(The subtitle of this story is “R.I.P. you freakin” ^&%$^% fly”)
The Old Dominion celebrated it’s 40th anniversary this year. With their excitement at being the longest running 100 mile ride on the East Coast of America, they offered out the 100 mileride entry at a discounted price to celebrate. Lots of people took advantage of the discount and the 100 Mile Competition had 35 entries. One of those entries, my friend Kevin, put out the word that he would need crew. I jumped up and down, shouted, flung my arms around and made a general nuisance of myself so he would notice that I wanted to be on his crew this year! It worked.
While I could write an entire story just on the history of the Old Dominion Endurance Rides, I will not do that and let you visit this link instead. http://www.olddominionrides.org/ PLEASE visit it after you finish reading my story or you’ll never come back and finish it.
On my bucket list of things I have to do before I get too old and cranky to do them is do a 100 mile ride. Old Dominion is the East Coast version of the Tevis Ride on the West Coast. Rugged mountainous terrain located in the heart of the Shenedoah Valley and the trail encompasses two states, Virginia and West Virginia. (Yes, this old Hillbilly loved being on that side of the trail!)
I very much wanted to crew for Kevin for several reasons. First, I really like him and he’s fun to be around. Second, he knows a lot and I always need to learn a lot. Third, I finally have a horse that I believe will take me on my first 100 mile ride so I need to see the ride from the ground to experience what is needed for the horse. And Lastly, I wanted to write a 100 mile story because I have not had that amusement yet.
Kevin put together three of us to crew for him. We bantered back and forth via email for a couple weeks on what to call ourselves, who was going to do what, and what to bring. It was actually at the ride itself where we earned our name as “Kevin’s Orange Harem”. Did I mention we all coordinated our clothing for the weekend to match Team Czar’s colors? Right down to bras and underwear. Oh yes, I have photographic evidence of that small detail, if you’re interested!
But I get ahead of myself. Because, as always, the Infamous Dodie Sable Mis-Adventures usually begin on the drive down to the ride. And this one began about five minutes after I left my driveway and managed to entertain me until I parked the truck. I will be brief in relaying this driving misadventure so you don’t lose interest and stop reading before you reach the meaty part about being a crew member with two other ladies as silly as I am!
Just as a small FYI, we were told by ride management that there is no cell service in camp. I didn’t bother to text Kevin and let him know I was on my way because I figured he would not get the message anyway. I informed my husband, Marc, not to expect to hear from me until after I left camp on Sunday (BUT!) if I did get service while we were out and about I would drop him X-rated texts to keep him occupied while I was gone.
I had everything packed and ready to go. The weather was miserable, hot and humid and sticky so after I did everything I needed to do, the last thing I did was hop in the shower, rinsed off and then threw Pixie in the truck and left my driveway. I wanted to be on the road by 10:00 am and I only missed that goal by 28 minutes.
10:28 am June 13th …. Start the truck, leave the driveway, turn onto I-78 and something is crawling on my leg. I swat at it and discover a fly got into the truck. How annoying. I rolled all the windows down and made several attempts to scare him out. I failed as he was far more interested in my legs than in leaving the cab of the truck.
I made great time, and even gained back some of the Dodie-Time loss from starting late. We breezed through the Hershey/Harrisburg corridor of I-78, where traffic typically starts backing up around 2:30 every afternoon. We sailed through the I-83 and I-81 split without ever having to get off cruise control. It was a marvelous day to be traveling.
The most annoying ^&%%$ fly terrorized me and Pixie through all of this. Walking on my face, crawling up my calf, sitting on the end of Pixie’s nose.
We coasted across the Maryland line and my heart rate went up a wee bit. Pixie is not in a seat belt. Why is this an issue? many years ago I got pulled over in Maryland and my dog, a tiny 4 pound long haired Chihuahua, Suzie, got a $140 ticket for not wearing a seat belt. I do not make this up! SO…I was waiting for a statey to pull me over and give Pixie a ticket.
Fly is being rather nuisome as things are heating up. It has now discovered my eyebrows and the tip of my nose.
I breathed a sigh of relief as I entered West Virginia, where (apparently) the speed limit is 200 mph. I know this because I was doing 80 and people were passing me like I was a tortoise. At one point, a trucker passed me so fast that the air wake he made pushed me onto the shoulder. At the exact same time the fly discovered my eyelids.
