Monday August 3 2009
by Tevis Expert Merri Melde (100% completions - 1 for 1) and
Co-Author Tevis Expert Jane McGrath (100% completions - 3 for 3)
Now that I'm an expert on the Tevis Cup and all, having a 100% completion rate (and I get extra points since I took almost the whole 24 hours, squeezing almost every minute out of it), I have prepared a tutorial for those who wish to complete the ride.
I was hoping to make it a big fat book that would end up at the top of the New York Times Best Seller list for months every year before July/August, but alas, it can be condensed and simplified into 8 easy steps you can follow so that you, too, can complete Tevis and get your very own silver Tevis buckle.
1. Clever Sign-Up Timing - Don't make up your mind until Wednesday noon before the actual Tevis ride, and then pretend to 'fax your entry' in to the Tevis office. Email them later and say, "I just faxed my entry to you, but only 3 of the pages went through. Then my fax machine broke before it sent page 4 (with my signature of Release of Liability). Can I email you a photocopy of that page?" Jo-Anne from the Western States Trail Foundation will email you back, "We didn't get your fax. You can sign up Friday morning. Registration opens at 10 AM."
By doing it this way, you will have eliminated weeks, months, even years of worry, which does nothing for you in the way of boosting your confidence.
2. Heat Training - Pick one day and spend 5 hours driving through Nevada on a hot day in July. To increase your discomfort, drive a car with no air conditioner, drive west so the sun hits you full on, and get stuck in road construction on I-80. You might even, if you dare, wear black clothing to up the temperature just a smidge. Drive a car without a radio, which will intensify the effect of the heat, since there will be nothing to get your mind off the heat.
You will then be conditioned for the heat of Tevis that you will encounter.
3. Physical Conditioning - If you aren't quite physically up to a hundred miler across the high and rugged Sierra Nevada mountain range, park your horse trailer and your horses as far as possible from the vet-in arena at Robie Park. That way, on Friday you will have to walk at least 17 times back and forth, hither and yon, at 7200', between your trailer and camp central, to take photos, visit people, take photos, go to registration (twice), vet your horse in, visit with people all over camp, take more photos, pack your gear, shop at the vendors, take your horses for walks, etc.
You will then be in great physical shape for Tevis.
4. Weight Training - At Robie Park, at 7200', carry two camera bags, 2 big cameras, a little camera, another little bag, and, preferably, a big cup of iced tea back and forth all day Friday while you are doing your physical conditioning.
You will then be strong enough to drag your weary butt up into the saddle one more time at mile 94 at approximately 3:31 AM, after approximately 22 hours and 16 minutes of riding.
5. Nerve Eradication - Pick a day where you set aside 7 hours to do nothing but fret and worry about everything concerning Tevis: death (yours or your horse's), medical bills (yours or your horse's), the mortgage you are going to have to take out to do the ride, the knee you might blow out (which means time lost riding), freak acts of nature (lightning storms, hailstorms, deep rivers, fires), the embarrassment you might feel if you do not finish (though, geez, just entering Tevis exempts you from that). While worrying about everything you can think of, and things you haven't, do not have any TV or radio on, don't talk to anybody on the phone; just sit there for 7 hours and get nervous. (This, conveniently, can be done in tandem with your heat training, as you are driving across Nevada, in a car with no air conditioning or radio).
6. Preparedness - Approach the entire venture blindly. Do not do your homework. Do NOT pre-ride the Tevis trail. Stop reading stories about Cougar Rock and cliff trails and bees. Stop asking interview questions like, "What is the scariest part of the trail for you and why?" If you already asked this question several times, try to forget the answers, or at least don't look up on the trail map where they are. Stop recalling those stories you've heard over the years of horses falling off the trail (people too) and getting hurt or dying (not just during Tevis). Refuse to recall the time you yourself were packing with horses in the Sierra Nevadas just about 150 miles south of here, in the same terrain, where one of your pack horses flipped over backwards down a cliff and how you had to rescue him. Stop asking every rider what the temperature was at the bottom of the first canyon. Just stop thinking about all of it.
7. Most important, have an amazing friend who has a good horse that is conditioned and ready, and who has already finished Tevis once, that she just GIVES you to ride.
8. And even more important - GO TO HAVE FUN! No matter who you are or who you are riding, you have a 50-50% chance of finishing. Why not enjoy the privilege and experience?