Episode 183- A walk (and fly) down memory lane with Honza Rejmanek

We’re continuing the theme of radical stories from radical people this week with Honza Rejmanek, who competed in 5 Red Bull X-Alps from 2007 to 2015. Honza begins the storytelling in 2007 with what has to the hardest start in the history of the race after eating some questionable food the night before the event even started, puking (and worse) all night, spending the night on the Dachstein because he could barely move, and then the long fight back. We learn about his podium in 2009 shared with Red Bull X-Alps legends Chrigel Maurer and Alex Hofer (the only two athletes other than Kaspar Henry in 2003 who have ever won it), and many more of the great and not-so-great moments over nearly a decade of a battling it out in the Alps. Stories, fun and heartache that live tracking never captures. Enjoy!

In the opening house keeping I discuss a few things:

  1. The Paragliding based PhD position at the Max Planck Institute. Find out more here: https://imprs-qbee.mpg.de/56495/Social-sampling-of-airflows-in-competitive-soaring-flight
  2. Have you suffered a fear injury? Let me know.
  3. The Nayarit flying epic I discuss that Miguel Gutierrez and his team are hosting in Mexico Dec 19-21. The details are here. Don’t miss this!! It’s going to be amazing!

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Transcript

Speaker 1 (0s): Hi there everybody. Welcome to another episode of the Cloudbase Mam. We are keeping the X out streak alive here with my good friend Hansa Rejmanek, who raced in five Red Bull X Alps starting in 2007 and ending in 2015, which was my first. So we take A Walk and fly down memory lane in this one with Hansa. He's now a meteorologist, has a couple kids. He's been doing these really cool tandem bibbs with his elder son.

You've heard I had he and his son Martin on the show a little while back. They had another big adventure, big vo bed adventure in the Alps this summer, which was really cool to watch. Had some good weather and flew long ways. But yeah, we, we go back and hear about the highs and lows of his ex ex Alps exploits, you know, being third in 2009 and all kinds, all the crazy things that happens in that race. So I think you're really gonna enjoy it.

Before we get to it, as we dive into December here, I've got a few things of housekeeping, some fun stuff. The first is fear injuries. We're getting ready to launch an a Kindle version of my book, advanced Paragliding. This is one of the chapters in the book and we want to sample and find out more about fear injuries, how it affects performance and a bunch of other things.

So if you have had one, can you jump on my website and just zip me an email and we'll reach out and, and dive into these a little bit more, something we wanna understand more, cuz it's a, it's a term I think that's maybe not very well understood and certainly something we've been talking about the last couple years on the show. I don't know if it came from Paragliding or something else, so trying to find out more. The other is, many of you got back to me about this podcast.

It was one of our most popular with Hannah Jane Williams. She's a post-doctoral researcher at the Max Plank Institute and she was studying soaring birds and had some pretty interesting take on that. But she was not a pilot and so has been reaching out to pilots and using them to grab data and putting instruments on paragliders to grab datas to help them understand more how birds do and why they do what they do. So the podcast was great and it was very educational.

I loved it. And Hannah just reached out to me very recently and wanted me to tell all of you that they have a, a spot for a paragliding based PhD position that they've just opened up. I'll read you this. The position will investigate all the things we spoke about in the podcast, but with the main question being, how valuable is social information for flight performance and competitive paragliding flight. So she wanted me to share that with all of you.

It's gonna suit a pilot with an interest in modeling computational biology or aerodynamics. So if you think that something you might be interested in, there's a link in the show notes for this one. Just go to the website and pull up this podcast with Hansa and there's a link there and you can find out all about it and you can find out where to reach out to Hannah and see if this would suit you. Sounds really cool. And finally, I'm leaving in a couple days for the super final, but I wanted to let you all know about a very cool mission that Miguel and his team at Elast Lore is putting together up in Nare right after the super final.

So I think the super final wraps, the 17th on the 18th, we're gonna get on a plane in Tuku, which is just outside of Via and fly up to Nares up by port of and fly the mountains there. It looks really cool and apparently the flying is epic. There's been some cool videos going around on that and some pretty heavy hitters going up there to fly. So it's a three day kind of semi comp just to explore the area and see if this is something that would work for us for future endeavors down there.

So another sister site to buy. We can do big comps so they will supply retrieve. I don't know if retrieve, but at least getting up to the launch. And so this isn't a, you know, fully organized thing, but it's something you're, you're down in ba or you're down in Mexico this December. Definitely take a look at that. And I will also have the link for that in the show notes for this one. And I'll be posting that on social media and stuff as well. But the areas called Nier Eat Flying looks epic.

And you know, Miguel and his team, they put on a good show. It'll be awesome. So it'll be a lot of fun. So if you could make it, come on down and join us and enjoy the show with Honza. This was a special talk. Hope you like it. Cheers Honza, great to have you back on the show. We had some technical difficulties. I I know tech is not your thing, you're a meteorologist and a pilot. So that was, that was kind of a funny reminder. We're, we're gonna be talking about tech in this show, you know, going back to 2007, I remember in the 20 15 1 you were still using your little Garmin thing.

So, you know, I I think you're more a fan of paper maps than, than all the, all the tech. But good to have you back bud and good to see you here. Ed, I'm excited to talk some ex ops with you with another one right around the corner.

Speaker 3 (5m 54s): Yeah, yeah. Thanks for having me. And it's gonna be, I think in what, in the last eight editions, the first one that neither of us are in, huh? That's

Speaker 1 (6m 3s): Right, that's right. Yeah,

Speaker 3 (6m 5s): We've, we'll both be spectators.

Speaker 1 (6m 7s): Yeah. We've been there for quite a bit more than a, a decade if you put the two of us together. Yeah, that's okay. So that's my first question. How hard was it for you to watch your first one and not be in it? So how hard was 2017? Because I'm right around the corner for that one. I'm already starting to get a little bit jumpy about that.

Speaker 3 (6m 26s): You know, it was, it was not too bad. But thanks to like, we've had a podcast about this, but basically when I started doing my own little private ex ops with my son on the tandem with Martin, we were doing our very first one, he was eight and we were doing our very first one as the 17 was going on. So we occasionally checked into it but actually didn't follow it religiously like from, I wasn't, you know, at work behind it, computer and frantically checking the ex ops.

So just frothing. Yeah. Okay.

Speaker 1 (7m 1s): That's, it's actually a good inspiration for me watching you at Martin doing these awesome trips. I mean, I, I know we're going get you guys back on for this last one cuz you guys covered some serious ground that was amazing. But your first one was when he was eight and my little one's five and she just got her, her, her tandem kit from Nate. You know, he's not flying much so he, I just, we just got her harness actually yesterday. So I'm prepping, man. I'm gonna be following in your

Speaker 3 (7m 29s): Footsteps. Excellent, excellent. Yeah, it's, it's, it's, it's an, it's an awesome, it's just, you know, I can't, I can't, it's one thing I look forward to most every year now is doing these, these hike and fly self-supported trips with, with Martin.

Speaker 1 (7m 46s): Would you ever, would you ever go back to the Xop? Would you do? Or is this filled the filled the void?

Speaker 3 (7m 51s): I think it's momentarily filled the void, but, you know, inspired me tremendously was seeing Agi sa in his sixties. I know. And that just blew my mind, you know, cuz I remember, I remember he had a disqualification, it might have been 2013 I believe, maybe even 2011. And he had an airspace violation super early on and, and he was, yeah, he was 50 or just over 50 at that time.

