RAGBRAI 2019      

Pork Belly Update #18---Our Week in the Corn

July 16, 2017

Dear Porkers,


These are the chickens that will lay the eggs that will fuel your muscles on Saturday's final ride from Iowa City to Davenport. At Doug Darrow's Rapid Creek Ranch, an old RAGBRAI team bus has become a luxury chicken coop. Doug is donating dozens of eggs to Mary Palmberg and her Habitat for Humanity Women Build group, the non-profit offering breakfast beside our coffee trailer on that last Saturday morning, July 28th. The hard-boiled eggs and other breakfast items you buy will help Mary and her friends build somebody a home.


It takes a lot of big-hearted people to make RAGBRAI happen, and there are a hundred stories--like Doug's and Mary's--behind your Week in the Corn. In our Onawa Pork Camp, for instance, when you step off the coach, you'll get your first ear of Iowa sweet corn from Amber's Griffith's garden. Andy and Pam Stone, green-thumbed volunteers for the gorgeous Newton Arboretum, will open their learning center to our indoor sleepers. Father Charles and his small congregation at St. Mary's Church are working hard to prepare a feast for a thousand guests. And so on. And so on.


Our Week in the Corn is the Pork Belly Update that introduces you to the people--and the chickens--who will make your RAGBRAI something to remember all your days. Grab a cold one. There's a lot to tell.



There are three ways to find our campsites each day:


1) the maps of our 2018 campsites are out on the Pork Belly App. They are available on our website. And you can get them right here:





2) the Locations Card we'll give you at check-in in Onawa, pictured above


3) our directional signs



Directional Signs to Pork Camp

We jazzed up our sign a little--put a checkerboard pattern on it. When you ride into town, watch the right hand side of the road for the rider route signs. Before the route to Pork Camp diverges from the route to the main campground, we'll begin posting these signs. They are 8.5" X 11". Every charter has its own sign, various colors. Ours is black and white. You might see it posted vertically to direct you straight ahead or horizontally to signal a turn. You can also watch for our big red-and-white canopies or the large grid of look-alike tents.

Every Day with PBV


Morning Coffee/Grab-and-Go Breakfast Items


When you crawl out of that tent every morning, count on our fresh-brewed bottomless cup of coffee. We start brewing at 4:30 am. Beside the coffee trailer, you'll find an array of breakfast items from each vendor in each overnight town. The typical breakfast offerings are some combination of these suggested items: hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, bananas, some sort of donuts/pastries/muffins/sweet rolls, oatmeal packets, cheese sticks, granola bars, chocolate milk, and maybe other yummy things.


(On Monday morning, we'll have a HOT BREAKFAST, sausage and pancakes right in Pork Camp---keep reading. On Tuesday and Thursday mornings, it's possible that we'll have hot breakfast offerings like breakfast pizza or breakfast burritos.)

Trumpet Chick!

Our favorite NYC musician turned down a chance to play with Bruce Willis in the Hamptons later this month. She's an Iowa girl, and she'd rather come home and toot our reveille in Pork Camp each morning. You'll hear the trumpet of Alicia Rau in the morning and in the evening. Our Trumpet Chick will get us rolling each day.


Pork Yoga

Also on the schedule each day--Pork Yoga with Kim Stackman. Bring a mat or use our blankets. Watch our announcement boards in camp for class times. Beginners welcome. Stretch those muscles and clear your head. Be sure to give Kim a big "Namaste."

Here's a Walk through

Our Week in the Corn...


Mustering Day in Onawa

~~Saturday at a Glance~~

  • Onawa, a large commercial property including Struble Agronomy
  • 10:00 am, the Onawa shuttle starts running around town
  • All day till 8:00 pm, Check-in for PBV Weeklong Support
  • 1:00 pm to 8:00 pm—Check in for Indoor Sleeping across the street at the E-Church
  • Afternoon/Evening: Amber and her helpers will serve Maid-Rites, pulled pork sandwiches, ribeye sandwiches, baked beans, mac 'n cheese, and your first ear of Iowa sweet corn
  • Coaches arrive throughout the day; heavy arrivals from noon to 2:30 p.m.
  • Pop-up Performances from Crooner Nick Fleisinger
  • 6:00 p.m. Mannix on Stage
  • Sunday morning—grab and go breakfast items beside our coffee trailer

All day long, coaches will swing through the parking lot and unload--- coaches from Davenport, from Omaha, and from Des Moines. When you step off the coach, you'll enjoy the usual festive atmosphere in Pork Camp, and Crooner Nick Fleisinger will Fly You to the Moon with some Sinatra and Buble tunes.


