Friday, August 10, 2007

Tevis 2007: Better late than Never

Ron Chapman

I started riding endurance in March 2003 at the City Slicker. The year before I had called to see if I could ride in a ride at Cave Run Ky. When I called Connie Caudell to ask about the ride, she ask are you qualified, I said I think so. She said this ride is for the National Championship, I said I had never rode an endurance ride but would like to however I doubted I was ready for the N/C. She invited me to come up and help and learn. I went up and stayed all week, marking trail, working in vet checks, putting up tents, and anything else that needed done. It was a great experience, I learned a lot. I also met a lady named Linda Joyner who invited me to come to Memphis in the spring and ride the City Slicker with her. I did and that is another story, but I made it through the 50 and got the turtle award, and was hooked. I now have 265 LD mi. and with my Tevis Completion over 1000 Endurance Miles( My first 100).

I rode in the Daddy's Day Dashin mid June with Cherly Fenton. She had rode the Tevis in 2004 and finished 30th and she gave me alot of encouragement as I told her I planed to try it in 2008.

On monday after Father's Day I got a call from Paul Sidio, a guy I had rode with at a ride and we had shared our dreams about riding the Tevis Cup. He ask me if I would like to ride out to Reno with him, help drive and maybe help crew for him I said I would love to. A week or so later Paul called and said he felt that Barukh and I were as ready as He and Piper were and what did I think about loading and riding in the Tevis. I told him that I would love to but that would put him back to looking for a crew again and I wouldn't do that. He assured me he could get a crew, I said I will give you a week and if you find a crew we will talk but that I really couldn't afford it. The next day, in less than 24 hrs Paul called and said I have a crew and not to worry about the cost just chip in a little on gas since he would have to pull his three horse instead of the two horse so we would have room for hay and tack. (Thanks Paul)

Paul contacted Debbie Parsons and Chip Jack who had crew for the Bowen the year before and both had finished and got their buckle. The Bowens said they were great and they were along with Dovie Pickering we had a better crew than Tony Stewart.

Paul had also arranged for us to stay at Bob and Dovie Pickerings the week before the ride which was great for us and our horses. We were treated soooo good I am afraid to tell it all for fear of having to stand in line if I get the chance to go again. Thanks Bob and Dovie I hope someday you can come our way and we can return the favor. You are super people.

The Tevis was everything I excepted it to be and some, It is a ride like no other, Everything was first class, the ride committee (Most especially Robbin) was great, the volunteers were great, very friendly, very helpful, and everywhere you could want one just look up and thay were there. The Vet staff was so very very good and helpful and great cheerleaders. They no only took care of your horse but gave encouragement and cheered you on.

I rode with a lot of good people , at Last Chance I knew I was half way, was not going to top 10 (which I never thought I would) I felt good, had a lot of horse left and lots of time. At that point I told myself this Buckle is mine, all I have to do is ride smart.

When I left Forrest Hills I was moving right along passing riders in the dark when I came upon three people riding in the dark with no lights on and ask if I could pass when there was room . After riding a little ways behind them I could tell they knew the trail and I had never been on it before. They slowed down at the bad spots and moved out at all the good ones without the help of lights . Some other people came up behind us and ask to pass and when the people in front found a place they let them pass , they ask me if I would like to pass also, I said no, I made one mistake by asking to pass earlier, that I was fine right where I was. It turned out to be Robert Ribley and his wife, both got there 1000 mile Buckles at the award banquet.

We rode into Francisco together, and as I was leaving a little ways down the rocky trail I stumbled upon a lady who seemed sick or ill throwing up on the side of the trail. I asked if i could take her back to the vet check. Of course however she said no thanks that she was too close now to give up! I told her there was no way I would leave her that I would ride with her for what little comfort I could offer. As we rode she could not stand to trot for she hurt to badly, so we walked our horses to Lower Quarry. Not concerned about time, for I was positive we had plenty of time to finish, but worried for her for she felt so horrible. She was now my focus yet still keeping the focus of the ride in my mind. As we rode I became curious and asked her name, Georgianne Gross she told me. She also told me this would be her fith attempt on the Tevis. She had finish twice in the previous four attempts and assured me that we would finish in plenty of time.

When we left Lower Quarry, we trotted to Hwy 89 crossing about 2 miles away. As we went up the little switchback, I heard the sound of a shoe being thrown and prayed I was wrong. However as it was sure enough Barukh had lost his right rear shoe. Now what to do I thought. I tried to get Georgianne to go on without me but she wouldn't have it! For my actions of kindness were now her returning kindness in a new friendship that had formed along this amazing journey. However, with just a mile left , I finally convinced her to go on and wait for me. Reluctantly she rode off ahead and finished three minutes ahead of me and was happily waiting at the end of the long trail by the finish.

I felt so great when i heard the cheering of,Debbie,Chip,Georgianne,and Paul, congratulating me as i rode head held high into the finish!

Paul had finished at 3:20 am it was 4:46am when I got in but he was there with the gang to cheer me home. I got my completion, did my victory lap ,we had made it.

I grabbed a phone and called my wife back in TN to let her know that Barukh and I had made it victory was ours. They were all so proud of us. Our three children had helped their mother keep track of me all day and through the night.

It was very gratifying the next day at the awards when a lady came up and hugged me, and with tears in her eyes she put a face on the voice I had heard in the dark the night before. It was Georgianne and with these words she almost made me cry. She said if it had not been for you I would not have got this buckle. It made it worth it all. Because had it not been for Paul Sidio and the Good Lord I would not have got mine either. So it made me feel good to gave back to someone.

So if you ever get the chance to do this GREAT RIDE called the Tevis Cup Don't pass it up. I promiss you will be glad you went.

God Bless
Ron Chapman

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