Mom woke at 5:30, grimaced, and realized her boys are already moving down the trail, tackling one of the toughest endurance rides in the country. Having crewed for a number of riders, including Mr Bob and firstborn in what were arguably the worst weather conditions ever, I can say truthfully…
They ain’t kidding.
It’ll be foggy, there in the mountains, in the George Washington National Forest. The ride is 100 miles, point-to-point, with steep, dangerous climbs, and rocks, lots of rocks—spanning two states, VA and WVA, and challenging both riders, mounts and crew.
Team Czar has three lovely ladies driving the two-lanes, keeping up, hopping from vet check to vet check, all hurry up and wait, endless waiting. Crews need a special kind of endurance, and a very special sense of humor. They schlepp buckets of water, tons of equipment, coolers filled with ice from the truck to wherever they can set up, close to the vets if possible, sometimes not.
Gnats are the worst, first thing in the morning, in the dew, heavy dew, thick, dense, drowning dew. Nothing but nothing stays dry.
Czar’s a good boy, a real steady eddy, but only if he’s in company. He’s not keen on traveling alone so the trick is to find a compatible trail companion, one who goes the same speed, one young master Czar can get along with. Not always a gimme, as horses have opinions on what’s suitable, and it’s not always clear how they make that judgment.
Firstborn learned long ago not to push it first thing when it’s cool and you’re sorely tempted to make time, to beat the heat, get that first 25 miles under your belt. The OD trail is too tough for that. You can lose the race in that first 25 miles.
So Mom sits and waits on news…