Sampling of Thank You Notes from RAGBRAI 2012,
Pork Belly Ventures
We are happy to share some of the notes we received after RAGBRAI 2012. In their stories of hardship, laughter, and perseverance, these letters reflect the fine character and hardiness of the people who wrote them. Thanks, Porkers, for the kind words. We’re proud to know you, and you make us want to be a better charter.
Dear Pete and Tammy, I had the time of my life, and your support made it all possible. I took advantage of everything (bike shipping, Omaha shuttle, tent service, mechanics, laundry service, extra meals, massages). But most importantly, I lived like a pig! I was able to get up at the crack of dawn, ride from town to town savoring every moment of small town Iowa, knowing that my tent, bags, hot shower, cold drink and a great meal would be ready for me in the next town. I love the tone you set and the values you live by. I am already planning for next year with PBV.
—Carol from California
I was in the military for 23 years, and I have seldom seen an operation run as well, particularly given the weather challenges. During the entire week, every PBV person I dealt with was friendly and efficient every time. I'm particularly indebted to the ladies who took care of me when I arrived in camp with considerable heat stress on the second day. They threw ice on me, parked me in front of the misting fan, and pushed the pickle juice cure. I've been cycling for decades, but that was one of the worst days I've ever had on a bike. And you guys rescued it.
And also, PBV attracts a great clientele. On the day I arrived really flagging, Tom from Boston helped me find my bags, secure a tent site, and put up my tent. He had ridden through the same brutal heat I had, and probably would have rather been relaxing. But he chose to help me out. All the riders in the camp were fabulous people, and I have seldom fallen in so quickly with a large group of strangers (I came on my own, not a part of any team).
After the fourth day of 100+ temperatures, a group of us first-time RAGBRAIers were talking about whether we'd come back. A veteran wandered by and said, "Well, I guess it gets in your blood." I guess it does. And, barring disaster, I'll be back next year. I am really looking forward to 2013, and PBV deserves much of the credit.
—Kirk from Virginia
Hello Pete, You and Tammy and your very solid crew did an unbelievable job keeping things rolling all week. The whole mobile production was an amazing thing to watch and I think that what you're doing with PBV is very, very cool. I feel privileged to have been a part of it. I also really dig your entire "festival rig" and it's given me lots of ideas for my little event down here in New Mexico. I'll probably spend some time next spring building my own version of the shower thingy. Now if I could only build a bathroom trailer like yours. I never knew it was possible to contract a case of tractor-trailer envy, but I've got it now! It was a pleasure to speak with you briefly in Marshalltown last week, just before all hell broke loose with the weather. That was quite a night, but neither the thunderstorm that night nor any of the other little things along the way changed my perspective about our first RAGBRAI. My girlfriend and I had an incredible time and an excellent week, and we will certainly be back for another RAGBRAI with Pork Belly Ventures. The entire week will be something we'll never forget. Thanks for everything. You folks truly did a kick-ass job.
—Bevin from New Mexico
Dear Pete and Tammy, This was my first RAGBRAI and I’m convinced I couldn’t have selected a finer charter organization than Pork Belly. I was extremely impressed with your services and especially the people who made Pork Belly work so smoothly. They were all professional, friendly, helpful, and courteous. For instance, after I arrived in camp too late for dinner one evening, one of your crew chiefs was able to provide me with a warm, sizeable left over pork chop which she retrieved from a refrigerator inside one of the big rigs. Her willingness to go above and beyond was commendable, an example of the real can-do attitude I found with every Pork Belly crew member. Next year, my wife and sister plan to join me and we’ll all be singing the Pork Belly song.
