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.
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.
- 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?