Pork Belly Update #2---The Good Word in February

February 25, 2020


  • Expanding Your Vocabulary
  • On the Road Again--PBV and RAGBRAI Officials Visit the 2020 Overnight Towns
  • The Frequent 2020 Q's & A's of February
  • Our Featured Ride, BRAN a seven-day classic bike tour across Nebraska, June 7 to June 13. Here is a long-standing Midwestern ride supported by Pork Belly Ventures. Check it out below and at BRAN.org!
  • PBV Photos from our mailbox, and Words to Live By

Dear Porkers,

We write these updates to give you all the good word on RAGBRAI--and we'll do that. But, first, a little something about words and how they're always changing.

"Word," for example, used to be defined as an element of speech. The new version of "word" is a remark or an exclamation that is translated, "I agree" or "How True!" or "Baby, you just said a mouthful there." So if you told us that RAGBRAI is the gnarliest thing you've ever done, we might reply in agreement, "Word." (Well, we probably wouldn't, but somebody might.)

Also consider "dope." This noun always had a somewhat negative connotation, right? (See every episode of Law and Order.) Now, though, dope is a very positive adjective: "Check out my dope recliner." This doesn't have anything to do with what goes on in the recliner. No. It just means that you're bragging up your very comfortable or very attractive easy chair.

ABOVE: The Heavy Lifters of Pork Belly Ventures load bags, not clusters. What's the difference? You'll find it in our Glossary of Pork Terms.

While we're on the topic of language, let's talk about ours. You veterans already speak it, but newbies, here's your link to

T he Glossary of Pork Terms .

Words like "kybo," "cluster," stupidity," "rumble strip": you need to know the RAGBRAI-relevant definitions of these words. Do you know how to protect your SCZ? Did you know that you have an SCZ? Well, everybody has one, and by clicking the link above, you'll learn a couple ways to protect yours. A lot of dope information here, Porkers, about RAGBRAI and PBV. Read and learn.

This update is full of good news, good vibes, good info. As you read on, why, we hope you'll find yourself murmuring, "Word. Word. Oh, yeah, Word!"


On the Road Again

We love the new logo and the 2020 theme of RAGBRAI: On the Road Again. In fact, we just had to buy a couple t-shirts.

By the way, we are spending this week on the road, along with our RAGBRAI friends, Dieter Drake and Anne Lawrie, visiting the 2020 overnight towns. This is a first for us, to be invited out in February along with RAGBRAI as they discuss the campground needs of the biggest bike ride in the world. We have two days under our belts and two to go. We are most impressed with the rapport that Dieter has already built with the volunteers in these towns, and with the upbeat and enthusiastic way they are preparing to host their night of RAGBRAI.

ABOVE: On Monday, we met with a big group in LeMars, and walked the fairgrounds and other campsites. What a great bunch of volunteers.


LEFT: From the top of the bleachers, we could survey the whole fairgrounds.


BELOW: After walking campsites in the cold, we gladly gathered in this warm conference room. Dieter broke us into task groups. Pete and I were part of the campgrounds task group, discussing the available sites and how to go about assigning groups to appropriate sites.


LEFT: One of many lovely campsites in LeMars, our 2020 start town.


BELOW: The happiest man on earth, the RAGBRAI Host Committee chairperson of Iowa Falls, Jeff. At sunset, he was still filled with positive energy. He snapped these photos at the beautiful pedestrian bridge over the Iowa River.


LEFT: Anne and Dieter, working over coffee during a break this afternoon


BELOW: Touring Fort Dodge with members of the community

ABOVE: Our community meeting in Iowa Falls--it was lively! Jeff runs a great meeting. These folks are eager to welcome us to their beautiful community on the banks of the Iowa River.


BELOW: Dieter, Pete, and Anne, getting ready to tour the campsites of Fort Dodge. It was cold, but we had a great day today!

