When I was about 7 years old, I was taking lessons and learning how to ride horses from a wonderful lady by the name of Terryl Reed in the Auburn, California area. Terryl told me about this 100-mile trail ride, that both she and her brother had completed, where you got to ride all day and all night through the Sierra Nevada Mountains. And you got a belt buckle just for finishing the ride. I remember being awestruck and totally inspired, thinking about HOW COOL that would be!
Fast forward to last year (2006), I had been competing (well, COMPLETING anyways) in the sport of Endurance for 4 years and had finished my first 100-mile ride at Sunriver, Oregon in June. I found myself entered in my first Western States 100-Mile Ride, better known at the Tevis. Last year was a big learning curve for us, and I eventually found myself 4 minutes overtime at the Michigan Bluff vet check with a horse that was done for the day (go here for complete ride story): http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/new100milers/message/657
This year, was truly just MAGICAL. Fate was on my side from the very beginning. At the AERC Convention in February, I had purchased a bunch of raffle tickets and had put about half of them into the National Awards drawing, hoping fervently to win the single Tevis Entry that the Western States Trail Foundation had generously donated. My mom and I had gone out to lunch, and at lunch I had stated how much I hoped to win the entry, my mom stated how much she hoped NOT to have won the entry, since it is non-transferable and she didn’t feel up to riding that trail yet. Words cannot express my utter shock, amazement, and pure joy that I felt when we came back from lunch and went by the raffle booth to find MY NAME as the winner of the Tevis Entry! I was totally speechless, just making some strange noises and pointing, until much squealing ensued. I had a huge smile on my face and was walking on clouds for the rest of the day, heck, the rest of the MONTH.
I really feel that I did everything “right” this year in order to be my most successful at the ride. A big thank you to my friend Lucy Trumbull who met me in Foresthill and did several pre-rides with me. In April we rode from Foresthill to Deadwood and back, and in June we rode from Robinson’s Flat to Foresthill. Having this knowledge of the canyons and this critical section of trail was *invaluable* for helping me to plan our pacing for ride day. The other thing that was PRICELESS was attending the 2-day Educational Ride hosted by the WSTF at the end of June. At this ride I went with the faster group, led by WSTF President Tom Christof, and it allowed me to experience the trail at a faster pace and to push both Sinatra’s and my current conditioning up a notch. It also allowed me to realize that I “can” trot this or that section if I wanted or needed to on ride day. As things worked out, we did RF to FH with Lucy in mid-June (16th) and then two weeks later rode that same portion and then the final 32 miles of FH to Auburn the next day. Sinatra did great both days, in fact was feeling a little TOO good on Day 2. This combined with the other training we had done this year, including the Patriot’s Day 100, left me feeling that he was fit and ready for the ride. Fate was on hand again when I changed my desk calendar to the month of July – the title for the month was “ENDURANCE – Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened.” – Helen Keller
The week before the ride was pure chaos it seemed with finals at school (Summer Semester) and month-end close at work and I ended up scrambling around and trying to get the last of the stuff together on Friday morning, feeling way too stressed about all this packing and ready to just throw the horse in the trailer and say to hell with the rest of it. I ended up leaving Reno about noon, about two hours later than I had wanted to but at least we were on our way. My mom, sister, and husband would be crewing for me and Lucy would also be on hand to lend assistance when necessary and help to drive the small flotilla of rigs that I ended up with (don’t ask).
Finally arrived and got settled in up at Robie Park. Went to the new rider briefing, nothing unexpected, they talked about pacing and the change on the Michigan Bluff stop to a new vet check down the road, but it was nice to just have my thoughts reinforced and to know that there were no changes or surprises to the game plan I had in place. Got Sinatra vetted in, we were number 181 (which my mom pointed out, 1+8+1 = 10 = 1+0 = 1 = first buckle).