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Friday, July 12, 2013

For my Tevis Crew

I do not believe I have properly introduced my 2013 Tevis crew. 

Funder - a blogger in her own right, she is the endurance person of my crew, and an aspiring 100 mile rider who almost bagged her first one 4 weeks ago.  Delightful, funny, and less than tolerant of my whining (but Funder, it’s so HARD and I hurt so BAD and I don’t WANT to eat)

Next let’s give a round of applause to Amanda!!!!

Amanda I met through Funder at Sunriver and she is hereby designated as the “sane” one, not being an endurance rider, although she has horse experience. In response to the rider saying “food is nasty and I never want to see that again” will calmly and without drama whip up something on a camp stove that is incredibly delicious.  I’m STILL savoring a particularly delightful cup of almond milk based hot chocolate she made at like midnight at Sunriver. 

And of course, my brother Tristan will be there for documentation purposes. He’s the ONLY person that is allowed to ask me open ended questions (how are you doing?) during the ride, and will be putting together a video similar to what he did in 2009 and 2010 (search You tube for “boots and saddles mel tevis” and they should pop up). Not being a horse person I think dramatically improves the editing of the videos since if you or I put something together on Tevis is would be unwatchable and tedious.

Last but not least.........we welcome Loreleigh, my sister to the team!!!!  Author of the ever popular “Bear Story”  it’s about time she came along for another adventure that is hopefully worthy enough for another guest post.  Although she’s an experienced horse person, it’s her first time crewing for me or attending an endurance ride. 

And now, I present a warning open letter to my crew, based on the words of another experienced Tevis crewmember, Ashely of Go Pony.

I shamelessly stole today’s post for Ashley over at Go Pony. Or rather, I stole “significant excerpts”. So pretty pretty please go to her blog and at least leave a comment for her so she doesn’t get too mad and read the her post in it’s entirety!......

“I've not been in the position (yet) to have to write crew instructions, but this is coming from the perspective of one who has been the crew, and what is helpful and useful and what riders can potentially do ahead of time to make for a very happy crew.”

Ah good!!!!!!  I want my crew to be happy!  Happy crew makes for happy rider.  Or at least, happy crews won’t eat the last of my oh-so-good-I’m-in-heaven-pork-rinds-that-had-to-be-imported-from-the-bay-area out of pure spite while I’m on the trail. 

“ I've been very fortunate to crew for friends and fun people. I've not had the experience of grumpy riders, or demanding riders, but instead riders who have been conscientious about things like providing water/snacks for their crew, and being gracious, grateful, and generous in how they've treated me before, during, and after the ride. (This is why I like crewing: It's been a positive experience for me.)”

mmm......So.....where I do I start?  If Gracious/grateful/generous = [you can eat any of my food but don’t eat the last thing of anything, and I provide water in gallon jugs (bring your own water bottles)] is a true statement we are doing OK. 

Before the ride I’ll be stressed and close to hysterics and nauseous.  During the ride I’ll be grim, hurting, focused, and nauseous.  After the ride I’ll be dehydrated, tired, actively dry heaving, and feeling slightly guilty that I don’t deserve a crew as good as you. 

In fact, I probably don’t deserve a crew at all.

“Crew instructions are good. Cherish the rider who hands you a multi-page stack of instructions that spell out their routine and expectations of what they would like to see happen. Whether all of this actually happens is another story. Ask questions. Don't be afraid to clarify what something means.”

I have a whole binder of crew instructions for Tevis.  Whether or not the crew reads it is entirely besides the point because I’m pretty sure the point of the binder is to keep me busy in the weeks leading up to Tevis so I don’t mess with my horse and shoot myself in the foot.  Because this year I’ve been able to spend my time obsessing over heat training, I’ve spent less time on the binder.

My crew: be honest - do you even READ the binder and pages I put online of information prior to the ride? I thought not......

“Take care of yourself! Know how it's important to take care of yourself while riding? Same goes for crewing. Blessed be the rider who provides for their crew with extra water/snacks, but don't assume that will always be the case. Check with them ahead of time on whether you need to provide for yourself or not. Making sure you as the crew stays hydrated and fed means you won't pass out partway through the day, thus being completely useless. (People electrolytes are good, too.)”

Ummm...does it count that in my crew instructions I actually specifiy that I, as the rider, will be very angry if I come into a check and have to go looking for a drunk or hungover crew? 

“Crewing is so glamorous. If you're lucky enough to be assigned position of "food intake monitor," be prepared to get slopped on. Degree of mess will depend on exactly what your rider chooses to feed their Muggins, and what Muggins deigns to consume at any given point. Rule of thumb: The more rice bran, the messier the slop. Some horses are, in theory, delicate and neat eaters. I've yet to come across one. Roo, in 2009, was probably the neatest eater, and even he managed to dribble on my shoes. You will also, at various points, be sneezed on, used as an itching post, and guaranteed to come home with electrolytes in your hair. And the dirt just goes without saying.”

