2022 Invitation Letter

 

 
January 28, 2022
 
Dear Porkers,
Seems like yesterday that we up and decided to make our first bicycle pilgrimage across Iowa. That was the 12th annual RAGBRAI, which subsequently transformed all the summers of our lives! We rode RAGBRAI for a decade, and we've operated Pork Belly Ventures for nearly three. Since 1984, with the exception of 2020, we have never missed the best week of the year.
 
We and our large, strong, happy crew are eager to provide you with comforts and conveniences during your time in camp as you make your own pilgrimage across our home state. Much more about PBV, our infrastructure, our crew, and our services below!
 
 
The route is out,
and our 2022 planning begins!
 
Are you with us?
 
Please accept our cordial invitation to
Join Pork Belly Ventures
for the 49th
Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa!
 
Finding What You Need Here...
We hope this letter will be pretty comprehensive in describing our services and policies. It's long and we want to help you navigate it. The more urgent stuff is up front, and here's a loose Table of Contents:
 
  1. SECTION 1: The Latest Info: Dates, Route, and PBV Services/Prices 
  2. SECTION 2: How to Register with PBV and with RAGBRAI (Use a group name if you're with a group of friends or family!) 
  3. SECTION 3: Bike Shipping, Air Transportation, Hotels, Parking
  4. SECTION 4. Other Important Questions  
 
Nobody needs this entire letter. If you're not on the Des Moines shuttle, for instance, skip that part. Hang onto this letter for reference, and feel free to share it with friends.
 
If you've already asked your questions and know your plans, you may sign up for our services today. You'll find our online application at www.pkbelly.com. Newbies, click the RAGBRAI column, then click "Register." Write to us if you've forgotten your login credentials. We'll get back to you ASAP.
 
More to Come Soon on Shuttles and Departure Times: As we always say, please don't make airline reservations till you know when your PBV shuttle departs/arrives! Very soon, we will do what we always do--send you an update that is entirely about our shuttles. This update will provide the point from which our shuttles originate, details about catching our shuttles, lengths of the trips, and importantly departure times. It will include shuttles prior to RAGBRAI, after RAGBRAI, and on the Tuesday of RAGBRAI. We can tell you now that on our most popular airport shuttle from Omaha to the start of RAGBRAI, the last departure of the day will be at 4:00 pm on Saturday, July 23.
 
Please keep reading below for all the fun stuff and the nitty-gritty details, and contact us if you have trouble visualizing anything. We're here to help you lose those winter blahs and start rolling toward the last full week in July!
 
Until next time, Porkers, we remain,
 
Your friends,
 
Tammy and Pete
 
T: 712-328-0161 h, 808-375-8921 c, tammy@pkbelly.com
 
P: 402-681-2613 c, pete@pkbelly.com
 
SECTION 1
THE LATEST INFO:
DATES, ROUTE, and
the SERVICES and PRICES
of PORK BELLY VENTURES
on RAGBRAI in 2022
 
 
The 2022 Ride Dates!  The ride begins before dawn on Sunday, July 24th, and ends on Saturday, July 30th. That means that we'll meet up with most of you on Saturday, the 23rd, 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 22nd, 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 22nd. We have included details on these options in the FAQs below.
 
This Year's Routes and Overnight Towns! We have scored another northern route through friendly small-town Iowa. This route is 430 miles total. Here are the overnight towns, but we can't find a publication of the daily mileage just yet, friends! We'll be watching for that info. The century day (optional century loop) is on Day 4 from Emmetsburg to Mason City. Here's what we know...
 
7/24, Sergeant Bluff to Ida Grove, ?? miles on Sunday
7/25, Ida Grove to Pocahontas, ?? miles on Monday
7/26, Pocahontas to Emmetsburg , ?? miles on Tuesday
7/27, Emmetsburg to Mason City , ?? miles on Wednesday
7/28, Mason City to Charles City, ?? miles on Thursday
7/29, Charles City to West Union, ?? miles on Friday
7/30, West Union to Lansing, ?? miles on your final Saturday.
 
You can find more about our 2022 RAGBRAI route from
the Des Moines Register/RAGBRAI site right here:
 
Pork Belly Ventures
SERVICES AND PRICES   
 
Here is our menu of services, mainly in chronological order. Scroll for our round-trip Des Moines Shuttle and Half Hog Shuttles, and keep scrolling for the full description of what is included in our support and more detail about our comprehensive services.
 
Our services are available on an ala carte basis. You may use shuttles only or Weeklong Support only; however, 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.
 
