Pork Belly Ventures 2020 Invitation Letter




January 25, 2020



Dear Porkers,


Pork Belly Ventures has been changing pretty much continuously since our inception in 1994, and we're excited to tell you how we plan to keep it fresh in 2020. Even as we feel that thrill that comes with trying new things, though, sometimes we worry. Change is risk. Can we do it all? Will we have enough time? Have we thought of everything?


Luckily, we're not in this alone. We count ourselves lucky to be surrounded by a capable and optimistic crew whose help and encouragement have seen us through 26 RAGBRAIs and a whole lot of change.


ABOVE: Circa 1997, this fuzzy photo was taken when PBV was young and two Ryder trucks carried Pork Belly Ventures down the road.


RAGBRAI is going through a healthy change of its own with a capable and innovative new director on board. Dieter and his staff have planned a wonderful route for us, and they're ready to see our favorite bike ride into its next chapter. Fresh eyes on the oldest and largest bike ride in the world can only open up more possibilities for the Best Week of the Year.


So change is good, and your decision to ride RAGBRAI means that, yep, you're changing, too. Soon you'll be up late googling butt butter and sleeping pads and helmet lights. Training rides will fill up your weekends, and you might become a little obsessive about your packing list. Those things are normal. But as many veterans will tell you, the real change happens when you arrive in Iowa and start rolling with it.


Last week, I met up with a pair of brothers, Jose from Panama and Guillermo from Florida, both RAGBRAI veterans. They were in town and had some questions, so we met at a brewery on a snowy afternoon.


In the middle of our chat, Jose put a hand on his heart. "I'm trying to put it in English," he said. "How do I say this? RAGBRAI is a week when I can really believe in the goodness of people."


The effect is different for Lori. "Everything just seems more valuable or more precious during that week," she said. Her warm shower, an ear of sweet corn-- every day is a string of blessings, and she feels grateful all week long.


For Kate, RAGBRAI is a time to be a kid again, to indulge in its "goofy traditions." She calls it her escape. "The summer that my brother died," she wrote to us, "it was one of the few bright spots in my life."


"RAGBRAI reminds us, if we look for it, that we are all co-travelers in life," Terry said. "Being with our friends or even having a quick conversation in the kybo line... it gives us the joy of human connection."


We suppose it's apt to say that RAGBRAI is our alternate reality, and we keep coming back to experience those things we are missing in real life. We come back to be changed.


You may wonder at times, friends, as you anticipate your week in the corn... Can I really roll with this thing? You can. Like us, you're not in this alone. The same friendly crew who have helped and encouraged us will help and encourage you during the 48th Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa.



Pork Belly Ventures cordially invites you

to join us for RAGBRAI 2020,

a week of change.



Finding What You Need Here...

We hope this letter will be pretty comprehensive in describing our services and policies. That means it's long.  For those of you returning from previous years, we haven’t changed the structure, but we have updated the details. The more urgent stuff is up front, and here's a loose Table of Contents: 


  1. The Latest Info: Dates, Route, and PBV Services/Prices 
  2. How to Register with PBV and with RAGBRAI (Use a group name if you're with a group of friends or family!
  3. Bike Shipping, Air Transportation, Hotels, Parking
  4. Other Important Questions  


For today, you may read a couple sections, or scan to see what's here. Hang onto this letter so you can find the details when you need them. Share it with whoever needs it.


If you've already asked your questions and know your plans, feel free to sign up for our services today. You'll find our online application at www.pkbelly.com


Friends, please give us a week or a little longer to think through the ramifications of the new route. Watch for for Update #1 of the 2020 season with all shuttle details and departure times. Don't make airline reservations, please, till you know when your shuttle departs!


Please read on about our services and shuttles, and some exciting new plans for this year. It would be our pleasure to spend this one with you, and we welcome you to join us for RAGBRAI 2020! Until next time, Porkers, we remain,


Your Friends,


Tammy and Pete


T: 712-328-0161 h 808-375-8921 c

P: 712-328-6836 h 402-681-2613 c





2020 DATES, ROUTE, and



in 2020




*** Looking for our list of

services and prices?

You'll find it quickly by scrolling till you see this PBV logo below.***


What are the ride dates? The ride begins before dawn on Sunday, July 19th, and ends on Saturday, July 25th. That means that we'll meet up with most of you on Saturday, the 18th, either at the Omaha or Des Moines airport, the end-town long-term parking area, or at the PBV campground in the start town. A considerable number of you will fly or drive into Omaha on Friday, July 17th, and stay in one of our designated airport hotels. Most of those using our East/West Shuttle will drive to the end town on Friday, the 17th. We have included details on these options in the FAQs below.  


What's this year's route? There’s been more speculation on the route this year than ever. Well, now we know that it's a northern route, hitting some of our favorite places. Here are the overnight towns and the daily mileage:  LeMars to Storm Lake (60 miles on Sunday), to Fort Dodge (72 miles on Monday), to Iowa Falls (51 miles on Tuesday), to Waterloo (72 miles on Wednesday), to Anamosa (85 miles on Thursday), to Makoqueta (43 miles on Friday). The ride ends in Clinton, with only 35 miles to ride on the final Saturday.


Total mileage is 420, and it's the 6th shortest in ride history. In terms of climbing, it's flatter than your average RAGBRAI.  You can find out more about the route here: 2020 Overnight Towns


We'll publish more about our overnight host towns in future updates.



What improvements has PBV made, and what's coming down the PBV pike?


Many of our 2020 plans for improvement come straight from your responses to our post-RAGBRAI survey. Learning what improvements you noticed truly affirmed our 2019 goals. Here's an incomplete list of the more recent additions or improvements to our services, starting with some of our goals for the 2020 version of PBV:



NEW More Showers for Weeklong Porkers.

We should say up front that PBV already operates more than half of the showers on RAGBRAI. This has been the case since about 2014. Last year, to the usual 56 shower stalls in Pork Camp, we added a new trailer with 11 stalls. Sometimes we enjoyed that extra trailer in camp, but mostly we placed it outside of camp to help RAGBRAI and overnight towns with a shortage of showers.


