It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of another RAGBRAI legend — Mr. Pork Chop.
I had the honor and pleasure of meeting Paul Bernhard during RAGBRAI 42 in Bancroft. After a morning of riding, I was getting hungry for lunch and was looking for a place to eat. Lo and behold, I smelled grilling pork chops and then spotted the pink bus with the pig ears. I knew I had reached Nirvana. I stood in line and purchased a little bit of heaven.
While searching for a shady spot to eat, I spotted an empty chair in the town’s gazebo. As I pulled up a seat and polished off my chop, I marveled at the crowd surrounding someone sitting in a wheelchair in the middle of the gazebo, much like a king on his throne. When I inquired who the object of attention was, I was informed that this was Mr. Pork Chop himself. He was holding court, sharing stories, shaking hands with everyone and chatting with total strangers as if he had known them all of his life. I was impressed with his indomitable spirit and gregarious personality. When I had the chance to speak with Paul, I congratulated him upon achieving the status of “RAGBRAI legend” and handing the mantle to his son. In turn, he said he was glad to see a youngster (I was 61 at the time) riding RAGBRAI. After more small talk, we exchanged best wishes and then I rode off as Paul was wheeled off of the gazebo.
I wish to express my sincerest condolences to Mr. Pork Chop’s family. In his honor and memory, I shall proudly wear my pig hat visor under my helmet in RAGBRAI 45.
Farewell and rest easy, Mr. Pork Chop!