Monday, April 20, 2009

BAPACompetition - Dunlap, Part Deux

Saturday the task was from Hill 49917 to Last Chance to Bald Mtn. to GOAL at ROC124 (Rocky Hill - East of Visalia)total dist.73km. My flight is HERE.

I felt like things were ready to go today, in spite of the fact that I have flown almost no XC flights this season. This was the first successful gathering for a BAPA comp. so I had concentrated on my gear and proper preparations for the day.

I launched early and found some weak lift. Within 25 min. the rest of the field was filing into the sky and filling the weak thermals. The start was a 1.5km ENTRY cylinder around Hill 49917 - then run in to tag the 400meter cylinder around 49917 for the first turnpoint. Today I seemed to do everything the hard way. The things that worked out well, I managed to screw up with bad decisions. I am very happy that I got this stuff out of my system during today's task. . .

Anyway the start was at 1pm and by then I'd been working high point - just surfing around on top of the various thermals. With 7 minutes to the start, and about 4 minutes to beginning my run at the cylinder, I got flushed badly and watched as my high aspect ratio buddies (high above me) made their run at the start. I climbed up a bit and decided that there would be lift on the hill, so I made the start cylinder only to be skunked on Hill 49917. I retreated all the way back to 1000' below the launch before I regained some lift and got back into the race. At this point I accepted that I was at least 20 minutes behind the leaders (35 minutes into the race) and that the pace of the day was going to be slow anyway - so I plodded along using all the traffic ahead of me as aid.

I flew along with just about everybody today as I worked my way back into the running. Eventually I got to Bald Mtn. and could see Josh, Jug, Tom, Kansas, and Will circling slowly in weak lift on top of Bald. Will & I collaborated for a while and watched as the others all began their glides into the Squaw Valley and down Sand Creak Rd. For a long time Will and I just circled in 1's and zeros waiting for somebody to start circling in lift ahead. Josh was able to find a weak bubble and survive, but the rest all landed in the same area along the road. Will and I slowly advanced towards Josh, who was patiently loitering to let us catch up.

I seemed to be tiring more than I expected and realized that my harness straps had loosened and I was in "full-recline" mode which meant I had been essentially doing sit-ups for the last 2 hours. My patience with the 1-200fpm lift was waning so I headed to a lift trigger for better. Bad idea. I ended up low & alone circling to survive for the last 3 miles or so. Will made it a bit farther and Josh landed just short of Goal - an impressive solo flight.

I landed in a tight field next to Geo. Smith Rd. and was soon joined by a herd of kids. They all wore traditional Amish garb and were both shy and extremely curious. The oldest brought me a cup of Lemonade that really hit the spot.

I made it to the road and put my thumb out for the 10 mile ride to the pizza joint and the first truck that came by stopped. Thank you Naomi for nagging your husband until he reluctantly stopped to keep you quiet ;-)

I placed 3rd for the day. Considering the way it started, it was a good outcome.

Lessons learned (some of them repeat lessons, since I'm slow):

1. Don't get in a hurry and make bad decisions that slow you down ultimately.
2. Stay with your buddies. It is especially important within 10 minutes of the start and when entering an area of weak lift that requires searching.
3. Remember that a race where no one makes goal is a race of survival - the pace you fly can determine your score for the day.

Sunday the task was a few laps of the valley, then out to Dalton Mtn. and back to goal at the Ranger Stn. My flight is HERE. Most hit the first 2 turnpoints but got snookered after Dan's when we went to get up at last chance. At one point there were 7 or 8 of us all ridge soaring this diminutive hill before each of us dropped into the field at the bottom. Josh and Kansas made it farther along the course - not sure where they landed.

Results for the weekend are HERE.
A good warmup for next week's Nats.

Tim

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