Well, Porkers, we're building again, and this will be our biggest project of 2020. This is a direct response to the 2019 survey results. Between now and RAGBRAI, we'll build an air-conditioned semi-shower trailer with 20 additional stalls. At the very least, PBV will dedicate our three largest trailers--that's 61 stalls--to those using the support of Pork Belly Ventures only. This is a gain of five stalls in camp for the exclusive use of those with PBV.** In terms of quantity, we probably don't need to tell you that this is an excellent ratio of shower stalls to riders on RAGBRAI. In terms of quality, your hot, private showers, cleaned after every use, are located on air-conditioned trailers right in camp, towel included.


We will still have two trailers with 26 stalls between them, which could be placed in Pork Camp or elsewhere at the request of our hosts, and which could serve folks who are not doing RAGBRAI with Pork Belly Ventures.


**Caveat: We wish we could predict every scenario. We've never been able to do that. RAGBRAI is rife with curve balls. If there are days when our three largest trailers, intended only for weeklong Porkers, are the only trailers in Pork Camp, it's possible that a town will ask us to provide showers for a small number of other riders. If it's a large number of other riders, we would keep another trailer in camp for their use. We hope our Porkers will remember that we have relationships with RAGBRAI and with our hosts. We ask our hosts to work with us in many ways, and sometimes they need our help, too.


NEW Dillon, Our New Year-round Guy Don't worry, friends--Dave and George are still with us too, but we're pleased to announce that Dillon Klabunde (on the right in the photo) joined our year-round crew on January 1. Dillon is a young father, but he has been an energetic and talented member of our RAGBRAI crew since he and his twin brother were in high school. On other PBV-supported events, Dillon has demonstrated his strong work ethic and excellent customer service. As a team, the five of us reviewed our survey results and last year's goal progress, and we are finalizing our list of goals for 2020. You might notice that Dillon is younger than the rest of us--by a lot--and we appreciate the perspective, knowledge, and skills he contributes to Pork Belly Ventures. In his new role, Dillon will be even more valuable than ever in improving our service delivery during RAGBRAI.




NEW Way-Finding Improvements We deferred this goal last year, but we're determined this season. PBV already provides three ways to find our campsites each day: Our locations card, our host-town maps (example at right), and our signage from the route to camp. This year we’re adding GPX files for navigation to our campsites. We have other ideas too, related to signage and our Mobile App. We'll keep you posted.


NEW Shipping Labels by Email Our company, Sendmybike.com, will continue in partnership with Bike Flights as RAGBRAI's sole bike shipping service. This season, your bike shipping labels will come to you by email directly from Bike Flights about 10 days before you ship. Hallelujah!



NEW Last-Day Flow and Efficiency We had a good last day of RAGBRAI, but there were some unnecessary glitches that we can eliminate. There's always a lot going on--bike shipping, bike loading, bus boarding for about seven different departures to three different destinations. Pete and Dillon will pull together a team to optimize our flow in the end-town on the last day of RAGBRAI.



NEW Full-Service Bike Shop in Camp Many of you experienced the pilot last year, though we didn't promote it at all. Having a full service bike shop with Pork Belly Ventures in the afternoons and evenings, offering merchandise, apparel, parts, and service--this was mutually beneficial to our riders and to our partner bike shop. The shop was busier than they imagined, and Porkers loved the convenience. We'll do it again, and we'll tell you more in future updates.


[We'll still have PBV bike mechanics in camp, too.]



NEW Suppers in Pork Camp The vast majority of survey respondents gave us good marks on the convenience and quality of our suppers--the three included suppers and the three optional meals. But we want to give more effort to this part of our charter, and Dillon has an education in the culinary arts. We're getting him involved in this part of our RAGBRAI charter. We'll be looking more closely at the survey responses, getting more creative, and working with local caterers to raise the bar.






Our NEW Coffee Trailer The biggest perceived improvement of 2019 was our new coffee trailer, which brought the coffee spigots down to countertop level in the morning. We served you faster, with one window for coffee service, and another for cream and sugar. We brew six gallons every eight minutes, almost as fast as you drink it. We have hot water and tea bags too. 



Campground Orientation Board 


On the survey, lots of you mentioned the COB, short for Campground Orientation Baord, always at one end of our Front Desk trailer. Prior to RAGBRAI, Sara printed giant GoogleMaps of each day’s campsite and created moveable magnetic pieces to represent all parts of the Pork Infrastructure. One rider said "I no longer have to stand in line to ask where everything is. I can walk up to the COB, get oriented, snap a photo, and go on with my day."


Each day, an image of the COB will be posted on the Pork Belly Mobile App.


Talent on Stage  Last year, we scored American Idol, Maddie Poppe for a surprise performance on the last night. Maddie played for us many times before she won American Idol, and admittedly, we'll have a hard time improving on that suprise Friday night. But we have ideas! According to our survey, our riders loved seven bands in seven days, and we’re already booking entertainment for July. 


When You Gotta Go...  Many people have commented on the distribution of kybos around camp, noting that wait times were better, and even manageable at 6:00 a.m. (Go early!) Although the toilet standard on RAGBRAI has been about 1:100, PBV will again have a ratio of about 1:37. Everybody loves our custom-built restroom trailer. In addition to the twelve flushing porcelain fixtures on our trailer (with lighting, ventilation, and sinks) we'll contract for 28 kybos in camp each day, without counting any fixed restrooms on our site or kybos provided by the overnight town.  



E-Bike Battery Charging

A significant number of riders who have ridden regular bikes with us for years have purchased an E-bike lately. An injury, a health condition, entering a new decade of life, lack of training time... we don't need to know your reasons. We accept your decision that an E-bike is right for you on RAGBRAI. For those on our Weeklong Support, PBV can provide charging for E-bikes, but we need to know if you’re bringing one to Iowa. Write to us, please, at tammy@pkbelly.com. We have a limited number of charging compartments, and please remember...if you’re not on our list, we can’t promise to help you charge up. 


FYI, we'll charge these batteries on the Roll With It trailer, not the phone charging trailers.


"Half Hog" Options, or Partial-Week Support on RAGBRAI  You can ride any number of consecutive days of RAGBRAI with PBV.