Once you're checked in for support, your tent is up, and your chores are done, look around for Amber and her non-profit gymnastics crew. They'll be grilling and serving all afternoon and into the evening. If you're hungry before you check in, by all means grab a bite and check in after.


To go to the RAGBRAI Bike Expo, you can catch a shuttle in the Shopko parking lot, just across Iowa Avenue from our site. It's a straight shot to the Expo, one mile east.


Remember last year, those talented young people who blew your hair back? Once again, we'll have BluesEd high school musicians on stage. We know there's a lot going on Saturday, but try not to miss these guys. They play at Jazz on the Green and other Blues events, alongside professional adult musicians. They're awesome. 


BELOW: MANNIX, our Saturday BluesEd performers


On Top of the World in Denison

~~Sunday at a Glance~~

  • Denison, Northside Recreation Complex
  • Denison's Theme: "BACON: It's What We Smoke Here."
  • 43+ miles
  • Afternoon/Evening, Lunch Offerings in the Concession Stand from Pork Producers of Crawford County, including veggie bowls, smoked chops, pork burgers, applesauce, lettuce salad, baked beans, caramel cake, chocolate milk, fruit, and a lot more
  • Swimming pool within view
  • 4:00 p.m. Pork Yoga on the Grass
  • 5:00 p.m. Welcome Supper Included for all Weeklong Porkers, menu below
  • 5:00 p.m. Kris Lager Band on Stage
  • Monday morning—HOT BREAKFAST, SAUSAGE AND PANCAKES ON THE GRILL, plus our grab and go breakfast items beside the coffee trailer

Ease into RAGBRAI with a short first day, and find us on a large athletic field with a shady perimeter. Our showers will flow in the shadow of the Denison water tower. How lucky to have a concession stand right on site, and the Pork Producers of Crawford County will set up their grills right next to it. They'll grill your lunch AND your breakfast Monday morning. See their offerings above--they got it going on!


RIGHT: Yoga at 4:00 today, led by fellow Pork Belly rider Kim Stackman of Virginia. On all other days, you'll see yoga at 5:00, but watch the announcement boards, please, for any changes in our schedule. 


Come supper time, our old friend Tim Boisen of The Family Table is cooking up the PBV Welcome Supper. Grab a plate for Tim's marinated turkey filet sandwiches, along with potato salad, rotini salad with olives, baked beans, a green lettuce salad, and brownies for dessert. Supper tonight is included in our support. (The vegetarian entree is veggie lasagna.) On stage, we're thrilled to introduce The Kris Lager Band, an Omaha institution whose grooves are highly contagious.


BELOW: The Jefferson Little League, our Monday hosts.


The Little League in Jefferson 

~~Monday at a Glance~~

  • Jefferson, Little League Fields and Park
  • 71.7 miles (whew! a long one)
  • Afternoon-Evening Lunch Offerings from our hosts, The Little League, including burgers and hot dogs, nachos, walking tacos, chips, cookies, brownies, and chocolate milk!
  • Pop-up Performance, Crooner Nick Fleisinger: "I did it MY WAAAaaay."
  • 5:00 p.m. Pork Yoga on the Grass
  • 6:00 p.m. Supper Tonight is optional and delicious: pork medallions in au jus, roasted red potatoes, several assorted sides and salads, and a dinner roll (Veg alternative entree: broccoli alfredo)
  • 5:00 p.m. The Kay Brothers on stage, Missouri Stomp Grass
  • Tuesday morning—grab and go breakfast items beside the coffee trailer

On Monday, Porkers, you'll be coming home from a long road to the Little League Ball Park. Ya made it, and the Little League has your back. Let's show our gratitude to these wonderful hosts.


