Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Monday, July 18, 2011
So arriving at the pad in Interlacken to a very warm evening all I could think was maybe not being at the Worlds was not going to be so bad. One beer and then two beers and then SLEEP. I went to sleep at midnight and woke up at 10:30 the next morning not having woken up even once all night. Anders jokingly wondered whether I had actually died in his babies room.
Anders is a full time tandem pilot and does between 6- 10 tandems almost daily so he was very busy as its high season right now. At any given time there are about 20 tandems in the air at once. ITS CRAZY. they all land in a special field in town. The passengers range from 5 year old Saudi kids to extremely old Koreans. I thought the Golden guys had it tough till I saw what goes on here. They drive to launch then hike for 15 minutes to the launch. Every pilot has wheels like a luggage bag to drag there gliders up the paved path to launch. Each company is like a rafting company with about 10 pilots working for each company. They have a system worked out where the lay the gliders on top of each other on launch so as one goes the next can go and so on until they are all in the air together. They have all sorts of different ways to take pictures of the passengers with extra A lines connected to the camera so they dont even have to hold on to the camera. Most of the pilots here in a season do between 300-500 tandems in a summer.
Susanne decided I should fly so she took me to a Suisse bakery and let me get lunch then took me to the launch or as I referred to it the Golf Country Club. This launch was so grassy I felt bad even walking on it never mind laying my glider on it. After lunch I took to the skies for an afternoon sled ride. Upon Landing I looked over at Anders and asked if they turned off the lift just cause I was around. It turns out that just like Canada this place gets baked out too and when its that warm it becomes very soft.
It was now time to go to the Lake as the pregnant one decided she was to warm for this...haha. I was more than happy to tag along. We went to Lake Thun which is one of many lakes around but also the biggest. It was about 32 degrees so getting in the glacial water was more than refreshing and also the cleanest lake water I have ever seen so close to a city.
The Night ended with the biggest storm I have ever seen and I am not kidding. The winds reached 125km/hr in town and blew over trees that were over 100 years old. Some broke that were more than 3 feet wide and others just plain blew right over roots and all. It was crazy. I filmed it from various angles so will post some video when I get back. After the storm what do any normal people do but go walk around and check out the damage. Staying with Suanne and Anders is like staying with people with way to many friends...haha. During are walk we of course ran into other friends sitting on a patio overlooking the damaged town and promptly invited in for drinks.
The RAIN. Vincene warned me about the rain plagued alps but I never truly understood. I guess looking around at all the green grass should have been a clue. Think Vancouver in January with huge mountains surrounding you. It was biblical amounts. I ran from store to store and napped and napped and watched movies. After going to new levels of rest Susanne suggest we head up to Lauterbruan which is close to Wengen of ski fame. What a cool town where Anders took me hiking in the rain to see waterfalls and keep ourselves from driving Susanne crazy. She was happy sipping her coffee in a friends coffee shop.
On Friday I went with Anders to fly the World Famous Grindelwald which was spectacular to say the least. I flew like a moron and not understanding how far they push into the lee side here and landed at the valley floor instead of flying home but at least I understand now why flying in the lee in Europe is so popular as its the only thing that works...wink.
More great dinners with new friends and old. Who would have thought in Interlacken they would have the best Thai food that I have ever had?
Saturday was spent hiking up in an ALP eating fresh cheese and chasing cows with bells around there necks. Good fun if you have never done it. They are so friendly we even pet them. But the bells do get annoying. The Alp was up at the end of the pass in Adelboden.
I now sit on another train headed to my european family house in Salzburg. Home to Rudi, Esther, Paul and Jakob. I look forward to seeing them all as everything on this trip is spontaneous as I should still be in Spain. I will spend Sunday through till Wednesday morning with them and head to Munich for my flight to Montreal and finally get to see Loic and Caroline.
Sorry for so many words but these trains in the rain are great for spewing words. Now I know why Gadd's posts tend to drag when he is on a train...haha
All the Best for Everyone back Home
Keith( still making the best of everything )
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Monday, July 11, 2011
Before that I was still in Piedrahita and some how had to get out. This is when KEITH'S LUCK finally struck. My flights were all changed by late Saturday afternoon leaving me time to join my adopted team the Americans for a swim at one of the local swimming holes.
Early Sunday morning chaos all begin with me packed and ready to go only to find out the one and only bus going to Madrid did not leave till 5pm which just simply was going to suck for my luck. Well up to the plaza to see if my Canadian Charm could get me to Madrid sooner. Well sure enough it did and in a very nice kind of way. Steve Ham mentioned that one of the drivers from the comp had just left in his personal vehicle to go home which was just past Madrid. A short phone call later and 5mins later I was sitting in a pimped out BMW travelling at close to 200km/hr at times across Spain to Madrid. Before long Benjamin and I were speaking and sort of understanding one another with many nods and pointing. I was lucky that my terrible French and his even worse French was still better communication than my english and his spanish. I managed to convey that I knew nothing about bull fighting and this was a terrible trip so far. He proceeded at speeds quicker than I have ever travelled in a car to get me into Madrid in record time. My new best friend then drove right through the trendy section of Madrid to the Plaza de Toro. Next thing you know I was the proud owner to a Seat at Sunday evenings Bull Fights.
