Pork Belly Update-Recent Questions and a Dose of Nonsense

February 19, 2023

Dear Friends,


We're hittin' the road. (No, we're not fleeing our jobs.) On Monday, we drive north to Sioux City for our first of several trips across Iowa. This week, we'll scout for the first time in 2023 and hang with our good friends who run RAGBRAI... and also our buddy Bob Brancel! We'll be looking at campsites (possibly snow-covered) and joining a series of meetings with our generous hosts in all eight of this year's overnight towns. In the evenings, we're in need of some heart-to-heart talks over a few beers. We might be slower on email Feb 20-23.


ABOVE: Last year in Pocahontas, we coffee-ed up with our scouting friends, including RAGBRAI leaders Anne Lawrie and Matt Phippen at the center.

That's Ryan Hansen, RAGBRAI Roadmaster, next to Pete on the left.

On the right, the effervescent Andrea Parrott (RAGBRAI social media),

and long-time charter operator Bob Brancel of Brancel Charters.

In the Meantime, Food for Thought

We'd like to give you something to chew on while we're away. Something instructive and informative, but, in the spirit of RAGBRAI, we need some foolishness, too. Which brings to mind...


Our Pork Glossary of Terms.

Decades ago, we wrote the glossary's first edition to help our newbies learn the lingo and prepare for the culture-shift (or culture-shock) that is RAGBRAI. Recently, we've been adding new terms and editing the older entries, and... voila! We're ready to roll out the most recent edition, highlighting our top 23 terms.


CAVEAT: Bear in mind that we may not be current on all things politically correct, and we've never had any objection to scurrilous humor.


We'll intersperse some timely topics that have come up recently, none of them urgent.


At the end of this update, we will share the #1 Personal Quality to Guarantee RAGBRAI Success!


Here goes....

Pork Glossary Term #1

Kybo, n. This common noun refers to the ubiquitous banks of porta-potties on RAGBRAI. An entire seminar could be given on the subject of kybos, but we will confine this treatment to a few main points. Approach the kybo door with caution. In fact, knock, even if the thingy says "Open," as people get in a hurry and forget to latch it, and opening an occupied kybo can be traumatic. Secondly, while inside the kybo, keep your eyes straight ahead and use your peripheral vision. Don't look down. Thirdly, be very careful about not placing money or phones in shirt pockets, or you may bend down and hear an awful plop. Finally, when departing from the kybo late at night, ease the plastic door shut so that the people in nearby tents can get twenty-five seconds of sleep.


["Kybo" may may have derived from a little-known acronym from the ride's early days: Keep Your Bowels Open.]

Pork Glossary Term #2

Stupidity, n. This term refers to a Pork Belly Ventures baggage trailer adorned with a much-loved RAGBRAI saying: “It’s not so much the Heat. It’s the Stupidity.” When you ask where to take your bags in the morning, and someone answers, “Stupidity,” please don’t take this personally.

Your "Details Form," Coming in April!

For many years, we have collected details in June, but we're rethinking everything this year. Since everybody wants to provide their preferred departure info (for pre-RAGBRAI shuttles) sooner rather than later, we're changing the June Form to your Details Form, coming to you for the first time in April.




Here is the info we will collect on the Details Form:

  • your official RAGBRAI entry number
  • the type of bike we will transport for you on a shuttle
  • for pre-RAGBRAI shuttles only, your anticipated arrival day and time, by car or by plane
  • your airline and flight number (for those who fly into Omaha)
  • your preferred departure (day and/or time) on your Omaha or E/W Shuttle
  • to a very limited extent, dietary restrictions (we'll explain this later)




It's important that we collect ALL of this information, some of which you won't have in April. You won't yet have your official RAGBRAI number. Airlines may change your flight arrival times between April and July. And who knows what else might change. (This is why we've always waited till June, but we'd like to give April a try.)


Please don't be surprised when we remind you of the need to login again, and again, and possibly again, to bring your Details Form up to date between April and July. We hope it's a small price to pay for choosing your preferred departure time in April rather than in June.



