RAGBRAI 2019      

Pork Belly Update #5---Planning Pays Off

May 6, 2018

Dear Porkers,

We refer to this time of year as The May Cluster, meaning a whole bunch of things happen at once. We wind up our scouting in early May. We spend a lot of time on the phone, getting to know our wonderful volunteers and caterers in eight overnight towns. And due to RAGBRAI's May 1 lottery announcement, the emails and voice messages sometimes pile up. Many thanks for your patience with us this time of year. Fortunately, we're almost past the cluster and on to Planning Our Week in the Corn. Speaking of which...


Pork Entertainment

After three years of trying, we have finally locked in the Kris Lager Band for RAGBRAI. Early planning paid off. We don't want to steal all our June Thunder, but trust us when we say, this high-energy blues band will be worth the wait.

Beginning on Saturday in Onawa, Pork Belly Ventures is lining up music on stage every night. We are still hoping for Maddie Monday--but considering that Iowa Girl Maddie Poppe is now in the Top SEVEN on American Idol, we'll have to wait and see. We're behind her all the way. More on Maddie below.

ABOVE: Two weeks ago, Maddie Poppe brought the house down with her rendition of Simon and Garfunkel's "Homeward Bound." If you haven't heard her, click here. She'll break your heart.



Scouting: Seven Down, One to Go

Tomorrow morning, we'll scout our last of eight overnight towns. We'll revisit a couple in the coming weeks, as it's sometimes good to take another look or have another face-to-face conversation. Remember the last night of RAGBRAI in 2017? A lot of folks said it was an all-time favorite site. Well, knock on wood, this year's Farewell night is going to rival it. We love all our campsites, and we'll be telling you about them in June. Stay tuned for Our Week in the Corn.


LEFT: a scouting photo from a few years back.

RAGBRAI and The Lottery

We've had a few temporary alarms--groups who wrote to say they feared that they hadn't gotten into RAGBRAI. But in every case, RAGBRAI sorted it out. Most of you got good news, but if you applied by April 1, and if you're concerned about your status, write to info@ragbrai.com and give them a chance to help you. We think they will.

Buying and Selling Wristbands

I keep two lists this time of year: those who want to buy a RAGBRAI wristband and those who want to sell. We'll start making introductions of buyers to sellers late this month, closer to the time when RAGBRAI mails out the packets. If you need to buy or sell, please write to tammy@pkbelly.com.

Riding RAGBRAI with PBV

If you're one of many who just got good news from RAGBRAI and have only started thinking about arranging support, we have some space left on our Weeklong Support. Hot showers, morning coffee, phone-charging, music every night during dinner, three evening meals included, three optional suppers, a big crew to help you and a lot of custom-built equipment. If that sounds good to you, take a look at our invitation letter here:



ABOVE: Pork Belly Ventures has two phone-charging trailers in camp. Also lots of other custom-built equipment to make life easy in camp.

Long-Term Parking in Davenport

This topic is of interest to those using our East/West Shuttle from the end town of Davenport to the start of RAGBRAI in Onawa on Friday or Saturday, July 20 or 21.


When you roll into Davenport, you'll need a place to park for the week. For regular vehicles, long-term parking costs $65. For larger vehicles, it's $75. You can reserve your parking spot in Davenport here:


Davenport Long-Term Parking


Be sure to include Pork Belly Ventures on your parking application, as Davenport is reserving certain parking lots for our charter.


For those who have been with us in recent years when RAGBRAI ended in Davenport, we will be located at St. Ambrose University again, before and after the ride.

Friday Night in Davenport

We always try to score an indoor sleeping opportunity in the end town. We asked about a dorm or a gym for Friday night, July 20th, but it's just non-starter this year, Porkers. Fortunately, the Davenport metro area is large and hotels are plentiful. Other options include camping and sleeping in your vehicle. (We are told that camping at St. Ambrose on Friday night is okay with college officials.)


Advantages of the Friday E/W Shuttle

Remember that we do operate our E/W Shuttle on Friday afternoon, with departures at 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. Those who use the shuttle on Friday get ahead of things. They check in for our support on Friday night in Onawa and spend one extra night in the start town. On Saturday morning, they can ease into their day and be among the first to hit the huge RAGBRAI Bike Expo and the Kick-Off Festivities. They'll watch that little town fill up with bikes and riders. Pork Belly rental tents will be available on Friday night ($40 for the extra night), and it costs nothing to join us on Friday night if you're using our Weeklong Support and setting up your own tent.


The E/W Shuttle is the only PBV Shuttle that operates on Friday afternoon. The majority of coaches on the E/W shuttle run on Saturday morning, and all of our airport shuttles run on Saturday. For more on our shuttle details and departure times, check out Update #1 right here:


PBV Update #1 on Shuttle Details

Looking Ahead to Summer

Planning pays off, Porkers, and here are some reminders for you as we roll into summer.


May 15: We ask that you pay your balance due by this date, but we can be flexible. Let us know if you need a couple more weeks. Login and pay by credit card (incurring a fee for that convenience) or mail a check for a fifty-cent stamp.


Early June: We're going to send you the Pork Belly Travel Guidebook, our June Letter. Most likely in the middle of the month, you'll receive this detailed update, which you can save for a reference document. Most questions about traveling with PBV are answered in the June Letter.


Also Early June: At the time that we send the June Letter, we will activate the June Form at pkbelly.com. The June Form is a second page of your PBV application. It asks for your official RAGBRAI wristband number, some info about any bikes we will transport for you on a shuttle, and solicits your arrival information that will help us create a schedule of departures on several of our shuttles prior to RAGBRAI. When the time comes, please be timely in completing your June Form.


June 15: If you don't have the cancellation protection of Pork Belly Ventures, June 15 is the last day to cancel and receive your 90% refund.


July 18: If you do have the cancellation protection of Pork Belly Ventures, 10:00 pm on Wednesday, July 18th is the last date/time to cancel and receive your 90% refund.


More on Cancellation right here:



Rental Tents—Not Sold Out Just Yet

We still have a few rental tents. When they're gone we'll start a waiting list. You can always bring along your own tent and take part in our Weeklong Support, which is not yet close to selling out. Over half of the riders with Pork Belly Ventures bring their own tents.

The Miracle of Maddie Poppe

We used to be among the few who had experienced the miracle of Maddie's voice and personality and instrumental talent. But now the whole country is enjoying her music every Sunday night.

ABOVE: Maddie's parents, Tonya and Trent, are always in the audience. They fly back to Iowa for their work week, and then head to LA to support their daughter in this amazing journey.


BELOW, some favorite photos of Maddie, a couple in Pork Camp.

You can vote thirty times for every email address you have. 10 times by text. 10 times at abc.com. 10 times using the American Idol App. Voting must take place during the live show.




We never want to rush people on their travel plans or anything else; however, the time for booking flights, firming up travel, booking the support services you need--it's here. Ask your questions, book services, secure them with a deposit. Get it done and spend May and June training for your Iowa adventure.

That's it for this update, Porkers. We're thinking of you every day, as we plan our week. The road, the rivers, the crew, the coffee, the showers, the music, the fireflies, and the experience of Iowa by bicycle will be waiting for you right here. Make your plans. Ride your bike. Keep in touch. Vote for Maddie. See you pretty soon!


All our best,

Tammy and Pete