Next Tuesday is Bike to Work Day, but if you don't have a job to bike to, don't let that stop you. It's not stopping Alice Telford, who retired two years ago.
Telford, 64, will be on hand May 24 at Liberty Park for Mayor Palmer DePaulis's second annual Bike to Work Day. She'll be joining the mayor, KALL radio personality Tom Barberi, Utah Symphony assistant conductor Christopher Wilkins, and others on a ride from the park's northeast corner to the Metropolitan Hall of Justice.It's a short, flat ride aimed at focusing attention on Bicycle Awareness Week. Telford, a member of the Bonneville Bicycle Touring Club, hopes that retirees and non-workers, as well as workers, will participate.
Riders will begin pedaling at 7:15 a.m. and will be rewarded at the finish line with juice and donuts donated by McDonald's and Banbury Cross. Cyclists who feel so inclined and don't have to be to work early can also then join the Bonneville Bicycle Touring Club's one-hour ride around the city. Club member Ron Belnap promises it will be a "casual" ride.
Helmets are required, notes Telford, who says hers has saved her life a couple of times. "The saying I've heard is `If you don't wear a helmet, you're an automatic organ donor.' "
Telford rides about 20 miles a day when the weather is good, doing all her errands and her grocery shopping by bike. She rides her bike in the winter, too, although she says she would have ridden more this past winter if she hadn't also taken up skiing.
"If I can do it, they can do it," says Telford about those folks, old and young, who think they can't. "I feel like a whole new life has opened up for me."
She didn't take up biking seriously until she was 62. Two months after buying her first mountain bike in 1986 she entered the Cache Valley 100K. She has since biked along the Great Wall in China and has completed a couple of hundred-mile races.
This year's Bicycle Awareness Week begins tomorrow with a hundred-miler, The First Annual Citibank Century Ride. All proceeds from the ride will go toward the mayor's "Shelter the Homeless" effort.
Registration begins at 7 a.m. at 350 N. Redwood Road; the ride begins at 9. Registrants can sign up for 25 miles, 100 kilometers (62 miles) or 100 miles along a designated route, north through Davis County. Rest and refreshment stops, as well as emergency medical technicians, will be available along the way. The $15 registration fee includes snacks, lunch and a T-shirt.
Bill Habel, chairman of the Mayor's Bicycle Advisory Committee, says he thinks that within a few years the Citibank Century Ride will be a nationally recognized ride.
Like a growing but still small number of Salt Lakers, Habel bikes to work not only on the once-a-year Bike To Work Day but nearly every day of the year, except for a few icy weeks during the winter.
Helen Carney, who works in a research lab at the Veterans Administration Hospital, and Public Service Commissioner James Byrne are two other bike-to-workers. Carney says that she has "nearly drowned" a couple of times and has been in several "sticky situations" with automobiles, but that riding the five miles to and from work every day is still relaxing.
Byrne also finds biking relaxing. Except for the 18 months he worked in the Washington, D.C. area, he has biked to work for 26 years. "I can burn off the problems of the day by the time I get home," he says.
But "you have to be vigilant all the time, especially of drivers turning left," he warns. "I have one friend who went through the windshield of a Pinto."
To cut down on the chance of such mishaps on May 24, Bike to Work Day will include a full police motorcycle escort.