Entering Virginia, where Radar Detectors Are Illegal.
Right… because I have three of those, you know.
I’m watching my GPS mileage going down and down and down, in between trying to kill this (*&^*#@^ fly. At one point I thought I had the little pesky piece of s*&^t, but alas, it was just a wishful thinking on my part and he has now discovered the top of my foot.
GPS reaches 24 miles to go and I start getting excited. We have totally made up the half an hour I started late and we’re gonna arrive in camp right at 2:00 pm like I had told Kevin we would. I didn’t want to be late because I could not text him and let him know I would be late, and he has enough to sorry about without worrying about why I’m late. Of course, if he’s read even ONE of my stories over the years, he shold know all about Dodie-Time and not worry about me until I’m two hours or more late.
FLY GO AWAY!
I am swatting and the fly and glance up to see both lanes of traffic braking.
I quickly put on my hazzards so the guy behind me doesn’t run up my tailpipe. And we’re at a complete stop. On I-81. Stopped.
Can you say, “Friday the 13th” ???
Pixie is looking around and the kid in the car beside me is making faces at her. The fly is sitting on her ribbons. I am way tempted to swat it while it’s being entertained by the kid in the car next to us, but Pixie already has Poodle-Dementia, I don’t want to give her a concussion on top of that….
We crawl ten feet.
I don’t want the air conditioner running while we’re sitting still so I shut it off and roll down the windows. Now, while I am not distracted by driving, maybe I can get rid of this bleeping fly. Not to be done, this is one very foxy fly and he has learned all the major fly dodging moves and wears a black belt to prove it! He avoid every attempt I make to get rid of him.
Eventually, after over half an hour, we reach an exit and the police is putting all the traffic off the highway. I follow along the flow of traffic and they put us onto Rt 11 which will take us through Woodstock (Virginia, not New york … I am not THAT out of my way)
We creep along an inch at a time. At one point, I can see about a mile and a half on the road and the traffic is just jammed on this Rt 11 bypass. We are never going to reach Base Camp, I just know it. Now, I do have signal here so I’ve been posting travel updates to Facebook (like anyone really cares) and my phone chirps “Uh Oh” to let me know I have a text. It’s Jen Stevenson and she saw my Facebook update. She’s letting me know that she is on I-81 behind me in this traffic mess. SO! For entertainment value, and to distract me from this fly, I begin a texting conversation with her. She is entering the OD 30 mile ride and her daughter, Bryna, is entering the OD 100 mile ride. WHOO HOO!
I am now an hour into this creeping along inch by inch and I realize that we’ve only gone 5.3 miles. OH MY GAWD.
Eventually, we creep through Woodstock, get caught at every red light (several times as traffic passes a couple cars at a time) and we get detoured onto Rt 42 which takes up back to the highway. At some point in my Woodstock town tour, Jen texted me that the highway was opened and they did not have to detour off. Yes, she was an hour behind me and now she’s in front of me. When I see the sign for I-81, I was very excited.
It’s all about the little things! Enjoy each one as they come along.
I get on the highway and my GPS tells me I am 19 miles from my destination. In 110 minutes, we traveled six miles. Kevin is probably starting to get a wee bit worried about me as I’m almost at the two hour Dodie-Time lateness cut off.
I’m not even gonna try and make up THIS time loss. It is what it is.
I am 2 miles out from camp when my phone goes, “Uh Oh”
Wow, I have signal here? Since I am following 4 mph behind a trailer rig on the road, I glance at it and see it’s Laura (one of the “Kevin’s Orange Harem” crew members). She’s wondering where I am. I glance at my clock and see I am now exactly 2 hours behind schedule and she must know all about Dodie-Time as she waited the required two hours before getting worried.
My blue tooth talk-to-text is still functioning here so I respond back letting her know I am only 2 miles from camp, following a rig going 5 mph through the twisty turning road. She responds “Okay”
BASE CAMP – I’m here! Along with Pixie, and the fly. WHOO HOO. It is a glorious chaotic bustle of people, horses, dogs and noise. I love it. This photo is taken Saturday morning after all three rides (the 25 mile, the 50 mile and the 100 mile) are all out on trail. It was like a ghost town in camp with everyone and every horse gone. So eerily quiet it was scarey … like a scene in some horror movie.
