RAGBRAI 2019      

Pork Belly Update #1---Shuttle Details and Departure Times

February 11, 2019

Dear Porkers,

´╗┐The RAGBRAI Route of 2019 was announced on January 26th, and our photos of the big party are included in this update. RAGBRAI never disappoints, and we are headed for eight great overnight towns, including Hot-Air-Balloon central, TWO Mississippi River towns, and the Bridges of Madison County. More about our beautiful and unusual route below.


As promised, Update #1 is largely comprised of details on our shuttles, including the departure times. Some of you plan to fly to/from Iowa, and you'll need these shuttle departure times (and shuttle travel times) in order to make your airline reservations.


But first, a wintertime treat for you....

ABOVE: Nick, Mick, and Jim with their Iowa map at our table on January 26th, the RAGBRAI Route Announcement Party

Something Nice in the Wintertime:

FREE Six-Month Trial Membership

to Adventure Cycling Association


Those of you who are new to this offer, click on the link below to get a 6-Month Trial Membership to an amazing cycling organization and advocacy group, Adventure Cycling. With your trial membership, you'll get four or five issues of this terrific magazine, Adventure Cyclist. Here's a list of member benefits:


  • Adventure Cyclist magazine - published 9 times a year  
  • Discounts on maps in the entire 46,846-mile Adventure Cycling Route Network
  • The Cyclosource catalog - our book, map, & gear guide
  • Members-only online resources and articles
  • Access to our special organized tours
  • And much more!


We thank Adventure Cycling Association for allowing us to extend this offer again in Update #1 of the season. While some of us are watching the beginnings of our current snowstorm, it's nice to at least imagine cycling outside! Adventure Cyclist Magazine will help!

Click below for your FREE 6-Month Trial Membership!



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The 2019 RAGBRAI Route:

New Twists, Old Turns


After 47 years crossing our state from west to east, how do RAGBRAI officials still manage to surprise and delight us? Well, they've done it again, with a route that runs just south of I-80, due east, and then takes a couple of plunges toward the Missouri State Line, ending in Iowa's southernmost town, way down in Mark Twain territory on the wide Mississippi. Here's our 2019 route with a few highlights...




Council Bluffs was a jumping off point on the Lewis and Clark Trail, the Mormon Trail, and the Oregon-California Trail--and now for the sixth time, it's the jumping off point for RAGBRAI. You'll do the ceremonial rear-tire dip in this Missouri River town, and take a tune-up ride across the curvy Bob Kerry Pedestrian Bridge.




On Sunday, your ride to Atlantic, the Cass County seat and birthplace of Pete Phillips, is only 58 miles, a great distance for easing into your week in the corn!

ABOVE: The Atlantic Chamber of Commerce

BELOW: One of Madison County's covered bridges

On Monday, it's 68 miles to Winterset, in Iowa's famous Madison County, home to the covered bridges featured in the novel and film. Winterset is John Wayne's birthplace, and it's the smallest town on this year's route, with a population of just over 5000.


Tuesday's ride is a mere 39 miles. That number strikes fear into the hearts of all charter operators. Take your time on the road today, folks, and we'll hurry over to Indianola and set up as quickly as we can. Indianola is known around here for colorful hot air balloons!

Here's the trade-off for that short day on Tuesday. Pace yourselves, Porkers. It's a shift to the south, 78 miles to Centerville on Wednesday. Centerville boasts the World's Largest Town Square--blocks of beautiful old buildings. We were just there in 2016, and we've already talked to one of the best caterers in Pork History. There'll be a heavy plate waiting for you after the longest ride of the week.

We're off to Fairfield on Thursday, 65 cycling miles to the home of the Maharishi University. We're betting that this comes as a surprise to many of you... a vedic city in southern Iowa.

Front-tire dip #1 could occur on Friday this year. Your ride to Burlington, right on the Mississip, is 57 miles, leaving you plenty of time to dip on your way to Pork Camp. Burlington is famous for Snake Alley, a steep and twisting brick street, touted as the crookedest in the world. This is the first time that RAGBRAI has featured TWO Mississippi River towns on one RAGBRAI route.

RAGBRAI 2019 finishes in Keokuk, the southernmost town of Iowa, with 62 miles to ride on the final Saturday. This is the second spot for tire-dipping, and it's a pretty one.

Total mileage is 427, and it's the 8th flattest, 6th shortest, and the 8th easiest in RAGBRAI history. If all goes according to plan, you can expect the route detail, with all the pass-through towns, by the middle of next month. Usually you can download your daily rider route maps then, too.

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Pork Availability

All PBV Services and Shuttles are available (except our PHAT rooms). Feel free to sign up for any service. By all means, take time to ask questions. We'll be keeping you posted on Pork Availability by means of updates like this one. (The tent service is usually the first to sell out, but not for a good while yet.)


