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09.15.2012 - PILOT RIDE: DAY 4 REPORT

Total distance: 12.5 miles
Departure: 9:30 am
Arrival: 2:00 pm
Elevation Change: none
Terrain: paved city streets and paved urban trails
[View Photos]

The cyclists: John Marshall, Jack Marshall, Gabe Smedresman
The riders: Magda Bartilsson, Sigrid Chase, Barbara Harpster, Norma Tucker, Rich Guggenheim

The fourth and final day of the pilot ride began not with horses but with cyclists. The cities of Los Gatos and Campbell were not able to grant us the right to take the horses on the Los Gatos Creek Trail (normally reserved for cyclists and pedestrians), so John and Jack Marshall stepped up to fill the gap on their bikes.

They met up with the horses just on the other side of the San Jose city line and handed off the mailbags to the riders. The riders continued on the Los Gatos creek trail. As I mentioned, the trail is popular with local cyclists – but – bikes and horses don't mix very well. To keep make sure that the horses didn't spook to badly, Gabe and Jack rode ahead and behind to warn cross-traffic to stay slow and steady when passing the group.

The trail ended a few miles shy of downtown and the riders emerged onto the city streets. Some of the group had parade experience, but for many horses and riders, this was their first time contending with the flow of cars and traffic lights. Fortunately all of the group did really well in their new surroundings and the ride continued without mishap.

The horses, walking through the neighborhood streets, were such an unexpectedly festive event. It was amazing to see the way that the urban neighborhoods reacted to the horses. Kids and adults alike ran out of houses, paused on trampolines, looked up from laundromats, and waved from coffee shops. It was a joyous moment for the riders and bystanders – turning the end of the trail into a celebration.

Passing into downtown, the riders were faced with their most urban experience yet – a freeway overpass followed by an underpass. Several of the horses didn't quite know what to make of the freeway. On the overpass they could hear the cars underneath them, but couldn't see them. With those obstacles accomplished, the Mail Call location and eager letter recipients were just a few blocks away.

At the Mail Call, Magda, who rode all four days of the Pilot Ride spoke briefly about the journey. Sara and Barbara called out the recipients' names from the stage. 48 miles and four days on the trail later, the Pilot Ride letters were claimed.

More photos from Day 4 on the Slow Mail Flickr.

09.14.2012 - PILOT RIDE: DAY 3 REPORT

09.13.2012 - PILOT RIDE: DAY 2 REPORT

09.12.2012 - PILOT RIDE: DAY 1 REPORT