RAGBRAI 2019      

Pork Belly Update #2---Our Idol and Yours

March 9, 2018

Dear Porkers,


If you've traveled with us during the past four RAGBRAIs, then you have a place in your heart for Clarksville Iowa girl, Maddie Poppe, a favorite entertainer in Pork Camp for several years now. People ask us, "How did you find her?" In early 2014, we received a link from frequent Porker Cindy Albert, asking us to check it out. Even on a rough Youtube video, there was no doubt that this was a young woman of many gifts: her combination of youth and maturity, a disarming personality, and her miraculous, goose-bump-inducing voice.


I found Maddie on Facebook and soon reached her on the phone to ask if she would perform for Pork Belly Ventures. She was finishing her junior year in high school. "Oh gosh, I'd love to," she said. "But you'll have to ask my dad."





ABOVE, LEFT, and BELOW: Porkers from all over the country have at least a couple things in common. They love pedaling across Iowa and look forward to Maddie Monday in Pork Camp.

Since 2014, on at least one night of RAGBRAI, Maddie has cast a spell over the crowd in Pork Camp. In fact, we've dubbed the second day of cycling "Maddie Monday," because we've grown accustomed, in our third overnight town, to gathering around the stage with full plates for two hours of Maddie's covers and original songs. It's not often that you meet a teenager who can do justice to Elton John and Janis Joplin. A couple years ago, she auditioned on The Voice, but she'll tell you she was nervous. Well, we have learned from Maddie's father, Trent, that she has found a new opportunity.

ABOVE: Maddie at her first Pork Performance in Fort Dodge, Iowa. She plays both guitar and keyboard.


BELOW: Iowa Girl Maddie Poppe during her audition for American Idol.

It's the Big Time for Maddie again, and we're going to pop some popcorn and gather round the TV this Sunday night, March 11, at 7:00 p.m. Central. Maddie will appear on the season premier of American Idol (ABC). Let's all tune in and send our high hopes her way!


We had already booked Maddie for a performance during RAGBRAI 2018, and to be honest, we don't know what impact her audition will have on the summer. Of course, we have always believed that this girl is going places, and we wish her every chance to realize her dreams and reach her amazing potential. (But we can't help but hope that both things are possible--the big time for Maddie and at least one more time with Pork Belly Ventures!)


Tune in Sunday, Everybody!

Pork Availability

We had a runaway season last year, and it looks like we're having another one. We'll try to give you updates once or twice a month, but if you're waiting to sign up, you may want to check with us from time to time about availability of our Weeklong Support and our Rental Tent Service.


This time of year, we always have two kinds of applicants--the ones where people paid a deposit to secure their services (you're all set), and a smaller group who simply filled in the blanks and selected services, but made no payment to secure those services (without the deposit, you do not yet have a reservation). This is fine, but it's important to remember which group you're in.


Right now, it looks like nearly three quarters of the rental tents are spoken for (but not all of them are secured). So rental tents are going pretty fast. Weeklong Support is way ahead of last year at this time, but we still have lots of space on our support. We don't expect shuttles to sell out at all.

Route Update Expected in March

In March, we watch RAGBRAI.com for more detail on our RAGBRAI route. At this writing, the officials haven't published the full route with the pass-through towns yet. Usually when they do that, the daily rider route maps become available, complete with GeoBike statistics on each day's ride (GeoBike from the wonderful Rich Ketchum). So keep an eye on the RAGBRAI site, and as soon as the daily route maps are available, we'll get them on the Pork Belly App for you.


In the meantime, here's the route and mileage again....


  • Sunday, Onawa to Denison, 43.3 miles
  • Monday, Denison to Jefferson, 71.7 miles
  • Tuesday, Jefferson to Ames, 58.9 miles
  • Wednesday, Ames to Newton, 59.1 miles
  • Thursday, Newton to Sigourney, 68.6 (century loop today)
  • Friday, Sigourney to Iowa City, 57.6 miles on Friday
  • Saturday, Iowa City to Davenport, 69 miles


Total mileage is 428, and it's the fourth flattest and seventh easiest route in RAGBRAI history. 

I sat in the backseat with George, ABOVE. That's the winter version of cornfields behind him!

Our Day in Des Moines

Dave drove us to Des Moines yesterday. Every year, RAGBRAI convenes last year's hosts and this year's hosts for a full day of learning and sharing. At the end of their day, the generous 2018 volunteers drove home with full heads! They got a lot of input. We served on a campground panel along with fellow charter operators. It's always our pleasure to chat with them and to thank and encourage this year's hosts. Come July, they will roll out red carpets in eight overnight towns and show us what Iowa is made of. (It's about two parts hard work and one part optimism, with a big shovel of Midwestern hospitality.)

A quick snap at the campground session, ABOVE.

ABOVE: Frank can tell you. You may come to Iowa not knowing anybody, but you'll go home with a bunch of new friends.


Coming to Iowa Solo? 

We've been getting a lot of phone calls from folks who, for whatever reason, are coming to ride Iowa solo. Often they would like to have some contact or communication with another rider, to know somebody before they arrive. We're working on a private Facebook group for Porkers, especially for those who are coming to Iowa for the first time or coming to Iowa by themselves.


It's our hope that people in the same area (Philadelphia Porkers, Tampa Porkers) can meet by means of this group and then perhaps meet in person or train together, that folks can access certain files like our Tips for First Timers and our Suggested Packing List for RAGBRAI via this group, and that all members can get the benefit of talking with others who are every bit as excited as they are.


We'll keep you posted and let you know when the Facebook group is ready for you.