Our 2019 Invitation Letter 

If you've just tuned in, here's the whole scoop on the route, the mileage, and the services of Pork Belly Ventures... PBV INVITATION LETTER

E-Bikes and CPAP Machines

We warmly welcome folks who will be riding E-Bikes, but we need to know about it, please. We've been working on a special arrangement for daily charging of a limited number E-Bike batteries. So be sure to write to tammy@pkbelly.com if you're bringing an E-Bike to Pork Camp in July.


Same thing for CPAP Machines. We need to know if you're bringing one, and we want to send you some information about how we can help you with electricity or with charging a battery. We know that bringing your machine greatly improves the quality of your sleep, and importantly, it's a remedy for sleep apnea. But write to us sooner rather than later, please, so you'll understand what we offer and also the limits of what we can do. Thanks!

Contact Us!

As you read the information on our shuttles below, you might still have questions about travel planning. You may have other questions about what we offer, your logistical concerns, or a special situation. That's what we're here for, Porkers, so please call or write to either of us anytime. We enjoy visiting with you, and we'll reply to emails as quickly as possible:


Tammy, tammy@pkbelly.com,

712-328-0161 h, 808-375-8921 c

Pete, pete@pkbelly.com,

402-681-2613 c

ABOVE: That's Sara, Rob, Mick, Pete, Doug, Dave, Jim, and Dan at the party before the party. (Not pictured: Nick, Mike, and Tammy) On January 27th, there's always a gap between the big Bike Expo and the Route Announcement Party. Thank goodness for Billy Buzzards, just across the street.

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A big reason for this update is to give you the most complete info we have on all shuttles. Some of you are already buying airline tickets. That's great, but do bear in mind our shuttle departure times as you make your travel plans. You'll find a pretty thorough summary of our shuttles, and remember that all shuttle prices include your seat on a comfortable, air-conditioned motor coach, and transport of your baggage and a bicycle.


PBV Shuttles Prior to RAGBRAI


Omaha Airport to Council Bluffs, the start town

  • Price: $20 per person
  • About 15 minutes on the coach
  • Staggered departures throughout Saturday, 7/20, approximately 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

This is our most popular airport shuttle, on the west side of the state, the nearest airport to the start of RAGBRAI most years. This year, it's really close. On Saturday, July 20, our motor coaches will depart at intervals throughout the day, beginning at about 8:00 am, with the last coach departing for Council Bluffs at 4:00 pm. All coaches will depart from the north parking lot of the Candlewood Suites hotel at the Omaha airport.


Omaha is a great jumping-off point for people who fly to Iowa or drive in from points west, south, or northwest. We return to Omaha after RAGBRAI (see Return to Omaha below). The Omaha International Airport is served by most domestic carriers. There's a great deal of information about this shuttle in our 2018 invitation letter (link above), including descriptions and phone numbers of our side-by-side airport hotels. We have blocks of rooms at both hotels before and after RAGBRAI (Friday, July 19, and Saturday, July 27). Long-term parking is available nearby for $4.50 to $6 per day, depending on whether you choose a sheltered lot or an unsheltered lot. Valet parking from either hotel is free.


We always offer this word to the wise. It’s advisable to hedge your bets and arrive in Omaha early. For good reason, many veterans will arrive on Friday afternoon or evening. Every year, luggage is lost by airlines. Every year, flights are delayed or, God forbid, cancelled. The earlier you plan to fly into Omaha, the more likely you'll be able to pivot to Plan B. When you plan to arrive at 3:00 p.m. for our last bus at 4:00 p.m., a delayed flight severely limits your options and our ability to help. When RAGBRAI's in town, Uber has limits, too. So feel free to call me with any questions about when to arrive in Omaha: Tammy, 712-328-0161.

Our East/West Shuttle, end to start town, Keokuk to Council Bluffs

  • $160 per person
  • Approximately 5 hours across Iowa from the end-town to the start-town
  • One or more departure times on Friday afternoon, 7/19--tentatively 1:00 and 3:00 p.m.
  • Three morning departure times on Saturday morning, 7/20--tentatively 7:00, 8:00, and 9:00 a.m.*


*We spread out the Saturday departure times a bit this year, with a full hour between departures. This is in response to requests from our riders.


If you plan to use our East/West Shuttle, give some thought to whether you'd like to travel across the state on Friday afternoon (extra night of camping in Council Bluffs) or on Saturday morning (one night of camping in Council Bluffs). Those who shuttle on Friday will get settled in camp on Friday night, will check in for Weeklong Support on Friday night, and will have more time to spend at the huge RAGBRAI Bike Expo on Saturday. 


Talk to your friends and think it over. No need to tell us your departure preference now. In June, we'll be asking you which departure day and time you prefer on the East/West Shuttle.