East/West Shuttle, End to Start
Friday Afternoon or Saturday Morning
$175 per person
If you plan to park your car in the end town prior to RAGBRAI, we'll meet you there either on Friday afternoon (the 22nd) or early on Saturday (the 23rd) and transport you, your baggage, and your bike to the start town.
 
Bus from Omaha Airport to the Start Town
Most popular airport shuttle, operates throughout the day until 4:00 on Saturday
$81 per person
On Saturday, the 23rd, 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.)
 
Weeklong Support for Rider
$449 per person for the full week
While you bicycle each day, we will transport your baggage across Iowa, 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.
 
Weeklong Support for Non-Riders is available for $574 per person, and please contact us for a visit about your week.
 
Partial Week with Pork Belly Ventures is $75 per person per day. Consecutive days only.
 
Child Price for Weeklong Support is $250 per child for kids under 13 years of age, and they must be accompanied by an adult, of course.
 
Return Bus to Omaha is $189 per person. On Saturday, the 30th, 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.
 
Shuttle to International Airport Near End-Town is $140 per person. On Saturday, the 30th, 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 in Moline, IL. We will soon publish our afternoon departure times. Please stand by for our next update on shuttle details and departure times.
 
NEW! Shuttle to Regional Airport from End-Town to LaCrosse, WI is $60 per person. On Saturday, the 30th, we'll transport you and your baggage (let us know if you'll have a bike) from the end town to the LaCrosse Regional Airport in LaCrosse, WI, about 35 miles from Lansing. We will soon publish our afternoon departure times. Please stand by for our next update on shuttle details and departure times.
 
Optional Tent Rental and Daily Set-up
$515 per tent - price is the same for one or two tent occupants.
See fuller description and details below. Available only to those on our Weeklong Support.
 
Add $100 for a third tent occupant (We don't recommend this tent for three people unless one or more people are children.)
 
Because of high demand, we cannot pro-rate the rental tent service.
 
Round-trip Des Moines Bus Transportation
Des Moines to the start town on Sat, 7/23, is $160 per person.
End town to Des Moines on Sat, 7/30, is $170 per person.
The round trip Des Moines bus service is $330.
 
We'll depart from and return to the AmericInn Airport Hotel very near the Des Moines airport.
 
Tuesday Half-Hog Shuttle exit on Tuesday afternoon$111 per person, from our campsite in Emmetsburg to a Des Moines airport hotel. This shuttle is for those who ride the first three days, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. We'll publish complete details in our next update.
 
Tuesday Half-Hog Shuttle enter on Tuesday afternoon$110 per person, from a Des Moines airport hotel to our campsite in Emmetsburg. This shuttle is for those who enter the ride late and cycle Wednesday through Saturday. We'll publish complete details in our next update.
 
NEW! Wednesday Half-Hog Shuttle exit on Wednesday afternoon$111 per person, from our campsite in Mason City to a Des Moines airport hotel. This shuttle is for those who ride the first four days, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. We'll publish complete details in our next update.
 
PLEASE WAIT TO MAKE YOUR AIRLINE RESERVATIONS!
 
REMEMBER WHICH AIRPORTS WE SERVE
BEFORE AND AFTER RAGBRAI!
(Not Sioux Falls or Sioux City)
 
NEXT WEEK, WE WILL PUBLISH A NEW UPDATE
WITH COMPLETE DETAIL AND
PROJECTED DEPARTURE TIMES FOR ALL SHUTTLES.
 
EXTRAS!
Add-on Services of PBV
 
These extras cannot be reserved on your application, friends. We'll let you know later in the season how to reserve and pay for them.
Midweek Laundry Service (described fully below) allows you to bring fewer clothes and save some duffel bag space! $25 per load
 
SAG Service on Our Motor Coach--taking a full day of the bike, which involves hanging your bike on a trailer and claiming your seat on our luxury coach for a lift from one campsite to the next: $30 per day
 
Massage Therapy--$40 for 30 minutes (or choose longer or shorter appointments) with payment directly to your therapist. We'll be in touch when you can begin making massage appointments. We'll have 10 therapists working in camp from about 1:00 to 10:00 p.m.
 
Optional Suppers in Camp--$12 per supper. You'll be able to see our menus, the length of your cycling day, and who's entertaining us on Pork Stage before we ask you to choose your optional suppers in camp!
 
Indoor Sleeping when we can arrange it in air-conditioned facilities on site or nearby, $20 per night, which is your donation to the host facility, usually a church, school, YMCA, lodge, or anyplace with space for rolling out your bedrolls!
 
Here is what we include in
PBV's Weeklong Support. 
 
