Knocking (Virtual) Tevis Off the “Bucket List”: Week 1

The Tevis Cup has got to be on a lot of people’s bucket lists.  It’s one of the ultimate dream rides that just about everyone I’ve ever talked to has spoken about someday wanting to compete in it.  Heck, I wanna ride Tevis someday.   I don’t know if I ever will because my knee can be a real bastard sometimes; and I definitely won’t ever ride it on my golden boy because there’s no freaking way Mitch would want anything to do with a 100 mile endurance ride and the way things are going right now, I don’t know if I’ll ever have the right horse for it.

But it’s still a dream!  I make sure to watch the live feeds; I check the photographers pages.  I dream about my future horse and what color of eyesore-bright tack I’d choose to array upon my fabulous steed.  It might end up being a pipe dream, but at the same time, one never knows what the future will bring, and if we didn’t dare to dream, we’d never get anywhere in life.

So it was pretty disappointing to hear about Tevis being cancelled.  It feels like the entire freaking year is being cancelled.  Pony Penning Day … BreyerFest… DragonCon… SDCC.  Even the big event I have been looking forward to for ages, which was Star Wars Celebration: Anaheim.  It’s been pretty hard to stay motivated to exist ride when it’s so much easier to stay home and write pages and pages of sappy fanfiction … which I don’t do, I write fanfiction, but I wouldn’t call it sappy (I’m not above throwing in angst though!).  I go out to the barn to feed and clean, but I wasn’t riding much; hurt too much for one thing, and I was thinking more about my writing because there wasn’t anything I could feel motivated about with riding. I am an introvert, after all.

Enter the Tevis Virtual Ride.  100 miles in 100 days (or less, but they do advise not to ride 100 miles in 24 hours unless you’re doing a sanctioned AERC ride, and that’s never gonna be a problem for Mitch and myself because we ain’t gonna manage one of those) and I figured that it was A) supporting the Western States Trail considering they had to cancel the real thing and B) probably the only chance I’d ever get to say that I “rode” Tevis with Mitch so I signed up just for funsies.  And the t-shirt.  And apparently we get a sticker too for finishing.  And I know I can finish by November 9th.  We didn’t get started until August 3rd, but so far, we’ve been having a blast!

Virtual Tevis: Day 1 (August 3, 2020)

I originally planned to only do a couple of miles since we hadn’t been in a working mode for a while, but since we were barely moving  at a walk, i let Mitch tell me when he was done, and it turned out we did a whole 3.1 miles.  Got us out of the virtual “ride camp” anyway and on our way down the trail.

Fired up the ole Endomondo for this.  I’ve gotten lazy about tracking my rides, so if anything, this virtual Tevis thing should help me remember.

Stop giving me side eye, Mitch.  It wasn’t that hot, you didn’t have to walk that fast, and I’m not making you go all 100 miles in 24 hours, so chill, dude!

And we said hello to the wee goat friends from before!

Out of “ride camp” and on the trail!

Virtual Tevis: Day 2 (August 4, 2020)

Kicked it up a notch today with about 2.16 miles of arena work before we went out which is why our fastest speed was 10 MPH.  He’s definitely never going to be a racehorse.

Today was fun!  At this point, we had a total of 8.53 miles and would have crossed Highway 89 by now had we been doing the real Tevis.

Virtual Tevis: Day 3 (August 5, 2020)

Short ride today, to get us to 10 miles in preparation for the much longer ride planned on Thursday, and also to test out a different tracker from Endomondo.

According to the map, we’re somewhere in Squaw Valley, were we on the actual ride.

I didn’t like horse Tracker as much as I did Endomondo.  The map was beautiful because Endomondo’s map sucks (if i get it to take me to the satellite view, the actual course disappears and I only see the mileage points) but Endomondo had much better analytics that I didn’t have to pay a small fortune to look at unlike Horse Tracker.

So bye bye Horse Tracker.

Virtual Tevis: Day 4 (August 6, 2020)

And here was the big day! Despite the whole pandemic thing and trying to avoid people as much as possible because I’m acting like everyone’s infectious and could get me totes sick and all, meeting up with a friend to socially distance trail ride was still pretty possible. Having my own rig really really helps with that.  So I hitched up while Mitch was eating, groomed him up, tacked him at the trailer and then loaded him up (I’d really love to find the mare & foal butt bars for the Brenderup because it’d give him just that little bit more room if he’s the only one I’m hauling) and off we went to the private barn where one of my trail friends boards her horse.  We were careful, wore our masks, didn’t get too close to one another while she was tacking up, and I was able to use their small arena to warm Mitch up with a little walk, trot, canter before we went out on the trails.

And once we were out on trail, of course we gave each other tons of space since both her Fjord and my Haffie are used to going out alone, it’s not hard to put about fifteen feet between them and not have to resort to dude-string nose-to-tail riding.  We did about 9.9 miles through Hope Ranch and had a lot of fun.

Ah, the Memorial Bridge! Used to be a very common sight in my old trail riding pictures from way back, but lately all of the routes we’ve taken haven’t included it, but since we were trail boss, we went for it.

Because I wanted to share the fountain.  Great place to stop and water the horses.

Slurp slurp.  Mirtch also splashed and played.

The world through golden ears!

And we got “lost” (ok, we went on a trail that neither of us had been on in years, and maybe of that, only once and we explored.  And had fun)

Exploration was fun!

Finally got to another fountain.  I hopped off Mitch right after this photo was taken to adjust my girth and the lil fucker tried to climb in the bloody fountain.  I had to grab his leg and pull it out before he went all the way in.

Quite the adventure!

i was testing out Equilab for this ride, and I really really like it.  The map is beautiful, and the analytics are good.

And look at us, all matchy-matchy.

And here was our first milestone on the Tevis trail at 14 miles in.  I’m really impressed with how interactive the virtual ride is, by giving people landmarks to shoot for in their mileage tracking, and giving the history and description of those milestones.  It’s very informative, especially for those who aren’t familiar with the Tevis trail.  It makes me very happy to have donated to the fundraiser for the Western States Trail Foundation because it’s not just “riding” the Tevis trail, it’s learning about it too.

After we got back to my friend’s barn, I untacked Mitch, loaded up my trailer and let him out into their little arena so he could roll and relax for a while while my friend and I sat far apart, talked and had some snacks.  After that, we headed home, but ended up making a detoured route to Walgreens because I was dying of thirst.  Ended up parking the trailer right alongside their pharmacy drive-through space and ran in to get some tea.  Luckily, Mitch had hay, the windows were open and the tailgate was down so he wasn’t fussy.  But that was the first time I ever left a horse in a parking lot (actually, I take that back.  When we did the Greenwell Preserve in 2010, we left the horses in the trailer when we went to the deli for a late lunch.)  It was only for a few minutes anyway, and ice tea made me feel a lot better since I had barn chores I still had to do when we got home.

Virtual Tevis: Day 5 (August 7, 2020)

And Mitch got a rest day here.  After the nearly 10 miles we did the day before, he got to laze around.  Of course, he played Social Distance Keepaway when it came time to take his mask off, but that was good because he was cantering and bucking, and I could see he wasn’t phased at all from the long ride the day before.

So that’s the first week of Virtual Tevis.  We ended at 19.9 miles!