The East/West Shuttle is a great option for those who drive to Iowa from points east (or from the south or north) and who want to park their vehicles at the end of the ride. Our shuttle carries you to the ride start, and you'll spend your week pedaling back to your car.

Des Moines Airport Hotel to Council Bluffs, the start town

  • $115 per person
  • About 2 hours on the coach
  • Saturday morning, 8:00 bike loading, 9:15 departure


On Saturday morning, 7/20, our coach and bike truck will stage at 8:00 a.m. in the parking lot of the Airport AmericInn Hotel, just off Fleur Drive. We will load bikes and baggage, board the coach, and depart at about 9:15. Last year, we had two motor coaches on this shuttle, and we assume we'll have two again.


Des Moines has an international airport served by many domestic carriers, and it's a good jumping-off point for many Iowans and for those who find it convenient to fly or drive into Des Moines. It could be great for those who drive up from the Kansas City area. (Des Moines is not near the beginning or the end of RAGBRAI. It's toward the center of the state. BUT, Des Moines IS a lot closer to the start and finish of RAGBRAI than it has been in recent years, and consequently, you would spend considerably less time and money on these shuttles than in 2017, for instance. Remember, though, that Omaha is closest to the start and Quad Cities is closest to the end.) 


We have blocks of rooms reserved before and after RAGBRAI at the Des Moines AmericInn Hotel, just off of Fleur Drive. To take advantage of our $97 rate, call (515) 285-5180 and mention Pork Belly Ventures for a reservation. For those who drive, the hotel may offer you Park and Fly for $20, allowing you to leave a vehicle in their lot for the week (subject to availability), and you may need to spend at least one night at the hotel for this parking privilege. If you don’t plan a stay at the hotel, there’s an airport parking facility just down Fleur Drive for about $5 per day. No need to reserve this facility in advance, but allow plenty of time to park and get back to catch the shuttle.


BELOW: Pete, waiting for the big announcement

PBV Shuttles After RAGBRAI


End town to nearest Airport, Quad Cities International Airport in Moline, Illinois (MLI)

  • $75 per person
  • Two-plus hours on the coach, perhaps longer if there's traffic congestion, which often happens in RAGBRAI end towns.
  • Departures from Pork Camp at 12:30 and 3:30* p.m., with one departure in between.


* This year, we will offer both earlier and later departures to the Quad Cities than we have in the past, in response to requests from our riders.


The cycling route on the final day of RAGBRAI is only 62 miles. On Saturday, July 27th, our coaches will depart at 12:30 and 3:30 p.m., with a third coach to depart between the two. (We can't announce the time of this departure. It will depart when we have a sufficient number of passengers on board, so that we know the last coach can accommodate the rest.)


When booking your airline reservation, be sure to pad your schedule, as traffic is unpredictable on the last day of RAGBRAI. Our shuttle will carry you directly from our mustering area in Keokuk north two hours (or more) to the Departures area of the Quad Cities International Airport. From there, you may go to car rentals, you may catch a free shuttle to any number of airport hotels, or you may go directly to the gates to catch your afternoon/evening flight.


We don't have relationships with any particular hotels on the east side of Iowa. But you will have no trouble reserving a room in advance near this airport. Simply google hotels near MLI.


A round trip into and out of one airport used to be the most economical way to fly. Now it is no longer cost prohibitive to fly into one airport and out of another. Some folks who fly into Omaha prefer to fly out of the Quad Cities, the closest airport to the end town.


[Note: we don't pick up from the Quad Cities airport before RAGBRAI.]

End town, returning to Omaha Airport Hotel

  • $161 per person
  • Approximately 5 hours. 
  • Several departures between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m.*

The cycling route on the final day of RAGBRAI is 62 miles. Our shuttle will carry you directly from our mustering area in Keokuk to our side-by-side Omaha airport hotels.


* This year, we will offer both earlier and later departures returning to Omaha than we have in the past, in response to requests from our riders.


On Saturday, July 27th, our first coach will depart at 12:30 or when all seats are filled. After that, we will release coaches as they fill, with the last coach departing at 3:30 p.m. All coaches will return to the Candlewood Suites hotel at the Omaha airport, next door to the Best Western Plus (formerly the Holiday Inn Express). A free shuttle can carry you to the long-term parking facility to retrieve your vehicle. On Sunday morning, a free shuttle can carry you to the airport to catch your flight home.


NOTE: Pork Belly Ventures does not make stops along the way to drop off riders going to different destinations. We also do not return to long-term parking in the start town.

End town, returning to Des Moines Airport Hotel

  • $140 per person
  • Approximately 3 hours on the coach
  • One or two coaches departing pretty close to 3:30 p.m.


The cycling route on the final day of RAGBRAI is 62 miles. On Saturday, July 27th, these coaches will depart in the late afternoon, at about 3:00 and 3:30 p.m. and return to the AmericInn Hotel, just off of Fleur Drive. Subject to availability, the hotel may be able to offer you their Park and Fly arrangement, weeklong parking in the hotel lot for only $20. A free shuttle can take you to the airport on Sunday morning. 


