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.

From one frontier to another

By Stuart Lowe on

Back when I was in San Francisco I visited the Stanford Museum with my friend Phil. In it they had the golden spike which was the ceremonial spike that joined the Union and Central Pacific railroads together. It was the first time the continent had been spanned and it was a momentous feat in the history of the young nation. It marked the taming of the frontier.

I had followed the Central Pacific railroad all the way from Oakland and here I was at the end. There was even a National Park Visitor Center complete with two working steam engines! Oddly, the original meeting point of the railroads was going to be much further south near Ogden but, as the railroads were being paid by the US government by the mile, the companies added a few miles on for good measure.

After a visit to the "restroom" and a long drink from the water fountain, I found the Rangers and asked for help with my broken pannier rack. They sent Ranger Phil to my rescue. He brought along some tools and we patched it up by attaching it to the second bolt hole on my frame. It meant the rack was a little twisted but it was good enough.

photo
Ranger Phil to the rescue

Outside the centre I saw the two locomotives and got chatting to a couple of tourists from Boston (who said to look them up when I got there) and the engineer. The Bostonians said I should visit another landmark 10 or so miles south of here. By this point I'd got used to people in America underestimating distances due to being car drivers so I politely pointed out that would be at least a 20 mile detour. I said I'd leave it for my next visit.

photo
Locomotives at Golden Spike

photo
Locomotive Engineer

Inside I thanked the friendly National Park rangers for their help with my bike and had a good chat with them. They had a replica of the golden spike in a glass case. It was a slightly weird situation to have cycled from the original golden spike to Golden Spike to see a replica of the golden spike. Weird but strangely pleasing.

photo
Friendly National Park rangers with the replica golden spike at Golden Spike

As I left, one of the rangers gave me a couple of cookies he'd baked to give me some calories for my trip. I also got to see the engineer moving one of the locomotives and even had to wait for it at a level crossing.

photo
Engine

I had an excellent, smooth, downhill stretch from Golden Spike down to the main highway. On the way I was passed by the Bostonian couple who beeped and waved encouragement as they sped off.

photo
Leaving Golden Spike

At the highway I vaguely remembered a friend from back home telling me there was a rocket display somewhere out here in Utah. As I stood at the junction a cyclist came towards me and stopped to see what I was doing out here. It turned out he worked up the road and this was his commute home. He knew of the rocket display and told me it was less than two miles up the road. This was a cyclist telling me the distance so I believed him and went for a look. He was spot on. The display was outside ATK and included a booster from the Space Shuttle. It was amazing to have gone from railroads and the wild west to spacecraft in a few short miles.

photo
Rockets

photo
Shuttle booster

photo
I obeyed the sign and didn't climb into the nozzle.

Eighteen miles later I approached Corinne - the first town in 130 miles. On the outskirts the desert gives way to lush green fields. I had hit the incredibly fertile strip that runs along the western side of the Great Salt Lake. You can see why the Mormons made their home here. I also experienced my first close driver for 1000 miles. In the UK people often pass too closely but I'd got used to the two or three feet that people in California and Nevada had been leaving.

photo
Crops near Corrine

At the gas station in Corinne I was told that they had no motels in town. At its height they'd had over 100 saloons and gambling houses but today I'd have to go on to Brigham City for accommodation. I did. I found a motel and got a 10% discount at J&D's diner next door. I had a shower and washed my clothes in it. This was becoming the routine. My backside was feeling the last two days. But I'd done it. I'd done the most remote section of my trip and survived.