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Cold Country ride story (Nick Warhol)

(Steph- can you forward this to the list for me?   Thanks, Nick. )
The Cold Country, OOPS, make that the Gold Country 50 ride
The 1998 Gold country ride was a ride that was both a royal pain in the butt
and certainly one of my best rides ever.  What a combination.  It all
started when Judy and I decided to drive out to the ride on Friday afternoon
after taking a half day off.  It's about a three hour drive to Georgetown on
any normal day.  Who but a pair of idiots would leave on Friday afternoon
during the height of commute traffic?  That's right- we did.  Very dumb.  We
left late anyway since we didn't even load up or put the camper on the truck
until Friday afternoon.  We sat in enough traffic to make even the most
normal person go nuts.  The fact we forgot the directions to the ride and
had to go back didn't help anything either.  After a slow and very miserable
six hour drive we rolled into camp in the mountains right at 8 p.m., right
at the start of the ride meeting.   Judy jumped out and attended the meeting
while I tried to find a place to park.  Not an easy chore in the woods at
dark.  A wonderful ride worker came to my aid and gave up a space next to
her rig.  That was so nice.  I unloaded the boys and got camp set up in the
dark.  Judy returned and helped me finish getting set up after giving me a
ride briefing.  We prepared for the ride, pounded down some dinner and went
right to bed.  Not the best start for a ride.  At least the weather was nice
enough when we went to bed. We would have to vet in early before the ride-
the last time we did this ride we had to do that and were in the vet line
when the ride started.  

The weather was fine until the morning.  I got up to some lightly spitting
clouds and wondered about the possibility of rain.  No, it was supposed to
be nice and sunny.  Okay- the light jacket was just right. We got ready for
the ride and left just about in time- me at five minutes after seven and
Judy at about fifteen after.   I saw Jennifer Laymen and her "Shatta junior"
horse heading for the start.  He looked a little on the anxious side but
sure looked good.  He looked like a show horse with his head tucked down
under his neck like a knight in a chess set.  Like I said before I have a
soft spot for nice looking chestnuts.  Shatta and I headed out down the
trail alone for about one minute until we caught up to the long single file
line of horses moving down the single track trail.  The conditions were
incredible at the start- nice and cool, perfect, moist but not wet, single
track trails.  The first couple of miles are really neat.  We crossed a
couple of slippery road crossings without problems since ride workers were
there making us go so slow.  I caught up to Val Christensen and said "Hi" as
we motored on by- Shatta was feeling great and was flying.  We started
passing horse after horse without really trying.  We caught up to Linda
Cowles on her new boy Gavlin who looked real nice cantering down the roads.
She was riding with Kathy Ruiz on her very own nice Chestnut Fire Alaarm, or
more commonly known in the high end endurance circles as AAlarm Clock.
(just wind him up and watch him go- tick, tick, tick, RIINNNGGGG!)   Kathy
and I have a special problem- we have been trying to do a whole ride
together for as long as I have known her and it just never seems to be in
the cards.  Shatta just boogied on by as he headed for the front of the

The weather started to get little strange as a light mist began to fall.  No
problem yet so we just kept on trotting on the nice trails.  Until the
beginning of the most irritating problem I think I have ever dealt with in
my life on horses.  I'm not one to complain about minor things but I have to
grump about the damn tree branches!  After I smacked into about a hundred
with every part of my body I started to get tired of hitting them.  After
hitting the thousandth branch I was really getting peeved.   After leaving
various parts of my face and neck on just about every tree branch in the

ierra I was really sick of hitting them. No one had done any trail clearing
and it was obvious.  I was so mad at hitting branches I didn't realize the
rain had started falling.  Little rain at first, then a lot.  It was enough
rain to soak you through to your skin but not enough to make the trail
muddy. That was a good thing.   It didn't help when you smacked a huge
branch with your face when it was raining- double whammy.  Pain and then a
nice soaking from the water on the branch.  Great fun.  

