Monday, August 29, 2011

my near death experience at the hands of UDOT

As you may or may not know, I'm training for an Ironman 70.3 (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run). As part of my training, I have to get in a longer bike ride each week. Lucky for me, I have a great friend, Rhielle, who is willing to do all these rides with me. Last week we decided to do our loop through Francis and the part of the Jordanelle bike course to add the extra miles. We also had our friend Sonia join us, so it was destined to be a great time!

As is typical of Utah in the summer months, there is construction everywhere. We knew that part of our route was under construction, but it was less construction than on any other route we might ride. We headed out fully prepared for a few bumps in the road. When we hit Oakley, there was one 3 mile section that was a single lane of traffic. Being the law abiding citizens that we are, we stopped to wait for our turn to navigate through the traffic. Rhielle went up to talk to the flag person to inform them how we would proceed through this section to ensure our safety. It was agreed that we would follow behind all the cars since we would obviously be slower than them. As we would be the only people on the road, we would ride down the middle so we were more visible. The man at our end would radio ahead to let the next person know there were 3 cyclists riding through so no cars would be sent before we reached the stop point for cars.

Everything seemed to be going as planned. We waited until all the cars had passed, got in line behind them and took off on this 3 mile section. The road was winding and slightly downhill. This was great as a cyclist; I had the whole road to myself and could maneuver through the turns without fear of any cars. Or at least that's what I thought. Just as I started coming around a curve there was a car directly in my line of travel. And, right behind it was another car, actually a big diesel a truck and a full line of cars heading out on the one lane road. I'll admit, I panicked a bit. Obviously our plan for safety hadn't worked. I was able to move out of the path of the first car. And fortunately, the big truck slowed down enough that I could move over to the non-working lane and travel the last quarter of a mile in safety.

Needless to say, we were all pretty upset with the flag person who had sent cars before we had made it to safety. After some heated words spurned on by all the adrenaline, we learned that she had not been notified that there would be 3 cyclists coming through at the end of the line of cars. She apologized and we completed our ride without further incident.

I tweeted about my experience and even mentioned the offending UDOT region, UDOT Region Two twitter account. I guess they don't really monitor their account because I never got a response. I even called the UDOT office, logged my complaint and asked for a call back. That was a week ago and I still haven't heard anything from them. The best part of the call--I was told that all the work is contracted out, so it really wasn't UDOT's fault that I was nearly killed in a construction zone. I'm sorry! Those contractors are representatives of your organization and as far as I'm concerned they are UDOT. I've since sent an email through the UDOT site requesting that they call me back. I'm not holding my breath.