This past Sunday, we headed up to Purcellville, Virginia to The Blue Ridge Center for a USTR benefit ride. The Blue Ridge Center is a privately held parcel of 900 acres that is not open to the public, although USTR members can ride there during designated times (which is most of the year). USTR is a trail riding organization that I am a member of. I've been a member of several different trail riding organizations in the area over the years, but USTR is the one that seems to be the best fit for me now. There are monthly rides at a lot of different locations in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania and many of the members are avid trail riders and endurance riders, so the rides tend to be more suited for people who are serious about their trail rides, although almost every ride seems like it has a variety of options, including one for those who want to go slower for shorter distances.
Anyway, a friend and I met out at the BRC to do the ride together. We haven't had a chance to ride with each other much over the past several months because of all my conditioning work with Nimo, so it was nice to have a chance to catch up. The day was one of those perfect fall days: cool enough to wear a jacket, but not freezing, and sunny.
|View from the parking area|
The trail was in beautiful condition. It was mostly in the forest like this:
There were also a handful of nice climbs, so even though we did mostly walking, Nimo still got a bit of a workout in (apparently it takes more than just wishing to turn off the pace and mileage calculator that runs in my head). And there was this gorgeous little pond:
It is so freeing to know that we can handle any terrain and I never have to worry about whether Nimo is fit enough or if his feet will be sore (I booted his front feet only for this ride and that was just right). This ride was a pleasant reminder that all we've accomplished in the past 18 months has had another purpose than just helping us to be ready for a 30 mile ride; it has given us the ability to explore new trails without anxiety and we've met so many truly wonderful people along the way.
Anyway, if you happen to live within an hour or two of the Purcellville, Virginia area, this annual benefit ride is a nice way to check out The Blue Ridge Center because it is open to the public. The BRC trails would be a great place to condition for endurance rides, and while it takes me about an hour and 45 minutes to get there, I might add this place to my list of conditioning locations for the next year because there is a monster climb along the power lines that I think would be great for Nimo (it wasn't included in the benefit ride trail, probably because all but very fit horses would have keeled over and died if they'd attempted it). However, it is possible that Nimo looked at that same climb and thought that it looked like a great place for me to practice getting off and walking:)