If you have good legs and a caring heart, you could join the bicyclists in Bountiful and Salt Lake City Saturday who will be pedaling 14.6 miles for the American Diabetes Association. You could also pledge or pedal in Brigham City, Vernal, Ogden, Logan, Tooele, Price, Logan and Layton. Or if you just have a caring heart, you could support these volunteers who are raising money for diabetes research.

Riders have been collecting pledges either by the mile or a flat amount for the Bike Ride for Diabetes.G. Phillip Margetts is the state chairman for the 1988 bike ride, and state sponsors are ZCMI and Intermountain Health Care.

M. Scott Mietchem, director of chapter services for the Utah affiliate, estimates that there are 80,000 people in Utah who have diabetes, and half of that number are not aware that they have the disease. Diabetes is the fourth leading cause of death by disease in the United States with approximately 150,00 people dying of diabetes each year.

Diabetes is the non-production or improper use of insulin in the body. Insulin is a hormone needed to convert sugar, starches and other food elements into the energy needed for daily life. Uncorrected, it often leads to serious complications including heart disease, kidney disease, blindness, nerve damage, and leg and foot amputations from gangrene.

At present, no cure is known for diabetes, but research has made progress in the management of the disease. Self-monitoring of glucose in the blood, pancreas and islet cell transplants, oral medications, laser therapy to prevent diabetes-caused blindness and new insights into dietary needs are recent advancements in the treatment of diabetes.

A tendency for diabetes may be present from birth, especially if diabetes is a hereditary factor in a family. The disease may be triggered through viral infections, and symptoms often mimic flu symptoms making diagnosis critical to prevent needless deaths.

The American Diabetes Association lists the following warning signs:

* frequent urination accompanied by unusual thirst

* extreme hunger

* rapid weight loss with easy tiring, weakness and fatigue

* irritability, nausea and vomiting

The ADA publishes over 5 million pieces of literature yearly including a free quarterly newsletter, "Diabetes Forecast." With 225,000 members, the ADA funds research and is committed to raising $100 million before 1990 to support research to find a cure for diabetes.

Local chairpersons of the bike rides are: Salt Lake City: Phillip Margetts, Brigham City: Craig Woodland; Logan: Rick Tufts; Layton/Bountiful: Ben Horejsi; Tooele: Jim Douglas; Provo: Rob Loveridge; Vernal: Doris Morrill and Price: Lance Wright. Terry Brown is president of the Davis County Chapter and Chris Menzel is youth services coordinator for Salt Lake County.

Pledge sheets and brochures can be picked up at 7-11, Circle K and Maverick stores. For information call 363-3024 or toll-free 1-800-423-1734.