Monday, April 05, 2010

The Art of Grovelling

The flying season is winding down fast here in Victoria, autumn is here, the trees are turning colors and dropping their leaves before they sleep for the winter.

Looking back at the comp season, I realized a few things - comps can really expose the "holes" in your flying skills.  I think one of the reasons people get into flying comps is they want to experience a new facet of flying, or to take their XC flying to the next level, and what happens is they learn new flying skills they didn't even know existed.

The last two comps were held in really weak conditions - at least I experienced it as really weak because I cherry pick the days I go flying, which means I only fly the best and booming-est days, and so I rarely am down low struggling.  Interesting it took me so long to realize that the weakest days are when my results are usually the worst of the comp.  I was blaming the weak conditions...

The comp at Corryong was composed of days of desperate grovelling, down low and bobbeling along for kilometer after kilometer, just about to land the whole time.  And I am not used to that - so I was tense for long periods, and when you are tense, you don't make your best decisions.  It's pretty easy to say to yourself "This is total shite, a complete waste of time, total suckage" and then give up and land next to the retrieve vehicle...

What I got from it was pretty amazing - although it's not my favorite type of flying - it's amazing at how far you can fly just barely above the ground and it is a really valuable skill as it takes a lot of patience and fast decision making to string together every every bug fart and terrain feature to just barely avoid landing time and time again.

I also had a few moments when instead of getting discourage about struggling in the shee-ite weakness, I instead became curious about things - curious about how I was going to dig myself out of tree tops, curious about how this was the 12th time I was sure I was about to land, but just found another beep that kept me alive until the next ridge, etc.

There were a few moments where I actually started relaxing and just letting the glider kind of find it's way around, let it do some sniffing about for the tiniest scrap of lift, and the more I believed I wasn't going to dirt, or at least sort of resigned myself to my incredible lack of altitude, the less desperate I felt and the more the glider felt my anti-gravity thinking and found another beep....  Jedi-mind tricks I guess...

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