Whoooooweeee! I still can't get over the hills we did today.
Jacke and I did another training ride down at Clark State Forest - she picked me up a little earlier, we hit the trail around 9:30am.
If I'm going to be competing in April at Clark, I'll have to do the ride on Friday, which is 30 miles, due to personal scheduling, and besides I think the trail will be less crowded. Last year I scribed for the vet at the away vet check, and both the 55's and the LD's stopped at the away vet check, which is north of 160. So we knew we'd need to travel that section of trail to get there, and wanted to have done it once before competition.
It's a really pretty section of trail that takes you along a ridge - gorgeous view, really. The one problem with that of trail is a super steep section, like, almost slide off your horse steep. More than once on the way down as we were headed down that hill switching back and forth, down, down, down, down...I thought I was going to lose it. Glad my horse kept her head (and her feet) and was careful about it, one sudden move on her part would've sent me right on over her shoulder.
So the trail levels off at the bottom of the valley where the creek runs through it, and I see that oh, wow, the trail goes STRAIGHT BACK UP nearly as steep and long as it just went down. I turned Arabee the opposite direction towards the creek and hollered to Jacke "I'm going to offer her a drink first, hope you don't mind!" (in reality, it was me trying to get MY heart rate down after that not exactly terrifying, but certainly not relaxing downhill switchback!) So, I got calmed back down, and we bounded up the hill on the other side of the creek, then came out across Pixley Knob Road, and road the Flatrock trail ( I think that's what it's called ) to 160. I actually ended up dismounting and walking quite a ways, my hips were killing me from all that downhill/uphill/walking across the gravel we were doing, and the walk did me good. We came out at 160 and at this point we had planned on doing the Bowen Loop and coming out at the away vet check area, then heading back to the trailer. Well, when we got to 160 it was not particularly clear just exactly where the trail picked back up. As in, we had no clue! So rather than risking getting lost in the "wilderness" we headed back the way we came.
Arabee did some cantering (per my request) on the way back, the switchbacks didn't seem near so scary, and she had plenty of gas left in the tank. We rested up at the trailer, ate lunch, then rode again for another hour-ish near the Pekin Saddle Club. Honestly, I have no clue where we were riding around, but we went out for a half hour, then popped out at a paved road, then headed back. We did quite a bit of alternate trotting/cantering here - it was a LOT of fun.
I think we ended up w/ about 14 miles....the first 2/3 were some really tough miles with those steep switchbacks, and the last 1/3 was flatter but faster. Good ride!