Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Virginia City 100 pre-ride: complete

Previously on As the Funder Rides, I went to Reno but it was too smoky to ride so I ended up having an awesome little adventure at Skillman with S and Taz.  It was excellent fun, but it wasn't what I needed to get accomplished, so last weekend I made another speed-run to Reno.

On Friday, I dropped my husband off at BART, picked up the trailer, loaded Dixie, and drove to Reno. Traffic was pretty good, so I had time to stop by my favorite feed store and get a new rasp and get a faux-burger from In-n-Out - burgers without buns still aren't really burgers to me, but a lettuce-wrapped double-double is pretty damn good food.  Then I headed over to S's, met her, and followed her up to the Virginia City cemetery.  Three other Nevada riders were waiting for us, and we saddled up and headed out at 4:30.  

Right off the bat, we saw a small herd of mustangs! There's a white dot in the center of this picture, below the tailings pile, and that's a paint mustang - once you see that one, you can see the rest.  One was an adorable bay foal just staring at us, like, "Mom!  Look at those funny looking horses!"

Headed out.
The air quality was pretty good - just the usual amount of fire-season haze.
Here's a tiny video - break to a couple strides of canter then back to a step-pace.  She's so smooth :)

Pretty flat - Strava says 1700' of climbing - and pretty good footing.  Our tour guide B pointed out all the places where there will be water (and beer) and showed us where the trail will be tricky in the moonlight.  We had one experienced rider, and the rest of us were pretty new to hundreds/VC.  Yall, this is how you get new hundred milers to try hundreds/try your ride - the trail was premarked four weeks in advance (I know that's not possible for every ride) and the experienced VC'ers were eager to show us the trail and help get our nerve up to do this.

We ripped on through 17 miles in three hours - faster than Dixie and I will do it at 3 am, but it was such a nice trail and the horses were all fresh and happy.  It was one of the most fun conditioning rides I've had in years.

We made it back to the trailers as the sun set.  Had our post-ride snacks, loaded up, and drove back down to S's house in the valley.  I talked to S and her husband til ohmygod 11:30, then crashed out on her couch.  I was back up at 6:30 or so and back on the road at 8.

Dixie and I went down to Jumbo Grade, near Washoe Lake, and met G.  G's husband moved her trailer up to the top of the hill, to a pulloff near VC, and we rode up to the trailer for a point-to-point.
You've seen this climb before, from NEDA rides and the Washoe Valley ride, but this time when we got to the crossroads we turned left!  I've always gone straight or turned right, so left was fun and new.
The smoke was rolling north from the Rim Fire, but it was pretty low-lying in the morning. Somewhere under that haze is Dayton, and the smoky hills on the other side are where the NASTR 75 goes.
Up, up, up to some great views.  That's Reno/Sparks in the far distance, and if you look closely you can see 341, the road up to Virginia City, winding through the near hills.  I cannot wait to see this just after sunset, when the whole valley is lit up!
There was a lot more climbing, and the footing was a lot worse, so we took it easy and did 12 miles / 3000' climbing in three hours.

Dixie is very reactive to other horses - she's pretty chill when we're by ourselves or with a laid-back horse, but if she's with a group of high-energy horses she picks up on their excitement.  G's Zephyr is also a chill, lazy dude and neither of them felt the need to go very fast.  We trotted the trottable bits and walked most of the way.  I'm really glad I prerode this (thx G!) cause I think it'll be tough for me mentally.  Big climb, in the fading light, and then another 6 miles of shitty rocky stuff to get back to camp for the last long hold.

There will be a good moon - the full moon is the 19th, so on the 21st it rises an hour after sunset, at 8 pm.  I'll probably make it in to camp between 10 and 11, so I'll be doing the rockiest bit at 9 or 10. Hopefully the shadows aren't too harsh - sometimes when the moon is full and low it's harder to see than when there's not much moon.

Anyway, I feel good about this.  If I think about the whole thing - all those loops and all that climbing and all those rocks - I freak out a little, but just thinking about each individual loop, I think I can string it all together and we can get it done.  We have a good shot at finishing this, random lameness aside.  If we can finish Davidson (the Saturday ride), we can totally finish Cottonwoods (the Friday ride).

When we came around the bend in that last picture, we were looking down into the valley we'd ridden the day before, and Dixie absolutely recognized it.  She perked right up, thinking we'd keep going up the road back to the cemetery, but when I pointed her at the trailer up by the road she was like oh well that's good enough.

At the very start of the ride, there's natural water in the canyon, but they hadn't wanted to drink then. The horses were pretty thirsty by the time we got to the trailer, and they each drank about two gallons before diving into their hay.  We let them eat for a few minutes, then loaded up and headed back down to my rig.

The smoke was getting thick and it was time to go back to Oakland.
That's the same mountain from "you've seen this climb before."

I was hungry, but when I drove by In'n'Out half the population of Reno was there and it was 89 degrees so I just kept going.  I grabbed a powerbar from the cooler when I went through the ag station and powered on down to Auburn, thinking maybe I'd stop there for a burger, but it was 99 in Auburn - too hot to stop.  So I didn't stop, I just plowed through the central valley - it was 100 or 101 from Roseville to Fairfield, about 60 miles.  

I-80 has a beautiful median of flowering trees (giant shrubs? small trees?) between Davis and Fairfield. In the westbound lane, someone had thrown a cigarette out or maybe there was a car on fire, and we all had to slow down and drive past a merrily burning tree.  I knew it was just a burning car or something, but I couldn't help thinking that it was just so fucking hot the trees were spontaneously combusting.  Cali livin', yall.  

