Wednesday, September 7, 2016

In which Jason rides along with us and helps our horses learn new skills

 Duana's husband Jason is a hardcore mountain biker
currently recovering from shoulder surgery.

He wanted to come along on our Sunday Trot, and we were happy to have him.

He's back on the bike and ready to crash it again.  Sigh.

Well, the riders were happy to have him along.  The horses, especially Fiddle, were deeply dubious and slightly knotheaded about having a bicycle in the group.  

We started with Jason behind the horses by six or seven lengths, but that was too "predatory," according to the Dragon.  

Okay, then.

We frequently meet bikes on the trails where we ride.  Most are lovely people
who pull their bikes off to the side, and feed our ponies cookies on request
(we carry cookies to hand to bikers for this purpose)

We know that the horses aren't afraid of bikes on the trail, and we know that they aren't afraid of Jason (Fee saw J in the parking lot and immediately picked up a front foot as a "trick" so he would feed her a cookie).

So, we moved the pieces around, and put Jason in front.

Jason is definitely not scary when we approach him

With the bicycle in front, we can approach at our own speed.

Jason was very patient with this process, and kept talking as we rode
so Fiddle could hear a familiar person speaking


Still chatting, Fee and I trotted down the trail with the bike beside us

the bicycle became part of the herd.  

fully integrated
 We played the "Pass-me/Pass-you" game.  Jason zoomed down hills, and we zoomed up them.

And best of all, during bear season:

"Mister Bear Bait" leads the way

it's good to go out on the trails with friends.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

In which un-marking a trail goes quicker than building (or riding) it!

I have written many times about the effort that goes into building and preparing a trail for an endurance ride.  There are links HERE (2010)  HERE (2013)  and  HERE (2015).

But so far, I haven't written about the process of taking a ride apart after the event.  So, here ya go.

Trail crew: Aarene and Jim and Jim and Erin and Roo and Foxie

The citizens in Spokane are very protective of the excellent trail system at Riverside State Park.  I don't blame them--it's a beautiful park.

HOWEVER, when people take it upon themselves to TAKE DOWN THE RIBBONS THE DAY BEFORE A RIDE they cross the line from "helpful citizens" to "deliberate saboteurs."

And seriously, it's not needed.

Santa Jim un-marks the trail at Mt Spokane/Riverside

Fifteen minutes after the last riders cleared the northernmost loops at the Mt Spokane/Riverside ride last weekend, Santa Jim and I began taking the markers down.

The signs we post at trailheads and major trail intersections say that all ribbons, lime marks, manure and water tanks will be removed by two days after the event...but that's an exaggeration.

Post, ribbon and lime mark the trail on ride morning

When we're at Riverside Park, we pull the majority of the ribbons, drain and stack the tanks,

Noon:  the trail markings are gone

scuff out the white lime, and even kick the manure off the trail--all before the sun sets on ride day.

Manure is kicked off the trail and scattered.  Coyotes and other
scavengers will clear it completely within a few days.

Since Jim and I didn't bring horses to ride while pulling ribbons, we borrowed a quad.

A quad makes an excellent ladder to reach ribbons on
tall branches

We carry a rake with us, and use it to scrape and scatter the white lime marks.

Arrow:  now you see it... you don't.

As long as we're there, we pick up trash and pack it out.

 At the end of the day, posts are stacked neatly in Gail's trailer, the water tanks are loaded onto the cargo trailer, and the trail ribbons and clothespins are sorted out and stored

ready to be used at the next event.

So, there it is:  the quickest and easiest and fastest volunteer job available at an endurance ride.

You should try it sometime!