Public employees ride for friendship, lower premiums
What began as way to lower insurance premiums became a surprisingly enjoyable experience for some employees at the Snyderville Basin Water Reclamation District (SBWRD), when a group of health-conscious coworkers started mountain biking together after work.
Inspired by the Utah Department of Health’s "Healthy Utah" initiative for public employees, which promises a $60 rebate to employees who log 100 days of exercise within a year, a group of 10 at the SBWRD took to the surrounding trails.
Several rides, some long chats and a couple of road trips later, the riders discovered a surprising "side effect" of their peddling, in the form of friendship and bonding.
"It’s not only a lot of fun, it’s a whole team building exercise," said Gary Tackman, the district’s database administrator and self-described "default coordinator" of the cycling group.
"The conversation out on rides is very rarely about work," he explained. "It’s always, ‘what are we going to do next?’ We think about where we’ll ride, what trips we might take."
In the two years since the group formed, the members have also established an annual season-end trip for a culminating challenge. This year they tackled the White Rim Trail in Canyonlands National Park.
"I wasn’t sure about a long trip, but amazingly, we all got along," said Mona Cutter, an accountant at the sewer district and one of the clan’s most experienced riders.
Getting a chance to see coworkers outside the office is one of Tackman’s favorite parts of the program.
"Before, I knew Mona as just, Mona the Accountant. Now I know her as a strong rider with a strong personality."
Cotter said she most enjoys seeing others improve.
"We’re in it to get everybody to enjoy riding," she said. "We each encourage one another. The strong riders help those who are just starting out. We’ve become friends, not coworkers."
The SBWRD riders have grown to about 16 members a perfect size, Tackman said.
"Too big and you start losing track of people," he said.
He hopes the group inspires other companies to follow their lead.
For more information about the Healthy Utah project, including who qualifies for discounts and how to make healthy life changes, visit http://www.healthyutah.com .
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