A while ago, a big storm took out their scoreboard and their dugout. Visit their concession stand for burgers, hot dogs, nachos, baked goods and more. You'll be helping them rebuild this charming old-fashioned, small town ball park and purchase equipment for the kids.


Lidderdale Country Store is known as the best caterer around Jefferson, and tonight, Bill is doing a new menu for us: pork medallions in au jus, roasted red potatoes, several assorted sides and salads, and a dinner roll. The vegetarian alternative entree is broccoli alfredo. (Get your dessert from the Little League!)

Our guests for dinner tonight are the riders of Adaptive Sports Iowa. They are athletes who embrace the challenge of RAGBRAI in spite of spinal cord injury, a lost limb, visual impairment, and brain injury. Some ASI riders have co-pilots who will also share our dinner. Please take this opportunity to meet and visit with members of the ASI team. When you see them on the road, give a shout out from Pork Belly Ventures.


LEFT: The whole ASI team will join us for dinner tonight. 

On stage tonight, gather round for The Kay Brothers with Miss Molly on the fiddle! These guys are as funny as they are talented, so sit back for stompgrass and belly laughs.


Plus Special Guests in Ames 

~~Tuesday at a Glance~~

  • Ames, the Towers Recreation Fields
  • 62.4 miles
  • 11:00 a.m. Lunch Offerings from the local HyVee Grocer and Deli, to include brats, salads and fruit cups, pulled pork sandwiches, mac salad and other sides, chips, snacks, cookies, and chocolate milk
  • All Afternoon: Drop off Dirty Laundry (to be returned fresh and clean on Wednesday)
  • 1-7 p.m. Indoor Sleepers, check in at Hanson Ag Student Center, across the way (CURRENTLY FULL)
  • 4:30 p.m. Welcome, Second-Half-Hoggers! 
  • 5:00 p.m. Farewell, First-Half-Hoggers!
  • 5:00 p.m. Pork Yoga on the Grass
  • 5:45 p.m. Hotel Folks—we’ll make two runs to your hotel in quick succession. This is the only day we make two trips.
  • 6:00 p.m. Supper Tonight is optional, a chicken breast sandwich, potato salad, honey-glazed carrots, spinach salad, and assorted cookies
  • 5:00 p.m. Far and Wide on stage, Blues and Favorite Tunes!
  • Wednesday morning, 4:30 am—grab and go breakfast items beside the coffee trailer; possibly breakfast burritos and/or breakfast pizza
  • 5:45 a.m. Hotel Folks—we’ll make two runs from your hotel in quick succession. This is the only day we make two runs.

By the time you come home on Tuesday, you'll be deep in the Pork Groove, fluent in Pork Lingo, and ready for clean clothes! Don't forget to drop off dirty laundry this afternoon,

Hansen Ag

Indoor Sleeping (FULL) is provided courtesy of Marshall Ruble and Sarah Orban who run the Hansen Agricultural Student Learning Center, just across the parking lot from our site. What is Hansen Ag? "The facility is unique to Iowa State and nearly all of the Midwest, allowing animal-human interaction through teaching laboratories, outreach activities and a variety of functions for future and current students." Our sleepers will be in classrooms and the atrium, but Marshall and Sarah have offered tours to anyone who would like to see more of this unique facility. 


RIGHT: Marshall and Sarah met with us when we scouted. We thank them for welcoming our indoor sleepers.


Supper tonight is optional: a chicken breast sandwich, potato salad, honey-glazed carrots, spinach salad, and assorted cookies. (Vegetarian alternative entree is a black-bean burger.) And you'll enjoy the youthful BluesEd musicians of Far and Wide, pictured below. These kids rocked the place last year in Charles City. Don't miss their Tuesday performance in Ames at 6:00 pm.


