Ridecamp was already getting pretty full when we arrived at 2:00pm. I learned later there were 30 late entries for a total of 90, in a tiny parking area. The ridecamp and start were moved this year from their old location to Granite Bay because of the development of the trail (which previously consisted of the first few miles being on/next to pavement).
|all the orange accents let's you know it's mine!|
|trot out: good thing they vet Major and not me!|
|pre-ride: See Major sleeping? All an illusion|
|better braider works while Major wonders what I'm doing|
I maybe got a few combined hours, but of course kept waking up to check the horses, fidget around, and generally worry. My friends B and S were doing the 50, so were up at 4:30. I got up too, just tried to relax, and sooner than I though they left (5:30 ride start) and it was almost my turn. Major was fine, I think he just had no idea what was going on. We were having a controlled start, they would lead us down the road at a walk, pick up a slow trot till the complicated area was past, and let us go.
|you only see the orange glowing reins...|
I thought for about two second what my choices were, and said screw it. At the top of Mooney Ridge I single-rein-stopped him (which we practice a lot) and got off. People trotted past, nicely asking if I was OK, I assured them all was fine. I have no ego. I don't care if I finish last, I just want to finish alive! We walked/pranced down the hill, let most people get ahead of us, and when there was a nice bubble of space, remounted and tried again. Still rushy, but not so bad. I trotted along and met up with a nice man who was walking his horse too, that helped Major a lot. I especially liked when the guy seriously reprimanded his horse, in a good mean voice, and Major's ears flicked around very concerned, he was being yelled at!
A quick trot by at four miles, and I fell in with a woman on a little quick foxtrotter. Asked if she minded me, said I was new, no problem. We stuck with Dorothy from Oroville for the next 20 miles. Her mare was great, kept Major's trot back from warp speed, consistent pace, just what was needed. She first did this ride year's ago, and has lots of experience, the perfect ride partner.
The sun came up and the vet check at Rattlesnake Bar was busy. We came in and were at 44 pulse. They thought we'd been standing around a bit, but actually we trotted almost all the way in to the check. Found the vet, trotted out, everything was "A"s, and we were missing a boot! Damn. Vet hadn't noticed, even on the trot-out over gravel, and I decided one renegade would be weird, so left him barefoot, and if I sensed any change of gait, etc, I'd put the boot on. Major found some sort of mash and was happy, I felt the adrenaline from before wearing off, and managed to choke down more water and a dried fruit snack. Only a 30 minute hold, and our friend left a bit before us, and as we left Major was reluctant to go. He wanted to go home the other way! But I pushed him on, and he remembered his job, and we soon caught up with Dorothy.
The rest of the ride was uneventful, the bare foot was no problem, and Major learned a new trick of eating carrots at a trot. I just break off a piece, lean over, and he grabs it, quite cleverly. Almost to Auburn the trail goes from about 400 elevation to 1200 pretty quickly, though this year they did the Cardiac Bypass instead of the main Cardiac, probably to add in the miles. Major wanted to charge up, and he had it in him, but I just kept it quiet, and we came into Auburn with a big group of 25s and 50s. It was actually kind-of anticlimactic after the morning rush, to walk into the finish, but that was just fine. We were already at pulse, and vetted right away. Vet noted he had great feet, impulsion certainly not a problem, though a B on gut sounds, quickly remedied with a grass snack.
|finish line: Major isn't tired, he's actually acting bored.|
|final vetting; Vet Melissa Ribley taking his CRI pulse.|
I have no idea in what order I finished, and I seriously don't care. We finished! Unfortunately B probably has a broken nose from a nasty impact with a branch, and our friend S got pulled at 43 miles. Life with horses is unpredictable.
Things I learned: I'll be going out WAY behind the front, and the middle too. Finding someone to ride with really helps. Everyone was nice, and thought starting with this 25 was a good idea. A ziplock bag of almonds will explode in your pack. Major WILL drink when he actually needs to (at 20 miles). Will I do this again? Eventually. Maybe I won't be quite so long-winded the second time around!