We have blocks of rooms reserved before and after RAGBRAI at the Des Moines AmericInn Hotel, just off of Fleur Drive. To take advantage of our $97 rate, call (515) 285-5180 and mention Pork Belly Ventures for a reservation. 

Shuttles PBV Will Not Offer in 2019:

Cedar Rapids, Chicago, and St Louis

Like any charter, we can only go in so many directions on a given day. After RAGBRAI, for obvious reasons, we have chosen the Quad Cities International Airport, much nearer the end town of Keokuk than the Cedar Rapids airport further north. We are far from Chicago and St. Louis and do not offer shuttles to/from those cities. Please write or call us to talk about which of our shuttles may be right for you.

ABOVE: Nick, enjoying the party

Half Hog Options with Departure Times 

Some folks can't go Whole Hog this year, and here are your options of going Half Hog, riding the first half or last half of RAGBRAI, with Pork Belly Ventures.


You can ride the first three days and jump out on Tuesday at Indianola, or you can jump in on Tuesday at Indianola and ride the last four days.


On Tuesday afternoon/evening, 7/23, Pork Belly Ventures has a block of rooms reserved at the Des Moines AmericInn Hotel, just off of Fleur Drive. To take advantage of our $97 rate, call (515) 285-5180 and mention Pork Belly Ventures for a reservation. 


Option 1: First-Half-Hog Package (for those riding Sunday, Monday, Tuesday)  

You may choose among our shuttles to the start town, but if you're parking a car, you should park in Des Moines at or near our designated airport hotel and use our shuttle to the start ($115). Our prorated weeklong support is $65 per day, and three days is $195. To depart from our Tuesday overnight town of Indianola on 7/23, you may take our midweek exit shuttle at about 5:00 p.m., arriving at our designated Des Moines airport hotel at about 6:00 p.m. The exit shuttle is $42. 


Hotel and long-term parking info above. 

Option 2: Last-Half-Hog Package (for those riding Wednesday through Saturday) 


To enter RAGBRAI on Tuesday afternoon, 7/23, you can take our shuttle from our designated Des Moines airport hotel to the overnight town of Indianola, departing the hotel parking lot at about 3:30 p.m. and arriving in camp at about 4:30 p.m. This Half Hog shuttle is $41. Our prorated weeklong support is $65 per day, and four days is $260. You may choose among our shuttles at week’s end, but if you parked a vehicle in Des Moines, you would use our shuttle from Keokuk to the AmericInn Hotel at the Des Moines airport ($140).


On Tuesday, July 23, in the early to mid afternoon, our coach will be available to board in the parking lot of our designated Des Moines airport hotel. From there, we will depart for our Tuesday night campsite in Indianola, where Half-Hoggers will check in right away at our front desk (or set off to find your charter). You may spend four days with us, pedaling into Keokuk on Saturday, the 27th. From here, you can use our Keokuk/Des Moines Shuttle to return you to the Des Moines airport hotel by early evening. (In fact, you can use any of our post-RAGBRAI shuttles.) 


How To Reserve Half Hog Options 

On your PBV online application, you can select the First-Half Hog (exit shuttle) or Last-Half Hog (enter shuttle) to or from Indianola. You can also select partial-week support and choose the days you will spend with PBV. Unfortunately, the tent service can't be prorated; however, some half-week riders have gone ahead and taken a tent for the full week. Let us know, please, if you have questions about anything.


Des Moines Hotel and Parking for Half Hoggers 

On Tuesday, July 23, we have reserved a block of rooms at the Des Moines airport AmericInn Hotel just off of Fleur Drive. To take advantage of our $97 rate, call (515) 285-5180 and mention Pork Belly Ventures for a reservation on Tuesday night, July 24. It may be possible to use an inexpensive parking option at the hotel, depending on availability. The hotel offers a free shuttle to the Des Moines airport.

Even though it's cold outside, keep your spirits up, Porkers, with dreams of heat and humidity, corn and stupidity. We'll be on your screens again soon to remind you of exciting twists and turns coming this summer. Until next time, we remain...

Your friends,


Tammy and Pete


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From the Pork Belly Scrapbook...

ABOVE: Frank, a frequent and happy Porker, who is getting into gravel rides! You go, Frank. See you in July!


BELOW: Bradley and Marybeth traveled to India and China--and they took PBV with them. Thanks, guys, for these great photos of the Taj Mahal and Longmen Grottoes.

ABOVE: George and Dave of PBV, enjoying beer and pizza respectively at the Bike Ride Across Nebraska Route Announcement back in the fall.


BELOW: Our friend Nick sent this one. In his words, "after a long day of RAGBRAI 2018."