RAGBRAI 2019      

Pork Belly Update #4---Support for Maddie and More

April 21, 2018

Hey Porkers,


This time, we have some April reminders and scouting updates for you, but first, we're issuing a call to action on behalf of Iowa girl Maddie Poppe and her family--who are part of the Pork Belly Ventures family. Maddie began playing for us in Pork Camp when she was 17 years old.

ABOVE: Following Maddie's New York audition, Trent Poppe exclaimed "My daughter's going to Hollywood!" That's Maddie on the left with her little sister, Emma, and Mom, Tonya.


In case you've just tuned in, our favorite performer in Pork Camp has made it to the big time. After a New York audition, cover performances and an original song, and an amazing duet with Grammy winner Colby Caillot, Maddie has made it to the TOP 14 of American Idol. Tomorrow night, Sunday, April 22, is the first time that we can vote to keep her in the running. She's made this far on her incredible talent, and now, as she keeps singing her heart out, we can finally lend a hand.


Until now, we knew nothing about voting on American Idol. Turns out a voter can vote a maximum of 30 times:


  1. 10 times by texting,
  2. 10 times by using the American Idol App,
  3. and 10 times by voting on abc.com.


Here's a link, Porkers:


All About VOTING for MADDIE!


Thanks to those who have written to us about Maddie's success. Pork Nation is large, and Maddie has touched a lot of hearts in Pork Camp over the past four years.


Let's do this.

ABOVE: Maddie sang "The Rainbow Connection" for her audition, and BELOW, she performed an original song, "Don't Ever Let Your Children Grow Up."

BELOW: Maddie's cover of "Brand New Key," earned her praise from the judges for being true to herself.

ABOVE: The judges' physically sat up and took notice when Maddie sang Brand New Key. It was an unlikely and delightful choice, perfect for her flutey voice. She nailed it.


[We hope to continue our tradition of Maddie Monday in Jefferson, Iowa, this July. Maddie's parents will be there too--God willing. This could be the fifth year and sixth performance of Maddie Poppe in Pork Camp. Won't it be satisfying to know we did all we could to make her dream come true?]


P.S. All of Maddie's performances are on YouTube, if you feel like watching them over and over like we do.



Your Deposit Gives You the Firm Reservation.

If you paid the 10% deposit on your Pork Belly Ventures services, you have a reservation. You don't have to pay your balance until May 15, and we can even be flexible about that. Below, when we mention "Unpaid Tents" and "Unpaid Applications," we mean those who have made no payment at all. Just want to be clear: we're not talking about those of you who paid the deposit. You're good.

Pork Availability

If we don't mention it this time, we could miss the chance to say "Last Call for Rental Tents." This service is always the first to sell out, and that is likely to happen once we send this update. Weeklong Support isn't yet close to selling out, though the numbers are far ahead of last year. And our shuttles almost never sell out, so don't worry about adding shuttles to your application later on, when your travel plans firm up.


Unpaid Tents

If you are one of about 30 people who put a tent on your application, but didn't pay the 10% deposit, you don't have a reservation and you could get shut out. When the tents sell out, we will start a waiting list, of course. However, last year, we were not able to clear everyone on the waiting list for either the tent service or weeklong support.

Unpaid Applications--Are You In?

Sometimes folks will complete an application, but they're not really sure about their plans. If you did that, and if you know you can't make it, please shoot us a courtesy email so we can cancel you for this time. Your information and profile will remain in tact for next year, and we sure hope we'll see you down the road.

What If You're Late to the Party?

RAGBRAI registration closed on April 1, but if you just found out you can make it, we can help. Write to tammypav@cox.net and tell me you want to buy a wristband. I keep two lists: buyers and sellers. We make introductions a little later in the season, and the transfer process is quick and easy.

Scouting Update: Five Down, Three to Go

We've been on the road a lot, and we are already deeply grateful to our hard-working hosts who have offered us lovely campsites, introduced us to amazing caterers, and in some cases, have ideas about indoor sleeping. We have three towns to go, and inevitably, we'll circle back to a few for a second visit.


RIGHT: Mick, George, and Pete, exploring our beautiful site in Newton.


BELOW: Bob, Pete, and Mick, walking the site, and Dave chatting with our host, Nick Cummins.

Spring has been slow this year, but soon everything brown will be green again!


RIGHT: a nice prairie shot out the window during a scouting trip.


BELOW: Nick and Kristi Cummins, our husband-and-wife team responsible for campsites and a lot more in Newton. We are most grateful to them for matching us up with an award-winning caterer for our Wednesday night supper. It's pretty much a dream campsite, and we'll tell you more about everything later on. Stand by for everyone's favorite update, "Our Week in the Corn."

