Sunday, November 2, 2014


The past ten days has been crazy. For those of you who don't know, I am an avid football fan. I started watching football when I was five or six and spent every Sunday and Monday night watching whatever game was on. I was a huge Dolphins fan when I was really little, but about the time I was ten or so, I became a Dallas Cowboys fan. This was when Staubach and Dorsett and Too-Tall-Jones and the rest of that group played. My brother was a Steeler fan (still is) and we had several years where those two teams ended up in the Superbowl. I stopped being a Cowboy's fan when Staubach retired and didn't really have a team until the Broncos drafted Elway. Then I became a die-hard Broncos fan.

J is too. It's one of the things we enjoy doing together. Four years back, I finally convinced her to split tickets with a guy I knew. It took a year to convince her, but now, going to games is one of our favorite things to do. We go to four games a year, plus one pre-season and then playoffs if we make it (we were in the stands the year Tebow threw a 80 yard pass to Demarius Thomas to beat the Steelers in OT. I really thought I was going to have a heart attack that night. We were also in the stands when Flacco beat Rahim Moore to win the playoff game for the Ravens.) Ever since we started getting the tickets, we have flown my mom out for a game. She was with us for the Ravens game and then again the following year for the opening game against the Ravens (revenge is sweet). Last year she came out for the AFC Championship game against the Patriots. It is so much fun and we all have a great time. This year I was lucky enough to pick the 49er's game and the game four days later against the Chargers. We flew Mom out the Thursday before the 49's game and she stayed for 10 days. J and I took that time off to spend with her.

I really wasn't expecting to get any riding time during her stay. Luckily for me, Mom likes to sleep in a bit and so J and I snuck out early to ride. We ended up putting 27 miles on her new bike during that week, which coincidentally brought my riding miles in October to a healthy 37.5. Our last ride while Mom was here was on Thursday, the 23rd.

J and I decided to ride the Mesa. We went up and rode around the path to the parking lot off of Hwy 93. When we got there J asked me where the road went. I told her that there was an access road to the top of the Mesa, but it was steep and a rough ride (I've gone up this way twice and absolutely hate it - it's basically asphalt with gravel over it and steeper than the road I usually take.) J had no point of reference, so suggested we try it. When we reached the road up, J said "What the hell" and started walking. I figured I should get off Ashke and hand walk to the top, since I knew exactly how freaking difficult it was going to be and I should be supportive of J's first time up. Solidarity trumps stupidity.

This is actually the easy part.

That point just to the right of the sun, where the skyline drops down is our destination.

Ashke can't believe his luck. He hates this hill.

J was ready to turn around and head down, except it was so steep that she was afraid to.
Well, and we were almost there, we had to keep going.
This is the steep part.

There was a guy behind us that had left the parking lot ten minutes after we started our climb and he and his stupid dog made it to the top before we did. 

J swore she would never go to the top of the Mesa again, but then when I took her around to the fire road that we usually go up, she recanted. She was enchanted with the top of the Mesa (it's so much bigger than you would expect) and enjoyed the rest of the ride. One of these days we will do the ten mile loop. Maybe in the spring. 

That was the last time I rode for five days. We took the time to enjoy spending the days with my mom and T, and we were sad on Tuesday when mom had to fly home. (I don't know why she wouldn't want to live here in our crowded house forever). I rode again on Wednesday, briefly, and Ashke was wonderful. On Thursday, Ashke got his winter shots (this has had an impact on our ride on Saturday.)

Saturday, J, Tia and myself threw the bikes in the back of the truck and headed to the barn. Our goal was to ride from Spring Gulch to Red Tail Park, a distance of 11.9 miles one way, and back. I had loaded the trailer on Friday night, so J hooked up as I set buckets, then Ashke loaded on the trailer and we were on our way. 

When he came off the trailer at Spring Gulch, Ashke was a snorting, shying hot mess. I got him groomed and saddled and then walked him to the trail head, which requires crossing the road at a hairy intersection. On the far side of the road, I swung up and our first twenty steps were . . . . interesting. It felt like I was on a horse that was going to blow straight up. This trail starts gravel, so I asked a forward trot, which he finally gave me, for the short distance to the sidewalk, which we walked, and then once we reached the gravel road again, I sent him forward in a canter.

This hill kicked J and Tia's butt. It's quite the climb.

You can see the trail off in the distance behind us. There is quite the climb to this point. We cantered it, interspersed with abrupt shying at the evil plants on either side of the trail.

The small bright yellow (spot) of color is J on her bike with Tia next to her.

We spent most of the day cantering up the hills and trotting down them. 

J and Tia labored up the hills and flew down them.

I just love this country.
There was definite thought on my part that perhaps I should have packed some kind of jacket.
Luckily, it didn't storm.

 The information on the trail says the elevation gain is about 200 ft, but based on Map My Run app, the elevation is over 900 ft. Kinda kicked Tia's butt.

