Last weekend I was in Terengganu in Malaysia to ride 240km, a small sample of the derby, 760 km short of the real deal. To put it into perspective, marathoners preparing for a race know that running 10km is no indication that they will be completing the actual 42+km. Yet, this weekend was a trial to understand what can/ will go well and what can go very very wrong.
Here is the recap of the weekend :
60 km per session
3 loops of 20km per session
The loops became mechanical. Get on the horse. Ride 20km loop. Get off the horse. Check the heart rate. Swap to a new horse. Repeat. Here is what I've learned about riding but mostly about myself.
Sleeping, riding or eating
I suspected that sleeping and riding would take priority over food for me and I was right. Food is the fuel I need to keep on going but my brain tends to focus on sleeping and keeping up with the riding. I need to be mindful that I won't be able to ride nor sleep well if I'm not eating enough.
Water is life
I've noticed I didn't think about drinking water until I felt thirsty, which is obviously too late. I need a reminder to stay hydrated.
Stirrups make such a big difference
I started with regular stirrups and then switched to caged ones - a whole world of difference. It might be more psychological than anything but I was able to lengthen my stirrups with the caged ones and still feeling in control no matter the length.
Patience is a virtue
I was thinking about the first thing that will trigger me and I believe patience will be my weakness. When I can't control the situation, like long queues etc, I comply and can wait for hours, not a problem. Yet, in other situations - read, most of the time - I have very little tolerance when it comes to waiting. I need to work on that.
Run, baby, run
My final 20km loop with Abu, the stallion, was quite enlightening. When he was cantering, you could feel he had the energy to go on forever. The moment you stopped him, you were doomed, he wouldn't want to move anymore.
What would really happen if that was the situation during the Derby?
Getting off my horse and continue on foot is what I foresee, so I better start training for a marathon as well.
Overall, I'm very pleased with the experience. It has been eye-opening in terms of logistics as well as so much fun.
240km done - only 760 more to go!