Most importantly, we offer convenient enter and exit shuttles on Tuesday afternoon. You can exit after riding the first half of the week or enter RAGBRAI midweek and ride the last four days. The Tuesday exit/enter point works well for folks who drive and those who fly. Once the route has been out for a week or ten days, we'll offer a fuller explanation of all shuttles, including our Half Hog options.



The Pork Belly Camping Experience As we continue to build custom equipment, we're up to 16 semi-trailers in the Pork Infrastructure now, with a growing variety of smaller special-purpose trailers custom-built to serve you. New shade canopies and different placement of canopies this year will add to the social zones in camp. The Misting Trailer houses misting fans to cool you down. The Massage Recovery Tent shelters ten therapists and an appointment desk. Our Bike Mechanics will be set up every afternoon and evening to serve you. We have mentioned banks of Kybos and our Restroom Trailer. We'll also place several Hand-Sanitizing Stations, our two Phone-Charging Trailers, the new Coffee Trailer, our Front Desk Trailer, and more on our campsites. Above, we mentioned the increase in PBV Shower Trailers. On RAGBRAI, Porkers, that's as good as it gets.




Hotel Stays,

Indoor Sleeping,

Midweek Laundry Service, Optional Dinners in Camp


Hotel Stays: Upon learning the route, we've gone to work on reserving hotel rooms. Typically, we can secure large blocks of hotel rooms on a few nights and small blocks of rooms on all other nights of RAGBRAI.


If you're interested in every night of RAGBRAI in a hotel room, contact us right away at tammy@pkbelly.com. We settle our weeklong hotel folks first, and then we open up remaining rooms to those who want a night or two of refreshment! Our motorcoach will transfer Porkers to/from camp and hotel.  


Once we meet our hosts, we'll try to arrange Indoor Camping on as many nights as possible. Last year, we arranged indoor camping on a record six of eight nights. For a small donation to our hosts, Porkers were invited to reserve air-conditioned sleeping space ahead of time. Every year, it's a new ballgame, but we'll try our best for a roof over your heads on two or more nights.


These options will be published to all Porkers in June. And watch for more info on our other extras like Midweek Laundry Service and Three Optional Dinners in Camp.



We're always thinking about Pork Perks and Pork Pleasures to offer you, so watch our updates. Please scroll for the full description of our 2019 support. 



What are Pork Belly's SERVICES AND PRICES?   


Here is our menu of services, mainly in chronological order. Scroll for our round-trip Des Moines Shuttle at the end, and keep scrolling for the full description of what is included in our support.


Bus from Omaha Airport to the Start Town

(Most popular airport shuttle)

On Saturday, the 18th, we'll meet you at Omaha's Eppley Airport and transport you, your baggage, and your bike to our campsite in the RAGBRAI start town. (Last bus will depart by 4:00 p.m.) 

$78 per person


East/West Shuttle, End to Start

Friday Afternoon or Saturday Morning

If you want to park your car in the end town prior to RAGBRAI, we'll meet you there either on Friday afternoon (the 17th) or early on Saturday (the 18th) and transport you, your baggage, and your bike to the start town.

$160 per person 


Weeklong Support for Rider

While you bicycle each day, we will transport your baggage across Iowa for the week, from west to east, providing great campsites, meals, entertainment, your daily shower and towel fee, and many amenities and support services, described more fully below.

 $435 per person for the full week. 

We can prorate this price for partial-week clients at $ per person per day.


Weeklong Support for Non-Riders is available for $565 per person, and please contact us for a visit about your week.


Partial Week with Pork Belly Ventures is $65 per person per day. Consecutive days only.


Child Price for Weeklong Support is $200 for kids under 13 years of age, and they must be accompanied by an adult, of course. 


Return Bus to Omaha On Saturday, the 25th, we'll transport you, your baggage, and your bike from the end town to an Omaha Airport hotel (see Hotel section below), so you can fly or drive home on Sunday.  

 $152 per person  


Shuttle to Airport Near End-Town On Saturday, the 25th, we'll transport you and your baggage (let us know if you'll have a bike) from the end town to the Quad Cities International Airport (MLI) in Moline, IL. We will soon publish our afternoon departure times. Please stand by as we complete our planning, and watch for our next update on shuttle details and departure times.

$55 per person


Optional Tent Rental and Daily Set-up  See fuller description and details below. Available only to those on our Weeklong Support. We cannot meet the demand for this service; therefore, we can't prorate this service for a partial week.

$495 per tent - price is the same for one or two tent occupants.  

Add $100 for a third tent occupant (We don't recommend this tent for three people unless one or more people are children.)


Round-trip Des Moines Bus Transportation

Shuttle service from Des Moines to the start town is $140 per person.


The return from the end town to Des Moines is $120 per person. 


The round trip Des Moines bus service is $260 . We'll depart from and return to the AmericInn Airport Hotel at the Des Moines airport.


Half-Hog Shuttle exit on Tuesday afternoon, from our campsite in to a Des Moines airport hotel. This is for those who ride the first three days, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. We'll publish complete details in our next update.

$51 per person


Half-Hog Shuttle enter on Tuesday afternoon, from a Des Moines airport hotel to our campsite in . This shuttle is for those who enter the ride late and cycle Wednesday through Saturday. We'll publish complete details in our next update.

$52 per person




Our services are available on an ala carte basis. You may use any combination of these services (except that the optional Tent Rental and Daily Set-up is available only to those on our Weeklong Support). 


For all shuttles, we use comfortable, quality motor coaches, restroom-equipped and air-conditioned.


What all is included in PBV's Weeklong Support in 2019? 

We're listing everything here, friends, in the interest of offering a comprehensive list of what we provide. Some of this info duplicates earlier content.


Our goal at PBV is to provide virtually everything you need within our campsites. Most of the following is simply included in our support, but a few services like massage and laundry are optional, reasonably priced, and extremely convenient to have available right in camp. 







Spacious RESERVED campsites of Pork Belly Ventures


Transport of two bags per person from host town to host town (RAGBRAI's baggage transport allows one bag per person)



Your Daily Shower and Towel You'll find endless hot water, liquid soap dispensers, and fresh towels in our three air-conditioned shower trailers right in camp. As of 2020, Pork Belly Ventures offers a minimum of 61 stalls exclusive to PBV, with a private dressing area for every stall. You can take more than one shower a day if you like, as your PBV wristband admits you to the shower.