It finally cooled off outside of Berkeley, right when the inevitable bridge traffic jam starts, and the last ten miles on I-80 took fifty minutes.  Bay Area livin', yall.  But I made it home at 7:30, 36 hours after I'd left, and sitting down on the couch has never felt so good!

I don't usually run the AC when I'm hauling, out of some weird combination of not asking the engine to do more work and being in solidarity with my horse.  It was hot and horrible, but oddly, not that hot? Back in June or July, I got some new riding tops - New Balance tanks and a Nike Dri-fit long-sleeve shirt. It's long sleeve, but it's ~heat gear~, and you know what, it really does work.  I wore it all weekend, pretty much, in temps ranging from 64 to 101 and humidity between like 10 and 50%, and I was the same level of vaguely uncomfortable the whole time.  A little chilly in the cold, a little hot in the heat, kind of irritated that it's a little too tight on my fat arms big guns.  

Other gear:
  • My boots are getting hella janky.  Now that I'm trimming Dixie's hinds properly the 0.5's don't really fit anymore, and the rubber is all stretched and the gaiters are shot.  I lost one rear boot on Friday, popped it back on, and didn't lose any more.  Saturday I lost one rear boot, swapped it for a less-torn-up one, and didn't lose any more.  I've got new gaiters to put on, so I can get some more training miles out of them, but replacing gaiters is about as easy as swapping out an easy-change gullet in a Wintec (i.e. not actually easy at all) and I haven't gotten around to it yet.
  • I'm definitely getting Tami to glue boots on for VC.  I think Dixie will go in 0's all around, yay!  
  • I borrowed a running martingale from Redheaded Endurance and it rocks.  Dixie was definitely ridden in a martingale or tie-down before I got her, because she never even tested it.  Between the long-nose riding fly mask and the martingale, she is not slinging her head at all.  Every time I get off it's a bit of fumbling to get the snaps unsnapped and resnapped and wait how did I get this so backwards arrrrrgh but it's doable.  I've got a martingale of my very own on its way from American Trail Gear, and it should be here in plenty of time.  
  • Everything else is awesome.  Rode in the crupper, even though I'm quite sure we don't even need it any more.  The diabeetus socks slip on effortlessly if you stick the hoof in a ziplock - I don't know if they ~work~ because I didn't expect her legs to fill, but they're easy enough to put on after any ride.  
  • Butt Butt'r is vastly superior to Body Glide.
  • The Spot works - I can send check-in messages - but I still can't figure out how to do real-time tracking with it.  G should be able to check a web page and see the "breadcrumbs" as I dink down the trail, but I can't figure out how to turn that on.  Help?  
Good horse.  Good ride.  Gonna kick very slow ass in two weeks.  \m/

PS there were camel races on Saturday in Virginia City but we didn't get to see them.  I would have loved to see the look on Dixie's face when she saw camels racing, but I really didn't want to deal with the traffic in and out of town.  Le sigh.

PPS I almost fell off on Saturday!  Had to grab mane and everything.  Wear a helmet, yall.  Dixie was listening to the polite dove hunters slowly coming up behind us on an ATV when a giant friggin' golden eagle soared over us with its atavistically terrifying shadow coming out of nowhere, and she went sideways at mach-ten.  I can't even blame her, it scared me too!  Helmet, even on your dead-broke horse.


  1. Many good wishes for a great 100 at VC. Really enjoyed this post. And I wear a helmet now--after, oh, forty years of riding without one--thanks to my internet horse friends.

  2. I pick up so many ideas from you when I read these posts.

    Love the photos of the terrain, too. West is so vastly different from east. Can't wait to hear about how this ride goes!! I hope you can figure out the tracking thing so we can ALL follow you blipping down the trail. The last 100 you did I was obsessively checking Facebook for updates from your crew!

  3. Can't wait to hear all about the ride. Dixie + Funder, YOU GIRLS ROCK!

    We had a persistent peat fire a couple of summers ago. Nothing too important got burned up but the stink was sickening when the wind came around. (♬♪♫ your state is on fi-ya ♬♪♫)

    diabeetus socks... lol. I had to click that link - who knew about ergots? That must be the weird tiny claw/knobby thing I always wondered about. A vestigial toe remnant perhaps? Heading out to feel my horse up now. :D

  4. CAMEL races? That may (MAY) be even more outstanding than racing pigs!

  5. I am so damn excited for you! Sounds like a great pre ride, except for the giant golden eagle! I had one swoop over me once too, pony I was riding got convinced she was big enough to be captured. Good job staying on.

    I think the burning bush was a sign...ha! The shrubs are oleanders, super toxic but amazingly hardy, well except when they're on fire.

    You and Dixie are gonna rock VC.

  6. I absolutely need to come ride this region.

    Now, we just gotta figure out HOW.

    Sigh. You'll have a blast, I just know it!

  7. That's awesome that the trail was marked so far in advance and that you could ride parts of it to be prepared. I can't wait to hear about your VC ride - I know that you will have an amazing adventure no matter what happens:)

  8. Great post, best of luck in two weeks time. Or maybe it's only in one weeks time now.

  9. Can't wait for your big event! Beautiful country!!!

  10. Looks incredible, had to be a boost to know what you'll be riding! Diane will be there too! Love those shock things! Smooth did you say? I THINK so! Stay safe, sound & have FUN!

  11. I saw no beer......all I saw was rocks and hills...........and horrendous wind.........


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