Paragliding in BC

Paragliding in BC

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Windy Days

My flying friend Alex & I came up with a term to describe the weather lately. We settled on rude, as in the air has no manners at all. You'll be flying along and then will be so impolitely grabbed, poked or shaken and then tossed aside and ignored for a few more minutes. Once you think the air is being nice again then it rudely shoves you once more. No amount of pleading or begging will change the air's mind, so it's a choice of dueling it out or conceding to the bully and flying out to land.

Today the weather looks especially moody, all dark & grey and lifting her cloudbase skirt just enough above launch to tease you. "Look," she says. "You can come up and play and ridge soar right next to my happy, puffy, dark & evil, er...I mean... gentle clouds."

No thanks, lady!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Rat Race Rap Up


That's the best way to describe the week we spent in Oregon at the Rat Race. Cool people, amazing speakers and a supportive & educational mentorship program rolled into one.

My mentorship group (aka Team Awesome, see picture #1) was Peter Warren, Riss Estes and me. We'd meet each morning before the task was called & discuss the weather, strategies to the first waypoint (which was always one of the same 3) and talk about our goals for the day. We'd have another quick session after the pilots meeting to check our gps was set up properly and to recap the best line to take for the day. Then we'd meet at HQ at the end of the day and chat about how we did on reaching our personal goals. That combined with the nightly speakers about gps set-up, weather, flying skills, etc made this like a one-week paragliding university.

The race itself was tough for the non-competition pilots as we had a high-pressure system most of the week & couldn't get high. My personal goal was to make the first turnpoint at least once, and I sort of did. I made the 2nd turn point before the first (strategy to get high & glide downwind to 1st turnpoint). Sounds confusing but it basically means I made my goal of tagging a turnpoint but didn't get scored for it.

The results...I don't want to talk about that! Ok, realistically I knew I'd be near the bottom since it's my first comp & all, but you always hold a secret desire that you'll be the whiz kid who shows up and makes goal the first day.

That didn't happen.

I think I came in 2nd last out of everyone (like 87 out of 88 or something), appropriately humbled but overall happy since I learned so much. I've already noticed in my 2 or 3 flights I've had since coming home that I'm much more relaxed & confident in the sky. Which really was my goal when I signed up for the race. Well that and fortune & fame, but those will come later, ha ha.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Rat Race Practice Day

I'm down in Oregon at the Rat Race. Yes, it's another competition and I thought I'd try & redeem myself after the disaster in Lumby, ha ha. The Rat Race is a learning comp though, with a mentorship program and lots of sessions taught by really good pilots. Hopefully I'll absorb some good karma from them!

It might be hard to see, but if you squint while looking at the first picture you'll see a few different columns of paragliders. I was in one just moments before (800 metres over the launch!), and then it shaded over and I sunk out behind the ridge(see picture #2). It turned out that most pilots lost it then too, with 3 others landing in the same field as me. I was *really* pouting a few minutes later when hiking out - all those weeds you see behind me are prickly starthistles. Ouch! I'm still picking the burrs out of my boots.

Tomorrow the real competition starts. I'm pretty excited about it - I never realized how much fun it was to fly in a big gaggle of gliders!