I am sure all you want to hear about are tales from the trails, but what about the preparation side?
Many of my friends have been getting posts and tales for weeks about: locked gates, missing bridges, cattle grids with no side gates, steep rocky hills, river crossings, dual carriageways (some with newly discovered underpasses, some without any), bogs (Yogi’s pet hate) and the other side of the coin… offers of free grazing, free B&B room, moving of cattle / young horses from where I will be riding through, a free meal, emergency support etc.
All this comes from doing about a week of reccying the route (with trusty JRT grrrr), plus making lots of phone calls and using contacts from previous treks. The reccy’s (in my opinion) for a more remote hill route like this, are essential. They tell you about the obstacles you are going to face so that you can get physically and mentally prepared. You also meet (generally) some very helpful people from the saddle of your bike!
So apart from all the above, there is the equipment prep and the packing to be done (will probably post about that tomorrow), the mental prep and the physical prep.
Physically -well the days on your bike / running / hill walking to reccy the route helps with that, but there is a little celebration I’d like to make today! -I am 4 pounds off my target weight for this trip :o)
Yes… some of the prep has included slimming down a bit for the sake of my horse’s backs. I’m not overly fat, but why should I make my horses carry an extra stone in weight when they don’t need to. I weigh my saddle bags as I decide what to pack, so why don’t I look at what I am carrying around my waist too?
After a bad ski injury 3 years ago, I put on almost one and a half stones in weight due to boredom & inactivity. Then when I was just about recovered from that, I fell off Swift during one of her spotty-bum moments of overload and broke a bone in my back… sigh! Not only did these injuries affect my activity levels, but they affected my confidence too. I was less inclined to want to get out on my bike or go running (in case I aggrovated the injuries or caused another) so the weight stayed on.
This trip, and thinking about how far my horses are going to have to carry my fatter-than-it-used-to-be ass… has been the motivation I needed to get fitter and get lighter. With one week to go, I have 4 pounds left to go (to make that 1.5 stone lost in 6 months). I doubt I will make it exactly for day one of the trip, but knowing the hill I have to climb up on day 3 (which I won’t ask my horses to carry my ass up -despite it being lighter now) I am pretty sure I will have made my target by day 4!
Now that Swift is into ridden work and I can swap the pack horse around, BOTH horses will appreciate my efforts :oD