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Offroad Adventure: Racing Bacon in Hog Heaven


(9/9/2015)

Ever see a pig race?

Me either, until a recent Friday in Leader, Minn. (population approximately 23), when a pack of bacon was ripping laps around a track in front of a few hundred screaming fans. 

Among the screamers were myself, my son Cal and our friend Pat Bourgeois of ATV World/OSM Magazine. We were the group who drove up on Arctic Cat Wildcat Trails, fresh from a day spent ripping our own laps on the sweet trails in the nearby Foot Hills State Forest.

I love making tracks on trails, and this trip provided plenty of that action. But as I sit here, writing down the stuff that stands out most prominently from that day, it’s was the rip-snorting pigs and the few hundred people enjoying themselves that stand out the most.

Maybe the reason why those pig races were so damn fun was because my expectations were obliterated by the reality of the event.

 

Pig races in Leader Minn. Part of the Arctic Cat adventure. Photo by ArcticInsider and Pat Bourgeois.

Our curiosity was first piqued a couple winters ago, when Pat and I had snowmobiled through the metropolis of Leader and saw the sign for pig races. We snapped a photo because, well, you gotta snap a photo of a Pig Races sign when you ride past it on your snowmobile.

It was Pat’s idea to return for the races in the summer, on Wildcats.

 

Pig races in Leader Minn. Part of the Arctic Cat adventure. Photo by ArcticInsider and Pat Bourgeois.

We unloaded the Wildcats early in the day, in Leader, and snapped a couple photos in front of the Bar that we’d return to that afternoon for pigcross. Naturally, we ate a little bacon to get ourselves into spirit of the day.

 

Wildcat and ATV riding in Foot Hills State Forest. Photo by ArcticInsider & Pat Bourgeois

Less than 10 minutes of gravel road running from Leader put us onto the ATV/UTV trails on the southern edge of the Foot Hills State Forest, where a honeycomb of trails traverses a cool combination of rolling forest land.

 

Wildcat and ATV riding in Foot Hills State Forest. Photo by ArcticInsider & Pat Bourgeois

The trails were in excellent condition, ranging from dirt roads wide enough for logging trucks to narrow ATV/dirt bike trails that were just big enough for the 50-in. wide Wildcat Trails.

 

Wildcat and ATV riding in Foot Hills State Forest. Photo by ArcticInsider & Pat Bourgeois

Nothing too tricky or technical in these parts, but enough rocks, ridges and tight turns to keep you on your toes and elicit occasional hoops and hollars from the passenger.

 

Pig races in Leader Minn. Part of the Arctic Cat adventure. Photo by ArcticInsider and Pat Bourgeois.

Usually when Pat and I go on a riding adventure, it involves big miles and adventure, but a tight time schedule. But on this day we had no grandiose plans or challenging schedule. So we stopped and had wrist-rocket shooting contests to hit empty Gatorade bottles.

 

Wildcat and ATV riding in Foot Hills State Forest. Photo by ArcticInsider & Pat Bourgeois

And we snacked on delicious pork rinds. Mmmmm, pork rinds…                                      

 

Wildcat and ATV riding in Foot Hills State Forest. Photo by ArcticInsider & Pat Bourgeois

...until Pat’s voracious appetitive for rinds took a nosedive once he read the ingredients HPYERLINK

 

Wildcat and ATV riding in Foot Hills State Forest. Photo by ArcticInsider & Pat Bourgeois

After hogging the Forestville trails for ourselves most of the day, we headed back to Leader for the highly anticipated pigcross events.

 

Pig races in Leader Minn. Part of the Arctic Cat adventure. Photo by ArcticInsider and Pat Bourgeois.

The obligatory group shot at the city limits sign…

 

Pig races in Leader Minn. Part of the Arctic Cat adventure. Photo by ArcticInsider and Pat Bourgeois.

…tagged by Cal with an ArcticInsider decal, of course.

A quick clean with a wet towel, and we were ready for some pig races!

 

Pig races in Leader Minn. Part of the Arctic Cat adventure. Photo by ArcticInsider and Pat Bourgeois.

For whatever reason, we were expecting a raucous crowd of beer swilling loudmouths. So it was a great surprise to see that pigcross in Leader is TOTALLY a family fun night! No exaggeration, there were at least 100 kids there.

 

Pig races in Leader Minn. Part of the Arctic Cat adventure. Photo by ArcticInsider and Pat Bourgeois.

There were all kinds of contests, prizes, music and laughter.

 

Pig races in Leader Minn. Part of the Arctic Cat adventure. Photo by ArcticInsider and Pat Bourgeois.

Pig races in Leader Minn. Part of the Arctic Cat adventure. Photo by ArcticInsider and Pat Bourgeois.

The actual pig races were a single-lap around a sort-of oval, complete with a couple small jumps. Lap times were pretty similar to the Duluth snocross and, ironically, they started the fastest pigs in the back row.

 

Pig races in Leader Minn. Part of the Arctic Cat adventure. Photo by ArcticInsider and Pat Bourgeois.

Pat, Cal and I laughed and cheered ourselves hoarse. It was truly a great atmosphere.

 

Pig races in Leader Minn. Part of the Arctic Cat adventure. Photo by ArcticInsider and Pat Bourgeois.

This little guy’s name was Tucker. He’s an 8-time gold medal winner in pigcross.

 

Pig races in Leader Minn. Part of the Arctic Cat adventure. Photo by ArcticInsider and Pat Bourgeois.

At the end of the day, we'd enjoyed excellent trails, lots of laughs and some seriously racin' bacon.

Would I have gone on this trip only to watch the pig races? Nope.

Would I have gone only to ride Wildcats? Probably.

But as will most adventures, it's the combination of activities we love with new and goofball experiences/locations that delivers the most memorable moments in life.

That's living in hog heaven!



Comments (7):

Jim W. says:
9/9/2015 8:02:00 PM

John, If you and Cal eat all the bacon,there wont be any racers left !
Mike F says:
9/9/2015 9:04:00 PM

That is really neat! It is the oddball stuff that makes a quality memory. Leader Rocks..as the sign on the gas station says. Fun!
Tom Rowland says:
9/9/2015 9:18:00 PM

Lol...never heard of this pastime before!
Alex says:
9/10/2015 7:54:00 AM

mmmm bacon... my keyboards covered in drool between wildcats and bacon..
Dave Guenther says:
9/10/2015 12:24:00 PM

Ahh beautiful downtown Leader,, a great place in the summer with the pig races and Tubing down the Crow Wing River just to the west of there. a great family get together, we love it, and from Pequot a snowmobile ride west of Pequot to Leader, then on to the west to WAHOO Valley!!!! have a WAHOO burger ( home of the Worlds largest pair of underwear! ) and ride the Crow wing river down to Pillager, the over to Craguns and Gull lake and Home,, a 125 mile round trip and always a great ride! but the pig races... a must do on your bucket list!
pluedy says:
9/10/2015 12:27:00 PM

They have raced pigs at the Wisconsin State Fair for some time...an Oreo cookie is waiting for the winner at the finish line. Seems to be the one time Wisconsin is ahead of Minnesota.
Kelly says:
5/16/2016 12:50:00 PM

I live down the road and it is a great place for the family to enjoy. If you have not had the pleasure of checking this great little town out you must put it on your to do list. Growler Days and Fall Fest in Leader are another must go to.

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