About that time I caught up with Gary Fend and rode along with him and his
gray mare Cinabon.  Okay, her name is Cinabar but I like calling her Cinabon
after the gooey cinnamon rolls you can buy in the mall.  We moved along at a
nice pace all the way to the first check at 12 miles- a trot by we both went
right through.  After that the trail kept wondering through the forest on
nice trails with some rocks beginning to show.  We got to a river crossing
that provided a nice drink for the horses then went up the first really
nasty hill.  Very rocky and very steep but only for a quarter of a mile or
so.  At the top was the first real check- it was just a pulse down then go
stop.  I tried to get Shatta to drink but he wouldn't, so we went to the P&R
people.  He was way down. Neat!  I rode out without Gary and Cinabon who
left a whole 30 seconds behind me.  We were on a series of nice fast roads
but the rain was coming down big time.  As long as you were riding it didn't
seem so bad.  Until you stopped.  We showed up at the lunch stop for an hour
hold and were treated to some superb service from the ride workers.  If only
they could have controlled the weather.  It was as cold as | have been in a
ride in a long time.  It turned out we were up at the back of the top ten
which I could not believe.  It was really cold and miserable and of course
idiot that I am, I neglected to send a blanket to the check.  I bummed one
from Nancy Elliot  (Thanks Nancy!) and kept my horse warm by moving around.
He ate and drank but without crew I was unable to do much for myself.  Until
Nancy and Kathy's crew volunteered to hold him while I got warm.  Okay!
There were a few dirt bikers camping there that had a big fire going.  It
became the official endurance fire!  Gary, Nancy, Kathy, Linda, me and a
bunch of others just stood around that fire trying to warm up.  Then the
ride workers appear with hot chocolate and cider!  Oh boyoboy!  Sometimes a
lunch hour is too short- today it was too long.  

Once we got back underway it was bearable although we were all still soaking
wet.  I ran into Judy coming into the check with Warpaint just as I was
leaving.  We headed down a long, long series of downhills that eventually
led to some more nice trails and flat roads.  Gary and I and the guy we were
riding with (can't remember his name) kept up our nice pace as we worked our
way through the rain. On we went, smacking into tree branches that doused us
with water each and every time.  At least the rain was beginning to let up a
little.  We got to a long, long road that led to a water stop at about 43
miles or so.  We were told that we were in 7th, 8th and 9th places.  Holy
cow!  We headed out towards the last check that was only 2 miles from the
finish.  I had been leading the trio quite a bit and followed 3 other riders
up a single track trail.  Gary and our friend swear they shouted at me I was
going the wrong way but I didn't hear them.  They thought I did hear them,
so they rode on down the correct trail, leaving me behind.  All alone, lost
for hours in the forest, never to see the trail or the daylight again.......
Okay, so it wasn't that bad.  I figured out after 2 minutes that they were
not behind me and I better go back even though the three women ahead of me
(from the 30 mile ride) were sure this was the trail.  I went back (Shatta
wasn't so sure I was right) and found the trail with no sign of Gary.
Shatta seemed to know what had just happened and took off at a neat canter
down the trail.  We flew along for only a couple of minutes until we rounded
the corner and ended up in the check.  I missed the sign!  There were Gary
and our friend finishing with the vet when I came in.  After I Tackled Gary
and threw him to the ground for leaving me out there to die (right- the
guy's bigger than me!  Actually it was kind of funny.  He says "What? You
didn't hear me call?" and grins)  I took Shatta to the water with him still
breathing  kind of hard.  A P&R guy comes up and holds the magic disc under
Shatta's arm and listens while he's drinking. "20, 19, 18, 17, 16, good
lord, 15."   Shatta came down in about 90 seconds after hurrying in.  I love
this horse.  We walk over to the vet and had to wait an uncomfortable couple
of minutes while she was working on a 30 mile horse.  I'm sitting there
waiting, looking at my watch, thinking "come on!  I'm on the 50!"   A nice
ride worker came up and told me they would not let any other 50 out in front
of me because she thought the delay was not so good.  It didn't matter,
though.   The vet looked at my horse and sent us on our way.  I hopped on
and scurried out of the check for the final 2 miles to the finish.  We
cantered the last couple of miles with the horse feeling just great.  Ninth
place!  His first official top ten.  Only 35 or so minutes behind the
winner, and most importantly, only a minute behind Gary.  Man, I was proud
of him.  (Okay, I was proud of Gary, too) 

I cleaned Shatta up and took him to his first ever BC judging.  Gary and our
friend were there waiting for Nancy Elliot to finish with the vet.  It
wasn't much of a BC evaluation but heck, it was fun. Except for the rain
that started up in a big way. It poured harder than it had all day.  The
road we were standing on became a small creek. We were soaked all over
again. Gary and Cinabon sloshed up the road, spraying water all over
everyone in the vicinity.  Oh well- the camper was close.   At this point I
don't know who got BC.   Shatta looked great and had a lot of energy but his
hydration was a B or a C.   

Judy and Warpaint finished in the downpour.  Kathy and Linda made it in just
as wet. It was raining so hard no one seemed to even care.  We went to the
BBQ and were treated to I think the best ride meal I've ever had.  They had
burgers!  Such a nice change from the same old meat thing.  The finishing
awards were folding chairs- everyone got them.  We were impressed.   

It was a neat ride with the exception of the rain and the branches.  I'd be
willing to donate an extra 2 bucks on the entry fee to buy the club a chain

Nick Warhol
Hayward, Ca

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