cycling utah July 2000


How does a person get started in bicycling?

By David R. Ward


While attending a continuing legal education class a couple of weeks ago, I was approached by a fellow attorney who asked if I was the publisher of cycling utah. I responded that I was, enjoying as I do the ego strokes from being recognized by a stranger for this publication.

He mentioned a couple of articles that he had enjoyed reading, as well as a couple of articles on road biking rides that we had printed. We then discussed some rides around and near the Salt Lake valley. In the course of our conversation he asked about getting involved with others in cycling activities, and we discussed the Bonneville Bicycle Touring Club (BBTC) and other organized bicycling activities.

A week or so later, I received a voice mail from another individual who also complimented our publication, again stroking my ego, and then asked if we might run an article on how one gets involved in the cycling scene.

These two incidents started me reminiscing about my own attraction to cycling and how I became involved. I have always enjoyed bicycling from the time I was old enough to reach the pedals on my tricycle. When I learned to stay upright on two wheels, I discovered the freedom to roam that a bicycle brought. I even remember watching track racing on the ABC Wide World of Sports a couple of Saturday afternoons. For a rural Idaho kid, that was unusual sport, but I was fascinated.

So, I seem to have had a natural fascination with cycling anyway. During my college years, I always had a bicycle as a form of transportation, and even took a bicycling class for one of my physical education credits. Then, while in law school, I dropped about 50 pounds, and cycling was one of the components of my plan to take weight off and keep it off.

Nevertheless, I had no involvement with organized cycling until several years later. I was still riding my bike for exercise, but met a couple of people through a client who told me that bicycle racing actually existed in Salt Lake. I found out that races were held every Thursday at the International Center, west of the airport. Curiosity took me out to observe and I was immediately attracted to the sport of bicycle racing.

At that time, Lagoon sponsored a yearly criterium on the 4th of July. After a couple of calls, I worked up the courage to register for the race. There were two categories for my age, and I signed up for what amounted to the beginner/intermediate group. There was a large group, about 30-40 riders, in my category. As this was my first race, I was of course tentative, and ended up starting at the back. By the end of the race, I had worked my way up to where I finally finished about 15th, and was hooked on racing.

I inquired at Fishers Cyclery, the bike shop that I had begun to frequent, and found that it sponsored a club, Utah Premier, which I joined. This provided camaraderie with others who had developed the same passion I had for riding and racing. This was key to my continued involvement with the sport. No matter how much I like something, I usually lose interest if I have no one who shares that interest with me.

The rest, as they say, is history. From then on and for several years, I could hardly wait for the next race. I loved the thrill of pack riding and speed, fast cornering, and honing my bike-handling skills. I looked forward to club and pickup rides, times when I could enjoy riding with other people without the intensity of racing. Finally, realizing the need for a central location for cycling information and news, I approached Editor Bob about starting a cycling publication, and here I am, eight years later, writing this article.

My involvement with this sport has been good for me. It has helped me stay relatively fit. More importantly, it has provided me with an outlet for other stresses and anxieties that take their toll on me. It has developed into a passion that, along with skiing, is shared by my family. Though no one in my family is as avid a cyclist as me, we all enjoy riding. And it is no where near as expensive as boating, car racing or any number of other pastimes that I could have picked up.

So in response to the recent inquiries I have received, I have several recommendations. First, become involved with a group. Check out cycling utah's Bicycle Phone Directory for numerous contacts that can help you locate a group to hook up with. If your interest is in road racing, there are a number of good clubs around. From personal experience, I know that Utah Premier is a good club for beginning racers. From my observation, I can also recommend the Rocky Mountain Cycling Club and the Logan Racing Club for those just new to the sport.

For mountain bike racing, contact Ed Chauner of the Intermountain Cup Mountain Bike Series or Harry Lam, the NORBA Utah representative.

For the non-racing enthusiast, the BBTC is the way to go. With monthly newsletters, meetings and an excellent organization, they have more organized rides than one person could possibly hope to participate in. Most importantly, the people in the BBTC are some of the friendliest and nicest people I have come to know. You cannot participate in a BBTC ride and not have a good time.

My second recommendation is to simply get out and participate. It took a lot of courage for me to enter my first race. It boiled down to the decision to just do it. I have known many who have also tried racing by just finally making the decision to just enter one. Some have enjoyed it and stayed with it, while others have decided it is not their cup of tea. That's alright. At least they tried it.

Recreational events are also plentiful. Keep you eye on cycling utah's Calendar of Events for dates, places and contacts. Events are a great way to discover new territory and enjoy riding with several other people. Besides, it is simply fun to participate in an event.

Finally, involve your wife, significant other, children and friends. Though I have made many good friends through cycling, there is nothing I enjoy more than riding in an event with someone I really care for. My children and wife are my most enjoyable partners. Besides, their occasional participation, even if they do not share your passion for the sport, will help them to understand your intensity. In fact, when I get cranky, my wife tells me to go for a bike ride. She enjoys me, and I enjoy myself, better after a good ride.

The great thing about cycling is it is a participation sport than can be done at your pace and chosen level of intensity. cycling utah is always here, in print and at our website (www.cycling to help you locate the clubs, events and rides that suit your particular desires.

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