Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Oregon 100 (Part 1: Pre-ride)

Digression the first.

So what happened with the blog is that Brian had a relapse. Maybe you remember, maybe you don’t, but he had been having chest pains bad enough to land him in the hospital a couple times this Spring. Over the summer, that was mostly quiet. And then, suddenly at the end of August, everything kind of went to hell all at once again.

As you may have guessed, I find this recurring illness both scary and annoying, like a spider in my hair. He’s fine. He didn’t land in the hospital this time (knocking very hard on wood) and seems to be on the mend again. The antibiotics and painkillers seem to knock it out. What I want to know is why it keeps happening.

Maybe we’ll talk about it at greater length another time. (I know how much horse people like to research obscure equine health ephemera, so surely some of you know of an uncle’s cousin’s brother’s secretary who had tubercular pericarditis.) (I don’t actually know if that’s what it is.) (I just can’t help looking at symptoms online.) (Even though my day job frequently involves telling people not to use wikipedia to self-diagnose.)

Digression the second.

September 8 was the Waldo Hills Heritage ride. It’s a 12-ish mile trail ride in the hills outside Silverton. Many of the endurance people in the area use it as an opportunity to introduce young, inexperienced horses to low-speed group riding.

While Blue and I were dawdling around the parking area waiting for Kara to tack up her youngster, we ran into Brenda. She offered us a ride to Oregon 100. I had been hoping she might have space, since riding with someone else saves me a little gas money and often means I can pare down my packing to the bare minimum.

Well that all would have been great except a couple days later Brenda got one of the worst yellowjacket stings I’ve ever seen. She couldn’t get her foot into a riding boot, let alone put weight on it.

So I was back to square one. I didn’t have a ride and my husband was seriously ill.

But, dammit, I already missed Bare Bones and Santiam. I was going to do the 50 at Oregon 100 if it killed me!



I had been working under the assumption that I would be doing a 50 at the Oregon 100. Both because I had heard it was a relatively easy ride and because I am sort of trying to legitimize myself as an “endurance” rider.

Well, as Brian’s health became scary and I started to feel the walls closing in, I thought maybe an LD would be a better choice. Neither of us was sleeping well, I hadn’t been to the barn all week, the stress was making me feel less than stellar. And then Brenda got stung, and I was suddenly back to driving myself. Another  50-mile ride all alone in an unfamiliar place seemed… not so awesome.

I really only needed to give myself permission to wuss out and do the shorter distance. Facebook presented an opportunity in that respect: Someone was looking for a sponsor for a junior in the LD. Although I’ve never sponsored a kid before, I decided to call it a sign and offer my help.

The drive from Silverton to Brothers is mostly a straight shot—a shot that takes about four hours and during which one experiences no fewer than three micro-climates. Going from the gray, misty, heavily forested foothills of Western Oregon to the Ponderosa high desert above Bend and then on to the shockingly barren “real desert” of central Oregon is really something.

Real desert.

The turnout surface of a barefooter's dreams.
The Oregon 100 takes place on a chunk of property that boasts a single living tree. Everything else is this talcum-consistency moon dust topped with a layer of kitty litter gravel and sagebrush. That is pretty much all you see in most directions. There are dark, mysterious mountains on the far horizon, but mostly this area has an excess of sky. It reminds me more of my Nebraska childhood than it reminds me of Walla Walla. But, oh, the smell. The sage-and-cedar smell on the wind was wonderful.

And the animals! Sorry no pictures, but I saw a herd of pronghorn antelope on the way to camp, and met a cute little horned lizard after I parked. The coyotes sang us to sleep at night.

I like the wooded mountains where we live now. I like the ocean (where we spent labor day). I like the cliffs in the gorge. I like the desert. I can only conclude that I like variety. Oregon has plenty of variety. Ergo (Latin!), I’m fond of it.

Blue seems fond of it too. There’s no way to know what he remembers of his foal-hood, but he was born in a place a lot like the course of OR100… probably within 40 miles of ride camp. He certainly knew to eat the bunchgrass and keep his eye on the horizon.


  1. Woah, the ridecamp sign is epic. LOVE the desert, hope you took lots of pics!

    Poor hubby :(

  2. Sorry to hear about Brian, but I'm glad you are able to stick to your riding plans. It sounds like you need a way to enjoy yourself and just be one with nature for awhile. And so cool that you're sponsoring a junior. Can't wait to hear how it goes!