(It's possible on some days that all 82 shower stalls, all five trailers, would be operating in Pork Camp. Find more info above on our new trailer and making three trailers exclusive to PBV.)


BELOW: On the outside of our trailers, we have sinks for your use, too.



Well-Placed Kybos in Camp Thank you for your positive comments on our increased number of contracted kybos in 2019. Hand-sanitizing stations, too.


Our Royal Flush, the restroom trailer is more pleasant than kybos, and well-lit at night. It offers flushing toilets and urinals, sinks and soap-dispensers, mirrors, ventilation fans, and lighting. 



Three of Your Evening Meals in Camp Included  Three of your evening meals in camp are included with your Weeklong Support. We work with local caterers in each overnight town.


(You will also have the opportunity can purchase our dinners on the three other nights. Menus to come.)





Live Music on Stage Every Night From Saturday night to Friday night, we'll have talented musicians on stage--usually from about 6:00 p.m. till the fireflies come out.


Shade Canopies and Misting Fans This year, you'll find more shade in camp, and shade in more places around camp--more to come on that subject. Our shady circus tents with chairs provide a place to sit down and join a conversation. You'll also find a misting system--Cool Zone fans-- to refresh you.  



The PBV Team Shirt Be sure to include your shirt size when you apply online for our Weeklong Support. We'd love to give you our team shirt for 2020.


Phone-Charging Trailers with locking compartments for charging electronic devices. Both trailers will be locked overnight, but charging continues until the trailers are unlocked in the morning about 5:00. 






Campsite Orientation Board (COB) This board is always located at one end of our Front Desk trailer. Google Maps of each campsite are fixed on a metal display board, so that moveable magnetic pieces will direct you to all parts of our infrastructure each day. Upon arrival in camp, check out the COB and get oriented. Snap a photo of this map of your home base.


Early in the week, ask a crew member to show you the COB.



Ice-cold beverages at the Front Desk, about 90 cents each, plus Free Lemonade in the afternoon and through dinner. Please come to our Front Desk with any questions. We're here to help! 


PBV Locations Card Our laminated card with campsite locations in each overnight town.


GPX Files, to help you find camp via your Garmin or other mapping computer. We'll send files prior to RAGBRAI. We're hard at work on way-finding this year.


Hot Morning Coffee at Our Coffee Trailer One awning swings open for coffee service, and another for cream and sugar. Kim and Dave start brewing at 4:30 a.m., six gallons every eight minutes. Hot tea, too.



Licensed Massage Therapists Our team of ten therapists are excellent. You can book 15, 30, or 60 minutes of restorative massage, and you can book in advance. Our therapists will get your muscles ready for tomorrow's ride. (additional charge) 





Daily Pork Yoga

Tracy leads yoga sessions every afternoon to restore you, body and soul. You don't have to be experienced.... join in!


Professional Bike Mechanics, expert guys and girls, set up in camp daily from 3:00 p.m. on to help you with minor repairs. You're welcome to tip, but their service is free for those on our support.


Full-Service Bike Shop in Camp Forgot something? You can go shopping right in Pork Camp with our partner bike shop on site.



PBV's Midweek Laundry Service (optional, extra charge of $20) 

Give us your dirty duds on Tuesday. We'll give them back to you Wednesday, fresh and folded.



Breakfast Vendors and Lunch Vendors in Camp

Though vendor offerings aren't free, it's extremely convenient to have a breakfast vendor beside the coffee trailer every morning and a lunch vendor near the showers every afternoon.


Note: Pork Belly Ventures invites LOCAL breakfast and lunch vendors into our campsites, and we work strictly with LOCAL caterers, to benefit our host communities and our riders alike.


Indoor Sleeping Opportunities

We'll write a lot more about this, Porkers, when we've had these conversations with our hosts, but we try to score indoor sleeping in a church, school, YMCA, or other facility on as many nights of RAGBRAI as possible. You will be able to reserve on a first-come-first-served basis for only $15 per night, a donation. It's just another way to benefit both our hosts and our riders.


Pete's Shower Thingy Of course, we have shower trailers now, but Porkers still rely on this RAGBRAI classic for brushing their teeth or filling water bottles. It's a table, plumbed with five spigots and equipped with a mirror on both sides. Use it to cool off. This Thingy is available in the morning until 7:00 a.m.


Pump Thingy, a special compressor and pressure regulator to make pumping your tires a breeze. That's Casey, one of our awesome team of mechanics, topping off tires in the morning.. 


Free weeklong storage of your hard-shell bike case or bike box (for those who bring a case on the plane or ship the bike to Iowa), free to weeklong Porkers. 


Luxury SAG Service A day off the bike can be a game-changer, and we offer a ride from overnight town to overnight town. We describe this service more fully below. Additional charge of $25 per use.




Upwards of a hundred friendly, able-bodied, can-do crew members (not including bike mechanics or massage therapists) to help, comfort, and revive you.  


Other Needs: During the waking hours, there is always an available crew member or crew chief to answer your questions or help you. We have three paramedics on our crew. If you don't know who to ask, start at the front desk. They have band aids, a hammer for your stakes, a ziplock bag, whatever you need. 


Before and After RAGBRAI:  


Around 20 informative email updates to help you plan and prepare


PBV Host-Town Maps sent to you in PDF format, showing our campsites in relationship to other amenities, with GeoBike Elevation Statistics for each RAGBRAI day. At RIGHT, this is one of last year's maps.  


Prompt answers to your questions on email and by phone  


Our comprehensive June Letter with virtually all the info you need in one document


The Pork Belly App for Smartphones, to help you learn more about our charter and RAGBRAI before the ride, with useful tools like route maps and host-town maps during the ride. Throughout the season, our updates are published on the App. It's FREE--get it now at your App Store.



Bike-shipping to and from Iowa (additional charge), using sendmybike.com. You'll find more info in the Bike Shipping section below, but the big improvement this year? Receiving your shipping labels by email ten days before you ship.


