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Big Horn 100 - Shell, Wyoming

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2006 Steph's Story || 2006 Joyce Anderson's Story || 2006 Dr Dave Brown's Story || 2003 Tom Noll's Story

2010 Stories:
Bighorn Stories - Cindy Collins || Bighorn: The Most Unpredictable Ride of Them All - Kevin Myers
Bighorn Crew Story - Carrie Thornburn || Ronnie's Report,Big Horn 100, 2010 - Ronnie Eden
An Outlaw Rides the Big Horn Trail - Tom Noll & Frank || Big Horn 100 2010-And Beyond - by Lucky 6 Nellie(with help from Marirose)
Another Big Horn Crew Perspective - Dan Ward
Darlene & Lumpy do the Big Horn 100, 2010. Our Epic Adventure, Part I - Darlene Anderson
Darlene & Lumpy do Big Horn 2010, our Epic Adventure, part II - Darlene Anderson
Darlene & Lumpy do Big Horn 2010, our Epic Adventure, part III - Darlene Anderson
Darlene & Lumpy do Big Horn 2010, our Epic Adventure, part III, the Final Installment! - Darlene Anderson

Darlene & Lumpy do Big Horn 2010, our Epic Adventure, part II - Darlene Anderson

July 17, 2010

Part II, The road trip continues...

As we departed from Missoula with our crew following behind us, the reality of my undertaking was grabbing hold of my conscience. This was a 1000 mile road trip to ride 100 miles! There wasn't any room for mistakes as far as I was concerned. I'd been going over this ride in my head for months. Max could recall the trail with alarming clarity. We went over certain portions over and over. His main concern, however, was leaving Jack Creek for the second time. Would they mark it properly this time? Would there be glow sticks? One thing that was nagging at me the entire way was *the* one nagging thing...Max and I had trained for this ride together. Granted, much of that time I had been riding Nero. But we had trained, planned and put together a strategy. Any little thing could unravel the strategy. I was very thankful for Lisa at this point because she let me vent and offered valuable advice, which was not to put too much stock into "having to ride someone else's ride". Max assured me that we had a plan and as long as we didn't deviate for any reason other than that which we had no control over, we were going to do just fine...and we did.

We arrived in Shell, Wyoming around 3:30 pm on Thursday. As we sat in a line of vehicles, waiting for road construction crews, Max pointed out the local flora & fauna, including the *giant* ridge of mountains in front of us. For the first time in 15 years of riding endurance, I felt butterflies in my stomach! I sat in the truck the remainder of the trip wondering if Terry had been right. Maybe I HAD overstated my goals! What if Lumpy wasn't up to it? What if this, what if that?? Max finally had to ask me to pipe down with all that stuff. He assured me that we were going to do just fine. No matter though, I had the butterflies right up until we started the ride at 4 am on Saturday.

Ridecamp was located at Mel & Sharon Picht's place just outside of town. Great people. Mel has fixed up their garage with a shower and flushing toilet, which was appreciated by many! Both Mel & Sharon made several rounds through camp making sure everyone was comfortable and had all they needed in terms of amenities.

It was SO warm out! I had been watching the weather religiously, as if that would make it ideal in some way, and it had said mid 80's with a 20% chance of showers. YEA RIGHT!! It was over 90 and we were on this little dusty patch of ground covered in pickers! So much for sandals! Ona Lawrence, Queen of the Bad Girls, was there and came over with a lawn mower & promptly mowed all the little pickers away from our camp spot. Patty & Kendall set their tents up on Mel & Sharon's patio, away from the pickers and ants. They were really happy until they got virtually surrounded by riders getting their rigs as close to being inside the house as they could get! It all worked out fine that way.

We let the boys just rest the remainder of Thursday, with Patty & Kendall taking them for a long walk down the road. We discovered in Missoula that the mosquitos in the mountains had a particular love for Lumpy and virtually no love for Junior. How fair is that? Lumpy practically begged to have his sheet on at dusk to keep the little buggers at bay. So glad we brought a full bottle of bug juice!

