Tevis 2015 Crewing: Worth It

I crewed the 50th Anniversary Tevis ride…and now I’ve crewed the 60th Anniversary ride. Plus 5 other years in between. I’ve definitely earned my crewing stripes. :)

I was crewing for my best friend Kaity again, this time riding her newer horse Ani in his first Tevis. I can’t really say “Spoiler Alert” since full ride results are available online, but THEY FINISHED!!

Wednesday afternoon saw me flying in to Sacramento, where Lucy picked me up from the airport and we headed straight to the Tevis Pre-Ride BBQ in Auburn. Since we were still early, we perused the vendors (pretty 60th Anniversary shirts this year…of course I added to my wardrobe) and walked through the barns, looking for people/horses we might know.

I ran into Tammy from Arizona and her mare DRae…who, we found out, is actually a half sister to Kaity’s Ani. Small world. It was their first Tevis…and they finished!

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D-Rae

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Ani

You would think they were related or something. ;)

After the BBQ, it was onward to Tevis Low Camp (aka Lucy’s place, where it is tradition to stash horses/crewpeople versus staying at the fairgrounds) for an evening of hanging out on the back deck, drinking beer and analyzing the Tevis rider lists.

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Tevis moon

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Cuddling with Spike, Artemis’s younger brother. Worst part about flying somewhere is not being able to take Artemis along.

I won’t admit what time we all finally shuffled off to our respective beds, but it was late. Or early, depending on your perspective and if you want to call it Wednesday night or Thursday morning. ;)

I had a way-too-early rooster chorus wake-up call, but I managed to stuff a pillow over my head and go back to bed for another couple of hours before dragging myself out for coffee and a day of trailer packing and ride prep.

Something I bring to the table (ha!) as a crew-person is my ability to cook, and I get an annual request for my “Tevis pasta salad” to be a part of the food line-up. (So far, all four years I’ve made this, my riders have finished. A correlation? {Probably not, but we all have to have our superstitions…})

Ashley’s “Magic Tevis” Pasta Salad
16oz small pasta (elbows, small shells, ditalini, etc…)
4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
3-4 green onions, thinly sliced
9-10oz mayonnaise, more or less can be used as desired
salt
pepper
olive or grape seed oil

– Cook pasta according to package directions. Once cooked, drain and lightly drizzle with olive or grape seed oil (this will keep it from sticking or clumping together).
– While pasta is still warm, add half the mayo and stir to coat pasta.
– Add chopped eggs and sliced green onions and mix.
– Salt/pepper to taste.
– Add additional mayo to taste. I generally use about 9 oz of mayo for an entire bag of pasta, and it creates a nice coating on the salad without being gooey or gloppy. Adding it while the pasta is still warm allows the pasta to absorb some of the mayo for a nice creamy taste and texture.

*** For Tevis, I parcel it out into Ziploc bags and small tupperware containers to be divvied among the main food cooler and individual vet check coolers. It’s proven to be popular with both rider and crew alike.

This year we went the “dry ice” route of keeping food cold…all I can say is it worked really well…like overkill well, to the point that a number of food items were actually *frozen* by Saturday evening. Next time: yes to dry ice, just maybe a little less than 70 pounds worth… (Worked great for ice boots though!)

Thursday prep went really smoothly (no exploding hay bales this year), so Friday morning, we rolled out of Lucy’s around 10:45, on our way to Robie Park.

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Infamous Robie Park dust on the last several miles of the drive in.

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Tevis start line. {wistful sigh}
One of these days…

Monsoon activity has been pretty prevalent in the Sierras, and a couple miles out from Robie Park, we started getting RAIN! Ummm, whut???? It’s not supposed to rain at Tevis! (Except for that time in 2012 when it started raining in the evening after Foresthill, but I digress…)

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Rain at Tevis. It’s a thing. A thing that completely blew my theory that “if you actually bring raingear, you won’t need it.” Grateful for my GoreTex. Especially since “raingear” isn’t a commonly-carried Tevis vendor item…so I would have been reduced to running around with a trashbag, spooking horses.

Once at Robie Park, while Kaity went and checked in, I wandered around, connected with friends and some of “my” Renegade riders, and hung out at the vetting area until Kaity came back down with Ani to vet in.

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First obstacle passed: vetted in GREAT!

