RAGBRAI 2019      

Pork Belly Update #3---Scouting and Other Spring Topics

March 29, 2018

Dear Porkers,


Little known fact... rather than the traditional four seasons, our part of the world actually has nearly triple that number. You can Google it for yourself. These are the Eleven Seasons of the Midwest...


  1. Winter
  2. Fool’s Spring
  3. Second Winter
  4. Spring of Deception
  5. Third Winter
  6. Mud Season--WE ARE HERE.
  7. Actual Spring
  8. Summer
  9. False Fall
  10. Second Summer
  11. Actual Fall

ABOVE: During the Spring of Deception, Dave got out to work on trailer exteriors at Pork World Headquarters




LEFT: George indoors during Third Winter, removing a decal on a trailer that will be re-painted soon.




During all seasons, you'll find our Men at Work, Dave and George, doing maintenance on equipment and making annual improvements. Their diligence makes us better able to serve you, come summer.

ABOVE: In the name of research, Pete rode the Land Run 100 in Oklahoma on St. Patrick's Day. (That's him in the blue jersey.) When he finished, the ride organizer gave him a hug and a beer. He laid down on the ground for a while before celebrating. For years, we've been thinking about producing a Pork Belly ride, and, well... the wheels are turning.


Pete has managed to squeeze in several gravel bike races between his Pork Duties. He's found a new passion in riding backroads as fast as he can; he races during ten of our eleven seasons (he's too busy in the summer).


Phone and email traffic always increase during Mud Season, when warmth is just around the corner. I have been meeting friendly new Porkers every day, answering questions, talking through logistics, and explaining how things work. If you have questions, write or call me at tammypav@cox.net or 712-328-0161. How can we help you make a plan for the Best Week of the Year?


Throughout this update, we'll pop in a few photos of seasonal activities and efforts, along with some reminders, explanations, and good news.


BELOW: the guys have mounted storage boxes under a number of our trailers to expand their capacity for hauling all kinds of stuff across Iowa.

One Down,

Seven to Go

On Tuesday, we scouted Ames, our first college town of RAGBRAI 2018. Most of their Third-Winter snow had melted, but the north wind blew.


Pete, Dave, Bob, and George wheeled prospective sites and talked over options. And the north wind blew.


RIGHT: Megan, our Ames Campground Chair, described the rider route into town, while the north wind blew.


LEFT: Bob, Pete, and Dave, getting the lay of the land in Ames.



For the first time in Pork History, we measured our final distance by van... George opened his door, dropped the measuring wheel on the gravel, and Dave drove a thousand feet down the road. We stayed warm. And the north wind blew.

We will undoubtedly return to Ames for a second look, probably during Actual Spring or Summer, and I'll snap some prettier, greener pics of our chosen campsite. Ames, by the way, has some exciting surprises in store for us. Stay tuned. One down, seven to go.

RAGBRAI Registration Deadline, April 1

The time for procrastination is over, Porkers. This is not the deadline to push. Do it right now. Sign up for RAGBRAI at www.RAGBRAI.com. Click Registration.


RIGHT: Last night, Tom sent this pic of sweet Bill from Canada. Bill made his annual trip to Texas for spring training with his friends, the Seersucker Cyclists. Cool shirt, Bill. Thanks for the photo, Tom. More on training for RAGBRAI below.


Partial-Week Riders--

Different Deadline

If you only need day passes for your partial week on RAGBRAI, your deadline with RAGBRAI is June 1. You can buy your day passes at www.RAGBRAI.com. Click Registration. Day passes are also available during RAGBRAI, but you have to be wearing them in order to check in for PBV Partial-Week Support. (You'll be glad you got them in advance.)

The T Word

Once spring arrives, it's time to think about the T word--Training. RAGBRAI's training coach, David Ertl, can help. Here he talks about whether indoor training really counts toward your mileage goals. Make a habit of checking the training tips of David Ertl, starting here...



Daily Rider Route Maps Are Out

We inserted the Sunday route map above. All seven of the Daily Rider Route maps were released this month, and they are all available on the free Pork Belly Smartphone App and (soon) at our website.


At RAGBRAI.com, you can see the mileage between passthrough towns and other information, along with the downloadable maps. Click here:




Sunday's ride will include your optional gravel loop and the RAGBRAI Mile of Silence. RAGBRAI instituted the Mile of Silence a couple years ago. Riders will be encouraged to remember cyclists who have been injured or who have died on the roads and highways of Iowa and elsewhere. This is RAGBRAI's way of bringing awareness to the important bicycle safety measures that still need action. Read more about the Mile of Silence here:



Update on Pork Availability

Eighty-six percent of our Rental Tents are spoken for, though not all of them have been secured with a deposit. Watch updates for notice that they have sold out (if they do).


Weeklong Support is still available too, but things are going more quickly than usual. For reference, we sold out Weeklong Support in early June of last year. It could happen sooner this year.


And shuttles do not normally sell out at all during a season. Seats on any of our shuttles will likely be available right up until RAGBRAI, though for planning purposes, we hope you'll sign up much sooner.


If your travel plans are not firm, it's fine to secure your Weeklong Support and perhaps a rental tent with a deposit now. You can add the shuttle/s you need later on.

BELOW: Back in our Second Winter, we spent a Sunday at the

Omaha Pedalers Bicycle Club Swap Meet.

We chatted with many old friends and met new ones.

BELOW RIGHT: Derek on the left is a veteran Porker.

He's bringing his buddy Micky along this time.

Balances Are Due to PBV by May 15th

Almost all of our deadlines are soft, including this one. We would like you to pay your balance by May 15th or soon after. But if that's not convenient for you, you can simply write to us and let us know what date would be convenient. We can be flexible. Unless we hear from you, though, we'll be hoping for payment around the middle of May.