Thursday night was festive in our camp. There was a strong contingent of NW riders at the Big Horn this year, including Pat Murray, Lois Fox, Layne Simmons, Tani Bates, Tom Noll and of course Max and myself as riders. Our crews were also full of NW riders. It was so great to see Ona & Dale Lawrence after a few years of missing them. They had come from Minnesota for Ona to have a Bad Girl reunion. And a reunion it was! After a dinner of Chuck Burgers and Lois' homemade potato salad, Lois and Ona conducted a ceremony of sorts, recognizing the Bad Girls in attendance, past, present, & wannabes. Guess which group I ended up in! We were given Bad Girl attire, made up of tiaras and garters. We were to wear these during the ride on Saturday to signify our "Badness". Gulp! I've always been just too naughty to be a Bad Girl! Those are such big shoes to fill! Lois came over to our camp on Friday and made sure that Max and I had properly affixed our tiaras onto our helmets. Guess this was really gonna happen! I got to be a Bad Girl for a Day! I did my best to make the team proud. ;)

Early Friday dawned with Max and I deciding to take the Boys for a short ride. Since there weren't any markings of any use (we did find a bunch of the same sort of orange flags on wires that said, "Buried Cable" on them.) We went up the road to the pavement one direction and then down the road to the pavement the other direction. This entire time I was worrying about those shoes that Leanne had put on Lumpy. She said this was a great way to go, but the shoes were *so* light that they only had about 100 miles on them. Terry was so concerned about this that he refused to go ride with me the weekend before our trip because he didn't want to bend Lumpy's shoes? WTH? Really? Even though I knew better, this was enough to give me a bad dream or two during the course of the following week and certainly some hairy thoughts as we were trotting down that gravel road! In fact, I was so concerned with getting jinxed somehow that I didn't even look at Lumpy's shoes the entire 100 mile ride! I know! Bad! But if he'd lost a shoe, I figured I'd packed along 3 easyboots. Things would be alright.

We hung around ridecamp the rest of the day, expecting riders to be showing up in droves, like they do here in the NW, but it was more like a trickle. Lisa decided we should walk down the road to a creek that looked promising and take a swim. I think that girl would swim in a mud puddle if it was deep enough & didn't have a gooey bottom! ;) That water was COLD!! Lisa was playing in the water and having a good time, so it was worth the hike. I dipped in once & stood there with my teeth chattering! While we were cooling off in the creek we saw a few rigs headed towards ridecamp and then a vet's truck! So, we dried off & hiked back to camp. Vetting in didn't start until after 5 pm! I had began to wonder if a vet was going to show up at all! Wouldn't have mattered because ride management didn't show up with our registration stuff until after 4 pm anyhow. This I heard, was because ride management was out marking the trail! Hmmm, out marking a hundred mile loop the day before the 100? Seems like it would have been more efficient to mark as much trail as possible before this point, but I had blind faith in ride management because I knew they wanted this particular ride to be a success. They had made that abundantly clear. I was chuckling with some of the other NW riders about how there would be a small riot if things didn't get rolling at some of our rides until after 5 pm. Ok, probably not, but I was surprised at the relaxed atmosphere and truthfully, it helped me out tremendously. What I learned here is that pre-registration wasn't really that big of a bonus. The RM had a handful of pre-regisrations and they took about as long to process as the ones done right there. They hadn't fixed up any sort of packet or filled out our vet cards in advance. That's ok though, it had given me a sense of, "This is really going to happen" when I had sent off my entry two weeks before the ride. Registration done, we went to vet our horses in. By this time there were 3 vets out processing horses.

Vetting in with Max and Junior is always entertaining for one big reason. Junior is a minor celebrity wherever he goes. People are just naturally enamored with an ill mannered mule with a pretty paint job! People oooh and awww over Junior to a point that it becomes quite humorous. I think he likes it because he can then drag Max off to eat a weed or something, just to demonstrate who he thinks is in charge of the relationship between he and Max. On this day, however, he and Lumpy stood quietly waiting their turn. I know lots of people take one look at Junior and then actually have the audacity to ask Max if that mule can do a hundred miles being that fat! Really? Just watch him. I've watched that mule complete many 100's looking more portly than this! It's an optical illusion folks! Junior is TUFF. He will just keep chugging along where mere horses have to just stop and rest. Junior does seem to have a philosophy about life though and he really tries to live on his own terms. This really works for him because Max rarely gets mad at him & does his best to accommodate Junior's aspirations in life, which seems to include finding the most direct route back to Sandy, OR on some days. Both horse and mule vetted in fantastic, Lumpy complete with his number done in pink...mostly because that's what the vet put on him and secondly because I knew it would make his dad cringe & because the last time Lumpy wore pink, he brought home a high vet score with one certain pink helmet wearing rider on top. It seemed like good mojo.