—Norris from Texas
Hi Pete and Tammy, WOW, what a trip! My little team had no ideas about what was going to happen, and if we had not ended up with you, I am confident our time would not have ended so well. You both were wonderful, happy-faced, kind, and informative. Your team was outstanding. I am a business consultant specializing in helping small businesses be profitable, so I might want to interview you later, but in the meantime, you guys really get it! THANK YOU. We had the time of our lives, and after a few days, we might even consider it again. If we do, it will definitely be with PORK BELLY VENTURES! I lost one pound, hubby gained ten. What is the meaning of that? Again, thank you both for helping us newbies learn the lay of the land in IOWA. We could NOT have done it without you! Hugs,
—Kate from Massachusetts
Tammy and Pete, where to begin. You and your team have done an absolutely awesome job in making our vacation a true vacation. No stress, no worries, no problems, just the way it should be, although somehow my request to RAGBRAI officials for cooler weather seems to have been missed :). Shelly and I have a package to be delivered but we need an address to send it to. This is our thank you for an awesome week, and it will be enjoyed by all. My only requirement is the hardest working children of PBV (all the wonderful kids that always had smiles on their faces) need to get to partake of it. Thanks again,
—Mike and Shelly from Wisconsin
Tammy: I was part of a group that arrived late on the first day and did the first day's ride on one hour of sleep. We bugged out for three days to Okoboji to avoid the heat in the middle of the week. You were wonderfully gracious and flexible with our special requests. Towards the end of the week when we had rejoined the group I spotted you and went to say thanks, but you were tied up with someone else’s emergency. We appreciated your patience. Thanks to the whole Pork Belly team.
—Clay from California
Hi Tammy, Now that we have had a four-year stint with Pork Belly, we have come to realize that there is no finer crew, no harder working people that constantly have a smile on their face, and just when you think that nothing could be improved… Well, need I say more? The Early Girls spend half their time talking about you amazing folks, and each year I wish you lived closer so that we could party a bit with you when we were all not hot and tired. And I can think of a few projects that the amazing Pete could do around my place. You outdid yourselves with the flush toilets, and the food was wonderful, and we so appreciated being placed next to the friends we love to see each year. No improvements needed. No words will do it justice. Smiles and lots of miles.
—Sandra and Laura, the Early Girls of Michigan
Pete and Tammy, I would like to second what Kate wrote. It was a fantastic week --- fun and hard and drama-filled (thunderstorm) and did I mention fun? Pork Belly Ventures made it happen for me --- the logistical choreography and dance performance that you put on is really a wonder to behold. Your employees and customer service are truly top notch. As yet another business consultant who works to help improve profits and operations, let me just say that from the outside looking in, congratulations!
Mostly, THANK YOU.
—Anne from Massachusetts
Thank you and crew so much for another wonderful year on RAGBRAI. This was my 24th year with brother Todd, much improved over those early years of trying to find food, a place for a shower, and an available Kybo. The new bathrooms were such a welcome addition. Every year something new! Your continued support and overwhelming ideas to make us more comfortable amaze me! You, Pete, and crew have really outdone yourselves for RAGBRAI 40. Brother Todd received his bike in less than a week and said "the best packing job that I have ever had." Your location close to long-term parking was amazing to me too. Thanks again for a stellar year!
—Coreen from Nebraska and Arkansas
Being a virgin RAGBRAI rider this year, I want to let you know that I was very impressed with how well your company handled the 900 or so porkers. Moving camps was exceptionally well organized and efficient. My rented tent was always set up with my two duffel bags inside by noon each day. Being a newbie, I appreciated the help and advice you and your crew provided. Perhaps the best of the ride is the spirit and attitude of you and your crew. They were always cheerful, friendly, helpful, and kind no matter how difficult the situation. This is the greatest value of Pork Belly Ventures.
—Joe from Colorado
Tammy and Pete, One week later. I hope you're on the downhill slide after cleaning up after all of us! I just wanted to say thanks for all your hard work and making my week in Iowa a lot more comfortable. The positive attitudes of your people throughout a hot difficult week shows what a great team you've put together. I also must confess that my favorite PBV feature was not the hot showers but the ice-cold beverages. What a delight after a hot day. Take care.
—Brooks from New Mexico
Hi Pete and Tammy, You are doing so many things well and what sticks out most are the attitudes of the people you have working with you. Everyone was awesome! Thank you for one of the most rewarding and challenging weeks of my life.
