Caffeine, an Endurance Rider's Best Friend
Ever start a ride out without caffeine? Once on the Swanton 100, my new cigarette lighter powered coffee maker refused to work, and I mounted my horse caffeine-less, and instructed him to do the driving until I woke up. He had done the ride before, luckily, so it was no problem for him.
As I approached to first stop at about 30 miles I realized that if I didn't find a form of caffeine at this stop I was going to be in big trouble due to caffeine addiction. I wouldn't just get a headache, I was in danger of getting a migraine. As if endurance riding wasn't hard enough, that kind of pain would be a deal breaker.
So I mention this to a rider who was trotting along beside me, and she said, "oh, I have just the thing for you!" and pulled out a double caffeine Powergel packet. She said, take this, it'll straighten you right out". These things are designed to hit your bloodstream in 10 minutes and give you instant energy. I downed it and literally, ten minutes later I went BING!! my head popped up, and I was a new person! They weren't kidding. So I've been using them ever since (another brand is called GU) both before, and in the latter parts of the ride to stay awake.
Since I've done the Swanton 100 so many times I have more stories from that one too. One year it was the Arabian National Championship run in conjunction with the regular ride. So I was running in the top ten and I and ......another top rider were going along on a single track trail on a ridge top spine with drop offs on both sides. Suddenly we came upon a small rattlesnake in the middle of the trail. It wouldn't move. There was no room to go around it. So she leaped off, grabbed a bunch of gravel and started pelting it until it moved off the trail. I thought, I'm sticking with her!
Then we approached the dreaded Slippery Creek, just as it was starting to get dark. It is a 2' deep creek lined with algae coated rock. We were told to cross it very carefully. So we tip toed across it and upon reaching the other side I noticed what looked like a foot wide pool of blood on the bank. I pointed this out to .... and she freaked out. Then there was a blood trail leading away from it down the path. The puddle was thick and coagulated and right out of a horror movie. More specifically, from "The Blair Witch Project" which I had just seen! We were both totally creeped out as we continued down the trail following the blood drips and wondering what we were going to encounter. I was on the lookout for pentagrams made of sticks hanging in the trees.
Finally we caught up to Mike Tracy and his famous horse Moon, both stumbling along with heads low. Apparently he had not been careful crossing the creek, Moon fell, thrashed around, got pulled out finally by Mike and had a blood spurting heel where he had stepped on himself. Mike said he had tried everything to stave off the blood flow, nothing was working, and he finally just took his gum out and stuffed it in the hole, wrapped something around it and stopped the blood. So I tossed him a roll of vet wrap and we assured him we would send word at the first opportunity that he needed a trailer ride out. The road crossing wasn't too far off and we met someone there who radioed for help.
Mike was in line for the 1/2 Arabian Championship when this happened, so it was a big disappointment. Moon healed up just fine, though. We both went on to top ten, but still shook up from seeing all that blood, but no pentagrams, thankfully.