Pork Belly Update #3---Riding Bikes Has Not Been Cancelled.

March 17, 2020

Dear Porkers,

Aren't we lucky that riding bicycles has not been cancelled?

You will have to keep your distance from fellow cyclists and trail users, but you can still let a bike ride blow your hair back. Sure, some of our favorite activities are curtailed right now, but let's not lose heart. If life is strangely quiet in some ways, remember how many times you have longed for a little space on your calendar.

In short, let's look for the good in this, because like everything, it's temporary. Wherever you are, we hope your weather allows you to get out there for a walk, a hike, or a pedal.

In this update, we'll address the elephant in the room and share a little bit of normalcy from Pork World Headquarters. Here goes...

Keeping It Real.

Keeping the Faith.

Regarding the coronavirus and how it will affect RAGBRAI, there really isn't much to tell yet, Porkers. This is new territory for all of us. Though absolutely nobody has pressured us for explanations during this strange time, we want to tell you that...

  1. we are still preparing enthusiastically for RAGBRAI 2020 as you'll see below,
  2. and in fact, Pete and Mick are on the road now, visiting the first four RAGBRAI overnight towns to help with a walk-through of 2020 campsites, and
  3. they'll be out again next week, visiting the last four overnight towns of Our Week in the Corn, and
  4. we're hopeful that the more optimistic statements we're hearing in the news end up being the story we tell when all this is over.

Though we aren't on the downhill side of this yet, we are hopeful that our fellow citizens and our medical communities are doing what is necessary to shorten this crisis.

While we hear of events being cancelled in March and April, even in May, we hope that an outdoor bike ride at the end of July can go on as planned.

And in response to this situation and to take the pressure off of RAGBRAI-hopefuls like us, RAGBRAI has extended their registration and refund deadline from April 1 to June 1. You can read their statement from last Thursday right here:

RAGBRAI Statement Extending Deadline

BELOW: That's Pete, walking a potential PBV 2020 campsite back in February.

From The Pork Belly Mailbox...

When you watch the news, you can feel a little blue, can't you. Opening our mail, on the other hand, is a real upper. So we'll share a few letters we've gotten in the past couple of days.

From Jyoti:

"Hey there, Hope you guys are doing well with all this social distancing! Pardon my naïveté - I have never done RAGBRAI, and my friend and I are hoping to do it this year for the first time.... "

From Leah:

"Hi Pete & Tammy, Nope, I am not emailing to ask about the virus. I am simply letting you know who is coming to RAGBRAI with me this year...."

[That's Leah on the right.]

From Gaines:

"Tammy, Frank suggested I send this photo from our trip to Montana. Frank had his PBV jersey on that day, and we were riding just outside Red Lodge. All three of us will be back in Iowa this year and are looking so forward to being there."

[That's Frank, Mike, and Gaines above. Gorgeous view!]

From Roger:

"Hello Tammy, I recently discovered that your emails have been going to my spam.... I, along with my 9 other fellow Arizona riders, sincerely hope this virus thing subsides and does not create problems for RAGBRAI!"

From David:

"Occasionally someone will ask what my Pork Belly shirt is about, so I tell them all about the ride, the corn, and how easy you folks make it."

[That's David, out on the ocean, in his Pork shirt.]

Thanks so much to everyone who has sent us a photo or written a note. We appreciate it. Keep 'em coming! All the while, we're having some tougher conversations too, trying to imagine different scenarios, and visiting with RAGBRAI and our fellow charters. It's only March, and like everyone, we're paying attention to the news, but we don't have conclusions now about the effect of the coronavirus crisis on RAGBRAI or Pork Belly Ventures. When we do, we promise to share them with you.

ABOVE: Dillon working on top of our new shower trailer on a cold winter's day. This was the very beginning of the project.

BELOW: Dillon again, taking a little breather on the scaffold.

ABOVE: Our late February visit to Anamosa, before social distancing was a thing. After the meeting, we got a quick snap with our friends there. That's Leanna, Tammy, Anne, Pete (doing the rabbit ears), Betty, Bob Brancel, and Dieter. We realized that we'd had coffee in Betty's little shop the last time RAGBRAI went through Anamosa. Iowa's a friendly state, and RAGBRAI is a small world.

In the meantime, we're busy. We've been out visiting the overnight towns, and along with Bob Brancel, we prepared and gave a slide presentation all about assigning campgrounds for the March 5th overnight town meeting in Des Moines. Also, with our year-round crew, we've met a few times about our 2020 goals--among other things, we're fleshing out a health and safety thread. And, oh yeah, we're building a new shower trailer with 20 stalls.

ABOVE: That's Dave on the left and Bob (lead builder) on the right, starting work on the new shower trailer. George took most of these photos. He prefers to be behind the camera. Thank you, George.

ABOVE: Dave on a sunny day, out at Pork World HQ, getting ready to paint.

LEFT: Spraying the inside of the trailer, before stalls go in.

BELOW: That's Pete behind the mask.

RIGHT: Taking a little break after the painting was done.

LEFT: Dieter Drake, addressing the campground representatives at the overnight town meeting on the 5th.

BELOW: Anne and me, chatting before the campground break-out session on the 5th.

ABOVE and BELOW: More shots of the big overnight town meeting in Des Moines.

ABOVE: Dillon and Pete, out at Pork World HQ, talking about the areas we need to focus on this year.

We were half-way through our goals meeting, when 20 shower stalls arrived on a trailer. So we took a break to load them into one of our own trailers. Didn't take long.

RIGHT: Dave, Pete, and George, helping the delivery guy back up to our trailer. (All I did was shiver and snap photos.)

ABOVE and BELOW: For any newbies who are reading this, Pass The Corn is a trailer the guys have outfitted for hanging bikes--that's what those hooks near the ceiling are for. But on this day, we just needed to store our shower stalls.

BELOW: A lot of you rode this road on the first day of RAGBRAI 2020, when the ride went past our workplace on the edge of Minden, Iowa. We love this view. Won't be long before it's green again!

So that's pretty much where we are right now, building and planning for RAGBRAI 2020, and listening for good news about our nation's health and safety. We know you're in the same situation, and for those whose jobs and families have been affected, we understand, and we're thinking of you.

As they say, "What are you gonna do?" How about we keep doing our best, and check in with each other from time to time? We'll be back in touch soon.

RIGHT: That's Mick with photographer Pete, today, after they'd visited two RAGBRAI overnight towns. Too late in their day, I requested a photo. Well, it IS St. Patrick's Day!

Take care of yourselves and your families, friends. Let's all be part of the solution and try not let the problem get us down. Take yourself on a bike ride, think ahead to the corn, and until next time, we remain...


Your friends,

Tammy and Pete