From the left: robogock on 4thfromtheleft's iPhone
When I first saw an announcement -- no details, just a name -- I knew I had to try the event: 1st Annual Pittsburgh Pirate Bike Triathlon. I had planned to do three triathlons this year, and was scaling back my travel-to ambitions. Everyone likes Pirates. And I was interested in experiencing an alleycat style event. When it became clear that this was going to be a crazy team event, I put out the Roboclub spotlight and two answered my call. The event took place on Labor Day, and it was... a crazy team event.
Event Description: Bike... Boat... Pillage
The first hour and a half of the race was dedicated to resource acquisition. Each team was allocated a sum of pirate money, and throughout the city there were five locations where this money could be spent. At each location was a pirate captain with a limited assortment of goods and prices (although they could be negotiated). You were limited by money, quantities, and what you could carry on your bike. There were two items deemed too unsafe to transport by bike -- 55 gallon barrel, wooden pallet -- for which you would be given an alternative token. But items like buckets, rubbermaid lids and styrofoam, were fair game.
Have you heard Pittsburgh has some hills? These pictures (taken by 4thfromtheleft with his very useful iPhone) are from our excursion to Spring Hill cemetery (North Side). I'm not sure if it is the highest point in the city, but it was a pretty taxing climb. If you look closely at the picture on the left you can see the Heinz plant. On the right, the Mellon (Civic) Arena in the Hill district. Both were well below us. At the time, we had 20 minutes to get back to the South Side, but we were heading downhill... no problem
Resource acquisition was for the next step. Each team had to construct a raft (or some mechanism) that would keep their team's flag dry, as well as the head, chest and thighs of one or more team members. Using only objects acquired in the first stage or found on-site.
Our acquisition successes were limited to several units of rope and string, some tape, a pair of buckets, a couple of small pieces of not-very-bouyant styrofoam and a rubbermaid lid. We had not realized how limited resources were and did not race to the checkpoints fast enough. There was a lot of wood on-site. Fortunately, I had drafted a couple of engineers. Yes, we had bucket seats on our raft. Yes, those are old railroad ties. Would it float?
After half an hour (or was it an hour?), the race was to raft up and down a section of river. The river being the Monongahela (as an added extra incentive to float).
Some other teams' innovations
The raft did not disintegrate upon liftoff to be carried. Nor when put in the water. It even floated, mostly.
On top of our flag pole was our giant pile of unspent money. And note the rubbermaid paddles.
The last stage followed immediately from the rafting. For every team member who was on the raft, they could have a relay partner for the pillaging. Near the water was a pile of... stuff. Some useful stuff, some random crap. Each team had to take something from the pile and run with it, and their flag, down a trail. At the trail end were treasure chests -- boxes with contents unknown. The team representative(s) had to pick one and carry it (along with their team flag and the initial plundered item) back to the rafting area. Upon return, the collective team had to hoist their flag as high as possible, using resources from the raft, plunder and treasure chest. There were 10 minutes allowed for this, starting when the first team returned with a treasure chest.
No pictures from this portion, as 4thfromtheleft and I were the team runners. Our plunder was a framed canvas painting. Our treasure chest contained a nice TwinSix shirt and small event-printed single piece garment. After the run we had three minutes to hoist our flag. But we mostly lost interest, because all of the other teams were climbing the trees and it would have been irrelevant. The tree climbing made us nervous -- made manifest when someone actually did badly injure themselves on their descent.
This was a pretty fun way to spend a Labor Day afternoon. When it was overwhelming, I merely had to look across the river to my workplace to remind me of what I would alternatively be doing. This was a fundraiser for a women's shelter, which was nice. They raised a couple hundred dollars -- but given the number of sponsor prizes, they could have raised more. Just about everyone left with at least some prize. And there was delicious food (made more so by the riding). And it was a great chance to have fun with friends I have not spent enough time with lately.
The scene, post-race.