Since a CTR is not a race, coming in first is not going to assure you a winning spot. The trailmaster has measured the trail and set a time and speed that you are expected to follow.
NATRC allows a 30 minute window around the trailmaster's time for riders to complete the
course. This basically means, if the course is 20 miles long and you are expected to go 4 mph,
it should take you 5 hours to complete the ride. Your 30 minute window
in which to finish the ride would be: 4:45 to 5:15 without time penalties. (There are other factors in an actual ride, but
we will address them later.)
At the ride briefing, you will be given a map of the trail similar to the one below. It will
show the camp and relevant trail features; such as roads, lakes, ponds,
creeks, power lines, bridges, oil
wells, radio towers and train tracks to help you orient yourself during the ride. It will
also give you points along the trail with mileage, so you can check your pace against ideal
ride time. Some ride managers will include the times at these points, others will leave it
for you to figure out. Also we have to remember that there will be at
least 2 P&R checks along
Each one of these takes 15 minutes, so the rider must factor in the extra time allowed for
Timing/Distance chart for the practice
ride map below:
|CAMP - A
|A - B
|B - C
|C - D
|D- 2 mile
|2 mile - CAMP
The ride manager at our practice ride has left it up to the riders to figure
out their point to point times. The trail is exactly 20 miles from start to finish and the riders
told to go at 4 mph; this means they should average 1 mile every 15 minutes on their horses. There
will be two P&R checks during this ride, and the riders are given an extra 30 minutes to include them.
The math would look like this:
|20 miles at 4 mph = 5 hours
|5 hours + 30 minutes (2 15 minute P&Rs) = 5
hours 30 minutes
Allowing for our 30 minute window, we discover we must complete the ride
between 5:15 (minimum time) and 5:45 (maximum time). You should boldly mark these numbers
on your map or highlight them. These are the times you are riding against.
Now to break the ride down in times point to point. Point A is 5 miles out
from camp, so simple calculation tell us that we should get there in 1:15 averaging 4
mph. If we have set our watch to 12:00 at the start of the ride, a simple glance
will tell us if we are going too fast or slow when we get to the point marker.
Point B is 3.6 miles further, and looking at our time chart,
(which you can print off and bring to the rides with you), we see it should
take us 54 minutes to go from A to B. Adding those two times together, we
discover that ideally we should reach B at 2:09 on our watches. (1:15 + 0:54)
We see from the map that Point C is 4.8 miles further, so we can calculate we
should get there around 1:12 after Point B, or at 3:21 on our watch. However,
we notice on the map we have a P&R between Point B and Point C. This will add
15 minutes on our time, so we need to add in 15 minutes to our ride time. Now
we see we should actually get to Point C at 3:36 on our watch.
Point D is 2.2 miles further along the trail. It should take us 33 minutes to go
from Point C to Point D. Our watches should read 4:09 at Point D, if we are pacing
our horses correctly.
The next mileage point on our map is the "2 mile marker". Every NATRC ride will
have one of theses and it signifies that you are 2 miles from camp. On our practice
ride, it means we have covered 18 of the 20 miles of the course and we should get
there at 4:45... oops, don't forget to add another 15 minutes for the second P&R
along the trail! Now we see that we should be at the 2 mile marker at 5:00 on our
watches. If you are too early, this is the place to get off and kill some time
with your horse. Once you pass the 2 mile marker, you CANNOT stop, zigzag,
circle or backup but must
maintain "forward motion". The 2 mile marker is the last place to double check
you time/speed and make adjustments to your pace.
If we maintain 4 mph, it should take us about 30 minutes to cover the last 2 miles
back to camp. This would put us over the finish line at 5:30, exactly in the
middle of our allowed time window of 5:15 - 5:45. Congratulations!
You have just done your first NATRC ride on paper.