ridecamp@endurance.net: [endurance] ROC Tales and Observations (Long)

[endurance] ROC Tales and Observations (Long)

Pete LaBerge (plaberge@epix.net)
Thu, 18 Jul 96 15:00:11 PDT

Debbie, Bethy(our 11yr. old daughter) and I have just returned from 2 1/2 weeks
of travel out West that included the ROC, purple mountain majesties, fruited plains,
emus, mustangs and plenty of sage brush. Of the 254 email messages awaiting us, few touched
on the ROC. What follows, therefore, includes both objective and subjective ramblings.
They are solely the opinions of the author and not necessarily endorsed by the author's
wife, wife's former horse, former horse's current owner or ROC founder and czar
Susan Gibson. Delete now if your preferences run to discussion of sports bras and
beet pulp.
Susan puts on a great ride. Well organized. Breathtaking locations. Incredible vet staff.
A collection of great horses and riders from all over the country. There's both camaraderie
and tension in the air. Could it be improved upon? Well, yes. But that's not my point.

Base Camp, just outside of Torrey, Utah, in the Fishlake National Forest, is at 7,500 feet.
I jogged the mile from our motel to camp and really felt the lack of oxygen. Vet 2 and 5
(Tubb) is attained after climbing to 10,500 feet. The terrain at the lower elevations is sandy
high desert and sage. All around are red and beige wind-carved cliffs and petroglyphs.
As you ascend to the higher elevations, you pass through forests of evergreen and aspen.
Tubb certainly is a vet check with a view! I could tell that it impressed the sheiks who
came from Dubai and Qatar to support their riders. Well, maybe they weren't all sheiks,
but there was at least one prince.

Bethy(chief statistician and horse holder) and I had come to crew for Shelley Hatfield,
Stoney's new owner. Six years of experience crewing for Deb and Stoney had made
us pretty familiar with "the boy's" idiosyncracies. He had only done one 50 since
arriving in California in April. His last 100 was October '95 in Kansas. Smart riding and
Stoney's great base and experience would be necessary to finish. Shelley's goal was
Top 20 and we based our crewing strategy accordingly. We would go hell bent to make
all vet checks and as many C stops as possible. Because of distance and slow logging
roads up to Tubb, the front runners would need to split their crews. We didn't have
that luxury.

Imagine a cappuccino bar, open at 5:30 AM in the desert. A mirage? No! To my amazement,
one appeared right next to the first flyby as the sun arose. Just in front of me in line,
a pleasant woman who was apparently den mother and photographer to the sheiks
was purchasing many smoked trout sandwiches and condiments fit for royalty.
Two crisp $100 bills settled the tab. I pinched myself and ordered a double latte.

Shelley and Stoney flew by around 30th of 76 starters, looking good. It was already
hot and the leaders were running well behind last year's pace. At Vet 1 (Sand Creek),
Stoney took longer than usual to come down to 64, a condition solely attributable to
his excitable nature. By Vet 3, he had settled down to his usual 2-3 minute recoveries.

Vet 2 (Tubb) was eventful in that a right front shoe and pad had recently parted company
from Stoney's hoof. As he was quickly down, I opted to vet him while Shelley's boyfriend
Tim retained the services of a farrier. He trotted sound and 20 minutes later had a new shoe
in front and tightened hinds. Great farrier work allowed them to leave this 30 minute hold
on time.

By Vet 3, the leaders had strung out somewhat, with Valerie Kanavy on Cash, Danielle
Kanavy on Firengold and Shirley Delsart on KJ Destination just minutes apart. Not long
after, came the Rojeks, Steve and Dinah. It was at this point that I discovered Dinah's
unique reverse psychology approach to the ROC. Pete: "You're looking great Dinah
and will definitely finish today." Dinah: "Thanks, but I sincerely doubt it."
Temps had climbed well into the 80's. The weather and trail had started to take their toll.
Chris Knoch and Saxx were out early. Shelley's friend and training partners Gayle Snow
and Boss went out at Vet 3 with a cramp.

Vet 4 (Lake Forsyth) was a one hour hold before climbing back up to Tubb.
It produced some high drama and perhaps the turning point of the ride.
Shirley Delsart charged out several minutes ahead of the Kanavys, clearly
wanting to put some distance between them. I saw her moving away along
the lake as a few people observed that they thought the trail went up a hill
and along a ridge. A sinking feeling ensued as some realized she was off trail.
Did the Kanavys know? They left together and made the correct turn.
By the time we saw Shirley coming back along the lake, Valerie and Danielle
were disappearing over the ridge. Shelley and Stoney had moved up to 21st
place and their goal seemed within reach. He was getting better and better with
all A's and B's and a 60/56 CRI.

Back up the mountain to Vet 5 and I realized that I'd had an altitude headache all day.
A beer and 4 Advils (essential crewing supplies) brought some relief. Our team
went out in 19th place with the words that it was all downhill from here.

Down at Vet 6, we witnessed part of a controversy involving a group of 4 riders
which included Darolyn Butler, Jan Worthington and Prince Mohammed.
Allegedly, Mohammed was allowed to leave the check a few minutes early.
As I've heard a few different versions of this incident, I'll only comment that
it was very dark at this check. Too dark.

If you've never been to the finish of an ROC, let me assure you that it is unique.
Cue the music. Lights. Camera. Champagne.
Shelley and Stoney trotted in 17th to cheers and flashbulbs sometime after 11 PM.
Roger described the exciting finish in an earlier post. Congrats to Danielle, Valerie,
Shirley, Steve and Dinah (1st through 5th). and Shirley and Dusty who took BC.
Tough ride. All 40 or so horses (and 1 Montana mule) who finished also deserve high praise.

My only major suggestion would be for Susan to retire as MC of the awards or hire
a writer. She, by her own admission, is burnt to a crisp by then. For the amount of bucks
and product kicked in, sponsors deserved far greater recognition. After forgetting to
announce Sundowner's $7,000 contribution to the Kanavy trailer fund, Susan apologized,
thus providing Dean Jackson with a great comeback: "Don't apologize Susan, you almost
just saved me 7,000 bucks."

Another enduring memory was the several minute standing ovation given to the
awesome 12 person vet staff at the awards ceremony.

Next year, we only have to drive halfway across Pennsylvania to get to the ROC.
It's a proven tough course with great facilities. You've ridden there Stoney, ya hear.

Pete LaBerge