Stoplights in Suburbia

Trip Start Jun 04, 2011
Trip End Jul 26, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Utah
Friday, June 17, 2011

The contrast from one riding day to the next has been absolutely absurd around Salt Lake City. Riding into the city, we were in the strangest and most desolate desert I've ever been in... riding out of the city we were in a never ending suburb. It felt like we were riding down an overdeveloped Polaris Parkway for at least 50 miles. The suburban sprawl of Salt Lake City has reached down to Provo without a single gap. It was endless strip malls and new housing developments. We passed a number of car washes, dozens of gas stations, and hundreds of fast food restaurants. Scott and I spotted all of our favorites along the ride today (Five Guys, Chick-fil-A, Noodles and Co., Chipotle, In-N-Out, Cold Stone, Panda Express, etc... the list goes on, and on, and on.) It really felt like we were back at home - that is, until we lifted our eyes from the road to the snowy mountains around us on all sides.

It was difficult riding in such start and stop traffic. With cycling it's nice to get into a rhythm and we couldn't do that whatsoever on this leg of our trip. We were passing through an average of 3 or 4 stoplights per mile. It slowed us down, and made the ride feel a lot longer than it really was. 

The mountains around the city got a ton of snow this year. It was great for skiing, with most of the resorts getting well over 700 inches of snow; however, the snowmelt is causing flooding problems and concerns in the city. We were supposed to do a leg of our ride today along a bike path that follows the Jordan river, but after we arrived at a section of the trail where the path was under a few feet of water, we had to find another route. This is one of the many times where we realized how nice it is to be riding on a supported tour. The ride leaders chalked out a detour for us for at least five miles. It actually ended up being a little shorter than taking the bike path, so I'm not complaining.

We stopped at In-N-Out Burger and I resisted the temptation to order a double double (since I don't think they're that great anyway) and had a milk shake instead. Unfortunately, after I downed it, but before it had time to settle in my stomach, we were off on our biggest climb of the day. It wasn't that long, but it was rather steep, and quite difficult for me. I just felt sick the whole way up. When we got near the top we had glimpses of Utah Lake, which in my opinion seems like it might rival Lake Tahoe, although I haven't gotten close enough to it yet to confirm or deny that suspicion. The surrounding area is similarly gorgeous though.

I had maybe the craziest hill experience of my life on this ride. We were riding down what would be a normal road when all of the sudden there appears a dip (which we were warned about the night before) that drops away almost instantly revealing a virtual wall of asphalt on the other side. I couldn't see the road dropping away beneath me until I was already on it, like dropping into a half pipe, and after screaming down maybe 100 to 200 feet in less then a tenth of a mile I had to climb right back up a hill just as tall and just as steep. I made it up to speeds over 40 mph almost instantaneously on the way down, and I was suffering like no other trying to keep my bike moving forward on the way back up.
When we got near Provo we were able to ride through BYU's beautiful campus. I thought BYU was basically in Salt Lake City, and if you have a car, maybe it seems that way - but it took us most of the day to ride there. I would love to go to school in Salt Lake City/Provo... but I like Gordon too much, so maybe I'll just have to move here when I graduate.

I'm starting to realize that in the future, when I'm looking back at this trip, I'll want to at least see some of the basic numbers for each day's travels without having to log into a separate website to see my GPS files. I'll be adding these six numbers to each post, and I'll be going back to my previous posts and updating them as I find the time. These are mostly here for me, but if they interest you, please feel free to have a look.

Distance: 62.29 mi - 920.54 total
Time: 4:28:30 - 65:30:12 total
Elevation Gain: 1695 ft - 37,616 total
Av. Speed: 14.2 mph - 14.1 overall
Av. HR: 127 bpm - 130 overall
Calories: 4165 - 65,089 total
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Jeff Bracken on


I never imagined that you would be dealing with traffic lights during your trip. The image of Polaris Parkway really connected with me!

Jay Huling on

thanks for adding the numbers. How about some trip to date numbers? total miles? 14 mph is not pretty good for city riding.

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