It's Friday, I was "competing" in the Willi Muller XC event in Golden most of last week, and got behind on the Blog postings as usual.
The Willi: This is a great event. I've been flying XC in Golden for over ten years--my first long flights were there, and I continue to love flying along the big peaks. We had a couple of decent days, but I think I'm burned out on flying at the moment, I've done a lot of it this year. Keith and I flapped down the range for about 30K one day and I just never really got my groove on, we both flew out and landed despite being high. Brett, our best Hang Glider pilot, is finally showing what can be done on a hang after many years of lackluster hang glider efforts (the hangs and the paras fly on the same range each day, normally we kick ass on the hangs despite the fact that hangs glide way better, go way faster and all-around ought to dominate the meet). Anyhow, Brett has done some very cool out and return flights.
I finally had a good one on Wednesday, flew 50K out with my bud Othar Lawrence and then back some. It was slow, difficult going on the way south despite having a good tailwind, not really getting high, turning circles in harsh lee conditions, but fun enough. Othar had had enough after about 40K and bailed, I continued on to about 55K out and then thought, "what the hell, I'll try to go back." The day wasn't going to offer up any huge downwind distance, and flying 150K down the range for a late night retrieve/hitching festival doesn't honestly fire me up all that much, I've done it a dozen or more times. Maybe that's arrogant, but it's true, I'm not interested in downwind XC flying unless I'm going to break Chris Muller's old XC record of 244K, or think I can do a huge out and bck flight. Anyhow, I wasn't that high, but flew into the wind with a lot of bar until I found a spine sticking off the main range. Came into it low, then ridge soared it all the way up to the main ridge, a gain of something like 1500M from ridge soaring, pretty cool. The main range runs more or less north-south, and the wind was blowing 20-40K north, so against me. Hmmm... I noticed that right on the main ridge the wind was a bit more west, so I following the ridge back north between the high peaks north, surfing through mild rotors from sub-peaks until it got really trashy. About to give up, I noticed that my groundspeed on my GPS was 30km instead of 20 or less. Hmmm... The air was buoyant, so I kept flying along the ridge a few hundred feet over the jagged rocks and watched my speed climb all the way to 35K. I was definitely well into the lee of the next big peak on the range, and my speed went up to about 40K. Interesting... Down to about 100 feet over the alpine meadows glowing in the late afternoon light I surfed up the lee side of the peak and hit a boomer thermal that yanked me through the rotor and put me up to almost 11,000! Cool, go on glide. At all of 15kmh... Soon I was back on the ridge, and the same increase in speed happened as I glided toward the next peak in the lee. Cool! Banging thermal right in the lee, through the trash, 11,000, 15kmh, back into the lee, repeat.
I did this for 25K until running out of steam. I'd pushed my luck a little flying so deep in the lee, and decided to call it a day. I flew out into the valley, where it was blowing about 40K. Picked a field and settled into it vertically, but not before throwing the best roll reversal I ever have, the wing got WAY down there, yeah! Ryan Letchford was there with the truck, perfect, a cold beer was exactly what was needed after five hours of flying to go 70 or 80K, honestly not much for Golden and nothing distance-wise for the contest. Still, I'd look at that flight back into the wind as one of my best of the season, I learned far more than if I had of just kept blowing downwind like a dandielion. Part of the fun of paragliding is that you can try new things, and, as Vincene told me, "Ya gotta have a GOAL!" As usal she's right, I got motivated flying back into the wind, it was a challenge.
Golden has been turning on late all week, I have to get ready to go to the X Alps on Monday so I called it good and drove home a day early to get some work done. You really need to be in the air and going by about 12:30 to either fly big downwind distances or have a shot at the world record out and back (213K), neither of which looked likely. I had a great week of fun flying and hanging out with friends new and old, that's about what matters in the end. Josh Briggs just called, today wasn't very good either. No not very good at Golden still means longer downwind flights than are possible at any other location in Canada, grin. I would love for the Canadian Paragliding Nationals to come back to Golden, Lumby has been fun but it's just not as much fun as flying in the big peaks for hours and hours.
Workouts: Not much, lousy week for training, paragliding just wastes me. This often happens during flying season. I just have to remind myself it's OK, relax, fitness comes and goes with the seasons.