Utah's public power communities will roll out the welcome mat to bicyclists riding in the second annual "Pedal for Power" Bicycle Tour of Utah this week.

The 40 non-profit, consumer-owned electric utilities which serve 25 percent of the state's population will provide support vans and several meals for the statewide bicycle tour.Approximately 50 bicyclists are registered to make the entire trip, including a man in his 70s from Monroe, Sevier County. Another 250 to 300 are expected to join in for shorter community rides.

The tour, which began Saturday, consists of two routes, one starting from Glen Canyon Dam, the other from Flaming Gorge. Cyclists may ride the entire southern or northern route or shorter distances, depending on ability and time.

Sponsors are the Intermountain Consumer Power Association and its member utilities. ICPA spokeswoman Alene Bentley said the tour, covering a combined distance of nearly 1,000 miles, takes riders through virtually every public power community in the state where activities are planned to promote the benefits of public power, such as non-profit service, lower rates, and local control. The bicycle tour will highlight the association's celebration of "Public Power Week."

The 525-mile ride from Glen Canyon averages 64 miles per day, climbing through Zion National Park and over the Cove Fort summit at 7,200 feet elevation. Cyclists on the north will test their endurance within the first few hours of the ride by climbing more than 2,000 feet from Flaming Gorge into the Ashley National Forest, at 8,400 feet. Distance on the northern route averages 63 miles per day.

The bicycle tour will culminate in a ride from Murray City Power up State Street to the Capitol on Sept. 17, where Gov. Norm Bangerter will meet the riders at 3 p.m. to accept the "Public Power Week" proclamations collected from consumer-owned electric utilities.

ICPA will also provide support vans on both tour routes to transport gear and groceries for the riders. Riders will be responsible for making their own lodging arrangements or they may bring camping equipment, Bentley said.