Adrienne is (apparently) caught up in the traffic problem because she isn’t here yet, either. Supper and the ride meeting will be soon so I ask Kevin to walk me through the feeding for Czar while out on trail.
Lesson #1 – FEEDING YOUR HORSE ON A 100 MILE RIDE:
- Provide the horse with as many choices as possible and let the horse choose what to eat.
- Provide both wet slurry food and dry food.
- Provide some type of hay stretcher pelleted food (moistened) so the horse has fiber.
- Provide carrots and apples and other root veggies (Miss Daizy loves sweet potatoes)
- Provide two kinds of hay choices.
- Provide water.
(Bear with me, this story is also my documentation of what to do for Miss Daizy when I attempt my first 100 mile ride, so the details may get a bit on the boring side)
Lesson #2 – ELECTROLYTES
- Every hold give the horse a stomach soother syringe and a vitamin syringe
- Once during the ride, give a full strength professional electrolyte
Okay, my brain is sucking all this information in so that I know what to do for Czar. The funniest moment came when Kevin told me not to mix the different feeds together, but to put each type of feed in it’s own corner. He says Czar does not like his peas to touch his noodles. (chuckle) Now, the feed pan is round, how the heck am I supposed to do that?????
I have many years experience driving a dually, and I am probably the only person you know that can be thrown out into the middle of the woods and find my way home. I have a very excellent sense of direction. I had studied the trail map, the crewing vet check directions and I was fully confident we would not get lost going from vet check to vet check. After some discussion between the members of the “Kevin’s Orange Harem” crew members, we all decided I would drive and be in charge of feed.
Laura had already discussed (in earlier emails) that she was great at lifting and carrying stuff. She got the brute force chores. And Adrienne was there for everything else (and added entertainment! I love Adrienne!) and to take care of Kevin.
We reviewed blankets, coolers, changing pads and girths at every hold, sponging, leg protection, and everything else possible for Czar. Eventually, being the person that knows all about taking care of ME on a ride or else I pass out at the end of the ride or vomit during the ride, I started asking about Kevin’s needs…hydration, food, what would we expect him to be like in his attitude and behaviors while riding…
I am hard pressed to believe Kevin when he says he’s gonna be a control freak at the holds and we just have to bear with him. Nope, that is not his nature at all so I’m thinking we’ll just wait and see.
Czar is resting comfortably in his pen when we leave for the lazagna meal. Old Dominion seems to be “the place” to be for a family reunion. I have been off the circuit since 2010 due to my back injury and it was with goosebumps and smiles that I was greeted by so many people that remembered me. I got hugs, and hand shakes, and more hugs. Most people seemed genuinely excited to see me back in the game. I am awed by the love that is found at these rides. The people in the endurance world are so close, it’s amazing.
LESSON #3 – ARRIVE AT BASE CAMP TWO DAYS BEFORE THE RIDE
Kevin arrived on Thursday, to give Czar time to relax and get comfortable with his surroundings. Most people will ride a section of the trail on the day before the ride, just a slow jog to loosen up the horse and get him familiar with the end of the trail. I need to remember this lesson and make sure I take the proper time needed to keep Miss Daizy mentally fit for her first 100 mile ride.
Adrienne and I decided to walk over to Mary Coleman’s trailer and see what she had for sale. Last ride, she promised to bring me a yellow sponge on a yellow rope. She remembered! While I was buying that from her, dark black clouds were coming up over the mountain and the wind was picking up. And it was cold. Up until this point in the day, I was pretty much sweating in the heat and humidity. The wind in front of this black mass of thunderstorm clouds is downright cold.
So, while Mary had me cornered at her trailer, looking at the clouds, she happens to mention she has a yellow fly sheet. REALLY??? What size? 72 inches? REALLY? So, I bought that, too and then ran for the truck because I was sure it was going to open up on us at any moment.
It didn’t, just spritzed a couple times, but those clouds brought coldness. My oh my was it getting chilly.
Dinner was a mass of people. Can you say HUNDREDS of people? The line for food seemed to go on forever. Literally, I’m thinking it took over 45 minutes for everyone to get through the line and get served. HUNDREDS of people. It was most amazing. And most everyone was dressed in coats and long pants. This is unheard of at Old Dominion. The weather is usually sweltering.