Upon arrival, mechanical assistance with uncrating your bike and getting it road ready


Packaging of your bike to ship home--just hand it over (additional charge)  


A special receiving area right in our camp at the end town for shipped bikes


A slideshow of our week together--useful in recruiting friends to join you next year!



Can I ride RAGBRAI without the support of a charter? Yes, but

doesn't it make more sense to have a friendly home base? If our prices don't suit your budget, by all means call us so we can recommend another charter.


A basic service to carry your baggage and provide a campsite is in the neighborhood of $200, and you'll have a home base. But a basic service will not include amenities in camp like those described here. After you find your campsite each day, you may need to go in search of your shower, snacks and meals, bike mechanics, beverages, phone-charging, and so on.



This is your vacation. The Weeklong Support of PBV could mean the difference between a complicated, exhausting bike trip and a carefree athletic adventure. 


Our riders like to focus on their miles and enjoy their Week in the Corn. They rely on us for the little village they call home. They may choose to explore the overnight towns, but if they're tired at the end of a long hot road, they can find their shower, snacks and meals, cold drinks, an electrical outlet, a shady social area, friendly bike mechanics, restorative yoga and massage therapy, and some excellent live music right in camp. 


Some of our riders are dealing with a medical issue and appreciate an extra level of support. We can refrigerate medication. We have three licensed paramedics on our crew. We provide a comfortable (and legal) option for sagging on any given day of RAGBRAI.  



What's included in Pork Belly Ventures' Tent Rental and Daily Set-up?

For some riders, it's not a vacation if you have to set up and take down your own tent. They're not interested in moving their baggage. So this service suits them to a T.


Our rental tents are 63 square feet (8.5' X 7.5'). With duffels inside, we consider our tent a roomy for one person and cozy for two. You can share it and split the cost, or you can occupy it alone. Tent-renters simply pack up their bags in the morning and leave them inside the tent. In the next host town you'll find your tent up with bags inside. You can catch your breath under canopies, grab a bite from one of our food vendors, or head off to the shower. 


We'll set up Tent City on the same grid every day. Address cards will help you locate yours. We're happy to arrange the grid so that friends are next door to each other (but you'll need a common group name on all applications). This service has sold out in the past, so it might be wise to claim your tent early in the season.


Hours of Access to Your Rental Tent: We'll aim for set-up by 1:00 p.m. each day, but host town traffic or inclement weather might put our crew a bit behind. If you usually arrive very early in camp, we don't recommend using the tent service--you'll be happier if you just set up your own tent on your own schedule. 



We include this paragraph, Porkers, so that there will be no misunderstandings about our Rental Tent Service. We will set up the tent grid on an average piece of real estate within our campsite. Please understand that it will not necessarily be the best part of our campsite, but it might. On most days, Tent City will not be the shadiest part of our campsite. On some days, Tent City will be very close to our amenities, and on other days you might walk a across the campsite to use showers or the charging trailers or other services. Every town and every campsite is different. You'll find your tent location more convenient on some days than others.


We don't recommend three to a tent unless one occupant is a child, and there's an extra charge of $100 for handling the third person's baggage. 



Suppose I want to bring my own tent? That's fine! More than half of our Porkers use their own tents. We'll carry your gear (a maximum of two bags per person) from town to town, and we'll have plenty of camping space for everyone. Those who bring their own tents do their own set-up and take-down, bringing their bags to the baggage truck each morning. If you set up your own tent, you'll have more choices of where to camp (versus your fixed spot on our large grid of rental tents).


Do I have to book shuttles now? If you haven’t firmed up your travel plans, it’s a good idea to wait on choosing your shuttles. Many people go ahead and reserve our support and/or tent service on the application, but wait until May to add their shuttles.


What if I want to SAG, take a day off the bike? We offer a convenient, comfortable, and secure way for you and your bike to get to the next overnight town for $25 per day. We hire a luxury 56-passenger motorcoach and driver for the purpose of sagging riders who do not choose to cycle on a given day. We'll transport bikes on a specially outfitted trailer. You're welcome to place a bag under the bus for immediate access to them in the next campsite. You'll depart each day at 7:00 a.m., and you'll be in our new camp by about 9:30 a.m. The seats are soft, and you can doze all the way to our next campsite. 


(There's a special price for non-cyclists spending the full week with us. If you don't bring a bike at all, the price is $560 for the week including our Weeklong Support and your daily town-to-town transfer.)


Suppose I can only ride half the week? PBV has always prorated our Weeklong Support. Our day rate is $65 per person per day.


We'll publish more about the Half Hog Shuttles in our next update.


Confused about Shuttles? We don't expect you to know our state. Just write or call, and we'll talk through your options. Contact us, please, before you make airline reservations. We offer much more about our shuttles in the next few FAQs.



What's the advantage of booking a round trip into and out of Omaha? Omaha is on the western edge of Iowa, and it's the closest international airport to most start towns. This is our most popular airport shuttle, convenient for those who fly, but also for those who drive in on I-80 or I-29. 


With our round-trip Omaha service, we pretty much take care of you from the time you reach baggage claim in Omaha to the time you step off our bus at your Omaha airport hotel on the evening of the 25th. Make your air and hotel reservations and register with us. (See below for Pork Hotels.) We'll meet you at the Omaha airport (hotel parking lot) and deliver you to the start town on a nice motor coach.  At the end of RAGBRAI, climb aboard our Omaha-bound coach. We'll carry you back to our side-by-side airport hotels. On Sunday, the free hotel shuttle will take you to the airport.


Omaha airport parking is convenient, secure, and inexpensive. You'll find information below under "Airline Reservations, Hotels, and Parking."


At the end of RAGBRAI, what are my transportation options with PBV? We can take you to the Des Moines Airport AmericInn Hotel, or we can take you to our side-by-side hotels at the Omaha airport. Finally, we can shuttle you to the nearest airport on Iowa's east side (we'll choose one). We will publish all shuttle details and departure times in our next update.


What are the shuttle departure times? At this writing, we have only known the route for a couple of hours, but we'll publish an update soon with estimated departure times on all shuttles. On the 18th, our last shuttle from Omaha airport is likely to be at 4:00 p.m. It's wise not to make airline reservations until we have published shuttle departure times. Watch for Update #1 of the season within 10 days or so.



