Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ride Report: Pie Champ Ride

Team Estrogen IT wizard & pie lover Jeff Mendenhall tells the tale of Tuesday's Pie Champ Ride, one of hundreds of creative rides happening over a 2-week period all around the Portland Metro area as part of Portland's annual Pedalpalooza event. For more details on Pedalpalooza, please visit

In many ways it was inevitable that Jeff would enter last night's pie eating contest. He comes from a long line of pie eaters who have escalated the traditional Thanksgiving pie into a requirement that the pie-to-people ratio at that blessed event be maintained at a minimum of 1:1. One of Mr. Mendenhall's most treasured posessions is his "Pie for Strength" T-shirt. He is frequently asked by friends and neighbors to bake a pie for dessert. Given this rich history, and the fact that he is an avid cyclist, it is completely understandable that he would find the advertisement for a Pie Ride irresistable.

Jeff and his partner Susan rode their tandem bike from Hillsboro to the start of the ride in NE Portland. At 10PM sharp, a motley collection of 30 or so cyclists riding everything from BMX bikes to hand-crafted Tall bikes, left a non-descript parking lot and coasted downhill about 1 mile to the "Whiffie Cart" where the contest was to be held.

The field of challengers was small. Only 6 brave individuals stepped up to the plate to participate in the "no hands 3-pie speed eating" division. 3 foolish but gutsy men opted to compete for the title of "Pie Champ" and try to break the current record of 7 pies.

As he engaged in pre-race banter with the other competitors, Jeff felt he had a good chance of winning the 25 free pies that were being offered to the winner of the speed eating contest. "After all," he said, "this is just like eating 3 medium size pieces of pie, and I routinely eat that many pieces of pie AFTER a large Thanksgiving meal. How hard can it be?"

At the start of the clock Jeff dived face-first into one of the golden fried piles of gooey, coconut creme goodness and gobbled up the first pie in mere seconds. But then he had to come up for air and actually swallow all the pie that was stuffed in his cheeks. By the time he was halfway-through the second pie (a chocolate pudding concoction), the crowd was chanting something about only 1 bite left. Unfortunately, Jeff still had an entire pie to go!

The winner slurped up three pies in 2 minutes and 14 seconds. She employed a winning strategy of using her face to smush all 3 pies into a slimey mass and then hoovered it all up with amazing speed. She then thoroughly demoralized the competition by proceeding to eat a 4th pie, all in less than 4 minutes.

Mr. Mendenhall says he'll be back next year, but only as part of the chanting crowd.

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