(CARBONDALE, Colo.) — If you arrive at the Bacon Station of the Carbondale, Colo., ninth annual Porcupine Loop Bike Race—where volunteer marshals hand out mandatory bacon and donuts—and ask what your time and position are, you might be at the wrong race.
"Homus Erectus," replied Brad Reed Nelson to the rider who missed the memo that costumes also garner a chance for prizes at the end of the 12-mile mountain bike race held July 29.
The race is organized by Aloha Mountain Cyclery and the Stomparillaz Bike Collective, a loosely organized group of bike-lovers, bike-builders and two-wheeled rabble rousers. The event is also part of the Carbondale Mountain Fair arts/crafts/music fair and is a fundraiser for the town’s arts council.
The route begins south of town at the home of Dick Hunter, who hedged on the typical shotgun start because his piece was misfiring a bit. He played it safe and got racers off with the snap of a BB gun. They pedaled up a pleasant country road at the base of towering 12,900-foot Mt. Sopris before entering singletrack that weaves through oak brush and alongside an irrigation ditch.
As riders topped out on the main climb of the nine-mile course, they were greeted with wafts of sizzling bacon. Some stopped to thoroughly enjoy the sugary frosted donuts and fried pork strips. It was 9 a.m., and Nelson was enjoying some tunes and a PBR while frying up the vittles over a camp stove. His nephew, Luca Viverito, and buddy, Dan “Diesel Dan” Giese, handed out the treats, shoving pieces of donuts into jerseys, or even chasing down riders who didn't take one of each.
Beyond the Bacon Station, volunteers George Nettles and Shawn O'Connor wanted to support the racers with a little on-course cool down before riders blasted the fast singletrack down to the road and bike path that would lead them back to downtown Carbondale. At the beginning of the singletrack descent, Nettles hung out, spraying down racers with beer, while O'Connor obliged squirts from a water gun. Nettles was truly hanging out, naked and sporting only two hats. One was a hot pink trucker's hat, tourist style, with “Colorado” embroidered on it. The other was a straw hat over his family jewels.
There's more to this little part of the story. While running a super D course, Nettles had a nasty crash that landed him in the hospital. Only a week out of the ICU, he was using his walker to inch around out on the dirt course. He was motivating racers to pedal faster, stating: “You don’t want to look at this all day, do you?” as he pushed his walker up the hill in front of racers.
“Yeah, this is better than sitting at home,” he said to O’Connor while they waited for the next victim.
Back at the finish line, racers reminisced about riding in their costumes (aqua girl was able to pedal with the flippers but her feet fell asleep); the salty bacon (the favorite of young cyclist 9-year-old Bodi Dallas); and Nettles' surprise aid station.
“I have to say, it was a little disturbing to see a naked guy up there,” laughed one guy.
Chris Brandt—a pro racer who likes to let loose by doing the fun race—defended his overall title and bested his previous year’s time, finishing in 44 minutes and 50 seconds on his singlespeed. As a result, he gets to keep the trophy, which is a handmade, recycled bike tube vest. Sarah Sturm took the women’s division with a time of 50:09, and in the kids division, Bodi Dallas and Will Rose strategically crossed the finish line together in 1:16:11. Corie Spruill swept the costume division with her Aqua Girl outfit that included a snorkel, swimsuit, flippers and inflatable arm floaties.
Through the event, Aloha Mountain Cyclery raised $1,000 for the Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities to help fund its year-round arts in the schools program, free live music series, scholarships for artists and other initiatives.