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Charter Q from first timer – Pork Belly Ventures vs. Central Iowa Charters

This is my first ride and I’ve been comparing services, prices etc. Central Iowa Charters seems like they have the bases covered — rental tent set up, showers, etc. But I guess PBV is more of a comprehensive community thing, with music, food etc as well? Trying to decide who to go with.

15 Replies

mjeller, February 21, 2020 at 2:57 pm

Hi Glenn. Some of this may depend on your logistics and where it’s easiest for you to catch your charter. I’m actually not familiar with CIC, which surprises me a little since I’m in central Iowa, but they look kosher based on their website. Looks like you could load in either DSM or Ankeny.
I am familiar with PBV, but only because I’ve been camped near them. They look to always be having a good time – food, entertainment, etc. However, they are usually a rather large group. Don’t know if that appeals to you or not. I’ll be doing my 6th year this year chartering with Bike World (out of either Ames or West Des Moines). I’ve been very satisfied with their service and really enjoy that I’ve gotten to know people that charter with them year after year.
Bottom line – I think any of the Ragbrai sanctioned charters are probably pretty decent. This will be my 6th year riding solo, so I definitely count on Bike World to keep me on track! :)
You are in for an adventure like no other! Enjoy!!


Mike Howe, February 21, 2020 at 4:11 pm

Ive used PBV the last 3 years and they have been great. Its probably the largest charter so theyre not always near downtown festivities but theres usually a shuttle that will take you to and from downtown each evening. They provide a tent service that costs extra and its pretty organized. Three dinners are included with your registration and you can purchase dinners for the other 4 nights if you wish. free coffee each morning, and free beer in the afternoon. They also have snacks, water,soda, and other food items for sale each afternoon after your done riding. Some mornings they have breakfast items for sale or Hy Vee will be there selling food. They have 2 charging stations/trailers to charge your phone, ipad, watch, computer etc. You get a lot of “stuff” with PBV for the price. You cant go wrong with them. Any of the charters will be good, just depends on what amenities and services youre looking for i guess.


Glenn Ruppel, February 21, 2020 at 8:17 pm

Thanks! I looked at Bike World as well but it doesn’t seem like they have their own showers, which seems to be a good option to have. Also PBV is tempting but — not having ridden Ragbrai before– it seems like one might get less of the local town flavor since you’re getting food and entertainment from them. Undecided!


Mike Howe, February 21, 2020 at 9:25 pm

You dont have to eat the PBV food. PBV has a ton of showers that are included and they provide you a towel each day so thats one less thing you have to pack and worry about. The entertainment in town is much better than PBV. I eat the “free” meal with PBV then head downtown to eat more. Youll find that the downtown food vendors are mostly the same each day so I try to eat at a local restaraunt or a Pizza Ranch Buffet ?


Eric Strobel, February 21, 2020 at 10:44 pm

Glen, I’m with you…Undecided. This if my first time riding Ragbrai as well. I’ve been looking at them all and can’t make up my mind. Bubba’s looks like a good choice as well. What can people tell us if a charter doesn’t have showers where do you go for that? I love the idea of having that close as well as having a tent and blow up mattress waiting for me at the end of day riding.


Kelli Libby, February 23, 2020 at 9:00 am

Hello. Welcome to an adventure!!!
All the charters have great things going for them, you just have to decide what you want from your ride.
Pork belly is the largest RAGBRAI charter, some pros and cons of such a huge group.
Pros large number of people to help you if needed, Pete has shower trucks, breakfast truck available, and towels, entertainment and liquor, he offers meals at camp, a phone charging truck, bus services and more.
Cons. Pork belly HUGE camp to get across, long lines, extra charges or top buckets, because they are so big towns often have to put their location outside of town and far from the RAGBRAI experience.
Lost and Found Adventures is one of the original Official charters with RAGBRAI. I know I have ridden with them and now work for them.
We offer tent services, showers (where the towns permit), snacks and refreshments 3 free a day then a nominal replacement fee after the first 3. Free coffee in the morning.
We have a free wine and cheese meet and greet the night before the start. We have family friendly helpful staff. All of our staff have ridden RAGBRAI. We post the town map and information about churches with food, the Expo, downtown events and what direction to head out the next morning. We try and make YOUR RAGBRAI about the ride and let us take care of the little stuff.
Check us out!

PS We have a live person to call and ask any questions. She has ridden RAGBRAI and loves to help virgins.


garywilk, February 23, 2020 at 4:38 pm

I have used a few and if you do not mind roughing it a bit, OOS is less expensive and enjoy the entertainment in town and the local churches or other organizations food. Bubba’s is a step up and failry good. Set up tents and take you across the state at the beginning. It is nice if you park in the end town so you can leave when you get done. they do not have showers but they are usually very close and if not, they have a cart to take you there and back. PBV is more inclusive if you do not want to go uptown at night. I think all of the bigger ones are all good. It is just what you like and want you want to pay for.


Pedaling Pandas, February 25, 2020 at 8:38 pm

We’re a startup charter service offering a family like camping/glamping experience!

We notice not many charters post in this forum, so we won’t abuse this privilege and will limit our posting to just this one.

While we are new this year, we aren’t new to this. We’ve been involved in logistics planning for RAGBRAI Teams since 2014 and decided to venture out and offer our services to a larger group.

