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2009 RAGBRAI

What to do Tuesday night in Indianola

From Des Moines Metromix

While sipping root beer out of glass bottles from the Corner Sundry, Indianola’s old fashioned soda fountain, the town square looked quiet and peaceful. Old ladies were eating egg salad sandwiches under a shady awning. A child was walking their dog down the flower-lined sidewalk.

It was hard to imagine this tiny town nearly tripling in size Tuesday, when more than 25,000 bicyclists and partiers arrive for the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa’s closest stop to the Des Moines metro.

This is Indianola’s first experience as an overnight town. Hosting this many sweaty, thirsty and (sometimes) rowdy people in a town of roughly 14,000 for a night is no easy task, but amid the long list of meetings, phone calls and e-mails, organizers Jill Johnson and Bob Kling seem to have everything under control.

Johnson, one of four co-chairs for the event, and Kling, head of hospitality, have had five months to pull together vendors, music, camping and volunteers to make the overnight RAGBRAI stop a success. Their motto: Keep it simple.

“Riders want three things: a place to sleep, something to eat and to be entertained,” Johnson said.

Squeezing into Indianola’s town square will be 30 food vendors, a beer garden and live music from the Sonny Humbucker Band, the Caitlin Nichol Thomas Band and the Johnny Holm Band. After a long day of strenuous cycling from Greenfield (at 77 miles, it’s the longest single-day trip of the ride), it can be assumed that riders will be ready for a good time. (Read: looking for a cold adult beverage.) Here’s everything you need to know in case you want to head down and party with them.

The basics:

How to get there: The easiest way to get to Indianola by car will be US Route 65/69. Bikes will come into town on R63. Driving from Des Moines, East 14th Street will turn into US 69 south and run straight into Indianola. The 21-mile drive will take you about 30 minutes if traffic is light.

Parking: Wherever you can find a spot, take it. “Expect to wait a bit and be patient if you’re driving,” Johnson said.

Shuttle services: There are seven shuttles. One will run in a loop around Simpson College to the town square from 5 p.m.-1 a.m. Others will run from the town square to the Warren County Fair from 2 p.m.-1 a.m.

– Simpson College to town square shuttle stops: F Street and Clinton Avenue; D Street and Girard Avenue; Buxton Street and Boston Avenue; First Street and First Avenue; Ninth Street and First Avenue; Buxton Street and Jackson Avenue; F Street and Detroit Avenue.

– Warren County Fair to town square shuttle stops: M Street and Salem Avenue; B Street and Salem Avenue.

Camping: Riders and visitors can set up tents at Buxton Park (North Buxton and West Girard Streets), or on Simpson’s campus (410 N C St.).

Don’t bring: Outside food or beverages are not permitted. Burgers, steak sandwiches, pizza, beer and more can be purchased in the square and at local businesses.

Last call in the beer garden: 12:30 a.m.
Where you’ll get your booze:

The beer garden – right next to the stage – will be stocked with 800 cases of beer for the evening. That’s 19,200 beers. If that isn’t enough to quench your thirst, head to these establishments in the town square:

The Zoo, 102 W. Ashland Ave. 961-8731, open noon-2 a.m. Specials: $3 vodka lemonades and $1 FMS shots (a secret recipe house shot). They’ll also serve frozen pizzas and free popcorn all day. Dance to a DJ all day or play darts and other bar games.

The Brick House, 107 N. Buxton St., 962-5025, open 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Specials: $3 slices of pizza until 2 a.m.; $4 Red Bull and vodka, $3 Red Bull cola and rum. Full kitchen and bar open all day. Live DJ and dancing upstairs at 9:30 p.m.

Pete’s Pizza, 118 N. Howard St., 961-7797, open 10 a.m.-1 a.m. Specials: Cans of beer for $2 all day. Pete’s, an old fashioned pizza joint located in the old town bakery, has been using the same recipe since 1974.

Mojo’s, 206 N Howard St., 961-0081, open 8 a.m.-2 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday. Specials: $4 sweet tea and vodkas, and Battle’s BBQ sandwiches and brats all day.

The Garage, 118 E. Ashland Ave., 961-9026, open 8 a.m.-2 a.m. Specials: $3 cans of beer, $4 UV Blue lemonades. Get on the dance floor when a live DJ starts at 5 p.m., and relax on the only covered patio in town.

Music and entertainment:

All day: When you get into town, be sure to leave your handprint in the cement on the north side of the square.

All day: Check out baskets of flowers in old bikes on the “Classic Cruiser” walkway, and the sculptures made out of bikes made by artist Chris Boone.

4 p.m. A Muscatine team that plants a tree in every host town will plant Indianola’s tree in Pickard Park.

4-5:45 p.m. Live music from the Sonny Humbucker Band (a variety of blues, country, classic rock and alternative).

6-6:45 p.m. Live music from the Caitlin Nichol Thomas Band (folksy blues).

6:45 p.m. Watch a hot air balloon fly over the square during the opening ceremony.

7:10-8 p.m. Listen to the Caitlin Nichol Thomas band again.

8 p.m. Shake your groove thang to music from a live DJ.

8:30 p.m. Get a front row spot for the popular RAGBRAI band, the Johnny Holm Band (classic rock, country and comedy).

9:30 p.m. Watch the sky light up with fireworks at the Warren County Fair after the races. You’ll be able to see them from the town square, too.

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