As with most ride meetings, the information provided was great. As a crew person, I appreciated the information which they gave us for people and horse amenities that would be available for horse and for rider. I filed this information away for future reference. The trail maps provided to us were most excellent and the directions from vet check to vet check were right on the money. They put on a perfect ride meeting.
It’s starting to get dark when dinner and the ride briefing are over so we head back to our camp to pack up the truck and make note of any last minute items we will need. I brought tons of snacking food and beverages for the day. I figured since we’d be out on trail all day, we could eat and gain 30 pounds while Kevin rode and lost 30 pounds.
See how I think?
With that said, I told Laura and Adrienne to stick whatever they wanted to into my cooler, which is huge, and that way we use less room in the back of the truck. I also had my mild crate full of food so anything they wanted to bring to eat, stick in there so we only had one central place to remember to get goodies!
We packed up the truck, walked through camp trying to think of anything we may have forgotten, and we said our good nights. Wake up call is 3:30 am and it’s now after 9:30 pm. I am hoping to get at least 4 hours sleep before I begin my 24 hour crewing day.
I slept like a baby (babbling, talking, snoring, rolling around – you get the picture). I was only annoyed byt he fly once during the night. That was right after I got into the truck. He was probably as cold as I was and I think he was trying to get under the covers. I cannot believe it is middle of June and I need two blankets to sleep.
3:45 am June 14th … I am awake and so excited I can’t stand myself. I hop out of the truck and take Pixie on a walk to get her energy out and to get my mug filled with coffee. No-one else seems to be up. I’m sure Kevin is up but he must be in his camper because I don’t see him.
It’s chilly. Everyone but me is wearing coats. On June 14th, in the south, wearing coats. Weather is supposed to be absolutely perfect for riding today, mid seventies with almost no humidity, and breezy. The horses will stay nice and cool. The crew, however, is gonna freeze.
I had some teasing at the coffee pot on the size of my coffee mug. (chuckle) and spend a little time talking to a couple crew people about their 100 mile riders. Eventually I figure I should head back to camp and see if Kevin needs anything from me. He is very calm and relaxed.
WOW (that is NOT how I behave before I get on my horse – LESSON #4)
Adrienne and Laura get up around 4:30 am and they do their morning routine then come over to take Czar out for a walk and a stretch. I am picking Kevin’s brain about when should we expect him at the first hold, what will he want right away, and Kevin remains calm and relaxed.
I want to be like Kevin!
I roll down my truck windows in hopes that the fly (who did not freeze and die last night) will leave and become a Virginia Mountain Fly. I crossed my fingers and wished upon a star.
We’re ready. Czar is tacked up, truck is packed, Pixie is in the truck, and we’re ready to roll. 5:15 am and the 100 mile riders are off and running. The day has begun.
SOME ITEMS WE FORGOT FOR THE CREW:
- Paper towels
- Regular towels
- Finger nail clipper and file
- Tylenol / Advil / Aleve
- Jackets and long pants
SOME ITEMS WE REMEMBERED FOR THE CREW:
- Bug spray
- Comfortable chairs that lay out into a cot
- Food and drinks
- Baby wipes
- Flashlights, lanterns and spot lights
- Glowing leash for Pixie (Thank you Adrienne) so we don’t lose her in the dark.
- Kindles for reading, cards for playing
- Blankets and pillows
- Glow sticks
The first vet check is 15 miles out on trail. The horses are fresh in the morning and although they want to set a reasonable pace so they don’t wear out the horses too quickly, I expect them to be in the vet check in two hours. They are! There are some rocky hill climbs on the first loop but Team Czar arrived into the first vet check looking marvelously fresh.
We were blessed by the weather gods for this ride (and by the anit-bug gods – the entire ride we didn’t get hounded by flies or skeeters). Anyone familiar with Old Dominion 100 mile ride knows that it is usually hot, humid and totally icky weather in mid-June. I remember riding one year when it was in the upper 90’s, sunny and so humid that it was like breathing underwater. I passed out at the end of that ride that year. I had dehydrated and thank goodness for the volunteers at the finish line who got me safely off my horse.
Hustle and bustle at the vet check. This is a 45 minute hold so we have plenty of time to figure out what Kevin wants. His routine is to get Czar into the check, wait a minute or two and then pulse in immediately and do the trot out. Then he brings Czar over to eat and change pads and girths. LESSON #5 – bring lots of pads and girths to exchange throughout the day. We set up the gear next to the porta-johns (my call) and although we didn’t have any trouble with “odor”, we did have a lot of traffic going past us the entire time. Maybe this wasn’t the best place to set up gear.