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. Here's the list.
 
Spacious RESERVED PBV Campsites
AND
Transport of two bags per person from host town to host town (RAGBRAI's baggage transport allows one bag per person)
Hot and Private
Showers Daily
You'll find endless hot water, liquid soap dispensers, and fresh towels on our air-conditioned shower trailers right in camp. Pork Belly Ventures offers a minimum of 61 stalls in Pork Camp, 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. We clean showers stalls after every use.
 
 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. Hand-sanitizing stations, too.
 
Our Royal Flush, the restroom trailer built by our PBV crew is more pleasant than kybos, and well-lit at night. It offers actual porcelain flushing toilets and urinals, sinks and soap-dispensers, mirrors, ventilation fans, and lighting.
 
 
Three 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.
(We will also offer three optional dinners in camp.)
 
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 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. At check-in, claim your team shirt for 2022.
 
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.
Our Friendly Front Desk Crew to Direct and Help! Can't find something? Come to the Front Desk alongside the Roll-with-It trailer. We're here to help!
 
Campsite Orientation Board (COB) We move every day, and getting oriented to camp is a daily thing! There's no need to stand in line to ask where our equipment is located each day in each new site. This board is always located at one end of our Front Desk trailer. Big Google Maps of each campsite are fixed on a metal display board, so that moveable magnetic pieces can 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 your 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.
 
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, paid to your therapist)
 
 
Daily Pork Yoga
We offer 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
Give us your dirty duds on Tuesday. We'll give them back to you Wednesday, fresh and folded.
 
This service is optional, for an extra charge of $25.
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.
 
Sometimes we work with for-profit food vendors, and sometimes non-profit, like the youth swim team above and the youth baseball team below. But it's important to note that 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 try to arrange indoor sleeping in a church, school, YMCA, or other facility on as many nights of RAGBRAI as possible. It's $20 per night to sleep inside, a donation to benefit both our hosts and our riders. In 2019, we really lucked out, with five nights of indoor sleeping. in 2021, we could offer indoor sleeping at a recreational center and a college dorm one one night and at a middle school on a second night. We'll see how we fare this year!
 
ABOVE RIGHT: A few years back, we offered indoor sleeping at an air-conditioned learning center in a nature area next to our campsite. These folks were sleeping before the sun went down.
 
Water Thingy
This thingy has been rebuilt many times over the years. It's our first-ever 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 all day, all night, and 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), storage is 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 $30 per use.
 
 
A few of our 110 RAGBRAI crew!
Our big friendly, able-bodied, can-do crew numbered 110 last year (not including bike mechanics or massage therapists). Some of them you'll see every day, and others work behind the scenes. All are here to help, comfort, and revive you.
 
RIGHT: You can count on our crew for some fun, too!
 
Other Needs: If you don't know who to ask, start at the front desk. There, we have band aids, a hammer for your stakes, a ziplock bag, just about whatever you need--AND we can find answers for you.
 
Regular 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.
 
PBV Locations Card Our laminated card with campsite locations in each overnight town. You can zip-tie it to your handlebars!
 
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. More on the App below. It's FREE--get it now at your App Store.
 
Bike-shipping to and from Iowa (additional charge), using sendmybike.com. Your shipping label is sent out by email about 10 days before you ship. More info in the Bike Shipping section below.
 
Upon arrival, mechanical assistance with uncrating your bike and getting it road ready (free on July 23rd in the start town)
 
Pre-Assembly of your shipped bike prior to your arrival (additional charge)
 
Packaging of your bike to ship home--just hand it over (additional charge) and our mechanics do the rest!
 
A special receiving area right in our camp at the end town for shipped bikes
 
slideshow of our week together--useful in recruiting friends to join you next year!
 
 
ABOUT OUR SERVICES...
Frequently Asked Questions
and a Lot of the Answers!
 
Can I ride RAGBRAI without the support of a charter? Yes, people do. But ask yourself this question: Would I like to have a friendly home base? We think your answer is yes. If our prices don't suit your budget, by all means call us so we can recommend another reliable RAGBRAI charter.
 
A basic RAGBRAI charter's service to carry your baggage and provide a campsite is usually in the neighborhood of $200, and for that price, you'll have the home base we've mentioned and folks who can answer your questions. But remember that some services will not include amenities in camp like those described above. After you ride your miles and 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.
Why Pork Belly Ventures?
This is your vacation, after all. The Weeklong Support of PBV could mean the difference between a complicated, exhausting bike trip and a carefree athletic adventure. And it includes amenities (shower, towel, meals, coffee, t-shirt) that you'll likely be paying for no matter how you do RAGBRAI.
 
