The drive home was fabulous. It was 35 and spitting snow over Donner Pass, but the roads were just wet, not icy. I've really gotten comfortable with how my rig handles and I had no worries at all. I stopped at Gold Run, the usual rest area where I stop on 80, but it was still 45 and raining pretty hard so I didn't unblanket Miss Thing. I drove on down to Davis, where it was 75 and sunny, and found a shady spot to park in a shopping center. Dixie chilled out and ate hay without a bit of stress.
I met Mel for lunch and I didn't even let her sit down before I blurted out "I wanna do a hundred now!" She laughed at me, because two years ago I couldn't fathom riding more than 25 miles in a day! But something she said back then really stuck with me, because it's true and it's worth repeating to you future endurance readers:
You can ride exactly as far as you plan to ride.Fifty mile riders doing an LD get to the end and think "to hell with getting back in the saddle." Hundred mile riders doing a 50 slither off at the end and think "stick a fork in me, I'm done." You just go as far as you've planned on going, period. I don't know if I could do an elevator ride (one where you can ride a 50 and elect to keep going for a 75 or a 100), because mentally, I'd be riding a 50 and I'd be toast at that point.
And one more, but I can't remember who told me this - maybe ~C?
They get stronger on the second day.I was really hoping that'd be true for us, and it was. Dixie was less amped up trying to race. The second day was more calm, steady energy, just focused on heading down the trail. The only thing she did that worried me on the second day was not graze. But when she was hungry, she'd take carrots on the go, and they seem to work as well as mouthfuls of grass. I carry a couple pounds in my pommel bags, and when I think about it, I'll pull one out and poke her in the shoulder with it. She turns her head and slurps the carrot down or glares and me and keeps rolling, her choice.
I've already packed the scrapbook, so I can't do the side-by-side shot I'd meant to show you, but this ride represented a total gear replacement from our first ride. Literally nothing was the same other than Funder and Dixie. It's been piecemeal over 2.5 years, of course, but I slowly yet surely changed out my clothes and helmet and her saddle, tack, and footwear.
This was the big test for the new Specialized Saddle. Of course it's not ideal to take a new-to-you saddle to your first multiday, but it seemed like it'd probably work, and you have to try your gear at new distances somehow. The saddle fit Dixie perfectly - she had the faintest bit of edema at the bottom edge of the bars, but nothing that caused her observable discomfort. Yesterday I beveled the edges with a knife - worked ok - then today I went over them with the fine side of my rasp, and they look great.
The saddle made my knees very happy indeed, and I feel very secure in it, but I need to try a fleece at the Tevis Educational. I am a bad downhill rider. I hate riding downhill, and the faster I have to ride downhills the worse I hate it, so in general, I get off and run the downhills. It's a good chance for my horse to recover, and it's good for me, blah blah - but I can't get off and run the first 10 miles or so of a ride. Dixie is too amped up and she'd trample me, freak out, etc. So I had to ride some serious downgrades on Saturday.
My form sucks and I let myself slip forward and bang into the pommel. It was also the first time I rode this saddle with my pommel bags attached, and I repeatedly slammed into a little seam of bag material pretty good, and I ended up with a deep bruise inside my right thigh. Then I protected and compensated for it for the rest of the rides, sigh.
I need to get good enough at riding downhill at a trot/pace (she does both, depending on the random dice roll in her head) to stay balanced and not hurt myself for an hour or two. I think running downhill is a great plan for us, but I have to get good enough to ride downhill when I need to.
And I have to switch diagonals! That's just stupidly hard for me, because when we're "training" and I try to switch, Dixie will just roll into a rack or a pace. And if she's motivated (read: I keep posting the "wrong" diagonal), she can easily rack for ten miles. But I've gotta do it.
