On the Pony Express Trail, an account of my bikepacking trip in 2021 from St. Joseph, Missouri to Salt Lake City, Utah, is due out from TwoDot Books in June 2023. I’ll post updates as they become available. For now, here’s an excerpt from the Preface:
“One evening I stumbled across an item reporting that a cyclist had mapped a bikepacking route along the Pony Express Trail. The route was two thousand miles long, ran across seven states from Missouri to California, and as it followed the trail as closely as possible, was eighty-five percent off-road. I knew right then I had to ride it. What I didn’t know was why.
I used to ride ultra-distance cycling events, but that was more than a decade earlier, over paved roads on a lightweight, skinny-tired bike. I had crashed a couple of years earlier and had since only ridden a mountain bike on fun, short, low-speed, off-road trails. Bikepacking was the worst combination of both: long days riding everything from busy highway shoulders to sketchy trails through remote terrain; carrying with me everything I’d need to survive—camping gear, food, clothing, tools, extra water; and doing it all on a slow, heavy bike.
Plus, I had no bikepacking equipment. I owned a full-suspension mountain bike, which could not carry all the equipment and food I’d need. I owned no camping gear, and in fact had not camped in decades—my partner and our teenage son both refuse to camp on principle. Even if I started planning and training and buying equipment like a madman right then, I would still need a year to gather the gear, test it, and train. By then I’d be 62 years old, not the ideal age to start a five-week solo ride across some of the most remote areas of the American West. And yet, there it was: someone had laid out a Pony Express bikepacking route and I knew I had to ride it or regret missing the opportunity the rest of my life. Even if it killed me.”