Saturday, April 11, 2015

Bumpy First Ride

Landing approach at Saint Auban
Today was my first sailplane lesson and it was the first (of many, I'm sure) example of the differences between learning paragliding and gliding. 

In paragliding, your first flights are generally solo and in very benign conditions. Your launch might be a bit dicey, but once you are in the air, it is calm. In gliding you start flying tandem and today conditions were pretty epic. Within 5 minutes of take-off, Claude (my instructor) had us wound up very tight in a 5 m/s thermal. Instantly I was flying in conditions I certainly didn't encounter in my first year's paragliding. 

It felt anything but calm and certainly very different from paragliding. A paraglider is 'flexible' and dampens turbulence; a sailplane is rigid and transmits all the bumps directly to the pilot. From that point on I was focusing on keeping my lunch in my stomach.

Higher up, things were a bit calmer and I did a few token maneuvers before Claude landed the machine. 

PS I also felt uncomfortable in my second flight, but since then haven't had any nausea in the air.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Marche des Fleurs at Aix

We've  had a visitor (Evelyn, from Germany) for the last few days and we took her to see Aix en Provence today. It's such a pretty town, it would be a pity not to see it. We actually did an organized walking tour of the town and the guide explained a bunch of things we'd never noticed before. We also passed though the flower market and it was very colorful.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Mountain Bike on the Crete des Serres

One of the nice things about St Andre (and the southern alps in general) is that it's pretty quiet. You can go for a long hike or mountain bike ride and see no-one all day. Things are also less 'documented' than elsewhere - there are fewer books on hikes and fewer recorded mountain bike rides. This all adds to the sense of adventure and you sometimes have to 'discover' your own hikes or mountain bike rides.

Today was such a day. I found a decent route up the Crete des Serres on my mountain bike  - it was a bit of a slog but almost all of it could be done on the bike. The ride down was via the standard hike down from Serre Gros - much more fun on a mountain bike than hiking! Of course, lots of people will have done the ride before, and I hope everyone else has had the same sense of adventure I did!