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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

Geoff Butland, July 30, 2018 at 11:37 am

“Charters to me are a waste of $$”…….

Maybe.

Our charter saved our collective butts this year. My bike broke on Thursday, with no hope of repair (niche recumbent, specialized part that broke, lesson learned). The charter carted the wounded bike the rest of the week to Davenport at no charge. My daughter’s knee was giving her problems and the charter sagged her on short notice for Friday (short notice as in 10 minutes) with no question. Without the charter’s kind assistance these situations would have been much more challenging.

It was worth every penny and then some.

Shout out to Brancel – you guys are wonderful!

#1294136

Brian Hart, July 30, 2018 at 1:37 pm

I have used Pork Belly for all 6 of my RAGBRAI runs and I cannot say enough great things about them. Tammi, Pete and their crew are very hard working and provide a terrific experience year after year. Yes, the campsites are not always right in town due to the size of the charter. I don’t mind not being right in town, especially when a band is raging until midnight. I’ll be with PBV every year- they provide an honest value and attract a very friendly group of riders.

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Bikingaddict, July 30, 2018 at 1:41 pm

I have used PBV charter for 3 years but I still use the RAGBRAI baggage truck.

I’m confused why you would use PBV charter but still use the RAGBRAI baggage truck. PBV weeklong (and daily) support includes two bags per rider. Or are you only using their bus transportation? If that’s the case – PBV is probably a bad choice because they are almost guaranteed to be a long ways from the main RAGBRAI campground.

during the trip from Des Moines to Onawa, two bike mirrors were lost and a cycle computer was destroyed.

Every charter that provides bike transportation advises the removal of bike mirrors and cycle computers. PBV even goes so far as to “strongly” suggest that you box up your bike for transportation.

I’m certainly not a PBV apologist, because I’ve used them a couple times and agree with many of the comments related to them being too big and their camps too far away. But if you’re content spending most of your time in the PBV camp rather than out in the overnight town (or don’t mind a shuttle ride to the entertainment venue) then there is nothing out there that beats PBV. And their shower trucks rock – by far the best on RAGBRAI.

#1294151

francoisvanzyl, July 30, 2018 at 2:36 pm

Had 2 bikes on the cross state truck with PBV in 2016 — both broken, minor but still. I had the distinct idea that they were manhandled a bit. IN 2017 we dropped the bikes and stuff off at the start town and only one of us drove the car across the state to the end town to catch the PBV bus back. Far from main camp ground true but not really an issue since I had nothing to carry and they did drop me in town.

#1294155

Niles, July 30, 2018 at 2:47 pm

I’ll agree with the descending opinions. PBV is doing exacting as PBV. PBV doesn’t advertise themselves falsely. Use your logic not your fantasy to figure out what PBV will provide before you sign up.

They are big and thus need a big lot. So where such a big lot could be in a small town after the RAGBRAI campground takes out the first choice? They are not going to have a helicopter per rider to drop you everywhere and anytime you want to go. Will every vendor open an full-service branch on PBV camp plus a couple Michelin-rated restaurants? And last but not least, I probably will not ship my great-grandma’s English vase without very thick pads on PBV tractor trailers.

#1294158

Chris Miller, July 30, 2018 at 3:06 pm

I have used Pork Belly for three years. I wouldn’t do RAGBRAI without them. PBV has the experience to have thought out all of the logistics….their camp sites are generally excellent even if they sometimes require shuttle buses to get to town. PBV provides plenty of core services (showers, charging stations, access to vendors, bag hauling,etc.) as well as the optional ones (tent rentals, indoor accomodations, and shuttles to and from airports).
Some of the other charters and clubs also wind up far from downtowns as well. I’m not interested in foraging for showers, campsites, etc so PBV is a convenience that works for me. Yes they are growing, but that provides some benefits as well.
Lighten up….its RAGBRAI.

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George A, July 30, 2018 at 3:42 pm

I have never used Pork Belly for camping but I did use them this year to get from the Omaha airport to Onawa. What I can say is that they seem to be a well run operation. For those that want to have most of the logistics taken care of PBV seems to be an excellent option. Obviously there are many that do because PBV sure has a large loyal customer base. With that said their are many reason I would not use them for the week, but that is because I prefer a different experience. For me I like the small community of the 25-30 person team I camp with. I also like to set up my own tent, take a shower from a garden hose, hangout with the local resident that has offered you their lawn to camp for the night, and going to town to see music and get food. The great thing about RAGBRAI is that it is so big that there is something for everyone. You just have to find what fits for you. It is all good.

