Another successful 80km this weekend, hooray.
But it was TOUGH. And I learnt a lot.
The ride was based at Muresk, which is basically in a river valley, but with steep hills either side. (Australia being so ancient and all, our river bottoms are wide and very flat, then they go almost vertically upwards). And we climbed them..
We actually got away from home on time for once, hooray. It was about a 2 hour drive, and when we got there WOW the ride base was full. We ended up parked in a good spot, but up a short but quite steep hill to get to the vet ring. I was sick of that slope by the end of the ride! We vetted in all OK and I pottered about getting set up before bed, only to discover that my bottled gas ring cooker was missing a small but very vital bit of rubber and was leaking furiously. No canteen at this ride either. Bugger. I managed to scab some heat from friends, and had a couple of beers, before going to bed wondering vaguely what i would do about a cup of tea in the morning, kind of assuming that I would find someone to loan me hot water in the morning. This would become a highly significant decisions, believe it or not!
I was woken at 5.45 by the sound of a horse eating from the haybale on the back of the float… I bolted out of bed thinking Joe must have escaped, only to find it was someone else’s horse, who had let himself out and was helping himself to breakfast. I ended up wandering camp for about 10 minutes with the horse in tow: no one seemed to recognise him. I was able to hand him off to a ride volunteer to continue looking as I needed to go and get ready.
The SNAFUs with gas continued. My neighbour’s little gas stove was not co operating either so her OH went in search of hot water and came back with something lukewarm. I ended up drinking about a third of a cup of something which vaguely resembled tea, whereas my usual habit pre ride is at least one large vat of the stuff. This would come back to bite me later.
Finally we were off and riding. Joe was STRONG, as usual at the start of a ride, but we had barely covered 5km before we had a boot come off. I rammed it back on, and continued on our way, only to discover by the first checkpoint that is was off AGAIN. At this stage I was with it enough to find that a screw had come off, so there was no way that boot was going to stay put. I was about to pull the other off and ride on barefoot in the back when a fellow rider offered me a spare of hers, bless her. Right size, but without a power strap.. I had my doubts, but gave it a try. Joe enlivened things at the checkpoint by getting away from me as I was doing the boots.. he was quickly retrieved, but it was not a good look.
One we went. It was GLORIOUS scenery, with the canola out in full flower and red earth, green grass:
but I was too busy arguing with Joe about pace and worrying about boots to really take it all in. Sure enough, after another 10kms, off the spare boot came. It was hanging on by the gaiter, so I got off to remove it.
And then Joe got away from me AGAIN! And went galloping off down the hill towards the riders he could see about 500 metres in front of us. I ran after him, praying they would stop him. Luckily enough, they did: it was the same group of three who had offered me the spare boot! God knows what they thought of this disorganised crappy rider who had no boot spares and could not hang onto her horse.. I handed back the spare boot as it was not going to work, thanked them all profusely, and rode on with no boots on the back.
The rest of the first leg was (thankfully) quite uneventful, thank goodness! In the last 5km there were a couple of killer hills which I got off and walked. Wow they were steep. We do not have good hills to train on, so Joe was finding them really tough. Joe FINALLY tanked up on water at the last couple of troughs we passed, which was just as well as it was now getting quite warm.
We walked it in and he pulsed straight down, so we headed to the vet.. To be told that my horse was dehydrated with slow gut sounds and could we please represent for another check before we went back out. Crap.
However, Joe tanked up on electrolyte/molasses water and ate plenty over the next 30 minutes, so at the recheck we were cleared to continue.
The first 8km of the second leg was great footing, along the river bed, crossing this a couple of times:
but then we came out of the paddocks and onto a gravel road, and headed uphill.. and uphill,.. and up.. and up..
it looked like this, but UPhill: and we were on it for the next 22km (14 miles)
It was now 1 p.m, warm, we were on our own, and the road was rocky, with rough edges. Did I mention it was WARM? I was now developing a serious headache and a good case of nausea: there had been too much going on during the pre ride and on the first leg and i had forgotten to drink, and I was paying for it now.
Joe was over it too. We got slower and slower, and I kept promising him we were almost at the top, only to be confronted by a bit more hill.
FINALLY we caught sight of 2 horses in front. Yay! We suddenly got a new lease of life and managed to catch up with them. Being joined by a third seemed to give their 2 mounts a new lease of life as well, and we managed more trotting up that ENDLESS hill. At the next checkpoint I finally woke up to myself and started filling up on water, but I was till feeling pretty seedy.
After all that UPhill, there was an awful lot of DOWNhill. I wouldn’t normally trot a lot of downhill, or I would get off and run, but we were pressed for time and I was in no fit state to run! So trot we did.
At last we got off that gravel, and had only 8km to home. It was a very tired and very relieved pair who crossed the finish line at 4.15 p.m.
Joe vetted in with better scores than he had at the halfway mark, and dived into MORE green grass. I started drinking water like it was going out of fashion: I think between 3.30p.m. and my arrival home at 8.30 p.m. I drank 2 and a half litres of water and felt no need to pee until I was home… SO not a good way to be.
We stayed for awards then packed up and went home: there was still no canteen and I couldn’t face the thought of another day without a morning cup of tea!
Joe looked fine the next day. I hurt ALL over.. More than i did after the 100km a month ago. Riding hard surfaces is concussive for the rider as well as the horse I guess.
So.. tough ride. We did it, but in a far from ideal fashion. I will post another post on what went well, what didn’t, and what I learned from it, tomorrow.