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 locally catered 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 offer 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?
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.
 
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.
 
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 we always warn that town-to-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.
 
 
 
What if I want to bring my own tent? By all means, bring it!
Those who bring their own tents do their own set-up and take-down, bringing their bags to the baggage truck each morning.
 
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. 
 
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? No, and please take the time you need to make your travel plans! Many people go ahead and reserve our support and perhaps our tent service on the application, but wait until May to add their shuttles. That's fine.
What if I want to a day off the bike? Whether you have an injury, need a rest, or you're just not that into riding today, we offer a DOT-compliant SAG service every day, namely 56-passenger motor coach and driver. Our SAG is a convenient, comfortable, and secure way for you and your bike to get to the next overnight town. 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.
 
Remember, please, that we have 56 seats. On some days, we can have our driver make two trips to accommodate more passengers.
 
(There's a special price for non-cyclists spending the full week with us. If you don't bring a bike at all, please see our Weeklong Non-Rider service, which includes your daily transfer from town to town on a luxury motor coach.)
 
Suppose I can only ride half the week? Our day rate for support is $75 per person per day, and you must spend consecutive days with us. (Partial-week riders need to purchase RAGBRAI's day passes for each day they will cycle.)
 
We'll publish more about the Half Hog Shuttles in a future update. In short, you may exit RAGBRAI on Tuesday or Wednesday, and we can shuttle you from our Tuesday or Wednesday campsite to a hotel at the Des Moines airport. You may also enter RAGBRAI on Tuesday afternoon, shuttling from a hotel at the Des Moines airport to our Tuesday campsite.
 
Confused about Shuttles? We don't expect you to know the geography of Iowa and where the best airports are for your trips to/from Iowa. Just write or call, and we'll talk through your options. Contact us, please, before you make airline reservations. We will tell you much more about our shuttles in the next few FAQs and in our next update about shuttles.
 
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 on this west-to-east ride. 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 30th. 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. We can shuttle you to the Quad Cities International Airport on Iowa's east side. And NEW this year, we can shuttle you to the LaCrosse, WI, Regional Airport in LaCrosse, about 35 miles away--but please note that this shuttle will go earlier than the others. We will publish all shuttle details and departure times in our next update.
 
What are the shuttle departure times? We'll publish a separate update soon with estimated departure times on all shuttles. On July 23rd, our last shuttle from Omaha airport is likely to depart at 4:00 p.m. It's wise not to make airline reservations until we have published shuttle departure times. Watch for our next update!
What is the advantage of using the PBV East/West Shuttle?
This shuttle allows you to park at the end town and shuttle across Iowa to the start. For those who live east of Iowa and/or within driving distance of the end town, this shuttle is a good choice. On Friday the 22nd (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 23rd. 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? Friday afternoon continues to be a popular choice, and we will continue to offer it. 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). Watch our next update for firm departure times.
 
What if I don't even bike but want to experience RAGBRAI? We offer weeklong support for non-riders. 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. Whether or not they have secured the RAGBRAI vehicle pass, neither riders nor non-riders may bring their own vehicles if they are using our services.
 
SECTION 2
REGISTRATION with PBV and with RAGBRAI
 
REGISTRATION with PBV
 
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 require the 10% deposit on a credit 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 "Friends of Henry" or "Cyclopaths." 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.
 
You can always go into your application and add your group name--or ask us to do it for you.
 
No Group Name, Please, for Individuals 
When we do bus rosters, we sort alpha by group name, and it it makes it far easier to find individuals if there's no group name on the application of any individual (who is not spending RAGBRAI with a group). Better to leave the group-name field blank if you're riding RAGBRAI on your own. 
 
How to Sign Up with PBV
To create a new application, please go to pkbelly.com and click on the second column, RAGBRAI Charter. Then click the "Register" tab and scroll down to login, 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 fill in the blanks, 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 20th at 10:00 p.m. The additional 5% for protection is due at the time of registration. Our Cancellation Protection is explained fully at pkbelly.com. More on Cancellation Protection below.
 
Non-Refundable Charges
We want to draw your attention to the non-refundable charges, not hide them from you. 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 20th. 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 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 as soon as we can. We'll also try to find you a buyer for your wristband.
 
There's no fine print with PBV. 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. 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. The boss decided they couldn't be spared at work. They have been diagnosed with an illness. 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.
 
In short, it's up to you whether to protect yourself against these and other situations that may prevent you coming to join us on RAGBRAI.
 