Now time to find Brett at his Hotel which turned out to be no problem with a local. Now time to get Brett to the subway and with little convincing he was all the proud owner to a ticket to the fights.
Our Madrid Metro skills are top notch now and we were able to criss cross back and forth with little to no trouble at all around the city.
The fights I will not describe as they are certainly not for the faint of heart but the ambience in the stadium is like nothing I have ever felt before in my life. It was truly inspirational to be a part of and I am so glad to have gone. Brett and I got lucky again as the man next to me was the proud father of a young matador and was there with his family cheering on a female Matador who is 19. The rules are hard to figure out but by the end we were able to tell who should win and who sucks. The basics are that 3 Matadors and 6 bulls, with the matadors taking turns killing one bull each.
By the end of the night it was close to 2am when we got back to Brett's room close to the airport and with maybe 2 hours shut eye I was back up at 5am and in a 3 minute taxi ride that cost 17 euros to get to my 7:30 am flight. Europe is ridiculously expensive.
Its now Monday afternoon and I am sitting on the very packed train to Switzerland with plans for a cold beer and dinner with very good friends.
Germany is stunningly beautiful so far and I have managed to put a large grin back on my face after a disappointing trip so far. I guess all things happen for a reason but this is one that sticks out as strange. Between all the comps I did just to qualify then the support of all the local pilots here I am not competing at all and doing something I honestly never thought I would ever get to do and that is travel Europe. I am totally 100% relaxed and feeling all sorts of energy return. I figured this morning on the plane to Munich to just not worry about and to really enjoy myself.
One last thing I plan to do after Interlacken is travel to see Rudy and Esther as I looked on a map and they are too close to not go see my favourite Austrians.
So thanks again for making this a vacation of a lifetime after a major disappointment at the comp.
I will try to continue my blog with the goings on around Europe. Oh the weather is great...haha but very humid here in Germany after very dry Spain
Saturday, July 9, 2011
I appreciate all the support as this not exactly what I had planned when you all chipped in for me to go to the World Paragliding Championship. I will at least get some flying and see a part of the World that I have always wanted to visit.
WIsh me luck on this new unplanned adventure
Friday, July 8, 2011
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Claudio flew very well and made GOAL and I believe Brett landed around the 90km mark.
Tomorrow is a new day
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
|The opening ceremony was grand|
Monday, July 4, 2011
My SPOT should be tracking plus they will have live tracking for the comp too. SO you could sit at home early in the morning and watch the paint dry if you feel so inclined.
The live tracking should be on
or search for it on http://www.piedrahita2011.com
Great test day today flew around for a bunch but took it easy too
Good Night All
Sunday, July 3, 2011
Upon starting my packing of course a few of the other companies test pilots and designers came by for a closer feel of the new glider with some hyms and hahs and of course nice compliments they still remain my friends...haha. That is one of the many things Paragliding comps are great for and thats the employees of the different companies always get along and laugh with one another over the tricks and crazy ideas. The world is just to small for tension. Tomorrow is the official Practice day then its work time as the comp starts Tuesday.
The big parade of nations was tonight so it was long night of listening to spanish dignitaries speak in a language I don't understand about topics I also don't care about so once it was ok to disappear we joined the US team for some pizza in the alley. Its sleep time so Good Night
Saturday, July 2, 2011
So far I have discovered a love for this country with the exception of two things with one being its expensive and the other is actually an extreme lack of vegetables with dinner. See ya tomorrow.
Thursday, June 30, 2011
Sent from my iPhone
Friday, March 9, 2007
1st Nation: Czech Republic
2nd Nation: France
3rd Nation: Switzerland
Canada 19th Nation
1st Women: Petra Slivova(Czech)
2nd Women: Viv Williams (Australia)
3rd Women: Harmony Gaw (New Zealand)
1st Men: Bruce Goldsmith (UK)
2nd Men: Jean-Marc Caron (France)
3rd Men: Tom McCune (USA))
Keith McCullough: 51st
Will Gadd: 77th
Nicole McLearn: 114th
All in all Canada did better at this Worlds compared to Brazil. All of us made goal at least once, and the conditions here were very difficult compared to the usual Manilla flying. I learned a lot more about comp flying and am very glad I came, but now I’m ready to go back home and fly for fun. Everyone is leaving tomorrow; I’ll be in Sydney for a few more days and then back in Vancouver next week. Hopefully by then the rain back home will have ceased!