At that first hold I very quickly understood what it was that Kevin does for Czar. When we packed the truck back up to leave, I organized the gear so the stuff we wanted right away was coming off first. I had the feeding process down pat. Laura was a most excellent lifter, as she promised! I got up in the back of the truck and she handed everything to me. Adrienne was a most excellent mother and she kept Kevin hydrated and full of food the entire ride. We are a great crewing team!
The next vet check #2 the crew is not allowed to setup. This means that Kevin is on his own in caring for Czar and himself. The OD ride management has sandwiches, water and other people food as well as grain and hay and water for the horses at that hold. We will not see Team Czar again until they’ve done 45 miles. Almost halfway finished with the ride. Kevin told us he’d see us in two hours. A little voice in my head said, “Uh, no … more like four hours” but I kept that to myself until after Kevin left back out on trail. I did tell Laura and Adrienne that we would not see him until about 2:00 or 2:30. I was slightly off, Kevin arrived at 3:01 pm. He did admit that his D.I.M.M.E.R. switch was working overtime when he told us two hours. I think he just forgot that he had a hold in between at which we were not allowed to be for him.
LESSON #6 – do not mess with the horse’s food routine. Just before Kevin arrived into the hold, Laura mixed up Czar’s slurry and added more water. (shriek) Czar ate his slurry at the first hold and Kevin did tell me – very clearly – that Czar was particular how he eats his food so I had set it up accordingly. When Team Czar arrived for vet check #3, Czar took one look at the sloppy mixed up mess and emphatically said, “NO WAY!”.
It takes about half an hour for the water to be absorbed so it was much too late to make him a new slurry to his specifications. We’re at 45 miles and Czar is going back out without his slurry in his tummy. I feel like an idiot. Kevin “educated me” that it was too watery and mixed together. I nodded and promised to do better for the next hold. After they left back out on trail, I quickly explained to Laura and Adrienne why Czar didn’t eat his slurry. They were concerned about that as well as I was.
While waiting at this vet check, we had conversations with Bryna’s dad (and crew) Paul. And we had conversations with each other that I’m sure Paul wished he didn’t overhear while sitting next to us (chuckle). Bryna is screaming through this ride on her little gray mare. She’s first into the hold and first out of the hold. Team Czar Pit Crew started placing little bets that she was going to win the Old Dominion 100 mile ride and I was very excited by that. There’s another story in there, but this is not the time for it.
We snacked on food stuff’s and drank lots of tea and water, and waited. I got stung by a bee right on top of my foot. Freakin’ bee. Pixie was the hit of the crew area when she escaped and went wandering around begging people to pet her. Thank goodness there were no flies or bugs to bother us. We had a grand ol’ time.
Team Czar heads back out on trail and we have plenty of time to clean up and pack up. Next vet check is about half an hour away and we won’t see Team Czar for several hours. My guestimate is about 8:00 pm. I was very close this time, only off by 12 minutes. Team Czar came into Vet check #4 at 8:12 pm.
Now, we had a little excitement at this vet check waiting on Team Czar. We were all pretty cramped into the area so the crews are sitting on top of each other. I am carefully laying out the night gear for Team Czar, as well as getting all the lanterns and lighting we’ll need for crewing in the dark. It’s not dark yet, but I like to know that everything is in order BEFORE we need it. Good thing I did! I had to run around camp to find duct tape for Kevin to put the glow sticks on Czar. And I’m glad I grabbed my own lanterns and flashlight because two of Kevin’s were dead dead dead.
To make things even more interesting, it’s starting to get cold. A brisk breeze is blowing and as the sun is setting on the other side of the mountain, we’re in the shade. It didn’t get very warm – only in the upper 70’s – which is perfect for the horses and riders but not so perfect for the crew who sit around idle for hours. Even I was getting a little chilled, which means the other two ladies must have been freezing. Laura (thoughtfully) had lots of hoodies in Kevin’s truck and we all shared (grin).
We were parked in high grass and Laura found a tick (or maybe the tick found Laura). I had also brought my Deet spray so I sent her into the truck cab to get it for everyone to douse ourselves. I did find a tick on my belly button when I got home, so next time I need to remember to spray my skin under my clothes! Ewwwwww……
Adrienne got a little nap in at this vet check (lucky Adrienne) and Laura was starting to get very red on her face and arms. One thing I do not think about to bring is sunscreen as I don’t need it … I have added it to my list of stuff for the crew!!!