—Mark from Massachusetts
Tammy, I had to cut short my participation in RAGBRAI this year after one day due to a medical issue (everything’s fine). I just wanted to say you and your organization exceeded my expectations (again!). I’ve been riding with you for over 11 years and the service keeps expanding (happy!), and your organization keeps getting better in attitude, execution and overall performance, and that’s rare! From the circus in the East where eight busses carry us to the start town; from the start town circus on Saturday to the sag busses during the week, and everything (and I do mean EVERTHING) in between, your organization has been super!
—Bill from Illinois
Tammy & Pete, I’m a PBVer for my third year in a row. From the moment my son dropped me off to baggage pickup in Clinton, everything was GREAT. You guys/gals just keep getting better and best. I can say this because three other buddies from my local bike club commented on how lucky I was to be with PBV. They were camped next to us in Marshalltown and Cedar Rapids and saw all the amenities that I had. To start with, the ice cold Lemonade, the free unlimited showers, the root-beer floats and catered delicious meals in camp, the Cool Zone misting fans, much welcomed in that heat. Live music, too. I know I am missing a lot more. I really liked the Restroom Trailer. In closing I would to say keep up the great work and tell ALL your staff how IMPRESSED I am with EVERYTHING.You have a customer for life. I hope to see you all next year.
—Brad from Missouri
As a first timer going it alone, I couldn't have done it without you guys. Thanks for making my dream a reality. Dipping my front wheel in the Mississippi ranks right up there in my memorable moments. I'm already planning next year, so keep me on your list. Hopefully I won't be alone next year. But I wasn't alone this year; I had you guys. Thanks again. Don't change a darned thing.
—Gary from Florida
Tammy, Thank you so much for the wonderful experience. Your employees were awesome. I know what they went through in the heat to get everything set up. I will be telling others about my wonderful experience with you and your team. This was my first RAGBRAI and, someday, I plan to do it again. Thanks for giving me a home while I was there.
—Jim from Wisconsin
Tammy and Pete, Just wanted to congratulate both of you on a sensational week with PBV! You really make RAGBRAI fun by taking all the logistical issues out of a demanding weeklong ride. My daughter and I appreciated the great social interaction at the end of each day's ride. I would like to give special recognition to Casey who has the best attitude in the world, every day a big smile for all of us in line to get our tires pumped up. Special kudos to her, as I had the last hard-shell bike case coming off your truck. She was willing, again with a smile, to assemble it at 7:30 pm after working non-stop all day. Again, at the end of the ride in Clinton she was there for me to repack my bike for the trip from Omaha to Denver. Please feel free to pass this along to her. Thank you both again for a super week.
—Doug and Brooke from Colorado
Hi Tammy and Pete, This was my second Ragbrai and my first time with PBV. On Sunday, the first day of riding, I made several mistakes and did not take care of myself, and when I got to camp that afternoon, I was not able to physically recover. I talked with Martina and she made me sit down in the shade and went looking for Pam. The two of them made sure that I was safe and made the arrangements for me to get to the first aid station and ultimately to the hospital ER. Not only did they do an excellent job of taking care of me but their sincere concern and compassion was and still is greatly appreciated. When they saw me in the days that followed, they always inquired if I was doing okay.
The first day aside, I had a great week and much of the credit goes to all of the crew of PBV. The friendly service, hard work dealing with all the issues of the week, and the logistics involved with accommodating all of us bikers was a job well done by everyone! My hat is off to all of you! Please feel free to use my name and any of these comments as you think appropriate. Also, If any potential client wishes a one-on-one recommendation, you may give them my telephone number or e-mail address. Hope to see you next year,
—Mike from Wisconsin
Tammy/Pete, Just wanted to drop a line to thank you and your staff for another wonderful week in Iowa. Your attention to detail shows. Despite the freak t-storm (I was one of those who actually sat in my tent through it) and insane heat, PBV staff maintained their cheer and humor. Not sure where you recruit these angels. There were some moments that I wanted to be a grump, but just observing your staff reminded me that no matter how terrible the conditions become, you can always maintain a smile and lower your expectations. For that I am thankful.