And I was like, oh man, that's gotta be his last one. He, he got disqualified on day two, I think it was, I think it was 2011. There was, they got really strict for a moment there where they disqualified like with no, no, no buffer, no

Speaker 1 (8m 35s): Time penalty.

Speaker 3 (8m 36s): Yeah. And it was super cool to see him back and it was good to see him kinda still hang in there, you know, like, I mean he was obviously, you know, wasn't top 10, but he was, I mean he was for a 60 year old. That's, that's amazing.

Speaker 1 (8m 51s): Oh dude. I mean he and I were going neck and neck trying not to get eliminated at the, the end in the, in this last one with, with my terrible start. And he was making some cool moves and you know, we had, you know, I haven't communicated verbally very much with ogi, but he, at the party afterwards, he gave me this look and I think I gave the one back that was, you know, cause the weather in this last one was really sketch and, and we gave these look at each other. That was just, man, I appreciate you, you know, it was kind of both ways.

It was, man, we were fighting back there and, and we both hung in there. So it was, that was pretty

Speaker 3 (9m 30s): Cool. Yeah. Yeah. So, you know, it's, it could be something as you know, when I'm in my early sixties, I might throw in an application and and see if they take me, if they do, I'd love to do it again. But it's pretty fun

Speaker 1 (9m 45s): As you know. It's, well and we're gonna, we're gonna talk about the, the fun that you had and maybe some of the not fun that you had. But we've, we've done a few of these now, a couple of them now with Tom and Chrigel. And so, you know, the theme, we talked about this before we started recording, but we're gonna rewind the clock to actually, the first one that I watched as well was 2007. I remember that very vividly. I was up in Scotland sailing and we were trying to get internet wherever we could. And we had clients on board who had no idea what the race was all about.

And Bruce and I were just, oh, we got A walk, we'd sail for an hour, we gotta get back to the xl, see what's going on. Watch Hansa and Nate. And, but take us back to 2007. You're gonna share with us and you could certainly share more, but share with us a memory that maybe wasn't captured in the race or that, you know, that wasn't in a story or one of the videos, but something that still strikes you now is, is just a really good moment and maybe a not so good moment. You know, we tend to re remember not so good moments as good moments anyway as time goes by.

But tell us about 2007.

Speaker 3 (10m 55s): Yeah, 2000, 2007, definitely. I'll always start with the worst, but the worst was just the evening before the race. I had a, a dinner and, and after that dinner I went with a few of the pilots and, and, and Dave my supporter went and we just had a dinner and I remember like walking back and across this bridge, I already got sick and I threw up dinner and I was like, oh man, there goes 13 euros.

I just threw up 13 and that, that was the least of it. Cause then that night, you know, I got, I got the runs and I didn't sleep very much and in the morning it was just both those things continued and it was, this was the last where last of the ex ops where they didn't start out of saltsburg. We actually took a gondola about halfway up to Dachstein. And then there was, it was in, you know, we were based out of near and took the gondola halfway, halfway up the Dachstein and then at about a thousand meters to hike up.

So for most people I was like an hour, hour and 20 minutes. And I started, there was a little bit of a downhill hit the bottom of downhill and threw up again. And then it was just a crawl. Cause I had like no energy in me. It was, it was, you know, I never know exactly what happened, but I think something I ate the, the, the day before and you know, my most likely culprit is a piece of salami that floated in the cooler in some melted ice water and maybe picked up something off the side of the cooler maybe.

And maybe, maybe it was something totally different. But I picked up some pretty bad bug and you know, I was like, this, this is terrible. I was basically, you know, as I was hiking up, crawling up to the Dutch dying, I was watching these guys fly. I was feeling really strong wind flushing down down the Dachstein, the side I was walking up and I got there. It was too windy. And basically they arranged for the race doctor to come up there, check me out and that I could spend the night at the Dachstein lift station.

And the hottest thing Gavin is there was some, there's one other guy from Turkey. So had everyone else already flown off? Everybody flew off. Yeah, I was basically, well I wasn't quite last cuz I, there was this guy from Turkey who wasn't sick, but he, he got in there on flying merits, but he was terribly out of shape because he, he got up there maybe just slightly ahead of me. And it was, by the time he got up there, it was too strong for him to fly.

So him and I, we called it the Dutch nine prison cause it was basically a locker room. We got told we could stay there. I know the, I remember the race doctor came and I think gave me a little bit of IV drip just to, to, to get my, get me a little bit rehydrated. But yeah, we then in the morning it was locked so we couldn't get out until I think six or seven in the morning and, and then it was blown, blown from the north, so the wrong way. So had to hike down 2000 meters.

So everybody got off that day and basically had to hike down for 2000 meters, you know. Then towards the end of the day, saw the race doctor again. Then he was saying, you know, I can give you antibiotics, but I have to ask you to quit the race. I said, well, I'm not, no, don't gimme antibiotics. I'm, I'm not gonna quit the race. I'm, you know, happy to be in it. And there's this slight chance, slight chance that I might not be eliminated because there's this, this Turkish guy who's not moving very much.

He, I kind of passed him that day despite him not being sick. And I think he, he basically, after 23 kilometers, he, he gave it up. I mean, I think just called, just called it. Yeah. But he might have, I forget, I forget exactly whether he called it or whether he stayed in place. I don't know if that was being respected at the time. But kind of long story short on that is slowly, slowly I started getting better. But it was like four days before I was feeling myself again. Luckily on day three I managed to have a good flight.

It was only 50 kilometers, but it was the longest flight of that whole ex. But it put me seventh from last, which gave me a little bit of a buffer. Not by much, but a little bit of a buffer from being eliminated. Cause that was the, so back, you know, back in oh seven, we, we could hike all night every night. There was no sleep rule, no rest rule. But it was the first year that the elimination rule was instituted.

So

Speaker 1 (15m 51s): Ah, they didn't have

Speaker 3 (15m 52s): That before. They didn't have that before. Yeah, they didn't have that in oh three and oh five. So this was the first, the first year that got, that got put in there. But luckily, yeah, I got that, that, that third day saved me. And it was, it was, you know, it was one we had to cross the crest, the Alps from the north to the south. And I remember just, it was one of those days where the, you're not getting much above crest level, so you're kinda, you knowed up to a spot where I'm just kind of sloshing against it and there's just wind kind of sloshing, sloshing, sloshing.

And finally in one of those sloshes that you got a little bit of lift was able to clear the crest and then get into the, the other valley and then, you know, continue with the flight down the valley and gotten across the crest. And it was just, it was, that was kind of the, felt like a really miraculous safe. So that's, that was, that was really crux is

Speaker 1 (16m 48s): What a way to start Oh, to be so sick after all the preparation and training. And I have to ask you, so I mean this was just the third one. How big of a deal was it in, in 2007? Was it, was it still, you know, the, the biggest thing going in paragliding? Were you just blown away to be in it and be there? Or was it still kind of a budding race?

Speaker 3 (17m 15s): I, I think he was transitioning to something really big. I mean, I, I actually didn't get in on the first round, but they kept like six sort of wild cards or standbys. And it was, Nate got in on the first one and I was like, okay, well, you know, he did, he'd done the do Mitten man or something or one of those races. So he had, he'd done something else in Aspen. So he'd done a few little things where, you know, his name was there and you know who, you know, who really got me in there.

