Tic Tacs burn your skin when they’re tucked underneath your wristband on a sweaty three hour flight…

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Day 7

We head an hour away to Mt. Subazio above Assisi. Completely open meadow atop the mountain. They call an 87km basket weaving task across the valley with four turnpoints. Our launch line is a sh*t show with total lack of procedure. I pack into the order-less pile and call a push. No reason we shouldn’t be piling off the hill. A minute after launch as I’m happily climbing out, my instrument bricks up and the vario is one tone wailing at me. I wonder how long I can put up with the incessant scream. After a minute of chatting on the radio, Zippy tells me it’s permissible to land and re-launch without scoring penalty. I dive through lift, and land on top.

TicTac (1)

“Dam, you Americans are pimp! Where can I get a bit of that action?”

I take the batteries out of my 6030 and reset the instrument without volume this time. My gecko is working and I’ve got the route in it. Fabian loans me his vario with simple GPS with no waypoints. Now I’ve got to get my glider over two barbed wire fences back to the downslope where I can launch. This is where my savior Catherine comes in (from Germany) Catherine is stout, and starts ripping fence posts out in quick order. I hear cracking timber as she reefs the last out and lays the fence flat for me to walk over. Sweet! Repeat on the other side of the road and I’m back on proper launching ground. Thanks to Jamie, Bob, Sue, Belinda, Fabian, Catherine, and a couple of other bros I didn’t get the name of for helping me sort out the crisis.

I launch again and my primary instrument freezes instantly – bummer. I’m figuring out the sounds of Fabian’s vario as I climb out, totally out of phase – brain scattered. I’ve missed the first start and sort out my other instruments. I ask the boys on the radio for some information and eventually burble across the start line 7 minutes after the second start. I’m alone and going seemingly very slow against the stiff head wind across the valley. Our first turnpoint is 32km away.

TicTac (2)

My gecko gives me a low battery signal. FU*K! I turn on Fabian’s GPS, but it’s in french. I try and get it to a main page and let the gecko die. I have no idea if I can piece together two track logs, but I’m still into attempting the task. Eventually I see other pilots are going better pinned up against the mountain range, and slide downwind to the higher terrain. It’s slow going, but eventually I catch up with Zippy and Shapiro as we near the turnpoint. I’m heartened to catch up to my bros, and I’m just hoping I’ve got a viable track log. As I get within 1km of the turnpoint (which was a hillside castle), I turn on the gecko and count to 15seconds out loud to make sure I drop a track point inside the cylinder.

I’m trailing Zippy and Jeff by a minute and we all get LOW on foothills going back the way we came. It takes some effort to dig out on the low terrain and many pilots land in this area. I eventually hook a climb that develops and I’m whisked over the peaks again. Zippy and I run 30km back toward launch with Shapiro just ahead. As I near the next turnpoint, I turn my gecko on again and work to modify the route so it will tell me proximity to the turnpoint. In the process of punching buttons, the gecko shifts and flies free of it’s mount. There’s a split second of situation recognition as it drops past my reach. “Nooooo! NOOOOOOO!” is all I can say. I’ve now lost my back up track log.

TicTac (3)

I have no idea where the third turnpoint is and I have no idea how to operate the french GPS. I hook up with Shapiro and fly around aimlessly. After a time, I realize if I land out, I won’t be able to communicate my location to my driver without a viable GPS. I head for goal. At least I can get a ride there.

After trying to download the french GPS and bricked 6030, it’s apparent nothing recorded a log. On the down side, I’ve let down the team with my minimal score. On the up side, I dealt with adversity and still pulled off a good fly. In this game, there’s so much to coordinate. Instruments, retrieve, radio, gear, etc. Gliders have to operate flawlessly in every way all the time. You have to launch, fly, and land safely in sporty conditions. That’s what makes the game so engrossing.

Update – Apparently my french GPS DID have a track log. A few conversations have transpired and I will get scored based on how the rules apply to GAP2002

Davis and Belinda pick me up and we head to dinner in historic Spello. They choose a refined locale and we have a savory meal. Home around 11, chat about the day, and drift after midnight.

TicTac (4)

Spello alleyway…

Day 8

Woke tired to rain outside. Sigh. Headed in to HQ, indulged in a massage and some lasagna bianca for lunch. Took a 10k run in the heat of the day and met Birget from Germany on the road for the third time. She and I plunged in the pool after arriving over heated at home and chatted about skull collecting. She’s an interesting bird.

It looked flyable, and Derreck, Jeff and I threw on the german van for a ride up the hill. Set up in a hurry and launched into a group of nearly 20 gliders. It was fun to get our strafe on for a few. After about 20 minutes, I decided to head west down range and promptly got flushed behind a spine. Discerned the wind in the valley had quickly shifted 45 degrees and was now parallel to the range. Got bounced around in heavy sink until I cleared the range and found buttery conditions in the valley. Worked light lift at full VG taking in the sunset scene. Counted 9 mountain ranges silhouetted by the sun to the western horizon. Long shadows cast by the trees across the rolling golden crop quilt below. Idyllic.

TicTac (5)

Chick preparation…

Stayed up until the sun got low and had a successfully succinct landing next to our compound. Popped prosecco and had a slack line while everyone finished breaking down in the garden. Headed in for dinner @ Pizza on the Piazza, toured party venues around 11, and headed home when we found nothing swinging. Learned of Amy Winehouse’s death before bedding down. Bummer.

Trip Flights: 6. Airtime: 7:00. Task km: 120.