10 years of wild rides | TheUnion.com

10 years of wild rides

Robert and Melissa Ribley long ago hopped into the saddle of endurance riding and have been enjoying the sport ever since.

But 10 years ago the Ribleys came up with a ride of their own right here in their western Nevada County backyard that has been a hit with endurance riders since its inception.

The Wild West Endurance Ride will once again hit the trails – and this year will celebrate what’s been a whole decade of fun for horseback riders – this weekend at Skillman Campground.

“We just thought what would be a better thing than to put an endurance ride on in our local area,” Melissa said. “And we’ve been doing it ever since. People enjoyed it so much that they asked us to do it each year.

“I think we get so many riders each year because of the beauty of our area. There are a lot of scenic trails up here.”

Each Memorial Day weekend, riders take the Pioneer Trail out of the Skillman Campground each day and take part in one of two rides. One is limited to 25 miles, while the other is a 50-mile trip. The rides start around 7 a.m. each morning and return to camp by dark. At the end of each day, awards are presented to the top riders.

“We go as far west as Scotts Flat Lake and as far east as Bear Valley,” said Melissa, adding that special awards are presented to riders who complete the ride all three days. She said out of the 100 starters, typically 25 will complete all three rides.

Ribley said it typically takes sixth months of preparation for the annual event, although the majority of the trail work is left for the final few weeks because of the campground’s 4,000 feet in elevation.

“The snow, by the end of May, is just melting and that opens up the trail for the big part of the preparations,” she said, adding that the Gold Country Trails Council club helps in preparing the trails.

The event usually is split 50/50 between local riders and those arriving from all over the west, but the maximum allowed to participate is capped at 100 riders – due mostly to the camping space available.

Along with the opportunity to ride in some of the Sierra foothills more scenic spots, the annual event also encourages riders to share the trails with those not on horseback.

“We work very hard to share the trails,” Melissa said. “We stress to the riders to be courteous to other users of the trail.

“And other users just need to be aware that we are there (this weekend) – horses are sometimes afraid of mountain bikes and there are some blind corners. But we want people to know they’re welcome to come out to watch the event or to hike or bike.”

To contact Sports Editor Brian Hamilton, e-mail bhamilton@theunion.com or call 477-4240.

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