Cycling Utah and Cycling West: A Brief History of 25 Years

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By David Ward — 25 years. That’s a quarter century. It is more than a third of my life (37%, to be exact). It is also a silver anniversary. Cycling Utah’s silver anniversary, actually. With the 2017 Winter issue, Cycling Utah completed its twenty-fifth year of publication.

Cycling Utah's first issue was published in March of 1993. David Ward and Bob Truelsen started the paper. It has thrived for 25 years as the voice of cycling in Utah and the Intermountain West.

It was 25 years ago this issue, March of 1993, that Bob Truelsen and I published Cycling Utah’s first issue. I clearly remember the day we set out to deliver Cycling Utah for the first time. It had just dumped a foot of snow on the ground, and I was driving around in slush and on slick roads to bike shops to drop off our inaugural issue for their customers to pick up. It was a rather inauspicious beginning for this 25 year ride.

Bob and I had both been involved in road racing for several years. Bob was the president or our racing club, Utah Premier, and would prepare and print a periodic newsletter. I remember reading an article he had written, and was impressed with how well he wrote. Due to the lack of available information on cycling events and race results, the idea of putting out a small publication as a central location for such information had been rolling around in my mind for awhile.

So, I approached Bob about starting a cycling newspaper, and learned that not only was he a journalist, but that he had, as a school project, developed a plan for just such a publication. Long story short, we both threw in $700, Bob and I both wrote articles and sold advertising, Bob put the paper together and I handled the financial matters. Thus was Cycling Utah born.

It would take a book to recount 25 years of my history and experiences with Cycling Utah. So I will simply share some history and thoughts about this significant part of my life. First, let me make clear that Cycling Utah was never a vocation or significant money maker for Bob or me. He had his career with the Deseret News and I had my law practice. We started Cycling Utah because of our love of cycling, and we saw a need and took steps to fill it. Our hope, especially that first year, was that we would make back the $700 we had each put into it.

One thing I remember after the end of our first year was discussing with Bob whether we were going to continue for another year. Indeed, that was our discussion each winter for the first 4-5 years of publication. Fortunately, we were younger and more energetic than I feel these days, so we continued to plug along.

We reached a turning point in 1998. We approached David Iltis about selling advertising for Cycling Utah. We knew by then that the interest in our publication was there. So we hired Dave, strictly commission of course. But his efforts allowed us to take Cycling Utah to a new level and we were able to increase our size and coverage.

By this time, Bob handled all the editorial aspects and printing of Cycling Utah, Dave Iltis sold the advertising, and I was responsible for the business end of things and distribution of the paper. We rolled along for several years like this, and it was an arrangement that worked well. Cycling Utah continued to grow and enjoyed wide spread acceptance. During these first years of publication, the paper grew in size and distribution. Our first issue was 12 pages long and printed in black and white, except for the front page where the name Cycling Utah was in red. Looking at our current issue, we have come a long way.

In 2001, we reached our next turning point. Bob decided it was time to pass the editorial responsibilities to someone else. By this time, David Iltis had become an integral part of Cycling Utah and desired to take over the editorial duties. So, we made that shift, and Dave has been the heart and soul of Cycling Utah’s editorial content ever since. Bob wrote articles periodically before finally bowing out for good. For my part, I passed the full baton of responsibility for Cycling Utah and Cycling West to David Iltis a couple of years ago. But since Cycling Utah’s inception and through all these years, I have continued to write articles and a monthly column.

Bob and Dave will have different experiences and memories they can relate. For me, much of my experience relates to my family’s involvement with Cycling Utah. Each year until two years ago my wife, Karma, and I had delivery routes we would often run to deliver Cycling Utah along the Wasatch front. Also, every one of our children, and even a couple of their spouses and friends, has earned money running these routes. It was not a bad gig. In addition to meeting and talking with people at the shops, we could spend the day listening to NPR, or books on tape (then CD, then downloaded to our smart phones), all while earning a little money.

In addition to running delivery routes, each month we would package Cycling Utah and ship it off by UPS to other destinations within Utah and surrounding states. Initially, we had to hand write shipping documents, then take all these packages to a UPS store where we had to have each package scanned. It was an hours long process. It finally evolved to where we set up shop in our garage to package Cycling Utah, and UPS would come by the next day and pick up all the packages.

Cycling Utah has taken me to a lot of events I otherwise might not have attended. In addition to having fees waived or paid by Cycling Utah, I was able to meet the promoters and ride some very scenic countryside. Writing about these events gave me the opportunity to reflect on the experience and to share it with our readers.

Writing articles for Cycling Utah has also led me to seek out cycling opportunities when I have traveled. In addition to various areas around the country, having a daughter employed by the State Department and who works in embassies around the world has led to cycling experiences in countries as diverse as Bangladesh, Nepal, Austria, Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. All of these have been shared in the pages of Cycling Utah.

In the pages of Cycling Utah I have been able to express opinions, tell of humorous experiences and share some of my more personal thoughts and musings. These are topics that might otherwise have never been written or shared. Now, they are available to me and my posterity, a way for us all to know me better.

As I have pondered over the last 25 years of Cycling Utah and its history, where it started and where it is now, it is somewhat overwhelming to recognize the major role it has played in my life. I have been blessed in my life with a good family, all of whom are my close friends. I have a faith in whose goodness I choose to believe. And I have been able to provide for my family through a law practice that I have been able to nurture for forty years.

Next to these major aspects of my life, and running concurrently and often intertwining with them, there has been Cycling Utah. Like them, it is an integral part of my life. Make no mistake. It has also been a burden. But the experiences and influences I have had because of Cycling Utah have helped to shape and form my life, and fill it with excitement, satisfaction and meaning.

 

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