Pork Belly Ventures – Terrible this year

Do you like camping miles away from restaurants, vendors, activities, and where all your friends are meeting up every night? Do you enjoy riding buses, and waiting around for them to show, just to get to where everybody else walks to have dinner? Do you like being captive to your charter’s food? Do you like your charter telling the onsite vendors that they can’t sell drinks because only pork belly can sell drinks (ie dinky Gatorade for $2)?

Pork belly 2018 was all this and more. I’ll never use them again.

52 Replies

Mike Howe, July 29, 2018 at 10:34 am

I agree 100%. I used them last year and this year. The people/crew are nice and provide good services. But Im afraid they have become almost too big for their own good. I didnt like being on the out skirts of town either. Even when youre on the outskirts of town people still seem to have to set their tent right on top of yours. Loved having bike back half way to Iowa City to get my bags after the ride into Davenport. I will be looking for other accomedations next year. Save some money, save some frustration, and hopefully be able to enjoy some of the overnight towns a little bit more.

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Don Raatz, July 29, 2018 at 11:28 am

I would agree with the previous post…they’ve just become too big to be manageable. I used them last year and decided then and there to go with something different. Went with a team this time (Team Wimpy) and had a great experience!

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Don Raatz, July 29, 2018 at 11:38 am

In defense of Pork Belly Ventures, the do provide the provide the services they advertise…no complaints about them because of that.

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Jboz, July 29, 2018 at 11:39 am

I’ve never used PB, but I have heard relatively good things about them. The issue for me is the distance from town. I’ve used different large charters over the years, and the larger they are the more space they require, which forces them pretty far out. The overnight town is a huge part of the RAGBRAI vibe. A big military style encampment located 3 to 5 miles from town would really dampen the RAGBRAI experience for me.

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michael rounds, July 29, 2018 at 1:01 pm

well folks — Pork Bellies does a great job. This event, RAGBRAI, is about about the Bike Ride not the accommodations. If you want personal accommodations be a bagger, if you want luxury perhaps the Marriott is the option for you. …..Cheers.

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Michrider !!!, July 29, 2018 at 1:33 pm

PBV is my favorite charter! They are large and need a large space that may not be available within the city limits! They provide the services that they offer! Pete, Tammy and their hardworking crew are great!!!
I did not ride this year but plan to be back next year!!!

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Jack Fouts, July 29, 2018 at 3:44 pm

This was my 4th RAGBRAI and 1st with PBV. I have been with 2 other charters and won’t mention them by name because they aren’t the subject of this thread. I thought PBV did an outstanding job. I agree with some of the comments on camp locations but agree that this is somewhat out of there control when they don’t select the towns we stay. The people on PBV were the friendliest I have encountered and the accommodations are wonderful for the way I ride. I leave early and get in early. I rarely waited for a shower and the meal lines and coffee lines move quickly. There is food available in camp and usually by local groups that I prefer to support. Some days I’m grateful for not having to search for food as I have on other charters. The in camp music was outstanding! I will likely use them again after my experience with them this year.

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Rodcrosgrove, July 29, 2018 at 6:07 pm

Y’all know that the RAGBRAI baggage truck is free with your registration. You can either ride your bike into town or take the shuttle bus. Of course the night Hairball plays, everybody gets to hear the concert.

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Gallagher, July 29, 2018 at 8:27 pm

My feeling is as long as there is a shuttle reasonably close to bring me downtown, I don’t care where I camp!

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Jill Ellenbecker, July 29, 2018 at 10:30 pm

Baggage truck campground wasn’t always much better (*ahem* Sigourney).

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KenH, July 30, 2018 at 7:37 am

I’ve never used PBV but I am on their newsletter list and I have interacted with them by email. As far as one can tell from a slight distance they are a great company to work with.

A lot of the complaints above were common experiences this year, perhaps because we stayed in some fairly small towns. My team used a motorhome this year as we have most years and we were shunted to some pretty remote campgrounds. We were very convenient to the ride around the Iowa Speedway in Newton however!

As far as an outsider can tell PBV does function a bit as a village within a village. If you do not care for that approach or if you prefer a smaller community to camp with there are other fine options. But I do think you get your money’s worth from PBV.

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Michrider !!!, July 30, 2018 at 7:50 am

Ken is correct, “you get your money’s worth from PBV”!!! My Favorite charter!!!

BTW, RAGBRAI don’t care!!!

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Mike Howe, July 30, 2018 at 9:24 am

Ues, PBV is a extremely nice charter, with nice amenities, and very nice people. I dont think there is any denying that. One just has to weigh their options…if they want to be close to the “action” or if they want hot showers, provided meals, etc. If youre wanting to be close to downtown then PBV probably isnt for you. But if you like friendly people, excellent service, hot showers, etc then PBV is the way to go. Just a matter of what kind of ragbrai experience youre looking for.

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dc7603 Cunningham, July 30, 2018 at 9:42 am

I have used PBV charter for 3 years but I still use the RAGBRAI baggage truck. Each year my main issue is that the PBV bus is always so far from the RAGBRAI bag truck so at the beginninng and end of the ride me and all the other riders in this boat have to haul our bags across town to the RAG campground and to get back to the buses. As big as PBV is, is seems like it would not be unreasonable for them to have one truck to make one or two runs for people using their charter service to retrieve their bags. I would even pay a small fee for this as this year I paid a city worker to take me to get my and my wifes bags to make it back before the buses left (35 minutes late). Also this year, during the trip from Des Moines to Onawa, two bike mirrors were lost and a cycle computer was destroyed. They politely apologized but likely looking for another charter for next year.

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bmyoungberg, July 30, 2018 at 10:32 am

Save your money and use the RAGBRAI truck for free. Sigourney was the only spot out of the way, which reflects the size of the town. Takes little time to put up and take down a tent. Charters to me are a waste of $$.

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