|Once Upon a Duck Greetings to Real Endurance RidersPerhaps some of you have been wondering whatever happened to the sadistic Frozen Duck who put on the midwinter endurance race at Lar-amie, Wyoming, back in ’81. Well, the last time we heard from the Duck he had routed a trail across the frozen tundra, dynamited the ice off the Laramie River to release the entrapped polar bears, and had even awakened a herd of 250 sex-crazed, hibernating reindeer to terrorize the riders. It was a devastating shock to the Duck to find that Mother Nature, with her perverted sense of humor, provided an all time record breaking day of 72 degrees in beautiful downtown Laramie.
Well, some good did come out of the day. The Duck cleared enough money from the ride to purchase a ticket on a southbound bus. Unfortunately, however, the bus broke down 5 miles east of Minturn, Colorado, and the Duck had to continue on foot. He finally arrived half frozen and broke at an old tavern and restaurant named The Saloon. There he met a kindred spirit tending bar, named Big Bob Cherry ( Colorado’s answer to Kojack and Hitler, all rolled into one). Well, here the Duck has remained (the drinks were cheap) whiling away the hours and solving the great philisophical problems of the world: like why would anyone want to ride in an endurance race when they could be doing something less expensive like chasing women in Monte Carlo in a red Ferrari. It finally occurred to the Duck and BBC that some research was in order to study the peculiar endurance riders in some depth if an answer was to be found to the perplexing problem.
What is being proposed to you is the opportunity to participate in a great research project designed by two fo the finest minds of Tie Siding, Wyoming. Tie Siding, by the way, is an intellectual experiment station in southern Wyoming where great thinkers go in the winter to see how long they can maintain their concentration while watching the big wind molecules beat up the little wind molecules.
The proposal is this, folks, you’ve made it through the b.s. and are now down to the real nitty gritty. On February 21, 1983 there will be a 50 mile, AERC sanctioned, endurance race starting from Joe’s Dugout Pony Express station, a real place located 7 miles west of Lehi, Utah. This race will run down the original Pony Express Trail finishing near Simpson Springs XP station. The next day there will be another 50 mile race starting at Simpson Springs and continuing down the trail for another 50 miles. This format will continue for 5 days and a total of 250 miles, just the right distance for the Duck and BBC to thoroughly study your behavior. The last day’s race will end at the site of the old Ft. Ruby Pony Express station. Should you choose to ride every day you will have ridden across 250 miles of original XP trail, passing the remains of 24 original stations. During the first day you will cross two paved roads and see one small town. After the lunch break of the first day we will only cross one paved road and pass five places of human habitation in the next 225 miles. The experience is awesome. The country remains as it has been since the days of the Pony Express. The majority of the trail is accessible by vehicle as a graded dirst road approximates, and in some cases obliterates, the original trail. There are no services that can be depended upon. The Duck, however, will advise you in how to safely and comfortably negotiate the course with your support crews. The terrain is not difficult and each day’s ride can be made on young, inexperienced horses if proper horsemanship is used. Friends of the Duck have traveled this same route with a similar format on two previous occasions. It can and has been done.
Now the Duck and BBC, both being extremely kind, gentle, benevolent and chaste individuals who would never kill anyone unless they bothered them, worried that some pain-crazed endurance rider might make some nasty scene out in the wilderness that would provoke them into having to take some rash action. Just when things seemed hopeless, the Duck hit upon an idea. “Let’s hire Kathy Riordan to run this for us. She lives in California so she’s used to working with the fruits and nuts,” he said. BBC agreed that this was the perfect solution as it would allow them to continue working on some of their other problems – like precisely how much tequila has to be put in the Margaritas before the average skier perceives the 63-year-old Minturn meter maid as a perfect 10.
