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riding with kings!!!

Hi All
Well i wrote a huge blog last night and the damn connection died before I posted ....so here we go again!!!


I will begin with the build up to the ride which began with a good night's sleep...finally.  The ride morning was spent setting up the crew area.  This was accomplished amidst a land grab reminiscent of the wild west.... some countries were setting up rows of buckets in prime areas to claim territory!  our few Canadian buckets were hopelessly outgunned!!!  In the hold area we had two tents for our 5 horses which was just enough room to do a good job of crewing.  the other  grabbing was of bags of ice...despite being assured that we would be supplied all the ice necessary for the day... crews were going away with pick up boxes piled  high  with ice....this in the morning at 10 Am in 40C temperature with  seven our eight hours before ice would be necessary...go figure!!!
The wild and crazy start was a sight to behold...there was a great deal of spinning rearing and bucking.  In the beginning four of us started out together at a controlled pace....as much as our horses would allow.  I am sure you have all seen pics of the start line lined with spectators by now ...but from the field the air was electric.  First one then another and finally a third horse passed us ...sans rider...and we commented that we were already ahead of 3 out of 135 horses.  The poor riders were left to run down the field pathetically called HALT to thir runaway mounts.  There was a great cheer as the king started the ride. 
things were relatively uneventful on most of the first loop and the horses finally settled in to a working trot.  Despite trying to ride as a team...it ws near impossible for me to get Galaxy to pace with the others...so I went ahead at the end of the first loop.  By now we were in complete darkness  and would be for several hours.  Crewing in this extreme heat and humidity was a great learning experience.  We used ice water to cool out ...even on the back muscles..not sure if that was the right idea as Galaxy developed a sore back later in the ride...but  it was incrdible how much cooling was required.  i was very gratefull for the help Galaxy received in the holds with my crew Barb and angeal doing a great job.  and  a  special thanks to Scott Hie with his back magic,  Rob Benns for his constant smile and words of encouragement,  and all the rest of the Canadian crew!!!  It was especially interesting to see the temps of the Galaxy in the hold... sometimes coming in at 40.9C in the beginning of the hold definitely in the danger Zone!!!  ...thnakfully he pulsed down despite the heavy panting panted and effort to cool himself.  Once thru the vet area...we had to continue to cool him to get the temp down to a reasonable temp of 38-39C to be able to continue.
Loops 2 and 3 in the dark were long and unending..with the occasional strange noises from the jungle thrown in!!!  The water tanks were spaced every  3-4 km with 7-10 large black water troughs usually 3 filled with ice water and all the people water you wanted.  They really looked after us with water!!!
Somewhere in the night we were hit by a severe lighning storm and torrential rain...but lucky for us no incidents.  Unlike the US who had two spooked by the nearness of a stike and both Jan and  Meg came off their horses..perhaps there horses felt the electricity  coming thru their steel shoes in the water.
Finally the light began to appear and we were able to pick up the pace...I am not comfortable cantering in the dark so as soon as it got light enough I asked Galaxy for a good canter.  The track was smooth and fairly soft so good going.  However the sand did a number on my shoes and they were hanging by a thread at the end of the ride  totally worn out...eve though I had been shod 4 days previous to the ride!!!
On loop 5 i came upon two malaysian riders obviously with tired horses...so i made a motion to follow me and their horses seemed to pick up the pace.  We exchanged a few pleasantries and complimented each other on our horses!  It was only at the hold that I realized that i had been riding with his majesty!!!  As we had come in to the hold together I prepared to ride again with the king ...but it was not to be as he had retired from the race.  i did get to finish the last towo loops with Halim ., ammeber of the royal entourage and we crossed the line together and promised each other a shirt.  So I now have the shirt to prove the adventure.
I think overall we Canadians were just happy to finish the ride.  Certainly it was the toughest ride i hve ever been in and also the largest.
I am pleased that Galaxy was able to handle the conditions.   As pointed out to us ...we are along way from a medal position in these conditions.  However finishing 34 or thereabouts out of 135 was good enough for me.  I had said all along that it was my goal  to finish the ride and not go home with an incomplete! 
So now we are relaxing at the beach and trying to recover from lack of sleep
 most of the crew is gone and we are down to our original people.
it is now Tuesday PM at 2 and raining a monsoon!!!  Time to go put the horses in the barn.
Will write more  later.
Selamut tinga from Malaysia
Bob

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