This morning it was sunny and those pilots who were hemming and hawing about leaving had an easy choice to stay and fly the final day. The task was a 53 km downwind dash to Gulf Creek, past Barraba. Cloudbase was extremely low, about 1300 m, and the lift was light to nonexistent. Once again the launch gaggle grew and grew, and nobody was able to leave, until well after the first (and second) of the start gates had come and gone. A few pilots even left at basically ridge height, since getting high around launch was practically impossible.
I think the highest I got was around 1200 m at one point, and had I known what was to come, I would have left with that height, regardless of the start gates, if the gaggle was going, or if people were getting low ahead of me. But I thought I could get higher so I stuck around launch in that hope, but in the end I got flushed and landed in the west bombout.
Now I have been here for 1 month and never bombed out, and I was quite proud of that fact (given that Mt. Borah is only about 1000’ high). So I was really annoyed that this happened on the last day. But the Basher was there to take me back up to launch, and I relaunched before the window closed. But fate (or bad luck, or lack of skill, take your pick :) decided I should land there again, which I did, about 5 minutes after the launch window closed. So after 1 month of no bombouts, I get to do so twice in one day.
So no chance to relaunch for this task since the window had closed by then, and it means I’m officially the suckiest pilot for today’s task. I certainly didn’t see any other comp pilots land there after the window closed! But looking at the bright side of things, I got to pack up on nice green grass (thanks to the rain) and have a leisurely drive back to Manilla, and not have to rush back like the oodles of people that made goal today. And when I downloaded my GPS I didn’t have a huge lineup of people, since I was back first :)
Apparently, if you were able to stay alive past Tarpoly, it got easier and whole bunches of people made goal today. Will (even hung-over), Keith, Josh, and Tom all made it. Kari and Bill went down about 20-25 km downrange. Brian Webb and Steve Ham went down in the same general area too. So the standings will change once again; today was yet another example of survival in light lift while avoiding mid airs, absolutely no racing involved, and huge amounts of luck in who stayed in the air and who didn’t. Tom has a shot at the podium since he was 5th going in, and word is that Crigel didn’t make goal today.
Will report on the overall standings and final party later!
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
There was also a treed pilot right off the east launch, and a pilot that broke their leg landing at Godfrey’s (not a comp pilot). So there was a lot of carnage in the beginning, which made me glad not to be in the air right then.
When I did launch, I did so with Bill and then we chose the 3:30 pm start gate. The going was slow since the climbs were weak and disorganized, and nobody really wanted to land out on the plateau to the NW. We actually stayed more to the south, and finally got a good climb to 2000 m just as we hit the Boggabri Gap. But the shade was coming, and there was a storm cloud forming just to the north of the Gap, and rain was coming out of it. I could see some pilot diving underneath that cloud in an attempt to find lift, but I didn’t feel like playing that game and stayed well away from it. Unfortunately all around that cloud was a lot of general shade, and a bunch of us spent the last few minutes searching for little pieces of lift just before the Gap. It didn’t work, and about 6 of us landed in the same field at about the 28 km mark.
Turns out all of us were women; after we took off our helmets and realized this it was quite funny. Then a guy landed in the field with us and destroyed the symmetry of it all, but he seemed pretty happy to have chosen that particular field to land in :). And just as we were packing up and leaving, Russel Ogden came in and landed too.
Keith and Bill landed a few fields over from us; a lot of people went down in the same general area. Adrian from the UK team and Brian from the Oz team also landed nearby. Petra didn’t do so well today so she will drop in the standings too. In fact a lot of rank-swapping is going to take place after this task! Josh and Will landed 1-2 km short of goal and walked the last bit as penance, while Tom and Kari made goal (yay!).
All in all, it was another non-typical Manilla day, with lots of weak climbs. With every day being non-standard, flukey, and practically no racing taking place, there is more than the average amount of luck being involved. No clear winner is emerging as far as consistency goes. Definitely not what the Worlds are usually about!
The Aussies hosted a party at JJ’s tonight for all the English-speaking pilots…$5 for a BBQ steak and all the fixings, and then we watched episode 16 of Heroes on the big screen. By the time we get back to Canada we’ll be all caught up!
Tuesday, March 6, 2007
We waited all afternoon in the hopes that it would die off enough to allow for safe enough launching conditions off the east launch. A few wind dummies did indeed fly earlier on in the ridge lift, before it got too strong, and during the wait period Crigel flew too, although that seemed to be more a photo op than anything else. Most other people opted to not even open their glider bags in the 35-40 kph gusts. Finally the official word came at 3:30 pm that the day was cancelled, and we all breathed a sigh of relief that now we could go back down the mountain to some shade and a shower. But at least we weren’t rained on!
On a different note, both David and Lee Menzie have been absolutely fabulous towards us...last night they made us a huge dinner, and will be having another farewell party before we all leave. But it may only be a temporary farewell...they are making noises about coming to Canada next summer, to coincide with the PG Nats in Golden. They want to come out and visit, and help out with the meet!