Boots: Last year at Washoe was the first time I tried Gloves. Lucy helped me get mine fitted and even loaned me a second pair for her hinds. I liked them and I've been using them, when I bother to boot, ever since. They are NOT for everyone, but they've worked pretty much flawlessly for me, even though they technically shouldn't - they don't look like they fit right on Dixie's oval hooves. I've lost boots maybe five times total in that year so I don't care what they look like!
But after a year, I figured I deserved new boots. I couldn't believe how black and shiny and flawless new boots were so I took a picture to immortalize the moment.
They don't look like that anymore. :(
I didn't even bother to tape her hooves, just slapped four new Gloves on and called it good. One slipped off on Day One, but after I whacked it back on with a rock I had no more problems. The old set still has plenty of tread, but the gaiters are starting to come to bits - they're good training boots, and one day I might foam them on for one last hoo-rah.
Speaking of hooves, they absolutely respond to movement. She's grown at least 1/8" of wall since last week. Time to trim again, bah! I got a new Save-Edge rasp when I picked up the boots, so that'll make it slightly easier...
I'm rocking a lot of new biothane from American Trail Gear. I got the new breastcollar and crupper at the convention, then when I got the new saddle, I called them up and got a girth loop (slips onto the girth, has a D-ring to attach the breastcollar, barely visible in first pic) and biothane-caged stirrups. They're the same EZ Ride stirrups I'm used to, but the biothane cages are very flexible and didn't rub annoyingly against my toes.
That's a swanky pad I'm rocking in that picture, but I don't think it matters. That's a nice fitted ECP pad with neoprene waffle stuff on top, and I got it locally. I might've gone back for a second one, but when I was paying, the women who work there started making snide comments about "those Mexicans" and I'll be damned if I give them any more money. Just on general principles, shut your racist mouth, plus those Mexicans keep my horse clean and well-fed and VERY happy. I gave my barn guys some ride pics and a big hug, because I seriously could not do this sport without them.
Anyway, so I wanted another pad for Sunday, so I stopped at Greens and Sierra Saddlery in Reno. Greens is phasing out their English stuff, but I found a totally basic thin quilted square dressage pad (in PURPLE) at Sierra, and it worked just fine for Sunday. A well-fitted saddle really doesn't need much pad, just like they say!
I can't remember if I've done a 50 in my half-chaps before, but now I've done 75 miles in them and they perform as advertised. I only bought them because they look so stunningly cool, so that's high praise ;) I did 25 miles before lunch Sunday without chaps and I didn't get rubs, but I wouldn't want to do the whole 50 that way.
I broke my Camelbak - ripped the nozzle off dismounting - coming into the first check, but my friend was there with my old Camelbak that I'd left at her house a year ago, so I just filled up #2 and went on my merry way! (Thanks, R!) I didn't want to clean the Camelbak, and it wasn't ever hot, so I just ate handfuls of those Hammer electrolyte pills at the holds and drank 1.5 liters of water per loop and I was fine.
I didn't bring my crop - maybe it's at the barn? I don't know - and I didn't need it. Well, I really needed it to hit that hateful bitch in the head when she stepped on my leg at one point, but I did not need it as a go-faster tool. It's my ugliest bruise, a big purple number just above my Achilles. FFFFFF HORSE :shakes fist:
I did a terrible job eating on the trail and suffered greatly for it. I have Plans to feed myself much, much better at Tevis Edu and Sunriver, but that's a whole other post.
I did both days in my purple Merrell shoes but they were so nasty and my feet were so swollen on Sunday and I'm really thinking about buying another pair a half-size larger for multis/100s.
Aarene is right: commando is the only way to fly, time of month permitting. Death to panties.
It just gets easier the longer you do this, guys, and I don't have much else to say about gear! I don't think I could do a 50 in jeans, but I do think I could do a 50 with water bottles instead of a camelbak, or sweats instead of tights, or (urgh) a bra and a t-shirt. You know what? Death to all underwear. It's all evil. Wear non-jean clothes, wear a damn helmet, and go ride.