NEW Pork Glossary Term #3

Crushage n. pron. krush-ZHAZH. (Start with "corsage," but add a zhuzh.) This term refers to what happens when you're deprived of physical comfort for an extended period, and then you lie down on a massage table and maybe you even begin to weep. The line blurs between how you feel and who is making you feel it. You would not be the first to develop a Crushage on your therapist. Heck, you may even get a Crushage on the whole massage team, their enticing waft of patchouli oil and soothing Namaste vibe. Still, we expect you to control yourself and stay away until your next appointed time.

NEW Pork Glossary Term #4

Lie-In. v. Before RAGBRAI begins, we need to discard the term “sleep-in” and replace it with the term “lie-in.” Before dawn, riders are rustling, zippers are zipping, and even whispers carry to nearby tents. If you’re awakened, simply Lie-In. Flex your leaden limbs, or remain immobile for a while longer, mentally preparing with the common morning mantra “no way no way no way no way no way.” Soon you’ll be up and at ‘em.

Another Sell-Out:

Our E/W Shuttle

Yes, our E/W Shuttle sold out right after we published our update on Shuttle Availability. It's very full. We don't know if space will open up, and in fact, we are not very optimistic. But if you would like to be added to a waiting list, please write to kay@pkbelly.com, may God bless her.

NEW Pork Glossary Term #5

Wadding. v.  The cumulative effect of packing up the duffels every morning by 7:00 can bring on new behaviors, such as wadding. Wadding can begin as early as Tuesday. As it turns out, everything – clothing, tent flies, your airline ticket--will fit when wadded. The switch to wadding may afford the very tidy packer a lie-in of fifteen to twenty-three minutes. Other behaviors like “stuffing,” "cramming," “jamming,” and “punching down” may also develop later in the week. [For related terms, see "bag" and "cluster" below.]

Pork Glossary Term #6

Thingyn. A reference to a piece of Pork Equipment of one kind or another, i.e. "Let's roll the Thingy over by the teeter-totter." During the hottest part of the day, this term may refer to almost anything, i.e. "Oh crap, I left my thingy in that last pass-through town" or "Ow! Cramp in my thingy!"

Pork Glossary Term #7

RAGBRAI Cooladj. In terms of aesthetic appeal, things that are decidedly uncool in real life can suddenly become cool on RAGBRAI. Like the weedy area behind a shelled-out car dealership where kids have been lighting bonfires. You could mow that thing and bam! It’s a RAGBRAI-Cool campsite. Similarly, loin cloths and thongs. Not cool in real life, but you have to hand it to the guy riding across Iowa in a loin cloth or a thong. On second thought, no. 

Pork Glossary Term #8

RAGBRAI Clean, adj. This is a relative concept, relative to RAGBRAI, where conditions can be less than clean. When someone asks, "Is that cup clean?" and someone replies, "It's RAGBRAI clean," you can assume that you would probably survive drinking from that cup.

Pork Glossary Term #9

Blue Money n. This is currency---bills---that have have been stained by the blue chemical that is used in kybos, but their owner apparently has an unusually broad definition of the term "RAGBRAI Clean." The fabled Blue-Money Mike was perhaps the first to spend tainted currency on the ride. Some say that all week long, his arm was blue to the shoulder.

NEW Pork Glossary Term #10

RAGBRAI Photosis, n. You’ve heard of neurosis. In medical terminology, “RAGBRAI Photosis” is the irrational dread of missing an opportunity to snap photos of oneself alongside farm animals or regular people in Disney costumes. When you’re 20 miles into an 80-mile day at noon, stopping for a selfie with Ariel, Minnie Mouse, or even Captain Jack is a sure sign of acute RAGBRAI Photosis. It’s also a big red flag when your friends are throwing back cold ones while you’re kissing a miniature goat. However, so long as you stay steady on the bike, RAGBRAI Photosis is undeniably fun, and it usually subsides within hours of completing your ride.


