In Des Moines for RAGBRAI? Explore the city on two wheels

The High Trestle Bridge, illuminated at night (Register file photo)

The High Trestle Bridge, illuminated at night (Register file photo)

More than 600 miles of recreational trails weave through central Iowa. And should RAGBRAI riders in town for the Des Moines stop find a few minutes (or hours) to kill and are looking to explore, here are a few spots to check out on their bikes — all within a few dozen miles of the campgrounds.

The High Trestle Trail: Starting just north of downtown you can ride this great trail and check out the amazing High Trestle Trail bridge, which is more than a half-mile long and rises 13 stories (and it lights up at night). If you go just a bit further from there, you can check out the bike-friendly Flat Tire Lounge in Madrid.

The Longest Yard, 1405 Walnut St., Dallas Center: There’s a Longest Yard in Valley Junction as well, but the Dallas Center location will host a free performance from Impact Pro Wrestling 9a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday featuring Starla Love and Little Kato, Tangerine Dream Ricky Love and others.

Beaverdale Farmers Market, 3422 Beaver Ave.: Running from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. every Tuesday, the market is an easy ride from downtown, with several dining options. Or stock up on fresh fruit and veggies for the next day’s ride.

Saints Pub and Patio, 265 50th St., West Des Moines: If you’re veering off the route on the west side, this bar has a great patio, is just 25 feet off the Jordan Creek Trail and is a quick ride from downtown.

John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park: It’ll be hard to miss the beautiful sculpture park in downtown’s Western Gateway Park, home to valuable pieces from artists such as Ugo Rondinone and Louise Bourgeois. If you’re new to Des Moines and looking to take fun photos with your group, chances are you might end up at the Nomade. The park also offers cellphone tours.

Des Moines Art Center, 400 Grand Ave.: If riding past the Pappajohn Sculpture Park has you feeling artistic, the Art Center — home to a world-class collection of contemporary art that includes Picasso, Hopper, Mattise, Warhol and other heavyweights — is a quick ride from downtown. As a bonus, it’s near the Bill Riley Recreational Trail trailhead.

Union Park, East Ninth Street and Thompson Avenue: One of Des Moines’ oldest parks, located just off the John Pat Dorrian Trail. The park is regularly used for cycling events and is a short trip north of downtown.

Valley Junction: The Totally Tubular Tuesday RAGBRAI street party features live music by Abby Normal, Comfort Zone and Fahrenheit, and food and beverage vendors from
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free to all riders and revelers.

Orlondo’s Bar and Grill, 4337 Park Ave.: The last bar before riders roll into Water Works Park has installed new bike racks and will have $3 tall boys all day Tuesday for those looking for carb-heavy hydration.

Iowa Cubs vs. New Orleans, Principal Park, 1 Line Drive: RAGBRAI Night, featuring ticket specials for riders. Tickets start at $6.

Party at el Bait Shop, 200 S.W. Second St.: One of the state’s most bicycle-friendly bars hosts an all-day outdoor party starting at 10 a.m. Tuesday with food and beer specials throughout the day. Brother Trucker, Charles Dickens and Ryne Doughty will perform.

– Joe Lawler, staff writer

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