Saturday, June 29th, 180 registered runners, walkers, skaters and bikers dared to brave the water gauntlet of the Ride for Bikes Wet n Wild Tour in Artesia, New Mexico.
The Wet n Wild Tour began with late registration at 8 AM at JC Park. The registration team led by Lupe Doporto, Michelle Madrid and Tiffani Serich along with Nancy Stall and Kristen Cook got everyone registered who had not preregistered on the Ride for Bikes website. All the Wet n Wild participants received nice gift bags. Students from Saint Antony’s youth group assisted in the SAG wagons and else where.
Also present at registration was Elizabeth Peterson, the Executive Director and Jane Ann Oldrup of the Brain Injury Council in Santa Fe who gave out and sized helmets to the Wet n Wild children that needed a bike helmet for the ride.
Starting at 9:45 with the safety briefing, the Wet n Wild participants knew they were in for a unique and fun experience. Fifteen minutes later the tour began from JC Park with everyone starting simultaneously. The runners and walkers started one mile ahead of the bikers who rode once around the track at JC Park. The course was specifically designed to spread out the runners, walkers and bikers for safety.
The tour started off going south on 26th street which had been closed and blocked off by the city. Along the way Support and Gear (SAG) wagons were spaced out to provide mechanical help, water and first aid to the Wet n Wilders. Brad Larsen and David Hendrix from Sweat Construction headed up the SAG team.
As the Wet n Wild tourers proceeded down the course they were entertained by the “Signs of Encouragement” that were placed along the way. These signs helped set the mood for the tour; for example one of the first signs read, “It’s not too late to turn back”. The next sign read, “Oops, now it’s too late”. The participants realized after reading the signs that this was a fun event. Many tourers also wore crazy costumes, a several women showed up wearing tutus and crazy colored socks, there was Thing 1 and Thing 2 as well as snorkel masks.
The first leg was the hardest as everyone went two miles down 26th street and it was very hot. But as they neared Fair Grounds Road the “Signs of Encouragement” warned the tourers not to look left. Because to their left; lined up along Fair Grounds Road were the stars of Wet n Wild, the Super Soaker Teams. Everyone started picking up their pace as they realized they were soon going to be getting very wet. The Super Soaker Teams were ready for them. It was time to enter the water gauntlet.
The Super Soaker Teams had spent the last few weeks building and perfecting their “props”. That was the name given to the apparatuses that they built to soak down the Wet n Wilders. The Soaker Teams in order of their appearance were; Air Pollution Product Systems with their scented fogger and soap bubbles. The Wet n Wilders left the fogger smelling like berries.
Next was the first fire team, Cottonwood with their “Fingers of Death” prop. Tourers had to pass under an arch with foam noodles, the fingers, and big streams of water, completely drenching them. Everyone liked this prop a lot as they really got soaked.
Sun Country was third with their “Under World Sprayers”. People had to run, walk or bike across pipes laying across the road spraying water up on them. It was a totally different experience.
Forth in line was the “Car Wash” by the Navajo Fire Team. This prop was quite elaborate and it took many hands to put it together. Loudon Electric built the arches, Northwest Insulation built the suds machines and Echo Construction helped with the structure. Wet n Wild Tourers had to go through hoops with 24 spray nozzles that got them very wet. Then they had to run through 20 feet of 3 foot deep soap suds, which made up the wash. After going through the wash they got rinsed off by more hoops and spray nozzles. Kids and adults were laughing hard as they left this prop with suds still clinging onto them and their bikes.
The last fire team was the Artesia fire team led by Chief Hummingbird with the “Tunnel of Water”. People had fun trying to go through this prop and ended the tour totally drenched and laughing and giggling. If fact everyone was laughing and having a great time. It was hard to tell who was having the most fun; the soakers or soakees.
The soaker teams were competing for the Super Soaker Award. The 2013 winner was Art Para and the Cottonwood Fire Team with their “Fingers of Death”. Many of us overheard the soaker teams promise, “wait till next year”. All of the soaker teams promised bigger and wetter props for next year.
But it is hard to have a Wet n Wild Tour in the desert. So it was necessary to have each fire truck connected to a 5,000 gallon water truck. These trucks were supplied by SB Oil Services thanks to Shawn Spence and Bryan Prouty. The water truck drivers really enjoyed watching people trying to make it through the props. Without the water trucks there would be no Wet n Wild so many thanks to SB Oil Services.
Of course there would be no event without pictures and Yuri Fernandez was designated the official Wet n Wild photographer. She spent the morning going from prop to prop capturing the fun for everyone to see. To see more pictures go to www.rideforbikes.com and click Wet n Wild photos.
Major sponsors of the Wet n Wild Tour were Wilbanks trucking, Navajo Refinery and McJunkin Redman. Their help allowed Ride for Bikes to purchase the Signs of Encouragement the gift bags and water. Smokin on the Pecos sponsors gave each participant a ticket to get water or a drink at the BBQ competition.
As the day closed many of the Wet n Wilders could be found enjoying the food and entertainment at the Smokin on the Pecos where they had finished the tour. It was a great finish to a great day and fun for everyone. Next year it will only be better.