[If the condition persists into August, consult a professional.]

Pork Glossary Term #11

Butt Butt'r n. A balm used on a warm, humid area of the physique that is particularly vulnerable to chafing and saddle sores. Believe it or not, you will carry on whole conversations, comparing Bag Balm, Chamois Butter, Zinc Oxide, and Desitin. (At least one of these is manufactured for use by animals.) Several brands are endorsed by our veterans. Don’t forget Lantiseptic, the recommendation of Big Sweaty Dave.

Pork Glossary Term #12

Saddle Contact Zone (SCZ)n. Where the shorts meet the saddle, or the warm and humid area referenced above.

Pork Glossary Term #13

Rumble Strip, n.  A bumpy strip of pavement, usually three consecutive strips, that announce an upcoming stop sign. Riding your bicycle over a rumble strip can be very hard on a tender SCZ and your body's loose, moving parts. If you are caught unawares by a rumble strip, stand in your pedals immediately. Clench your teeth to keep your lowers from banging your uppers, or open wide and say "AhAhAhAhAhAh" and listen to the bumpy sound your voice makes. Do not swerve mid-rumble. Pay attention to other riders and signal before swerving to avoid the next rumble strip. And the next rumble strip.

Pork Glossary Term #14

Bagn. Soft duffel or other suitably durable and zippable container, for carrying personal belongings on RAGBRAI. Strictly defined, a bag is whatever can be zipped inside the bag, not a bunch of stuff loosely associated with the bag, i.e. a soft duffel with a lawn chair strapped to it, a zipper that won’t quite zip over the wadded air mattress, and a wet towel looped through the handle. That is no longer defined as a bag. That is a cluster.

Pork Glossary Term #15

Cluster, n. See Pork Glossary Term #14. Clusters are strictly prohibited with Pork Belly Ventures. Getting loaded and unloaded causes them to come unclustered, which wreaks havoc on everyone, most of all, the cluster owner, whose stuff is strewn from Ames to Tama-Toledo. 

NEW Pork Glosssary Term #16

On-and-Gone, adj. An unbending PBV rule related to the daily loading of baggage. Each morning, as you bring your bags toward our Heavy Lifters at the baggage trailer-- nice guys who are ready to take your stuff off your hands and bury it deep in the belly of Stupidity-- PAUSE. Stop in your tracks and perform this mental body scan starting at the crown of your head. "Do I have helmet, sunglasses, contact lenses, medicine, sunscreen, gloves, wallet, cycling shoes? Have I left any essentials in these bags that are about to be on-and-gone?" When your scan is complete, and having answered "yes" and "no" to these questions, proceed to Stupidity, see your bags loaded, and have a great day!


[No retrieving any bag. Needles and haystacks come to mind. Once it's on, kids, it's gone.]

NEW Pork Glossary Term #17

SAG-Bragv. Say you take a day off the bike. Say it's a long one, and you nap in air-conditioned comfort on the coach. Then, say you find the best-ever coffee shop and, because you're so early in camp, you snag a delicious hour with the object of your Crushage.


You want to keep that stuff to yourself. A sag day can be the best thing since sliced bread, you bet. But be sensitive and avoid the impulse to SAG-Brag within hearing of those who rode 18 miles into a headwind today. Just saying.

NEW Pork Glossary Term #18

Halfway Dayn. Historical reference to Navy seamen on submarines, deployed for months at a stretch. Sometimes the seamen packed themselves a little parcel to save until they reached Halfway Day. Wednesday, your shortest cycling day, puts you on the downhill side. Of course, our Midweek Laundry Service happens on Wednesday, and sweet-smelling clothes can be a big morale boost. But why not wrap yourself a wee surprise and bury it deep in the duffle! A favorite snack? A cooling balm for the feet? A cheery letter from home? A few Absolut minis? Never too early to think about the contents of your Halfway-Day Parcel.


