About 50 bicyclists returned Saturday from a weeklong, combined 1,000-mile ride through virtually all the rural Utah communities that have their own electric utilities in celebration of Public Power Week.
On hand to welcome the cyclists back was Gov. Norm Bangerter, who also accepted the Public Power Week proclamations collected by the cyclists from consumer-owned electric utilities."Thanks for your contribution, and thanks for advertising the power industry and advertising our state," Bangerter told the group.
The 40 non-profit, consumer-owned electric utilities that serve 25 percent of the state's population provided support vans and meals for the statewide bicycle tour, said Alene Bentley, spokeswoman for the International Consumer Power Association.
Approximately 50 cyclists registered for the entire trip, including a 71-year-old man from Monroe, Sevier County. Hundreds of others joined in for shorter community rides.
The tour, which began Sept. 10, consisted of two routes, one starting from Glen Canyon Dam on the Utah-Arizona border, and the other from Flaming Gorge in Utah's northeastern corner.
The two dams that served as starting points for the tour provide hydroelectric power used by consumer-owned utilities represented by the tour, Bentley said.
The 525-mile ride from Glen Canyon averaged 64 miles a day, climbing through Zion National Park and over the Cove Fort summit at 7,200 feet elevation. Cyclists in the north tested their endurance the first hours by climbing more than 2,000 feet from Flaming Gorge into the Ashley National Forest at 8,400 feet. They averaged 63 miles a day.
"The tour was to promote power for the rural communities of Utah," said Jim Francis, 38, a representative of Morgan, who sported a sun-blistered nose.
"I made the 525-mile ride for my personal satisfaction, and the good of the tour promoting public power," said 71-year-old Burt Simonson. "Last year I rode for 18 miles and made up my mind to do the whole tour this year," he said with a big smile.
Wayne Anderson, 19, of Lehi, the youngest member of the tour group, said he enjoyed the experience and plans to buy a touring bike so he can continue riding. His immediate plan was to take his girlfriend to Lehi's homecoming dance later that night.
The cyclists gathered Saturday at Murray City Power for a celebration, then continued the last leg of their tour up State Street to the Capitol where they were greeted by Bangerter.