Ashke had fun, for most of the day, and seemed to really enjoy the trail.

J mounted T's GoPro to her handlebars and took video.
She had such a great time on this trail, and watching this video will let you see why.

Our take on the same trail. Not nearly as fast downhill as J on Coyote.

So incredibly beautiful. Not as vibrant as a couple of weeks ago, but still amazing.

J up ahead (got to love the yellow shirt) waiting for us. 

 A bit of cantering in the far distance

This video gives you a pretty good idea of what the trail is really like.
Ashke did a great job all day of managing the rolling trail at a canter, especially since the trail rises and falls in short waves.

The trail moved into scrub oak and short bushes, all of which were light brown, interspersed with light yellow and some red. The temp was in the mid 60's, and about lunch time the sun came out, which made it feel hot.

Nothing better than a bright white horse striding through the autumn hills.

The scrub oak was pretty incredible. 

We spent a bit of time waiting for Tia (who in her defense hasn't ridden her bike since August) to catch her breath. The ride back was much better than the ride out. Most of the ride out was uphill and the ride back was downhill. 

This may be the closest we get to riding in "the woods" in our part of Colorado.

The same point in the ride, from J's point of view.

Ashke was tired of standing for photos.

More Go Pro.

When we stopped for lunch, Ashke had the option to graze in decent grass, but instead he came and took my PB&J sandwich from me.

He knocked it out of my hand and once it hit the ground, I let him have it.
We have decided we need to pack him his own sandwich.

Then he came over and ate half my apple.

After lunch, we went on another quarter mile and saw that the trail wound up that hill in the distance. J and T opted at that point to turn around. It was good that we did, in retrospect.

Ashke was interested in going on, but was more than ready to turn back.

Ashke trotted, a huge trot, most of the way back. He tried really hard to keep up.

This was our last canter of the day. He just didn't want to go fast any more. We walked the last two miles to the trailer.

When we got back to the trailer, I pulled tack and gave him a mash with carrots and TC Senior. He gobbled it up and then started grazing. He was still pooping well and his heart rate was in the 40's, so I wasn't stressed, but he just seemed off. I covered him with a BOT cooler for the ride home. When we got back to the barn, his mash was waiting, along with a couple of flakes of grass hay, plus a flake of alfalfa. He was still damp where the saddle had been, so I shut him up in his stall for the night. We managed a total of 16.7 miles in three hours and twenty minutes of riding. We were on trail for just over 4 hours there and back, including lunch.

 We were averaging 5.3 on the way back before we started walking.
The app failed badly on the ride out. It showed we had ridden 26 miles in an hour and 40 minutes with an average pace of 15 mph, and a top speed of 108 mph.

 Map of the way back.

Elevation gain and loss

I went out today to give Ashke a light ride to keep him loose. He was puffy on all four legs. Not much, but a little bit. The only other time Ashke has puffed his legs was in 2012 when he got a rabies vaccine. He got the same vaccine on Thursday and I think it was the reason he crashed on the ride home, plus is the reason his legs were stocked up this morning. The other contributing factor was the fact he was stalled when he got home, due to the temp. He was sound, so I gave him a dose of Bute and a light ride, then cold hosed his legs afterward. He was great in the arena and gave me a wonderful canter in both directions. His attitude was great and he was forward and alert. The swelling was mostly gone by the time I figured we were done. Fifteen minutes of cold hosing was enough to dispel the last bit. 

Ashke will have tomorrow off and I will see how he is doing on Tuesday night.


  1. So glad you got to spend good times with your Mom.
    Love the lunch sharing photos!

    1. He was so damn cute asking for both my sandwich and my apple.

  2. I loved this post. Wonderful photos and video! That second one where J and Coyote are flying down the trail is SO cool! What a great trail. Love the scrub oak section! When you mentioned you had ridden through an oak forest, the mental picture I had was completely different. I like the real view, what you actually saw, better! Your trails are SO different from ours over here. It's a different kind of beauty. Thank you for sharing your view with us! And it sounds like Ashke was an absolute rock star throughout, even though he didn't feel quite like himself on the way back to the trailer. I hope he is back to normal by Tuesday.

    Ditto what Terry said: my favorite photos were the lunch sharing ones! :)

    1. I can't wait to ride through the Oak forest in the spring, when the trees are just leafing out.

  3. FOREST! That made me heart happy to see y'all riding through trees. =)

    Such beautiful photos. I love living out west vicariously through your photos and videos.

    I, too, loved the lunch photos. Ashke is such a card!

  4. With the last superbowl my family and friends in Seattle suddenly became football fans. I know nothing about football except Denver has the Best Mascot. I sent my family youtube videos of Thunder, saying, "But look at their mascot!" The only ball sport I like is Women's Basketball - I'm a Seattle Storm geek.