[Consider saving your parcel for when you may need it most, like late on that 82-mile Thursday.]

NEW Pork Glossary Term #19

O.B.D.P.P. or O.B.D.abbrev. "One Bad Day Per Person." When your pal begins to grouse about something as simple as a brief downpour or a sore bum, wrap an arm around his shoulders and ask, "Hey, buddy, might this be your OBD?" And if you suddenly find yourself a little blue about the wait times at the shuttle-bus stop, or if one day you're kinda downcast, missing your recliner or your zero-carb-cherry-vanilla soda, it may be a great relief to realize, "OMG, I am fine! I'm just having my OBD!"


Choose your day carefully. Everybody gets one.


[The term, One Bad Day, is deceptive, in that most OBDs don't last a whole day. In fact, they're usually over in less than 45 minutes. If your OBD lasts more than an hour, come to our Front Desk. We'll nip it in the bud.]

NEW Pork Glossary Term #20

False Duffalarmn. Picture this. Several friends do a kindness for their buddy who's still on the road. They pluck his bags from the Stupidity pile and set up his tent. How sweet. Unwitting, the lucky friend arrives and wanders up and down the pile, eventually enlisting our crew in a fruitless False Duffalarm. "My duffles are missing, both of them and I've been up and down this thing three times!" Our veteran crew members are skilled at detection, but the False Duffalarm can tax the innocent, unwitting friend and/or one of our virgin crew members, prematurely throwing either or both right into their OBD. By talking to your team members, texting perhaps, you have the ability to prevent the False Duffalarm and ward off a rare syndrome that we call "Critical Ass."

NEW Pork Glossary Term #21

Critical Ass. n. Here, the word “ass” is used in the classical, Shakespearean sense, denoting one who reaches critical mass much more quickly than normal.  Something as mundane as an endless and regular series of cracks in the pavement, for instance, irritating for any rider, can cause the Critical Ass to dismount and shout expletives at his phone while trying to call an Uber from a dead zone in backwater Iowa. 


(Anatomically speaking, often it is the ass, or the pain in the ass, that pushes the Critical Ass past his breaking point, ironically causing pain in many other asses.)

Hang in there.

We have reached the Pork Glossary denouement.

Pork Glossary Term #22

Shift Happens. A brief sentence that encompasses how life can just be that way sometimes on RAGBRAI, so you have to suck it up and stick it out. You know, like maybe it rains or something. Whether you are climbing a literal hill or a metaphorical one, it's best to just downshift (literally or metaphorically) and roll with it.

Pork Glossary Term #23

Live Like a Pig. This is an important PBV team slogan that encourages our riders 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."

That's our new edition, friends, and we hope you've gleaned some insights from these terms. In future updates, we will continue to orient you newbies to RAGBRAI culture, where the best stories come from what didn't go according to plan, where potty-body humor is still a thing among otherwise mature adults, and where equilibrium is more precious than gold.

Perhaps by now you have noticed a theme and have already figured out the #1 Quality that will guarantee RAGBRAI success. Diligence in training? Very important quality, yes, but not #1. Packing like an Eagle Scout? Sure, careful packing and planning are very important and contribute to a successful RAGBRAI.


THE NUMBER-ONE QUALITY that will guarantee your success on RAGBRAI is the propensity to laugh at human foibles in general, to shrug stuff off and get a kick out of yourself, to find the humor in this absurd miracle, thousands of people from everywhere and all walks of life, spending an entire week together, passing the corn in Iowa. As July steadily approaches, may we all keep learning how to roll with it and live like pigs.


This may or may not come naturally, but with practice, you can acquire a little more of this quality every day. Come July, you'll have an excellent chance of loving every single minute of your Week in the Corn.

We'll be back in touch soon, and until then we remain,


Your friends,

Tammy and Pete  

Pork Belly Ventures LLC 

Tammy: 808-375-8921 c, tammy@pkbelly.com

Pete: 402-681-2613 c, pete@pkbelly.com