I mean obviously Dave, Dave Henning was trying hard to get me in, but he asked Will gad to write me a short little thing of support. And in back in the day in Sun Valley, we used to do the Dave Bridges memorial race and, you know, I raced Will gad up a Baldy and kind of will gad at least, kind of knew of me a little bit. And he, he just wrote a really short, like three sentence recommendation email that said it'd be, it'd be fun in a kind of sick way to watch Nate and Hansa go at it, you know, just to have two, two people from Tucson Valley Boys.

Yeah. And so yeah, so it was when I got in there, that was, that was super cool to, to get in there. Then, then I had this scary incident where I thought I'd be eliminated immediately, which would've been just embarrassing and just, just bummer. And yeah. But then it got, you know, then it got better. This race Gavin, they didn't have, well it was, there wasn't a, like a maximum number of days. There was, it was two days after the first guy makes it, Alex Hofer took 14 days to make it.

It was only 850 kilometers. So just tells you how the, how the speed has changed, right? So 850 kilometers Alex Hofer makes it in 14 days. So on day 15 he's finishing, which is giving everybody 16 days to, to, to keep ra you know, to, on day 17 is when it's done. So this was the longest one I've been in, I mean more than half a month. And yeah,

Speaker 1 (19m 20s): That's

Speaker 3 (19m 20s): Great. So it allowed for a tremendous amount of time to sort of claw my way back through, through the, through the pack. I mean I was, you know, and Nate had a super good start. I remember just passing through places like near the Marada. I was like, man, Nate was here 48 hours ago. There's like no way I'm ever gonna catch Nate. And then by day 14 or 15 I managed to catch up to him and we ha we hiked in the evening.

And then Lisa made us some breakfast burritos in the morning and we hiked, you know, through about noon the next day. And unfortunately his feet were really in bad shape,

Speaker 1 (20m 13s): Man. His stories of his feet. He took his his shoes

Speaker 3 (20m 17s): And cut 'em up.

Speaker 1 (20m 18s): Cut the sides of him open. Yeah. So his feet could hang out of him. Oh, this sounded mangled like mine in 2015.

Speaker 3 (20m 25s): Yeah, so, so you know, he, despite him having such a strong start, he was, you know, he, by the end he was suffering pretty bad. So I had to, I had to leave him and keep, keep pushing and manage to almost catch up to Ear Jessup. So I, you know, know squeaked into the top 10. I got into ninth that year after all that. So it was, golly, but it was, it was, you know, it was a very, it didn't seem so super crazy paced.

I mean there was, there was the, you know, we'd marched long into the night. We kind of, the habit was you go to about 1:00 AM till you're just super tired and then wake up with the sun at six-ish. So you kind doing these five hour nights. But it somehow, it was a little, you know, it was kind of, at least waking up with the sun was really, really good that year. And we really had no idea what we were doing.

I mean, we, we came in there blind. I came in there with a map that was like one to 500,000. It was a road, you know, I, I, I'd Google Earth flown over the place a bunch of times. I was like, wow, there's a lot of mountains from here to there. You know, I tried to print a few print screens of like what I saw on the Google maps on the route. But I was, I was really like, I'm just gonna have to kind of take this day by day and see what happens.

Speaker 1 (22m 0s): And I mean in the air you weren't flying with the phone that had the next way points and all the stuff like we do now is were you just often, I don't know where I am,

Speaker 3 (22m 12s): Just fly that way. We had, we had way points on some big, you know, I think it was one of those fly techs, they gave us something that we had to carry a big brick and that, that gave us the way points we had our phone. But basically, but,

Speaker 1 (22m 26s): But those are the main way points. Those are just the

Speaker 3 (22m 28s): Oh yeah. You know, oh yeah. We had no, no weight points for the day or anything like that. I mean it was, there was a whole different approach. I mean, and, and to me it seemed much a much more organic approach where once, you know, once I got off launch, there was my game, there was like no communication with the supporter. Like the flying part of it was totally my, my game. The only thing once I remember calling Dave on a, it was a really good day approaching the Swiss border and I called him from the air cuz I just really needed to check if there was like a, a ceiling over us.

Cause it was just such a good day. We get into like 3,800 and I just needed to know, is there a ceiling? Like can I, am I gonna get some kind of violation? Even though it didn't look like an area where they told us about airspace. But I just, I just wanted to ask. So that, that's the only time I like that we communicated in the air.

Speaker 1 (23m 21s): That's amazing. That's amazing. Yeah. And I mean, for navigation on the ground, is it literally just the, the the one to 500,000 map you had, you didn't have, were you using many kind of gps?

Speaker 3 (23m 33s): We had an eTrex, like an a a an eTrex gps. We had, we had some maps that we kind gathered along the way. I mean, we had a little bit of a budget, so like Dave would kind sprint ahead and just buy the local topo maps and, but it was, you know, we're just do as best as we could. Luckily the C area since there was the, there's the iger turn point that, you know, the way I approached UHS Martin and all that was from north of that whole valley that's got the sea on airspace.

So I didn't have to, I didn't have to really deal with with that. I just kind of came in from this diagonal, if you kind took a diagonal from the iger towards Martin e I approached that and just landed up, you know, it was still, it was in the evening. It wasn't super crazy. I've had some much crazier landings like past Martin e this was upwind of Martin e and it was of course windy, but it wasn't, it wasn't a crazy, crazy windy situation there that, that time.

Speaker 1 (24m 42s): Is there a moment or a day or something in the race that just still really stands out as, as a really special moment that, you know, kind of a high of the race?

Speaker 3 (24m 56s): I, I think of that, of that particular race. I, like I said the, the first, the first actually my first proper, proper XC flight on day three. That that really, that really saved it. Cause that, you know, it it, that made her break. It would've, would've, would've, you know, if that hadn't succeeded. I might've been facing elimination possibly. So it was, it was, you know, and, and I launched and I started thinking out, of course.

So it made it extra sketchy. I was like, oh man, oh man, oh man. I got, you know how it is, you get, you get below, you get, you got the grassy areas up top. You got the grassy areas in the bottom, but you got the, that middle tree layer and there's not always landing areas there. So once you drop below that, you're kind of committed to the valley. If you s if you keep sinking and it was, yeah, just ma got, you know, into the tree area, but managed to thermal out and, and, and save it. So that was, I think that's still the most of the crux.

Yeah, the, the, the, the, the what really stands out, I mean, a lot of days hiking, hiking through the rain, hiking, you know, just hiking late, late into the night. But, but that, I think that stands out, stands out the most,

Speaker 1 (26m 26s): You know, this is going off topic here a little bit, but I don't think this will hold true this year now cuz the numbers will shift. But the last time I did a check, maybe this was 2017 or maybe 2019, it was over half of the US participants in the ex Alps that had ever done it had kind of cut their teeth in Sun Valley.

Speaker 3 (26m 56s): Yeah. I wouldn't be surprised. I wouldn't be

Speaker 1 (26m 58s): Surprised. Really fascinating. Yeah. You know, it's you and Nate to start off with, but you know, will gad you know, you know myself, Mitch Willie, I'm missing some, but pretty remarkable. That's kind of an interesting thing.

Speaker 3 (27m 17s): Yeah, well Sun Valley's been such a great training ground. I mean I think I always said if if you get comfortable with Sun Valley, you know, you're, you're, you're ready for the Owens and that's the Owens is only, I think thing like that is one, one layer or one level higher. Obviously mid-Summer Owens. But you know, I think, I think, you know, once, once you get comfortable with Sun Valley, a lot of stuff doesn't seem that that crazy anymore.

Speaker 1 (27m 48s): That's true. Okay. So 2009 was a really good one for you. Third place, take us back to 2009.

