Monday, August 26, 2013

Ridin' Dirty

So August has turned out to be a pretty busy month.  School supplies being gathered, orientations and Open Houses to attend, plus the usual epic-ness of my life.  Where to start?

Suppose I'll start from the beginning and work my way current.  WARNING:  This is going to be a long-ass post.  I thought about splitting it up, but...nah.

First off, I had oral surgery that put me down somewhat for a few days.  That part of August kinda sucked.  But on the plus side, I got to take a few days off and get some R&R.  Not something I do very often.

I attended an Ohio Horseman's Council State ride, hosted by the Medina County Chapter OHC and held at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  I've been a Wayne County Chapter Ohio Horseman's Council member for 4 years now, and the rewards are plenty.  

It was beautiful, as always.

Home Sweet Home
I'm not sure what got into or out of him, but Guinness was an excellent mount that weekend.  Usually, he's a bit scattered and hot, and more than a little jumpy.  He was hot, but he was sane, so that made for some AWESOME fun rides.

Swishing flies on the high line...chillin'.
Here he is all tacked up and ready to rock!  I use a treeless saddle on Guinness after a lot of headache trying to find a saddle that fit him properly and didn't cause him any back pain.  I want my horse to enjoy being ridden as much as I enjoy riding him, so that means his comfort is one of my very top goals.  

This saddle is a Barefoot Treeless Saddle, and has no rigid components.  It's basically just fluff and memory foam, wrapped in leather.  He seems to like it, and one of my many mottos is "Happy pony, happy rider."  A treeless saddle is not as stable for the rider as a rigid treed saddle, but I haven't had any issues staying on so far. *knock on wood*

Pretty in Pink!
A group of us horsey friends went out and rode together on that Saturday.  The weather was perfect, the horses were all sane and well behaved, even at more robust speeds.  Horses have a herd flight instinct that makes them harder to control the faster you go.  

They get an adrenaline rush, the faster they're traveling and the larger the group, the harder it is to keep them completely under rider control.  It most likely stems from survival instinct, if you see someone running you'd better as well, because something's probably chasing them.  Everybody was in the right frame of mind for a brisk, safe and fun ride.

Happy Trails!
This is one of the many beautiful landscapes that we were treated to that weekend.  I have tons of pictures of scenery, but that would clutter things up on this post even more.

Guinness met a cute blond mare owned by one of my friends.  This was their first time riding together, and I think Guinness may have been a tad smitten.  :)  
She wasn't quite as, ahh....enthused.

Guinness:  "Wanna be my mare-friend?"
Rily:  "Piss off."
This is one of only two pictures taken of me that weekend.  The other was a picture that my smart-ass friends snapped of me on Guinness while he was taking a pee.  
Poor guy, can't get no respect...

After a ride, we like to treat our horses to some grazing time off the line.  Grass contains lots of nutrients and electrolytes that the horses need to stay healthy and have a quick recovery after a hard effort.

Beezley and Guinness mowing the campground.
On to the next bit of epic-ness:

Mountain biking.  WOW.  RCT has been bragging about how awesome mountain biking is for some time now.  I'm always up for something new to try, especially if it involves outdoors, scenic views and the possibility for epic stories afterwards.  

The following picture of RCT was the only picture that I took Friday during my very first mountain bike trail ride this past weekend.  

To say I was nervous and scared would be an understatement.  Like many adults, I learned how to ride a bike as a small child. It's amazing what nerves, adrenaline and being tense can do to destroy your sense of balance and coordination.

RCT let me borrow his single speed Yeti, and off we went.  We rode a 6 mile trail loop at Alum Creek State Park called Phase II.  Luckily, I was in the capable hands of RCT and he guided me through my first off-road cycling experience with gentle patience and expertise.  At the end of the ride I was emotionally fried, but had already decided that I wanted to go again VERY soon!

RCT was eager to oblige, and so Sunday he took me to Clear Fork Reservoir for another short ride on the hills closer to his hometown.  I started off just as hyped as I had a couple of days before, but this time I settled down and had myself under control within the first couple of miles, rather than being wired all the way to the finish.

Picture break!
As a complete novice, there are obstacles that I simply do not have the skill set, nor the confidence to navigate.  STEEP curvy downhills with lots of roots, narrow bridges, jumps, big drop offs, huge log piles, the list goes on.

RCT, on the other hand, can handle it all, big or small with an ease that makes me envious.  The following picture was taken at the top of a gigantic ravine, full of all sorts of deadly obstacles (rocks, roots, washouts), combined with an impossibly steep decent and an equally steep ascent to get out.

Me:  "You're going to RIDE down that?!"
RCT:  "Yep." *grin*
Me:  "Holy f^cking sh!t."
I like to be good at things.  I like to impress people with my short learning curve and physical prowess.  

This time I said "Screw that shit" and opted to walk my borrowed bike down the hill, and drag it up the other side ahead of RCT.  I may have a keen sense of adventure, but I know my limits, and I was determined not to die that day.

I had a hard time not tumbling and sliding down the path on foot, and had to just about crawl one-handed up the other side with the bike in one hand.  After reaching the other side, I was even more convinced that I weenied out at the appropriate time.

Making the decent!
Needless to say, as I watched with my stomach in my throat from the top of the other side, RCT proceeded to expertly navigate the decent VERY quickly, and back out unscathed.  He didn't even die.  (I'm still convinced that I would have.  *points at self*<--Weenie.)

While there are tons of differences between trail riding by horseback and trail riding by mountain bike, one thing remains consistent:  The sights.  Sights like these are what make my breath catch in my throat.  I love it.

RCT and RoadQueen's pedal steeds resting together.
All in all, the only injuries sustained were minor.  Some scrapes from a slow speed flop over, and the shin on the same leg getting whacked on the pedal once.  Not too bad for an epic weekend.  :)

Battle Scars

Ride safe all, whatever you ride!

~The RoadQueen