Llano Estacado Challenge – 2012

By: autumn   /   Aug 01, 2012   /   Blog, Ride Stories   /   No Comments
Kenlyn Pristine

LLANO ESTACADO – LAKE MEREDITH

June 16th & 17th 2012

June 15, 2012:  Kenlyn Pristine, Deals Midas Moon and I headed northwest to Lake Meredith north of Amarillo for two days of riding some of my favorite trails.  I had not been to Llano Estacado since… I’d have to look it up; it’s been at least two years, probably more like three years.  This ride site has some history and memories for me with one particular year being “stuck” there for four days due to flooding rain that kept us all in the valley-like camp ground, unable to get out.  This ride used to be held toward the end of September and in the last three years has been moved to June.  And there have been many improvements made over the last decade with not only road work, but now the addition of covered picnic tables and a permanent bathroom.  The trails are absolutely gorgeous.  If you have ever been in the Amarillo/Dumas, Texas area, you know the terrain is, well, flat.  Not at Lake Meredith though.  As you enter the park, you drop down into a valley with canyon-like formations.  Very pretty.

After getting a semi late start on Friday morning, we arrived in camp around 3:30 p.m.  It had rained quite a bit in the days prior including Thursday night so the ground was boggy and it was humid.  I set up camp rather quickly and was able to get Kenlyn Pristine vetted just prior to the ride meeting.  The forecast called for near 100-degree temps but not more rain.  The plan was to ride Kenlyn Pristine Saturday in the 50-miler and then Deals Midas Moon Sunday in the 50-miler.  The loop order was to do 20 miles, 10 miles and then 20 miles.  They put the 10-mile loop in the middle because it did not have any water available on it other than one trough about a mile out of camp and they didn’t want the last loop of 50 miles to be “dry” in the heat of the day.

June 16th; 6:00 a.m.:  There were 26 starters in the 50 with 24 finishers.  Kenlyn Pristine and I started out toward the front with four other riders.  It was a bit of a yo-yo for me as we would move out on the flat and then drop back to slow down on the hills, only to catch back up with the other four on the flat… she didn’t care much for the “easy girl” on the hills part, but she listened fairly well, or at least my hands weren’t too blistered!  All five of us came in off the first 20 miles about the same time in approximately two and a half hours.  I was a bit trepid about the pulse criteria of 60 beats/minute with the temps, but I was pleasantly surprised that she pulsed down quickly.

On the next ten miles, there were three of us up front and this was a technical 10 – with no water.   Well, approximately one mile outside of camp, there was a trough, but of course my horse didn’t care much for that as she just left camp.  It was warming up fast and the loop took us an hour and 40 minutes – with no water.  My mare tanked up really well, but when you’re giving electrolytes and there is no water offered and it’s getting hot… well, not the best-case scenario.  She took a little longer to meet criteria, but she vetted through great.  The other two riders pulsed down at the same time, so we were all out for the last 20 miles at the same time.

Kenlyn Pristine

This last 20 was hot, hot, hot.  The three of us rode together in its entirety and it overall took three hours.  I got off to walk some of the steep hills – I figured if we are walking, I might as well get off to walk and help my horse out.  My legs begged to differ with that idea and on the last hill, I didn’t quite make it to the top before I had to get back on… maybe I should do more cross-training, eh?!!

Kenlyn Pristine on the last loop

About 1.5 to 2 miles out from the finish, the other two riders decided they were going to race for first.  Because they were both in the featherweight division and I am already getting first for lightweight, I chose not to take that “extra” out of my horse (in addition to racing 50’s not being my goal this year and, thus, not benefiting in the “big picture”), so I stayed back much to my horse’s dismay – I think she wasted just as much energy holding her back as she would have if I had just let her race in!!  I ended up coming in three minutes after the other two for a 3rd place finish and first Lightweight!  Yay!!  It was a hot, hard ride (hard for us flat-landers) and I am very, very proud of my little purple pony – she is a tough girl.

I, on the other hand, was exhausted!!  I did not take good care of myself – I felt great during the ride, but later crashed pretty hard.  I tried something different and that is a new “electrolyte” replacement that is low-sodium but loaded in B vitamins.  I know better than that but now I really know.  Also, the thought of food made me nauseous and I should have forced myself to eat, but I really had no desire to.  I strictly drank protein drinks and the new drink… not so smart.

I vetted in Deals Midas Moon for Sunday, ate dinner and went to bed, albeit later than I should have as I was busy talking with my new neighbors.

June 17th; 6:00 a.m.:  I have just opened my eyes at 6:00 on the dot… what time is it?  Crap – I start at 6:00 a.m.  Why didn’t my alarm go off?!  I scramble out of bed and while I am trying to get my brain cells going, I am indecisive on whether to start the coffee first or feed the horses.  What do I do?  If you are not checked in by start time, you don’t get to start.  Should I try to switch to the 30-miler and at least get some conditioning done?  They start at 6:30 a.m.  I really need some coffee… definitely need some coffee.

Tow Truck

I stepped out of my trailer to find mud, mud, mud.  It had rained and hailed during the night and it was a mess!!  Rain wasn’t in the forecast!  Maybe it was an excuse, but I decided the trails are going to be a mess… and I’m tired.  I’m really tired.  I’ll just take Deals Midas Moon out for a 20-mile loop later after it dries a little – at least he will get ridden.

I proceeded to drink a whole pot of coffee, take a nap, put on my mud boots and start packing up to go home.  I might as well go home and not waste a whole day driving home on Monday.  Many people were doing the same and quite a few people were stuck and acquired the help of a tow truck.  I was blocked in by other rigs being pulled out, so I waited, and waited, and waited.  Around 1 p.m., I had a clearing and figured it was dry enough for me to pull myself out since I have 4WD.  That didn’t go so well so I recruited the help of a gentleman who looked like he would do a better job than I was doing – I don’t use 4WD very much!  After a lot of work, he was able to get it out without the help of the tow truck so all was good and we were on our way home.  And I’m still tired!  In fact, it took me about three days to get over this one – I will definitely do better next time!!  Although I am very disappointed in myself for not waking up and not taking care of myself, I am very, very proud of my mare again for giving me a great ride on Saturday!

Kenlyn Pristine keeping an eye out post ride

Next stop:  Camp Carl at Lake Carl Blackwell in Stillwater, Oklahoma on June 30th.  See you there!!

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