What is the advantage of using the PBV East/West Shuttle?

For those who live east of Iowa within driving distance of the end town, this shuttle is a good choice. On Friday the 17th (or earlier), you park your car in the designated long-term parking (the end-town will charge a parking fee; see their website after May 1). You may also drive into the end town very early on Saturday--but plan for traffic that morning. Our crew will meet you there for bike loading on Friday around noon and/or early on Saturday, the 18th. By mid to late afternoon on Saturday, we'll have you and your bike in the start town. At the end of RAGBRAI, you're back at your car.


Will PBV Run the East/West Shuttle on Friday as well as on Saturday Morning? Yes. You have plenty of time to think about which departure date and time is best for you. Talk to your friends. Later on in the season, we'll ask you to choose Friday afternoon (usually two departure options) or Saturday morning (three departure options).


What if I don't even bike but want to experience RAGBRAI? We offer a "non-rider" option for you. A handful of people participate as non-riders with our charter every year. Often they have a family member who is cycling with our charter. We'll carry non-riders on our 56-passenger motor coach from overnight town to overnight town. To arrange to join PBV as a non-rider, please contact us. I, Tammy, would like to visit with you about your week and what to expect. 



May we bring our car or RV with PBV?

No, you may not. We are including this topic to our invitation letter to avoid any misunderstandings.


Whether or not they have secured the RAGBRAI vehicle pass, neither riders nor non-riders may bring their own vehicles IF THEY ARE USING THE SERVICES OF A CHARTER. This is a strict RAGBRAI rule, which we have promised to obey: charters may not support anyone who has a personal vehicle on RAGBRAI.



and with RAGBRAI


We lead this section of our letter with a reminder to groups of friends and family joining us---please use a common group name on all applications of the group. It helps us serve you better. More below.


How Many Riders on One PBV Application?

Most people like to handle their own applications and payments. They like to set up their own usernames and passwords. Family groups may be an exception.


If you like, group leaders certainly can sign up several group members on one application, and each group member is able to mail in payment for his/her part of the fees. But given the fact that we now require the 10% deposit on a card, such a group leader could be on the hook for ten percent of all services on the application. Around May 15th, remaining balances are due, but it's not possible for each person on the application to pay separately with a credit card--or it requires the inconvenience of calling Pete in the office.


If a group leader is willing to pay for everyone and settle up later, it's fine with us. But for simplicity's sake, we recommend that group members complete their own applications and pay their own fees. Please see "Common Group Name" below. 


Common Group Name for Two or More People

If two or more friends are joining Pork Belly, you should put a common group name in the group-name fields on your applications, like "Jones Group" or "Lucy's Friends" or "Dingbats" or "Misfits." Now is the time to choose your group name and communicate it to all members. If you want to be assigned to the same bus or be rental-tent neighbors, the group name allows us to meet your needs, and generally, we can serve you better when we know who is with whom.


No Group Name, Please, for Individuals 

Individuals coming to PBV by themselves should leave the group-name field blank. Again, please leave it blank. Don't even type "just me" or "none." When we do bus rosters, it makes it far easier to find you if there's no group name.


How to Sign Up with PBV

To create a new application, please go to pkbelly.com and hit "Apply" in the center of your screen. Follow the prompts, entering a username and password. And, importantly, if it's your first time, make sure you tick the box that indicates this is a new application. Then, you'll select services, and click "Submit."


Deposit of Ten Percent on the Credit Card

Required for a Firm Reservation

Everyone who signs up for services pays at least ten percent of the balance by credit card in order to have a firm reservation. You will NOT incur a 3% convenience fee on your ten percent deposit that holds your reservation for services. To avoid paying this fee at all, you may mail a check for your remaining balance; see our further explanation below. Your remaining balance will not be due until May 15th. 


PBV Cancellation Policy and Protection

Please note that if you select our Cancellation Protection, 15% is charged to your credit card when you initially apply. That includes the 10% deposit and 5% for the cancellation protection. Both the deposit and the protection are non-refundable. This has always been the case, but we state it explicitly so there's no misunderstanding. Our Cancellation Policy and Cancellation Protection are explained more fully below.




Two Methods of Paying Your Remaining Balance:

Your Choice


Please note that you can avoid credit card processing fees by mailing a check.


Here are your payment options:


1) Pay in Full, One Transaction, on Your Card

At the initial time of application, you may pay the whole thing by credit card in a single transaction. For this convenience, a 3% processing fee will be assessed.


2) Mail a Check for Remaining Balance

For folks like us who would want to save that 3% service charge, feel free to use the option of mailing a check for your 90% balance. No hurry. Just send it by May 15th.


In any case, you'll pay no fee for putting your 10% deposit on your card.


PBV Cancellation Policy

Before June 15th, you can still cancel part or all of your PBV services and receive a 90% refund on the amount of services reserved. You can drop services or cancel entirely by email, and we'll process your refund quickly. We'll also try to find you a buyer for your official RAGBRAI wristband. On or after June 15th, we make no refunds. More on Cancellation below. 


PBV Cancellation Protection

Pork Belly Ventures offers Cancellation Protection for an additional five percent (5%). Cancellation Protection extends your refund deadline from June 15th to Wednesday, July 15th at 10:00 p.m. July 15th is the Wednesday before RAGBRAI. The additional 5% for protection is due at the time of registration. Our Cancellation Protection is explained more fully at pkbelly.com. More on Cancellation Protection below. 


Non-Refundable Fees

To be clear, the first ten percent (10%) can be paid by credit card, and is non-refundable as stated in our cancellation policy. The five-percent (5%) charge for our optional cancellation protection extends the 90% refund deadline from June 15 to July 15th. It is also non-refundable. 


Difference between Selecting and Reserving Services

Selecting services on your application without paying the deposit doesn't give you a reservation, even though the information is retained on your application.


Everyone who completes an application and pays his/her ten percent by credit card (or by mailing a check) will have a firm reservation with PBV.


When you submit payment, you will receive a confirmation email, showing your payment and any remaining balance. Balances are due May 15th.



MORE on Cancellation

Please read this section and the next section on Cancellation Protection carefully and contact us to make sure you understand before you register.


