Monday, July 22, 2013

2013 Tevis Crew Story

My fourth Tevis Experience is in the bag!  This was my first time Officially Crewing for someone - in previous years I've volunteered with the webcast and just pitched in to crew with my friends unofficially.  This year, I crewed Mel's third attempt - she got her first buckle in 2010, but she was lacking a Cougar Rock picture, so she had to go back.  ;)

In some sort of misguided attempt to convince the indomitable Amanda that endurance is the best horse sport, I dragged her with me again.  We left the house bright and early on Friday morning and headed across the street to the Chevron for ice, beer and gas.  Amanda pumped the gas, I got the ice and beer, and we hopped in the truck to zoom up to Truckee.  I started the truck, hit the gas, turned the wheel hard left and crunched into the concrete pole guarding the gas pump.  Where the fuck did that thing come from!?

I was briefly tempted to wait and see how long it'd take G to notice what I'd done, but I went ahead and put that shit on Facebook immediately.  :golf clap:

It didn't crunch the gas filler-upper area, and it didn't bend anything bad enough to make irritating noises at high speeds, so I'm probably just going to call it a battle scar and leave it alone.  At least it's not as bad as the time I shot my truck...

We headed up to Robie Park and found our team around noon.  Our crew-mates were Mel's sister Loreleigh and brother Tristan, with trailer transport provided by boyfriend Matt.  They'd all been through this rodeo before, and I'd go through that rodeo again with them.

We spent the afternoon going through Team Farmel's "paperwork" - entering, vetting, checking tack and stuff, and fiddling with boots.  I found some of my usual friends - ~C was taking pictures for the webcast, ATG was selling tack, Lucy and Ashley were crewing for Kaity and her half-Arab half-Appy Kody.

American Trail Gear
 Vetting in.
 Isn't Kody beautiful?

Then it was time to bail and get back to civilization.  C and I have a tradition (can you call it a tradition after three years?) of drinking lots of margaritas eating at a tex-mex place in Truckee the night before the ride.  There were five of us this year and we had a great time, even getting to sing Happy Birthday to C's awesome kiddo on his 11th birthday.  We got a room in a historic inn for the night and turned in.

Kind of.  The hotel was no-for-reals historic, right on the main street by the train tracks, and they run a lot of freight up that railroad at night.  And there was no AC.  And it was still 80 or so when we crashed, so of course we had to leave the windows open or suffocate.  I grew up a hundred yards from a railroad, so I slept like a baby, but the others said they woke up every ten minutes when another train roared through town.

We were up and at 'em at 5.  The webcast team headed off to the Highway 89 crossing, and Amanda and I went back to 267 and I-80 to wait for the rest of the team.  Matt was moving the trailer to the fairgrounds, and he stopped and dropped off all most of the gear and Tristan and Loreleigh.  We zipped down to Robinson Flat, just over 100 miles by vehicle, in a couple of hours.

I may have roared past a state trooper at 80 mph and only gotten away with it because the dude behind me was going 85.  As one does.

We schlepped the necessary gear up from the parking area to the actual check and got set up with an hour to spare.  We did a terrible job of taking pictures of each other, but I found this one on Facebook.  Look, I really was at Robinson.

Mel came in right on schedule and we took care of business.  Farley pulsed down fast and vetted through looking good.  The vet thought maybe he saw something on the trot-out, but we figured it out pretty fast - she'd managed to mangle a boot at some point and she was standing partially on the side of it.  Swapped that one out, swapped out the necessary gear, got the rider back on the horse and got them gone again.  

We headed down to Foresthill to settle in for the long wait.  It was pretty hot by then and we didn't like each other very much, so we set up the easy-up for shade and split up for a couple hours.  Since we only had the truck and no trailer, we got a nice spot in the trees along Bath Road.

I threw my sleeping bag down in the shade and settled in for a nap.  But I was rapidly reminded of why I don't like camping - ants were wandering over me.  I decamped to the back seat of the truck, which was only like 10 degrees hotter than outside, but it was somewhere between 95 and 110F outside so I just lay in the truck sweating.  Maybe I passed out or maybe time just rolled by. Eventually I gave up and wandered over to get food.

Previous years I've been at Foresthill, there's been a dude selling hamburgers.  This year they had a new food vendor with a huge crew of fantastic cooks.  For $10 I got pork tips, rice, veggies, potato salad, watermelon, and lemonade!  They also had hamburgers, hot dogs, green salad, lemon chicken, garlic bread, cobbler, and chips - it was A+ food.  

My nap spot, prior to the arrival of the ants.

I didn't take any more pictures at Foresthill.  Just look at last year's Tevis and substitute your favorite riders for the ones in those pictures.  ;)  

At 5, the sun was headed down and the heat was slightly less oppressive.  We all felt more charitable toward each other by that point so we drove up to Michigan Bluff/Chicken Hawk to see what there was to see.  I knew we couldn't drive in to either check, but I was hoping I'd get to see Michigan Bluff. The road was closed with cones so we went a little further and found a creepy cult.  

