I first started thinking about cycling the Pony Express in September 2017. That’s when I came across a website with a story about Jan Bennett, a cyclist who was mapping the trail for bikes. I wanted to ride the trail as soon as I finished the article.
I can’t explain why. Some part of me is drawn to the epic, even if it is small-scale epic. Another part is drawn to stories of the frontier west, even though I am fully aware that most of the stories are myth.
The Pony Express itself lasted just under two years, and was never meant to be a going concern, just a proof of concept and a means to land a lucrative government contract for a financially sustainable stage route. Worse, the greater history of the west, including the more particular history of the Pony Express, is one of domination, massacre, subjugation, genocide. I know this.
What I see when I think of the west are the open spaces. In an age where it’s hard to go a few feet in any direction without trespassing, the idea of miles and miles of open space is intoxicating. Of course, the frontier west was never truly open. There were the Native Americans who occupied the lands, even though, in most cases, they were willing to share . . . To a point. So, okay, my entire reasoning for wanting to ride the Pony Express is faulty, all of it based on fantasy, denial. So be it. I still want to ride the damn thing.