Perhaps this is the place to define how some endurance riders view the sport. It is a challenge; each new obstacle is something to overcome with individual initiative, not something to expect ride management to overcome for you. Some endurance riders are not unlike the young men of the early days who, as they floated down the great rivers on their way West, were tempted into the many caves along the way to “wrestle the bear.” It would have been no sport to wrestle the bear if you were always guaranteed a happy ending, but when you emerged from the cave you had met the unknown and had conquered it. Some caves contained two bears for added enjoyment. The Duck and BBC, being a couple of old bear wrestlers themselves, believe that management exists to create a challenge, not to help you through every possible obstacle. Many endurance riders today compete only to race their machines; they don’t want any surprises. They prepare themselves and their mounts beforehand and they want a guarantee that the event will be predictably exact. Due to the magnitude of this project and the lack of funds to provide control over all of the factors involved, not to mention the Duck’s lackadaisical attitude on life in general, this ride will be short on guarantees and niceties. The barest essentials will be provided: cave, one or more bears, awards on exit. They will, however, provide you with more than you have ever been provided with on a ride – more miles to ride, more historic sites, more open country, more freedom to succeed but also more freedom to fail. All of the essentials will be provided to ensure AERC sanction. There will be a marked trail (they are trying to obtain the other half of the roll of ribbon Pat Fitzgerald used to mark the Silver Springs Ride) and the services of a qualified veterinarian (his former employer said he was the most qualified chicken inspector the state ever had until he got on the bottle). There will also be awards – silver awards for the finishers of each day’s ride along with daily 1st place and best condition awards.
In an attempt to lure you into the whole shebang, the Saloon has graciously offered to present a beautiful silver cup to the accumulator of the most points received during the five day series. The Saloon has also agreed to keep the cup filled with Margaritas any time the winner is in Minturn for the rest of the winner’s life or until BBC tires of the winner’s company, which may come at precisely the same time. One point will be awarded for every mile ridden by any horse/rider team along with a bonus point of 2.5 points for each place above 10th. There will also be an oveerall best condition award along with anything else the Duck decides to give away by then. So the bottom line is this: you get to enter five 50 mile rides in a row, each one a separate event, each one with a quite reasonable entry fee of $300. This fee entitles you to be recorded as a participant in a day’s race and receive an award after a successful completion. It also insures that the results will be sent on to AERC for the permanent record, so that when you look back on this week and say, “I don’t believe those smooth talkin’ suckers really conned me into that mess,” you can call up Annie T. and she’ll say, “Thats right sweetie, You were there.” What you don’t get for your money is the right to whimper and bitch at management about how things ought to be different. Try to always remember the famous saying, ” If you don’t like what they do in Rome, go to Turkey.”
Now, having some extensive experience in dealing with the species Endurio peculiario , the dynamic duo recognized that most applicants to this event will be relatively manageable people who, although their elevators don’t usually run all the way to the top, will realize that they participate in this sort of event on their own free will. So, the Duck has initiated a grant in aid program to deserving persons. (Now aren’t you sorry you snickered when the Duck was described as “benevolent”?) The Frozen Duck Trust Fund has agreed to offer an unlimited number of grants to the tune of $260 a day. All you have to do is apply, on a daily basis, just prior to entry time and see if your grant has come through, and there is no reason why it shouldn’t if you have been nice to the Duck and all of his friends. Should you cause the management more than $300 a day in grief, however, they will reserve the right to cast you out into the wilderness. It is an interesting side light to note the close proximity that this wilderness has to a dead sea (Great Salt Lake). This could even qualify as a religious experience, so if you want to make your checks out to the Reverend Duck, you can try taking it off your income taxes as a religious deduction.
Pony Express Trail in Nevada and Utah
NK 12-11 Joe’s Dugout 0 0
NK 12-10 Rush Valley (Meadow Creek) 11.8 20.3
NK 12-10 Faust 8.5 28.8
NJ 12-1 Willow Creek 5.0 118.7
NJ 11-3 Egan’s (Egan Canyon) 15.8 202.8
NK 11-2 Mountain Springs 13.5 230.5
The following maps will be used during the five days of the Pony Express endurance ride series NK 12-11 Salt Lake City, Utah – NK 12-10 Toole, Utah – NJ 12-1 Delta, Utah – NJ 11-3 Ely, Nevada – NK 11-12 Elko, Nevada
The information given above is an approximation of the locations of the original XP station sites. The precise milage may differ slightly due to variations in the trail made necessary by the weather. A more precise information list will be made available to you at the pre-ride breifings. You should be aware of the fact that the exact location of an individual station would vary depending upon season water availability and Indian pressure. Due to the scarcity of water in some areas, some stations were nothing more than an agreed upon spot where a contractor would bring a new horse and drink of water out in a wagon. This is especially characteristic of the desert stations in the western part of Utah and Nevada. The information given here, however, will allow you to accurately predict your needs in terms of water and rest stops. All riders will be supplied with Xerox copies of the above maps. Many people, however, will find it much easier to transcribe the xeroxed information onto an original topographical map which will show the contours and vegetation in much better detail.
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The Duck Himself