1st Time w/PBV (6th RAGBRAI)

My previous 5 RAGBRAIs were with teams. Any experienced PBVers with PBV specific advice? I signed up for the tent service which was the primary reason I went with PBV this time. I’m using the week long parking and the east-west shuttle.

14 Replies

Jeff Boyer, January 24, 2017 at 7:05 am

Hi Mootsman! This will also be my sixth Ragbrai, and all of them with Pete & Tammy at PBV. I used their tent service the first two years, and had no issues. The only thing that I would double check was the position of the ground tarp to make sure that it was not extending past the footprint of the tent.


KenH, January 24, 2017 at 7:54 am

Huh, I thought the whole point of PBV was that they take care of everything so that you needn’t worry about anything, hence no advice is needed!

Seriously, although I have never traveled with them I have been on their email list the last two or three years and their emails are very, very thorough. I doubt you will need much in the way of advice by the time you read the last one before the ride starts. They generally cover topics in the order you need to know them and in time to take care of any issues their emails raise. They impress me as an excellent operation.

On the other hand, I went with a charter myself for the first time last year, the reasonably priced and excellent Argo-Riverbend Club Charter. My four previous rides were in a team motorhome. Between the advice found in the PBV letters, the Riverbend letters, and here from people such as yourself I had no trouble jumping into the RAGBRAI tent camping culture. It all went off without a hitch. So I think you will be fine, I don’t think it will take any time at all for you to adapt to being pampered by PBV!


VIKING, January 24, 2017 at 8:01 am

Hi Mootsman. This will be my 10th Ragbrai. All with PBV. I have always taken my own tent. At some point I may also use their tent service. The bags gets heavier every year. It would be nice to have the bags in the tent when you get to camp. As long as you don’t ride to fast. With the short miles this year the tents may not be setup when you get there. Also I have used the Friday east-west shuttle. You get to spend a day in the end town. You will have to pay for an extra night in the tent. With Lansing being so small the hotel will be full by now. So either you sleep in a tent or you drive real early to catch a 7 am bus. I’ll be looking for a hotel in Dubuque. Which is about a 2 hour drive to Lansing. The bus will most likely start leaving around 1 pm on Friday. Hope to see you in camp.


Nico ZZZ, January 24, 2017 at 10:37 am

I also do tent service with PBV, plus shipping and shuttles. Perfect for me. Friendly and professional and so organized.

PBV specific advice: Pack your PBV drink (beer) mug on top of everything in your bag, so when you get in to camp you can get a cold one ASAP. Also, bring the mug with you so you can have a beer while in the shower line. (I have mine attached at all times via a carabiner, others use a lanyard.)

They offer a midweek laundry service, so you can pack less. Remember they give you a new shirt when you arrive, so that is one less shirt to pack.

There will be a sea of identical tents, so returning to your tent after that middle of the night KYBO run can be brutal – I bring a couple of flags to attach to my tent so I can find MY tent. My neighbors also like my flags of course because they help them navigate!
Ride On Porker!


mbreu2002, January 24, 2017 at 1:39 pm

I rode with PBV my first year (2017 will be my 10th RAGBRAI). My suggestion would be to consider a smaller charter. To accommodate as many riders as PBV does, they have to stay on the far edges of the town. They also could not locate my bike and insisted that the reason was bacause I shipped it to RAGBRAI, not PBV. I had to prove to them that I shipped it to the correct place before they would even go look for it (they found it 20 minutes later). So consider bringing proof. Finally, keep your gear in your tent. I left mine a ways away from my tent and one of their guys took it for “safe keeping.” While that was thoughtful on their part, I had to spend the night under a bus because they took my tent!



Michrider !!!, January 24, 2017 at 2:12 pm

Pork Belly Ventures is my favorite charter!!! I’ve traveled across Iowa with Tammy & Pete for 8 years. I used 2 other charters before I found them. From my experience, I believe PBV is the best Charter on RAGBRAI!!! My PBV tent has been destroyed by Iowa storms, on two different nights (2 different RAGBRAI’s). On both occasions PBV supplied me with a new tent! I love their rental tent system. I leave my 2 bags inside my tent in the AM. When I get to the next overnight town, I discover my bags inside my tent once again. It’s a great system! I consider Pete & Tammy as my friends!!! https://pkbelly.com/content/emailedUpdate/2017_invitation
BTW, RAGBRAI don’t care!!!