Speaker 3 (27m 59s): Yeah, so 2009. So I still had Dave Henning as a supporter. We knew a little bit better what, you know, what we're getting into. I think we had more than, more than two pairs of shoes this time. We had some, you know, let's see with, let's start with the worst on that one. The worst. So I, we got off to a good start.

We got off to a good start. I think by the time we got to the Marada area, I was, I would say I was almost maybe fifth, fourth, fifth. It was really looking good. And then before getting to Boza, yeah, no, no, I know what, actually it was a two part deal.

It was the first, the first day was not very good and we all flew just a little bit off the GE side hill landed and then all ran downhill. Cause everybody's excited Tomas running and we're all, okay, we're gonna run with Toma for a while. And I just did not, that was not good for my knees cause I hadn't trained to, you know, do a lot of running with that backpack. So I, I damaged my knees a bit and there was really starting that damage was starting to kick in by about day four.

And even though I was doing pretty well around fourth there approaching bolzano, it was too, too windy to fly down into there. And so it was about, I dunno, 4,000 foot or meter hike down into Bull and I hiked it all backwards cause knees were hurting but didn't, they didn't hurt backwards. So, so, so that, that was like a remedy there.

But what I, what I didn't realize I was doing with that move is I was totally screwing up my Achilles heel. So then I got my Achilles heel that starts getting all swelled up and you basically tendonitis to Achilles. And there I had to slow down a bit and suddenly I, you know, I'm back to like 10th and it was only thanks to some really good flights after that that I was able to kind of stay back in the game.

The knees got better on their own, the Achilles 10 and kind of kept, kept bugging the race doctor would like put shots of some homeopathic injections in there. Did they didn't, you know, maybe helped a little bit. But yeah, it was, it was thanks to the flying I think that it, that I, that it helped, you know, helped me stay up front. And then it was a year, a lot of people had, you know, airspace violations.

I think Helma from Austria had got eliminated. TOMA might have gotten eliminated. I think that was, that was a year they were being very, very strict. There was, I think it was all or nothing. It was, I think there wasn't a penalty was just elimination and Oh wow. So I would say at least two or three or maybe more got eliminated. And then Martin Miller, Martin Miller from Switzerland, who would've won in oh seven had he not had a violation, but back in oh seven they gave a 48 hour penalty.

So he had a vi you know, he hit the ec on airspace and that let Alex Hofer get first, Toma second in oh seven, Martin Miller was doing well, but then he flew into some box canyon and broke his ankle. And so he was out. And I know if, if he'd stayed in there, I, I'm like 99% certain he would've passed me at some point.

Cause he, sometimes, sometimes he'd have a little bit of a rough start. But then the second half he would often just jet through the, the, you know, standings and all the way top. So so he come back. Yeah, so he is real good. But he got, he got hurt and then towards the end, maybe day eight or nine, it was suddenly appearing that, you know, it was this race for third, we Aiden Toes from England and, and, and myself and Aiden was a runner, not quite of the caliber of Toma, but he was definitely a runner he could run.

And so we had this back and forth over a few days where he would always outrun me and then I would out fly him and then he would outrun me. And we had this long one where we both ended up, you know, we tagged the Matterhorn the same morning. We both kind of more or less flew out in towards wisp that afternoon. And then we had 80 kilometers up the valley towards Martini and he just started running. And I was like, oh man. And I just walked and I walked all night and I walked into Martine the next, next, you know, the next morning.

And up to the, that the cola four, that's above martini. And luckily it was too windy cuz I was just not having pulled that all night or I was like, I was not feeling in any flying shape at all. And I think Aiden gotten himself a little bit further towards Chamoy, but he was having a hard time with the wind and wasn't able to fly. But somehow in the meantime, that that day that we were both not able to fly f Afghani from Russia managed to kind of hop, just hop, hop off over from Zer area, like towards Verba and just stayed deeper in there and was able to, to make his way.

And suddenly we were all more or less in the Shany area and the evening, two days prior to the, to the last day. Cause this was, you know, moer had made it. So we had, there's, you know, the 48 hours had already the 48 hours and we're all within about five kilometers of each other. And then the next morning we, we'd start making our own moves and you know, we, I remember hiking and basically hiking up to Cloudbase that was just too early.

So taking a little nap, which, which is always a good thing in the xop if you're, if you're on launch early and you can manage to take a nap, which by the end like the final days, like days, you know, 9, 10, 11, it doesn't take much to, you know, any, any stopping of movement basically has you nap. It doesn't take, it's not an effort to take a nap. It's an effort to stay awake. So, so taking a little power nap before the flight really helped just, just to kinda get my head straight.

And then it was a combination of I think almost nine hopper flights for the most part. And I remember at one point seeing Afghani fly by, but continuing down into a very stable valley. So I side hilled and just with a bunched up glider hiked up maybe not even a hundred meters and waited. It was, you know, Cloudbase wasn't much above us and had to wait basically time, thermal cycles and go little ways along the ridge and got through a little coal and side hilled again.

And ba basically then had to pull out my map. And this was still looking at an old eTrex garment and a big paper map trying to make sense of where I am, where what my next move is. And luckily, luckily I knew this area a little bit cuz it wasn't, you know, we're basically now between, we've rounded, we've rounded Molan and we're all in the same game of just, you know, go as straight a course line towards Monaco cuz nobody's gonna make Monaco.

It's impossible. So you're just, you're just trying to go straight down the course line and you know, get as much distance and managed to at the right time, basically fly into the air near Borg, San Maurice and Cloudbase at that point had risen close to a thousand meters. So it was like top of lift was now 2,700 meters or so and was able to fly all the way up to Colby's Irene and actually I think yeah, had to land up there, walk a little bit and then was able to sort of launch on a shoulder and fly, you know, southward into the next valley and find, just, just keep hiking.

And then I was doing my math cuz I knew, I knew Aiden could run and I was, but he, he kind of missed the window there a little bit and didn't get into that great like end of the day flight and up the whole value from Bo and to, to Colne. And that was the crux move. So, you know, I walked, I remember walking in till 3:00 AM that night cuz you know, there's no, no rest rules and I knew the guy could run and I knew, you know, we still had till at least, you know, 1130 the next day.

So I didn't want him catching up cuz I managed to. And

Speaker 1 (38m 5s): Did you know exactly where he was? Was live tracking, you know, something you could pull up on your phone or Dave could

Speaker 3 (38m 10s): Dave. Dave could, and I think I, yeah, I was getting enough information from, from Dave and Via phone to know that he was about 25 K as the crow flies behind us. But oh, I was doing a good clip on you. I knew I couldn't start running forever, but I knew he could. So, so I was, and then I heard he was like going up into the mountains to try to take some shortcuts. So even though I'd gotten a bit of a head start, I wasn't taking it for granted and I just kept, kept going and going and, you know, had to ended up taking like a little one and a half hour nap and then flew down, I think now is technically in Italy and had then there was a, you know, in the morning there was about 1500 meters to hike back up and over another pass and got to that pass with a few minutes to spare, managed to launch and was basically airborne when the time ran out.

But that managed to put me into third and, you know, the honor of standing next to Hofer and Mauer was, you know, that was mo Mower's first win Hofer, you know, Hofer barely made it in within the 48 hours, which was, you know, it just showed him like that, the, that definitely, you know, moer was coming onto the scene that year oh nine and

Speaker 1 (39m 32s): God, his his first one too.