We drove up to this gate at the end of the road and said, "If we go in there they are going to capture us and brainwash us."  I backed down the road to a gravel turnoff and got turned around and we fled.  

Yeah, that's not spooky at all.
Wikipedia backs us up on this one, yall.  Creepy cult retreat center.  

Mel came rolling in right on time, at 7:30 or so.  I was expecting her to be pitifully whiny, but instead she was ragingly angry, which I took as a good sign!  She'd been eating and drinking and electrolying herself, and it showed.  She slithered off Farley (who looked great) and announced that she hated everyone and was never doing endurance again.  I was like, "yes dear, let's walk over and vet Farley and you can tell me all about it."  She begged the vet to pull Farley while I trotted the mare out, but alas, the vet told her she had to go on.  

We offered her hot food, expecting her to puke on us for asking, but instead she said she wanted some. Amanda got her a plate of pork tips and rice while she changed, and she fell upon it like a starving wolf.  We all sort of blinked and looked at each other, like "where'd nauseous, crying, headachey Mel go?"  Mel wanted a different saddle, but there was no string girth for the Aussie, so we put the Wintec back on and re-equipped it.  Farley ate for a while, took a power nap, and had one more snack of an entire baby watermelon.  Mel announced that she might possibly continue if we gave her Vicodin.  I said I'd give her Vicodin and beer at No Hands Bridge if she'd just get back on the horse and go.  We got Mel's headlamp and glowsticks taped down, snapped the glowsticks, shoved the rider back on, and got them out two minutes after their hold was up, at 8:48.  Victory!

I found ~C and checked my hazy memory of how to walk to No Hands, then helped finish flinging crap in the truck and we were away again.  We got stuck in the usual traffic jam headed down to Auburn, but honestly, it's one of my favorite parts of Tevis.  Seeing all these people, coming from all over the country to drive hundreds of miles for their riders is just breathtaking to me.  There's so much love that goes into this ride - the riders are insane, yes, but they love the trail.  The crews love the trail and their riders enough to caravan around the Sierras all day and all night.  And the volunteers are the best of all.  It's a whole community of people who work hundreds of hours behind the scenes, getting the trail in shape, getting all those checks set up and manned and broken down - it takes my breath away, every single year.  

Of course we went to In-n-Out.  

Of course it was amazing.

Then we found the trailer, moved some crap around, found Farley's stall, and got set up for their arrival.  None of this was particularly easy, since none of us had stopped at the Fairgrounds on the way up and I had only the vaguest memories of where things are, but we got it done.  I set an alarm for 2:15 and Amanda and I settled in for a nap in the truck about midnight.  

I didn't fall asleep, just lay quietly with my eyes closed.  Eventually it was time to go, but I got lost getting out of the fairgrounds, then I got stuck in an epic construction traffic jam on the way to the overlook.  Somehow I got out of my truck and there was a woman showing me a cool red and white color-morph of a cottonmouth snake.  I was like, that's cool and all lady, but I gotta go.  She came chasing after me insisting that I touch the damn snake and I did, and it didn't even feel like a cottonmouth because its scales were smooth, not keeled like a real cottonmouth, and oh duh Funder, this is a dream.  Thank god my alarm went off because who the hell knows what would've happened next.  

I sat up gasping and groggy.  Loreleigh had walked over to go to No Hands with us and Amanda was sitting up looking really confused.  I turned off my phone alarm and I had a text from C - Mel was pulled lame at Franciscos.  Fuck!  

We wandered around the fairgrounds for a while, trying to figure out where she'd appear when they transported her back.  Sherri from American Trail Gear was out walking Roadie one last time and she dragged me into their Winnebago for an icy shot of fireball whiskey.  We talked for fifteen minutes or so and I left so Diana could get some sleep, and Mel and Farley appeared.  

Farley didn't look like she had a tendon injury - nothing was puffing up or really hot.  We started icing both her front legs, in case.  I got bored and headed over to the finish line, where I got to see Kaity and Kody finish - goooo Kody!  I headed back up to Farley's stall, laid down on a bale of hay with a hoodie wadded up under my head and a sleeping bag draped over me, and had a pretty epic power-nap.  

When I woke up, a rider who shall remain nameless snapped at me within ten seconds of my eyes opening, so I went off to my truck to sulk and unload.  I got my good nature back eventually and drove back around to the barns for an extended farewell.  

Mel allowed as to how maybe she doesn't entirely hate endurance, and perhaps as soon as next week she'll love it again.  (This is entirely normal for the day after a ride.)  Farley looked very good.  She's still off at the walk and trot, but it looks like maybe it's higher up in her leg, like she strained a muscle above the knee - much, much better than a tendon injury.  I finally got to meet Irish Horse - she got to sweep way up high, from the start to Red Star, so she had a hella long day Saturday too.  

Then Amanda and I left.  Without picking up my fleece stirrup leather covers from ATG, again - I forgot to pick them up at Renegade, so we said we'd meet up at Tevis, and damn if I didn't forget them yet again.  They'll have to mail them to me!  