#1294166

Michrider !!!, July 31, 2018 at 8:40 am

PBV is my favorite charter! It’s not the cheapest but I’m willing to spend for the extra creature comforts offered!!! There are other good Charters on RAGBRAI and I’ve used several of them. I have nothing bad to say about any of the others! I’ll go with PBV. You should do RAGBRAI your way!!!

This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by  Michrider !!!.

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mootsman, July 31, 2018 at 9:00 am

It depends on what YOU are looking for as to if PBV is your cup of tea. If being downtown is your deal then a well connected Iowa team is best. I was on a team but some of the hosts were further away then PBV’s campsites.

I went with a team for many years and switched to PBV for a more vacation like experience. I think they are great and walking a mile or 2 into town is not a big deal for me. I used the tent service so instead of searching for my luggage it was placed in my tent each evening in PBV’s rented tent that was always set up. More time for fun for me. And they don’t force you to eat with them. 3 dinners are included but go into town and find your own dinner if you prefer. And they have in camp entertainment also. Beer is included in the price and soft drinks were inexpensive ($1 or ?).. Top notch shower trailers beat the heck of of the showers the teams had. Even a flush toilet trailer if you want to skip the Kybo experience. I liked the motor coaches they charter much better then the converted school busses.

Next year I’m all in with PBV again and am even springing for an air-conditioned Phat Room which I’m on the list to get. I won’t even have to pack my luggage each night next year!

Cool if PBV is not your RAGBRAI experience. Not cool to slam them though. They are great at what they do.

This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by  mootsman.

This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by  mootsman.

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Jerry Garcia, July 31, 2018 at 10:59 am

This was my second year with PBV and the services they offer are a nice comfort during Ragbrai. I know this year a lot of people were upset after the first day. Many people arrived in camp very early due to a very short ride. We couldn’t get into the rental tent area as they were still getting setup. We can’t complain about that as they advertise that camp doesn’t open ’til around 1pm so they can setup. However, watching the setup process was eye opening. As they brought bags around on trucks the kids working, who do work hard, seemed to turn it into a contest to see how high and far they can pitch the bags off the back of the trucks. We are warned not to pack valuables. This explains why the side of my bag was completely busted out last year and the stories others told of zippers breaking, etc.

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DougHarris, July 31, 2018 at 11:14 am

I have been very happy with PBV all 4 years I have used them…there are always issues when being involved with a MASS of humanity…if that is the problem then Ragbrai in general is not the place to be…once somebody offers a personalized hover pod to transport you to all locations or that “beaming” technology like in Star Trek then Ragbrai will be perfect…until then I say it is not that bad and each year find the services that maximize your positive experiences and minimize your stress.

#1294465

Richard, July 31, 2018 at 6:43 pm

You don’t realize how great PBV is until they really save your butt. Like mentioned in a previous post, when you really need them they will always deliver. One year, i stayed up a little to late the night before enjoying the music and festivities in the overnight town. I woke up after the baggage truck had already left for the day. One of the PBV guys took my camp gear in his own personal vehicle to the next town. This is one example of their generocity towards the people who choose to spend the week on their charter. Now, could things be a little better? Yes, absolutely. But for what you pay for, you get a great product. Since I used them, they have added additional amenities like daily yoga. My guess is that they will continue to grow the charter and get better at what they do.

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hnschipper, July 31, 2018 at 9:18 pm

As far as camping locations go, what did you expect in towns the size of the overnight towns this year? Ames and Iowa City are bigger, but the rest are small towns with very limited space. I’m not sure where you expected a charter the size of PBV to camp in those towns. If you want to be closer to the action, go with a smaller charter.

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nhhillrider, August 1, 2018 at 9:55 am

Another big PBV fan. Been using them since they supported less than a 100 people. Yeah it was more personal back then and the campsites were closer in. But like others have said their service cant be beat. They just make it so logistically easy to do RAGBRAI. People dont have to search for showers or find the FedEx truck for shipping there bike. They can sag if they are not feeling up to it. Do Yoga and messages in the camp. Optional indoor lodging and food … my goodness. Like I (and others) have said the only downside is the distance and perhaps lack of intimacy of the larger group. But their advantages far outweigh the disadvantages …. for me.

This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by  nhhillrider.

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Sandaltan ., August 1, 2018 at 4:44 pm

Too far from the action? We have lights fore and aft on our bikes, very bright lights, so that we may ride our bikes to the “action”. We have not ridden a shuttle for many years.

RIDE RIGHT

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