Category Archives: Health – Fitness

Utah drivers: Give me a break!

I ride a bicycle. A lot. I commute to work by bicycle more than 50% of the time. Last year I rode more than 3000 miles. I started riding again 2 years ago, and with all my safety gear and safety mindset, I’ve been incident free.

I believe that no driver out there wants to kill a bicyclist, and I also believe that the reflective gear I wear helps drivers to be aware. Generally that means that on the road, drivers give me plenty of room.

But still, Utah drivers: you can be better! I know … I know. Bicycles are rare here. I know. We love our SUVs here, and will be driving them until the last drop of oil has been drilled. But wake up! You can do better at sharing the road.

Recently, I spent a weekend in Portland Oregon. Portland is bicycle nuts! Bicyclists are everywhere! And drivers have adapted to sharing the road. It’s obvious. While there, I didn’t do any bicycling, but I did observe lots of friendly driving. I was amazed when walking back to Erin’s (my daughter’s) apartment after breakfast. We were walking north on a sidewalk approaching an entrance to a shopping area. We were yards away from the intersection, and yet, as we approached, a driver approaching the entrance and ready to turn into the lot WAITED for us to see if we were going to cross her turn path! Amazing. The last time this happened in Utah was probably some time around 1924.

In contrast here, I was coming home from work on my bicycle one evening, and crossed the northbound I-15 off ramp at highway 193 with the walk light. Not a big deal of course, except for the possibility of drivers taking a free right without checking the crosswalk to their right. So as usual, I held back … getting either driver eye contact, or seeing that traffic would prevent a free right. No problem. Then 2 miles down the road while waiting for another light the driver of a UTA (Utah Transit Authority) para-transit bus opened up her door and said, “Was that you crossing the road back at 193? I just think you should know … you scared me to death back there! I was ready to turn, and there you were right in front of me!” OK. Well that was well intentioned, I guess I was being told that I should be normal, and drive a car. But here’s the situation. Yup there I was with a reflective orange vest, a reflective neon green helmet, a 20 watt halogen headlight, in a crosswalk with a walk light, and a professional driver wasn’t looking right to check the crosswalk while turning right! Wake up!

Reflecting on this later, I realized that though the comment had scared me, I was indeed safe riding by my rules. I had assured that on coming traffic would prevent her from turning into me … and as it turned out I was just clearing her path as an opening cleared for her. No problem. But Utah, wake up. Pedestrians and bicyclists do exist.


View Larger Map

A Bicycle Trailer for the Golf Clubs

Bicycle Trailer and golf clubs42
Bicycle Trailer and golf clubs
Choices. A man always has choices. Well rather than choose golf over bicycling, or bicycling over golf … I combined the two.

Questions. A man always has questions. Where do I rate on the eccentricity scale? Is there anyone else in America riding an under-seat steering recumbent, towing a trailer, loaded with golf clubs while commuting to work?

I ordered the trailer from Nashbar a couple weeks ago. It arrived on Friday, and went out for a couple of shopping trips on Saturday. It rides smoothly, and is generally not noticed. I found that I do notice when:

  • Riding uphill
  • Riding downhill at better than 20 mph
  • Encountering side winds

On Sunday I rode to Swan Lakes Golf Course, played 9, then continued on to Home Depot for some shopping. Today (Monday), I rode to work (5.5 miles). After work I rode to Swan Lakes (4 miles). I practiced at the driving range, and then rode home (6 miles).

Since it’s been a long winter without much bicycling, I can feel it. It was a workout.

Bicycling Milestones

During the last weekend of April, I performed a minor miracle for a body, who from time to time, has accepted middle age as a time of athletic regression. Not anymore. I rode from Pleasant View to Pleasant Grove (98 miles) then got on the bicycle the next morning and rode back! That was the culmination of training since last November, and proof positive that I could participate successfully in the Cycle Salt Lake Century. Now I say, I can look at middle age and spit in it’s face!

Yesterday, I did in in fact, ride the 100-mile Cycle Salt Lake Century! The first 70 miles were really quite a bit of fun! The last 30, not unlike my Pleasant Grove ride, were pretty tough! It was a great event and a great day. Temperatures reached 90, and I drank about 1.5 gallons of water during the ride. My friend Troy, rode the entire event with me, even though he had been saying he’d do only the 66-mile option. Welcome back to century riding Troy!

I was surprised at a number of things at this event — my first organized century ride.

  • The sheer numbers of bicyclists was amazing (about 3000, I believe). For the first 20 miles on the road ahead I saw bicycles, bicycles, bicycles. In the rearview mirror I saw handlebars and pumping legs!
  • There were quite a number of fat people riding. I’m not skinny — still 20 pounds overweight — but I was surprised to see folks who were 50+ pounds overweight riding the full 100 miles.
  • The ride had 33, 66, and 100 mile options. So the numbers of riders was vastly larger in the first half of the ride. So was the variety in bicycles. I was a surprised to see (and hear …. squeak squeak) bicycles that had poor maintenance.
  • The support for this ride was fantastic. Great rest stops and good food! Where ever we were on the ride, the support staff of Bingham Cycle shop was there to assist riders with mechanical and fatigue problems. Troy and I stopped twice along the route (other than at rest stops) Both times, a Bingham’s Cycle shop guy came by to ask if we needed help!

What a day!

Golf Course Intelligence

I went off early to the golf course this morning. I talked Wade in
the pro shop after I was done. I told him that I’d been concerned
about the course with all of the runoff and high water. He told me an
interesting story.

The background:
The American Fork River (which would be called a creek, where I come
from) is channelled through American Fork, and through the length of
our Tri-Cities golf course. The spring runoff has been very high,
and two weeks ago I could see that the river was within 18 inches of
overflowing its banks along the 15th fairway. In fact a small
section of riverbank did erode and cave in, but did not amount to much
damage to the course. For a stretch of about 500 yards, the river is
channelled through a 6-foot culvert under the 10th, 1st, and 5th
fairways. My concern has been that debries, a fallen tree, or
whatever might get lodged in that culvert and the damming would wash
out some of the course. And two weeks ago the situation was obviously
critical because that culvert was running with a tremendous force of
water at a level above its midpoint.

It isn’t alway so. Typically, in the summer the stream is diverted to
irrigation canals, and the river bed is dry. Just to the north of the
tenth fairway at the inlet to the culvert the river widens out and a
cart path goes down through the riverbed for a shortcut back to the
club house. Not now! That cart path is under 2 to 3 feet of fast
flowing river.

Wade told me this surprising tale. About two weeks ago, while the
river was at its highest, a kid driving a golf cart, who obviously had
less than normal intelligence, thought that he’d drive the cart
through the river, crossing just north of the culvert inlet. The
good news is that both the kid and the golf course survived. The
golfcart fared somewhat worse.

As the story was told when the cart got too deep into the river, the
front was grabbed by the force of the water and sent toward the
culvert. At that point a bit of intelligence appeared to surface in
the driver, as he jumped from the cart and into the river. The cart
proceeded into the culvert where its roof was ripped off.
Miraculously, the cart was propelled the entire length of the culvert
without becoming lodged. The battered cart was extracted from the
river south of the fifth fairway by the golf course’s largest tractor
and a hefty chain.

I’d bet the cart driver won’t be trying to ford rivers with a golf
cart a second time.