My adventure started, like all adventures, before the actual trip. Last Sunday, I saddled up Tanna for a brisk ride in the uncommonly cool morning. After mounting, he bucked hard and long, putting large bruises on my inner thighs. Then I couldn't stay on any longer so off I flew into the gravel driveway, landing largely on my right shin. Tanna was still bucking like a maniac so I yelled at him to stop and he did. Well, I couldn't let him get away with bucking me off, so I removed his crupper (thinking it was a problem), lunged him, and had several false starts before leading him away from his pasture mate (penned in the back pasture) to mount up. We completed our training ride with no further issues (although my leg was swelling beautifully).
I spent the next 3 days icing my leg and keeping it elevated when possible. I was afraid the injury would keep me from going to Hoosier Daddy. I refused to go to the doctor for fear she would tell me to stay home and not ride.
Finally I was able to decide I could pack and go to Hoosier Daddy as the swelling was minimal.
Friday morning, we loaded up in the rain and were away from home by 11 AM. After about 2 or 3 hours of travel, Tanna began to eat his hay and managed to eat about half of it before we arrived at ridecamp.
As we neared the camp, we began to see signs for Hoosier Daddy. Part of the approach is a somewhat steep hill and pie plates on the side of the road encouraged "I think I can, I think I can." Hehehe. Our first glimpse of the camp made my jaw drop. A trailer city greeted us. A LOT of trailers. Many, many. Way more than I had expected. When we pulled into camp, we were greeted cheerily by Edie Keesee, one of the ride managers. She was also talking about the huge turnout. We were pointed to our reserved camp site and Edie helped guide our trailer into place before disappearing on her next errand.
We spent some time discussing our options for putting up Tanna's metal corral around the hitching post that went with our campsite. Tanna does not do well tied to anything solid. He needs to be in a metal corral or picketed. If he can reach something solid, he will slip his halter. Anyway, so after awhile, Daniel put up the corral and I put hay and water out for Tanna.
Then we went a-lookin'. Ride headquarters was under a large pavilion. The vet check area was set up across the gravel driveway and at the end of one of the barns was the shower area. Showers. Very nice! :-) We greeted Diane Fruth, who was doing the check-in for the Saturday horses. Since I wasn't riding until Sunday she bade me to come back the next day.
We wandered back towards our trailer and stopped by Teddy Lancaster's Running Bear trailer to buy some syringes for a friend. While there we chatted with Teddy for awhile until my eye caught some weird horse boots I had never seen before. Bosana boots. Made of heavy rubber, they were cut down and looked like they wouldn't stay on a hoof. How would these things stay on? Teddy was happy to give me a brochure and explain the concept to me. Apparently, there is a recessed portion of the hoof in the heel where the back of the shoe slides into to keep the boots on. These are not a shoe replacement. More like a shoe pad replacement. Weird. Teddy invited me to bring Tanna back the next day for her to practice putting the boots on. Ok, sure. We were game to be guinea pigs. They just looked so intriguing.
Daniel and I went back to our trailer and finished setting up our camp, met Nancy Cox, our next trailer neighbor, and fiddled around until time for the ride meeting. Even though I wasn't riding until Sunday, ride meetings are fun to see who's there and to get a preview of what I would be doing on Sunday. Especially since this was the first ever Hoosier Daddy Ride. Whoo-hoo!
We were a smidgeon late, but quickly sat down and I took notes on the maps that I had gotten earlier from the registration table. Pulse 64 everywhere, except the finish for the 25s the pulse was 60. Holds of 40 minutes (I thought) and CRIs would be taken.
The vets were introduced. Mike Habel, Rae Ann Mayer and a new-to-endurance vet, Tamara Marheine. Thank you to all 3 for vetting this ride!
Jerry Fruth was the trail Boss (yes, capital B) and explained the trail markings. Every bit of the 50 was marked in orange ribbons and every bit of the 25 was marked in pink ribbons. Those were just for comforting the rider that they were on the right trail. The real directions were on pie plates everywhere. Just follow the street, uh, trail signs. And there were big Xs on pie plates on trails that we were not to go down. It sounded like a neat idea, but trying to follow the map seemed a bit confusing to me. But I shrugged it off because I would get to hear it all again at the next ride meeting.