Best Pulled Pork in Newton

~~Wednesday at a Glance~~

  • Newton, the far end of Agnes Peterson Memorial Park--beautiful!
  • 59.1 miles
  • 11:00 a.m. Afternoon/Evening Offerings at the concession stand will include walking tacos, yogurt, watermelon, bananas, snacks, chips, sweets, chocolate milk, and more!
  • Late Afternoon: Claim Your Clean Laundry Today
  • 2-7 p.m. Indoor Sleepers, check in at Arboretum Learning Center near the park entrance (FULL)
  • 5:00 p.m. Pork Yoga on the Grass
  • 6:00 p.m. Supper Tonight is Included for All Weeklong Porkers (Best Pulled Pork in Iowa from Moo's BBQ, menu below)
  • 5:00 p.m. Us and Them on stage, Funky Blues and Favorite Tunes!
  • Thursday morning—grab and go breakfast items beside the coffee trailer

Our Beautiful Park

and the Arboretum

Come home tonight to Agnes Peterson Memorial Park. Follow the road through the park, past the Arboretum, past the baseball fields, to Pork Belly Ventures' pretty parkscape with scattered shade trees. If you signed up for indoor sleeping, you'll enjoy the air-conditioned learning center at the park entrance--but anyone with PBV can take the serene and stunning walk along the garden path of the Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.


Below, meet Pam and Andy Stone, two devoted volunteers of Project AWAKE, and caretakers of the Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.



Clean Laundry--Ahhhh.

Sometime in the very late afternoon when the laundry truck rolls in, we'll organize clean laundry bags. The crew will jump in and loosely alphabetize the bags. Don't grab your own laundry bag--"Richards" looks too much like "Richardson," "Barrett" looks too much like "Barnett," and a wrongly claimed bag creates panic. Let the crew find your bag and hand it to you. Enjoy the pleasure of sweet-smelling duds to carry you through!

Moo's Barbecue is a Newton favorite, and they're exclusive to PBV tonight. This supper is included with our support, and it could be your favorite of the week. You'll have a choice of Jeremy's Award-Winning pulled pork or pulled chicken, a delicious bakery bun and sauce, cheesy potatoes, slaw, a slice of smoked bacon, and a cookie. Vegetarian alternative entree is smoked tofu.


Tonight, it's the great energy of Us and Them on stage. This band got raves on Saturday of last year. Wednesday is a shorter cycling day, and you should be fresh! We fully expect some foot-tapping, hand clapping, and hopping around!


Hospitality-Plus in Sigourney

~~Thursday at a Glance~~

  • Sigourney, St. Mary’s Church--the shade churchyard and the meadow out back.
  • 68.6 miles plus century loop (a long one)
  • 11:00 a.m. Lunch Offerings from St. Mary's volunteers: chicken breast sandwich or a brat patty sandwich with chips and watermelon slices. Snacks and candy too!
  • 1-7 p.m. Indoor Sleepers, check in at Parish Hall or Church Basement (some spaces are FULL, check-in times vary, see below)
  • 5:00 p.m. Pork Yoga on the Grass
  • 4:30 to 8:00 p.m. Supper Tonight is Optional, served in the Parish Hall: beef and noodles, mashed potatoes, green beans, a dinner roll, and a slice of pie! You can dine inside or bring your plate outside to hear the band.
  • 6:00 p.m. Tara Vaughn and her band on stage--classic voice, classic covers!
  • When the band takes a break, we will take a moment to recognize the hard-working Pork Belly Crew.
  • Friday morning—grab and go breakfast items beside the coffee trailer

During my weekly phone conversations with our hosts at St. Mary's Church, we talk about everything from carrying heavy roaster pans to sleeping in the church basement. These folks have been planning for months, preparing their buildings and grooming the grounds to welcome Pork Belly Ventures. Be sure to tell them thank you.

Tonight's dinner is optional--an old-fashioned church supper, high on carbs and calories! Beef and noodles, mashed potatoes, green beans, a dinner roll, and a slice of pie. (Vegetarian alternative entree, broccoli and noodles in alfredo sauce.)


Indoor Sleeping--If you're not sure where you've been assigned, please come to our front desk. Those who have reserved will be sleeping in the parish hall (classrooms and dining halls) or in the church basement. The dining halls will be available after 8:00 p.m.