Before Saturday, June 15th, you can still cancel part or all of your PBV services and receive a 90% refund for the services you have reserved. You can drop services or cancel entirely by email, and we'll send you a refund check quickly. We'll also try to find you a buyer for your wristband.


We will include our written cancellation policy in several email updates prior to the deadline of June 15th: on or after the 15th of June, we will make no refund.


The Whole Scoop on Cancellation Protection 

First of all, if you have any trouble understanding this option, you should call or email us for an explanation. You have only one opportunity to purchase this protection, at the time of your original registration.


Here are some of the things that have happened to our RAGBRAIers during the last month before RAGBRAI. The boss decided they couldn't be spared at work. They have been diagnosed with an illness. A member of their family has needed support through a crisis. People have been struck by a car while training for the ride. Their plans for childcare have fallen through. They have lost a loved one. Although we-and every other tour operator-must have a refund deadline and cancellation policy, and although ours is quite liberal, and even though we publish our cancellation policy several times prior to the deadline every year, we can't help but feel for those people who cancelled out of necessity after the June deadline. After attending a conference of bicycle tour directors and discussing this issue with other tour operators, we offer this solution.


If you want to extend your 90% refund from June 15th all the way through until Wednesday, July 15th, you can select "Cancellation Protection" on the online application form. The non-refundable fee for this protection is five percent of the value of services you have reserved with PBV. (One exception: cancellation protection does not apply to the PHAT Trailer Accommodations.)


This protection applies only to the period from June 15 to July 15 at 10:00 p.m. For anyone who cancels later than 10:00 p.m. on July 15th, we make no refund. This protection is not applicable to people who travel to Iowa for RAGBRAI and leave the ride early for any reason. This protection applies only to fees paid to Pork Belly Ventures, not your RAGBRAI registration fee or other travel expenses. To use this protection, you must contact us by time-stamped email by 10:00 p.m. on Wednesday, July 15. Your refund will be processed at our earliest convenience, possibly in the early days of August, if your cancellation comes at the last moment.


In short, without protection, you stand to lose 100% of your fees paid to PBV. But by spending 5% up front on a non-refundable fee, you can receive a 90% refund if you cancel for any reason all the way through July 15 at 10:00 p.m. You may purchase this protection at the original time of registration ONLY.



Signing Up for RAGBRAI

RAGBRAI registration has been open since November 11th. The cost is $175 per person. The deadline for registration is April 1.


Charters may not include the RAGBRAI registration with their services.


We are told that registering at RAGBRAI.com should be done at a desktop or laptop computer. You may encounter problems if you attempt to sign up with your phone or tablet.


By May 1, RAGBRAI will send out confirmations to registered RAGBRAI riders of 2020.


Regarding "The RAGBRAI Lottery" and

Signing Up with PBV

We hear this question so often that we want to address it for you here. Many newbies ask us if they should delay registering with PBV until they learn around May 1 whether they have cleared the RAGBRAI "lottery." We don't know all the ins and outs, but when we and other charters have asked RAGBRAI officials about this, they've told us, "Tell your folks not to worry about getting into the ride." Delay signing up for our services if you like--we want you to be sure. But worrying about the lottery is not a reason to delay.


Valid Considerations on When to Sign Up with PBV

If you are concerned about getting one of our rental tents, they tend to sell out in May (we usually have a waiting list). For a few years, our Weeklong Support has sold out in May or early June. We never know from year to year if or when services will sell out, but you might be wise not to wait too long.


Buying a RAGBRAI Wristband on the After-Market

If, after April 1, you find that you can ride RAGBRAI after all, we can introduce you to a wristband seller. You can follow the Register's simple procedure for transferring wristbands via their online transfer form. So long as you complete the transfer, there's no difference between you and other registered riders. In all our years, we have never failed to find a wristband for a patient buyer.



SendMyBike.com in Partnership with Bike Flights


Our company, SendMyBike.com, has been the best ground game on RAGBRAI for many years, and we have done the lion's share of bike shipping to and from RAGBRAI. For the second time, SendMyBike.com will partner with Bike Flights to provide bike shipping to and from RAGBRAI, and for the first time, you'll receive your emailed label 10 days prior to your ship date.


We'll continue to offer the popular option of having your shipped bike pre-assembled before you arrive in Iowa. Before spring, expect more from us on bike shipping to and from RAGBRAI. 





When should I make airline reservations?

In short, wait for Update #1 from Pork Belly Ventures.


On the night of the route announcement, we hurry to publish this invitation. Then, we take the following week to think through the implications of the new route, locations of airports in relation to the overnight towns, cycling distances, driving distances and so on. Very soon, we'll publish Pork Belly Update #1 with shuttle details and departure times before and after RAGBRAI. Once you know our shuttle departure times, you can make your airline reservations with confidence.


If I'm driving to the end town on Friday, how can I get reservations at a hotel? For hotel rooms in eastern Iowa near the end town, you may check the end-town website on about May 1st for nearby hotels.  Or you might Google hotels relatively close to long-term parking. PBV will not have a designated hotel in eastern Iowa.


If I'm driving to the end town on Friday, what are my overnight options? Pork Belly Ventures always attempts to find inexpensive indoor camping in the end town. We have reserved church facilities, gymnasiums, schools, YMCAs, and other large rooms, where folks could make a small donation to roll out their sleeping bags indoors and relatively close to long-term parking. Last year in Keokuk, indoor sleeping (plus several meals) was offered by the kind congregation of our host church. Again this year, we will make every effort to arrange inexpensive indoor accommodations.


Also, camping is always available on Friday night in the end town.


Where can I park at the end town? One of the first things an end-town figures out is how to securely park hundreds of cars for the week. We'll give those volunteers some time to sort that out. But our bike-loading and bus-boarding area for the east/west shuttle is typically located very near the long-term parking area. 


Hold tight and watch our updates. We are optimistic that we'll have this info for you prior to May 1. Camping, food, and showers are often provided in the end town on the Friday night before RAGBRAI.


If I'm flying or driving into Omaha, will I need reservations at a hotel? On the nights of July 18th through the 24th, you will be camping with PBV, but if you're flying into Omaha on Friday, the 17th, and/or returning with us to Omaha late on Saturday evening, the 25th, you will need Omaha hotel reservations. We have room blocks for both nights at two side-by-side airport hotels.


