On the 130th anniversary, I recreated part of the journey of the first person to cycle around the world on a bicycle. Taking it one day at a time. View the archive.

Into Utah

By Stuart Lowe on

At this point in the trip Stevens had some advantages over me. He may not have had gears, much in the way of brakes, or panniers, but he did have a railroad town every 10 miles or so where the steam trains could stock up on water. Once the steam trains went, so did most of the towns. I had 130 miles of emptiness ahead of me. My Ikea bag was filled with food and every water container I had was full. My bike was now the heaviest it had been.

The wind had dropped to half what it was yesterday. I had breakfast in the Cowboy Bar then headed off. I followed the road for a while but then headed onto some unpaved roads to get to Tecoma. I wasn't going to see another paved road all day. I saw some great mountains and got a better view of Pilot Peak. Near the state line the sage brush seemed to thin out as if it knew we were in a new territory.

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Road from Montello

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Bike portrait

I'd been following the modern railroad line but just near the border with Utah I was to leave it. It headed across the Great Salt Lake but the Old Railroad had gone around the top of it. I found the Old Railroad grade road which went for miles in a straight line. Occasionally there were little diversions around the old bridges that no longer looked capable of supporting traffic. Along the way I spotted what I think was a racoon. It got a shock, jumped up in the air and ran off away from me. I also think I accidentally ran over a snake that was basking on the track. I say I think because I didn't hang around to find out. I sped off in fright.

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Looking back along the modern railroad into Nevada

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Heading north on the Old Railroad Grade

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Railroad bridge

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It just keeps going

It is weird cycling for hours in a straight line with landscape so huge that it changes at a snail's pace. I reached the ex-railroad town of Terrace, Utah at 2pm where I had some water and trail mix for lunch. Terrace had once been the largest railroad town on the Central Pacific line. It had had a 16 stall roundhouse, an 8 track switchyard, a population into the thousands. All that remained now were some red bricks, a graveyard and an information sign. Everything else had gone. It is amazing how entire towns can be so fleeting.

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Terrace, Utah

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Old railroad tracks

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The edge of the Great Salt Lake

I decided I'd aim for Kelton tonight. It turned out to be further than I thought and I was pretty exhausted when I set up camp. All that remained of Kelton was the graveyard and, possibly, the street layout. I pitched my tent where I imagined the hotel had been but now was just empty ground littered with the empty shells from shotguns.

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Kelton camp

I had re-hydrated mac'n'cheese, some chicken rice and a nice cup of Earl Grey tea. The landscape was stunning and the clouds fewer. Sitting in my tent doorway I watched the sun go down. This was the life.

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Sunset at Kelton