Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Great Graffiti Tequilla Conquistadors

Yesterday afternoon, Ingrid and I did "Hill and Go Seek", a bike ride scavenger hunt on Capitol Hill. We didn't have a solid idea of what to expect, the descriptions online were kind of vague but it sounded fun anyway. I read about it on the Washington Area Bicycle Association's (WABA) website and we were sold. Plus, the $20 entry fee was hard to pass up. The ride started at 5 so we left Bethesda on our bikes at 3:45 (intended to leave at 3:30... you can probably guess who held us up...) and got there in an hour. We were a little skeptical of riding by the mall with all the tea partiers but the metro wouldn't have been any better. There was a ton of traffic around the mall but, on our little bikes, we just hugged the curb and sped by everyone on the right.

Upon arrival, we were told our start time was 5:20. We were given instructions on what to do and a packet containing these items. We had 2.5 hours to finish the race, if it took us longer than that we'd be disqualified. The packet contained: a card with ten checkpoints and their addresses, a map of the area with little bike doodles on the location of each checkpoint, two spoke cards, and two pbr wristbands for the after party. We had until 5:20 to figure out our route. We also had to come up with a team name. We were The Great Graffiti Tequilla Conquistadors because of our colorful outfits, our love of tequilla, and our drive to conquer the hill that afternoon. We had our route selected in no time and were lined up to start. It was hard for people not to have similar routes because of the proximity of certain checkpoints to the start line and the proximity of others to the finish line (the race was not a loop, it started and ended in different places). So at the start, it was really like a race, with most people going in the same direction, over grassy patches, avoiding trees, trash cans, and other bikes on the Eastern Mark plaza. We got to the first stop, Frager's Hardware, in no time but neglected to do the task (throwing baseballs at the target on an empty dunk tank with nobody sitting awaiting a dunk) because there was a slow line. We would have been more inclined to do this had their been some real dunking involved. On to Wisdom, the next check point where we completed the task of painting our team name on a canvas mural. That was easy. Third stop: Capitol Hill Bikes on 8th street SE where we had to lube one of our chains for the task points. I lubed Ingrid's chain, after which my fingers turned blue. It may have been a prank? Next was Peregrin Espresso by Eastern Market, where Ingrid high-fived the owner for extra task points (too easy!!). Fifth stop: Tunicliff's Tavern at Eastern Market where I pumped a bike tire from 0 to 85 PSI for task points. At Tunicliff's, there was an opportunity to sing karaoke for 25 bonus points. You better believe we weren't passing up that opportunity. We had a choice of four songs, three of which we didn't know, so we sang Under Pressure by David Bowie. Ingrid and I both can not sing for our lives but we do it anyway, especially together. We were a step above awful but it was fun and points were awarded for completion not for one's ability to carry a tune. This is us waiting to sing Karaoke. We moved on to the sixth stop, Pour House, which has a dear place in my heart. Pour House is DC's Florida game watch location and is, hence, one of the first bars I went to after moving back here with Josh and one of our most frequented bars last fall. Finally, Pour House offered a more challenging task, three opportunities to correctly answer a question off a trivial pursuit card. We missed the first two: naming the musical instrument that could also be used by a lumberjack, and naming some movie that neither of us had heard of. We got the third by naming six independent countries in South America. We sped on to the 7th stop, Schneider's of Capitol Hill. We're not sure what Schneider's is because we didn't have to go inside and had our eyes too focused on the prize to care about finding out. We were excited that the place was called Schneider's, though, and wished Ben had been cool enough to join us on this ride! The only task there was to fill up our water bottles. I am all about adequate hydration and was excited to fill up with cold water but I wanted to be more challenged by the tasks! With full bottles, we continued on to Metro Mutts, a puppy store on H Street. On our way, we saw lots of people stopping at a Yoga studio a block before it so we stopped to get the task out of the way early. Ingrid, the talented Yogi, did downward dog expertly for the full 15 task points. We got our cards signed at Metro Mutts and rode to Fruit Bar where there was, unfortunately, no task to complete. We went to the last stop, Sova, where there was also no task, and were at Atlas Theatre, the finish line, by 6:05. At the finish line, Ingrid told the people collecting our cards that we had biked 14 miles from Maryland before even starting the ride and requested that we get bonus points for it. They noted it but didn't give us points.