There were tons of riders! Over 125 horses would hit the trail on Saturday between the 50 mile endurance riders, the 25 mile AERC riders and the 25 mile competitive riders. What a mass of horse flesh! I was glad I was waiting to ride until Sunday, when hopefully the traffic would be lighter.
After the ride meeting, everybody filed up to the table to get their trail permits. We were to keep them on us when we were on the trail. I chatted with a friend I'd met on a previous ride for quite awhile while Daniel wandered off, then came back to get me.
Daniel and I had an electric site, but unfortunately, we were unable to use our electricity because we didn't have a converter from the big 30 amp plug to our "regular" extension cords. We asked around and finally Terry England had one we could borrow. She was parked just a few trailers down from us. We were grateful for the loan since we hadn't even thought that the plugs might be different! Another thing to get from Wal-mart before our next ride! That plug allowed us to have biscuits and gravy for breakfast the next morning as I'd brought along a small toaster oven. Those were very yummy! Thanks, Terry! :-)
We headed for our camper and got Tanna out for a walk around camp. There was plenty of grass, so we let Tanna eat for awhile while wandering around. Finally, I gave him plenty of food, hay, and water and disappeared into our camper for bed.
The next morning I was awake at 5 AM. A bit irritated that I couldn't sleep later, I pulled on a jacket and went to take Tanna for a walk. Everything looked foggy and hazy as I tried to see without my contacts. Daniel was still sleeping and I didn't want to wake him by banging around to get my contacts and I had left my glasses at home. I let Tanna graze for a long time and watched the camp wake up and begin preparations for ride day.
I then returned to my camp and settled Tanna in with some beet pulp and I settled into a chair with my laptop and my cell phone to attempt to get my email. Daniel stayed asleep and the horses started passing up and down the road to warm up. I still did not have my contacts on and I try hard not to squint so I was largely oblivious to who was actually passing our camp. If you passed me and expected me to greet you, I probably couldn't SEE you! :-) Tanna nickered once at some horse, so he must have recognized somebody.
After awhile, the camp grew quieter and I knew the 50 milers had left on their first loop. I packed up my laptop and headed for the showers. Ah, how nice to have a hot shower on a cool morning! I knew I would look forward to a shower after my ride the next day.
After having a leisurely breakfast with Daniel, we headed to Teddy's trailer to play with the Bosana boots. Tanna was pretty good except he kept wanting to bow for Teddy when she picked up his foot! I had been playing around with him earlier and I guess he thought he was still being asked to bow. I laughed at him and told him to cut it out. Teddy measured his front feet and we chose a boot size based on the chart in the boot brochure. Tanna was right on the edge of the sizes, so we went with the larger size. Teddy easily slipped the boots on. A success for her first time putting the boots on! :-)
Tanna stumbled the first couple of steps and then had no more trouble with them. Teddy suggested I head out on the trail to try them out. Daniel and I walked and trotted Tanna up and down the gravel road for a little bit and then I went to get ready for a ride.
When I mounted, Tanna gave his bucking signs and I was rather scared of him, not wanting to repeat the previous week's injuries. I dismounted and adjusted the bridle and checked for anything unusual. I saw nothing, so remounted. Tanna still acted idiotic, so Daniel led him around until I felt comfortable enough and we took off. Once we got started Tanna stopped his threats and continued on happily.
Tanna and I headed out the way the 50s would come in for the finish. I was planning a 9 hour ride time (excluding holds) for Sunday and knew that after that long, Tanna and I would welcome recognizing where we were and that we were close to "home." We walked, trotted and cantered our way along the trail having fun. I periodically checked to be sure I still had the Bosana boots and went out about 2 miles. When I turned around, I noticed that one of the boots had come off. So I walked back the way we'd come looking. I finally found the thing in the middle of a muddy bog. Ugh. I dismounted and retrieved the boot. I scraped off some of the worst of the mud and clipped it with a caribinger to the back of my saddle. Then we continued back down the trail. After just a few minutes, the OTHER boot came off. Grr. So I backtracked until I found it lying at the edge of a muddy bog. I repeated the process of scraping mud and clipping the boot to my saddle. Unfortunately, I didn't do a great job of clipping the boot and it jumped up and smacked me at every trot stride, leaving my tights muddy.