Send a thanks for me to Krista for her exceptional good cheer and smile. What a wonderful person she is. Tell Jake in the future I expect to see that special sticker I gave him for his coconut bra. And give Mick a big hug for me. As usual, I had to rush on Saturday and missed saying goodbye to him. Tell him I enjoyed our evening chats. My second RAGBRAI was even more fun than my first. I never thought that was possible. My plans are to return in 2014, but if I can make it happen in 2013, you will see me then!
—Beth from Maryland
Tammy, Wow, who knew that THAT could be so much fun? You all did an amazing job: I'm in consulting and have worked on logistics projects and I could not even imagine working on a project remotely close to what you all pulled off last week. And you - always with a smile on your face! I wanted you to know how much I really appreciate you and your crew. Though I never met Pete, I truly appreciate his ingenuity and the creation of all thingies. The showers, pure heaven! Amy and her crew greeted us with smiles in the heat. Please sign me up for next year, and if you ever find yourself in the DC area, let me know!
—Kim from Virginia
Hi Tammy, Just a note to say thank you for all you did to make my first RAGBRAI and very first camping experience a home run. In spite of extreme temperatures, and headwinds, I had a great time and am even thinking about doing it again next year. All the best to you and your wonderful crew!
—Yvonne from Connecticut
Tammy, What a spectacular time! Great food, great staff, and great locations. Now, if you could only do something about the heat! My wife, my group, and I had a wonderful time. Thank you. On another note, I left my wheel. If possible, and with your good will, I will send you my FedEx account number and perhaps you can send me the wheel. Thanks. We will be seeing you again!
—Don from Kentucky
Dear Tammy and Pete, Just wanted to take a few minutes to thank you for the great operation you run, PBV! After having done my first RAGBRAI with another biking group, I turned to PBV in 2011 at Dennis’s suggestion. You didn't let me down! Not only did you carry my bags and camping gear across Iowa but also provided laundry service, shower service, options of staying in hotels along the way, entertainment each night as well as great meals. This year you added the porcelain thrones, and that was nice!
Along the way I made lots of new friends and really looked forward to seeing them this year. Some were with us; some were not. It's like a family reunion seeing these friends again as well as all the excellent staff working on Pork Belly Ventures.
—Judy from Nebraska
Hi Pete, Thanks for another superb (and surely memorable) RAGBRAI. I hope you, your wonderful family, Tammy, and your staff are deep into an unbelievably well-deserved recovery mode!
This was probably my last RAGBRAI; I’m thinking about other adventures for next summer. So I want to tell you what a great thing you have going. I went with [another charter] my first two years in Iowa. They were fine. There were a few minor annoyances that made me try Pork Belly. And the experience with PBV was on another level entirely. You are amazingly well organized, even as the size of the group grows each year; your crew is unfailingly helpful and courteous despite the stresses of the week; and you find ways to enhance your services every year. Your pre-RAGBRAI emails are informative but equally important they capture the spirit of the event and set the tone as the big week approaches. So thanks again for your help this year and the three before that.
—Larry from California
Hey Tammy! Wanted to thank you again for the fun week in the corn with your crew! I have done a bunch of RAGBRAI's many different ways, from the basic RAGBRAI camp to motor home to all home stays, and enjoyed being with your group immensely! Only real surprise with that was just HOW MANY take their tents DOWN by flashlight!! (I have MUCH more experience with finding my gear and building my tent in the dark!) Thanks again! Only 50 more weeks to go!
—“Boston Bob” from Massachusetts
Tammy/Pete: As always, an outstanding performance. Well done. I enjoyed it. The in-camp meals, both morning and evening were particularly appreciated. I appear to have reached the age where I like arriving at and remaining in camp. You make it easy. Everything I need is just steps away.
—Mike from Iowa
Tammy and Pete and all the PBV gang, The bike is back together, the stinkin’ clothes washed, and most of the July/RAGBRAI necessaries stowed back to their proper place. I’ve started being a little more alert during working hours. All that is left is to say thanks to you all for your efforts during my time in Nebraska and Iowa. As always, it was you, and the insane people that I hang out with, that made it, depending on the temperature, bearable (S,M,T,W) or pleasurable (T,F,S). Stay well over the coming year.
