How I Roll: Crusty Rusty


Words and photos: Daryl O’Dowd

Salt water stretching to the horizon. That wasn’t in the brochure I’d picked up in my hotel. The seasonal flooding at Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats smooths the salt surface when it evaporates and makes it ideal for automobile and motorcycle top-speed racing. But not today. The flats were looking more like something Columbus would sail, and definitely not a place to set an unofficial folding bike record.

My two hour trip from Salt Lake City looked to be a bust. That was until I spied a man walking across the lake. There, amid the waves, far off shore, was a guy out for a stroll. As he splashed ashore a half hour later, pants rolled up to his knees, I unfolded my spoked companion (a Dahon C-7). If a Russian truck driver cooling his feet could do it, then so could I. I gingerly crept out into the lake. The bottom—under six inches of water—held firm. In fact it was like concrete.

I christened my bike the Crusty Rusty—given the amount of corrosion that was already starting—and set a course for the distant horizon. Pedals scooping water I slowly picked up speed, the tires cutting through waves that cast swimming pool-like reflections on the bottom. This was fun! I clicked into my highest gear and at full speed left a salty rooster tail arching upwards behind me.


And faster than I could say Robinson Crusoe an island appeared, my own deserted piece of terra salty firma, mere inches above the waves and invisible from shore. With the quiet swish of wet rubber tire across sparkling crystal I gently emerged from the brine and rolled to a stop. Time for some record setting!

As evidence of my quite unofficial endeavor I set my video camera on the salty ground and proceeded to roar back and forth in front of the lens. (Officially, two passes are needed for a record). Roar might be a bit of overstatement, but I did make plenty of zoomzoom- zoom sounds as I gunned for photographic evidence. I could see the headline: “Man on Zippy Red Folding Bike in Middle of Lake Breaks 25 mph Barrier!” Wordy but true.

Big grin on my face and giddy with my Tour de Saline victory I headed back out to sea and back to my car. Mission accomplished. I had set my record at Bonneville.


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