The Boys went back to their pens where I gave them what had to have been their 4th pan of mash for the day. Max was beginning to wonder if he'd packed enough beet pulp and he was convinced I was trying to blow up his mule, via beet pulp overload! These Boys ate every single bite of mash put in front of them all week long, which can be unusual for both of them! Kendall braided up Lumpy's mane to help him disperse heat, and well, it looked nice too.

We all cleaned up a bit and headed on over to the ride meeting, which was held about 5 miles away at the Shell Grange hall. It was mighty cozy in Patty's little VW Jetta, but we liked it that way. There was a local band playing that had the grace to play Johnny Cash as I entered the building. That was cool! I wonder how they knew that Johnny Cash is my favorite in the entire world! There was one older gal in there raising a fuss, "Turn that damn music down! How can a person hold a conversation in here with all that loud music playing?!" I turned to her & said she could always go outside, it was cooler out there anyways. She wasn't impressed with my suggestion. We did end up going outside however, the music was just perfect out there and so was the weather. Max was re-connecting with friends he'd made at the last Big Horn he did. There was much discussion about whether the trail was actually going to be marked this time. What?? Of course the trail is going to be marked, it's an endurance ride for heaven's sake! Everyone knows the average endurance rider couldn't find their way out of a paper bag without some pink & white on the right! Everyone knows that! And there was a big fiasco in '06 because of scant markings, so of course the trail is going to be marked! They would have done everything possible to prevent another fiasco, I'm sure of it.

Dinner was pretty good and we got to see many riders we hadn't seen in ages, including Kevin Myers and Rusty Toth. I'll tell ya, no one delivers a better hug than Kevin. He can make you feel like you're the only person in the room he came to see. That's a gift. As we waited in the dinner line, we met Dr. Quentin Llop, who was the treatment vet, and we said hello to Laura Hayes and many other riders, both familiar and not so familiar.

After eating outside under a wonderful old tree, our group returned inside for the RM to start the ride meeting. She had been out marking trail all day long and gave us a description of what we would see. I asked her how far it was between the vet checks and she thought a minute and said, "Well, it's about 24 miles to the first VC." "24", I repeat back to her? "Well, around 18," she says. What? So I let her finish her descriptions and ask her again, "So how far is it to the first VC?" She answered, "Well, it's somewhere around 16-20 miles". WHAT?? Wait a minute, you're messin' up my notes here! She goes on to finish up the ride meeting. Someone asked how the trail was going to be marked. She holds up a pink ribbon and a small square flag marked "Big Horn 100" attached to an 18" wire that goes into the ground. "There will be these flags on the trail with ribbon just like this", holding up the pink ribbon, "only in orange" Flashbacks is what I'm having now! It's ok, Max will be with us and he has done the trail, I'm going to be ok, I am! She goes on to explain, when asked, that the last 30 miles isn't quite marked yet because they're foregoing ribbon to hang up nifty little red flashers, like the one she's holding up. "See?" I say to Max, "flashers!". "Uh Huh, we'll see" is all he'll say back to me. 'Scuse me? She then goes on and introduces the vets where the head vet announces the pulse criteria is 68. WHAT?? Man, I don't think I've ever ridden under a 68 pulse, ever! I guess that shows how young I really am in this sport...either that or the NW is just adamant about using the 60 pulse, with an occasional 64. Ok, we can deal with that, no problem. After they release us, I get up and try to the RM's undivided attention for a minute. "Sorry to be a pest, but exactly how far do you think it is between VC's?" She thinks a bit and then pulls this outta her hat, "Somewhere between 16 and 24 miles to the first VC, about 14 to the next VC, approximately 20 to the next VC, I think around 14 around back to Jack Creek and then 25 in." I repeat back to her and now she's getting a little annoyed with the blonde from Washington State who has the unmitigated gall to ride a horse named, Lumpy and ask far too many questions! "Something like that," she says and dismissed me and the rest of the class.

We head back to camp, make last minute preparations and get in bed. Visions of little red flashers in my mind, I roll around, toss & turn and barely sleep a wink the entire night. I got up 10 minutes before the 2 am alarm went off & went out to feed the Boys. They eat eagerly, again...I electrolyte them and go inside to have some breakfast and get dressed. Max is stirring by this time and we make a little small talk as we get ready. My heart is beating so fast as I go out to saddle up Lumpy that I have to breathe deeply so I don't set him off. This is REALLY happening!


Max & I waiting to vet in Lumpy & Junior.