While waiting for Team Czar, we saw two horses get pulled for lameness at the vet check. We also heard that three others had been pulled at the last vet check for lameness and there were three RO pulls (Rider Option). I started calculating how many horses were left and I came up with 26. This was confirmed later by one of the OD volunteers at the timers tents.
Bryna screamed into this hold about 30 minutes after we got there and was back out on trail before any other horses came in. That means she’s running about 45 to 50 minutes ahead of the next runners. This is so exciting. She is only 14 years old!!! This is the last time we see Bryna.
Team Czar arrived and the bustling began. Adrienne was all over Kevin to eat and drink. Laura had Czar and was hand feeding him. I was running around making sure all the night gear was prepped and ready to attach to Czar. Hurry up hurry up. Czar was a bit off when he did his trot out. I watched him moving and suggested to Kevin to remove his tack and try again … because to me it looked like he was hitching his gait against the saddle gear. Kevin took him back up to the vets without his saddle and he trotted out just fine (whew).
At this point in the story I have to tell you about Kevin. He has completed 70 of the 100 miles and I am so glad that he chose me to crew for him. He never lost his great humor or coped an attitude as he got tired. He was smiling most the time. He was getting a little giddy at this vet check, which is what prompted Adrienne to pump him full of liquids and foods. The rider needs fuel as much as the horse! He is also very very appreciative of his crew and always let us know that he was happy we were there for Team Czar.
Team Czar leaves on trail for a short 8 miles. I know that he is going to be at the vet check shortly after we get there because we have 8.5 miles of narrow twisty turny road to travel. I had quite the interesting driving at this ride. Several times cars and trucks (obviously locals as they were doing 75 mph on these narrow mountain roads) passed us and I was running one of the dually tires off the road just so I wouldn’t get hit. At one point, another large flat bed truck passed us and our mirrors kissed. I had one tire off the road and he had one tire off the road.
Next time a big truck was coming at us, I asked the ladies to please suck in their breath and hold it so we’d be a little skinnier. When the tire is off the road, it’s a deep drop into the ravine … I was not prepared to wreck Kevin’s truck and suffer Czar’s wrath at not having his slurry ready.
Occasionally throughout the day, we would get a bar or two of signal. I have been taking these photos to document Team Czar’s journey, but also to remind me later what happened at each hold. And my Facebook Fans were anxiously awaiting updates. (because, you know, without Facebook …. snicker) It had been a long while since we had access to our Facebook world and when I heard my phone “UH OH” I knew I had to quickly update everyone with pictures. I stopped in the middle of the road to update and upload the last two vet checks. I believe that Adrienne and Laura were ready to call in an intervention for me. Or maybe they were ready to throw me out the door and take over the driving.
(shrug) Well, it’s not like anyone was behind me or anything. And I didn’t text and drive. I simply stopped in the middle of the road.
We’re hurrying and arrived at the vet check #5 only 18 minutes before Team Czar did. I didn’t even unpack anything, I set up all the feed for Czar right on the tail gate of the truck. It a short hold of only 30 minutes and I figured that Czar would have just enough time to snack before heading back out. Pixie’s leash (that lights up and flashes) was the hit of this crew point. Lots of people commented on her lit up leash!
Kevin is starting to get tired. I know because he barely said anything and just sat and waited for his time out. Adrienne made him drink gaterade (and we spilled it every where). He drank it down in one big gulp, and it was a BIG gaterade. I was a little worried, because I know how I got at the end of my only 75 mile ride, and Kevin has now completed 79 miles. I hand fed Czar apples and carrots and before you could smile and say “HI!”, Team Czar is back out on trail. We will see them again in 13 miles. I figure two and a half hours until then.
Last vet check for the crew. Vet check #6. The volunteer fire department has set up a kitchen and has hot hot hot chicken noodle soup. THANK GOODNESS. We are all very chilly and tired. Adrienne found a wool blanket somewhere and she’s bundled up to her nose. Laura discovered that we have signal and she is on a Facebook roll ( at this point I will mention that maybe Laura needs an intervention, too!). I decided I would climb into the cab and relax. I actually coped a 15 minute nap, during which Laura reminded me that I snore (chuckle). Yep, I surely do.