BillSpriggs, January 24, 2017 at 8:48 pm

I’ve used PBV the four times that I’ve done RAGBRAI and I will use them again this year. I utilize their shipping service and it works really well, my bike is at camp when I get there, all I have to do is put it together. PBV transports my hard case to the end town so on the last day all I have to do is pack it up and hall it over to the FedEx truck. I also ship a medium size box with my “larger” stuff. It’s pricey but the convenience is worth it. The only down side that I’ve found, and it hasn’t been an issue, is the crowd. PBV serves a lot of people. If crowds bother you don’t do RAGBRAI, it is hard to get away from the crowds. The tent service is great, it is really nice to leave your bags in the tent in the morning and have them there when you get to the next overnight town. My only problem has been that I ride early and fast and on the shorter days I have to wait while they get the tents set up. The up side is that last year I never waited in line for a shower. Mid week laundry service is great, one year I left $6.00 in a jersey pocket and it was returned with my clean laundry. They always have a good variety of “snack” items in the mornings and lunch is always available in the afternoons.


John Fontaine, January 25, 2017 at 3:30 am

This is my fifth Ragbrai all with Pork Belly. They outstanding. All of the above advise/facts are correct. I travel with my pork mug OM MY BIKE, so I get beer immediately if necessary! Tammie and Pete and all the staff are amazing. If you get to camp prior to them setting up, you need to slow down and enjoy the ride more. I’ve done it….on a day when I just needed to get through it and get off the bike, and it was very relaxing and quiet to sit and watch the process of the camping area fill with tents. The best thing is that it all is as advertised. They deliver what they say they will deliver.


mootsman, January 25, 2017 at 6:46 am

Good advice about marking your rental tent in order to find it gringonnick. Will do.

And thanks MR and all others for steering me to PBV. My team is great but the last time I had my own tent it broke 3 poles in less then a week. Maybe I let it get too old but I decided for a real vacation without the tent headaches PBV sounded too good. RAGBRAI may not care but I like the deluxe charter.

As far as a hotel the night before, look north only 33 miles to La Crosse. I am. About a 45 minute drive without traffic jam considerations in Lansing.


Carl Anderson, January 25, 2017 at 1:34 pm

Well this will be my second Ragbrai and it will be my first with Pork Belly venture. Last year I had my family and I was always worried about my time and my family being bored at the overnight town, This year I just wanted to take my time and enjoy each town. Last year I was interested in riding every mile, now that I know I can, I am going to let the Magic of Ragbrai take me and do events and a lot of discovery and most of all a lot of biking with like minded people who enjoy being on a bike as much as I dom. While it is important to get to the overnight town in the 12 hours, I am not going to worry about it near as much this year as if I am late, I am confident in my ability to ride safely to the overnight town as I am from Kanawha which is only 40 minutes away from Algona and have ridden there. I am not a big drinker but do like to visit with people and I do like wine tasting.


Iceman !, January 25, 2017 at 2:31 pm

I’ll be using PBV this year, but it will be on Big Bam.


Richard Arnopolin, January 26, 2017 at 8:28 pm

Also riding east west shuttle. This will be my 5th Ragbrai, all with charters. Used PBV last year for first time. A bit pricey with the tent rental (single) but worth it. Only two MINOR complaints. a) one time my tent area was at bottom of a hill. had some pretty good hikes to get anywhere, but it is what it is. b) sometimes its difficult to locate where your tent has been set up. Also, the shower line sometimes seemed very long but actually moved very quickly. I would skip the laundry service based on what I saw. Chairs in the cooling areas fill up quickly, especially at dinner. Other charters were Bubba and Shuttle Guy. If you’re going to drop the big bucks PBV is the best IMHO.


Richard Arnopolin, January 26, 2017 at 8:32 pm

Iceman! I am also signing up for Big Bam but without PBV. Who would have thought that a training ride prior to Ragbrai would be more difficult than Ragbrai itself?


John Fontaine, January 27, 2017 at 3:07 am

Laundry service is awesome. I limit the number of kits I bring. I send them to the laundry and I smell better for the last days. Enjoy!


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