Washington City man logs 50K miles on mountain bike – and still counting

Washington City resident Jim Salmon, 77, pictured here near his home in late 2019, has logged more than 50,000 miles on his mountain bike over the past 13 years. | Photos courtesy of Rusty Salmon, St. George News

WASHINGTON CITY — Local resident Jim Salmon, 77, has now ridden his mountain bike enough miles to go around the world twice.

By his own calculations, Salmon has logged more than 50,000 miles since moving from Moab to the St. George area with his wife, Rusty, following their retirement about 13 years ago.

“I lived in Grand County, up in Castle Valley, where I’d ride my mountain bike all the time. It’s the mountain bike capital of the world,” Salmon told St. George News.

A longtime Boy Scout leader, Salmon served in many positions, including that of cycling merit badge counselor, often accompanying the boys on riding trips of up to 50 miles.

“So when we got over here, my wife asked me, ‘What do you want to do? Do you want to keep riding and continue doing that?’” Salmon said.

He then went into the St. George bike shop Bicycles Unlimited and paid $360 for a new turquoise Diamondback mountain bike that he still rides today and that he likens to a heavy workhorse.

“It’s a Clydesdale. It’s a 40-pound mountain bike, geared low. But I tell you this, the only thing I’ve replaced on that bike is tires and tubes and a lot of chains.”

Salmon said he started riding his bike around the area and getting acquainted with the county, but he soon decided he needed to create some sort of goal. 

“A horse needs a carrot in front of him to pull the cart, right?” he said with a laugh. “So I was wondering how many miles I could do in a day and how many days a week I could go.”

This escalated into wondering what it would take to ride the equivalent of going around the world at the equator. He took the average of three similar calculations to arrive at a figure of 24,920 miles.

Jim Salmon, 77, is shown alongside his mountain bike on the day he reached his goal of 50,000 total miles ridden, Washington City, Utah, Nov. 7, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Rusty Salmon, St. George News

“That gave me a goal,” he said.

Salmon’s first trip “around the world” took him seven years to accomplish, riding on existing trails and roads in Washington County and northern Arizona and logging his daily mileage.

Not wanting to stop there, Salmon decided to continue the journey as if he were going around the Earth along a meridian line from pole to pole and back around again.

“Since the world is fatter at the equator, the second trip was 41 miles shorter,” he said.

He completed that second circumnavigation in approximately six years, finishing in October 2019.

At that point, he was so close to 50,000 miles that he decided to keep going to arrive at that milestone figure, which he reached on Nov. 7.

But he still hasn’t stopped. As of New Year’s Day, Salmon’s total stands at 50,630 miles and counting, and he has already set his sights on potentially reaching 100,000 miles.

Salmon said he recently sent an email to the bike manufacturer touting its durability.

“Thanks for building a great bike,” he wrote. “I’m going to see if it’ll go another 50,000 miles!”

Salmon is also quick to tout the health benefits of his riding routine, noting that his weight has dropped 60 pounds since he started. He also enjoys being recognized and greeted by many people he passes during his rides.

“Overall, it has been a positive and enjoyable experience,” he said. However, there have been a few hair-raising moments. 

“I’ve been run off the road twice and had several near misses,” he said and requested motorists to be extra careful when passing bike riders. “Bicyclists don’t take much room.”

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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