I started to get concerned when 2 1/2 hours passed and no sign of Team Czar. He had been riding the trail all day with Dean and Dawn, all three of them coming into the vet checks together. I really got concerned when at 3 hours Dean and Dawn came into check without Team Czar. Dean told me he dropped back and was riding with Jodi and Joni. I figure they are getting very tired by this point. They are 92 miles into the 100 miles. It’s dark, it’s past everyone’s bedtime, and I’m hoping that everything is okay.
Fifteen minutes later, Team Czar comes in and I start breathing again. Once again, being a short 20 minute hold, I simply put everything on the tail gate and let Czar pick and choose what he wanted to eat. After our one and only slurry disaster, Czar has been gobbling up his slurry right away. This time I made it a little different and added some goodies to it (like ginger snap cookies and an extra handful of sweet feed). He ate his slurry first before hitting the grain tub.
I also added water to his grain tub so he had moisture. For the first time all day, Czar actually drank water while at the hold. I have ridden with Czar on two occasions at two different rides and I know that Czar will screech to a stop at every water puddle so I had not been worrying about his hydration at all…but that he drank almost a whole bucket at water at the hold, where I could see it, made me very happy.
I asked Kevin if he wanted some of that nice hot yummy homemade chicken noodle soup and he said “YES!” so I ran up and got him some. I was happy to see him eating something. I’m sure if it was me in his place I’d be puking my guts up by now. Kevin ate every bit of that soup. This was a short timed hold so I didn’t have time to go get him another bowl of yummy soup.
We are all sleepy. Not tired, necessarily, because really we haven’t done anything all day but rest (chuckle). Laura starts to throw stuff in the back of the truck and I stop her. Dodie’s routine is to thoroughly clean everything and stack it neatly so it is ready to go again. I know this is the last vet check for us but let’s all keep things clean and neat.
Adrienne and Laura probably hate me at this point. I tried not to be too anal about stuff, but I do get into a groove and can get a bit carried away with my organizational skills (which is politically correct for saying “pain in the ass control freak”) Neither one of them ever complained the entire day and for the most part, we were all very well suited to each other personality wise. I really enjoyed my time with them all day.
Once it got dark I realized that Kevin’s truck did not have a map light over the dashboard so Laura was assigned to the naggravator position, as she and Pixie were in the front seat, and her job was reading the driving instructions to me as we made our way from check point to check point. Now, this vet check is about 3 miles from the base camp and we have been here already once (it was vet check #1) so everyone assumed my most excellent sense of direction would get us home without further reading of the driving instructions.
Did I mention we are all getting sleepy?
I failed miserably as a Native American tracker as I turned left out of the vet check instead of right. Boy, did I get teased. (grin)
Back at base camp and we wait. Team Czar has only six miles to come in and I am sure that they are going to be moving pretty slowly. Now they have a rocky descent and coming down hill is more stressful on a horse and his rider than going uphill. My guestimate is that they will arrive around 2:30 am. I am (once again) off by half an hour.
3:08 am … the bell dings and we know “Here they come!” WHOO HOO!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was jumping up and down and hooting and hollering and was so excited. You’d think I did the 100 mile ride, I was so excited. I hugged Kevin about 20 times. I hugged Czar about 10 times. I generally was making a nuisance of myself. We had a yummy slurry ready for Czar and his cooler. Kevin was very stoic and quiet. He told me that he would get excited after Czar passed his final vet check. Down we went into the lights and although Laura had been doing the trot outs for Czar all day, I had the opportunity to trot him out at his final check. Down we went, back we came and I didn’t hear anyone groan so I figured we did a good job. Vet checked his CRI and everything was great.
FINISHED! 100 miles at Old Dominion completed in 14th place. Team Czar earned their OD buckle. And I was there to write the story (grin).
We had already cleaned up Czar’s pen and made sure he had water and hay ready to go. Kevin put clay poultice on his legs and I draped two blankets on him. (Yes, I must say I am tired because my first attempt at putting the blanket on went terrible awry. I put the butt band on his head (LOL) I asked Kevin if there was anything else I could do for him after I unloaded all my things from his truck bed. He said no, he was going to go to bed.