I managed to ignore the boots and continued on. When we got out on the gravel road where the finish line was, I leaned over Tanna's neck and sent him flying towards the finish line. Unfortunately, during the time I'd been on trail, the finish timers had arrived to be sure and catch the first 50 milers coming in from their ride. Tanna and I were unprepared for the sight of them, so we spooked hard to the left. Fortunately, there was a clearing and a trail to the left, so I was able to get Tanna back under control before we hit any trees. I circled back to the timers as they were calling out for my number. I smiled and told them I was just practicing for tomorrow and apologized for making them think I'd come in first. Then I sent Tanna back down the trail and came back at the finish line at a fast pace and kept my leg on him to keep him on the trail. Mission accomplished, I headed back to camp with the muddy boots.
I unsaddled Tanna and put him in his corral to eat, drink and be merry. And I settled down with a bucket of water and a scrub brush to clean up the Bosana boots. They were going back to Teddy immediately. I figured we should have chosen the smaller size. It took quite awhile to get the sticky, clinging mud from the boots. I managed to get most of it off and then Daniel and I headed to Teddy's trailer to return the boots. She urged us to bring Tanna back and we'd try a different size boot.
So we brought Tanna back and this time we chose a size 00 boot rather than a size 1. Teddy sprayed silicone spray on the boots to make them go on easier and these boots looked like they would fit much better. We discovered that the side to side measurement on these boots, at least for Tanna, was much less important than the toe to heel measurement.
I expressed my reluctance to try the boots on the actual ride. I wasn't concerned very much about rubbing, I didn't see much of how they could rub (although, there is always a way!), but I was more worried about having to keep track of boots when I wasn't sure they would stay on. So I took the boots with me and I will try them out over the next few weeks to see how they handle. I won't be riding Tanna for about 2 weeks, but he will be getting some round pen and back-to-the-basics ground manners refresher courses and I will likely put the boots on for those sessions to see how he handles them. If, IF I like the way the boots fit, I might try using them for a loop or two at Summer Breeze. We shall see. (www.bosanaboot.com for those interested in looking at them.)
I turned Tanna back into his pen, leaving the boots on his feet. Daniel and I figured it couldn't hurt to leave them on him in the pen. If he managed to remove them just wandering around, I definitely wouldn't want to ride in them anyway!
We ate lunch and then I laid down to take a nap. After waking up, I went out to check on when I could register for the ride. 4 PM. I had a little bit of time so I fiddled with tack and killed time before going to check in. I got my ride card in short order and returned to get Tanna for his vet in. I had to remove the Bosana boots and after a few minutes of contemplation and consulting the boot brochure, the boots were off with little effort. Hmm. Hope they stay on during riding! :-)
Tanna and I headed to the vet in. Daniel was napping, so I was on my own for a bit. Tanna was not happy about the caution tape that was strung to mark the vet area. I guess he can read and was worried there was something to be cautious about. I teased him and chatted with the lady in line behind me. When it was my turn, I chatted with Dr. Mike and trotted my horse out. He vetted in with all As and I led him back to the trailer.
I double-checked my tack and did some work on my saddle. Then I got Tanna some food and braided his mane while he ate and grazed. Finally, Daniel woke up and we ate quickly and went to the awards/dinner/ride meeting. We didn't eat with the others because this ride had the meal as an extra cost (which I like as we don't often eat the ride meals being vegetarian and it means I'm not paying for food I don't eat).
With so many riders, the awards took a very long time. I don't remember the exact numbers, but the completion rate was high. Over 90%. It was almost dark before we made our way back to our trailer. Daniel and I took Tanna out for another grazing walk before going to bed. I set my alarm to 1 AM and went to sleep.
Sometime during the night, I woke up and looked at my clock. It was 2 AM. I had slept through the alarm? Nope, the alarm had messed up and didn't go off. Oh, well, still plenty of time to feed Tanna. I had only planned to get up and give him more beet pulp, but while the feed was soaking, I decided to walk him around to graze. An hour later, I crawled back into bed, with Tanna full of grass and munching beet pulp.
At 5 AM, I was up again, this time "for real." I dressed quickly and headed out to saddle Tanna. As I was brushing and prepping him, I saw Ed Kidd heading toward me with a lead rope in his hand. He informed me his horse had escaped overnight and I expressed sympathy. It was hard to believe Merlin would go anywhere on his own with so many horses and so much grass around. But Ed said he'd been all over camp and didn't find him.
I continued to saddle my horse and Daniel ended up going with Ed in his truck to see if Merlin was down the road somewhere.
