Friday, June 19, 2009

Day 13 - Salt Lake City, UT to Provo, UT

Well, after a leisurely rest day, it was great to be back on the bike! I'll briefly recap yesterday's rest day in Salt Lake City. After sleeping in until 8 and then enjoying breakfast, I took the hotel shuttle to the airport to catch a bus to downtown. I spent the day finding a bike shop, wandering around Gateway Center mall, taking a tour of Temple Square, getting a haircut, riding the TRAX light rail, finding a Foursquare Church, and then returning to the hotel to wash the bike, catch up email, talk to family, and relax some more. I'll post photos of the rest day at the end of this blog entry. Now for the details of today's ride!

We had 12 new riders join us today. They'll only be riding with us to Pueblo, CO. Three guys are from Cleveland, OH and they all know each other. The other nine are from a variety of places but are all friends and have bike toured with each other before. We'll get to know them some more tonight. We left the hotel under sunny skies but a strong wind from the south that would blow against us most of the morning. It would be a day of detours. Our first sign of such was a few miles out of Salt Lake when a police car blocked the road. A car accident further down caused us to detour through a light industrial area. Then we were back on course.

Our route took us through West Valley City, West Jordan, and into Riverton. The route was largely through light industrial areas, neighborhood arterials, and a few corporate centers. The view of the Wasatch Range to our east was beautiful. The snow-capped peaks overlooked the Utah Valley below. To our west is the Oquirrh Mountains. As we rode further south, the communities became a bit more rural. But the route all day was mostly through the suburbs of Salt Lake City which was a refreshing change from several days on I-80 in Nevada and eastern Utah.

As most would know, Salt Lake City and the Utah Valley is predominately "Mormon" or Latter-Day Saints. What was striking was how many LDS Wards (churches) we passed. There are many things, theologically, that I disagree with in the LDS faith, but there are a few things that are worth commending. The distribution of churches and the way the local church is organized by geographical borders is really quite interesting. A problem within many Christian circles is "church hopping"--Christians going to a church that's doing the latest, greatest thing. Within LDS, you go to the Ward that's closest to your home. What we saw today was something akin to Starbucks stores in Seattle... there's one on every corner. An LDS church would be in one corner and a block away on the other side of the street would be another. They're ubiquitous. But I suppose the analogy to Starbucks stores is a bit out of place since most Mormons aren't coffee drinkers!

In fact, I only spotted three non-Mormon churches along our route. It's an entirely different culture here in the Utah Valley. I noticed that in many ways. One interesting observation was a billboard along I-15 for "Shelf Reliance. The food storage I love." Mormon families have an emergency food storage facility in their home for surviving a major disaster or emergency. I think it's a great idea and actually have something similar in my home. But, to see it advertised on a billboard showed me I was in a different culture entirely.

At our SAG stop in Riverton, we grouped up at an LDS church (big surprise) while Gerard and Michelle and the staff re-strategized how to get us around some significant road construction. Detour number 2. After some plotting and planning, we divided into two large groups led by Gerard and Judy. I was in Gerard's group at the front. We navigated along a frontage road paralleling I-15 and worked our way south for several miles until we were back on track. Our paceline was pretty long at times, to the consternation of drivers and truckers trying to pass us, I'm sure.

We arrived in Lehi and Gerard cut us loose, saying we were at 43.3 miles on our cue sheet and could follow it from then on. We rode a short stretch, turned a corner, and found another problem. The overpass we were to cross was closed with a tall fence. We had to go around another way. Detour number 3. I broke out my iPhone and used Google Maps to get us to the intersection we needed. We continued on through American Fork and Pleasant Grove until we hit more road construction. Detour number 4. The detour was clearly marked, so we followed the signs. Half the group missed the turn back onto the road we needed. I stopped, checked the cue sheet and my Google maps, and suggested we turn left. I had Bruce, Leigh, Hans, and Dan with me. They were convinced that me and my iPhone was going to save the day. (I'm like MacGyver, but I don't need a piece of chewing gum, a battery, and a sock. Just the iPhone.)

We were now in Orem and in need of restrooms and refreshment so we pulled over at a Texaco and rested. Some other riders passed us, so it was good to see at least a handful of others had found the correct route. We were closing in on Provo and the Brigham Young University campus. The Wasatch Range was close enough to touch. It would be amazing to have the view of the mountains that these homes had.

Our group passed the "Welcome to Provo" sign and just like that we were in the Happy Valley. We turned onto a tree-lined bike path that took us right into the BYU campus. But before we could go very far, we hit a road closure. Detour number 4. We bypassed it through a parking lot and were once again, back on track through the Brigham Young Univ. campus. I decided in honor of the Happy Valley, I'd play a tune on my iPhone. "Shiny Happy People" by R.E.M. was just the right one. The campus of BYU is quite attractive with lush green lawns, tree-lined streets, and, as the song by R.E.M. would suggest, "shiny happy people holding hands." I laughed out loud when I passed a couple walking through campus holding hands about the same time the song lyric played from my iPhone speakers.

We left the BYU campus and continued south skirting downtown Provo and riding into more industrial areas. That's unfortunate, because having been to Provo once before, it has a really interesting downtown area. I might walk down there tonight if it's not too far. Our hotel is right off the I-15 and across from Provo Towne Centre mall. So, if the walk to downtown is too far, maybe I'll hit the mall. I suppose I could get back on the bike and ride... but, really, maybe I'll wait to do that tomorrow!

And for tomorrow, it looks like we'll ride through the Uinta National Forest and over Soldier Summit to Price, UT. At route rap tonight, we were informed of some re-routes and construction. We were also informed from Ed from Seattle, who is originally from Utah, that Utah drivers are the worst in the world. So pray for safety for us! At least the weather still looks good, although we might get late afternoon rain. I'm enjoying the sun, but I'm getting some really bizarre tan lines. Susie will be stunned when she sees me on our rest day in Pueblo!

For more photos from my rest day in Salt Lake City including shots of Temple Square and downtown, visit

For more photos from today's ride, visit

If you would like to know more about the Ride for Impact and how you can support IMPACT Ministries and help me reach my goal of $20,000 for global relief and world missions, visit If these stories have been interesting and fun for you to read, please share it with others and consider helping me by supporting the Ride for Impact!

Dist: 68.54
Time: 5:04:56
Avg: 13.5
Cumulative Miles: 946
Cumulative Flat Tires: 3 (yay! no flats today!)
Elev Gain: 1949 ft.
Max Elev: 4913 ft.
Avg Climb: 2%
Max Climb: 13%

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