When Bruce and I got to launch on Monday at Bassano we were encouraged to have Nicole Fedele and Damiano Zanocco on launch. A good sign that we were in the right place on this most difficult of springs in Europe for finding decent weather. A lot more cloud was showing early, but things looked like they would work.
We made a short run to the east but heavy cloud made the going a little dicey and I was happy when Damiano turned around. Dig this guys style. Just punches it, often low into areas with few landing options and then bang, he’s out and carries on. Once we made the glide across Bassano to the west towards Calvene things got pretty interesting. Super low base kept us clinging to the tops of the trees. No way on Earth I would have gone in their without Nicole and Damiano out front doing the work. Most of the area was totally unlandable. Thick trees, steep gullies- awfully pretty but a serious nail biter. But the thermals were pinging and as long as you could stay on them the going was fine.
I started feeling guilty about drafting off the guys who knew where they were and how to get there and made the critical mistake of wandering out on my own to hopefully “show the way” and do some work. Dumbass. Should have left it to the Italians in their backyard. Pretty soon I was scratching desperately low and thought my day was over, but I mindfully kept my eyes up instead of down and eventually, with a big sigh of relief got out and eventually caught back up to the gaggle, now on their way across Calvene to Santorso. There still wasn’t much evidence of anything working on the flats so I was a little confused when Nicole and Damiano headed out SSW towards Valdagno. We’d seen that line on XContest so Bruce and I headed out after them hoping they knew something we didn’t.
Soon enough they were headed back towards us and Bruce and I made the critical mistake of carrying on looking for a climb. By the time we gave up we barely had enough height to make it back to the ridge, which was now in shade but still thankfully working. All we had to do now was doggedly pursue these guys and stop thinking for ourselves and a chocolate was ours.
Our glide back to Calvene started easy, looked like a cinch. But we both found horrendous sink on the far side where I spotted several of the gaggle on the ground. No sign of Nicole and Damiano. Had the day shut down? Bruce made a bold move deep into the trees and I thought I could get something off the town. But with the wind and my lack of height I just couldn’t link anything and after many desperate attempts I was on the ground in a wheat field, sneezing uncontrollably in the hot sun, simultaneously cursing and cheering Bruce on to get out, which he eventually did.
A long walk, a lovely hitchhike with an adorable Italian, a long bus ride, and then a short taxi and I was back at camp back near launch. Bruce had made it and then some, but he fell just short of the chocolate making a move out onto the flats too early. The hills were in full cloud and shade, but Damiano somehow pulled it into a 147 km flight sticking to them, which was in retrospect of course the move to make. Really dig his style and hope to find myself in the air with him again. One of those days that reminds me firmly of how much there still is to learn. Score: 0 chocolates. Europe you’re killing us this season. But these last two days they were there for the taking.