After watching them vet through, I went and did my best to contribute to the Tevis economy (yay, vendor shopping!). I had a couple things on my wish list that I was able to find, but mostly I just like perusing the different horse wares.

After having a couple of questionable experiences on the availability of food at the Friday night Tevis dinner the last couple of years, despite having pre-purchased tickets, it was decided this year we would have our own private crew dinner ahead of time, and then head down to the ride meeting, which worked perfectly.

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Super-crowded ride meeting. With 198 starters, the pavilion area was *packed*!

After the meeting, the “advance team” of myself, Lucy, and Renee headed out of Robie Park and back down to Foresthill where we would spend the night in anticipation of being able to be one of the earlier cars in line up to Robinson Flat. While it made for a shorter night of sleep, it was definitely a good idea and way less stressful than the Great Trailer Race out of Robie Park in the morning…plus we were up there early enough to watch all of the front runners come in.

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Tevis Moon! (Driving out of Robie Park Friday night.)

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Following the water truck up to Robinson Flat.

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Vet check area at Robinson Flat. The calm before the horse arrival storm.

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First rider in.

There was some miscommunication early on about how much “crewing” was allowed on the road in to Robinson Flat — first we were mistakenly told by an official “you can’t crew here, you have to go back down past the in-timer.” Never mind that the first 6 or 7 horses had already been in at that point…

Yes, there is a sign about 1/4-mile out from Robinson Flat that states “no crewing before this point.” But historically, we’ve always been allowed to meet riders out on the road, let the horses get a first drink, pull tack, and start cooling. So to be told, “No crewing” created a bit of a stir, especially since there was never anything published anywhere to that effect.

A few minutes later, another official came by and clarified: We were okay where we were, they just don’t want a huge backlog of horses stopping out on the road and creating major traffic jams — so as long as we could do things in a “mostly forward motion” we were okay to start pulling tack and cooling the horse. Which is what we’ve always done. I can understand the not wanting a backlog of horse butts standing in the road while other horses and crewing come bustling up around and behind them, but the communication of that intent could have been more clear.

(A a brief aside here: I realize an organization needs rules and regulations to run smoothly, but it seems like every year, there are more and more asinine and arbitrary rules that are invented and imposed on riders and crew…I feel like it’s starting to cast a bit of a shadow on something that has always been very enjoyable. This kerfuffle over crewing/not-crewing, and not allowing food into the blood draw and vet lines at Robinson Flat were the two biggies for me.)

{And stepping back off the soapbox…}

While we were waiting, it…wait for it…started raining. Again. And this time I didn’t bring the rain jacket. Fortunately there were large pine trees to shelter under, and horse blankets in the crew cart.

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A shivery (partial) SUPERCREW!
Renee, Lucy, and yours truly
The other half of the crew was on their way up from dropping the trailer at Foreshill.

And happily (since Ani does NOT like cold), by the time Kaity arrived, the clouds had passed and the sun was out.

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Kaity arrives!

Keeping the “forward motion” edict in mind, we quickly got to work stripping tack and stuffing food into the starving Ani. He wasn’t quite keen on the “quickly strip tack” idea, with a few “let me spurt forward and run into my handler (me)”  moments…but we got the job done and got them to the in-timer and then onward to the blood draw and vet line.

As I mentioned before, they blocked us from bringing horse food into the blood draw area (which we have in the past, as some of our participants are not fond of needles, so pans of food serve as excellent distraction) and into the vet line. In our case, this time, it was fine…Ani doesn’t care about needles, and Kaity only had one person ahead of her in the vet line…but for others that were stuck in that line for 20-30 minutes, that’s a big problem. At least if you have to wait that long, the time can be productive for the horse to eat, but that wasn’t allowed to happen this year. Another one of those new, unpublished rules that doesn’t seem to make any kind of sense.

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Ani trot

I have no photos of the crewing-and-stuffing-food-into-rider-and-horse part of the check, since I was refilling water bottles and saddle packs, tending to horse necessities, and re-tacking…but suffice to say that hold always zips by.

Ani needed a re-check per the blood draw (as the vet who re-checked them said, “Why???) but that was completely seamless and we had them to the out check right on time.

