Friday, August 4, 2006

Tevis - Just Another Trail Ride

Friday August 4 2006

It’s like one big trail ride… or is it? If you can forget there’s almost 200 horses and riders here, you can’t miss the atmosphere – there’s a little something extra here at the Robie Park ridecamp. A little more excitement, a little more activity, a little more nervousness maybe… at the ride meeting, everybody listened to the speakers, and everybody cheered when each speaker concluded with, “See you tomorrow in Auburn.”

196 humans and horses will wake up about 4 AM in Robie Equestrian Park on the Western States Trail tomorrow – if they got any sleep at all – and, about an hour later, in the dark, in the dust, in the chaos and excitement, they’ll face west and start heading 100 miles down the Tevis trail.

There’s the young (7 junior riders) and old riders, young and old horses (oldest horse is 26), first timers and 27-timers, the rich and not-so-rich, the scared and not scared, locals and foreigners (3 riders from Japan, 1 from Canada, 1 from Australia, 1 from England), fast riders out to win and slow riders out to just finish; they all have the same goal in mind: McCann Stadium in Auburn within the next 24 hours.

A few statistics to keep in mind: there’s approximately 19,000’ of climbing and 22.000’ of descending to contend with. Just over 50% are likely to reach the finish line. Auspiciously, the temperatures have fallen from the killing digits they were just over a week ago, so the hot canyons will be a bit kinder to horses and riders.

I had to ask the question to a few people: Are you nervous?

The answers:

“Yea, a little nervous.” (Tom Noll on Frank; it’s their first Tevis)

“Heck no. I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be fun.” (Nick Warhol on Forever Dawn GA – Nick’s completed twice; it’s Don’s first 100)

“I’m scared. There’s some hairy places out there on the trail.” (Quenby Dunlap on RC Lazeer – Quenby’s 3rd attempt; Buzz’s first Tevis)

“No! I never get nervous. I’ve been riding horses my whole life – it’s just another trail ride.” (Robert Ribley on Riptyde)

A few people to watch:

Bill Maiche on Holy Smoke. Bill was told, after his terrible car accident in 1982, where he spent 26 months in the hospital, that he’d never ride again. He’s here today for his first Tevis on Holy Smoke, the oldest horse in the ride, at 26. If Bill and Holy Smoke finish, Holy Smoke will tie the record as the oldest horse to complete Tevis.

Seiichi Hasumi, from Japan, riding Fames Baydal BL, has completed Tevis 3 times in a row and is going for number 4. He plans to one day own 10 Tevis buckles.

Quenby Dunlap is riding her crazy horse RC Lazeer (Buzz). She must have nerves of steel to ride this horse on this ride.

Barbara White on JAL Sebastiano is going for her 28th Tevis buckle.

Wild West, or “Willy,” fell off the Tevis trail 3 years ago – fell 500 feet down at Kaput Springs (the trail at the spring went kaput; the spot is also known as Willy’s Falls) and survived. You can still see his scars. Willy and Don Bowen are back to try again, along with Pam Bowen and Whyatt, 3 time finishers.

Tom Noll and the ever popular Frank (who was once maybe Wayne Newton’s horse), Idaho’s Tough Suckers, are Tevis first timers.
Tune into for many stories and photos!

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