May 6, 2014

50 Miles on Our 40th

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.


  1. Love your wedding photo... Congrats on 40 years!!!! That's SO special.

    That area near Zion is such a beautiful area. We saw some of it (from the road) --and I always have had great memories of our time in that area.

    Sorry you got lost though --but glad you had some help getting back.

    Congrats again.

  2. Wow, what a challenge. Both the 50 mile ride and 40 years with mostly still liking each other. Love your wedding photo. Congrats!

  3. Congratulations on your anniversary.

    I can't imagine 50 miles of riding. I ride once a year at dude ranch type thing and its all I can do to do five.

    I loved the sportsmanship of the lady who helped you guys out. And I love the obvious care you take with your horses. I've never heard of a heart rate monitor for a horse but I can see where it would come in handy.

    You guys continue to amaze me.

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  5. Wow, congratulations both on your 40th anniversary and on the 50 mile finish!! That's a great placing with so many experienced riders and getting lost too. Very impressive!!

  6. Congratulations to you both, not only for your 40th Wedding Anniversary which is fantastic, but also for completing this impressive ride. I enjoyed going along with you and feel I did thanks to your interesting commentary and fantastic photos. Loved the one of your wedding day :)

  7. Happy Anniversary! Your wedding picture is marvelous. Congratulations on both your 40 years together and your 50 mile ride.

  8. Congratulations on your anniversary. We are one year behind you and will not be celebrating with a 50 mile horse race! I would love to see that area though. Janie, you look like a child bride ;-) Brides seem so much older these days than in the 70s.

  9. I wonder how you would've placed if you hadn't taken a wrong turn. Top 25th percent at least, huh? Pretty cool. And nice wedding picture, so cute.

  10. Congrats on your 40th and thanks for sharing the wedding photo. Glad your angel came along for the help-out and you enjoyed your ride.


  11. Congratulations on surviving 50 miles and 40 years!
    I love it that you mostly like each other still. :))

  12. Now that's something. A fifty mile ride and even better forty years together. Not so common in this day and age....:)

  13. Happy Anniversary! Glad you met your goal and handily too.

  14. Congratulations, Janie and Steve - both on the anniversary and on the ride! That's a long way to travel (on both counts!).

  15. PS Will you take offense if I say I love the "old" photo?

  16. What a sweet wedding photo - congratulations on your Ruby anniversary and many congratulations on your 50 mile ride - WOW!!

  17. Oh, my stars. You two are just adorable! Such love in your faces. Congratulations on your 40th -- and your ride! May you have many many more!

  18. What a beautiful bride you were and Steve so handsome. congratulations on finishing your ride. What a good idea to monitor the horses pulse.

  19. Congratulations on your 40th! What a happy milestone!

    Love seeing pictures of your rides.

  20. woohoo! I'm so happy for you 2! And Boss and Coco! And on your anniversary too! whoop whoop!
    - The Equestrian Vagabond

  21. Belated anniversary wishes to you! :D Sweet wedding photo!

    That was quite some ride, and how generous of Angie to stay with you and get you back on the right trail. Congratulations on finishing and doing so well!


  22. WOW. What a feel good post you've shared. Love that you all made it through this endurance ride with a smile on your faces. Wait, you were smiling, right??? What a great thing to do while celebrating 40 years...and mostly liking each other is a great thing. HA HA.
    Love the photo of you as 'children'. Happy anniversary!



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