The Early Lead
By BRANDON HURLEY
Around the 70 mile mark, I thought I was done. Who is crazy enough to bike 78 miles just for bacon?
What had I gotten myself into?
As I slowly pedaled my way through a steady incline and head wind into Dallas Center, all I could think about was throwing my body to the ground. If I could just make it into town and find some shady grass, I would be good.
I was in the midst of my first appearance in the third annual Bacoon Ride Saturday, June 18, which is held along the Raccoon River Valley Trail.
At that point (my impromptu grass recuperation pow-wow in Dallas Center), I had traveled 70 miles, by bike, consuming several bacon-themed and bacon flavored food items.
Let’s not forget that the temperatures were well above 90 degrees.
I was struggling, to say the least.
Seventy miles in one day was a new personal record, by a full 20 miles. My legs were toast and sun burn had overtaken me - most severely on the back of my neck and my forearms.
I grabbed a water and laid on the grass and used my back pack as a pillow and closed my eyes.
A few moments later I was on my feet again in search of a bacon sundae, I couldn’t pass up another opportunity for bacon, but it was to no avail. The other several thousand Bacoon riders had consumed them by the time I came around at 6:30 p.m. So there I was, back on the ground, resting. I was getting there, and my legs were coming back to me.
Let’s rewind a little bit.
My dad, Jim, and I and 10 others left Waukee together at 8 a.m. to embark on our journey. We finished around 8:15 p.m., with several long stops along the way. We weren’t in any hurry, we wanted to enjoy the ride and drink in one of the true gems of an Iowa summer.
There were nine total “bacon stops,” in which our “Pass Porks” would gain us access to. On the first stop, Adel, we were treated to glazed donuts topped with bacon bits, served by a local Boy Scout troop. In Redfield, I wolfed down several big, juicy strips of bacon as we listened to a live band rocking away. Linden and Dawson served bacon strips as well.
The best stop of all was either the bacon corn dog in Jamaica (which was filling and hit the spot after a fairly easy 45 miles), or the bacon s’mores in Perry served by Hotel Patte. The famed restaurant combined chocolate sauce, graham cracker crumbs, chocolate chips and bacon pieces into a homemade marshmallow fluff. That delicacy right there was well worth the wait. Our lunch for the day, which you could make the claim the corn dog was a meal in itself, was a bacon Jalapeño burger slider with a cup of lemonade in Panora.
In all, we spent six hours on our bikes that day, consumed several gallons of water and tried several new (to me) bacon delicacies. Oh yeah, we also traveled 78 miles… there’s that too.
My mindset was pretty even keel throughout, I may have gotten a little to confident and cocky once we hit Perry, barely feeling a burn, but those finishing 20 miles or so were brutal. But I made it, thanks to several gallons of water, and strong support and encouragement from my dad.
Wouldn’t you know it, that brief, say 20-minute pow-wow on the grass in the Dallas Center town square was enough to get me through the remaining seven miles.
Overall, I had a blast participating in the annual baconfest-style ride. I loved touring the Raccoon River Trail and the many small, neat towns that dot the central Iowa landscape. I enjoyed consuming a few pounds of bacon without feeling feeling sluggish or a sense of regret, and was tickled to see all the people along for the ride. There were easily several thousand people that made the trip that started and ended in Waukee, many decked head-to-toe in wild and wacky get-ups. It was almost like a miniature RAGBRAI, except the beer was replaced with Bacon. Sounds of “BIKE UP” and “GRAVEL” and “SLOWING” will haunt my dreams for the next few weeks, I’m sure.
This was my kind of baconfest. You can have your indoor festival walking amongst dozens and dozens of lines. I’ll take picturesque views of Iowa, sunny skies, exercise and a set of worn out legs any day of the week.
It was certainly a great way to spend a warm Saturday with my dad on Father’s Day weekend though. It’s a ride I’ll never forget, and I’m sure I’ll be back next year.
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