2021 Big South Fork
by Tennessee Lane
We finally got home yesterday from our Big South Fork adventure! What a trip, I was happy to have my mom join me (and Griff, Thor, and RockAFeller.)
Long story made as short as possible... we had a great time and it was awesome to see Tennessee (the state) and the Big South Fork Forrest. My ancestors fell in love with that beautiful area long ago, and while I truly enjoyed emersing myself in the rich flora and fauna of those epic trails, I have to say that I am not at all a fan of the HUMIDITY!!!
RockAFeller was unphased by the climate and we had an absolute blast on the 30 miler on Friday. That gave me a sneak preview of the trails I would be riding for the 100, I must confess that I nearly dropped Thor back to the 50miler afterwards (and in hindsight, I should have.)
The trails are awesome, very fun, technical, and stimulating. It is very ACTIVE riding because of all of the erosion. Along with 2-way traffic there were deep, slogging/suctiony muddy patches all along the way, at least one patch per mile if not a quarter mile at a time. There were also washed out limestone gulleys and shelves that we were sliding or lunging up and down, there were extremely rocky stretches, deep sand stretches, and a few fair climbs and decents. I honestly enjoyed the diversity and the challenge but I had some reluctance about navigating it all in the dark toward the end of the 100, particularly the slick, narrow, sandstone chutes that so many horses (not mine) had fallen in during the daylight.
Nonetheless, since Thor had traveled so well and was so ready, I opted to go ahead and start the 100. Of course the day of the 100 was the hottest day of our entire trip, dangit. Thor did awesome, he was strong and forward and very smart about how he was handling each obstacle. He took great care of himself and me, he ate voraciously and drank well. Because of the heat and humidity, we were taking it at a fairly relaxed pace and just tried to stay in our own pocket all day, away from other riders, but there was some leapfrogging anyway.
Regardless, after about 60 miles, I could tell that he was very hot. He was still performing great and had a great attitude, but when he gets hot, his heart rate hangs high no matter how much you cool him. (I found this out after finishing the 102° City of Rocks ride in Idaho, he hangs out around 65-70 despite being otherwise normal and healthy.)
So after cooling him, I took him to the vets and explained his state and my previous experiences with him at hot rides. We walked away smiling, happy and healthy with a Rider Option Pull, and I have no regrets. We enjoyed our time on trail and were relieved. There is a video of Thor immediately after pulling, he looks great and I am so happy to have pulled when we did. I can't risk my golden dreamboat!
The only heartbreaking thing about this pull is the revelation that I will never take Thor to Tevis, it's just too hot. I will only be taking this champ to cooler rides (or at least, not combining hot AND humid.) Unless for some reason they ever delay Tevis till a cooler month again! Here's hoping for that LOL. HUGE THANK YOU to Celeste Turner, Matt, and Julie Figg for helping my mom crew for me!!!