I think Cartman could have gone farther- I, however, was done!
I had almost everything packed Thursday night so was actually able to get on the road by 9am on Friday morning. We arrived in camp about 2:45 after a brief carrot and coffee break at the Madras Safeway.
Camp was indeed a big field, a big DUSTY field- ha ha. I pulled on down the dirt road to the end of a line of trailers and found a spot where Cartman would have a flat place to lie down. I grabbed everything I needed out of the truck and quickly got the doors shut to try and keep it from getting completely dusty inside, again...
C jumped out of the trailer and started looking for bits of grass. After I had our little camp site set up we took a walk around camp and visited some troughs and grassy spots.
After signing up we headed over to the vet check to vet in. C got good marks and the vet didn't seem at all concerned over his small wound.
(Thank you Irish for your comment on the last blog post, it made me feel better about taking him with a small wound!)
I spent the rest of the afternoon packing up my out check bag and getting everything ready to go for a 6am start! Since I'd hauled over 4 hours I decided not to do a pre-ride and just took C out for a walk- but the further we went to wilder he got. At one point he was spinning around me and had his tail flagged up like an Arab.
A rider passed us and asked if it was his first ride. Uh oh.
We made it back to camp in one piece, but I was feeling a little concerned about how the start was going to go next morning!
By the time the ride meeting rolled around at 8pm I was already thinking it was time for bed. The meeting was brief and before long I was back tucking Cartman in and praying I would get some sleep this time:)
Oddly, I was not at all nervous about doing 50 miles. I think I was pre-occupied with hoping I would stay on him for the start! Seriously he is getting really, really "full of himself" these days.
I think I only woke up one time all night and it was at 3:30am, just a half hour before my alarm was set to go off. I ended up hitting snooze until 4:30 when I decided I really HAD to get up and get ready. It was very cold.
I didn't realize quite how cold until I went to wash my hands and discovered that the hose had frozen up inside the trailer! There was ice on the windows as well.
Since C was being such a nut I had decided to wait until 6:15 to start.
About 5:45am I saddled C and decided to put him on the lunge line for a minute. I don't usually do this, as he is quite well behaved and there's certainly no way of working him down or anything. Nevertheless I found a level spot and let him loosen up a bit.
When I asked for canter boy did I get a surprise, C went to bucking like a bronc. Pendeleton roundup style and all. I have never seen this horse catch air and snap out bucks like this before, around and around he went buck, jump, jump, buck, jump, jump, buck.....
Finally he started calming down a little so we walked back to the trailer and I bridled him. He was amazingly calm at this point, despite the fact that a bay horse was putting on quite the show right across the road-spinning and jumping around, very excited.
We ambled towards the start and headed down the trail at a lovely trot. He surprises me again- a perfect gentleman.
The trail was absolutely awesome! It was clear, cool, and beautiful- I couldn't ask for a more perfect morning. We were alone for the most part so I could just relax, think, and enjoy the ride.
C was feeling really good, not pulling but not lagging either. We passed a few riders and he just motored on down the trail. He loves putting on a long trot on uphills and I let him do it a bit here and there, just trying to remain conscious that we had a long long way to go...
I stopped and took a few pictures here and there, for some reason having so many miles to do just made me really easy going and unhurried. Since we were in a nice bubble and Cartman was not at all bothered by passing, or being passed it was a really relaxing start to the ride.
After and hour and a half or so we were passed by some of the LD frontrunners. Yikes. Then we started seeing ride and tie people too. Those guys are some serious tough suckers! Oh my gosh I am in awe of how they can run down that trail like that. And slightly embarassed to think how excited I got at gym training last week when I was able to run a mere mile in 9.5 minutes!
One nice runner caught me as I missed a turn right before the trail headed uphill. He was dragging a branch across the trail as he'd seen several other riders miss the turn as well. I'm glad we can share the trail with these guys- all the ones I've met have been super nice.
Before I knew it we were at mile 17 and passed the photographers. They told me we had about 1/4 mile to the vet check. Wow. There was some good grass patches leading down the trail into the VC so I let C graze a bit and get his pulse down.
By the time we got into the vet check he pulsed right in and drank well at the trough. Yeah!
I found my crew bag and yanked C's saddle off and he dove into his beet pulp, grain, and electrolyte snack. While he was pre-occupied eating I was able to get my own electrolyte drink made and snack on some jerky and a protein bar.
The hot dogs they were grilling smelled devine but I didn't feel up to something heavy so early in the morning. I think it was right around 9am at this point.
A really nice guy was walking around offering to hold horses! THANK YOU!!!! Whew- one problem solved :)
It was a 45 minute hold and I was totally on task this time. Watching the time, I had Cartman saddled back up, downed a Starbucks Double Shot, packed up my crew bag and piled it with the others to go back to camp, and was over to the out-timer just as we were cleared to go!
Cartman must have been reading Dennis Summer's 4th Gear book because he took off at a huge trot as soon as we got the OK to go. Unfortunately this was right at the vet area and we got yelled at to WALK!!! Ooops. There were no vets in the area at the time, so no harm was done.
The 18 miles back to camp flew by. We leapfrogged with a few riders but were solo most of the time. The trail was to die for.
I think we got back to camp about 10:45 and vetted right through then went back to the trailer for lunch. I was feeling really good. Not really hungry but did eat a protein shake and refilled my saddle packs with fresh water and snacks.
Cartman attacked his hay and beet pulp. He ate, and drank really well on this ride. He doesn't drink at every water set but about every other he will just tank up.