Frequent Q's and A's

for February


Sometimes people ask a unique question, and we write back or give them a call. But when we get a few emails and phone calls from folks asking the same questions, we also pop the answers into an update. So here are the Frequent Q's and A's for February...

Can I Bring My Own Tent with PBV?

You bet, and more than half of our Porkers do that (while the other half rent our tents and use our tent service). For those who bring their own tents, we'll transport two bags per person for you and we'll have plenty of camping space for everyone. You just need to sign up for the Weeklong Support of PBV in order to camp with us. This entitles you to Live the Pork Dream---drink the coffee, take your hot and private shower, charge your phone, kick back in the shade, belly up for dinner, groove to the music on stage, book a massage, and much more.


That said, our tent service is optional and available. It's a good choice for those who want somebody else to do the set-up, take-down, and move bags throughout the week.


BELOW: The rental tents of Pork Belly Ventures.

What If I Need to Refrigerate a Medication during RAGBRAI?

No problem. We refrigerate medications on the Roll With It trailer--the same spot as our Front Desk. Make your package as small as possible and label it clearly with your name. We'll provide more info, hours of availability, etc. in our June Letter.


How Can I Be Sure I'm Up to Speed on RAGBRAI and PBV?

Well, if you're getting this update, you're in the loop. If your friends want to be in the loop, write to tammy@pkbelly.com. I'll be more than happy to add friends to our email list.


If anyone didn't get the 2020 Invitation Letter, it's right here. This is the best place to find our list of services and prices and descriptions/photos of our charter:


Pork Belly Ventures 2020 Invitation


If you didn't get Update #1 with all of the Details and Departure Times of all PBV Shuttles, here it is:


Pork Belly Update #1


Perhaps your best opportunity to get all of the step-by-step instructions, all the addresses of our campsites, almost every detail about spending your week with Pork Belly Ventures... that's the 2020 June Letter. Sometime in mid to late June, we'll publish it to you. By all means, ask your questions now, but rest assured that we'll send you a travel guidebook for PBV, Your June Letter.

What about the Pork Belly Mobile APP?

This is an excellent way to be in the PBV Loop, and it's getting better all the time.


About 6000 people use our app for RAGBRAI. Obviously many more people use our app than actually spend the week with us! Why? you may ask. Well, we think it's because the Pork Belly app is very robust, providing heaps of information before and during RAGBRAI, including RAGBRAI route maps, Pork Belly Host-Town Maps, an archive of all the Pork Belly Updates of the Season, and much more. The app is everything in one spot, right on your phone.


We're hard at work to make our app ever-more-useful to you. We're creating all new Pork Crew Profiles, and we're beefing up the Campground Orientation part of the app. We plan to make it easier for you to access your PBV application via the app. PLUS we're working to make it more interactive, so that you can weigh in on RAGBRAI topics. So get the app now--It's FREE. Watch for some roll-outs in the coming months.


Can I Bring a Tablet or Laptop with PBV?

Can I Charge These Devices with PBV?

Sure--and we have charging compartments on the black charging trailer that will accommodate larger devices like tablets and laptops. The white charging trailer is more for phones (smaller compartments). Both trailers will be together in Pork Camp, plugged into a smooth-flow generator. You can charge overnight too, and the trailers are locked from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m.


When Will I Learn More about Bike-Shipping to and from RAGBRAI?

Next month, we'll have the sendmybike.com website ready for you, and we'll publish an update with everything you need to know about bike shipping. You don't have to be with Pork Belly Ventures during the week to use our bike-shipping service to and from RAGBRAI.

ABOVE: photo taken on board the black charging trailer, with wider charging compartments for tablets and laptops


In the end town of Clinton, what are the locations of long-term parking and indoor sleeping? Where will Pork Belly Ventures be loading bikes and boarding buses for the E/W Shuttle to LeMars? Hang on for this information, friends, as the volunteers in Clinton are making their plans now. Be assured that as soon as we know it, you'll know it!

