Last year's ride was kind of a milestone for me - it's the first 50 where I sort of felt like I knew what I was doing. I rode exactly the ride I wanted. We'd ridden most of the trail before, training out in the area, and I knew where to go fast and where to go slow and where to just hang on and wait for it to be over. I even coughed up a one-paragraph blurb for the AERC Extra about the volunteers at Red Rock, and this year, I wanted to go give back. (Also, to go party.)
It always surprises me, how much fun it is to volunteer. Endurance riding at my level is still extremely exciting - will we finish? What could possibly go wrong this time? And when you crew, you're wrapped up in your team's finish, and you're stressing about the same stuff (plus, will I forget the spare girth or the rider's favorite food or sleep through a check, oh dear!). But volunteering is easy and fun. Show up on time, do your job, cheer your friends, console the ones who get pulled.
Also, road trips are way easier when you're not hauling. I zipped straight over on Friday and had enough time to hit Sierra Trading Post for more ugly flannel.
I also bought some tangerines and some rum, because I hadn't actually brought any food. I pretty much threw my sleeping bag, a camp chair, a pen, and a parka in the truck and left town. I mean, it's one night, and I don't even have to ride the next day, what could I possibly need?
I got to camp a little before the vets did, but they showed up pretty quickly and we started vetting riders. I think they had about 60+ entries, 38 in the 50 and the rest in the LD, so it was a pretty good turnout. It's the same camp as Rides of March. It's a cow thing, with the chutes and the pens for gathering up the cows that spend the summer on that range, on a plateau surrounded by gorgeous mountains. It's 50/50 that there's a storm rolling in from the Sierras, but this time the weather was perfect.
I got to vet scribe! Vet scribing is the best job for newbies, IMHO - after you stare at about a hundred trot-outs, you can see lameness. Not as well as the vets, and I'm usually fuzzy on which limb, but I can see a bobble in either diagonal pretty reliably now. One of my challenges in this endurance thing is that I pretty much went from "not a horse person" straight into endurance, so I don't have years of basic horse experience. Vet scribing is a great way to see a lot of horses, in all stages of excitement and tiredness.
Harley was there!
Yep, he's a Friesian! I rode with him at the 2010 Comstock LD, where I forgot all the rules of LD and cantered in to the finish like a complete idiot and had to stand in the sun for 20 minutes trying to pulse down, lol.
The Nevada Dutch Oven guys were there again, so I had no worries on food. We had some drinks, some dinner, some more drinks, some ride meeting, and then we had a party. I usually bail right after the ride meeting, to lay in my sleeping bag worrying and listening to my horse eat hay, but this time I had no horse to worry about so I attended the party. It was fun, but I can't tell you about it - what happens in Nevada, stays in Nevada! ;)
The next morning I rolled out of bed at the entirely civilized hour of 5:45. (Once you get up at 3:40 to saddle a horse, everything else seems quite reasonable.) I cracked a Red Bull and dragged my comforter over to Susan's vet truck and we headed out to the away check at 6. The first hold is at 12 miles or so, which is pretty early but that's what the trail requires. It's 12 miles of easy hills and pretty easy footing, down from the plateau into the valley and over to the base of the Dogskins. The horses have a 15 (45 for the LD) minute hold, and then they do a six mile climb up the mountain, drop down the mountain, cross the valley again, and come back to camp at 30 miles. It's a long way if you run into trouble.
We ended up pulling six riders at the first hold, all for intermittent little lamenesses. That early in the ride, everybody's still bunched in together, so it was an hour and a half of shivering in the truck, then an hour and a half of working hard in the chilly autumn sun.
After we'd seen all the 50s and about half of the LDs, Susan and I bailed and headed back to base camp. The day had warmed up, from 26 at dawn to the low 50s, and it was still beautifully clear and pretty calm.
My ~particular riders~ this time were Lucy, Jen, and Angela. Angela pulled RO-L at the first check (another intermittent little lameness, and she decided not to push it), so it was just Lucy and Jen after lunch. Get it girls!
Lucy and Jen came in with a comfortable hour to spare, looking great.
at Tahoe Rim) rode the LD with a friend of hers, and they finished top-ten, and Pam got LD BC! I'm so happy for her - her horse looked great and she did a wonderful job with him.
I did a little bit to help break down camp, but eventually I had to go. I was hungry! The Dutch Oven guys had cooked dinner, but there's only one proper post-ride food...
And I zoomed back across California to get home by ten. It was a blast, and I'll be back next year!