We had a quick and pleasant trip back to the temperate Bay Area.  

Hahahaha, I am a funny, funny woman.  Actually, we had an excruciatingly slow trip through the hell-like Central Valley into the bullshit congestion and ridiculous fog of Oakland.  At one point it took me 30 minutes to go two miles.

But!  I didn't run into anything on the way home and we eventually made it!  I had the most epic shower in the world and spent all day napping on the couch.  Graham said every two hours I'd sit up in a panic, look around for a few seconds, and collapse again.  I begged him to order food before I passed out, so there was Vietnamese bun waiting when I woke up at 8, and then I went back to sleep in my own bed at 9.  

If you're curious, it's about 250 miles if you're crewing, from the Auburn Fairgrounds to Robie to Robinson back to the Fairgrounds.  I did 509 miles door to door.  

I can't wait to go back next year.  Maybe I'll even ride?  And even bigger maybe I'll finish?  Either way, riding or crewing, I'll see you next year, Tevis.


  1. I admit freely: I laughed out loud at your dream.

  2. Love your epic ride posts, whether crewing or riding. Fixie and Tevis--2014. Got my fingers crossed. I'll be cheering for you.

  3. Wow, what a day! Thank you for the story -- I was wondering!

  4. Oh God, was I the one that snapped at you? I truly.don't remember, I had just gotten up too. I swear, I am the most terrible person in the world to crew for and the only way to fully.punish myself to volunteer to crew for.100s. Fyi folks, pretty sure it isn't a tendon, definitely something lower right hind leg. A bit of relief for sure. So now I just have to see how she looks in a couple if weeks. She already looks so much.better than Sunday. Can't believe how much better she looks than her.other two attempts.

  5. I have the best dreams after tevis. I woke up screaming about glow bars in a past year after half seeing a green light on the smoke detector and completely freaked Matt out.

  6. Hahah, it was totally you. I went away to not snap at you or anybody else (totally counterproductive) and your trailer door wouldn't open so I kicked it really hard and then I felt much better. Horses have the right idea: when things get irritating, kick something. Then I forgave you and came back and all was well :)


    Also the door opened after I kicked it.

    1. Physical violence solves far more things than I once thought......

      My.trailer Although I'm surprised that you couldn't find anything closer to kick and had to go all the way down to the parking lot.

    2. I'm gonna find my big sharpie and write KICK ME on my bale bag.

  7. I'm really glad you didn't get sucked into the cult, 'cause then you couldn't have loaned me the book ! 8-) Tolerant crew are the best kind, sounds like you did good. It's such an amazing adventure: for the riders, horses, crew, volunteers, just wow.

    And next year if you need crew, I would so be there!

  8. Love your posts! I just spent the last week reading back to the beginning :) I'm glad it was a great experience and Farley is doing well.

  9. Isn't endurance it's own sort of cult? You were able to resist the allure of some other cult because endurance has a powerful hold on your heart... and let's face it, endurance is a heck a lot more fun. If Tevis wasn't literally all the way across the country from me I'd totally be trying to crew for people cause it sounds like such an experience. And PS, a truck's battle scars earned in the pursuit of Tevis/endurance are ones to brag about.

  10. Great tales from Tevis!
    Hard luck to Mel, who knows, maybe you'll both be there at the finish next year.

  11. Love the creepy cult that you can walk away when u know your going to say or do something you don'tean to because your so stupid tired...if I ever make a 100 mile ride...will u crew for me???

    1. Of course! And I won't let you quit either, not while your horse is still fit to continue. Beer at the next vet check!

  12. I can't wait for you to ride Tevis - the story will have to be amazing!:) And while there is a ton of great stuff in this post, my favorite bit is about how you shot your truck. It's classic!

  13. My truck has a dent in much the same place because of a low wall in a tight manoeuvring spot. It's so annoying and yet so inevitable.

    For some reason trucks are more expensive to repair than cars too. So mine still has a dent.

  14. Congratulations to Mel for at least making a darn good showing! Even that is tough there! I'm LOL at your "story"! Remind me to steer clear if I ever find you sleeping! :-)

  15. Hahaha to your dream. Awesome sauce. Good job crewing to the bitter end and woohoo for Tevis 2014!

  16. I stayed in that hotel once. they put me on the top floor. you know, where the heat rises and stays. they didn't even have a fan for me. I didn't sleep. I almost DIED.
    of COURSE you went to In N Out. and OF COURSE it was amazing. I went, like, 5 times.
    Bummer on Mel's pull.
    Did you convince Amanda this is the best sport ever?
    - The Equestrian Vagabond

  17. This was so amusing! I was a horrible rider last year and was mean to my crew more than once. I think they all forgave me but I couldn't help it. I was the vet secretary at Foresthill for Carter Housel and thought you were someone else and told Mel I was going to slap her if she didn't get on her horse. She really was kinda whiney. Sounds like you did a good job wacking her around and her trailer door, and omg, your truck. Sounds like they all deserved it. Ok, maybe not the truck.


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