How to Go Long Distance Painlessly

How to Go Long Distance Painlessly

Here are some tips to make your long distance riding a little more comfortable.

Hot feet is a phenomena you will notice after about 15 miles on board. I was recently given stirrups"to try" and after 125 competitive miles on the "Cloud" stirrups. I have paid for them and sent a testimonial, because they did indeed "fit the bill" and definitely suit me.

Chafing from the knee down used to be part of the game before the brilliant idea of using slippery bicycle pants for riding. The stretchy tights are like a second skin and allow nothing to slide against your tender hide. Modesty is no problem as men (or women) can wear shorts, tights and tall socks- leaving only a few knees to view. But most people are game now, and colorful, fun tights are on everyone. Remember for every gain there is a sacrifice and here it is grip. Leather holds against leather. Ask any bronc rider why he wears chaps or jump rider why she wears real leather boots. So, if you need extra grip, slip on the chaps until your horse is less bucky. Another advantage of tights is that they dry so fast, one can stand in the stream or sit in the water trough and be dry 5 miles down the trail. On a cold day pull sweat pants over top.

On 50 miles or further, crotch chafing can cause that first visit to the outhouse to be a stoic affair. Coat the area with Vaseline, KY Jelly or whatever. Take a jar of tube with you to the ride.

Because the name of the game is learn to PACE your horse before you RACE your horse, I wear gloves at least at the start for that constant play with the reins. If you find gloves that do not leave dye on the hands please let me know about them. Last and most important, the latest hard hats are also stolen from bicycling. They are so light one hardly knows a cover is on the head. Mine has a visor and is a Troxel.

So, now that you are dressed for Painless Riding, lets go do a 30 to 40 mile Competitive Ride. Take a water bottle with you either around your waist or attached to the saddle and sip water, juice, or Gatorade continuously before you're thirsty. You need to dismount every 10 to 12 miles to get the blood circulating in your legs. At a Competitive Ride get off at the water trough or at a stream. As long as you are not making forward motion it is legal. Wash your face and rest your wrists in that cool water. On a cold day you need to dismount and remount just to warm up. Make yourself do this well before you feel STUCK in the saddle, when you are stuck in the saddle and don't want to get down you are starting to stiffen up.

The sun takes calcium from the system and riding is work even though we treat it as recreation. To avoid terrible leg cramps from lack of calcium, I take 2 Tums every 25 miles whether I need it or not. I have been at mile 89 unable to finish a ride, in fact preferring to expire on trail, when I accidentally took 2 Tums. In absolutely no time I hopped up and was ready to go much to my amazement and everyone else's. A few of my friends have been in a similar state after long rides, popped Tums and -- instant recovery!

For any ride over 25 miles, or more than 6 hours on the trail, I feel riders need sustenance i.e. a banana, an orange, cheese, grapes, cucumber, granola bar, etc. Competitive trail ride management should offer a mid-ride snack or transport rider's lunches to the halfway point. The good old days of "see how much suffering the horse and rider can take" and "the toughest is the winner'" are out!. We need more riders in this sport, plus Animal Rights has educated us in how to care for the horse. Now we need to care for the rider and the rider needs to care for himself -- you must think for your body, as the body is so Stupid it cries for help when it is too late!

So wear the clothes for the job. Keep hydrated before the fact. Keep the circulation going, keep fit, take care of yourself and above all - watch for the Trail Markers!

By Nancy Beacon

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