We’re capping our 1st year registration to 110 riders.

Charter service will pick riders/bikes/gear up in Clinton Iowa on the morning of July 18th and head to the starting town to begin the festivities!

We provide lots of goodies to our riders including the daily setup/breakdown of a luxurious Gazelle T4 Hub Tent (Everyone gets to stand!…Unless you’re like 6’6″ or taller lol), an inflatable air mattress, charging station, bike work station, snacks, hot/cold beverages, 4 in camp meals, daily towel service upon request and much more!

We’re also ecofriendly using as many biodegradable brands/materials as we can find!

One of our greatest qualities though, is that riders who have been with us on past teams have always praised us on making them feel like part of the family. We do what we love and just love what we do!

If you’re considering a first time charter service, or looking to make a change, please consider Pedaling Pandas. We’d love to opportunity to serve you. For more info, please send an email to @pedalingpandas.com”>contact@pedalingpandas.com or visit us at https://pedalingpandas.com/ragbrai-xlviii


mootsman, February 26, 2020 at 8:33 am

A few things to add to what others have said about PBV already.

1. The tent service also includes putting your luggage in your tent each day and picking it up from your tent in the morning. You don’t have to dig through piles of luggage each day to find yours. I’d highly recommend the tent service. Worth it at, well maybe not twice but at 50% more then the $495 extra charge. Messing with tents and locating luggage each day, what a waste of time when your on vacation.

2. While large it is very easy to meet new people on PBV. They have shade tents with lots of chairs as a sort of central gathering place. It is also where they feature nightly musical acts.

3) Some camp locations are a a mile outside the central downtown but always less then 2 miles which I find very walk-able. Before RAGBRAI its a good idea to check out on google maps the camp location in relation to the town’s downtown.

4) Your PBV fee includes 3 dinners and you can purchase 3 more I think. Camping on the first Saturday does not have a dinner option and I’m not sure about the last Saturday.

5) Beer and lemonade are free and included in your PBV fee. If these 2 beverages are not your preference they have canned coke products and Gatorade all chilled for a $1 a can/bottle.

6) When you get into camp there is a vendor for a lunch but lunch is better eaten on the route somewhere.


Kelli Libby, February 26, 2020 at 9:36 am



Sandaltan ., February 26, 2020 at 10:18 am

Why is not Pedaling Pandas included on the RAGBRAI Charters list under “The Ride” – “Services”?



montestaples, February 27, 2020 at 7:49 pm

Central Iowa Charters (CIC) changed names last year. Before that it was Lake Country Cyclists (LCC), named after a bike club in Ankeny, Iowa. They have been around a long time and always had riders not in the club. They are much smaller than Pork Belly Ventures with about 80-100 riders. Almost everybody brings their own tent and most set it up themselves. You can pay extra and they will setup your tent (but you take it down) or pay a lot more and they will setup and take down their tent and put your luggage in it each day. Showers in camp are bring your own sun shower bag with water available on one of the trucks. There is seldom much of a line to take showers. If we are near one of the shower trucks, or PBV shower trucks, many people with CIC will go and pay $6 for a much nicer shower experience. In my 14 years with CIC, previously LCC, I have found camp to be very quiet with only a few lights still on in tents after 9:30 PM. A lot of the same people go every year. They provide charging and coolers with beer, soda(pop), and Gatorade or something similar. This is on your honor money in a coffee can. I have never traveled with PBV but have often camped near them. PBV does provide a lot more services but you pay at least double or more. One reason I never tried PBV is because they provide free beer and I do not drink beer on RAGBRAI so I don’t want to pay for it (it really is included in the fees like everything else that is “free”). If you check out the websites for any of the Charters, I think they describe services and costs very well and you get what you pay for. I think the most important aspect of any charter is where they leave from and where they end up. CIC leaves from and returns to a Target parking lot a mile from my house. That was really handy one year when I donated my truck key along with all my change at one of the free banana stops.


Glenn Ruppel, February 27, 2020 at 9:49 pm

Thank you, so much helpful info. I thought there were real showers, I don’t actually know what a sun shower is! And yes the to/from transportation is important to me. I’m flying in from NY so prefer a city like Omaha or Des Moines — which also narrows down my options. I see some companies have no transport from nearby cities, others have more distant shuttles from St. Louis or Chicago. I also want the tent set-up/take down service, air mattress and showers. Not sure I’ll be able to get all that. Big decision!


mootsman, February 28, 2020 at 9:52 am

[quote quote=1315986]Why is not Pedaling Pandas included on the RAGBRAI Charters list under “The Ride” – “Services”?

RIDE RIGHT[/quote]

They sound more like a RAGBRAI team/group then a charter. Like the ‘Whiners’ who usually have well over 100 riders. Not the same as a charter. I’m not sure but RAGBRAI I think has some additional requirements for charters teams don’t have.


mootsman, February 28, 2020 at 9:59 am

Glenn, A sun shower is a shower tent with a shower nozzle and a place for each person to attach a black rubber bladder with water that was warmed up by being laid out in the sun. Not a great option. The team I used to go with even had a blast heater. But sun showers are an economical option. Not much of a line compared to the RAGBRAI showers.


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