Will Traci Be Back to Lead Pork Yoga in Camp?

Oh yes. More to come in future updates.

Who's Playing on Stage?

We've been getting some questions about favorite musicians, but we're still working out who will be playing in Pork Camp on which nights. We can tell you that we'll have seven nights of music and that we've engaged an awesome new band for Sunday night in Storm Lake! We're working on the best combination of old favorites and exciting new musicians. Stay tuned (pun intended).

What Is the Deadline for Paying My Balance with PBV?

Not until May 15th, and we can even be flexible about that date. So just secure your services with a 10% deposit, and you have until May 15th or later to settle up.

How Are Things at RAGBRAI, Really?

Imagine... we're chatting away on the phone about shuttles or tents or funny RAGBRAI stories, but toward the end of the conversation, our caller will grow serious: "So about the staff change last fall... Is everything really okay with RAGBRAI now?" Even after signing up to ride, some folks ask us if the numbers will be way off, if the Iowa Highway Patrol will serve the ride, if the new staff is up to speed. Will RAGBRAI still be that iconic ride, the oldest and biggest and corniest in the whole wide world?


Yes, it will.


There's always an ebb and flow to registrations, but for the first time, RAGBRAI officials are giving us real numbers. As February winds down, they're right on track for a normal RAGBRAI.


Some folks have expressed the concern that ridership will be split half-and-half between RAGBRAI and the new weeklong ride. Not even close. While RAGBRAI will be the same as ever, the new event is likely to be under a thousand riders, according to public statements. These will be very different experiences.


Way back in the fall, the Iowa Highway Patrol announced that, as ever, they will continue to support RAGBRAI. And having spent this time on the road with the RAGBRAI director, we can tell you that the level of organization, preparation, and focus is quite possibly better than it's ever been.


All is well, friends, with our soon-to-be-48-year Iowa tradition. RAGBRAI rolls on, and we hope you're rolling with it.

How Are Things at Pork Belly Ventures in 2020?

It's exciting around here. We have set some ambitious goals for ourselves--some of which are detailed in the Invitation Letter of 2020. Dillon, our newest year-round guy, started his full-time gig on January 1. He brings a lot to the table and expands the capacity of our charter. Dave, George, Dillon, Tammy, and Pete are responsible for the goals of PBV. With the additional help and expertise of Bob and Mick, we're building some major pieces of equipment for RAGBRAI 2020, including our fifth shower trailer. This is a significant investment which will add 20 more stalls for a new total of 87. We thank Bob, especially, who is the lead on all of our builds. All our guys work very hard in the off-season, and we're more grateful than we can say.

What Is the Cancellation Policy of Pork Belly Ventures for RAGBRAI?

Nobody asked this question, because the answer is all over the invitation letter and our website--and it's also included in the confirmation emails that registered Porkers receive when they sign up with us. But we publish our policy several times throughout the season. No fine print with PBV. Here it is again...


"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 (10% is non-refundable). You can drop services or cancel entirely by phone or 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 at least six email updates prior to the deadline of June 15th: on or after the 15th of June, we will make no refund."


For More on Cancellation, including the Cancellation Protection of PBV, please click here:


Cancellation Policy and Protection

Final Topic... Most of you know that PBV offers various luxury support services on many rides throughout the year. You are receiving this update due to your interest in RAGBRAI, but within our RAGBRAI updates of 2020, we'll be sharing the good word on other rides we support, one at a time. This time, here's a little something about the 40th Annual Bicycle Ride Across Nebraska...

B R A N:

The 40th Year!

On Scouting BRAN: “Yesterday, I went out to Shelby, Nebraska, with our BRAN friends. After meeting the mayor and checking the campsite location, we went to a restaurant downtown, where there were 50-plus people gathered. I thought there was something else going on at the restaurant, but it turned out that everyone had come to discuss the plans for BRAN coming to town. It was very impressive, and I was glad to be included. These small towns come together and have a great sense of community. This will be a great overnight stay.”


