People-watching at Des Moines party on the bridges

  • 23 July, 2013

6:50 p.m.: Riders looking for a more sophisticated draw than the usual RAGBRAI pour have camped out in the Hy-Vee Craft Beer Garden on the Walnut bridge.

“It’s been pretty domestic all the way,” said Jerry Carter of Audubon.

“All MichelobUltra so far,” said Erin Ruxton of Lakemoor, Ill as she sipped on a Summer Shandy.

Ruxton and her husband Dave were also using the beer tent for its shade, as the setting sun made its last effort for the day.

Non-rider Jennifer DeRoos of Des Moines, enjoying an Bell’s Oberon, said she and husband Kevin wouldn’t have come out at all today “if it was 100 degrees.”

The comparatively cooler weather today contributed to the somewhat sparsely filled tent, said Jessica Fine, who was selling the stand’s 24 craft beers. The bikers, she said, have been taking their beers to go

“It’s a beautiful day, like 20 degrees cooler than a couple of days ago,” Fine said. “This is like cold in Iowa.”

5:40 p.m.: Riding 50 miles from Perry to Des Moines today wasn’t enough for Katie Ramsey of Marion.

She was spotted pedaling a stationary bike at Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation’s booth. But it was for a good cause. The three bikes powered a cell phone charging station.

“We need our phones charged,” Ramsey, 19, said.

The only problem? Ramsey and friends couldn’t get off until someone else volunteered to replace them.

“It’s been a long day,” she told some onlookers.

A few minutes later she was more desperate. “Free beer for replacements!” she shouted. A group considered the offer but kept walking.

“Why are they back on bikes?” Kerry Waughtal of Pleasant Hill asked aloud. She started on RAGBRAI this morning in Perry and was already considering backing out of her plan to continue tomorrow to Knoxville.

“My feet were pretty much numb by the time I got in,” Waughtal, 44, said.

Riding even a few more minutes for a phone charge was not an option for her. “It’s enough,” she said.

5:00 p.m.: Not everyone hanging out along the Des Moines river this afternoon rode into the city with RAGBRAI.

Becky Haines biked about 17 miles from home in Ankeny to the food and music fair.

“We just came down to see all the crazy people,” she said.

Her 14-year-old son Wilbur impressed a small crowd of onlookers by doing 14 pull-ups at the U.S. Marines tent, breaking his record of 9.

For all his upper-body strength, biking RAGBRAI is not in his immediate future.

“I don’t know if I’d make it,” he said.

Greg Prohaska of Cumming strolled the eastern bank between the Court and Walnut bridges with a Bud Light in hand.

A non-biker, he was impressed by the variety of two-wheelers leaning against the trees and resting on the grass.

“I’m wondering how these things make it all the way across the state,” he said.

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