Firstly, happy New Year to everyone reading this!
Just before Christmas the Red Bull X-Alps website posted an article about winter training. Whilst some European athletes have travelled to South America or the Himalayas for their winter training, I thought I'd point out that in fact they are missing the best location to really focus on X-Alps skills. As a seasoned X-Alper (well, I've done it once...) I now know that the reality of the race includes a lot of walking in bad weather: cold, windy and wet weather to be precise. So, where better to train than the wettest place in Europe? Hence, I was back in Britain over the holidays. But, I don't like to do things by halves, so I travelled to Cumbria in the North West or England for most of the time, the wettest part of a very wet country. Luckily for me the weather did play ball and it was cold and wet the whole time I was there, so I as able to train every day in ideal conditions!
Christmas, as it should be, was a great occasion with all the family. Lots of great gifts, including a Go Pro camera, so hopefully I'll be able to start posting some video footage of training flights and hikes.
Back in the Alps now and the last two days of 2012 offered some fantastic skiing with the family. Not exactly training, but being out in the mountains is always a pleasure and the blue skies and glorious sunshine certainly helped. We saw the New Year in quietly at home and much of New Year's day has been spent walking in the rain: a 30km hike in just over 4 hours was todays training. Last time around I spent too much training time running, so I'm building in the long walks earlier into my training regime this time.
In other news, Tom and I booked an SIV course for April, which for non-pilots reading this is where we deliberately try to make our gliders fall out of the sky in order to learn how to recover them properly. It is done over a lake with a safety boat below us in case it does go wrong and we end up in the water! Last time I did a course like this was a few years ago and I over-cooked the final manoeuvre, leaving myself without enough height to make the shore, so instead I landed in the small inflatable safety boat which was then motored to the shore whilst I kept the glider flying above my head! We didn't quite make it all the way, but it was fun! I booked with the same guys this time, Flyeo in Annecy, as their instruction was excellent. However, a day after booking on line they called me to say that unfortunately there wasn't an instructor available who had enough experience to teach us on the days we booked, so we've had to find alternative dates! Very impressed at their diligence in ensuring they could run a course at our level. This course is important preparation for the X-Alps as unlike the test pilots in the competition I am not always pushing my glider to its limits and so to be prepared for the extreme flying conditions I'll likely face in the race this is critical.
That's it for now, the pace of preparation hots up in the coming months so look for much more regular posts as I sort out my equipment for the race and pick up the training plan.
Enjoy 2013. It's an X-Alps year!