This page describes, in general, how our East/West Shuttle operates. We'll give you particulars for this year when we have them, but for now, we hope this information helps you with your planning.
Long-term Parking and Amenities at RAGBRAI End Town
Every RAGBRAI end town sets aside an area for long-term parking. By May 1, the end-town website will be available (linked from ragbrai.org) and riders will be able to reserve a parking stall. Typically, those who reserve parking early will pay approximately $35 to $55 for the week. Later on, the price can go up. The town website will also provide maps of the community and information about amenities (like showers, camping, breakfast, and/or box lunches) to be provided on the Friday and Saturday before RAGBRAI. (Pork Belly showers are not available on the Friday before RAGBRAI, but they are usually available in the end town on the last day of RAGBRAI.) Most end-towns make every effort to place the long-term parking, Friday overnight camping, and other amenities in the same general area.
Hotels near RAGBRAI End Town
Because the end of RAGBRAI is far from our western Iowa home and because it changes every year, we can't recommend hotels on the east side of Iowa. Google will come in very handy, though, if you prefer to stay in an eastern Iowa hotel on Friday night, rather than camp.
With eight to ten buses on the East/West shuttle, it's easier for everyone if we make bus assignments, so that friends will find it easy to board their bus and sit together. Prior to RAGBRAI, we will be sending out bus rosters, so that you'll know to which bus you are assigned. Be sure that you and your friends put the same group name (i.e. Joe's Friends, the Smith Family) in the group-name field on our application form. This will help us assign you to the same bus.
Schedule/Location for East/West Shuttle
We will reserve a specific Pork Belly Ventures staging area at the end town and send out directions prior to RAGBRAI.
On the Friday evening before RAGBRAI at our assigned staging area (usually near long-term parking), our East/West Shuttle crew of four or five, led by Steve Swan, will meet our riders and load bikes for a couple of hours, usually around 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. (See section on bike transport below.) Then, on Saturday morning, they'll be back again to resume bike loading from about 6:00 to 7:30 a.m. Our buses will arrive by about 7:30 a.m. Place your bags in the compartments under the buses and board your assigned bus. All trucks and buses will depart for the RAGBRAI start town at 8:00 a.m.
Our buses are air-conditioned and restroom-equipped. We will make a midday meal stop and deliver you to the PBV campsite in the RAGBRAI start town by mid to late afternoon.
Usually, Pork Belly Ventures will have the same end-town location before RAGBRAI and after RAGBRAI. We can't promise, however, as group placement is up to our hosts.
Bike Transport on the East/West Shuttle
PORK BELLY VENTURES DOES NOT ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR DAMAGE TO BIKES THAT ARE NOT FULLY BOXED. If you box your bike, we will provide tools and assistance in the first host town. Our mechanics will help you get the bike out of the box and ready to ride.
Experience tells us that, in spite of our recommendation and because of limited car space, those of you on the East/West Shuttle will bring unboxed bikes for transport on our trucks. Consequently, our semis (the big 18-wheeler trailers) will be outfitted to hang unboxed bikes in rows. Each bike is hung by a wheel, with the opposite wheel secured to the truck floor by bungee cord.. STILL, take the precautions described below to protect your frame and components. In our Ryder or Penske trucks, we'll also have space for boxed bikes, tandems, recumbents, etc.
If for some reason fully boxing isn't possible for you, then here are some suggestions. At any hardware store, you can buy cheap pipe insulation to protect your frame's tubing. Tape it on the main triangle--top tube, down tube, and seat tube, forks, and chainstays. Cover your rear derailleur and other fragile components. Remove the computer or other accessories from your handlebars and frame.
Finally, if you take our advice and use pipe insulation or other packing material, plan to store it in your duffel. We can't store it loose on our trucks. All bike boxes should be flattened for weeklong storage. For those on our weeklong support, we will store hard-shell bike cases and flattened bike boxes (one per person), at no additional charge.