This time last year, Bryan Harding was getting a new tattoo. On a Saturday evening before Halloween, the local bicyclist, who works for State Bicycle Co., raced (literally) to Electric Haven Tattoo shop in Tempe. There he waited, perhaps not-so patiently or painlessly, as his left side became the canvas for a piece he did not choose and didn't even pay for, but certainly wanted -- if only because it guaranteed him first place in one of the most anticipated underground events in the Phoenix biking community: The Death Race.
See also: Daggers Death Race 2011
For six years local BMX collective The Daggers held the unorthodox, balls-out bicycle-mounted scavenger hunt and race throughout the streets of Tempe. Sabotage was encouraged. Fake blood was plentiful. Booze flowed like water.
Then it ended. Somewhere between the finish line at the 2012 Death Race and choosing a date for this year's debauchery, The Daggers decided to stop sponsoring the event and passed the torch to a group who had always been a part of the race, whether as sponsors or bikers, and who promised to live up to the legend.
The Life After Death Race was born.
It has a new stomping ground (downtown Phoenix) and a new sponsor (local bike-crew-turned-clothing-company The Heavy Pedal), but otherwise remains the same -- an homage to the success and insanity of its predecessor.
"It was the gnarliest, funnest race," says Victor Vasquez, half of the creative duo behind The Heavy Pedal. "There are some big shoes to fill."
Known for designs like T-shirts and beer koozies boldly proclaiming "Fuck Luck" and hats declaring "Don't Give a Shit," the Heavy Pedal team of Vasquez and fellow graphic designer Terrence Patrick seem like the perfect choice to conduct this beer and bike crawl.
Their two-hour course starts at Margaret T. Hance Park, 1134 North Central Avenue, at 8 p.m. on Saturday, October 26, with a free after-party at the new 11th Monkey location on Grand Avenue. It's $10 to race, which goes into a larger pool for a cash grand prize. Other prizes include a Chrome Industries cycling jersey, a Leader Bike Frameset, an Unknown Bike Frameset, bike swag from Knog, and other goodies from sponsors Lux Coffee, RedBull, and Cheetahs Gentleman's Club.
The event is broken down into two races: an alleycat, or speed race, and a 100-point scavenger hunt, where even a beach cruiser is encouraged to participate.
The cycling scavenger hunt, which includes both taking pictures and doing tasks, may reach as far north as Lux and east as Cheetahs Gentleman's Club. It could involve anything from taking shots of bugs to taking copious shots of whiskey, though the latter will likely happen regardless, says Vasquez, who remains otherwise tight-lipped about what's in store.
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Expect a tar-and-feather style obstacle course set up in the backyards of The Heavy Pedal's friends, secret passwords hidden at local businesses, and the incorporation of plenty of downtown Phoenix landmarks.
And yes, there will be a first-place-guaranteed tattoo race, courtesy of Golden Rule Tattoo. The tattoo is free, the pain is real, and the design is not up for debate: It's this year's Life After Death Race logo -- in case Harding's right side feels a little too naked these days.
The Life After Death Race is 8 p.m. Saturday, October, 26, at Deck Park. Admission is $10. Visit www.facebook.com/events/538796842852771 for more.