This was going to be a ride story about Fergus' and my Excellent Adventure at Virginia City 100, but instead I found I had quite a lot to say about gluing, so that story will have to wait. Needless to say, we had a great weekend and Fergus, as usual, impressed the pants off me. He continues to astonish me with his ability, his enormous walk, and the way he takes everything so calmly in his stride (and a very big stride it is, too). Love my borrowed golden boy.
Alas, as part of the original agreement (where I got him on loan to do "NASTR Triple Crown")(and snuck Tevis in there too) I now have to return him to his rightful owner, Patrick. Despite that, I'm already secretly scheming to borrow him back for 20 Mule Team 100 in February.
Smug Gluers R Us
For once I actually felt ready - Fergus and I drove up to Virginia City on Thursday night after work, arriving after midnight but ensuring I'd have all day to get him glued, get everything ready for the ride, preride the part of the route through town, and still relax and socialize.
The camp for Virginia City 100 is on the south side of town and the trail exits on the north side of town. Because of this, we repeat the through-town section four times - always in the dark. The ride starts on the main street and within two blocks drops down a steep paved road to the next terrace below. Judging by the amount of yelling going on at the start of the ride, this steep drop is not much fun in steel shoes. Fergus, on the other hand, marched right down the middle of the road, causing us to appear at the front of the pack and, very briefly, be in third place overall. Awk. Not where I wanted to be at all.
Following shod horses through town later in the evening, every time they hit some repaired asphalt or a painted part of the pavement, their back feet were slipping out from under them.
In boots? Nope...
Fergus and I pre-riding through town on Friday afternoon.
Friday morning's gluing went very well and I was extremely satisfied with the outcome. The fact that I ended up completely covered in glue, including a gob all down one leg and a large blob in my hair is neither here nor there - so long as the boots went on well, I don't care what I look like.
A freshly-glued Fergus gazing down at Virginia City. Thanks to my assistant volunteer, Lorri Stringfield (who also used Glue-ons for her first 100 with her horse, Cruiser), for keeping him as still as she could during the proceedings.
New Things I Learned About Glueing
1. Using a Cooler
After a discussion with Kevin Myers during which I whined about not being able to get the Glue-ons on the horse before the Vettec Adhere glue set up (approximately 0.7 seconds during California summers), he pointed out that even if I kept my glue cool, if I was applying it to a warm boot that might have an impact. I flashed back to my Glue-ons sitting in the warm sun before my last gluing experience and could see where I might have been going wrong.
Accordingly, I arrived at Virginia City with an enormous cooler filled with ice packs and boots and glues and alcohol and disposable gloves and tips and knives and paper towel and ... well, you get the picture.
Keeping everything in a cooler was a stroke of genius. I was actually able to "take my time" (this being relative - you still can't hang around, but at least you don't have to have the powers of the Silver Streak to get the job done). It still required everything to be laid out ready (albeit inside the cooler), and you had to prethink what you were going to do ahead of time, but the resulting experience was positively relaxed.
2. Sikaflex Application
Unfortunately, I wasn't there when the EasyCare Glue Crew put Fergus' boots on for Tevis, so I didn't get to see whatever ludicrously effective system they used to get those suckers to stay on so well. The only thing I had to work from was a quick blurry photo that my husband, Patrick, was able to sneak before being shouted at for not keeping Fergus completely immobile (not actually possible when he's bellowing at the world).
The resulting pic showed a curious difference in how they applied the Sikaflex (formerly Goober Glue) sole packing. Instead of a small bead all the way around the inside edge, followed by a blobby triangle-shape mimicking the frog (see left), they made a large fat "I" shape (see right). This is much quicker to squeeze out and judging by the Tevis results, just as effective.
Fergus had been a little footsore on some of the harder footing during our pre-ride, so I wanted to make sure that he had as much cushioning as possible. As a result, it's possible that I overdid the Sikaflex "slightly"... ...and it's possible that's how come I ended up covered in glue as it proceeded to ooze out of every possible exit. Apparently I still need to perfect that aspect of glue application. Different sized feet with different amounts of concavity will require adjustment accordingly.
3. The Twist
The third thing that I suspect I've been missing out on (probably related to the aforementioned fact that I seldom had time enough to get the boot on the hoof before the glue was set up solid), is to give each boot a slight twist back and forth once they're on, to get the glue to really stick well to both hoof wall and Glue-on wall.
4. The Growth
And now we come to the only mistake I made during the whole proceedings. As mentioned, perhaps I was a little overenthusiastic with the Sikaflex - witness below the golf-ball sized glob of glue that oozed out of the back of the first Glue-on that was stuck on Fergus' right front foot (and I suspect I also forgot to give it that smearing twist).
In my defence, I did pull at the blob slightly just after glueing, but was worried I'd pull out the entire back part of the squooshy glue which so nicely plugs the heel area, so I left it alone to cut off later ...and never went back to it. So as a result Fergus went over 40 miles with a bobble on the back of his foot.
No harm done, right?
The bobble acted like a handle, so when he stepped on it while climbing a long hill at 42 miles, the boot popped right off and we left it behind.
Lesson learned and luckily I noticed not too long later as we crested the long hill we'd been trudging up. I always carry sparesies, so on went a Glove and off we went and I never really thought about it again.
The long 2000' climb at around 40+ miles - Washoe Lake on the left, rocks on the right. At the top of the climb I noticed we were missing something
Other Reasons You'd Want to Boot at Virginia City 100
Nevada is well-known for its rocks. Luckily, for the most part you can step in between them. Of course, there are exceptions - like Bailey Canyon that occurs between 25 and 35 miles. It's actually a lot of fun, so long as you aren't the type who likes to travel at warp speed at all times. You take your time and you enjoy the challenge:
Although there isn't much water on the trail to lubricate your boots, there are a few really steep climbs that cause you to pray you've got your booting protocol down. Here Fergus is at the top of the first (and steepest) "SOB" and is explaining to me that it's time for me to get off and walk:
and here we are scrambling up the other side looking back at Connie and Pam who yelled across to me that she found my lost glue-on (they are the tiny dusty things about half way down the descent):
You also spend quite a bit of time on old mining roads that take you all over the mountains. There are plenty of places to trot, but you have to be ready to slow down when necessary. Connie (in the blue ahead) found an old oxen shoe not far from here while marking the trail:
Part 3 of the Triple Crown - Mission Accomplished
And so Fergus and I completed VC100 around mid-pack which is where I wanted us to be - slow and steady is going to get the job done since neither of us are likely to break records in the fitness department. But by doing so, we received the NASTR Triple Crown award (NV Derby 50, NASTR 75, and VC100) we hoped to achieve back in March when we set out on this journey. Like Uno before him, Fergus wasn't necessarily expected to do much more than slow 50s, which is why it's all the more satisfying that he has turned out so well.
As I said at the beginning - love my big golden borrowed boy, mush face and all.