cycling utah October 1999


Accident weighs heavy on otherwise positive year

By David R. Ward


With this issue of cycling utah, we complete our seventh year of publication. At the end of each year, I ponder what to write in wrapping up the year. This time, I thought that a look at the year in retrospect would be worthwhile. However, due to the constraints in my life and my inability to be everywhere, I must disclaim any pretense of thoroughness or objectivity. These are simply the observations and experiences that impressed themselves upon my mind.

The most prominent event is anything but positive, one we all wish could be altered. I was shocked and saddened at the news of the terrible accident involving Brook Mickelson, Brian Carlson and Maikel Wise. It was senseless, a tragic convergence of one allegedly drunken man trying to dodge the pain of life and three healthy cyclists pursuing its fullness. It brought home to me the vulnerability we have as we enjoy one of life's great pleasures.

I had occasion to visit briefly with Brook and Brian at the start of the Lotoja. It was uplifting to feel of their hope and aspirations despite the terrible turn their lives have taken. My hopes and prayers are with them.

On the other end of the spectrum was the fantastic comeback of Lance Armstrong to win the Tour de France. His story cannot help but give hope to those who must deal with the formidable challenges that life places in their paths. I have pondered what part attitude and personal fortitude played in his recovery, as opposed to sheer good fortune. But the bottom line is this: His remarkable recovery and inspiring victory gives anyone, faced with the kind of odds Lance had, hope in holding and forging on.

I was excited by Marty Jemison's victory to become the USPRO national champion. It makes me feel good when someone I know personally achieves such great heights. I remember racing with and against Marty back when he first started to emerge. Of course, he continued to emerge while I submerged.

In that vein, it has been exciting to watch other local talent achieve success. David Zabriskie is recognized as a potential future star. Burke Swindlehurst continues to progress up the ranks. And Brad Buccambuso has come charging onto the scene in a big way, winning the USCF Junior Boys 17-18 National Road Race Championship.

Locally, the formation and successful debut of the Utah Cycling Association (UCA) has provided a big boost to cycling in our region, particularly for road racing. Though there has been some debate on fine-tuning the UCA point series, everyone agrees it has been a success. The UCA has helped bring riders, organizers and promoters together in a positive way that no other state organization has succeeded in doing.

Bicycle advocacy has been a steady influence. The completion and opening of the pathway over Parley's Canyon as part of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail is a great success for those who advocate bicyclists interests, needs and concerns. cycling utah has tried to assist in this effort with the monthly advocacy article by the consummate advocate, Rob MacLeod.

Tandem excitement in Utah has virtually exploded. This excitement has been fostered and coalesced in substantial part by Mike and Heather Bucher. They formed the Utah League of Tandem Riding Addicts (ULTRA) and have sought out devotees and converts with missionary zeal. For my part, tandem riding with ULTRA members has been a source of great fun this year. Sadly, Mike and Heather are moving from our pretty great state, but hopefully others will carry on for them.

In a more general vein, bicycling in our region is healthy. Be it mountain, road, or BMX, there are events from March through October to pick and choose from. And with the emergence of cyclocross in the area, you can compete right on into December.

This is by no means an exhaustive or prioritized list of this year's highlights. But it does give an indication of the local and regional growth and excitement for this marvelous sport of bicycling in all its forms.

The past looks good, and the future is looking even better.

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