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Once in a blue moon ride


There are few rides as enjoyable as gliding across the beautiful High Trestle Trail, which is named for the original railroad bridge that spans the Des Moines River between Madrid and Woodward. If you haven’t made time to get out for a ride, this weekend is your chance to experience the beauty of the bridge at Full Moon High Trestle Bridge Ride.

Full Moon High Trestle Bridge Ride will take place on Friday, July 31 from 7–10 p.m.

Full Moon High Trestle Bridge Ride will take place on Friday, July 31 from 7–10 p.m.

“Several years ago, some bike friends and I had an idea to ride on a full moon night. We just posted it on Bike Iowa website, and riders started showing up,” said Larry Jablonski, organizer. “Now each year in January, I look up the moon cycles and pick a Saturday near the full moon for each month.”

Anyone who has seen the High Trestle Bridge lit up during the night hours knows how gorgeous it looks, and it is something that continues to impress after multiple experiences.

Those worried about keeping up with other riders have nothing to fear. Riders can set their own pace and distance.


“The trail goes through Ankeny, Slater and Madrid before the bridge,” said Jablonski. “Most riders start at Madrid due to being a night ride, but Slater also draws a big crowd.”

Depending on where you start, Ankeny is 15 miles from the High Trestle Bridge, Slater is eight miles away, and Madrid approximately three miles. There are several stops along the way for food and drink if riders need a refresher.

The beauty of the High Trestle Bridge and ride during a clear Iowa night is what makes this event unique, said Jablonski. There are six overlooks on the bridge with interpretive panels that highlight the region’s cultural and natural history, as well as stunning views that change from season to season.

And this particular ride has certain astrological qualities as well.

“This is the second full moon in July, so it is a blue moon,” said Jablonski.

In recent years, people have been using the name blue moon to describe the second of two full moons in a single calendar month, which occurs every two to three years. An older definition of blue moon is that it’s the third of four full moons in a single season, which is closer to every 19 years. The idiom “once in a blue moon” is derived from this. So, if your excuse to friends or your partner is that you only ride once in a blue moon, your bluff can now be called; it’s time to ride.

“Hopefully there will be clear skies to see the moon,” Jablonski said. “It depends on weather and time of year, but some rides have had several hundred participate.”

With the high heat and humidity that’s been plaguing central Iowa the past couple weeks, hopping on a bike for even a short ride can sound like torture to some. That’s why the night ride is the perfect pick-me-up for any level of bicyclist.

“This is one of many events organized by Des Moines Bicycle Collective to get more butts on bikes,” said Jablonski. CV


Friday, July 31, 7–10 p.m.
Start: Slater head trail or Madrid head trail
(rider’s preference)

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