The vet time was to be a civalised time of 9.30am so there was no early morning start and instead left home at 8am. On arrival at the venue it was already raining and cold! Signed in quickly, unloaded Barik and off we went for Farrier and Vet Check. Thumbs up from them all. A quick tack up and I grabbed all my waterproofs (Regate coat, the khaki army waterproof trousers and my MacWet gloves to be precise) and off we went.
I joined up with Gwen Pickering, a fellow Offas Dyke member, and her horse Paz and we rode together chatting away. About 5km into the ride it began to snow. Yes you read that right SNOW! The snow did not last for long and turned back into rain, this continuously happened throughout my ride.
The Forest of Dean ride is set mostly on Forest Tracks with minimal road work. With the rainfall coming down this made all the tracks a lot softer so Paz and Barik motored along quite happily together. Once we got to check point 3, however, Gwen and Paz left us to continue towards home whilst we had an extra loop of 10km to do as part of the 50km. I'm pleased to say Barik didn't mind having to go off in a different direction and has never been the nappy type. Keen to follow a different loop we trotted round on our own merrily at a lengthened trot of 18kph (and thats without trying). Before we knew it we had trotted around the forest track, turned off onto a very muddy track so had to slow down and crossed the road back onto the track towards crew point and checkpoint 3. My crew (my Gran, Delwyn Hall), was a little surprised to see me back so soon. A quick slosh by the crew and a cereal bar shoved into my head and we were off at to Checkpoint 3 where this time we could turn right.
The route took us further along off road tracks, a short bit of road work and some forest tracks towards the venue. There are normally two rides from Forest of Dean held per year; one in March and other in April. Venue is the same but routes are slightly different and always done in reverse to each other.
Barik and I continued at a leisurely pace in his flowing trot (I'm sure his feet don't touch the ground) towards the last road crossing where Gran saw us safely across. Last little bit to climb the steep hill which Barik jogged up as he knew where he was and we casual came into the venue where the sun actually came out for about 5 minutes whilst I vetted.
Barik started on a pulse of 40bpm and finished on a pulse of 40bpm. Not bad for my little superstar and we had an average speed of 13.5 kph. An excellent start to our season!! Barik gave me such a great ride and I enjoyed it despite the weather!! Looking forward to see the picks by West End Photography.