Kyle Munson and Joe Palca begin devouring rhubarb pie.


Mt. Vernon, Ia. —
Neither rain nor a flat tire could derail the epic, inaugural RAGBRAI pie-eating contest between National Public Radio’s “No Pie Refused” team and a trio of Register journalists. 

Michael Morain and I devised this goofy diversion as NPR returned for its third consecutive RAGBRAI, touting its love of Midwestern pie.

Distinguished public radio reporters Scott Horsley, Tamara Keith and Joe Palca bravely met our challenge. 

Alas, No Pie Refused was denied victory. The Register team forked faster to claim the glory (or what passes for it). There was no trophy.

First Presbyterian Church in Mt. Vernon — famous for its rhubarb pie as well as rhubarb brats — welcomed us as host. Barb Mozingo baked rhubarb cream pies specifically for the contest — the church pie stand already had sold out of its stock by 10 a.m. Thankfully, the church stand was covered by tents, since a rainstorm swept through town at midday.

Horsley, who was raised Presbyterian, claimed home field advantage. 

Pastor Lori Wunder and Mozingo served as judges.

Register reporter Tim Meinch stepped in as the third Register human vacuum alongside Morain and me.

Morain, however, barely made it to Mt. Vernon. Scrambling from a morning assignment in Hiawatha, he suffered a rear flat tire near Marion and had to be driven to the midpoint town. We began the contest a half-hour late. 

The contest operated as a relay. Each team member was required to finish his or her piece before the next biker in line could begin to madly shovel in forkfuls of scrumptious rhubarb.

Near the end of the contest, Register pie anchorman Morain not only was taunting Keith. When he finished his pie he grabbed a nearby piece of strawberry shortcake and devoured it, too — effectively lapping NPR.

Thanks, NPR, for joining in the fun!

Now do we get our own national weekly series devoted to RAGBRAI Nation?