Start time was 6:30 AM and I was in the saddle by 6:15. Now a huge thanks goes out to Susan Vuturo here for helping me mount my bucking bronco. Since Daniel was out with Ed, I expressed to Susan (who was parked right next to me), my reservations and fears about getting on Tanna unaided. She immediately volunteered to lead him around by a lead rope after I mounted and help keep him under control until I felt ready to handle him. It only took a minute or two and I was comfortable with Tanna enough to go off on our warm-up. Usually if Tanna is going to explode into a bucking fit, it is within the first 2 minutes of mounting.
I warmed Tanna up back and forth on the road, chatting with other starters and crooning to Tanna to keep him calm. I was planning to go out with the pack, but somewhat in the back of the pack. Since Tanna had been doing so well at starts, I thought we could start with the pack. WRONG! Tanna did ok, but was being fidgety right at the start. As we passed the lake where the photographer was taking pictures, I was sure the picture would be horrible as Tanna and I discussed our speed options. (The picture turned out great and I bought it later.)
To avoid about 3/10 of a mile on pavement at the start, the Keesees had obtained permission to route the start through a new trail that I think is private property. The trail had been broken through on Friday morning, but was in good shape. Single track. I was about 13th or 14th in line of about 20 riders. I was doing my level best to keep Tanna off the mare in front of us. For some reason, he thinks if he is more than 6 inches behind the horse in front of him, he is losing.
I thought I was doing fairly well at keeping him back. He thought I was keeping him too far back and took advantage of an imbalance on my part to buck me off. Not sure what he thought that was going to accomplish as he didn't even run anywhere. I rolled under him and he managed to keep from stepping on me and I just jumped up and grabbed the reins. The riders behind me thoughtfully stopped and gave me words of encouragement as I remounted on my shaky legs. We took off again as soon as I was mounted and again with the fighting to keep him off the mare. Sheesh. I hadn't come 1/2 mile and I was ready to go back!
When the trail opened up, I was sure he would pitch another fit. Thankfully, he did not. We were still fighting, but no more bucking for the day. Whew!
After awhile I found myself in a group of 5 horses. We were trotting and cantering by turns. Well, the horses in front were mostly trotting that I saw, but Tanna and another mare were cantering more. We were booking right along. About 45 minutes into the ride, I figured we'd had enough of going that fast, so kept an eye out for a good place to pull off and get off Tanna. After another 5 minutes or so, I saw the perfect place and hopped off. The rider in front of me called back to make sure I was ok (as she had seen me fall off earlier) and I called to her that we were going to go slower.
I took a pit stop and tried to get Tanna to eat as I walked along on the ground. Uh, no. No, no, no. He wasn't interested at ALL. He ate about 2 bites and that was it. I was frustrated and after 15 or 20 minutes, finally tossed the food (rather than try to get it back in ziplock bags) and stuffed the collapsible bucket back into the pommel bag. I remounted and we took off at a good trot.
We spent the remainder of the loop pretty much by ourselves until about a mile or so out. There were other horses in sight sometimes, but mostly not. We caught up with the young mare Tanna had been trying to tail-gate when he threw me and rode in with them to the vet check.
The first loop was 18 miles. We did that loop in 2 hours 11 minutes. 8.25 mph. Faster than I would have liked, but I really didn't feel like Tanna was taxed or worn out. Daniel met us at the vet check and Tanna pulsed down in 3 minutes. His CRI was 56/48 and received a B- on guts, an A- on skin tenting, and a B+ on jug refill, As on the rest.
We immediately headed to our trailer not far away and I noticed Ed Kidd's truck was gone. His horse had been found fairly close to the camp at a neighbor's. I decided to leave the saddle on during the 40 minute hold, although I should have at least straightened the saddle pad. It was still under the saddle all around, but a bit crooked, but I didn't notice that until after being on the 2nd loop for awhile. We sponged and Tanna ate 3 or 4 apples and a few wisps of hay. A few bites of beet pulp. Nothing to get excited about and he didn't want to drink anything. He'd drank about 3 or 4 sips on the trail, but nothing like I wanted out of him. I think he thought he was done.
I was energized and bounced around during the vet check and only sat for the last few minutes. I gave Tanna some electrolytes and switched his bit for his hackamore. Daniel helped me mount and made sure Tanna would behave himself and off we went.
