We are Iowans, born and bred, and over the past 28 years, Pork Belly Ventures has grown up on RAGBRAI. We started out with a hundred riders, one rented baggage truck, and about four crew members. Now, our crew alone numbers over one hundred. With our large infrastructure of custom-built equipment, we aim to make life in camp a whole lot easier for folks who spend the best week of the year with us. We brew morning coffee, invite local breakfast and lunch vendors into our campsites, provide a hot and private shower with a towel, and offer catered dinners in the evening along with great live music on our stage. We can refrigerate medication, accommodate CPAP users, offer you a day off the bike, charge e-bike batteries, and so much more. We welcome you to join us!
Depending on our contract with the ride director, PBV can offer showers, phone charging, morning coffee, our rental tent service, and/or our mobile hotel rooms, aka PHAT rooms, on about a dozen Midwestern cycling tours.
Thank you for your interest in Pork Belly Ventures custom cycling events. If you and your cycling pals have a trail or a route you’d like to ride, and if the mobile support of PBV appeals to you, please complete this form and request a custom ride. (Please Check Back! Form Coming Soon!)
Our Home Base: Pork Belly Ventures is based in our hometown of Council Bluffs, Iowa, and our shop/headquarters are in nearby Minden.
Our Owner/Operators: We are a brother/sister team, Pete Phillips and Tammy Pavich. Loosely, Pete is our equipment designer and builder, our accounting guy, and our Chief Operations Officer. He’s a big-picture planner. Loosely, Tammy collaborates with overnight towns, writes our updates, creates event binders, and communicates with our riders by phone and email. She’s a detail person. We both love our bikes and the Wabash Trace. Neither of us would get anywhere without our amazing crew.
Our Crew: Many of these dependable, friendly people are schoolteachers, farmers, firefighters, and paramedics—some retired, others active, many whose kids have come to work with us, too. About the only way to join our crew is to be recommended by another crew member--so we are a great big web of schoolmates, neighbors, cousins, and friends, everyone connected somehow. The Pork Belly crew stays strong and chipper throughout our events, regardless of their workloads and working conditions. During the waking hours, you can always find someone to ask for help. Of particular note are the year-round crew members who report to the barn on most weekdays, who brainstorm with us to solve problems, and who shoulder big parts of the responsibility for our operation. They are Dave Kennedy, George Dougherty, and Dillon Klabunde.
Our Amenities: We have the ability to provide the following amenities, and generally speaking, this entire list will be offered on RAGBRAI. On our own rides, and on other Midwestern bike rides, riders should read specifics about what amenities we can include. Our Support could mean the difference between a complicated, exhausting bike trip and a carefree athletic adventure.
Our Family: This family-owned business is a family-run business. Mike Pavich travelled from Honolulu to ride RAGBRAI in 1995 and 1996, and he married Tammy in 1997. Alas, no more bike for Mike. He’s crew now. For the month of July, Pete’s wife Kay, organizes the PBV front desk and check-in process. The three Phillips kids, all in college or grad school now, have grown up on RAGBRAI, and it is the culmination of their summer. Bella works check-in and takes great pride in being part of our biggest daily effort--the tent crew. Christian is learning all of the equipment, and, often zipping around camp on a four-wheeler, can jump in and help just about anywhere. Gracie, with a crew of four, has taken charge of hospitality and housekeeping on our 35 PHAT Rooms.
Our Freewheeling Beginning: Pork Belly Ventures started out in our own home state on RAGBRAI. We rented one baggage truck and hired a crew of four. We worked hard in the morning, but we played a lot of cribbage in the afternoon. Looking back, we made some fun improvements, even in our early years. We offered “The Sizzle,” a night when folks could grill chicken, chops, or steaks in camp, and PBV provided the side dishes. We started printing silly mottos on our t-shirts every year. Out in his garage, Pete built the original Shower Thingy—our very first Thingy—a table with spigots all around for hosing off after your ride. (We still have this Thingy.) It was a hit, and Pete started inventing more Thingys to make our Porkers happy in camp: the Pump Thingy (compressor for airing up tires), the Juice Thingy (a tower for charging cell phones), and so on. Iteration by iteration, all of these pieces of equipment have been incrementally improved or expanded. Every year, we had a new theme, and we certainly didn’t shy away from a little scurrilous humor.
Turning Points: Buying our own trailers allowed us to outfit them for specific purposes—equipment transport, bike transport, phone charging, and more. A lot of these trailers have become billboards in camp, with our mottos plastered in plain view for all of us to live by during the ride. “Roll With It” is a constant reminder to take things in stride—as are other mottos or mantras displayed on the walls of our trailers. // Buying the shower business was another turning point for Pork Belly Ventures. We acquired two trailers and eventually built three more, so that we can provide showers for our own RAGBRAI riders and some of our neighbors, as well. Now, we can provide showers on more than one event at a time. // The decision to offer the rental tent service allowed us to help those folks who could ride the miles, but needed a hand with that chore of setting up a tent. When we finally responded to those requests, we were astonished at how much our riders appreciated that service. // In 2011, we built the first two PHAT trailers, comfy “motel rooms” that roll from camp to camp. Since that time, even with the seventh trailer on our build-schedule now, we have not been able to keep up with the demand for these rooms on RAGBRAI, but we can provide them on demand on all of our other events. // And in 2013, we finally found the right home base for PBV. On a breezy hill in Minden, Iowa, we found a property with a huge Morton-style building, where we could build a workshop, pull trailers inside for outfitting, and hold meetings in a cozy little office. We affectionately call it our Pork World Headquarters.
Pork Belly Ventures Today: Our season, from May to October, is comprised of four bike rides of our own, a dozen or so Midwestern bike rides, and RAGBRAI—the place we began and the granddaddy of all state rides, right here in Iowa. We also serve a variety of running events, music festivals, steam-engine shows, motorcycle and snowmobile rallies, and more. Ride sizes range from less than 100 on the smaller events to our RAGBRAI charter, which has served approximately 1400 riders each July for the past several years.
Our Heroes: When we tell our story, we would be remiss in leaving out the important roles that Mom and Dad have played, especially in the early and middle years. Mom, 82, has sewn PHAT Room curtains, bedspreads, and shower curtains. Around RAGBRAI time, she becomes a personal shopper and “Girl-Friday” helper. She still is a faithful member of our laundry crew, joining us at the Laundromat to wash towels and linens after every ride. Dad, 88, was an electrician in the U.S. Navy, and went on to be phone-company man. He has wired PHAT trailers and phone-charging trailers for PBV, working tirelessly when the pressure was on. Both of our parents have been our most reliable and ardent supporters over the years, and for them, we are more grateful than we can say.