I felt so good I used my extra time to give him a towel bath and get some of the sweat and lather off. I also wiped down the girth, evaluated the saddle pad and decided to stay with the Skito. That pad is amazing for cooling.
Not quite as prompt on this stop, I decided to let him eat a little extra before saddling this time. Well, and I got to talking to my neighbor briefly before realizing I had only 5 minutes left and still needed to run down to the porta-potty.
Cartman did not seem not at all bothered by my saddling him for a third time. We walked back down the hill to the start and checked in with the out timer. As soon as I turned him away from camp and down the trail he grabbed the bit and took off at a lope. WTH?????
I was feeling really good. Twenty miles to go.
We were totally alone this time. We didn't see another rider for 8 miles. The trail wound around through the pines, up, up, up we went. At one point we had a great view of the mountain.
We stopped a bunch of times (probably too many)
and Cartman ate a lot of grass. He was loving this trail too!
Finally we reached a water trough. Whew, this was mile 37 I think. As Cartman was drinking and playing in the water another horse appeared on the trail behind us. I had begun to think we were the only ones left out there!
The rider came up and his horse drank then they headed out at trot. Cartman was still sucking up some water so I sat there for a few more minutes and chatted with the Radio guy. It is really nice having the radio guys out there. I thanked him and made sure to let him know that we appreciate them keeping track of us!
Finally Cartman was done drinking so we took off down the trail again.
About mile 38 or 39 we hit the one section of the trail that was less than perfect. I imagine it had been good trail like all the others until someone took a skidder down it. Yikes. The footing was soft but deep in spots and with hidden ruts, roots, and rocks.
There was no choice for me but to walk. Cartman has a large trot- I see a lot of horses out there that can do this cute pitter-patter trot and even canter on the trail and then break back to walk and so forth, with seemingly no effort! Cartman does not possess this skill. He has a lot of mass and when he gets it trotting, we are trotting and forward. Going back and forth between gaits takes a bit of effort and is not worth it in areas where you can't get a good long trot going.
I was really glad to be riding alone during this part of the trail, as I slipped into a full on whine mode. Oh my, walking for two miles at mile 40 about killed my back. I was miserable. Compounding this was the fact that I didn't know how long this part of the trail was going to go on for.
I prayed that the whole last 10 miles would not be the skidder trail.
Finally we turned onto a more traditional packed trail. At this point my back was killing me. I decided to get off and walk a mile or so. Since this ride was in the forest I could easily find a stump to get back on again!
About mile 44 we ran into one of the 100 milers going the other way. Then we came out on a great little road that was covered in fine gravel. Perfect footing for a some loping! C was up for it and we made up a lot of ground here.
We caught up to a lady on a lovely little chestnut Arab gelding also on his first 50. We leapfrogged a little and the boys seemed to enjoy each others company. We got to visiting and talking and the last few miles went by really quickly. I looked down and we were at 49 miles. Then finally we were back to the cut off 1/4 mile from camp!!!!
I was excited, as I realized that we were actually going to make it!
We walked in with our new friends and she graciously gave the in timer my number first. Both horses pulsed right in as we had walked the last mile into camp. Then we were off to vet in.
Cartman got mostly A's and a B on gut sounds. Overall he got a B+ and our first 50 mile completion!!!!
My back was super sore. Not in the usual shoulder area, but lower back. Ouch. It didn't feel tweaked though (thank god) just super muscle sore.
I hobbled around getting him cleaned up and mudded his legs. He ate, and ate, and ate. We spent quite a bit of time walking and grazing later at night but I was tired enough to not want to eat dinner and I just snacked all nite.
I was uncomfortable enough to not want to think about doing this again right away. I don't think it was as bad as I felt on my first 30 mile ride though. The thought of ever riding MORE than 50 miles was completely inconceivable. No way.
I went to bed early, still pretty sore backed. Cartman didn't sleep well, the horses that had been parked on his side of the trailer had all left so he was over on that side alone. He woke me up just spinning on the hi-tie and whinnying at midnite. I never did figure out what he was so wound up about, unless one of the 100 milers may have come by at that time?
When I got up the next morning I really felt pretty good!
I seriously can't believe how good I felt, considering how sore I was the night before. I am attributing this to my wonderful Chiropractors and also to all the working out I've been doing at Three Rivers Athletic Club. It is working!!!!
We attended awards and ended up placing 45th out of 57 starters.
A few days later I am still on a post-ride high! I really enjoyed the atmosphere (real or imagined) of the 50 mile ride. It was mentioned by the ride manager at the awards that there were way more pulls on the 25 than on the 50. Hmmmm. I think there is something to that.
I really don't like seeing some of the speed I see at the lesser distance. Maybe its baggage from my days at the race track but I can't help but think of the phrase "speed kills" every time I see some poor horse looking overworked and wet from head to toe at the end of an LD. I'm sure it happens in the longer distances as well- I just haven't run into it as much.
I need to start watching what the 100 mile riders are doing. I saw- what I believe were- the 1st and 2nd place 100 mile horses on Sunday morning and both looked absolutely fabulous- like they hadn't done a thing the day before. I am a bit in awe of riders that can take that good care of their horses and aspire to be like them! <<<<Not that I'll be doing any 100 mile rides>>>>
So, is seven weeks too long until a second 50???? The next ride that fits well into my schedule is Santiam.
Cartman jumped out of the trailer at home- looking good:)