My plan was still to do a 9 hour ride time for this ride. Which meant we were going to slow W-A-Y down. The second loop was 16.5 miles, so I figured I could do the loop in 3.5 hours. We moseyed on down the trail alone. Tanna was doing well. Strong, confident, happy. He did not drink, though. I was irritated and worried that he would not drink. I tried at most of the water opportunities, but he wasn't interested.
At one point we saw a couple riders headed back towards camp. I thought they were going the wrong direction, but they weren't! I had gotten my loops mixed up in my head and forgot which loop I was on. Goofy, April. I mean, I knew I was on the 2nd loop and I had been following the trail signs for the 2nd loop, but the map layout I had in my head was for the 3rd loop!
Shortly after we saw the riders, I passed an intersection that confused me. I was going straight, but a trail T-ed into the trail I was on. I was not sure if I should go straight or turn. So I pulled out my handy map of loop 2 and puzzled over it for a minute or two. I finally decided to make the turn and after I did so, I noticed a pie plate stapled flat to the top of a stump pointing for me to turn. Ok, so at least I made the right decision! I remounted and turned down the trail.
We continued to meander down the trail until I decided it was time for a pit stop for me. I hopped off and led Tanna a bit into the woods. We both took care of business and returned to the trail before a pair of riders I could hear coming from the opposite direction were in sight. We continued at a leisurely pace and I was getting quite concerned that Tanna was not drinking. It was well after 25 miles at this point and he should have been drinking long before now. But he still refused water. Even good water that looked like I might drink it, much less him.
When the trail looped back around to our pit stop place, I again stopped for a pit stop and checked Tanna's gut sounds. Not dead, but not the best either. I spent several minutes trying to get him to drink and sponging him off. I began to despair and decided we should probably pull at the next vet check. Tanna can take 15-20 miles to start drinking, but it had been at least 28 or 29 miles and he was not drinking and that bothered me very much. His attitude was good, his step was brisk, he was alert, his heart rate was normal. But his guts were a little quiet and he was not drinking.
We continued on and I began to earnestly look for grass for Tanna to eat. At this point, I don't remember if we found grass first or what, but around noon or so (5.5 hours after the start), Tanna and I were trotting along at a steady, but slow pace. I was day-dreaming and letting the reins dangle. Tanna glanced at a nasty looking lake to our left and kept trucking on. But not 100 feet down the trail, he stopped dead in his tracks and eagerly sucked up nastier stinky water from a hoof-print in the mud. I said, ok, fine, if you're going to drink yucky water, at least choose the BEST yucky water! And the source with the most water.
So I gathered the reins and urged him back to the lake. He did not want to go down the steep bank and we had a discussion about that. He backed up in response to my asking him to move forward, so I immediately changed my tactic and asked him to back down the trail. Tanna thought that was fine...until he ran into a tree. Then he decided I won and we'd go down the bank to the lake. As soon as he got his head down, he drank and drank and drank and drank some more. I could have cried from relief.
I checked his back legs to be sure his run-in with the tree hadn't hurt him and then we walked down the trail for a little bit to let the water settle in his stomach.
We came out where there was some grass and I hand-walked Tanna and kept asking him to eat grass until he saw some other riders leaving out on their 3rd loop. After that, asking him to eat was just a waste of time, so I mounted up and continued into camp.
We did that 16.5 mile loop in 3 hours 20 minutes (4.9 mph). Much closer to my estimation than our first loop had been. He, of course, pulsed down quickly and we vetted in. His CRI was again 56/48. His score was about the same as the first vet check except his attitude and impulsion were down.
Daniel and I took him back to the trailer and he ate quite well. He ripped into his hay and ate a bit of beet pulp and drank more water. Whew. I wasn't going to pull him if he was going to eat and drink like that. We could get through the last 15.5 miles. He ate for about 40 minutes of the hour long hold. I had thought both holds were 40 minutes, but thankfully, the second hold was 1 hour. I sure wish he'd eat like that on the 1st hold!
My second mistake (the first being starting with the pack instead of after it) was not electrolyting Tanna like I should have. I usually electrolyte before the start, at each vet check and at least once in the middle of each loop. Well, I had decided to not electrolyte during the loops. I think if I had, he would have drunk more sooner. Because he did drink a few sips on the first loop, I would have been ok to electrolyte him. I deviated from our routine to see how it would go and it didn't go well. So for the 3rd loop, I went out armed with 2 oz of EnduraMax and applesauce mixed in a syringe.
