March 28 2022
by Nina Bomar
We had a wonderful time at the Cuyama XPRide. It’s such a peaceful place to both camp and of course to ride. Ann Nicholson and the Duck worked extra hard to get three days of trail marked in the rugged terrain, where much of the course cannot be marked by Jeep, but instead must be hiked, ridden by horseback or moto. We were blessed with a bit of water in the creeks, a few assorted wildflowers and plenty of green grasses for trail-side snacking. It was a welcomed surprise, especially considering we’re in the middle of a drought.
The weather was warm and the trail was challenging. It was the perfect combination for a great ride that has seen its 20th year running. The Nicholson’s have nurtured so many special relationships within this small community of ranchers who have resided in the area for many generations. We are blessed to have the opportunity ride through their properties, descend upon their valleys and cruise their mountaintops. The views are always spectacular and this year was just as special as in all the previous ones.
Juan and I got VIP parking so that we could be nearby to help with the cooking and the Duck duties. He ran Juan through a bit of bootcamp during their wild excursions in the Jeep, occasionally sending Juan off to pull ribbons without drinking water. Juan said he had to remind the Duck that he’s not a camel. It’s such a spectacular and unique experience for Juan to get out there and really see the country with a man who knows so much about the topography. They enjoyed many conversations along the way and I get a kick out of seeing Juan in remote places along the trail, enjoying himself, laughing and always learning new things with the Duck.
On Day 1 I rode Niño and he didn’t disappoint. I hadn’t been on him since the 100 miler a few weeks earlier and he was ready to go. Saudii stayed back at the trailer and threw a few whinnies, but they both behaved themselves. Dave Rabe and I rode together and he was on Cocamoe Joe. We never know if we’ll get to stay together, but we seem to have figured out a system that works, and I’m very thankful for our good times together.
Annie made sandwiches for everyone at the lunch stops, which were back at camp and I washed mine down with a cold beer. She spoils us all and wants to make sure everyone feels happy and is enjoying themselves. She also had assorted chips and her infamous ice chest full of candies and chocolate. Juan was mostly out running around with the Duck, but I had it all under control… beet pulp soaked, hay bags filled and water bottles ready to replenish the ones I had emptied.
Day 2 was Saudi’s turn and he danced with joy, while Niño was a bit naughty about being left behind. Dave rode White Cloud and we again had a lovely ride. Poor Cloudy, he still had some heavy winter coat, so we took it easy and got off to climb a few of the big mountains. We took some rest breaks in the shade and allowed the horses time to graze on the sweet baby green grasses. It was a very relaxing 50 miles and I loved it.
By Day 3 it was Nino’s turn again and he was rearing to go. Cocamoe Joe turned on his little crackhead and we zoomed down the trail. I didn’t drink beer at lunch on this day out of fear that I’d might go take a siesta and never get back out on trail. We saved it for the finish, where we celebrated. Juan always loves to greet us with a cold one.
On the final evening Annie splurged big time and provided us all with filet minion, baked potatoes and salad. I got to sit with Caroline De Bourbon and marvel at what a lovely and smart young lady she is. She too rode all three days, finishing in the top five, looking fresh and smiling as if she hadn’t done a thing. She’s an accomplished rider with an impressive ride record and she is an incredibly thoughtful and well mannered person. I loved listening to both her and Dave talk about their rides … hearing his versions and experience and watching her expressions and feeling her fresh and youthful enthusiasm. It was such a treat and a joy to be there and to get to know her a little more and to witness first handedly how Dave continues to influence us all both young and old and always in such a positive manner. It was a great ending to a perfect multi day ride that was filled with so many blessings!