breaking news

Bombing suspect Mark A. Conditt proposed ending sex offender registry

At Tour de Donut, cyclists toss back pastries as they race around city

New York speed eater Yasir Salem faces Austin ultra cyclist Andrew Willis at this year’s event

Call it a doughnut showdown.

On Nov. 13, speed-eating endurance athlete Yasir Salem of New York City will face off, along with other hungry biking enthusiasts, against Austin ultra-cyclist Andrew Willis at an underground, unadvertised event that combines bike riding and doughnut eating.

Doughnut-eating bike races are actually a thing, it turns out. They started in Illinois nearly 30 years ago as a spoof of the Tour de France. Cyclists race through a course, stopping along the way to eat as many doughnuts as they can. For each one they down, a few minutes are subtracted from their finish time. The end result is called the “doughnut-adjusted time.”

Salem, who doesn’t particularly like doughnuts, excels at eating. He’s the defending champion of half a dozen races across the country that combine doughnut eating and bike racing, and once ate 56 doughnuts during a 30-mile race. A former cannoli-eating champion, he’s ranked ninth on a list of competitive eaters compiled by the governing body of that sport, Major League Eating.

He’s got style when it comes to tossing back doughnuts, too. He grabs half a dozen or more at a time, stacks them high, then smashes them into a cheeseburger-sized mass, which he shoves into his mouth. Then he jumps onto his bicycle and pedals away.

Willis, who loves doughnuts, excels more on the bike-racing side of things. The head of the Driveway Series of bike races in Austin, he won the 400-mile RAAM Texas Cycling Challenge in March, completed the grueling 900-mile Race Across the West in June, and wrapped up with a win at the 500-mile Tejas 500 in Glen Rose in September.

“A doughnut race seems like a great transition into the offseason,” he says.

The two met this spring at a bike race in Marble Falls. Willis won; Salem didn’t finish. But Salem can almost taste his revenge now.

The Austin race will include stops at Krispy Kreme, Shipley’s Do-Nuts and Dunkin’ Donuts. Race organizer Fred Huang says while some folks arrive for a leisurely ride, others are clearly out to win.

“We’ve had people show up with arrow helmets, Kona (Ironman Triathlon) qualifiers, and one woman who didn’t want to eat any doughnuts,” Huang says. “We’ve had others on mountain bikes with tennis shoes and tube socks.”

The doughnut eaters, he says, always do better in the standings than the pure cyclists. “I don’t care how good of a rider you are, if you can’t put down a lot of doughnuts, that’s basically it,” he says.

Salem, the marketing director for Business Insider, an online magazine, got into competitive eating a few years ago, about the same time he started competing in Ironman triathlons and bike races.

“Along the way, those two worlds collided. I like biking, that’s one of my top hobbies, but I’m into competitive eating,” he says, adding that he’s a healthy eater when he’s not competing. “I only do the doughnuts because that’s what the race offers. If they had bananas or oranges I’d prefer that, but that’s just what it is.”

Willis, on the other hand, loves doughnuts. A lot.

“I know there’s Gourdough’s and Mrs. Johnson’s, but I like Shipley Do-Nuts,” he says. “I get the apple fritter. It’s huge, it’s disgusting and I feel sick for hours after eating it, yet every time I go in there I’m powerless.”

Willis says he’s hoping to come within (long-shot) range of what Salem can eat, which will likely surpass four dozen doughnuts.

“I’d just like to go the distance with him, doughnut for doughnut, mile for mile. Nobody has ever done that. Yasir is the Apollo Creed of the doughnut-eating world, and while I’m not Italian, I do consider myself a stallion of sorts,” Willis says.

Even Salem is unsure how the Austin race will go down, because some of the doughnuts featured here — Shipley’s Do-Nuts and Dunkin’ Donuts — will be denser than what he’s used to.

“That’ll affect my total, because the Krispy Kreme doughnuts are smaller, lighter and full of air,” he says. “These are slightly heavier.”

You can bet Salem is preparing for the showdown. Several times during the week before the race he’ll slurp a gallon of water in 40 seconds to get his body used to the feeling of being extremely full.

“I don’t train with doughnuts, there’s no need to do that,” he says. “But water is good cross-training simulation.”

The day before the race, he’ll avoid meat and dairy and eat steamed vegetables and salad. Race morning, he’ll drink a strong cup of coffee and eat a banana, because even though he needs to reserve space in his stomach, he needs fuel for the race.

When the race starts, he’ll down as many doughnuts as he can — three dozen, he hopes — at the first stop. He’ll eat fewer at the second stop, and anything he can get down at the third station he’ll consider bonus.

Under Tour de Donut rules, the pastries must stay digested — or, as the rules state, “You barf, you’re out.” Cyclists get extra time bonuses for the cake and jelly doughnuts available at Dunkin’ Donuts.

The key, Salem says, is to drink a little, but not too much, room-temperature water as you gobble the doughnuts. It’s all big fun, although the whole experience can cause some digestive stress.

“Honestly, I do feel really bad afterward,” Salem says. “That’s part of it. But 24 hours later the bloating goes down and I want to eat again.”

Tacos, maybe?

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Lifestyle

Cat reunited with owner 14 years after hurricane disappearance
Cat reunited with owner 14 years after hurricane disappearance

Perry Martin probably can’t stop pondering about his cat. In 2004, the orange tabby Thomas 2, or simply just “T2,” disappeared. It happened when the Fort Pierce man moved into a friend’s house in Stuart after Hurricane Jeanne stormed through the area, according to TCPalm. The retired K-9 officer grieved, but then came...
What not to donate to Goodwill
What not to donate to Goodwill

Tuesday night an employee was injured when he reached his hand into a box at the Goodwill on Brodie Lane and found an artillery simulator. It made a loud boom heard throughout my neighborhood and sent the police, FBI and ATF to the area to investigate if it was another bomb. It made me think, what shouldn’t you donate...
University of Texas researcher tests app for colon cancer information
University of Texas researcher tests app for colon cancer information

Could an app help save you from colon cancer? Possibly. A researcher at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin has developed an app that can help explain to you the benefits of each type of colon cancer screening (there are many) and even help you schedule one. Dr. Michael Pignone, chairman of the department of internal medicine at...
Kerri Walsh Jennings launches volleyball, music and wellness festivals

Add Kerri Walsh Jennings to the list of celebs who landed in Austin recently during South by Southwest. The professional beach volleyball player, who has three gold and one bronze Olympic medals to her name, came to launch her new p1440 beach volleyball event series. The organization was a title sponsor of day parties at Waterloo Records. We intended...
Why is it called Good Friday and what’s so good about it?
Why is it called Good Friday and what’s so good about it?

Christians believe Jesus was mocked publicly and crucified on a solemn Friday more than two thousand years ago. Today, the calamitous day is celebrated as Good Friday. But what’s so good about that? One answer is that at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion, “good” may have referred to “holy” in Old English, a linguistic...
More Stories