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[RC] Big Bear 100 - k s swigart

From a ride manager's/rider's perspective.

Yes, I was sorry and disappointed that only one rider was able to come
to the ride, especially since everybody who was there (not just the one
entered rider) and everybody who helped me all through the summer in
pre-riding the trail agreed that it is a great trail with some of the
best riding they have every done (although most of them also said that
they aren't so sure they would want to do 100 miles on it :)).

When people contacted me in advance to ask about the trail, I explained
that even if you don't finish, that they would thoroughly enjoy the
ride, since it is just plain pleasant riding...even with all the kinda
rocky sections (or some very rocky sections).  The camp is great, the
camp host is great, the vet was great, the weather was great, the
moonlight was magnificent, and unless they are lying, everybody who came
(there were 15 horses in camp, more than that people) tells me that they
had a good time.

So, those of you who didn't come, you missed out on a great weekend.

I haven't decided yet whether I am going to do another AERC sanctioned
ride at the venue, since, well, I am not so sure but what we all had
more fun NOT doing the ride, and I am not totally convinced that the 100
mile ride on the trail is actually do-able.  I KNOW it isn't do-able in
less than 19-20 hours of riding time, unless it were to be done more
quickly by a lucky idiot (however, I have my doubts that any idiot could
be THAT lucky).

This is what it would require to complete the course in under the time

You would have to have a fully conditioned horse that can make time
whenever the footing is suitable to do so, and this may be uphill or
downhill (there isn't ANY flat ground on the ride, but there also isn't
really anything with more than about a 3% grade), that can jog its way
through kinda rocky footing, is careful about where it puts its feet on
some very narrow sections of trail, and the horse will have to be fully
trained so that it can transition from walk to trot to walk to trot
without too much effort, since the footing/terrain where it is suitable
to do more than walk are often, but usually pretty short, and even when
they aren't short, it is a meandering trail with constant bends and or
turns.  So it requires constant attention on the part of both horse and
rider.  There are but a few places where you can put the horse on cruise
control and go along for the ride (like the five miles into and out of
camp), and those are the steepest sections of the trail.  It is NOT a
trail that is metabolicly hard on horses (you just can't get going fast
enough for that).

I did have to re-route the trail to avoid a fire closure (which I was
informed the Saturday before the ride was re-opened, but by then it was
too late to use it), which took out some of the least rocky part of the
PCT, and added in a part that wasn't particularly rocky, but was narrow
with some pretty significant drop offs if you took a misstep (so the
trail might be a little bit easier if I can put that section back in).

I have toyed with the idea of bringing the riders back on jeep roads
instead of the single track in order to make the ride easier, but doubt
that I will do this, since, while _I_ was riding the ride, the thought
of just the 8 miles of jeep road that was from mile 53 to 61 was a
substantial contributer to my deciding NOT to go on.  To have to do 30
miles of it instead just fills me with dread (I had to do 35 miles of
jeep road at the end of a 100 in Death Valley from Badwater to Furnace
Creek and I have never been so bored in my whole life, and I had to do 8
miles of straight road in Ridgecrest at the 20 MT on the old course, and
that, too, was interminable).

So...IF I do the ride again (I have already reserved the campground for
the w/e of the full moon in September of 2009...which happens to be
Labor Day weekend), I won't be making the ride easier by routing the
ride back on jeep roads instead of the PCT.  And I won't be making the
ride easier by making it shorter (which is what some people have
suggested I do).  If I leave the trail as it is, I will route the first
loop in the other direction (so you are coming down the 5 mile hill
instead of going up it), and I plan to re-check and re-measure the
recently re-opened sections of the PCT and see if it makes more sense to
put them back in (and take out that first loop altogether).

However, no matter how I slice it, IF I put on the Big Bear 100 ride
again, it will require a horse and rider who are capable and willing to
be out all day and all night on a super technical trail (though not
steep), or ones who are willing to accept that they may not finish, but
will enjoy the riding anyway.  And if I put it on again, I will sanction
it as a 75/100 elevator ride.  I didn't do it as a multi-distance ride
this time because the camp was limited to so few participants and I
wanted to provide 100 mile riders with the opportunity to ride and not
find that the ride was full of people going a shorter distance
(OBVIOUSLY that is not going to be a problem--although I might have had
more entries had it not been the case that so many people went to
Swanton this year).

So...I have reserved the campground already. If I don't do an AERC
sanctioned ride, I will be doing the "Big Bear Cooperative Invitational"
to which I will invite all the people who have expressed interest and/or
helped me this year, will probably go out and mark the trail and arrange
for hay/water/support at all the vet check/crewing locations, and maybe
even try to do 100 miles on it myself. Everybody else will be able to go
any distance on "the best riding anywhere."  Maybe do some "clinics" on
"how to ride a techinical trail" or some such thing.  And since it won't
be a competitive event, we can even go into the San Gorgonio
Wilderness--which is even better riding; although it IS rockier and
cliffier and you will have to share it with more people. (Virtually
NOBODY is on that section of the PCT in September, all the PCT hikers
are there in May/June since they are on their way to Canada, and it
really is too long of a hike for people doing it as anything other than
"the whole PCT").

But, if enough people tell me that they want to do it as a sanctioned
AERC ride (and are willing to put their money where their mouth is by
sending me a contribution for the camping fee), I will endeavour to do

Otherwise, we are all just going to have a party.  And even if it IS
done as an AERC ride, we can all party on Sunday night (there was a 3
day minimum for the holiday w/e, I have it reserved for the nights of
4-6 September 2009), people can still stay an extra day and bring an
extra horse if they want (since there is more space for horses than
there is for rigs, it is the number of vehicles allowed in the camp that
restricts the number of entries, I am allowed 47 horses).

People can tell me if/what they are interested in, and I will endeavour
to oblige....except I won't put half the ride on the roads, and I won't
make the ride 85 miles long and call it a 100 just to make it more

Orange County, Calif.


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