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With the worst of their 1,938-mile journey behind them, endurance bicyclists Matt DeWaal and Jay Aldous have gained a whole new appreciation for the Pony Express.

DeWaal, of Bountiful, and Aldous, of Salt Lake City, are attempting to retrace the historical Pony Express Trail in 10 days - the same amount of time it took horsemen to ride the route more than 125 years ago."I have great respect for the riders. That's very lonely, desolate country. We didn't see anyone one day through Nevada," Aldous said. "It's kind of a lonely feeling when the wind starts to blow and the rain starts to fall."

The men began their trip to St. Joseph, Mo., Tuesday in Sacramento.

Saturday afternoon, they took a short break from their grueling schedule in Salt Lake City. DeWaal, a health-insurance program broker, said he and Aldous, a computer-marketing expert, have been riding from 4:15 a.m. to about 10:30 p.m. each day.

"It's been a tough week at the office," Aldous said.

In addition to a few equipment failures, Aldous said, the trip has been slowed by rain and strong winds. "Day Two was the most difficult. We had pretty much constant headwinds," he said.

Clark Maxfield, president of the National Pony Express Association of Utah, said horseback riders carrying a pouch of letters left Missouri on Friday. The riders and the bicyclists should meet along the trail near the Wyoming-Nebraska border.

Utah members of the Pony Express organization will pick up the mail pouch in Evanston, Wyo., on Monday and riders will have 27 hours to carry it across the state, Maxfield said.

Maxfield and another member of the Pony Express organization joined DeWaal and Aldous on their trip following their brief stop in Salt Lake City. Among those joining the cyclists were Jerry and Elaine Stuart of Salt Lake City.

The Stuarts rode to Willard Bay from Salt Lake City last weekend, but Jerry Stuart said he doubted they could keep pace with DeWaal and Aldous, who are listed in the Guin-ness Book of Records for their around-the-world tour in 1984.