The after party didn't start until 8 so we had almost two hours to kill and what else were we going to do but start drinking? We went to The Pug, a bar down the block for chips and a beer. We ran into Ingrid's work friend, Claire, and some of her friends who had also done the ride. After an hour or so, we went to check out H Street Country Club early and got more chips (amazing nachos!!) and beer. Neither of us had been to H Street CC and it is pretty sweet. The food was really good, there is a lot of space and, well, there is a DC themed mini golf course inside so that pretty much explains it. Also, this is what their bathroom doors look like.

Come 9 o'clock it was time for prizes to be awarded. They began with honorable mention and the first was "This team gets mention because they biked here from Maryland! The Great Graffiti Tequilla Conquistadors". We got Pedal Pushers t-shirts and a PBR gift bag with a t-shirt, tank top, bike bells, trucker hat, and some other pbr logo goodies. It was exciting and go Ingrid for notifying them of our commute! Here we are on the left after receiving "honorable mention" and awaiting our prizes. There were prizes awarded for the quickest to finish, dfml team, most creative name, and most overall points for all male team, all female team, and co-ed team.

Our original plan was to bike home at the end of the night but the combination of drinking beers and having already biked 20 miles for the day pretty much turned us off. Winning the prize for biking there re-inspired us for the trek, however. It was a pretty easy ride to get from H Street to the mall and then on to Georgetown. On the way, we accidentally turned onto Pennsylvania Ave. instead of Constitution and were so excited to be using the new and controversial bike lanes for the first time! I have biked the capital crescent trail so many more times in my life than I could ever count but never after sundown. I was a little ambivalent about it and it was scary but also pretty cool. Cool because it was only us and even being in such an urban area, we were in the woods in the dark feeling so isolated from everything, barely able to see or do anything but just talk and ride. Scary because it was so very dark and we could barely see and we could have hit a crack and crashed or had someone jump out and accost us and we never would have been seen again. We had bike lights, which I've ridden with many times but always on roads where there are street lamps so I never realized how truly ineffective they are for lighting one's way. I know their purpose is more to alert cars and other bikers that you are coming, which they do, and that is probably the most important thing. But they were nearly worthless on the trail where they did little more than dimly light the few feet in front of our tires.

While we were riding home, still downtown, Ingrid said we should do this more often... ride through the city at night. I agreed, it is so much more peaceful, and a really cool way of seeing the city at night, especially the mall and other areas that are obnoxiously congested during the day. After completing the ride, which took almost twice as long as the same ride did earlier that afternoon, I still agree with her. I think the only thing I'd do differently next time is ride home through town.

At the end of the day, we were exhausted. So much so that I almost passed out without showering. The day was so much fun though and so different from any other day. I am really a fan of this Hill and Go Seek race and I hope that the District 6 government continues the tradition for a second year. My only suggestion would be that there be a task at each checkpoint and that the tasks be much more challenging and competitive. Most of the tasks were easy enough that everyone could do them and it would take everyone pretty much the same amount of time. So the biggest thing to set any team apart would be their bonus points for early registration or for referring a team. Maybe it sounds like I'm just bitter and making excuses for why Ingrid and I didn't win. But I don't really care about that. I just felt, even during the ride, that their needed to be more competition. This would also ensure that the ride take longer and teams wouldn't finish so quickly. For their first year, though, the whole thing was such a success and everyone seemed to have lots of fun. Whether it changes or not, I'll probably do the ride again next year. Ingrid and I tasted the blood of life and that is what really counts!

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