This was my 'come-back' ride after several years of surgeries and depression (at my slow recovery from said surgeries) . I've been doing conditioning rides, although not nearly as many as usual and not nearly as long.
For newcomers to my blog, here it is in a nutshell: breast cancer surgery in 2011 led to not much conditioning for the 2012 ride season. 4 rides (teeth gritting, pill popping after tearing a tendon in the first ride of the season) in 2012 with each ride being more and more painful on my ankle with the torn tendon. I did top ten most of them though...figured faster was better. At the last ride of the year that I did, where I had to walk my (very disgusted) horse the last 10 miles because my ankle hurt so badly, I decided to try surgery (and we still top tenned). Surgery in August-September of 2012, VERY slow recovery. I'm afraid I expected to have 6 weeks of PT and recovery and then be back to full power. Ha. Silly me. I didn't compete at all in 2013 because I could only ride about an hour before the pain was pretty bad. So, I volunteered.
I have been upping my 'game' over the winter and had gotten up to almost a 3 hour ride without too much whining, so I decided that Mt. Adams was it! My comeback ride! Except, unless you are totally flying, you can't even do an LD in 3 hours...
So, I adjusted my attitude and decided that if I could mentor a newbie or two, I could justify (to myself, no one else cared) doing a, gasp, Trail Ride. I'm afraid I've always been a little 'above' the trail ride, thinking there was no reason to do anything less than an LD. I kept repeating (in a bit of a whiney voice) "But I've done 50s!". I'm pretty sure there was a bunch of self-pity there. Well, the old gray mare just ain't what she used to be. So, I firmly tamped that down and hauled to Mt. Adams with my friend Monica. She decided to come on the trail ride too, mostly to make sure I was ok.
We drove down and got talking so much we missed the first bridge over the Columbia and had to go over the one between Hood River and White Salmon. I HATE this bridge. I'm not much for heights anyway and have actually smashed my truck side mirror on an oncoming truck's mirror on this bridge a few years back, so I have reason. I did make it over the bridge and no one actually honked at me...going 15 miles an hour is probably not the way to make friends. I also halted in the middle of the bridge when a big truck came at us. I think I did breathe somewhere along it...but I won't guarantee it. One lady in an oncoming car did point vigorously at me to move over to the edge of the bridge - I think I was pretty close to the center line.
Anyway, we made it to the lovely camp with plenty of time to spare, vetted in, etc and met up with our friend Keiko, who was doing her first endurance ride ever with her mare Cady. We went for a nice few mile ride on Friday and both Galen and Danny were great. Cady was a bit jazzed, but settled by the end.
Next morning, the very civilized start time of 9 am. Hmmm, this is definitely in the Trail Ride's favor. We got Keiko and Cady and left after pretty much everyone was gone. Cady and Keiko were a bit nervous, so we went back and forth a bit and then Keiko got off and walked for a while until a big hill convinced her to remount. We sandwiched them between Galen (in front) and Danny behind, which seemed to help Cady. We walked along, singing silly songs and getting relationship updates. After a bit, we asked if we could trot 20 steps and then walk. We did this for a while until it was boring and then started trotting the easier parts (no ducking low branches, no downhills, etc). By now, Keiko was starting to enjoy herself, as she and Cady had both relaxed. We made it clear that we wouldn't do anything more (ok, maybe just a touch more) than she was comfortable with, which I think really helped her. We had the whole day to enjoy the beautiful Ghost loop and if it took the whole day, so be it.
(I do have a ride photo, but for some reason, my computer refuses to load it, so you just need to imagine the lovely scenery and Galen's orange butt)
We did spend a little time going back to find a boot, but we found it quickly. We finished around 12:30 or so, but that was fine. This was a 13 mile loop, and my ankle still felt pretty good. This was the longest mileage AND time I have done since June of 2012. I have been working on changing the way I ride - much more sitting trot; thank goodness for the Teke glide, much more muscle instead of letting my ankles absorb so much. It's very different from how I've ridden before, but Galen seems ok with it, so I'll call it good.
I ended with thinking that I could probably do more mileage, but I was kind of glad I didn't have to. Once the horses were taken care of, I cracked a beer, took some more Advil and socialized. Hmmm, another plus in the Trail Ride's favor...more time for beer. Anyway, we are planning on heading to Klickitat, where I might ride a 2 day LD. It could be a new thing - the weenie version of the 2 day 100. If that goes well, maybe I'll be up to an LD before the end of the ride season.