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Delayed Adulthood

Multi-sport races celebrate the absurd

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Hawaii has its Ironman, Boston its marathon, France its tour and even little Leadville, Colo., has its 100-mile mountain bike race, but all of them are just way too serious for Idahoan sensibilities.

Here, our races are not necessarily inspired by the grandeur of competition, or a drive for victory, or even a display of human physical prowess. No, in the case of at least two Boise races, the influence of both alcohol and testosterone can be clearly seen in their inception.

Matt Perkins, founder of the Tube, Trot and Trike laughingly admits a few drinks were behind the creation of his race, which combines floating the Boise River with a parking lot tricycle relay race.

Sharing this distinction is the Pedal Paddle, which ups the ante by having competitors carry their flotation devices with them as they bike upriver, then turn around and carry their bikes as they float back down.

Both races are quickly approaching, and organizers are preparing for another year of distinctly Boise entertainment.

First up is the Tube, Trot and Trike, which takes over the river on Saturday, Aug. 2.

The event started as a small-town replacement for the now-defunct Boise River Festival. Initially, Perkins and his friends would head up from Twin Falls for a weekend in Boise. When the festival ended, they created their own celebration of sorts.

The race continued to be held among friends for several years, eventually moving to August to avoid the weather problems in June—the same weather issues that plagued the River Festival.

Perkins expanded participation in the race three years ago, but it remained a close-knit group activity.

"I wanted to make sure we could actually do it without killing anyone," he said.

"What we originally thought was a tricycle pub crawl, but a little bit of sobriety came through," he said. "This way is safe and fun."

With a death toll still firmly at zero, Perkins opened the race to the public, drawing 40 participants last year, with a cap of 50 racers this year. The growth comes in part due to an actual promotional campaign, rather than just relying on word of mouth to recruit racers.

But beyond just being a display of delayed adolescence, the race actually has a higher purpose. The race is a fundraiser for the Challenged Athletes Foundation, which provides physically disabled athletes with grants for specialized training and equipment.

Perkins was a recipient of the organization's grants as a member of the U.S. Disabled Ski Team and wanted to find a way to give back to a group that helped him so much in the past.

"It's part of adulthood," Perkins said of the race's philanthropic mission. "It's not quite as delinquent as it was."

Perkins' employer, Rehab Systems, covers all the expenses for the race, allowing all of the $30-per-person entry fee to go directly to the Challenged Athletes Association, which also makes the fee fully tax deductible.

The race begins with the "tube" portion at 2 p.m. at the Barber Park parking lot, where racers check in prior to the event. A shuttle takes them from there to the river put-in, at which point the group takes a leisurely float down the Boise.

The "trot" comes in when the group gets off the river behind the Ram restaurant in downtown Boise, where they then jog to the parking lot for the "trike" leg of the race.

Teams of three jump aboard tricycles (perhaps the term gingerly squat would be more appropriate) and ride a lap around the course. Prizes will be awarded for fastest time, as well as best-decorated trike.

Teams are asked to provide their own tricycles. But be prepared for some strange looks; a small stash in Perkins' office caused some confusion with a contractor hired to do some remodeling work. Participants also need to bring either a raft or innertube to float the river.

Registration will be taken for both teams and individuals, and information can be found at tubetrotandtrike.com. Registration packets can be picked up at a pre-race party from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 1, at the Modern Hotel bar.

The crew putting together the Pedal Paddle makes no claims of a higher social purpose. For them, it's all about fun.

Barton Kline and Brook Slee of Bikes and Rec, a local bike club, are in their second year of organizing the race. Kline admits even he thought it was "insane" when he first heard about it.

The crazy race will take to the streets and waterways of Boise on Friday, Aug. 8.

The race was the brainchild of Boise State professor Sean Donovan, who had been doing it for years. But when Kline—or Capt. Fishbeard as he likes to be called—and Slee heard of it, they decided to take it to the next level and get the public involved.

Bikes and Rec has managed to get a few sponsors this year, but will not offer big prizes for winners other than the chance to participate.

"It's just about doing it," Kline said. "To get out there and take life by the horns and be silly and be 35 years old and stupid."

Creativity is highly encouraged for this race, which begins at 6 p.m. behind the Ram restaurant off Broadway Avenue—last year's winner showed up wearing a Speedo and bunny ears.

Participants must provide their own bikes and flotation devices, which can take nearly any form. Kline has tried a few permutations himself. Last year he rode a "9,000-pound" cruiser and used a raft, this year it will be a fixed-gear bike and a 9-foot cataraft.

Racers head upriver from the starting point as a group, each person toting his or her flotation device with them somehow, whether it's in a backpack or trailer.

Once at Barber Park, racers inflate their watercraft and jump in the river, carrying their bikes with them. The race ends at a yet-to-be-announced point, from which racers will head to an ultra-top-secret after-party.

Last year, 15 people attempted the land/water trek, with 13 finishing the race, but this year Kline expects to see many more.

Promotions have been going on for a couple of months compared to the two weeks of preparations last year, and interest has already picked up. There is no entry fee, but a $5 donation is requested to cover the cost of post-race beer. Because of this, participation is limited to ages 21 and older.

The race begins at 6 p.m. and registration will be done on-site. More information can be found online at pedalandpaddle.blogspot.com.

While Kline is always impressed with the inventiveness of racers, he's still waiting to see what he calls the ultimate race vehicle: some sort of machine that goes directly from bike path to river.

"I'm still hoping for that this year," he said.

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