On Stage tonight, we'll feature someone new to PBV. "Tara Vaughan's soulful vocals and piano techniques are reminiscent of a bygone era, but still have a unique and modern sensibility. In her vocal style, you can hear echoes and influences of the great Carol King and Sam Cooke. Her abilities on the piano style that calls to mind rock greats Elton John and Billy Joel." Gather round for a a lot of good memories. 


Hallelujah in Iowa City


BELOW: Last year's Hallelujah moment in Waukon. Let's sing it again in Iowa City.

~~Friday at a Glance~~

  • Iowa City, Mercer Park and Aquatic Center
  • 57.6 miles
  • Indoor Swimming Facility on Site!
  • 11:00 a.m. Lunch Offerings from Estella’s Mexican Food (bowls and burritos) or snacks and sweets from Habitat for Humanity, including Kalona Supernatural Chocolate Milk!
  • 1-7 p.m. Indoor Sleepers, check in at Southeast Junior High next to Tent City
  • All afternoon, claim your PBV Souvenir Poster at our Front Desk
  • 5:00 p.m. Pork Yoga on the Grass
  • 6:00 p.m. PBV Farewell Supper Tonight is Included for All Weeklong Porkers, menu below.
  • 6:00 p.m. The Ramblers on stage, our rockabilly house band!
  • 8:00 p.m. Hallelujah! Join us and sing!
  • Friday morning—grab and go breakfast items beside the coffee trailer from Doug Darrow’s chicken ranch and Habitat for Humanity Women Build!

 Your 57-mile pedal will lead you to beautiful Mercer Park, with the Aquatic Center on site and our friendly junior high school next door for indoor sleeping. This shady park is a sweet place to say "Aloha" and sing Hallelujah. 

We'll have two afternoon vendors today--Estella's of Iowa City offering bowls and burritos, and our friends from Habitat for Humanity offering snacks and sweets AND Kalona Supernatural Chocolate Milk!

ABOVE: Here's Gracie, tubing souvenir posters for our riders. Our favorite Iowa artists, Carolyn Blattel-Britton, has signed all of this year's posters. Carolyn's art on your wall will stir up conversations about what you did on your summer vacation.



For the PBV Farewell Dinner (included in weeklong support), we'll savor a smoked brisket sandwich on a bakery bun, potato salad, apple/cabbage slaw, and a corn muffin--all from Wildwood Smokehouse in Iowa City.

On stage, Porkers, you will give it up for our long-time rockabilly friends, The Ramblers. These guys have been with us for a long while now, and they always deliver an awesome repertoire, giving every song their own unique flavor.  Their harmonies will melt your heart. For Aloha Friday, there's nobody better.

We didn't realize last year how profound a thing it is when 1400 people stand together and sing. Now we know.


We're doing this again, friends, and we invite you to gather at 8:00 p.m. on Friday evening, and raise your voices with us. Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah is such a dignified song, and our lyrics are not--a combination that makes you laugh with a little lump in your throat.


Need a song sheet? Download it HERE: HALLELUJAH SONG SHEET 

To hear last year's Hallelujah, ask us for update #7.


On Saturday morning in Iowa City, when it's still dark outside, the Habitat for Humanity Women Build volunteers will be offering breakfast beside our trailer--including those eggs from Rapid Creek Ranch. Let's reward the hard work of these women builders--and these chickens--and support them on our last morning of RAGBRAI.


[We hear that Doug Darrow is looking for another retired RAGBRAI team bus to use for a coop. His chickens are multiplying. Anybody out there got a tired old bus for Doug?]


All Done in Davenport 

~~Saturday at a Glance~~

  • Davenport, St. Ambrose University, Rogo Parking Lot
  • 68.9 miles (a long final day—plan it, depart early, make short stops)
  • All day, Pizza by the Slice from Johnny’s Pizza
  • 1:00 to 3:00 All PBV Shuttles depart in this window.
  • 2:30 p.m. Pork Showers will depart, St. Ambrose Showers continue till 5:00.

Yet this week, we'll send you an update about the first and last days of RAGBRAI. You can print that one and bring it with you.


We hope you have an open duffel bag on your bedroom floor. We'll be on your screens again in once or twice before we roll. Thank you, Porkers, for passing the corn with Pork Belly Ventures.


All our best,


Tammy and Pete