So....In Mel’s world you much more likely to get slobbered on as the “human food intake” person than the horse.  Let’s just say that if I demand something be taken out of my presence because it’s making me so quickly. 

“Cooling gear is not just for riders. Those cooling vests and neck scarf things feel really good in the late afternoon hanging around Foresthill.”

If you put water on me, especially cold water, or suggest that I might want cold water/clothing on my skin I will kill you.  Don’t touch me with that wet stuff. 

“Be a Learning Sponge. I have learned so much about Tevis, and endurance in general, by crewing. I spend a lot of time at this ride just quietly taking in everything around me and watching the very experienced riders.”

I want you to watch the other horses and riders coming in around me and whether you are a sponge or brick matters naught to me.......but I want to know the following facts: 1. how does Farley look compared to the other horses - above, at, or below average? 2. What drama happened at the check that missed that will entertain for an hour and give me a break from obsessing over every step my horse is taking.

“Hurry up and wait. The modes of Tevis: frantic, anxious, impatient, relieved, ecstatic. Frantic comes in when you're racing the morning clock and traffic, trying to get the rig from Robie Park to Foresthill, then the crew packed up and to Robinson Flat before your rider comes in. Anxious is after you've set everything up and the waiting starts. "Is that them?" "What number were they?" "Is the pull list updated?" "When are they going to get in?" "What's the time cutoff?" Impatient is sitting around Foresthill in the middle of the afternoon, feeling utterly useless for several hours. Relieved is when the familiar bay/grey/chestnut/whatever comes into sight, decked out in their color scheme du jour. And finally, ecstatic is when you get to see your beaming rider cross the finish line under the bright lights of the stadium. (That's the late hour making your vision blurry, not happy tears, really...)”

Meeting me at the entrance of the check with “where WERE you” is not on the list of bueno things to say.  In fact, I may have to add that to the list of “things not to ask or say to me during the ride”.  

Also, I do not want an honest assessment of how I look.  I feel like $hit, I look like $hit, and at any moment I want to throw up.  That is the reality of me doing 100’s to date.  There’s always hope that THIS time I will magically have my food and elytes under control, but until such a time, I will assume that you are either lying to me (“you look great!”) or telling me something I already know (“wow.  You are really dirty an look like $hit”).

“8 days and counting!”

Thanks Ashley.....I had *almost* managed to push the fact to the back of my brain that we are in single digits and even had myself looking at the moon last night saying “it’s no where near full!  Tevis isn’t *that* close....” but I may have just had a full on anxiety attack from this little innocent comment.  

As well as realizing that once my crew reads this little post of yours, I may not have a crew come next Saturday.  Now that they realize that there are greener pastures and such......


  1. I'm flattered my post got excerpted! Now, go lose yourself in the fantastical crackland that is Disney for a few days, don't think about things like "x number of days" countdowns, and just breathe!

  2. I read all your crew docs at least once! I will get really nervous and re-read the horse stuff next week, because my biggest fear is that I do something wrong with Farley. Oh dear :bites fingernails: Don't let her step on her reins, Funder!

    Are those *your* gallon jugs of water in my truck? I didn't know who they belonged to; they just appeared after Sunriver, but anyway I ran out of loose water bottles and started drinking out of one jug, so it's mine now. But I will graciously share the unopened one with whoever wants :)

  3. Funder - the good thing is that Farley is a pretty easy horse to get through a 100, it's the rider that is definiately the weak link! As long as there is food in front of her she's good.

    She's actually EASIER now at 14 than she was when I was competing her at 10 or 11 - since correcting the selenium levels she no longer has muscle cramp issues, and her hocks have completely resolved and she no longer stiffens so I don't have to rush to vet her in right off the bat. All my tevis crew instructions were written when I was still battling those two issues, but really, except for the whole occasional pulling back thing that will still surface if she steps on a lead or rein, she's not a drama queen.

    BTW.......Would it make you less stressed if the crew bag had her lead rope and you were able to use that instead of the reins at checks? It's nicer to hold and handle than my rope reins. I'll put it on the list to put in the crew bag and you can make the choice :)

    Seriously though - you will be great and if soemething happens and I don't finish it won't because you made a mistake :).

  4. Re: the gallon jugs. Me and Amanda bought them because we were getting low on water bottles so no worries :)

  5. Hey! We read your instructions...several times and for all of the events. (You threatened us and your mom insisted.)

    Of course reading and retaining are two entirely different matters.


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