Speaker 3 (39m 34s): His first one. He just, just, yeah, just blasted through it. I mean, just really just dominated. Yeah. So that, that was, you know, you know, I was just, I remember being super, super tired as they were doing the countdown on the podium for the podium finish. But yeah, it was, it was unexpected in my, in my mind I'd never, you know, you know, Dave kind of said, yeah, we're going for podium this year. I was like, yeah, sure dude. I just, I just, I wasn't feeling it. So it was, it was, it was, you know, a combination of, of some good lucky flights and other people's misfortunes and it's, you know, something that just, you know, it, it's, it's, it was a fluke, but it was, it was, it was, it was an awesome feeling to stand with those two guys.

I mean, looking back at it now, they, they're short of Casper Henry, they're the only two guys that have ever won the ex a, right. So to stand with those guys on the podium was, was a treat. That definitely was the

Speaker 1 (40m 35s): Truth. I've forgotten that, that ho for God second in that one. That's right. And then didn't he, after he was training for the, was it 2011 when he broke his

Speaker 3 (40m 46s): Back 2011 is when all those, you know, the, the, those really, the, the rods, those, the black sheep technology and all that, those, those carbon fiber rods came on the scene and it was still, I think at that point it was still, they might, I think it was still open class. I didn't, I don't think they made every glider be certified, but it was, I'm trying to think if that was, that might have been No, no, I know, I think it, I know, and I, I think it was 11 that all that was coming on the scene.

A lot of, a lot of people were getting on those at that time.

Speaker 1 (41m 25s): Right, right. Yeah, I wanna say he was flying the, the R 10 maybe or i, the foggy memory,

Speaker 3 (41m 32s): But yeah. But I know know, a lot of people were getting hurt. I was kind of like, I remember just, you know, just a lot of people were getting hurt on those, but that, that came on the scene I think more in, in 2011.

Speaker 1 (41m 45s): Okay. So good transition. 2011, that was the first year we saw Go Bower, who's also had a pretty epic run. Yeah.

Speaker 3 (41m 54s): He he got himself into, yeah, on his first one there into third place. I remember that.

Speaker 1 (41m 58s): I think that's what put him on Team, team Red Bull. Yep. And yeah, and the weather was pretty brutal in 11, right? Wasn't that the bad weather year?

Speaker 3 (42m 8s): Yeah, I'm trying, I'm trying to, let's see, I remember that was the first time we had the Tri Chima turn point. Oh yeah. And so, yeah, like worst for that year, once again, got off to a decent start. And then this time I think I got myself either hypothermic or something, but hiking up to the Tri Chima, you know, I got super cold, but I didn't, I, I had a like, still a sweaty shirt.

It was windy and cold, but I wasn't fully acknowledging what was happening. So I was, I thought I would just, you know, often I would just, you know, no big deal. I got a wet shirt, I'll just keep hiking and it'll evaporate and everything will be fine. I remember taking a phone call that was stupid, taking a phone call from the States and sitting there in that wet shirt and towards the end not like getting cold and not even thinking rationally I could have easily pulled out a wing tip of my paraglider and wrapped it around myself and it just, I just wasn't, I wasn't thinking straight, you know, I remember at the base of the hill, Dave's all, you want your jacket, it was a, you know, 250 gram down jacket, super lightweight down jacket would've made all the difference.

I was like, no, don't need it. I, you know, wanted to go super light. But yeah, I got up there and I was like, okay, well I'll get up here and have some warm soup. I had like a little sip of that soup and I could tell I was gonna throw up. And then, and this was kind of embarrassing cause I had a, you know, I had a big plastic bag, but it was in a, it's one of the few times I slept in a, in a hut. It was the dry chima hut and it was like 20 people in this bunk room. And I remember getting in there around, you know, midnight and then just throwing up and it was just, it was, it was not just embarrassing, but it was also, you know, I woke up the next morning just feeling just absolutely terrible.

And yeah, Dave said basically I bunked, I just kind of overdone it and just kind of just cut yourself. Yeah. Yeah. The next morning we, we got, we got going kind of slowly. It was like I'd made it up there I think fourth or fifth, but by next morning before it got flyable, another five or six pilots got there. So that whole, like any big lead advantage had had quickly evaporated. Then it was just about like flying, you know, outta the dolomites and working my way towards Morano.

And by, let's see now it was the day after that we got to Morano and I'm, I just remember like getting to Morano landing in this really nice like overgrown old garden of berries and fruit, which was really nice. But also finding out that by now mower's already inma, which is just, you look at the map and you're like, holy shit, he's just so, so far ahead and that they still hadn't implemented a minimum time rule. So we're like, wow, this race is gonna be over and you know, we won't even get to play very long.

Cause that year only Maer and Toma I think made made it. Yeah, that's right. So, but what I do remember on that one, just to back up a little bit, let's see, what was this? No, that would've been, that would've been 13. Okay. So this is, that would've been 13. Yeah. It's, it's funny, Gavin it gets to be, some of it gets to be a bit of a blur, you know, you try to

Speaker 1 (45m 39s): Yeah, it'll mash it

Speaker 3 (45m 41s): Together. Yeah. Yeah. I mean I used to, to tell you the truth, I think up, up to the first three, I was able to like, in my mind replay it day by day. I'd have to carefully think through it, but that's sometimes an exercise I did if I couldn't fall asleep, I was like, let's, let's replay the ex out. And I would replay 'em and I had up to three of them the, you know, I was able to replay 'em kind of day by day. But now you try to like think back on each individual one and what exactly happened. And each one, it's, it gets to be a, it gets to be a little hard to, to tease it apart.

Speaker 1 (46m 14s): Yeah, totally. They, they kind of glom together and you get, you get days from, oh yeah, that was in 2017. Oh wait, no, that was 2019. I, I have that all the time. Yeah. I do the same thing to go to sleep sometimes. Relive it, but you relive it wrong. Yeah,

Speaker 3 (46m 28s): Yeah. What I need to do is, there's, there's a fellow, I forget his name, he was in the oh nine, I believe, ex Alps British guy and he kept meticulous records of the track logs. Tom Payne. Tom Payne. Tom Payne, yeah. Tom Payne. Yeah. So I need, I need to send an email one day and get, get the track logs of, of my, you know, of, of my five Xs. I'd love to superimpose it all in one map. Just have different colors, you know, that'd be really great.

Then if you, he go ahead.

Speaker 1 (47m 2s): He gave that to us. He didn't have all of them, but he had, back to 2009 when I was getting ready for the first one, my first one in 2015, we got all those from him. I, I wonder if I still have 'em somewhere. But they're, we use those as kind of training just cuz you know, just to see how you all did it. That, you know, how do they, how do they do this race? Because I was a rookie and I was clueless. Remember how much I called you? Yeah. How do we do that? How many shoes should I have? All those kind of things. And so yeah, he, he still does, he keeps meticulous notes on all that stuff.

It was, he was very resourceful

Speaker 3 (47m 38s): And you know, what was, what was actually, I was gonna say back in oh seven, even though it was very old technology, I think it was two minute tracking intervals, it made for much more realistic flight distances. Cuz after that, when they got to much higher resolution tracking, they never, you know, always thought they could have found a programmer that would put like a low pass filter and actually take out your circles and take out, you know, if you, if you did it every two minutes, you'd get a much more realistic distance flown if you count every circle and every thermal.

It always said, well this guy flew 400 kilometers today. You know, something crazy.

