Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Do you remember what you were doing in 1970? It was the year the Neel Glass invented the first Easyboot. In Shell, Wyoming, a group of hardcore endurance riders decided to put on a 100-mile race of epic proportions. The event would take the riders from the hot, arid badlands just outside town up into the high mountain pastures filled with wildflowers and wildlife that only a handful of people get to see in a year.
Forty years later, the event is still taking place. Big Horn is the grande dame of endurance rides, now the longest continually running 100-mile race in North America.
What better year to attend? 32 riders took on the good fight this year: their opportunity to stand face to face in front of destiny in the most unpredictable of settings. Big Horn is one of those races that just keeps you guessing from start until the horse steps his hind legs across the finish line.
The ride meeting was held at the community center in town, ten minutes’ drive from basecamp. A local band was playing on the stage when we walked in and a long snake of tables would soon be host to hungry riders and crew. At almost 8 PM, Jeanette Tolman stood in front of the restless crowd to walk us through the trail that lay in wait.
It was past 10 PM when we got to bed, and the 2:30 AM wake-up call came quickly. The 50 and 100-mile riders all started together at 4 AM. 43 riders milled around the start line for the roll call, and soon enough we were out on our controlled start for a mile along a dirt road before we were set free on a two-track road across the badlands towards the great Big Horn mountain range. The pace at the front of the pack was consistent and riders and horses were all speechless with anticipation of what lay ahead. It was thrilling...
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