Per the calendar, today the supposed to be the last day of the monsoon season…but I grew up with the monsoon as being defined by starting whenever the weather went over a certain dew point for several days, and ending…whenever it felt like it, rather than arbitrary calendar days. And with a ride this morning of starting humidity of 60% (but temps are cooling off!), and a whole bank of lightning clouds off on the horizon first thing, I will be ignoring the weather people that think they know everything. Liberty is also starting to get a bit velvety-feeling on her coat, a precursor to the winter hair starting to come in. After a long summer, we are all beyond ready for cooler temperatures.
With the local ride season (“local” being defined as “4 hours or less of a drive for me”) getting ready to start next month, Liberty and I have been out racking up the miles. Our mileage total for Aug-Sept came to about 110 miles, with everything from 7-mile technical trail rides to a 20-mile preview run at Mingus Mountain and the latter part of the Man Against Horse course (a preview that helped contribute to my decision to drop our entry from the 50 to the 25, mostly because I need a confidence win after our rough spring season, and starting the fall with the toughest 50 in the state, after a summer of conditioning that, although it was fairly consistent, wasn’t exactly rigorous, or at least not the degree I ideally want to see before heading into that particular 50, wasn’t rattling around in my head as the smartest thought I’ve had).
One of my goals this summer has been “get out and ride in different places.” It’s too easy for me to fall into always going to the same convenient locations, but after riding many of those places for so many years already even prior to Liberty, I quickly get burned out on the same old-same old. Especially when those spots are overrun with other trail users. Some days I’m just not in the mood to deal or share my trails.
So in the last month, I’ve been able to revisit some trails I used to do with Mimi but were new to Libby, and then we’ve done some stuff that was totally new to both of us (including this morning, which I failed to get any photos of because we were boogieing along at such a good clip 98% of the time). It’s been fun to mix it up and keep things fresh and interesting for both of us, and really enjoyable to re-visit some of my old favorite riding spots.
I’ve done a mix of riding solo and riding with friends. Liberty is good either way. Solo is where we get a lot of our quiet bonding moments and can really further our connection. Riding with others is great training, both physically and mentally. She is versatile enough that I can ride her with anyone, and put her anywhere in a group. Following still tends to result in some negotiations about living her best llama life (“No, you are not going to run along behind them inverted with your head straight in the air because you don’t like that I’m asking you to not tailgate”) but she’s getting so much better, and I’m thrilled with how strong and forward but still sensible she has become.
For as active as my riding summer has been, I feel like I haven’t managed to blog about most of it. I still haven’t written this year’s Tevis crewing story, or about the new saddle (from Australia!) that I’ve been testing and riding in since early summer, gear testing (we’re not going to talk about how many bits I have added to my stash), the amazing response to the official formation of the AZ Endurance Riders Club…it’s been a really good summer around here, and I’ll try to catch up on the backlog.