Pork Camp Navigation

A new feature of Pork Camp will be some 11-foot banners that will help you spot stuff. We'll wait to show you all of them, but here are a few examples. We're freshening things up in other ways, too, to make your stay in Pork Camp that much happier.

Common Group Name

We say this a lot, because it's important. Thanks to those who have done it already.


For anyone who wants to tent next to someone else, you need a common group name on both/all applications in the group-name field at the top of the application. When you select the tent service, there are other blanks that you can fill in (maybe there's another group that you want to be near). But to be placed on the tent grid near your friends, you need a common group name in the group-name field on all applications.


SendMyBike.com is ready for you if you'd like to check rates and/or order shipping labels. We will likely do a single-topic update on Bike Shipping in May, as many people begin to think about that part toward the beginning of summer. But some of you are ready, and the site is pretty self-explanatory. If you need help, please call Pete at 402-681-2613.

Cancellation Policy Reminder

We publish our policy frequently, so that there's no misunderstanding. It's up at our site and has been published in our late January invitation letter. Every so often, we'll publish it 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.


If you want to extend the 90% refund all the way through until Wednesday, July 18, at 10:00 pm, you can click on "Cancellation Protection" on the online registration form. The non-refundable fee for this protection is five percent of the value of services you have reserved with PBV. (One exception: check with us please for cancellation protection on the PHAT Trailer Accommodations.) 


This protection covers only the period from June 15 to July 18 at 10:00 p.m. It must be taken at the time of registration.


For more on cancellation, please click here:



This Weekend

Lots going on with us and our family this weekend, so forgive us, please, if we are a little slower than usual on replying to emails or returning calls. Thank you!

Links to Previous Pork Updates

If you got in touch only recently, you may not have received our Invitation Letter (a comprehensive overview of our charter with a list of services and prices) and our first update of the season, all about our shuttles, the departure times, and the details. Here are links, in case you're interested...

The PBV 2018

Invitation Letter

with Services, Prices,

and Much More




PBV Update #1

on All Shuttles,

Departure Times and Details





We're including some fun stuff from our mailbox below, and maybe now is a good time to invite you to contribute to the contents of our mailbox. You can send pics of your group getting excited about RAGBRAI, or your own training, or a favorite photo from Pork Camp, or your cycling travels. We love hearing from you, and early in the season, we love to share your photos with our readers.


So read on, Porkers, and stay tuned for more Pork News as it happens.

All our best,


Tammy and Pete



From Our Mailbox...






Our Trumpet Chick, Alicia Rau, sent photos of a couple of pretty special gigs in New York City. You'll spot her in the photo at RIGHT, and BELOW, she's sharing the stage with Jimmy Fallon. That's Alicia in Pork Camp ABOVE.

From courageous Nick of Diablos Rojos, who wrote...


My beautiful non-bike-riding wife Nelcy bought me a gorgeous viper red Trek SL 6 Domane for Christmas (and the next five Christmases and birthdays!) so I will be "lightning fast" this year. I do actually ride 2-3 mph faster with this bike, so I have a heightened (is it possible?!) desire to get back to Iowa!

I have attached a photo of me sporting the Pig in the high desert of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico this last November. I did a trail ride with a handful of touristas, so I proudly dressed in my PBV best. This photo was taken shortly after I cracked a rib in an encounter with a mesquite tree.


Guillermo's work has been hectic, but he has been doing cardio and hitting the heavy bag (as have I) and he hopes to get some Sundays off so we can ride with the gators out at Everglades Natl Park. The park was flooded from the hurricane and only recently opened.


LEFT: Nick, riding with the gators, some time ago now.


Thanks, Nick! Love your letters!

We received the sweetest letter from Bev Keppler, below...


Tammy and Pete,


Attached are two pictures that I took of my husband with the 2017 RAGBRAI poster that we framed. We even put some memorabilia on the bottom, i.e., Pork Belly Ventures wristband. It came out really nice. Reading your invitation letter that came today wondering what FOMO was and going to Web MD, I think I would have done the same. ... My husband is not doing RAGBRAI this year; however, he does plan on doing it again and will definitely use Pork Belly Ventures! He had only praise and accolades for you and your crew.

Bev Keppler and Ken Keppler (Tent #123)

Our friend Bill Fortner sent us a couple photos of the Duck Fart Flyers, but it's been a while. Hmm. Where were these taken? We know that the photo with striped jerseys BELOW is the Santa Barbara 100, a one-day event. "Really amazing views," Bill said. "Steep climb into hills." Not sure what event is captured at RIGHT, but it's cool to see you guys tailgating together. Thanks for sending these, Bill!

ABOVE, Janet calls this her "Eat dirt, Cancer!" photo. Shortly after treatment, she was in the saddle getting ready for RAGBRAI. She's my hero.


BELOW: The Caroline Cyclists sent us this shot of their Christmas party. Thank you, guys, and sorry it took a while to publish it. (Love the hat!)




Gaines, one of the Caroline Cyclists, sent this shot at RIGHT....



Tammy, Vicksburg, Mississippi hosted Bricks & Spokes bike ride last weekend. The route takes you across the Mississippi River and then back to the Vicksburg Military Park. I stopped to have my photo taken at one of many monuments from the State of Iowa.


Frank of Caroline Cyclists got a shot of his bike at another Iowa monument, BELOW. Thanks to both of you guys! (We miss you already, Frank!)

ABOVE, an unpublished and oh-so-cute photo of a bunch of our crew members. You gotta love them!

Dale just wrote us the nicest note with a story of how he met Bob (from Hawaii) on RAGBRAI, and they became good friends. Thank you, Dale! We sure know a lot of people who, ten years later, have fast friendships from their Iowa experience.