Here are PBV's designated Omaha airport hotels!

Our two side-by-side hotels at the Omaha airport are the Best Western Plus and the Candlewood Suites. These properties are owned by the same company and run by an excellent team of managers. They are very nice.




Pork Belly Ventures has room blocks at both hotels. There are advantages to both hotels, but walk half a block and you get all amenities, no matter where you stay. Your choice:


Best Western Plus, 402-505-4900:  

  • Mention our name to reserve your king or double queen room for $130.
  • Hot breakfast served here (Candlewood guests will walk over for breakfast)
  • Swimming pool located here (Candlewood guests have access, too)
  • Hospitality areas available to our guests before and after RAGBRAI.
  • Triple-sheeting is the standard at this hotel.
  • Across the street from a large convenience store, Subway sandwich shop, and Perkins Restaurant.
  • Reasonable weeklong airport parking and valet service (about $5 per day)
  • Free airport shuttle and Old Market shuttle, a great place for shopping, music, and dining on the Friday before RAGBRAI.


BELOW, we include three photos of remodeled rooms at Candlewood Suites, but both of our designated Omaha airport hotels are updated regularly and very nice.



Candlewood Suites, 402-342-2500: 

  • Mention our name to reserve your king or double queen room for $130.
  • The hotel renovations will be completed by July.
  • North side of Candlewood is the site of our bus loading and unloading (Best Western Plus guests walk over and back.)
  • The site of free laundry (Best Western Plus guests can do laundry here too.)
  • Hospitality areas available to our guests before and after RAGBRAI.
  • Triple-sheeting is the standard at this hotel.
  • Across the street from a large convenience store, Subway sandwich shop, and Perkins Restaurant.
  • Reasonable weeklong airport parking and valet service (about $5 per day)
  • Free airport shuttle and Old Market shuttle, a great place for shopping, music, and dining on the Friday before RAGBRAI.
  • Breakfast served next door; great convenience shop in the lobby.



Because Best Western Plus is located in Iowa, and Candlewood Suites is located in Nebraska (yes, they are side-by-side), the tax on Candlewood is 6% more. And if you reserved at Candlewood online, please change your reservation by phoning the hotel directly. Your rate will be reduced to our negotiated rate of $130 per night.


All Pork Belly buses will depart from and return to the Omaha airport Candlewood Suites, next door to the Best Western Plus. 


We advise flying or driving in on Friday. Please don't wait this year. Book your Omaha Airport hotel rooms early.


At times, we have run short on rooms, even with blocks at both hotels. If you find you don't need rooms you have reserved, please release them back to our block right away. For safety reasons, the hotel staff will need an occupant's name for every room and a credit card number for each occupant (one per room). 


Will weeklong parking be available near the Omaha airport? Yes, and there is no need to reserve it in advance. We'll publish more later, but valet service is available from the hotels. A shuttle will assist you in retrieving your car at week's end.




What does it take to be a Porker?

A good sense of humor is your most valuable asset, followed closely by the ability to let stuff roll off. We can get you showered and cooled down and fed and rested, but you might endure a brief period of temporary discomfort. When that happens--and surely it will--please treat those who serve you with respect and courtesy.


We are going to do our very best to show you a great time.


Remember that the vibe of our charter is "neighborhood block party," not "college frat party." With us, you're signing on for wholesome, healthy fun and quiet after 10:00 p.m.  If you want a hard party or a late party, we're not the right fit for you.


What if I have a problem or a special situation? Tell us what you need, and we'll try to help.



Who is Pork Belly Ventures LLC?

We are a brother and sister partnership, Pete Phillips and Tammy Pavich, born and raised in Iowa. We're going on 27 years operating our RAGBRAI charter. We and our extended family live in our hometown, Council Bluffs, Iowa. Our charter is best known for our Weeklong Support, full of extras and relative luxuries, described in greater detail above. We take pride in Iowa's hospitality and the kindness of people you'll meet all across our home state.


The Pork Belly crew stays strong and chipper all week long, and during the waking hours, you can always find someone to ask for help. Many are schoolteachers, farmers, firefighters, and paramedics. 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. And of course, our mom and dad have always helped us in more ways than we can tell you. 


And finally, how to describe our riders? They're friendly. Many professions and many lifestyles, ethnicities, and cultures will be represented on our charter, most from the U.S., but quite a few from beyond. Most of our charter is thirties, forties, fifties, and sixties, but we appreciate the very fit men and women in their seventies and even eighties, most of whom have been riding for many years with us. You'll meet some youngsters, too. Under our canopies, you can join any number of interesting conversations!


First-timers and RAGBRAI veterans alike pass the corn with us.



Pork Belly Ventures operates in full compliance with the Iowa and U.S. Departments of Transportation.


Will PBV communicate with me between now and July? 

Oh, yes. Between now and June, we'll send a couple of updates a month. In those last 60 days, we'll write to you more frequently. 


The most important document to read is your June Letter, published as an email update in mid-June. It will provide deadlines, schedules, directions, and lots of other important stuff. 


What should I do right now? 

First, feel free to ask your questions. We welcome anyone to jot down a list of questions or concerns, and then call us. We look forward to talking with you!


If you feel that you understand our cancellation policy and our cancellation protection, then by all means, go to pkbelly.com and hit Login (upper right of screen) or Apply (center of screen) to create a new application. If you are signing up for the first time, you'll create your username and password--and remember to tick the box that indicates you're creating brand new login credentials. You can hold your reservation with a 10% deposit by credit card. Your balance isn't due until May 15th. When you hit Submit, you'll receive a confirmation by email.


We're here to answer your questions, Porkers. 

Please write to tammy@pkbelly.com or call me at 712-328-0161,

or contact Pete at pete@pkbelly.com, 402-681-2613.

We can talk shuttles, services, prices, and

whatever you need during your Week in the Corn. 




Pork Belly Ventures LLC 

Tammy: 712.328.0161 h, 808-375-8921 c, tammypav@cox.net

Pete: 712-328-6836 h, 402-681-2613 c, petephillips@cox.net|