YellowHammer on ridecamp
First my sincere condolences to the family of the 55 year old woman who died on the trail this past weekend at Yellowhammer. Thoughts as well to the junior she was sponsoring. Such a sad and helpless situation to be where there is a need for lifesaving help, on a remote trail. I've been through a similar situation where help did not come in time, with a futile attempt at resuscitation, and those experiences sure stick with you. As riders we place ourselves in this situation frequently and it could happen to any one of us. Especially we in the over 50 age group. I had a very close call last summer in the heat when I was thrown off by Phebes and she ran off. It could have turned out badly, as it was I was dizzy, disoriented, vomiting, and near passing out from heat exhaustion which could quickly have turned the page to something more dangerous. Nobody knew I was out in the woods. I was stupid, stupid, stupid.
Distance riders take a lot of risks. We often must out of necessity train alone. The increasing age census of riders places us all at even greater risk. What can we do? What should we do?
- Make sure we are physically fit. Those who regularly do 50 mile rides are probably the fitter of us as compared to the LD riders. Why do I say that? Because I hit a physical wall at 25 miles of posting the trot. And those unfit for 50 are more inclined to shoot for the shorter distance. In my mind that is only half-way for an endurance ride. If I cannot easily complete a 25-30 mile I have no business attempting a longer distance until I can get myself "fit enough" to do so. My intentions are always good thinking I'm going to complete a fitness program. I start, but I don't hang with it. I set at a desk all day, and I'm probably a high risk rider setting myself up for an on trail incident if I don't do something about it.
- Carry identification and health information on your person. List what ails you, what drugs you are taking, your doctors name and phone number, and at least two emergency contacts.
- Carry a few emergency supplies in a pouch on your person. Bottle of water (or sports drink), aspirin (might keep you alive with a mild heart attack), some electrolytes, and if you have blood sugar issues a piece of fruit.
- On ridecamp someone mentioned SPOT having a 911 option that allows you to be located in the event of an emergency. That would be step one, but still, if you are remote....you are in deep stuff. Someone has to get to you and get you out, and get your horse out. Having a buddy network for training rides is a good idea.
- Drag riders. I don't know that we have them in our region. But we should. AERC should award completions to drag riders as they are the human safety net of any ride. If someone rides drag for each loop, they will eventually run across the person in trouble on that loop. Not a perfect system but sure beats nothing if you happen to ride "turtle."
Sad and tragic situation. I'm so sorry for everyone's loss, and all those who stepped up to assist, you are awesome people. It sure makes you think.