Thousands of bacon and biking enthusiasts showed up for the opening event of the inaugural Bacoon Ride in Waukee on Friday night.

“It was way more than we expected,” said T.J. Juskiewicz, director of the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, a collaboration between RAGBRAI and the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival.

About 2,700 people registered for today’s ride, which organizers style as the “BACooN Ride,” a nod to bacon and to the venue, the Raccoon River Valley Trail. Of those registrants, about 2,000 picked up their packets at Waukee High School on Friday night.

Many riders walked over to Waukee’s Centennial Park to listen to a band, Swing Crew, and go to a beverage garden. About 500 registrants also decided to camp at the park Friday night.

VIDEO: Why they’re riding Bacoon

Rob Black, 61, of Atalissa and his team, Liquor Downtown, traveled from the Iowa City area to camp out.

“We do RAGBRAI every year, so it just was kind of natural to do this,” Black said. “And, we all like bacon.”

More than 20,000 bacon strips will be offered in the 13 participating communities on today’s 71-mile route.

Al Thrasher, 67 of Des Moines said he decided to participate for the social aspects of the event. But he said the bacon-eating opportunities also played into his decision.

“I like bacon,” Thrasher said. “I took extra cholesterol pills.”

Thrasher will be able to begin eating bacon early today, with bacon and egg breakfast tacos being served in Centennial Park from 6 to 10 a.m.

Riders will leave Centennial Park for Adel and continue along the Raccoon River Valley Trail until they reach Waukee again. It’s a recreational ride, so riders will move through the towns along the route throughout the day.

The ride will conclude with a party at Mickey’s Irish Pub, 50 S.E. Laurel St. in Waukee, from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. today.