Day 1 of Guy's BPRA Training Camp in the Derbyshire Peak District.
Roped in Richard Carter for his expert knowledge and over a full English breakfast at the Derbyshire & Lancs Gliding Club pored over the forecast. Summary; light south easterly winds, five stars to start then some cloud moving in from the north west to shut things down.
Rich proposed a 100km triangle (Derbyshire record - he doesn't get out of bed for anything less) starting from Man Tor (east). First leg south east beyond Chesterfield, north to Wombwell then back. As we drove to launch a message came through that we'd be going to Rushup as the wind, contrary to forecast, was a little west of south.
Around ten of us were on Rushup ready to rock n roll in advance of our anticipated 11AM start. The sky was looking good with plenty of sunshine and cumulus around but light wind and few signs of thermic action on the hill. First hiccup of the day - flat battery in the radio! Fat lot of good that's going to been - I'm going to miss out on Guy's expert feedback in real-time drat and double drat.
A bird thermalling to the east was just the sign we needed; Richy was off first but I fluffed my attempt and missed that opportunity. Perhaps just as well given Richy landed and had a long, sweaty walk up.
It was 11:30 by the time the next launchable cycle came through, this time Guy was off first and straight in to a good climb making it look effortless. Rest of us had a real battle to stay up and climb out, it was midday by the time Indy and I tagged the start cylinder at 4,300'
As this was race training I was out on the submarine harness. After a number of test flights I had managed to resolve my droop and wrinkle problems, on the harness that is, I'm still as wrinkly as ever!
Guy and Richy were already a couple of km down the course but we regrouped over the quarry at Bradwell. Climbed 500' back to 3,6 before crossing the valley to Bradwell Edge for another 500' to 4,3. Our gaggle of four stayed together and worked well until just before 2PM. Guy and I were leading out and took two turns in not-much-of-anything which turned in to a nice 2m/s for Indy & Richy just 2 mins behind. I pushed back to join Y-Men climb but didn't connect to the same strength core. The Wise Brothers (get it? ) left at 1,200m catching up with Guy whilst I was still scrabbling in a broken climb which is how we got separated.
The Three Musketeers bagged TP1 at 14:07. My climb eventually perked up to 3m/s topping out at 4,500' but I was seven minutes behind them as I bagged the turnpoint. On my first glide after the turnpoint I actually over took them, correction, under took them and we were together as we got a climb over Chesterfield hospital. Trouble was me still being 1,000' lower so we weren't really in the same phase as we progressed northwards over the gorgeous countryside.
I tried to put the others to the back of my mind and just flew the sky following the best looking clouds east of course line over Sheffield city centre. We were in the same area around turnpoint 2 above West Melton but again I was low (1,200' AGL) while the others had skied out (4,800'). I found a climb but it pushed me awm turn point which I had to return to but luck was in my favour for once - there was a 2up climb slap bang above TP2.
Turning to head south west on the last leg looking into the Peaks the overcast was obvious casting huge swathes of shade. I didn't think there was much chance of completing the flight but resolved to carry on in my own merry way and make best of what was offered.
On the northern outskirts of Sheffield I was low again (1,100' AGL) but found a little something which took me back to 3,5. I didn't know at the time but passed just 500m south of where Richy & Indy had landed. A lovely 2.5m/s climb back to 4,800 with 23km to go. A huge area of shaded ground lay ahead but I could see some patches of sun on the moors behind Stanage Edge- somewhat off course line but if I could make it there might still be a way to close the flight.
As it turned out I never did reach that patch of sunshine. At 17:15 I passed over Guy who had landed 10k short continuing my own death glide. However, down to 900AGL I did find a patch of zeroes. I was hoping it would develop into something stronger but after a few 360s I was happy just to be drifting in the roughly the right direction. Bamford Edge bathed in sun was tantalisingly close, just 2km south west. Just at the edge of the reservoir and heading away from the water to the valley I stumbled into something.
Just a second.
Hold on a cotton pickin minute.
This isn't just zeroes, this is a 0.1 up, an absolute rocket compared to my familiar zeroes. Yeah baby!
And that developed in to my saviour 1m/s climb back to 3,100' which put me final glide - still a bit necky but when I connected to Lose Hill I was able to surf the final 3km gaining altitude over goal.
Landed at 6PM for a 6.5hr 100km declared FAI triangle. Super chuffed.
That 300 points has put me into 1st place in the UK XC League. I KNOW, who'd a thunk it?
Proud to be supported by The Sick and The Wrong and the British Paragliding Race Academy.