In the Spring of 2010, bicycle riders from all over the country will stage a relay race in the 8 western states of California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas and Missouri. Approximately 500 selected bikers will attempt to ride the actual Pony Express Trail as it exists today faster than about 500 veteran horseback Pony Express riders. The 2010 Pony Express Bicycle Challenge authentic head to head relay race is a separate event from the historic Pony Express Reride and will compete day and night until there is a winner. The goal is to ride the roughly 2,000 miles from Sacramento, CA to St. Joseph, Missouri in just 7 days, 16 hours.
Not for 150 years has there gone out across the country an urgent call for ‘wiry 18 year old’ riders. Today, the Pony Express Bicycle Challenge is looking for great young bicycle riders from bike shops, bike clubs, college racing teams, military personnel, noted individuals and racing pros. You need not be an ‘orphan willing to risk death’ to apply.
Horses are clearly favored when climbing and powering through soft soil conditions. Naturally, there are huge advantages horses have over bike riders climbing up the Sierra Nevada range and up the western side of the continental divide. Nevada's 40 mile desert and Utah's Upper Sonoran Desert have hundreds of miles of less famous but no less difficult terrain conditions. The single most advantageous factor for the cyclist is that much of the original trail has become gravel roads and paved highways. Horses must run on roads and are at a disadvantage here. Wind and weather will also be a huge factor. Ultimately, the real ‘horse race’ of this horse race is in the marginal areas of terrain where decades of horsemanship experience may trump technology.
Both racing groups have taken advantage of technology. Horses are bred for better blood lines. Bicycles have drastically improved on the simple concept of two wheels and a frame. We intend to use all types of human-peddled bicycles just as horsemen select from Thoroughbreds, Mustangs, Pintos, and Arabians.
In addition to the 80 lb Mochilla (mail pouch), Pony Express riders will carry 150 years of history as a virtual burden. Bicycles, on the other hand, will carry 150 years of history, literally! Their 20 lbs bicycle mochilla contains all manner of portable digital devices filled with the last 150 years of recorded history, including the genealogies of original riders and their horses.
The Pony Express Bicycle Challenge is a historic moment with public morale riding on it. In truth, the Pony Express Bicycle Challenge itself has little meaning in terms of actual accomplishment. Modern bikes with the best riders could not compete over the original Trail with the motivated horses and horsemen of 150 years ago. Mostly, the country needs to be reminded its own historic struggles as a strength and regain an optimism for the future to build on. Motivated citizens can make the unusual and the seemingly impossible happen. Cross country mail delivered in days instead of weeks by boat: imagine that! Elect a black President: imagine that. Bicycles beating horses at their own game on their own 2,000 mile long turf. Imagine that. What’s' next? Imagine it.
The theme of the challenge is “Men propelling themselves on machines at speeds rivaling horses”. But, man against beast has its own tantalizing appeal. Beyond that, 200 horsemen racing against 500 bicyclists is interesting, competitive and just plain fun. Certainly, competition on the grand stage of the original Pony Express Trail speaks for itself.
The race is on for 2010. The country needs a spark to get going again. This head to head match may light that fire.
17 October, 2009 Labels: .bike design, .bikes, .iver johnson bikes, marshall walter taylor, media 2.0, pioneering black athlete, pony express, pony express challenge, taylor marshall, the pony express Posted by Dale 4:10 PM