Paragliding Day 21

When I went to sleep last night the forecast looked marginal but upon waking I found cause for hope. I began plowing through the morning routine, which now includes at Ben’s suggestion foam roller work for my IT band in the hope that that ameliorates some knee drama, and then got my butt to the southside shortly after 0800 (which is suddenly a bit late owing to the end of DST).

This morning’s experience proved remarkable in its lack of remarkableness. In particular my ground handling did not disappoint in the way it did yesterday.

After my initial setup I executed a partial reverse inflation that positioned me for a proper launch, subsequently got the wing up for realz, then forward kited to the hill, but then got clobbered by the wake turbulence of a passing glider and was a little too slow to add the brake to prevent a wing collapse, and yet managed a sufficiently adroit turnaround to avoid any drama. I find controlled failures weirdly satisfying. It must be rooted in the Security/Software Engineer part of my brain that aspires to fail gracefully when fail I must.

I set up for another reverse inflation, got the wing in the air, had it collapse mostly to the ground for want of adequate wind, but heard Ben shout “grab some A’s!” and did and up again it went. On both occasions a ruthless fixation on my hands and a deep-seated posture had done the trick. I spun to a forward kiting position once more, fought my way to the ledge, and then I was off. The wind of the moment offered not the lift of previous days and thus this proved my most expedient “sled ride” to the bottom, the most prominent feature of this flight perhaps being the struggle to stay ahead of events as they unfolded quickly.

After a couple three turns I found myself on final approach. I ought have either taken an extra zigzag or two and/or used the brakes to proactively dump some altitude as I ultimately landed slightly long of my aiming point. The wind also shoved me rightward at the last moment in a way I could not entirely counter. And yet the landing felt pretty good overall. My vertical component was minimal, I was ready to run to deal with the slight horizontal messiness, I succeeded in taking several long striding steps to stabilize the wing post-contact, and I even had the brain cycles to deflate the wing cleanly. WIN.

Ben and I had started the day hoping for some laps but HOLY CRAP the wind surged without warning. While I was bundling up my wing at the bottom I heard Ben say “check out those cloud to the west; let’s keep an eye on them over the next thirty minutes”. That would prove prescient as in the intervening ~15 minutes between my launch and setting up for another one the conditions had taken a major turn for the worse. And if the direct observations were inadequate then the several people struggling to in vain to forward kite to the ledge certainly made the circumstances screamingly obvious. I bundled up the wing and counted myself grateful for one good flight and solid practice across the gamut of skills.

This evening the northside once again proved a tease. I came out duly hoping for my first launch off that side but the wind just wasn’t having it. I executed a single forward inflation that briefly seemed promising but had the wind cut out and I could not quite save things fast enough. I then stood on the grass forlornly waiting for cooperative wind while ruminating on the looming apocalypse. Life is pretty grand out here even in the mildly disappointing moments. I wish everyone could find a way to the peace and joy I have attained in recent times.

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