posts 4/12/2006 1:22 am
4/15/2006 2:46 pm
Riding the Dyke
|So I flew again this Sunday for the first time in five weeks at the Sussex beauty spot called Devil’s Dyke. I got gridlocked on the M25 motorway for half an hour, so I was later than expected and conditions were at the edge of what was safe ‒ a combination of a brisk wind and lively spring thermals creating gusts that made most of us stay on the ground. Paraglider wings always look so beautiful and serene in the sky, but the reality for the flyer can be very different. In strong uneven air they can thrash about with the force of an untamed stallion and pull a large man off balance with ease. But treat her sweet and she’ll sweep you off your feet …. Upwards and into the sky.|
I see a few wings thrashing about a bit with those who were being hasty and not waiting for the low part of the gust. For a little while I was thinking twice about leaving the ground.
Better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air, than in the air wishing you were on the ground, as the saying goes, and with some experience you learn how true that can really be. That gives you a certain respect for the sky and for your own ability to fly through it ……. Not to mention a pathological envy of birds. How do the li’l buggers make it all look so easy? And then I think smugly about all the things I can do that they can’t. Isn’t that sad?
So I wait for half an hour or so. Shall I? Shan’t I? And that creeping temptation begins to grow.
Out comes the wing and I check all the lines and stuff. The wind wants to grab at it before I get into my harness …… got to be careful. Another flyer is dragged to one side across me …. happens. We’ve all done it. He apologises and we exchange kind words and jokes and he gets himself sorted out and a couple of minutes later he’s airborne.
Leaving a clear space for me. I turn and face my wing, pull on this line and that and the wing unfurls, well-behaved with just a warning that if I get it wrong she won’t be. So I’m now facing it, like a big forty five foot wide wall, the rear half the canopy on the ground the front vertical, ready to scoop air inside itself. A strong gust comes through and I pull firmly on the rear lines and brakes, stepping towards it, reducing the wall and not giving the wind a chance to do mischief. Then a momentary lull and I pull on the front lines and up she comes like a huge kite. A quick check to stabilise her then turning and leaning forward. The wind is strong enough to literally step into the sky and I go forward into the wild blue yonder, straight into strong lifty air.
At first I use the slope itself to get lift, which gets me up a hundred and fifty feet above launch, but then I find these wonderful thermals. They often make the ride a bit feisty but just like feistiness in sex there’s a big payback. At first I criss-cross them and I hear the altimeter strapped to my leg chirping at me that I’m going up and my other senses are confirming this is so. Mmmmmmmm! It’s a nice big one. I can turn in this, so I start circling in the rising air and watch the Dyke and all the flyers on the ground getting smaller and smaller. The other gliders ‒ hang gliders and paragliders are all beneath me and bit by bit the ridge starts to look like another modest part of the beautiful Sussex countryside. I’m well out from the ridge and over the flat fields thirteen hundred feet beneath me, and then I lose the thermal. What goes up must come down……
So I look for clues as to where the nearest next one might be.
My altimeter tells me I’m losing height so I cruise a little, lose three hundred feet or so and find the next one. It’s a beauty! Round and round. Up and up. Better than any fairground ride……
And so it goes, circling in the core of each thermal until it loses its lift and off to find the next. For the next half hour ….. and then the whole sky goes calm as cloud cover cuts the sunlight to the ground and the wind eases. I’m a long way out from the ridge now and I can gamble on finding just the last one or make a run for the Dyke. I choose the former ….. it’s a mistake. The only remaining lift has another flyer in it and he’s going nowhere……
The words of the song ……
Hey! Hey! You! You! Get outta my cloud!
….go through my mind . I smile at the thought. Free-flying’s so much about attitude - there’s no point in getting wound up over this sort of thing and a mid-air collision is about the most terrifying kind of accident you can have - I hardly knew the flyer anyway so airborne intimacy was totally out of the question. So I turn away. I’m now low - about a hundred or so feet above the ground and there’s little chance of gaining height now, so I find a path to land on so I don’t damage the young crops, pull on my lines and go for a steep descent, easing at the last minute and stepping out of the sky neatly on to the ground.
I look to the sky and see no one there anymore.
And I’m not singing, “I can’t get no satisfaction.”
Now I wonder if you thought the title of this post was about something else….
C’mon ‒ be honest!
posts4/13/2006 10:43 am
I soooo want to get out there!|
|warmandsexy52 replies on 4/14/2006 10:47 am:|
Hey Aas and so you can! You're not far from the Appalachians and there is an Atlanta-based paragliding school. Check it out online. As cool as surfing and you don't have to drive to the coast!
4/12/2006 1:41 pm
What a wonderful description, warm Glad you finally got back on the wing after what must have been a frustrating five weeks grounded.|
It made me feel as if I was there with you - glad you made a safe landing though and not a crash landing!
|warmandsexy52 replies on 4/14/2006 12:50 am:|
Thank you Marina.
Free flyers well-wish each other happy flights and safe landings.
They also say there are no such thing as crashes - only particularly heavy landings.....
...... and any flight you walk away from in one piece has been a good one!
Such a thinking person's sport, huh?
I guess if we thought that much we'd never go up!
posts4/12/2006 7:56 am
I thought you're talking about me riding the dyke last night Your fault |
|warmandsexy52 replies on 4/14/2006 12:14 am:|
sassy sweetie, you are such a naughty girl .....
4/12/2006 7:55 am
well-written..I could actually feel like I was in the air..free as a birdie..
|warmandsexy52 replies on 4/13/2006 11:59 pm:|
birdies have got it good sweetie.
4/12/2006 7:32 am
Sorry W&S, the picture gave it all away! Based upon this blog entry, you might be brave enough to come driving with me.|
|warmandsexy52 replies on 4/13/2006 3:12 am:|
Brave would be the word as my hands and feet would not be at the controls and I would be trusting to you entirely in your sporty MG. Hell yes! I love stepping out into the void! Now where do you wanna take me!
posts4/12/2006 6:38 am
That must be a wonderfully serene feeling soaring through the sky...just glad all went smoothly for you...xoxo|
Oh WHATEVER BITCHES!
|warmandsexy52 replies on 4/13/2006 2:02 am:|
There is the most wonderful sense of freedom, sweetSinn. You can have the greatest cares in the world and they just vanish when you're in flight. It always looks so serene from the ground but the reality in the air is a total engagement with the sky in a very physical, psychological and even spiritual sense. It wasn't a particularly long flight and my overexuberance at the end meant I had to bottom land, but hey it was an enjoyable one and so good to get my boots off the ground again.
4/12/2006 3:20 am
I bet they did....thank you for sharing......i can only imagine what it is like to be there...|
|warmandsexy52 replies on 4/13/2006 1:32 am:|
It was going to be something much more mundane HB, like "In the Air At Last!" but who could resist ..... and I was riding the Dyke!