Tuesday June 14 2022
I opted for riding the City of Rocks Day 3 25 on Hillbillie Willie because… why not? I took pictures on days 1 and 2 (photos are here) and Steve Bradley came and shot day 3 (photos are here), so I was free to ride on day 3.
The 25-mile ride sounded good, and it couldn’t have had anything to do with being whooped with all the ride prep and trail marking (we help Regina put the ride on). I roughly guesstimate that all the trail marking and unmarking on foot that Connie and I do amounts to more than 25 miles each. Over the years Connie and I have got the system down, and we’ve found it’s much easier to just hike to mark and unmark trail than it is to saddle up horses and mark and unmark by riding.
Plus we condition-ride our horses most every day. And I just didn’t want to spend a long 50-mile day in the saddle (this ride is not easy and fast)(unless you're Christoph Schork or David Laws or Gabriela Blakely :), so the 25 sounded just perfect.
I was a bit nervous about the start, since Willie hadn’t done a ride since April 2 and I figured he’d be hot; and saddling up and warming up among the ‘regular’ Endurance riders were 5 “Pony Express” riders who regularly compete in 3-mile races, and they took off like Kentucky Derby starters breaking out of the starting gate!
But Hillbillie Willie walked right on out after them, unconcerned, beside Jill Haunold and Girl, and with Kitty Giles and Lady (who was on her 3rd straight day of LDs), not wound up, not upset that his pal DWA Barack had left an hour earlier on the 50-mile ride. It was going to be a fun day!
We made the loooooong climb through the City of Rocks National Reserve park counterclockwise up to the Indian Grove junction at 7200 feet, you know, the trail with the stunning views, and all the way back down in intermittent rain. Girl was easily able to match pace with Willie’s long legs, the two trading the lead and keeping a comfortable steady pace.
Our only glitch on the first loop was, just as we approached the water trough at Elephant Rock, we rode up on Connie and DWA Barack - Willie’s beloved bro Barack!!!!! - on the 50-mile trail. At the trough the 50s and 25s split, and Willie spent the next 2 miles whinnying for his Beloved Bro and looking over his shoulder (Barack did the same), but eventually he switched his allegiance back to Girl, because she was all business, and she was alright.
After lunch we had a fast-cruising easy 5-mile flat loop in the desert with Jill and Girl, and Willie finished up with a 48 pulse!
And I wasn’t complaining a bit that I did not have another 25-mile loop to ride. :)
I did, however, go out and hike several miles and unmarked a part of the trail that was no longer in use. :)