ABOVE: Mick, in the red jacket, plots out where our equipment will fit well in each campsite. We sure have a nice big lot in Newton.


When we scout, we all have a role in the process. George and Bob know the trucking end of things. Bob and Dave are experts on our shower operation. Mick draws the plot plans for each site, placing every trailer and every piece of the Pork Infrastructure in his drawings. Usually the guys head off with the measuring wheel to make sure our tents and trailers will fit within a given site or lot. Pete and I try to convey all the ways in which we want our stay in an overnight town to be a winner for our hosts and a winner for our riders. And all six of us do our level best to say thanks to these generous volunteers who will roll out their red carpets for us in July.

BELOW: Dave drove us into a beautiful sunset after a day of scouting Sigourney, our Thursday night host town. That's Bob riding shotgun. Pete snapped the photo.


We didn't get home from Sigourney until midnight, but we googled American Idol and learned that Maddie Poppe had made the top 14. We were able to pull up her American Idol performance. We handed George's phone around the van in the dark and watched it several times. Thanks, Maddie, for making our late-night trip home a happy one!

Below, we share photos from The Pork Belly Scrapbook, including some we've received just this month. Thanks to all for sending them, and to everybody who will pass the corn with us in July. Enjoy your pedals and your petals this spring! Tomorrow, vote a lot for Maddie! We'll be on your screens again in no time, and until then, we remain...


Your friends,


Tammy and Pete







ABOVE: Randy shot this one and sent it to us. Makes us hungry, Randy! Thank you for thinking of us!









RIGHT and BELOW: Bob and his wife did a photo safari in the Serengeti and got a Pork-Shirt shot with a lioness. Wow.


And with an elephant. Cool!

BELOW: Bob even took us to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. Amazing. Here's his story...


"On February 19, my son Aaron and I started our journey on Mount Kilimanjaro's Lemosho Trail, hoping to reach the summit seven days later. All went well and at 6:45AM on Sunday, February 25, we reached the summit on "The Roof of Africa," the Uhuru Peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro (19,341 ft).


We started our ascent from Kosovo Camp at 12:06AM, we reach Stella Point at 5:45AM, The Summit at 6:45AM. We were back at Kosovo Camp at 10:13AM."

Makes sense. As we all learn on the bike, downhill is faster. What a photo! What a feat! Thank you, Bob, for taking us with you all around the world.

ABOVE and RIGHT: Our favorite Iowa artist, Carolyn Blattel-Britton has been drawing souvenir posters for PBV for years ... I would have to count the posters on my office walls to know how many years. Every spring, she creates another design, and she's hard at work on the new one.


Her husband Benny Britton, also a remarkable artist, cut a piece of Plexiglass for Carolyn to lie on while she colors in the original drawing. She sent us this photo a few years ago, and recently sent the one at RIGHT.


Carolyn wrote: "I am a Little Person & my arms & legs are shorter. This photo shows that the 2018 poster is nearly as tall as me. Even I don’t know how I get the top part done…a lot of working on it upside down or laying on Plexiglass."


Carolyn has more to work to do on your 2018 souvenir poster from Pork Belly Ventures, designed to let you take home a slice of life in Pork Camp. The posters make great conversation pieces. Thank you, Carolyn!

ABOVE and BELOW: As a youngster, Maddie Poppe played and sang in her dad's bluegrass band. Trent taught her to play guitar.

BELOW: Photos from Maddie's first gig in Pork Camp, when she was only 17.

ABOVE, LEFT, and BELOW: More Maddie. Of her dad, Maddie says, "It's awesome to have someone by my side, no matter what. He reassures me. My dad is still my biggest supporter. He gives me way more confidence than I have on my own." Watch her performance of her original song for more about Maddie and her dad.

How many of you know Zebra Man?

ABOVE and BELOW: We love stories of Porkers who meet and become great friends on our charter. Couple of examples here. Bill, aka "Zebra Man," of Ontario makes an annual trip south to ride with the Seersucker Cyclists of Texas. Tom sent the photos early this month with the caption "Easter Hill-Country Ride in Texas." He got some fun shots of Bill below. Thanks, Tom. Looks like a great time.

ABOVE: Another friendship here, the result of meeting in Iowa. Frank of Rochester, NY, traveled to Mississippi to call on his Pork Friends Frank and Gaines of the Caroline Cyclists. "Frank was visiting as he prepared to embark on a bike tour around west central Mississippi," Gaines wrote to say.  "He will see the likes of Vicksburg and Natchez and places in-between. It was great to be able see Frank and show him a small part of our home town. The photo is from one of our favorite lunch spots." Thank you, Gaines! Hope you had a great Mississippi tour, Frank!