Speaker 1 (48m 15s): I know. And I've often wondered if the, if the audience understands that, cuz it's, you know, and they'll, and they'll actually put it out, you know, in the posts, you know, Chrigel flew 280 k today, you know, and you're going, wait, no, I mean, not even Chrigel did that.

Speaker 3 (48m 31s): Yeah. So I think it might be a, you know, they're pushing big numbers to make it sound interesting and to the, I guess the majority of the audience are non pilots that are not critically looking at this, but it, you know, it screwed everything up. Like when you're looking at the proportions of like actual distance flow, the distance hiked cause distance hiked, that's, that's real distance hiked, you know, even at like whatever one minute intervals, two minute intervals, you're not moving that far. But, but when you start, you know, counting every circle, it's, it, it totally, totally skewed it. But so that, that in, in some ways, old technology of every two minutes made it much more realistic for, for

Speaker 1 (49m 7s): Distances. I never thought about that

Speaker 3 (49m 10s): Interesting's, but, but still kind of reminiscing a little bit on 2011 by then, you know, being the third time going through some of these places, it does start to be a trip down memory lane. And what's really cool is you go over certain places and you're like, you know, man, last time I flew through this within minutes and now I'm treking through it, you know, over hours and vice versa.

Speaker 1 (49m 35s): You know? Right.

Speaker 3 (49m 37s): So its just, it's, it's, it's, it's it's, it's definitely, but it's, but it's cool cause like the places are kinda like your old friends as you pass through 'em.

Speaker 1 (49m 46s): Yeah. And you see 'em in new ways just Yeah. It's, it's like Nate always says, you know, there's, it's a special way to see it because you would never see it in that way recreationally. Absolutely. You get to places in the race and fly in conditions. I'm not necessarily even bad conditions, but just, you know, those morning glory fights flights where you'd never normally even be outta bed. Yeah, yeah. You know, just crazy 10 minute letters that are just, you know, you're the only person in the world seeing that Right then, you know, it's just those moments are incredibly special.

Speaker 3 (50m 28s): Yeah. And then I think, and anything to say, the hike too, the sidehill landings, the craziest places to side hill it, even on an active like, you know, little asphalt road that's on a, basically a cut in a cliff, but it's, you know, you either land there, you look for traffic and you land and you bunch up your glider real quick or you're gonna be landing way down there at the bottom and have 200 meters of extra hiking and it just, you do anything to save, you know, not, not having to sink out or not landing lower than you need to.

Speaker 1 (50m 59s): And the, and the, and the number of times that I have carried on with the flight with no options because you just, it's gonna work out. You, you get into this head space where there will be a landing, we're in the Alps, you know? Right. There's gonna be, I mean I've flown down these river canyons that are just proper, you know, v canyons with, you know, basically flying down a river with surrounded by trees going, yeah, it's gonna work out, you know, just flying past a beautiful lz, you know, I could have definitely landed in, but nah, you know, if I keep flying I'll get another kilometer out of this.

Speaker 3 (51m 38s): Yeah, yeah. Or some of the, that's crazy. Some of the, I mean, you know, it's hard to remember exactly which one it was in oh nine or not, but there was one memory that really comes to mind. It was, it must have been, I would say maybe oh nine. But it, I remember there was the airspace of cion, this, this, this time I'm coming, no, it would've been 11, I think it would've been 11 because oh nine, we hiked all that with Aiden. But 11 is basically threading a needle.

You have a 45 degree cliff face, you've got Cloudbase above it, and then you've got off to the side is airspace. So you got like a very physical thing, the cliff side, this kind of ephemeral but thing you don't go into next to a cliff, the Cloudbase above you. And then this invisible thing, this human made airspace wall. And it was basically threading a needle through that. Like do you, because if you, if you, if you start sinking out too much, you're either forced on a very steep cliff side landing or you're gonna sink down into the airspace anyway.

It's like a triangle. And then if you, you know, go too high, you're in cloud and threading the needle through that. That was, that's one memory that always sticks with me that was just like, you know, you kind, you get through that and you're like, yes and well

Speaker 1 (53m 1s): Ni nice way to nail the 2011 highlight 20 and let me know if we should move

Speaker 3 (53m 10s): On's share more from 20, yeah's 13, 20 13 was new crew. I had Jesse Williams and Lewis Rose and it was, let's go to the worst day. Cause I always like to start with the worst day, worst day, you know. So back in 2011 was the last time I made 10th, last time I was in the top 10. So that was, that ended 2011 and 2013.

A lot of things change. Now they're saying, okay, Maer is moving so fast, we're gonna put in a minimum, everybody gets to race for 12 days rule, which was cool. So we all knew that we'd actually get to, you know, fly for maybe more than nine or 10 or however many days it was. But it just seemed like You

Speaker 1 (54m 0s): Sure that was 2013,

Speaker 3 (54m 2s): I believe. 2013. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (54m 4s): I thought they'd instituted that in 20.

Speaker 3 (54m 8s): No, no. He was,

Speaker 1 (54m 9s): He finished that in 2013. He finished in six days or something. It was crazy.

Speaker 3 (54m 13s): Yeah. And and that's, I remember we got to, we got to race going for 12. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. They, that was in instituted in 2013. Cause I remember 2013, like in 2015 marking some of the same spots as 2013. And what made the big difference for me was, you know, it in 2013 the weather got bad at the end, but it was, it was day 11. And I'll tell you the story, man, we, so we start super early.

We're in, we had the san was a turn point like where the San Hill air that that festival is. And so it had to in the morning usually, you know, the, the program was I'd start hiking a little bit, then they'd get some breakfast ready to catch up to me. I'd probably shed some clothes as I'm getting ready for the uphill hike. And so then I do this, you know, we go through that whole routine.

I hike up to the Sun Hill air launch and I realize that we don't have the bag of clothes. Like we kept most of the clothes in this big blue IKEA bag and there's two nice down jackets in there, all the speed sleeves, all the, you know, the ex stops everything. And we'd left it by the side of the road at like, you know, 5:30 AM or something.

And about two hours ago and it was, yeah, they went back, they drove back. It was gone. I remember trying to get 'em to like plaster some posters or some, some like lost clothes flyers. I remember on my blog I was, you know, trying to remember my French, I was like, like please let me know. I was like, like just missing my clothes. And, and it was, even though I had a really, the flight off San LA was just a, just a long morning sweater.

But it was, it ended really cool cuz it was just clearing a, a barb and there's not many barbed wire fences. It's mostly like electric fences or nothing. But there's a barbed wire fence. I cleared it by like half a foot on the other side that let me get into a field and save myself from hiking up from the very bottom valley. But that was, you know, that was little consolidation to the fact that the forecast was that it was gonna be bad stormy for the next couple days. And you know, try as we may, we just, we got to, I think we got, definitely got the closest I ever got.

I think we got to within 90 kilometers. But, you know, it was, it was the first, it was the first time I hadn't made top 10 and all. I was 11th and all top 10 made it to Monaco with this 12 day rule. So I was like, oh. I was like it, like it felt like it slipped through my fingers, just like you know, we were given a finite number of days. It was no longer dependent on the fastest guy. Cause you know, being within 48 hours behind, behind Mauer just seemed to make mole completely impossible until they implemented this 12 day rule.

And then to, to kind of felt like a, you know, then you start to question every move along the way. You know, where did you screw up? Like, and it's, it's, it's one of those, yeah, you just evaluating it. But, you know, the, the best, I dunno, it was fun. It was at least, you know, as, even though, even though this was approaching the day approaching trying to get to San Air, but on the RV's chain by Laus, the coal by Laus there got to pass the French guy in France.