If you want to extend your 90% refund from June 15th all the way through until July 20th, 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 Room Accommodations.)
 
This protection applies only to the period from June 15 to July 20 at 10:00 p.m. For anyone who cancels later than 10:00 p.m. on July 20th, 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 email by 10:00 p.m. on July 20. 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 20 at 10:00 p.m. You may purchase this protection at the original time of registration only.
 
Registration With RAGBRAI
 
RAGBRAI registration has been open since early December of last year. The cost is $175 per person. The deadline for registration is April 1.
 
Charters may not include the RAGBRAI registration with their services.
 
RAGBRAI uses a site called EnMotive for registration. You can send any RAGBRAI registration questions to info@ragbrai.com. You can use your phone, tablet, or desktop to register. 
 
Regarding The Former RAGBRAI Lottery
It's gone. No more lottery. If you sign up, you're in, though RAGBRAI has a maximum number of riders and takes registrations on a first-come-first-served basis.
 
Buying a RAGBRAI Wristband on the After-Market
If you decide late in the season that you can make it to RAGBRAI after all, we can introduce you to a wristband seller. We typically have long lists of buyers and long lists of sellers, whom we introduce to each other over the course of a few weeks. Buyers 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.
 
SECTION 3
BIKE SHIPPING, AIR TRANSPORTATION, HOTELS,
AND PARKING
 
BIKE SHIPPING:
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. SendMyBike.com will continue to partner with Bike Flights to provide bike shipping to and from RAGBRAI, and you'll receive your emailed label 10 days prior to your ship date.
 
Shipping rates were high last year, for everyone, not just bike-shippers. Along with our partners at Bike Flights, we're working on a plan to keep your costs down and give you excellent service. We'll let you know when the sendmybike.com site is ready. More to follow.
 
We'll continue to offer the popular option of having your shipped bike pre-assembled before you arrive in Iowa. In April, expect more from us on bike shipping to and from RAGBRAI. 
 
AIR TRANSPORTATION, HOTELS,
and PARKING
 
When should I make airline reservations?
In short, wait for the next update from Pork Belly Ventures.
 
We always send our invitation as soon as we learn the route. It takes us about a week to think about how the route affects each shuttle and communicate with the bus companies, etc. Our next update will run through all the shuttle details and departure times. Once you know our shuttle departure times, you can make your airline reservations with confidence that you can make your connections.
 
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 Clinton, indoor sleeping (plus several meals) were offered by the kind families of Prince of Peace School. 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. The host committee will make a good plan for this. 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 23rd through the 29th, you will be camping with PBV, but if you're flying into Omaha on Friday, the 22nd, and/or returning with us to Omaha late on Saturday evening, the 30th, 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.
 
PLEASE USE THE LOCAL PHONE NUMBERS BELOW AND CALL THE HOTEL DIRECTLY TO ACCESS OUR BLOCKS OF ROOMS.
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 is recently renovated.
  • 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. Saturday is part of the RAGBRAI experience, and you miss it when you fly into Omaha at 3:00 p.m. You'll want to enjoy the big bike expo on Saturday, and the festivities, and a town filling up with people and bikes! Also, we have seen some things in our time, including delayed flights, cancelled flights, closed airports, and lost luggage--which can cause a rider to miss his/her shuttle to the start town. When you fly in on Friday, you hedge your bets against most of the problems an airline can cause you!
 
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.
 
SECTION 4
OTHER IMPORTANT QUESTIONS
What does it take to be a Porker?
We want you to have a good time, and here's what helps you do that. If you can take it easy and let the temporary stuff roll off your back, if you have a good sense of humor, and if you like to be around people, then you'll love RAGBRAI with PBV! Training is important, and every mile you ride before RAGBRAI will increase your enjoyment of it.
 
We can get you showered and cooled down and fed and rested, but you might endure some 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 closing in on 30 years of operating our RAGBRAI charter. We and our extended family live in Council Bluffs, on Iowa's west coast. 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. (And we now offer shorter trail rides in Iowa, Missouri, and South Dakota--ask us and we'll send you those invitations.)
 
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, and firefighters. 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.
 
Among our riders, you'll find many professions and many lifestyles, ethnicities, and cultures--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! Our riders are a friendly bunch.
 
 
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? 
You bet, and we'll have an update to you next week about our shuttles. 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.
 
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 RAGBRAI, then click the Register tab 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 secure 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 h, or 808-375-8921 c.
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, tammy@pkbelly.com
Pete: 402-681-2613 c, pete@pkbelly.com|
 www.pkbelly.com