Two veteran Utah endurance bicyclists, Jay Aldous, Salt Lake City, and Matt DeWaal, Bountiful, plan to cycle the 2,000-mile Pony Express Trail this summer in 10 days - the same time it took relays of horsemen to cover the trail nearly 130 years ago.
Both men's names appear in the Guinness Book of Records for a round-the-world bicycle trip they completed in 1984, covering 14,290 miles by bicycle.They say no one has ever ridden the Pony Express Trail by bicycle and they know of few people who have covered 200 miles a day over rough and irregular terrain anywhere.
The two expect to start their Pony Express trip in June, possibly two weeks before the National Pony Express Association holds its annual reenactment by horseback. They will start out from Sacramento, Calif., and travel east through Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas, ending their trip at the eastern terminus of the historic trail, St. Joseph, Mo.
"We aren't really trying to complete the trip to get into the Guinness Book of Records again," Aldous said. "We just want to do it for the challenge and the fun of it."
"We have ridden over most of the western half of the trail and expect to drive over the eastern half this month to check it out. There are some especially bad places in Nevada where rain and mud could slow us down and we will both have to take more than one bicycle, one with thin tires and one with fat tires so we can adapt our ride to the terrain and the weather," Aldous said.
The two men met each other in 1982 at the University of Utah where DeWaal was teaching a class in triathalon training - how to prepare for the events that include running, swimming and bicycle riding.
Both men had participated in various long-distance cycling events. DeWall, 29, who is a broker for group health insurance programs, had been riding in marathon races for several years. Aldous, 27, a computer company marketing expert, cycled 12,124 miles in 100 days in 1982, traveling around the perimeter of the United States.
In the spring of 1983, the two decided to hold their own three-day triathalon in Utah. They started at the Idaho border, biked 135 miles south to the northern edge of Utah Lake, swam 21/2 miles and slept in a park. The next day they ran 40 miles to Nephi, biked 60 miles to Yuba Lake in Sanpete County and slept beside the lake.
The third day, they biked 202 miles to the Arizona border to complete their trip.
The next year the two set a record for bicycling around the world in a 106-day trip that started and ended at This Is The Place Monument. They cycled to New York; flew to Madrid; cycled through Spain, France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Yugoslavia and Greece; and then flew to Egypt.
Then they cycled to Israel; flew to Bombay, India; cycled to Calcutta; flew to Thailand; cycled through Malaysia to Singapore; flew to Australia; cycled 3,000 miles from Perth to Sydney; flew to Hawaii where they cycled about 90 miles; flew to Alaska; and then cycled south on the Alaska Highway to Dawson Creek, British Columbia; and finally cycled southeast through Canada, through Montana and Idaho and back to Utah.
Both men have been training hard for their trek this summer. DeWaal said they will take along some family members and friends who will travel in support vehicles on or near the Pony Express Trail.
"It is a marvelous trail, full of history and beautiful sights," DeWall said. "We are all looking forward to the experience."