Credit Card Processing Fees and How to Avoid Them

We hate fees. Actually, that's why we dragged our feet for many years on credit card payments. But some RAGBRAI riders want to pay by credit card, and we reached a compromise. Here's how it works.


You can secure your services with PBV by paying a 10% deposit with your credit card. Pork Belly Ventures will absorb the fees on the deposit. No problem. After that, it's up to you. We suggest that you mail a check to avoid paying a 3% convenience fee for using your credit card to pay your remaining balance.


Now some folks don't mind a fee in exchange for convenience, even when 3% adds up to thirty bucks or more. They whip out the card and settle up, fee and all. That's their business. To each his own.


We just want you to know you have a choice, and you should think it over before your balances are due in mid-May.


A postage stamp is 50 cents. Just saying.


Shipping Your Bike to/from RAGBRAI

It's gotten cost prohibitive to travel on a plane with your bike, and years ago, we started Sendmybike.com for that very reason. The site is up and available for you to check the price of shipping labels for your bicycle or a duffel bag.


We will send a single-topic update in May with much more detail about shipping bikes to and from Iowa with sendmybike.com. Remember: those traveling with PBV must use our company, sendmybike.com, in order to find their shipped bike in Pork Camp at the beginning of the week and to hand off their bikes for shipping at the end of the week.

Sheets and Pillows and Air-Conditioning

Some folks aren't up for tent-camping, but they still want to experience this ride across Iowa. And for a limited number of people, we can offer every night in a hotel room. In two places, the rooms are right in the town or metro area where RAGBRAI is overnighting. In most cases, the hotels are 20 to 30 miles away from the overnight town. The coach departs our campsites at 6:00 p.m., and the following morning, it departs the hotel parking lot to return to camp at 6:00 a.m. We have worked through our list of those who requested weeklong hotel stays with Pork Belly Ventures, and we still have three more rooms every night of the week. If you and/or your friends are interested in weeklong hotel stays during RAGBRAI, please contact Tammy at tammy@pkbelly.com for details and prices.


One-Night Refresher in a Hotel Room

In addition, we have big blocks of hotel rooms on both Tuesday and Wednesday nights (possibly a room or two on other nights), to allow some of our riders a one- or two-night refresher. In June, we'll announce these options and pricing via one of our updates.

Maddie Poppe's

Rainbow Connection

Well, if you did't watch it for yourself, Clarksville Iowa girl Maddie Poppe totally rocked her audition for American Idol. She sang The Rainbow Connection, accompanying herself on the guitar. Lionel said she had "a storyteller voice." Katy said her style was "pretty dope" (that is a compliment). And Luke said "you got me." So in short, Maddie is now singing her heart out in Hollywood, and we are wishing her and her family the very best. Stay tuned to learn whether we can get Maddie back for a performance in Pork Camp this July. We're lighting candles.


BELOW: Maddie Poppe, frequent Pork Performer and the darling of Pork Belly Ventures, approached the judges for her golden ticket to Hollywood. If you're following her progress, you know she's a strong competitor.

Pork Entertainment

PBV offers live music on our stage seven days of the week. We're working on some gravelly blues, some original folk, covers with a twist, and our favorite rockabilly band, The Ramblers, at week's end. Veterans of 2017 may remember some awe-inspiring performances of the BluesEd youth. The BluesEd program is for talented kids--we would call them prodigies. The kids work with professional musicians to learn the ropes and nuances of stage performance. If you weren't looking at the stage, you would swear they were seasoned adult musicians. Yesterday, we spoke at length with Trudy, a parent and coordinator. There are six BluesEd bands, and we booked two of them for Our Week in the Corn. Stay tuned for more on Pork Entertainment and other exciting details later in the season.


We so appreciate hearing from our Porkers and seeing their photos of RAGBRAI and other cycling vacations to distant lands. Send 'em if you got 'em, and enjoy those that we've pasted in below.


Mud Season will soon be over and Actual Spring is on the way. During much of April, we will be on the road to seven more overnight towns, looking at campsites, meeting caterers, thanking volunteers, and getting excited. In all of our efforts, we have you in mind, Porkers, and we can't wait to welcome you to Iowa just a short season or two from now. A hundred and fourteen days, to be exact. Until next time, we remain,


Your friends,


Tammy and Pete





From the Pork Belly Scrapbook...

ABOVE and BELOW: Mary Beth and Bradley live in Taiwan and travel often throughout Asia. They sent us the motherlode of travel pics--in Singapore, Hong Kong, and thier cycling around Taiwan. Thanks, guys, for sporting Pork Apparel in faraway places!

BELOW: Ed and Sandy said this image reminds them of us. Aw, how cute. Thanks for sending.

ABOVE: Phil from Wisconsin said, "Here’s a picture from Orange City that I’ve been using as my screensaver. Keeps me focused on Iowa. See you in July for Ride #5." Thanks, Phil. Are you having Actual Spring yet in Wisconsin? 

BELOW: You veterans are used to blue canopies over our front desk, but we recently got several nice new red ones, strewn with confetti. Dave set one up in the barn for a photo. So in July, beside the Roll With It trailer, look for these red tents and the friendly Front Desk Crew beneath them.

ABOVE: Another confetti-strewn canopy to shade our musicians on stage.


BELOW: More winter work... the little red cube van was in need of some TLC. It's all freshened up with paint and body work, ready for the Pork Cycling Season... outdoor events from May to October.

ABOVE: One of 17 banners that should help you navigate Pork Camp in July.


BELOW: Ben, pictured below at the end of his first RAGBRAI, was the littlest guy on PBV the year he rode Iowa. He's bigger now, but his little brother Dan might be our littlest rider in 2018. We welcome his whole family back to Pork Belly Ventures!