nope… 01; that is the Avenging Narwhals number, the current front runner after two stages of the Super Dare. As I place the ball marked 01 back down on the ground face down I hear a “He-e-e-ey” close by followed by a hand on the ball I am still holding. It is Eric, the younger half of the Avenging Narwhals, increasing their lead.
This is second day of the 2011 Super Dare weekend in Pasadena, California. We are currently in third place - four minutes behind the Seattle father and son team, The Avenging Narwhals, and two minutes behind San Diego Urban Dare Superstars, last year’s champions.
A few moments pass and I hear Drodge shout, “Got it!”, and we run to James to receive our clue sheet that will guide us through the rest of the day.
12 clues and no skips allowed, so there is not much room for error. We start reading the clues and head on our way. We run to Colorado Blvd., Pasadena’s main drag, and miraculously, hop on a bus. This never happens.
We ride this bus one mile to Cal Tech for our first couple of dares. After snapping a photo and solving a puzzle we head onward. We go on to take a photo with a family in the hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil pose, and a couple in the V-day Sailor kissing pose. You can do these things in any order, and we haven’t seen any team until we run into team Sparky in front of a dentist office dare. A dentist office dare, fantastic; I hadn’t flossed in days, but luckily it was just a photo.
After checking off a few dares that only needed photos of us at specific locations, and a human pyramid of strangers (they didn’t even know each other!), we decide to push our luck and try to catch a train. It is a bit of a wait, but it pays off. When we arrive in South Pasadena we snap a picture in front of a cupcake place, then run to the local library only to find the Avenging Narwhals.
Without any idea where they are on their cluesheet, and the knowledge the only hope we have is to finish ahead of them with a sizable margin, we play a game of darts as quick as we can. We manage to beat the Narwhals out of that task, then one more photo, then back to the train. More lucky timing, we hop right on the train headed back to the next task. This never happens.
At the next dare location we have to suspend a ball between our bodies. If James was present with his video camera he could have caught some pretty vulgar footage of us grunting through this dare, but luckily for the world, he is not.
One more photo dare, and back to the finish. We run in the door looking around for other teams, no other teams in sight, but we do find a final task - another puzzle. Judging by yesterdays puzzle performance, not our strong suit, especially with the amount of sweat pouring off my head onto the puzzle and all over the counter it sits on. One might call it a freakshow of sweat; I am in the zone so the pointing and laughing doesn’t phase me.
It takes us a few minutes to finish; no other teams in yet, so we are first in the Urban Dare stage of the race, and therefore get a two minute bonus deduction. All we can do at this point is wait to see if a team with a lead going in will arrive, devour the puzzle and still beat us. We know that the Narwhals finished the puzzle very fast the day before.
Two minutes pass.
Awesome sauce! The Nads take the 2011 Super Dare.
We followed up the awards with a great lunch catching up with a couple of teams and their families, half of each team we had met at City Chase Nationals last fall. Unfortunately, the American division of City Chase has been downsized to a single race in Chicago, instead of the eight cities plus nationals from the year before. We will certainly cover that in future post. Good to see you team Sparky and Avenging Narwhals.
The Urban Dare is a great way to spend an afternoon, but the Super Dare definitely takes it up a notch, mixing it up with two days of dares at a destination city. We hope to see you at next year’s Super Dare, wherever that may be.