Linda Salamone's Blog

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Meemee getting busted sneaking a nap on the double high queen mattress in our tent....

Launch Line Task 4- my beautiful Barney colored glider is in there!

I'm going to try to write up the last comp day, the day after the comp, and some post-comp reflections in between tasks at work today. Things get forgotten and I really want to get it all down before that happens, but my ADHD might prevent a cohesive story. Oh well- here goes:
Coming back home late Sunday night with poison ivy, sunburn, a big bruise, a tick bite, a healing strained back muscle- sounds like a regular hang gliding comp! Not like the lap of luxury we enjoyed (despite the dust) at the Arizona meet. Dana and Meesha, the great rabbit hunting dog, cashed in all their fun tickets at Ridgely and were snoozing and limping (well, the dog was, anyhow) all the way back to Rochester. The unGodly heat from the day was dissipating as we left Maryland and everyone was too tired to chat.

Getting ready to do the last task- It was HOT!
The last Task of the meet began slowly. The wind technicians were not staying up but Ric and I got ready to be certain not to get stuck too far back in the line. But it happened anyhow and as the gaggle was leaving the airport, I was like 10-15 gliders behind in a very slow launch line. I knew that this would be a bad thing overall but since Jamie was in line behind me, I settled on just covering her to take the lead in the women's division. I got left in very little lift and watched as Jamie got towed up. I stayed above her for a while and knew that was all I had to do. I got stupid and tried to leave with the Phantom, but couldn't keep up and went back to the airport, only to find myself BELOW Jamie now. She stayed on top of me until I got impatient enough to leave, then she and the rest of the field followed. I got low- to 900' but got a little beep over a big field and started climbing. Campbell and Jamie and I climbed out but every other glider decked it right there. Jamie, still above me... we topped this thing out at 3000', me just below her, and I see her pull her VG like she is going to go on glide. Then as I turn, I lose her. I keep turning and wait. Where the hell did she go? I scan the horizon for her hard-to-see smoke sail. I decide then that I will just hang out a while instead of blasting off and that pays off when I get a glimpse of her still above me. Tricky!!! I think she just got bored waiting for me to go and finally she headed off. I went on glide and got a little ahead of her and found a climb, but she passed it up and went to where Campbell was. We parted ways here and I was kicking myself for not following her. And a couple more thermals was all I got, and I passed one up at 2500' on glide, then I tried to get up again from down low at the edge of a forest with no where to land. I knew it was over and tried to get a few more kilometers out of it and set up in a shitty little field. The weeds were tall and grabbing my base bar- I flared too high and pounded in some (hence the big bruise on my thigh). It was so hot on the ground as I began packing up. I turned my phone on and decided to listen to a message before calling Dana. It was from Mark, who landed with Jamie a few miles back, and they watched as I flew over their heads!!! So I didn't have to stress all the way back about where I scored anyways. I heard a bunch of people made goal and I wasn't surprised that it was possible-even with the slow climbs and low base. I heard the fast guys went way to the north and had clouds there. Ah well. Live and learn. The biggest mistake was not being in front of the launch line and going with them.

On our drive back to Ridgely for the feast and awards, I spotted a turtle on the side of the road-obviously a painter and possibly laying eggs. We left her alone.

The meal was provided by the culinary institute over in Dover. It was absolutely the best free meal I have ever had at a hang gliding meet. They had the most amazing side dishes (along with all the meat) and to my delight, some great vegetarian stuff. Finally!!! I had picked up some sushi on the way back expecting nothing but ribs and macaroni salad. I was glad to be wrong and I left the sushi in the cooler for breakfast the next day! Last year I had such a hard time finding decent food at the ECC, this year we enjoyed crabs near the beach, and gourmet food at Harry's, and steamed shrimp at Dave's in Ridgely... so not really an abyss after all. Having Mark along, and our own driver, really improved on the dining choices. Plus Sonny made a huge effort to have great food at the awards.
The awards ceremony was like all awards ceremonies- David Glover throwing shirts at everyone. We were busy deciding what to do the next day to fly on the way home. Late that night I decided that if I could get Kevin Carter to tune my glider, it would be worth hanging around. At the convenience store in the morning, Glover told me he was still around, so we got both my gliders all set up in the 98 degree heat and Kevin got them flying SWEET! I flew in just a bikini and socks and sneakers- making a fashion statement once again. I figure if all the melting people there couldn't handle a 44 yr-old woman flying hang gliders in a bikini- well, screw 'em. The flight park had 30+ tandems scheduled that day but they worked us in and got us all in the air. I had a chance to fly both gliders after Kevin left and landed when I wanted. I am so happy to have a back-up recreational glider, to save wear and tear on my new sail. I will pack that baby away until Italy next month. Oh and Dustin was the tow pilot for my last flight there, and neither of us died!

So, The ECC 2008.... Weird conditions. Slower and lower than last year. Dustin beat Jonny. Jamie gave me a run for my money. The heat was similar. The rain was incredible. The social atmosphere was the best I have ever enjoyed at a comp. My mental attitude was relaxed and happy, even if I wasn't scoring high. I actually thought I would be out of competition when I pulled my back out the day we arrived. I didn't jump off the bridge because of my back but it healed enough in time for me to wake-board on the new lake by our tent. Dana was so great about her responsibilities as driver and never left us waiting. She got to do some really cool airplane/Dragonfly flights. It was just such a great time. I don't know when I will see all of my comp friends again, since I won't be at Big Spring, but I really enjoyed my time with them here in Maryland. It was cool to have Rick and Mandy and Ron and Bob (and Daniel) around- our own little Rochester contingent. Dana and I found TONS of 4 leaf clovers. and went running together.... what else? We fit a lot into that weeklong trip.


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