I stopped for gas on the way out to the barn, and then all I had to do was grab a couple of things from my tack locker and load my horse. So, we were on the road by about 10:30.
Our trip out to Orkney Springs, VA (where base camp is located), was thankfully uneventful despite the ever-increasing truck traffic on I-81. And my truck handled the final 15 miles of the trip pretty well, even though there were a couple of hills which definitely taxed its transmission. I shudder to think about hauling a longer, heavier rig through those twists and turns, and it makes me glad that I stuck with a simple 2-horse bumper pull trailer. I envy the living quarters of those bigger trailers, but I don't envy having to maneuver them!
We pulled into base camp a little after 12:30, I think. I didn't really pay that much attention to the time because we had plenty of it. Which is exactly what I wanted. I've been over-scheduling myself a bit these past few months and constantly feeling like I'm fighting for time, so I was hoping to have the luxury of lots of time to find parking, set up camp, and vet in.
I've been to the OD base camp before, when I volunteered last year, so I knew what to expect. It is an efficient base camp, with room for lots and lots of rigs, but I sort of feel claustrophobic and overwhelmed there. Luckily, because the OD was running the National Championships for the 50- and 100-mile rides (with an open 25-mile ride squeezed in between) and those rides were scheduled on Thursday and Saturday, it seemed like the camp was a little less frenzied than what I'd seen before at the regular OD ride where all 3 distances run on the same day.
We were easily able to find a parking spot with close proximity to a porta-potty and water trough, and it wasn't long before I had everything set up.
|I really like the way this set-up is working for us|
|Ahhh...Home sweet home:)|
Then I wandered a bit to find the lady I would be riding with the next day. I originally planned to ride with someone else, but her horse ended up with a physical issue, so she couldn't come. Luckily I was able to find another rider that I knew to ride with because I had no intention of repeating the fire-breathing dragon experience from our first ride at Fort Valley. Nimo really needs a buddy to help him overcome the start-line excitement and to help pull him along when the going gets tough or he starts getting tired. Anyway, I checked in with her and felt comfortable that we'd be in good company the next day.
Later, as more riders pulled in, I met my neighbor, who was planning to do her first ride. She seemed like a lovely person and remembering how anxious I felt the day of my first ride, I asked if she would like to ride with us the next day. I figured it would be helpful for her to have a small group to ride with and with more of us, we could always split up if some of us decided a different pace would work better for our horses. She looked relieved and accepted my invitation, which made me happy. I'm really not experienced enough to be offering advice to anyone, but I still know very much how it feels to be new, so I can at least commiserate.
I still had time to relax, so I took a little break in my tent. Soon, I heard a familiar voice calling my name. "Gail! It's Liz!" Yay! I knew fellow blogger, Liz, was coming to the ride, but I had just assumed she would be doing the 50-mile ride. As it turned out, she was doing the 25-mile ride, because she hadn't been able to fit the two qualifying rides into her schedule to be able to compete in the 50-mile ride. I knew she'd be going fast, so we wouldn't be able to ride with her, but it was great to have a friend at the ride whom I could pester with last-minute questions and just hang out with.
Soon it was time for dinner and the ride meeting. We had awesome homemade beef stew with salad and warm bread, plus homemade brownies. I'm not sure there is a more perfect pre-ride meal out there:) The ride meeting was blissfully short. The good news was that the maximum pulse rate at the hold would be 64 bpm instead of 60, likely due to both the difficulty of the ride as well as the expected heat and humidity the next day. And then the vet said, "And don't underestimate the climb that starts about 5 miles into the first loop." I knew about the climb. I'd heard stories about the climb, but hearing the vet mention it gave me some minor heart palpitations. I decided that maybe a glass of wine was in order.
I was able to chat with Liz a bit more after dinner and then I headed into my tent for some blissful alone time. I didn't have cell service, so I read a bit, played some solitaire, and just enjoyed the time. Then, I checked on Nimo and took him for a walk around camp for about a half hour before heading to bed. I wish I could say I slept dreamlessly and for 9 hours, but yeah, that didn't happen. I was comfortable and warm enough, even without a heater, because the low temperature never got much below 50, but typical pre-ride jitters and the unfamiliar noises kept me awake much of the night.