|View from the Trail|
The Mount Carmel XP ride takes place in southern Utah, just to the east of Zion National Park.
We arrived at the ride camp last Friday evening, planning to ride on Day 4 of the 5 day event. We were entered for a 50 - our first 50 mile event.
Janie rode Boss, since he has a heavy quarter horse build, not ideal for endurance. Steve rode Coco. With Boss carrying a lighter load, the two horses' heart rates (according to pulse monitors) stay almost identical throughout a long, hard ride.
At 7AM when a group of about 50 horses and riders pranced out to the starting point, both of our horses were charged up and ready to go. Steve was in major competitive mode, too.
For the first few miles, the trail was narrow and everyone traveled in a line, moving at a fast trot. The horses didn't start to spread out until the trail widened.
Since the day's high was predicted to be about 85 F, we planned to keep up a fast trot wherever possible for the first few hours, taking advantage of the cool morning. For most of the first half, we stayed with riders who usually finish in the top ten. Just before the lunch break, we stopped for a water break and when we started again, no one else was in sight. We missed a turn and found ourselves a couple of miles down the wrong road. After 30 minutes or so of wandering, we finally found the lunch camp.
|Steve studying map|
We were about to give it up at that point. The ride manager had not been able to download the route to our old model GPS, and the map provided was condensed and a bit difficult to follow. We doubted we could find our way by just following the flags.
Luckily for us, a very kind, considerate and experienced rider named Angie had the GPS route on her unit. She insisted that we WOULD finish the ride, because she was going to stay with us until we did. She was pure guardian angel. We managed to keep up with her and her 5 year old Arab pretty well.
And yes, we did complete the ride! Both horses "pulsed down", meaning their pulses dropped below 60 beats/min, in 5 minutes or less. So they weren't too stressed.
The horses were tired that evening, but perfectly sound, eating and drinking normally. Our human muscles were a little sore, but not much more than after the 25 mile rides we have done before. We felt good when we realized we had come in mid-pack, about 25th out of more than 50 riders. We felt especially good since this ride attracts many Tevis riders. The terrain near Zion is similar to the part of California where the Tevis Cup occurs. The Tevis is a 100 mile ride that is considered one of the toughest in the endurance world. At Mt. Carmel, we rode with people not only from Utah, but from California, Arizona, and Colorado, too. Some riders traveled as much as 3 days to get there. A T-shirt logo we saw at the ride seems like a good motto for this active group: "You can rest when you're dead!"
|40 years ago|
Our ride last weekend coincided with our 40th anniversary. We’re lucky to be in good enough health to stick on our horses for 50 miles. Plus, we mostly still like each other when the rides are done.