--Dave Kennedy, Pork Belly Ventures


We at Pork Belly Ventures are proud to be part of

this landmark year for the Bike Ride Across Nebraska.

To All the Volunteers of BRAN,

Congratulations on your 40th anniversary ride.

BRAN riders tuck in at a small-town cafe, ABOVE, and enjoy their two-wheeled odyssey across the Cornhusker State. BRAN follows scenic byways and visits small towns in Nebraska.

A Few Facts about BRAN from volunteer, Lee Lazure...

The 2020 BRAN will be 441 miles long starting at Hemingford, Nebraska near the western part of the state. We progress through the Sandhills Scenic Byway and end at Wahoo in the eastern part of the state.

The ride begins on Sunday, June 7th at Hemingford and has overnights in the towns of Hyannis, Thedford, Callaway, Ord, St. Edward, Shelby and ends on Saturday, June 13th at Wahoo.

We are targeting for 450-475 riders and will have a gravel ride as a part of the regular ride on the shoulders of Highway 2, which is one of the top 10 scenic by-ways in the United States.

Riders have options: a 3-day, 4-day or the traditional 7-day ride.

Last year we had three riders who have ridden in the Trans Am Bike Race (TABR) and we typically have riders from across the country do BRAN.

BRAN is a " Bicycle Ride by Bicyclists, for Bicyclists" and is a non-profit organization with proceeds going to scholarships for high school students from the host towns to attend Nebraska colleges, universities and post secondary education programs.

BRAN riders not only enjoy the scenic countryside of the state, but they meet and interact with some wonderful people from the rural communities within the state.

A discounted Pre-Registration ends on Monday, April 1st and registration for BRAN is open until May 22nd.

CLICK HERE for more on BRAN!

Pork Belly Ventures Services on BRAN:

Dave and the PBV Crew will brew coffee for all BRAN riders every morning, and they'll operate our hot, private showers for everybody on BRAN.

The Tent Service of PBV is available on BRAN--including the set-up and take-down of your rental tent, moving your baggage throughout the week, plus a shady social zone for our tent-renters and a place to charge your phone.

The Air-Conditioned PHAT Rooms of PBV will also be available to BRAN riders--these rooms are a real game-changer. With mattresses, linens, and pillows provided, you don't have to bring any camping gear. The knotty pine interiors are pleasant and rustic, and you'll find switched lights at the head of every bunk. Charge your phone right next to your bed. Did we mention you don't have to pack your bags until the end of BRAN?

Click on the link below and select BRAN 2020 to sign up for the services of PBV on the Bike Ride Across Nebraska:


Pork Belly Events Page: Choose BRAN 2020

That's it for this one. Thanks for reading Update #2 of the 2020 season. We'll be writing to you sometime next month, of course, but remember to watch for the detailed RAGBRAI route maps, coming out in mid-March. RAGBRAI releases one map a day for a week. This year's maps will be redesigned for 2020--but they'll look something like this one ABOVE, from last year.


Wherever you are, Porkers, we hope you're starting to thaw out. Between the cold snaps, we can smell the spring. We'll be back in touch with you soon, and until then, we remain...


Your friends,

Tammy and Pete

From the Pork Belly Mailbox...

ABOVE: Mike and Frank manned a "hydration" station on a gravel ride in Mississippi. Nothing like a snort to keep you rolling.


BELOW: Jose and his daughter, training for RAGBRAI in Panama. Oh how beautiful!

Here's one excerpt from the Glossary of Pork Terms, words to live by:


LIVE LIKE A PIG: A PBV team slogan that encourages Porkers to be content with their circumstances, Think Gravy, find joy in the moment, regardless of sweat and other minor discomforts, acknowledge that shift happens, and roll with it. It is not uncommon to hear virtuous Porkers praised in hushed tones: "Wow. The guy really knows how to Live Like a Pig."