—Tom from California
Hi Pork Belly Folks, By way of background, this is my 2nd RAGBRAI, and last year I camped at the Register's campgrounds. I'm pretty independent, so I didn't dislike the arrangements last year, but I met a friend who had Pork Belly support last year and she encouraged me to try out Pork Belly this year, and I am glad I did.
The best part of the Charter unexpectedly was the accessibility of friendly mechanics. I had a lot more issues with my bike this year than last. These guys helped me with a flat tire right after unpacking the bike, a noise on my bike mid-week due to my chain stretching, putting new cleats on my shoes when I wore them off, and they accurately diagnosed another problem toward the end of the week. Other nice parts of the charter were the choice of some really nice campsites, easy access to air pumps, food, soda, and coffee, the cooling fans, and entertainment in camp. I enjoyed the support, and thanks.
—David from North Carolina
Tammy, I was a loner on my first RAGBRAI so I had my reservations about making the complete route. Your charter made everything flow smoothly for me. The crew was always helpful and quick to get an answer to a question. [In reference to PBV overnight stays in an air-conditioned day-care center and church,] the day-care center people were especially hospitable, and the church in Cedar Rapids went far and above anything I had expected. A lady had someone wash and dry my damp sleeping bag for me! My air mattress had a hole, so a volunteer drove me to Wal-Mart. I think some of the church volunteers were up all night, helping people. The next morning, I ate their great hot breakfast. The whole week was good. I hadn’t slept in a tent in many years, so that was different and fun. The food was great. Can’t say enough about your crew. Their helpful and friendly attitudes were greatly appreciated.
—Terry from Texas
Tammy, Thanks to you and to your whole team for another well run and fun RAGBRAI. Not sure I would be able to have done the ride without your charter. You really make it easy for us out-of-staters. Also, a big word of appreciation for the showers - they are a good compliment to your service. They are always pleasant and friendly and their service is excellent. I also liked the in-camp food venders (breakfast and lunch), the lemonade, and the restroom trailer! Liked the child care and church stays. Nice being indoors, and the church had good food and were very friendly. Liked being able to pay to box bike on the last day, helped reduce stress. Thanks again to all, and take care.
—Jeff from California
Tammy and Pete, As the year comes to a close I realized I had not thanked you for another memorable RAGBRAI. As always, everything worked well with the Pork Belly support. As has become the custom, we had at least one severe weather event with a nice thunderstorm. I even got experience what I call "survival cycling" with the warm weather and gentle breezes. On a couple of days, I made no beer tent stops as I focused on hydration and nutrition to get to camp. I am proud to say I pedaled every mile of the course. Some of my friends were not so fortunate. As for 2013, time will tell but it is looking like another RAGBRAI may be on the calendar. Thanks again for a great 2012 RAGBRAI. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
—Critz from Texas
Hi Tammy: thx to you and PBV for a great RAGBRAI experience. Now that my aches and pains have abated, I truly realize what a memorable trip it was. Thanks again for all your crews’ efforts to make it a remarkable trip.
—Greg from California
Pete I want to thank you for a great time this year, KUDOS to you and the whole crew. I want to make sure you add me to your list for next years invitation letter. I sure plan on doing it again and couldn't imagine it with anyone else.
—Tim from Texas
Hi Tammy, Bruce and I had a wonderful experience with you all at Pork Belly Ventures and want to thank you for all you did to make camping in Iowa, in July, in record heat, pretty darn nice. We've enjoyed telling friends and family what you do for your clients and how easy (except for the stormy night) it was to camp with you. For our first RAGBRAI, it was great to do it with you. We liked the showers, the real toilets, the great food and entertainment, the tents with their mister fans, coffee and food in the early morning hours, friendly staff, our tent, some good campsites (Lake View especially), the beer and lemonade each night, and Tammy's friendly and helpful presence everywhere and all the time. Just want to thank you again for all you do to create a delightful camping experience under sometimes extreme situations. We will recommend you to anyone we meet who plans to ride RAGBRAI.
—Jane and Bruce from Colorado