Thursday, September 8, 2011


I had kind of a long holiday weekend. It was my MIL's 60th birthday, so we headed over to Boise on Thursday to celebrate with her. Contrary to popular belief, my natural state is introversion, so it is a test of stamina for me to spend several days in a strange place with unfamiliar people—and without any "alone time." By Sunday afternoon, I had stretched my social graces to the absolute limit. We got home that evening, and I didn't hesitate to tell Brian that he probably wouldn't be hearing from me during the day on Monday. I had a date with Blue. I needed to get out on my own and ride the tension out of my system.

That's normal, right? Using a good, hard ride to clear your mind and drain off the stress? (I hardly know the answer because before I had Blue, riding was a stressful activity too.)

Since I was looking forward to a day of solitude tackling the Cache Hollow/Lincton Mountain loop, it was pretty much inevitable that I would wake up to facebook and phone messages asking me to do that very same loop in a group that afternoon.

Sigh. So much for alone time. One of the (very few) disadvantages to boarding with your main riding buddy is that she can tell pretty easily that you totally ditched her to go off riding by yourself. Luckily, the group plan was for 2:30 in the afternoon. The clock said 11:30 a.m. I had just enough time to squeeze in a solo ride before the group ride.

I took Blue out to Madame Dorian, and we blasted out 5 miles of deep sand trails in blistering noon-on-Labor-Day heat. Yes, it was an hour of driving in order to do an hour of riding under the worst possible conditions, but that's missing the point. It was the wind and the sagebrush and the solitude that I needed. I would have hauled Blue to the ends of the earth just to find a quiet patch to ride on.

We had a steady, fast, happy ride, and were home by 2:32. Not too shabby, if I say so myself.

I had no sooner turned the trailer around in Heather's driveway than she loaded up Bunny and we headed to Cache Hollow to meet Shana.

Shana's husband made a video of her a couple years ago that shows some of the Cache Hollow Road loop. In my opinion, it doesn't capture the difficulty, though.

Google maps doesn't really do it justice, either, so here's a simple illustration:

You Western Washington people are probably rolling your eyes at this little climb, but I grew up in a county in Nebraska where the highest point was about 10 feet above the lowest.

We had some pretty sweaty ponies by the time we crested the hill, but we pushed on past that until my GPS said we'd gone an honest 4-plus miles, all uphill. Then we turned around and flew back down again.

Bunny trotting downhill on good footing is a force of nature. I couldn't clock her because I couldn't keep up. Blue and I were well behind, with Sinwaan somewhere in the middle. Blue and I were pretty well spent after this. He'd done 5 miles of sand that the other two hadn't done, but he stayed willing and soft all the way back down the mountain. He is by no means ready for an LD, let alone a 50, but I like what I see so far. The mind is willing, but the body needs conditioning. We just need more days like Monday to keep stretching the boundaries of his fitness.

And speaking of stretching our fitness boundaries, I started "Couch to 5K" on Tuesday after work. If you aren't familiar with the program, here's an overview. I bought an iPhone app that tells me when to run and when to walk over the course of a half-hour workout. So far, so good. Every step of running under my own steam makes me appreciate my horse all the more.

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