25 February 2006

My Friend Psycho

Psycho- don't take his bone!

LZ kids

The third and final day of the Millennium Cup brought some more good XC weather. A 70km spider web, back and forth across the high plateau and finally to goal by the lake at Valle.

Every so often a Monarch butterfly shows up in your thermal at 10,000ft. It's crazy.

Pushed a headwind glide over the plateau too hard and landed in a gusty field at 8000ft- pulled it off though. The bunch of guys that were gliding behind me aborted the crossing attempt and turned downwind to start over. I could feel that I was close to something good or something about to be good, so I kept gliding upwind... watching and feeling. A bit of grass flew by, a turn here and there in zero and then I was over the tiny sheltered valley that I was aiming for. I could feel a ripe thermal about to burst but my timing was off. As I did numerous S-turns over my landing field, against a 100ft tree covered bump, the bits of lift that were holding me at 200ft kept me optimistic. Finally I had to turn away from the bump to clear a powerline to the good field.

I love the feeling of lingering in the air so low over the ground. You know that you'll have to land eventually but since the moment is so worthwhile, somehow how you are given a few more chances to take it in, in case you missed it the first time.

Suddenly kids came running out from every direction to check things out. They helped me pack up and there was a guy there that decided to drive me back to Valle, with my hangglider tied to the back of his pickup. Just got it tied down when Jeff showed up with the retrieve truck. I have no idea how he found me in that lonely field in the hills, I wasn't even using my radio!

Made a new friend too, this white dog that they call Psycho. This is the roughest, most nasty looking, friendly dog that I've ever met.

Rodrigo came out of nowhere to win the day and make goal for the first time!

Overall results: Dustin, Rudy, David

I've been impressed with the Mexican pilots here. There are about 10 pilots here with some solid racing skills. They're not worried about holding speed down low or landing out, and make good decisions too. Most of these guys are really motivated to fly the Worlds in Big Spring next year so there might be a nasty fight to get on the team.

After my 1000/1000/244 point performance I was looking forward to a night out to shake the grumpy outta me. After the previous night out clubb'n and getting to bed at 4:30am I had to take it a little easy but it was Saturday night so why not eh?

First stop was to a fine restaurant where my new Mexican friends introduced me to ant eggs and worm wraps... the ant eggs looked like a bowl of rice but with curved grains- Mexican caviar. The worms were about 3" long, about the size of an index finger and looked like caterpillars. A tortilla, some guacamole, ant eggs, fried caterpillars, then roll and enjoy! I liked it although the acidic aftertaste gave a distinctly 'insect' impression.

Then club hopp'n and to bed by 5am.

Today a bunch of pilots setup their gliders in the landing field for me to have a look at. Turns, performance tuning, or hardware issues covered most of it.

A few more hours of hammock-time and I'll be ready for the drive back to Mexico City to catch my flight back to reality- the reality of winter.

Valle Rocks!


24 February 2006

Classic Valle

We were treated with a few clouds and clearer skies today. A more optimistic 80km task was called with turnpoints to position us along the convergence area.

It was smoother and cooler than the last couple of days, almost shivering at cloudbase.

Had a good start and pulled maybe 5min on the rest, until I got a bit low diving low-ish over the plateau for the convergence area. It wasn't that bad but enough of a delay that when my climb turned on I saw Dustin cruise in 100m below.

On the ground the wind was all over the place, but the clouds were pretty reliable. Dustin and I stayed together for the rest of the task, until I left on final when he wasn't looking, to win the day by a minute or so.

I'm lying in a hammock right now, sipping on a mango smoothie, and trying fried cactus for the first time. After a classic race day in Valle, and feeling all the tension of today's competition dissolve into the setting sun, the day just feels right.

23 February 2006


We haven't had weather as awesome as what the paragliders had a couple of weeks ago for the Monarca Open. There has been a strong high pressure influence and the associated -blueness-. Tough to fly into the high ground without the height of better days but still heaps of fun, and certainly challenging.

We had a 70km task today with many turnpoints. A bit of a ridge run and over the high ground into the flats and back to Valle with a dogleg.

Inverted, blue, rough, but good enough to fly the task. The tense part was when I glided over the back into the high ground with much less height than I wanted. Was stuck on a small hill in rough bubbles... a sink cycle damn near put me on the ground; it was so close I started laughing. Dustin was with me in the same position and bailed around to the leeside, while I banked steeply against the trees and tried to maintain height. A solid cycle finally came through and we both climbed out to a height where we could start thinking about flying the course again.

A long smooth glide into flats brought us to the second last turnpoint, low-ish. Then the best thermal of the day, in the convergence zone, brought us up to 3700m- something more typical of this area.

Dustin and I were together in that climb, and we got so high that we went on final! I love it everytime you can start final glide before the last turnpoint, never mind directly from the second last!

Won the day by 1.5min.

Another chill'n sunset, talking with friends about everything that happened, life is good.

22 February 2006

Solar Bliss

Kraig Coomber's daughter, Rylee

The new S3.5 with Inlaid sail

First flight in Valle de Bravo

Valle de Bravo

I'm tired of talking about the nightmares of traveling with a hangglider. But let me just say that the glider that I was picking up in L.A. arrived at the freight warehouse from Sydney 2 hours before my flight to Mexico City! Kraig and I re-packed my glider for check-in travel in an insane rush that I've experienced so many times before.

LAX takes a awhile to get through but somehow I convinced the airline to take my glider and made it to the departure gate in time. The glider arrived undamaged and my buddies Marco and Rudy picked me up for the long drive out of Mexico City to Valle de Bravo. In bed by 3am and up early to assemble my glider in time for a practice flight.

Damn it was nice to be setting up on a beautiful sunny launch with the anticipation of XC pleasure...

Dustin and I split up pretty soon after launch and I went on an exploratory tour of the area before heading back to land by the lake. Flew over to the North side of the lake to have a look and then spent 30min on the small flying site next to the LZ, in the smooth evening ridge lift. The light and smooth air was just want I needed to fine tune my impressions of the glider before landing.

Mexican beer, friends that I haven't seen in ages, and the warm sunset by the lake... nice.

19 February 2006

Millennium Cup

I'm back in blogger-space after a hiatus- a gap in time, space, and continuity.

Been busy, just not with flying. Spent most of the last few months in Canada, with a month in there somewhere in southeast asia... long story, for another time.


Seduced by stories of beautiful flying, Monarch butterflies, and volcanoes, I'm leaving tomorrow for the 2006 Millennium Cup, in Valle de Bravo. I've often thought about flying this area, but now my state-of-mind is less 'thinking' and more 'doing'.

First a day in L.A. with Kraig Coomber. Haven't seen my buddy since he had his little girl- it'll be great to meet her.

Also can't wait to meet my new baby, the new S3.5 with the awaited hybrid-inlaid sail.

[VLOG] A Walk in the Garden II

Do we need a reason to fly?