So that was, you know, one of the pilots. So I made it from 12 to 11th, you know, small consolidation, but at least, you know, I remember, I remember Chuck emailed me, or, or sent, you know, whatever on, on the, on the, on the chat he's like, Hey, you just passed a French guy in France. So that was, you know, Lisa, Lisa Little something. Yes. And consolation. Yeah. And then, and then I remember in that specific one, you know, some the day approaching the, let's see, which would we had inter Yeah, we had interlocking.

So we had interlocking, so we went by the iger. So approaching, like getting into interlocking, flying into there. And there was just this big cum over, over the iger. So, you know, kind of skirting well away from it. But it was just like, just just amazing lift in that whole area of the whole valley. And then, you know, trying to get as close to interlock and, and doing these into, into wind in the lee uphill landings.

And I was starting to, starting to get really cocky with those, you know, just, I was like, well you gotta land it, not gonna land at the base, not gonna hike from the bottom and I'm not gonna, I'm not gonna make it over the crest. I'm not gonna punch up wind, but I'll land into wind. Just basically like, you just basically fly it right into the hillside cause it's flushing down the hillside and you just kind of carry enough momentum and flare hard enough and land into that. And, and that was that, on that one it worked out pretty good.

So it wasn't until 2013 where I think that 2015 where, where I started to, you know, I think I overdid it with that and you know, 2015. So as we moved to that, so I'm still got Jesse, then Bob Cebu from the Czech Republic was my other supporter. And they just keep adding more, you probably noticed they just keep adding more and more turn points.

I mean there's probably a finite limit once you get like to 10 or 12. But if, if you go on the Wikipedia page and you look at like what was, you know, in 2003, I think that to go north of Veria and then to Monaco.

Speaker 1 (1h 0m 42s): Yeah, exactly. They had two,

Speaker 3 (1h 0m 45s): It made, it made it so clear cut, you know?

Speaker 1 (1h 0m 48s): Yeah. I think, I think in 20, I can't remember it was either 2017 or 2019. There were 13 turn points. Yeah. It was just, wait, what?

Speaker 3 (1h 0m 56s): Yeah, I mean it's, it's crazy. It's crazy how it's evolved. I know, I know. Before, I think it was the 15 where a bunch of people like violated interlock and airspace and at that point, red Bull wasn't really caring about it too much. But then I think they, the red Bull got a big talking to where they basically had to like, if you got, you guys better enforce airspace. And that's, that's when things got really strict, you know, in oh seven than even more strict in oh nine. And you know, that's, that's one of those things I think is also a fluke.

I mean I, I tried my best and managed to avoid ever getting an airspace violation and you know, I'm, I'm very happy about that cuz that I saw the people who that who got hit by that. And especially the years where it was just all or nothing invalidation, I mean elimination. It just, oh, brutal. Yeah. I mean I just, you know, I could see that, you know, their, their, their world was momentarily just crumbling cuz it's, you're just putting all this effort into that and just to be told, oh, you nick this invisible wall and now you're cut, you're, you're, you're gone.

Right. So, you know, as there's a few times I got really worried that I might have maybe nicked something that I didn't quite notice. Even like the first day over the berg on one of the, one of the ex hops I remember it was like, I might have drifted, did I drift too far towards Salzburg? Oh no. Like I wasn't quite sure.

Speaker 1 (1h 2m 21s): Yeah. Oh, the stress of the airspace. Yeah. Yeah. It, it always dings people too. That was one of the things that I kind of held onto in the last race. Cause I had such a terrible start and I was really fighting at the back and, you know, but it was, it was interesting. It was kind of, it was in, in some ways I wouldn't say fine, but it was, it was kind of interesting being there. Cause I'd never had a start like that. And it was, you know, like you'd said in your 2007 race when you started really sick, it was, it was just a different kind of way to be optimistic, you know, because you know that people ahead of you are gonna make mistakes.

You know, people are gonna get hurt, you know, people are gonna hit airspace. You just gotta hang in there. Yeah. And it's, you know, it's gonna work out. You're not gonna win. But

Speaker 3 (1h 3m 4s): Yeah.

Speaker 1 (1h 3m 5s): But it's, and that's, and that was true. That did happen. But yeah, so 20 is my first, this was your last, this my last one. You made it to Monaco. But we had a, we had a couple, we had a really cool day together Day eight or something after the turn point down in the Brent. Yeah,

Speaker 3 (1h 3m 23s): Yeah. That was that, what was that They called it the Cmaa or the Yeah,

Speaker 1 (1h 3m 27s): Sema.

Speaker 3 (1h 3m 27s): Something like that. Yeah. So that, that one I remember. Yeah. That was in, in many ways I was trying to think of what would, would, would consider worse. Cause that was in many ways for me, a great ex ops even though like position wise it was my worst ranking 15th. But it was, yeah, with, with such relatively good weather and the 12 day minimum, it allowed so many people, I don't think before or since have that many people made it to Monaco. And, but at that, at that cma, at that Italian turn point, I remember, you know, we had to land sign the board and then relaunch and I remember relaunching and very quickly sidehill it cuz I just, or within a few minutes cause I just wasn't seeing so much cloud cover.

I just wasn't trusting it to fly out there. And I figured I'll side hill either wait for more sun or hike a little higher. Yet everybody that was like coming in signing their name, flying away, they were making it work. And I, and I remember, you know, Jesse was like, why aren't you flying man? And I was just like hiking this long traverse, looking for a good relaunch spot. And then the day was getting, you know, you know, it was getting late in the afternoon. So by the time I relaunched it was more of an extended sled ride.

And then it was the morning after that where we met up and didn't, who was it Dave Turner wasn't, yeah, didn't, I mean didn't he fly with it? Didn't we all show up on the same launch or just the two

Speaker 1 (1h 5m 2s): Of Yeah, same launch. You and I literally launched in the same place. That was one of the Spier launches. I remember actually not cuz of the conditions, but you were, you just hooked yourself off the cliff. I thought, okay, well he's doing it. I can do that. And for, but you had a great fight. Dave and I both bombed, remember it was real wicked stable.

Speaker 3 (1h 5m 20s): Yeah. Cuz you wanted to know around, you wanted to go around this one corner that didn't make sense. And I just got on this one spot and I remember just staying and gaining like a foot, losing a foot just forever hugging this little spot until I was able to climb out. And this is still even before the crest, this is before like getting the to sun or was it sun?

Speaker 1 (1h 5m 40s): That was, that was an exciting day. That was, you know, to Toledo was airlifted to the hospital. The German guy bowed out of the race. Cuz remember it had been windy. We were fighting a lot of wind that year. And that was the day Toma got really hurt. And then I think, I think that was the day or one maybe the day before when Michael Vici landed in the lake through his reserve and landed in the lake and almost died trying to swim to shore.

Speaker 3 (1h 6m 10s): Yeah.

Speaker 1 (1h 6m 13s): Some crazy ones. And that and that race went down. You and I were oblivious of course we were doing our own

Speaker 3 (1h 6m 18s): Things. Yeah. And then, and then after that, I remember there was a maybe one, one other staple day after that. And then you more or less caught up and then that's when you did your deep line where I kind of, yeah, I I I carved way to the north and then flew. I had like an eight hour flight and that was the day. I think we've talked about this on another one where I got into the wave for a bit and, but you managed to cut through over by Vermont. And when I was there this summer I was looking at that and I was like, wow.

