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Sandy Journal

Canyons’ educators form friendships, set goals, endure pelting rain in Goldilocks bike ride

Nov 01, 2021 02:25PM ● By Julie Slama

Some of the friends who train regularly along the Jordan River Trail together rode in this year’s Goldilocks bike ride. (Photo courtesy of Johannah Hildebrand)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Some like it hot, some like it cold and some like it just right or so the story of Goldilocks goes.

This is not a Goldilocks story of “just right,” but rather of cold.

After 17 days of sunny weather, the Sept. 18 forecast for Provo was partial showers.

“It wasn’t just raining down on you, it was just pelting you in the face,” said Johannah Hildebrand, who teaches early childhood special education at Quail Hollow Elementary. “My shoes were squishing; I never thought they would get that wet.” 

Hildebrand was one of the women who trained with a group of friends, most who formed their relationships by working at schools in Canyons School District.

It was the return of Goldilocks women’s bike race, which was held virtually in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Women choose to ride in increments of 20 miles up to 100 miles throughout the countryside with hundreds of other bicyclists.

Altara Elementary fifth-grade teacher Kathy Smith thought she was ready for the rain.

“I did have what I thought was a pretty waterproof raincoat; it proved not to be so waterproof,” she said. “The rain was dripping down my body. Everything was wet. It was cold. I was totally unprepared. We did joke about calling an Uber.”

That rain, wind and cold the morning of the ride “was definitely memorable,” said Sunrise Elementary first-grade teacher Jan Simpson, about her third Goldilocks ride. “There was really only one hill on the whole course and of course, that’s where the wind was coming against us. The rain was pelting as you were just trying to get up that hill.”

She rode alongside recently retired Canyons speech language pathologist Andrea Miller, who was optimistic about riding in the “nasty weather. It was 47 degrees when we started out. About one-quarter mile into the first part, it started raining and it pretty much rained most of the race. You know at that point, what are you going to do: You just keep going and keep pushing until you get there.”

Simpson agreed: “Even though it was cold and uncomfortable, I had to cross that finish line. I wasn’t going to stop in the middle.”

While those women rode 20 miles, some others, like Hildebrand, rode 40. It was the first time she had ridden that far.

“I may have been overzealous, but I have that teacher quality where we have a goal, and we work toward meeting it. A spectator along the race said, ‘just keep going and you’ll get there;’ it became my mantra,” she said.

Most of the group recently returned to riding bikes, having only ridden them in their childhood to school, around the neighborhood or maybe to a summer job.  

It was Smith who started forming the group after health issues “required me to step up my exercise game.”

“When I first started riding again, I would just make myself go out for a mile and then I’d be like, ‘Oh, I can keep going.’ I started working up and after a while it was three, four, five miles. Then I thought if I rode five miles, six days per week, I’d be up to 30 miles so I worked up to that. Then, I set a goal of 10 miles, four times per week. Then, we were doing 15 miles several times per week. It gets in your blood and it feels good,” she said.

Hildebrand started teaching at the same elementary school as Smith.

“I noticed Kathy had a bike on her car my second week at Altara. So, I cornered her, and I said, ‘Hey, you go riding?” She was like, ‘Come ride with us.’ I’ve been doing that for a little over two years now,” she said.

Smith would post her rides and co-workers and church friends would ask her about it and she told them to join her. Eventually, she created a Facebook group. Three years ago, they were riding 70 miles per week, and she’d walk on the “rest” days at the gym.

The group of about 10 women set a goal to ride Goldilocks in 2019. Smith registered them as a team and Canyons gave them T-shirts to wear.

“I liked that it was a supported ride so if people weren’t comfortable changing their own tire, the support staff does that. It was a goal to work toward, and Canyons really pushes healthy living. It ended up being a lot of fun. We’ve stayed around and met teachers from other districts and other people who rode,” she said.

Not only was there rider support with “papa bears” and “mama bears,” but the ride also provided porridge beforehand, a snack halfway through the ride, and a meal afterward—plus a goodie bag. But that wasn’t the reason they participate in the ride.

Simpson said that Goldilocks gives them a goal. 

“We ride all through the spring and summer and fall, so it just gives us something to look forward to; we’re doing it for a purpose,” she said. “The first ride was exciting because it was an accomplishment something that I never thought I would do.”

Even as the riders have moved, retired or changed schools, the core group continues to bike together. Last year, they had planned to ride 40 miles, but as it turned virtual, Smith, Simpson and Simpson’s husband decided upon 20 miles along Jordan River Trail, where the group likes to train since it’s free of vehicle traffic and is centrally located between where they live in Sandy, Draper and South Jordan.

“It definitely wasn’t the same. There’s just something fun about being around a huge group of people who are interested in the same thing. It’s just fun to kind of get caught up in the moment with that big group. Last year was just a way of getting out to accomplish something rather than just sitting home,” Simpson said.

Hildebrand said the Goldilocks experience is unique.

“It was such cool bike ride; everyone was cheering everyone on, giving everyone encouragement,” she said. “No one was trying to be the fastest; it was more like, ‘You can do this’ and support each other. I love finding a community where you can be active and get that support.” 

The women also like that they’re exercising while having fun and enjoying the outdoors.

“It’s nice being outside, having friends to ride with and having common interests in biking and working in education,” Miller said. “It makes the time go by faster and it’s not as hard.”

Simpson said she used to walk the track at a recreation center, but “it was kind of boring. I like being outside; my happy place is on the trail riding. Right now, the geese are all around getting ready to fly away and you see all the ducks and animals. We’ll pass people who are running and it’s like they’re just breathing so hard, and I think, if I get really tired, I can just coast a little bit. I can take a break, but these poor guys. I can’t imagine running.” 

The group already is talking about riding Goldilocks next September, despite this year’s rain.

“It’s a tradition,” Smith said.

Miller said she appreciates the friendship that has formed from the group.

“The best thing about it is just having fun with friends. Everyone tries their best and pushes themselves a bit, but it’s more about camaraderie and fun,” she said.

Hildebrand said that even with the rain, “the vibe of the ride was just so positive that everyone kind of went for it. It was so nice the sun came out, so it lit up the finish line. It was kind of a nice ending.”