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leaving Robinson Flat

Shortly after Kaity left, a rescue helicopter was brought in for a rider who had come off earlier in the ride — that was a bit of excitement as it tried to land, kicked up a ton of dust, and peeled off to land elsewhere. A whole cluster of riders rushed up to the out-timer to try to get out, were sent back down when they brought the chopper in, then rushed back up as soon as it peeled off. Always a bit of unplanned excitement.

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(I was impressed by the fact that all the horses that I saw were completely nonplussed by the whole thing. Gotta love Tevis horses.)

After the helicopter excitement, we headed back down to Foresthill where we got the trailer set up, then Lucy, Renee and I headed back out again — Lucy and Renee to Chicken Hawk vet check, and myself to Michigan Bluff, which is just a water stop, but it’s at the top of the second canyon, and it can be beneficial to both horse and rider to have a quick pause here for a snack/cool-down before heading up to Chicken Hawk, a mile and half up the road.

I had some AZ endurance buddies down at Michigan Bluff to hang out with, who had snagged an excellent shady spot, so I took pictures, jumped in to give a crew hand to a couple of people, and waited for Kaity to show up.

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Kaity and Ani at Michigan Bluff. A little hot, and definitely starving.

My goal as crew was to have them out in 10 minutes or less — they were gone in 9 minutes. There was time to cool Ani, let him eat a large chunk of alfalfa, get Kaity to drink an Ensure and refill her water pack, and send them on their way.

I got the Full Tevis Experience this year in running down the hill to Michigan Bluff (and the shin splints to prove it), and the subsequent hike back up. New sympathy for the horses/riders climbing the canyons.

Timing worked out well — Kaity was *just* coming up Bath Rd to Foresthill by the time we got back (after socializing a bit in FH), and the other half of our crew had already taken the cart, met her, and pulled tack.

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Foresthill vet check

The Foresthill check was really smooth — longer vet line, but plenty of food — and we had them back at the trailer in short order. Kaity showered, Ani got ice boots on his legs, glowsticks and headlamp were applied to gear, and we had them to the out-timer on time.

After seeing them out, we hung out around FH for a little bit, eating our own dinner and packing up the trailer before making our way back down to Auburn.

Sensible people take advantage of several hours of downtime and take a nap.

I am not sensible. Nor is Lucy. Hence why we stayed up all night in the stadium, watching riders come in. I almost nodded off a couple of times, but we kept following the webcast status, seeing riders we knew leave the Lower Quarry check and would keep delaying the notion of heading off to bed. And before long, it was close enough to the time Kaity was expected that we might as well stay up.

Tevis riders and crews have perfected sleep deprivation.

Our routine has been that when our rider leaves Lower Quarry, they turn on their “Track My iPhone” feature that we can then access and follow their progress on our phones, so that last half hour was spent obsessively refreshing my phone, wondering *exactly* where she was at on the trail.

And then her tracker showed her very close, and then there were three neon green glowsticks appearing at the finish line!

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official timed finish

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down in the stadium

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completion trot-out

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good boy!!

And like that, we were done, and Kaity has another Tevis horse. We hung out in the stadium for the hour re-check on metabolics, using the time to poultice and wrap legs (another reason I’m on the crew, aside from my pasta salad, is that I’m an excellent leg-wrapper).

It was daylight by the time we wrapped things up and got back up to the trailer, and we all crashed for a few hours of sleep.

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Comparing grubby crew legs

Lucy and I got up early enough to shower (nothing feels as good as that shower Sunday morning, even if the water does go from ice cold to scalding hot), get breakfast, and watch the Haggin Cup judging. 8 out of the Top Ten horses showed this year, and they looked good.

After that it was hanging around the trailer, packing stuff up to head back to Tevis Low Camp, and then awards dinner.

The 2015 Tevis Cup was won by Potato Richardson riding SMR Filouette; the 2015 Haggin Cup was awarded to Auli Farwa, owned by Kevin Myers and ridden by Jenni Smith. 198 riders started, 90 finished, for a 45% completion rate.

After awards, we headed back to Low Camp, ate pizza, and spent the rest of the evening chattering away about all things Tevis. And then Monday, my Tevis fun was over and it was back to the Real World. (Tevis World is much more fun.)

2016 Tevis is early, so there’s only 50 weeks and change before the next round. ;)

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Crew shirts.
Really says it all.
Definitely worth it.

4 thoughts on “Tevis 2015 Crewing: Worth It

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