You guys may be suffering from the weather, but it appears that you are riding on actual (somewhat) maintained trails and dirt roads. At most, you might come upon logging equipment or the occasional mountain biker.
We are riding on the shoulders and in the ditches of paved, two-lane country roads—roads that lead to popular wineries visited by inebriated tourists in sports cars year-round.
Semis are roaring by mere feet away as strange horses (or worse—cows and llamas) charge at the fence lines just a few feet in the other direction.
Walla Walla is a cycling mecca. Bikes silently appear from behind out of nowhere.
Lifted trucks driven by adolescent boy-men rev their engines and honk. Crotch rockets roar past without giving a thought to my fragile body, carefully poised on a living, breathing, fight-or-flight animal.
And before you remind me that I should at least be grateful that it was 65 degrees outside at the end of October, let's be clear. It was 65 and overcast when we started our 10-mile road loop. Five miles out, literally as far from the house as we could possibly get, it began to rain. Not sprinkle, not drizzle. Rain. Heather and I were both soaked. I wrung water out of my short-sleeve shirt. My seat saver was swampy. Our horses were out of sorts, trying to turn away from the rain. Every car, truck and farm implement that went by splashed and sprayed. I could barely see out of my glasses. Blue very nearly lost his cool more than once, including an out-of-control hand-gallop uphill on wet pavement. I didn't try to one-rein stop him because I prefer not to die.
Every road ride is a little adventure like this. And I'm starting to think that the amount of solid "work" that we are able to do is not worth the risk to life and limb.
On the other hand, a road ride costs me much less fuel than a trip to Madame Dorian, Bennington Lake, Harris Park, Cache Hollow, or Ernie's loops up at Biscuit Ridge.
But now that I've actually typed out the pros and cons and am reading them, the idiocy of what I'm doing is pretty obvious. I can always free up enough money for more gasoline. It is harder to scrape up money for a helicopter ride, emergency surgery, a lifetime of physical therapy and the amount of counseling that would make me forget what it felt like to live that scene at the beginning of The Horse Whisperer. You know the one.
The urge to condition my horse might—literally—kill me. How am I only just realizing this?!