Paragliding Day 65

Southside was a tease in the morning. Joey got there early and snagged some good stuff before I had even pried my eyes open. Ariel got there shortly thereafter and eked out just a sledder before the wind switched north. I was barely upright before the party unambiguously ended. I saved whatever ambitions I harbored for the afternoon.

By early afternoon there appeared some hope of a northside session. In anticipation thereof I set about unpacking my wings and disentangling their lines in my driveway. By the time I had finished it seemed time to head over. I arrived ~1550 to find wind still wild and pilots patiently parawaiting. I hauled out my full-size wing and harness, set them on the ground, and waited for a good twenty minutes before the most intrepid pilots began gearing up. I watched them fly for a bit to to assess the conditions. Ariel landed perhaps ten minutes later and said he had done so because the thermals were scaring him. By that point I was still scared by even the prospect of trying to inflate my 37m wing and so continued to wait.

By perhaps 1625 the wind felt approachable and so I figured I would at least kite. I reverse inflated and then forward kited my way up the nearby finger and parked for a few minutes to feel out the wind from a forward facing position. It felt quite reasonable and I sensed that this was my moment and so made a go of it. I found myself lofted quite pleasantly and not at all excessively.

I would ultimately crank out a 90 minute flight, nearly double my closest record, which proved both immensely satisfying and quite exhausting. Conditions were fairly thermic which required very active piloting but also offered the opportunity to exploit thermals which I did deliberately if not particularly competently. I definitely managed to ride many in a way that allowed for such an extended flight, but from various vantages Ariel noted that I was blowing through many without meaningfully capturing their potential and Joey noted I was preemptively applying brake to prevent surges in a fashion that was both denying me the thermal’s full potential while posing undue risk of a stall. Doubtless these follies are what left me always on the cusp of benching up but never quite making it happen.

As the sun slipped behind the nearby mountains the wind quickly attenuated and I began my sink-out to the bottom. Just as my feet bumped the ground I let out an involuntary hoot of joy. I hiked back up feeling completely different from the previous evening. Fortune favors the prepared. The painful lessons of yesterday drove me toward better outcomes today.

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