Triple Crown Race @ OCTRA Summer Solstice
Saturday was a blast — our bike group participated in the first-ever Triple Crown Race with our friends at the Ontario Competitive Trail Riding Association (OCTRA). Teams of a mountain biker, runner, equestrian and equine competed head-to-head … and honestly, illustrated how horses, mountain bikers and other trail users can get along famously in the same forest/trail system!
Our team was a bit unorthodox — we couldn’t find a runner, so Rosemary Hasner started the raceand did the 15km of singletrack (in 30C+ heat). I took the handoff and rode the same route while the runners did 10km (only seemed fair). And then our new friends, Tom and Carolyn, who came in from just outside Ottawa, rode Dolly and Thor on a 10 km trail ride!We used OCTRA rules, which meant our overall team time didn’t stop until our equine teammates’ heart rates were below 60 bpm! This meant we had to work to make that happen!
The non-equestrian teammates had to de-tack the horses and bathe them to cool them down. Pulse checks were conducted by vets and once we were rested enough, the non-equestrian teammates had to present the horses to the formal vet check. We had to keep the horses’ heart rates below 60 AND then we needed to trot the horses to make sure there was no sign of lameness or other issues. This event was a COMPLETE BLAST. Neither Rose nor I are race-inclined, but this event seemed perfect for us. And it was an outstanding way to show the world how bikes, horses and other trail users can happily co-exist in the same place. Win-win! Word of advice from our equestrian friends — start talking to the horses and the riders the moment they come into view. Don’t stay silent! Horses have no issues with mountain bikers, but they are caught off guard when something sneaks up quietly on them. They’re happy once they figure out there’s a person on that two-wheeled contraption! Take a stroll through the pics for a glimpse inside this AWESOME event!
Mass start for mountain bikes was at 12:30 pm. Temp = 30 degrees C! At least there was no humidity.
Rose returns triumphant. First words out of her mouth? “That was tough!”
Johnny from www.TeamVanGo.ca worked with Sue from OCTRA to set up the whole day and he was stationed in the forest at the half-way mark for bikes (and the cut-back for runners) to make sure we were OK. I used this moment to hang-out and chat for a good six minutes or so. I don’t race because I am too competitive and I hit this checkpoint way too quickly — it was too hot to be riding that fast, so I needed to collect myself (and talk myself into slowing it down a little). This was supposed to be fun!
Not only were our times noted on it, but also the health of our equine partners — HR, leg condition, respiration rate and other general notes. We hung out in the crew area while our teammates were on their ride. They had to stop in the middle of the forest for a mid-point pulse and respiration check by one of the on-site vets — OCTRA folks REALLY look after their horses! We were waiting with pails of water, sponges and squeegee sticks to help get the horses cooled fast upon return. Dolly gets a pulse check before we head out to final presentation.
Informal pulse checks are conducted at the cool-down area, so you know where you stand before you go to the next stage. The last thing you want is to present a horse with and elevated heart rate (they send you back or dock you points).
Tom took Dolly, who is a bit high-strung, to official presentation just so we were all safe. Tom and Carolyn told us the horses stay calm when you talk gently to them, so there was a lot of face-to-face calming to help keep those heart rates down.
Rosemary Hasner, horse whisperer, with Thor during official presentation. It worked! The official presentation! Rose has Thor, who is a purebred Polish Arabian and naturally chill. The vet is the fellow with the red flag attached to his belt. Thor passed!
Now it was time to trot him. Rose clearly had a blast and Thor looked good, although we were all a bit concerned about a wee hoof nick on one of his back hocks. This boy will need boots next time!
I got to fuel Thor back at the cool-down area.
This handsome boy got a mix of carrots,apples, oats, molasses and electrolytes. And of course, some tasty clover that was nearby!
Addition from Johnny…
Thank you Janet for the great review of the event!
I’d like to thank all the people who made this possible. I have to give credit to Sue from OCTRA for coming up with this event idea, thanks Sue, it was a pleasure to be a part of this event with you. A large thank you to all the volunteers that gave their time to come out and make this event happen. I hope everyone involved from every discipline gained some education from each other. We all are seeking the same thing, enjoyment from spending time in nature. Thank you to all that helped and participated in this event. Johnny