Tour de Frank

Tour de what? Yes, I know what you’re thinking! While it is time for the Tour de France, here in Winston-Salem it is also time for the Tour de Frank!

Winston is apparently know for its hot dog joints (something I was not made aware of until last weekend!) and the Tour de Frank is a challenge to visit 6 different hot dog vendors and try a dog from each. I believe this is only second year the event has been publicized, so it’s fairly rudimentary in it’s organization. There are no rules regarding the timing of the Tour – you can complete it any time from July 5th to July 27th and you don’t have to do it all in one day. Also, there are no rules regarding your transportation between vendors, though it does seem obvious that bikes are the way to go (isn’t that what the “tour de…” imples?!). And that’s exactly what I, my husband, and two of my friends and co-workers set out to do this past Saturday morning – all in one day… all by bike!

Click here for the Winston-Salem Journal Article about the Tour: http://www.journalnow.com/home_food/food/tidbits/tidbits-tour-de-frank-for-hot-dog-lovers/article_7c11f296-0c42-11e4-b76b-0017a43b2370.html

I claim no part in organizing our ride, which was super nice! We just showed up and joined in on the pre-planned fun. Not that much planning was needed, but Oakley and AJ did a great job planning order of hot dog stops (we might want to revise portions of the route to avoid some of the more popular roads next year, but we all made it!). So we met at 10am and headed out.

Our planned route (we modified this on the fly)!

The first bike leg was the longest at nearly 10 miles and took us north of the city to The Red Caboose, the only place on the list, I’d actually heard of. In preparation, I’d skipped breakfast and was particularly hungry by the time we arrived, but also knowing I had to pace myself… I had a regular dog with chili (the only hot dog alternative being a 1/4# all beef dog).

It was delicious! Abnormally bright reddish-pink with a toasted buttered bun.

Stop 1 - The Red Caboose
Stop 1 – The Red Caboose

Back on the bikes for another 4 miles or so and we found ourselves at Pulliams. Plain dogs all around, except AJ who got his “all the way.” Again deliciously abnormally bright pink, on a toasted buttered bun. Pulliams certainly had a little more charm than the Caboose, likely brought on by the southern hospitality and assortment of glass-bottled sodas (which we each enjoyed as well).

Stop 2 - Pulliams
Stop 2 – Pulliams

Next, we headed south back towards downtown for a stop at Hot Dog City, the vendor of my favorite dog of the day with the best chili and most affordable prices. While their dogs were of similar size and flavor to the unnaturally pink ones from the previous stops, it was comforting that the Hot Dog City dogs were more normal in color. It also appeared that they offer a wide variety of foods other than hot dogs, but we were on a mission with no time or room for anything else. I will put a warning out that I would not recommend visiting Hot Dog City alone, or after dark…it’s not on the best side of town. In fact the building itself is wrapped tightly in chain-linked fencing.

Stop 3 - Hot Dog City
Stop 3 – Hot Dog City

The shortest bike leg brought us from Hot Dog City into the heart of downtown Winston to Skippy’s. This is where I fell short, I don’t know if it was the shorter bike leg, the more normal, presumably beef hot dog, or the more filling yet delicious pretzel buns, but I did not finish my Skippy’s dog. Looking back,I should have brought it with me to eat later… ah well, there’s always next year!

Stop 4 - Skippy's
Stop 4 – Skippy’s

We continued southeast, utilizing the strollway (not the best idea on a road bike, but we survived without any flats) to Kermit’s. I think this stop might have been plain hot dogs all around with assorted sodas in hopes that the bubbles would calm our grumbling tummies. Oh, if tummies could talk, mine was probably yelling “what are you doing?!” The dogs at Kermit’s left much to be desired. Nothing special about the buns. Same old bright pink dog… yea, that was getting a little old!

Kermits
Stop 5 – Kermit’s

We were feeling positive as we headed back west to our final stop at PB’s. Just one last dog to finish us off. Upon arrival, we’d ridden 27.2 miles and received our warmest welcome of the day. We had the manager take our picture, then he took one of his own to hang in the store. This final stop brought one final chili dog for me and 3 cheese dogs for the boys. We ate triumphantly and discussed how long we would fast (at least 18 hours) and how long it would be before we ate another hot dog (I’m estimating 6 months).

Final Stop - PB's
Final Stop – PB’s

To finish off the journey we stopped in at Stella Brew, a local craft beer store, for a tasting… a satisfying end to a hard day’s work.

All 6 Stops!
All 6 Stops!

Some thoughts about how to improve this event:

  • Continue to offer the “do it at your own pace and own transportation” option
  • Give an extra reward for completing by bike and/or all in one day
  • Organize one day to have a group do it all by bike all in one day, maybe as a race… for this, the vendors would have to be prepared with our-made dogs with entry fees covering the food costs
  • If you want to go really crazy, I’m sure there’s a way to shorten our route by one mile to offer a unique marathon experience…

Those are just my two cents… any takers?

TourdeFrank

What crazy traditions take place in your hometown?

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