Chasing the Pony Express

It was a beautiful day for mid-November, so Kelly and I hit the road. I was telling Kelly about an article I’d recently read suggesting the best way to winterize your bike. The author said, “Ride it all winter.” We agree. It definitely feels like winter is coming, but it’s not here yet, so it was a pretty easy decision to saddle up—but this would be a good ride in January when the roads are dry, the sun is shining, and the temperatures are a degree or two above freezing.

This time of year we start riding out in the west desert. I noticed three or four other guys out for a Saturday afternoon too, so we aren’t alone. We made a stop at Harley-Davidson of Salt Lake City to pick up a special order (the locks for my new saddle bags), and then hit the road to chase the Pony Express.

Although the history in Utah isn’t as old as other parts of the country, the history of the old west is our history. The Mormon Pioneers, the Transcontinental Railroad, and the Pony Express are a just a few examples.

A little over 150 years ago the Pony Express started running mail between St. Joseph, Missouri and Sacramento, California. Part of the route runs right through Utah, and Utah’s west desert. Aside from the paved road past Cedar Fort, I don’t think the scenery has changed much since those young riders rode hell-bent-for leather through what must have been a sometimes hostile country.

There are a couple of markers as you ride across the old route, and it’s not hard to imagine what it must have been like all alone pushing your mount to cross the desert as fast as you could. Even on the paved road, there are times when you’re alone out there this time of year.

Whenever I pass the homes that are all that remain of Faust Station, I think of the Pony Express and how cold those boys must have been as they chased the clock from station to station this time of year.

It’s all good highway underneath us as we pass Rush Valley and Vernon headed for Eureka. There’s a new diner just as you enter town from the south, a welcome addition as a nice spot to stop and warm up cold fingers and enjoy a burger as we ride through here on the fringes of riding season in late fall and early spring. The Miner’s Diner will become a regular stop for us. Our waitress said they’d only been around for a couple of months, but the cheeseburger was tasty, the atmosphere was nice, and the service was friendly. I agree with Trip Advisor’s five-star rating.

After lunch we rode through town toward Elberta and home via the west side of Utah Lake. It wasn’t cold enough to plug in the heated gear, but I admit to being jealous of Kelly’s heated grips. There’s just nothing better than a few hours on the road on a Saturday afternoon—especially this time of year.