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Jul 17

Written by: Jeff O'Brien
7/17/2011 4:00 PM 

Presently St. Germain's soothing sounds are mixing with jolly Portuguese and a light night Italian breeze. The yellow moon just past full on the rise through the trees. Too much happens in quick succession to properly account. Quick synopsis so I can get back to the experience.


Packing assistant. Miss you man.

Thursday my sweet queen was nice enough to drive me to Denver and drop me at the airport. She was willing to turn around and come back so I could grab packing supplies when US Airways got agro about glider weight. It was 114lbs. and the check in counter supervisor was unwilling to budge. I even pulled him aside and used my most persuasive hush tones, but his mindset was locked.



Glider condom.

I was cordial as I placated by unpacking, removing, and repacking to conformity. The bag had to weigh less than 70... it was 69... The glider had to weigh less than 100... it was 98. It cost me another $150, 40 minutes, and some perspiration. Less enjoyable than sitting at the gate, but all well.

Travelers were talking about snow globes and tomato bisque soup, I was wondering if my life carrying device would get to Italia unscathed.



Getting abroad is a significant undertaking for most. Bringing a hang glider and accoutrements double the effort, and the politics of the world championships make the hassle exponential. More on that in a minute.

I walked up to Davis and Belinda at the baggage claim in Rome without the need to exchange texts. What a pleasure they are. They'd spent 48 hours in the same clothes, travel delays stateside. It was fortuitous for me - I'd have an easy ride to Sigillo.

The fashion around Fumicino airport is designer hot. Scores of dark, tastefully unshaven limo drivers in tailored suits held named placards and their position as I pushed through. Courtesy is minimal when you're lugging a glider through a busy terminal. A cordura bag in the ass or a shoulder in the side with no apologies. Once out in the bustling heat I noticed the women. Surely there must be a 24 hour disco within a stone's throw. Stiletto heels hovering smoothly over uneven concrete, curve alluring tight attire yielding a bit of bounce. Wish I'd brought a picnic to sit and watch the concupiscent smorgasbord before me.


Essential groove gear.

It was a bit of effort to get the glider to the rental car, and Davis let me take the second 1/2 of the drive to Sigillo - he and Belinda were exhausted. I was happy to get dropped in the dust outside the Alba Rosa gate and made my way to the garden. No one home except for a Brazillian or two. I pleasantly unpacked in the grassy shade catching up on life with my South American mates.


Civilized.

The glider seemed undamaged and as I finished assembly, Moikano said we should head into town to deal with sprog measuring. I threw on their van and we went to HQ. The BS regulations about helmets, glider certification, pitch stability systems, etc. is unprecedented and unwelcome. I'm conforming, getting the necessary check marks on my file, and distancing myself from the drama. It's unnecessary to take ourselves so seriously. Let's maximize the fun, have a fly, and use common sense to ensure someone doesn't kill themselves.

It's always great to see my ground averse brothers and sisters from all corners. We may not speak a word of each other's language, but a smile, hug, and some affirmative nodding communicates. Never met people who live more passionately.

Shapiro and I caught up til 2... Sleeping pill... Zzzzz....


Goddess Monte Cucco...

Day 1 - Wake, caffeine, registration, groceries, gear tweaking, up the mountain... Set up, call a teammate 30 mile task, launch...

Get altitude, pull a couple of G's - nothing falls apart - smile grows - let's go get some.

Three minutes later I'm going tip to tip with Shapiro as the ground goes away. I get on the radio quietly, "It's been a long time coming man." He replies, "Indeed, indeed." The main range has some punch, as I top out and take extra circles looking around Italy... Ranges with patchwork in between stretching in every direction. Close to the clouds - FU&K! I'm over ITALY! The view was incredible.

The glider is fine, I'm climbing ok - we take our practice start gate and dolphin fly 10 miles down range. Get high in a 1000fpm smooth ripper up to 7000ft. Time to cross the valley to the next turn point. The Gubbio ridge is smaller with less lift at the beginning. I stay within a 5 mile walk from our home. I have no phone, so I'm on my own for retrieve if I land out.


KAVU brings in the mafia fan club

I get lower and make the decision to stay in the Sigillo valley. Leave the crew to the task and burble back over Alba Rosa and take a tour of the Monte Cucco range. After two hours, I've had enough and head for home. I'm expecting rotor behind our villa, and rather than land on the other side of the road, why not slider ON the road? There's a car rumbling toward me as I dive on to final, and the guy nearly drives off the road when he sees me approach. I should have stared him down at 60mph, but I float 10ft. over the roof and slide to a stop on the ball bearing gravel. Lovely.


Breakdown paradise.

Walk the glider into the garden and pack up leisurely over a couple bottles of prosecco. Jeff and I motivate for a 5 mile run at twilight, bats flying in between us snatching bugs with unreal deft. Lightening bugs come out as we head home (wink) and the yellow moon rises over the hill. Constellations appear.


competition ships.

We head to Pizza on the Piazza just before 11pm and they're open and willing to serve us. A beer out of the bar on the street after midnight with Sigillo on a Saturday night. More catch up conversation on the walk home. 1am... sleeping pill... twinges of mate missing... Zzzz...



Airtime: 2:04. Flights: 1. Miles: 25.

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