This year’s War of the Roses was particularly challenging. Some idiot (yes that would be me) thought it would be a good idea to run it as a two day competitive ride this year. I mean, how much more work would it be……
It was fine until both Kerry and I got new (busy) jobs, and the workload in Board-land started to increase daily too.
And even that was fine, but then I fell over (from a standstill) and dislocated and broke my elbow. I was sober at the time, honest.
It was at this point my reaction to most things became Arrrrggggggghhhhhhhhh!!!!!! Kerry and I are complete opposites, so her laid back Yorkshire Lass “it’ll be reet” balanced out my raging anxiety as ever.
Vets and farriers were booked, the TS (and assistant) were booked, the landowners, tennants and gamekeepers were contacted. The entries were slow to come in initially. Had we bitten off too much with two days of competition over a challenging course? But then they started to pick up, and boy did they come in. We even had one intrepid soul in the two day 94km class.
We had to do some last minute re-routing due to losing access to a bit of the Sunday route. This unfortunately meant more roadwork, but the replacement track was an amazing grassy bridleway so we hoped that people wouldn’t be too upset about the extra Sunday roadwork. At least it was a route, and a very pretty route at that.
Ride weekend was approaching fast. My arm was getting a bit better although not 100%. Then one of our stewards broke her ankle. And then the day before the ride our TS fell off and broke her back. They’re both OK (thankfully) but that was three people with broken bones – I hoped it wasn’t an omen. ‘It’ll be reet’ said the Yorkshire Lass. ‘They’ll turn up, they’ll ride round a bit, they’ll have a good time, and then they’ll go home’.
Marking went well, a fallen tree to sort out, but otherwise OK. Then people started to arrive. You never, ever feel ready, or that you have done enough. Lists, lots of lists. And then when you get back into the old routine of checking people off, handing out bibs, explaining the route, it is like you’ve never been away.
How would Saturday’s route work as a competitive class? The proof was in the pudding – the riders were coming back smiling and they’d had a great time. Phew. And no eliminations for lameness either.
Pizza for tea, and then up at the crack of dawn to tidy up some route marking. Sunday is much hillier, but the views are out of this world. Despite being very hot, I think most people and horses came home smiling.
Unfortunately our one intrepid rider in the 94km was spun at the final vetting – we were all absolutely gutted for her. But otherwise there was a very good completion rate and lots of good feedback. They turned up, they rode round a bit, they had a very good time, and then they went home again.
Yorkshire won the War of the Roses for the third year running – Lancashire were still in with a chance overnight but a huge army of Yorkshire pleasure riders on day two put paid to that. Not that the Lancashire riders let that dampen their spirits at all 🙂
We are extremely grateful to our hosts at Breaks Fold Farm as they pulled it out of the bag yet again. Louise and Richard, you definitely get the award for best venue – thank you thank you! We got loads of amazing support from Yorkshire (and some Lancashire and Nottinghamshire) endurance riders who rocked up to volunteer on the day and before – thank you for all your hard work and for making the ride so special. Thank you to the riders and crews who spent all weekend grinning like idiots and got into the spirit of things and really lifted the ride. And to the vetgate and farrier teams who despite getting sunburn seemed to smile all weekend too. Thank you to West End Photography for the amazing rider pictures, and to Kent Mirzon for the fantastic egg and mushroom butties. Thank you to the Yorkshire Lass for being my rock and keeping me sane (ish). Thank you too to all the helpful gamekeepers, tennants and to Yorkshire Water who were so kind and allowed us access to their land. We really couldn’t have done it without you.
So then….next year?