I crawled up in my truck with Pixie and it was 4:10 am. Long exciting day. All day without any bugs and as soon as I get into my truck, which had the windows down all day, who comes to sit on my forehead but that stupid freakin’ (*&%%$ fly. GO AWAY!
I slept like a dead person until 7:15 am. I woke up with the camp because the fly was walking all over my face. I spent 5 minutes trying to shoosh the fly out the window while people are busy getting things together to go home.
Finally, I give up and just get out of my truck. I let Pixie do her business while I check on Czar, who is comfortably munching on hay. Pixie and I walk up to the food tent for coffee and …
NO COFFEE????? Holy crap oley. Lesson #7, the day after the ride, there will be no coffee, so bring the camp stove and coffee pot to make your own.
Brunch isn’t until 11:30 am and I’m hoping to get on the road before then.
So, I walk back down to camp and drink the one coke I brought (just in case I needed a caffeine pick up during the night). Guess it came in handy for a caffeine pickup for the morning.
The sun is shining nicely and I get Czar out of his pen and remove his blankets. I have no idea where Kevin’s brushes are, but I always have stuff in my truck. I brushed Czar and got all the caked on mud off him. He is shining so nicely in the morning light after I finish. And he definitely had itchy places, which he so gladly showed me so I could scratch them well. I take him on a walk through camp and everyone is asking me about his completion. I was rather enjoying being in the spotlight! The vets let us do a courtesy trot out and Czar was a little stiff in the back end but looked good. They gave me the A-OK.
After we made two tours through camp, and stopped to watch the riders who stood for the OD Top 10, we went up on the hill and ate grass for about an hour. No-one was awake in our camp, Adrienne thought she would be up and on the road by 7:00 am (chuckle) but she was still sound asleep in her truck. Laura was sleeping in Kevin’s camper so I have no idea when those two will get up. If I was Kevin, after riding 100 miles in 22 hours, I would sleep until noon.
Czar mowed a foot wide path through the tall grass I put him in on the hill. At one point, I just dropped the lead rope and sat down to watch the campe bustle from my high vantage point. He was totally unconcerned that he was “loose”. His concern was eating as much of this lush grass as possible. Eventually, I saw Kevin come out and go back to Czar’s pen. he was there quite a bit so I figured he was setting up his breakfast. When Kevin came back around the trailer I waved to him and he waved back. Time to go back down and let Czar have his breakfast.
Tired and sore, I’m sure, Kevin still had a big smile for me when I came back down. I gave him the low down on Czar. I saw him pee (looked good), had him for a trot out (looked good), brushed him and massaged his hind end (went good), and he ate and ate and ate grass for about an hour (most good!) I let him know that Bryna came in an hour and fifteen minutes ahead of the next riders. She was in at 11:00 pm. WOW!
I hugged Kevin again and told him congratulations. I wonder if he’s getting tired of my hugging him all the time. I can’t help it. My bad. I then picked his brain for fifteen minutes while Czar ate his breakfast about preparing the horse for a 100 mile ride and conditioning and all kinds of things I wanted to know for my own process in preparing for a 100 mile ride. I’m thinking I can do it at some point in my life. It is now a reality goal instead of a wishful thinking goal.
I got on the road about 10:00 am. That freakin’ fly would not leave my truck. I stopped for gas and saw Steve at the pumps. I said good bye to him and chased the fly around while the tank was filling. I had a totally unremarkable ride home (except for this pesky fly walking all over my legs and arms) When I arrived at home, Marc came out to help me unload and within 30 seconds, he caught and squished that fly. R.I.P. fly! Wish I had Marc with me before!!!!
(Kevin posted on Facebook … THANK YOU KEVIN for allowing me to be part of Team Czar’s crew!)
Czar and I added another (figurative, since we already received our legacy buckle in 2012) buckle to our collection, completing Old Dominion 100 #2, and 5th career 100. And we cut 100 minutes off our previous completion time! Guess we’ll be making a date for Fort Valley in the fall for the Triple Crown…
Special shout out to my fabulous crew:
Dodie Sable – crew chief, driver, and Czar’s special mix master who kept the all corners of the feed pan full of tasty morsels,
Adrienne Mcisaac – story-teller, maid of mischief, and personal bartender who made sure my bottles were never empty,
And last, but certainly not least, Laura Domin, who picked things up and put them back down (besides being my right hand, travel company, and trotter-outer)
Next stop, Vermont!