We took our time about the 3rd loop, too. There was a rider behind me still to leave the vet check and I thought she wasn't far behind. So I dilly-dallied a bit, hoping she would catch me and we could ride together. I stopped often to let Tanna graze and offered water. He drank within 45 minutes of leaving camp and I electrolyted him an hour after being out. After awhile, I decided that the rider just wasn't coming, so I became more dogged in our pace, but still allowing plenty of time for grazing when there was grass.
Around 4 PM, my MP3 player crashed to the ground during a dismount and no amount of coaxing could entice it to come back on. I had been listening to it for all of the 2nd and 3rd loops. But, since it was dead, I removed it from my belt and stuffed it into my pommel bag and continued on.
I began to get bored and Tanna and I both perked up when we reached the part of the trail we had pre-ridden the day before. Less than 2 miles to the finish! I glanced at my watch and realized that we were on target to do our 9 hour ride time after all. We trotted onto the gravel road and I toyed with the idea of cantering in for the finish, but nixed that idea when I saw Dr. Mike's van headed towards me. He got out of the van and clapped as I finished our ride.
I was the last rider out and he had come to be sure I didn't feel left out since the timers were not there. He gave me my ride time. 5:05 PM. Taking out the holds, that gave me 8 hours 55 minutes ride time. Heheh. Pretty close to my 9 hour goal after all!
I trotted Tanna out to the pavement and then dismounted and led him to our camp. I stripped him and sponged him off really well before continuing on to vet out. His impulsion and attitude and guts were still about the same, but his jugular refill had improven all the way to an A. The vet cautioned me about his guts and I agreed, saying Tanna would get plenty of food and he would probably eat it. I hadn't been happy with his eating and drinking, but was sure he'd be fine.
Daniel and I returned Tanna to his pen and went to look at the pictures taken. There were 3 nice ones of us (and two pretty bad ones when I was off-balance and fighting with Tanna near the beginning). So we bought the 3 nice ones and I got my t-shirt completion award.
All the vet cards were being kept and would be mailed out later. However, I like to have my vet card to analyze after the ride, so Daniel got his camera and took pictures of each side of my vet card for me to look at later. Solved that problem quite quickly. :-)
Still dressed in my ride clothes, I got Tanna from his pen and Daniel and I took him for a stroll. There were not nearly as many people in camp. Most everybody had left during the course of the day. I normally didn't go into the primitive camping area simply because there was lots of grass in the main campground, but we decided to wander through the primitive field for awhile.
As we were passing one trailer, I heard somebody call out to me. It was Eva de Paulis! She and Roger were sitting in front of their trailer passing the time and Daniel and I sat and visited with them for quite awhile while Tanna ate grass around us. Kinda sad when you have to travel 6 hours to visit with friends that live an hour away! LOL. Eva had come in first and I had come in last. We had a great visit, but eventually had to take our leave. I still hadn't had a shower, changed my clothes or had my supper yet and it was getting dark. Tanna had gotten a good lot of grass while we chatted.
The next morning, we loaded up and headed back home. We returned Terry's electricity converter and thanked her. She responded by giving me some horse cookies that my horse likes. I will have to figure out where to get some of those! :-) Thank you, again, Terry! Email me so I can find out how to get more! :-)
What an absolutely great place! The temperatures were awesome! Upper 70s, maybe lower 80s on Sunday, and low humidity. The bugs got Tanna and me while we were out later on Sunday afternoon, but not too bad. The camp ground was nice. Barns (with stalls a bit on the small side, but sufficient), electric and water at the camp sites, a hot shower, friendly owners. The ride management was great! Edie and Ken Keesee handled the huge turnout well and were very sweet the entire time, even though they must have been dead tired from all the work. The trail markings were great. I love pie plate directions. And I especially like the big X plates to keep me from going down the wrong trail. Short of roping off trails I shouldn't go down, it doesn't get much easier than that! I only had to consult my maps twice the entire time and never once got lost. The trails were very nice. Great footing. Some short stretches of gravel road. Water along the trail. Most of the trail was in the shade, which was very nice for me being out in the hottest part of the day. Just great. I will definitely have this one on my calendar for next year. Thanks to all the volunteers that helped put this ride on. Thanks to the vets, Dr. Habel, Dr. Mayer, and Dr. Marheine. And a big thanks to the Keesees. I had a great time!