Like how did and all this wind, I, I know, I know you said it was very spicy where you had to deal with with, you know, had to stall it a few times, but just you, you managed to push through there. Nick from New Zealand managed to push through there. But when I was, when I, I flew up into tag this the matter horn turn point, but I just wasn't seeing how, I just wasn't seeing the move to, to continue pushing into wind. It seemed like one would just,

Speaker 1 (1h 7m 15s): Yeah, they, getting out of there was man, I, I tried so many times I hit the turn point and I just kept pushing up into those glaciers and just getting spanked and running back down and trying again and trying again. And then Powell, the, the, the Polish guy, we both finally hooked a thermal and he was, he was, he was behind me, but you know, in the same thermal. And we finally got high enough, you know, somewhere around 38 or something to keep going. And you know, what was the big factor there was communication when I got into the SAS and then into the ER Vermont and heading up there, you know, suddenly I was with all these ex ops pilots.

It was just, you know, it wasn't a recreational day. There was nobody else mine that day. But there was ex ops pilots and I, and I'm looking at them thinking, whoa, I think, I think that's so I don't remember now, but I think that's so and so they were in eighth this morning, you know, I was in 18th. So I was very excited. I I knew that we were doing well and then I started getting these texts from Bruce that just said, do not come back to the run. Cuz everybody was going in and tagging it and going back to Theone and getting drilled cuz the wind was so strong and just landing.

Speaker 3 (1h 8m 29s): Oh yeah. I remember, I remember landing just before like not quite out to the, but like almost at west level, but just still in that valley where the y the upside down Y starts. So the, so yeah, that was, yeah, that was very funky in there, but it just, it seemed like, it kind of seemed like the only move, even though I knew I'd have the, the next day was forecast to even more windy. And I knew I'd have the endless walk up that valley, those 80 kilometers. Oh,

Speaker 1 (1h 8m 56s): Just walk up to Sea Valley.

Speaker 3 (1h 8m 57s): Yeah. Yeah. But it's, it was, it was, yeah, it was, you know, I remember like once again, like Jesse was questioning why didn't you, you know, why didn't you, those other guys made it that way. Like I just, I just wasn't seeing it. And, and we didn't have the, we weren't doing the communication thing. Like we didn't have a radio or necessarily calling each other anything in the air. So yeah, it's, it's, it's hard to say, you know, it's, it's hard to say. I mean it felt like I, for me it felt like a, the smart move just to, just to fly back out.

But may obviously, obviously several people were able to push, push right up through this. Yeah,

Speaker 1 (1h 9m 34s): I mean it was, you know, and looking back and hearing the stories, you know, I, I ended up confirming this with Powell a couple years ago down in Columbia because one of the, one of the stalls, you know, just every ridge that you were heading west, you know, towards Shaman and Verbier, you know, the wind was really strong and you were high. It was was fire, it was pushing against wind. But when you get down below these ridges and have to lee out of it, you know, you take some spanking and, and one of 'em in particular, I guess I scared Paul outta the powow outta the air.

He just, he saw me just completely lose my glider and he went, okay, I've had enough, you know, and went and landed, and I didn't realize this, but Michael Vici was right below us and he had also landed just, okay, this is, this is too much. And I think Ferdy and Nick were the other two that were able to push, push through. But yeah, that was, that was, that was, I mean, and at the end, you know, after all the fighting flying into Verbier was class one, there was, you know, the wind finally died.

And I mean, flying into Veria, I was texting Mike and Stu and waving at town and it was just a piece of cake. It was,

Speaker 3 (1h 10m 45s): You know, but that's a while my mind that you're able to kind of push up wind through. I, cause now that I, I've seen that terrain a couple times just to imagine pushing up through it, like when I was north of Wis and like making my way kind of, you know, along the north part, it, it made sense cuz I would never had to quite go into the Lee and it almost felt like a little protected, you know, there's the valley when that was strong in the valley, then there was this mid-layer that was reasonable that you could kind of work your way and keep pushing up through. And then above crest level it was strong again.

But seemed like going from Mont towards to Veria, like those initial crossings, you're, you're, it's not like you're flying along the side of a range. You're, you're going across like each one is a perpendicular, like you're gonna have to push into wind into its Lee to get over it. And

Speaker 1 (1h 11m 38s): It's interesting to think about these things too. I mean in, in retrospect as well, you know, wondering, I I I really don't think I could do that move again. You know, it, it's, it's funny how the race puts you in different head spaces. I mean part of it was that my feet were falling off, you know, so I, the night before and Bezo and I landed in all this wind, that was when Tom got hurt and when I landed, Bruce was just super fired up. You know, Hans is right there. You can, you know, you're only 20 K behind about six people.

You could go get him. And I said, I can't walk Bruce. I I, and I'm flying like, crap, I need sleep. I need a beer and I need to go to bed. I mean, it was 6:00 PM there was a lot of day left and I, but I, I already had the idea of the next day of just going direct. But it was kind of this all or nothing, you know, it was day eight. I, I'd been, I'd had a series of bad days after a really good start. And I think it was just, I have to do something big here. I have to, you know, to make Monaco, I've gotta do something.

And so I think it was just this, the head space that was available to me that day. And I, you know, I wonder maybe Chrigel has that head space all days. I don't know. But I don't know that I'd be able to do it again. Certainly now I don't think I would. I'd just be too scared.

Speaker 3 (1h 12m 58s): You

Speaker 1 (1h 12m 59s): Know, in some ways it's just ignorance is

Speaker 3 (1h 13m 1s): Bliss. Yeah, I was, I was almost thinking about that too. Like, like, like because where, where you were in your flying career at the time and then like some of the stuff you've written later, like, you know why, you know, sometimes when people are so deep, like why did you, I think you were some article or something you're telling some guy, why are you so deep? If it was working just fine out front, you know, totally different scenario. But like, yeah, it's not always, you know, but I, I also, I also like to, when, when possible go deep, like especially on the, on the Sierras, if it's ever possible to fly, you know, from, from waltz and fly directly over Whitney and the, the, the true crest of the high Sierras.

That's, that's, you know, there's something about getting deep in there and seeing it all. But, but unless win preferably that's

Speaker 1 (1h 13m 47s): Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Less win for sure. Well, was the, was the highlight from that year just simply Monaco or was there something during the race that really stands out more?

Speaker 3 (1h 13m 59s): I mean, I think, yeah, you'd have to, I would have to say finally making the goal, even though once I, you know, got onto, what do they call, is it Mon Girls? Mon Girl? The the one, yeah, it was, it was somewhat anti-climatic because then there's this lot of this waiting around like you were, once you get there you are, you can't fly down to the raft right away. They had, they, they kind of, it's staged and you, there was these, there's so many of us, there's like these little 15 minute windows you get to go and your supporter flies with you and then, you know, so we're kinda have to wait around for that.

And I remember getting up there in the morning and, you know, somebody handing me a beer and somebody handing me a red Bull and I remember was like, okay, I'll have, I guess I'll have one of each, you know, but it was, yeah, it was one of those things you kinda like, you know, you it, it did put a finishing touch. It was, you know, I, you know, I wanted to make it, I wanted to land on that raft. I'm glad they still had that raft. Cause I heard in the future or in the, some of the future editions, they, they didn't even put the raft in the water anymore.

Right. So that was cool. I mean that was definitely something I was, you know, eight years in the making for me five attempts. So I, I would have to say that was, that was super special to, to get to, to get to land there. Even though it was the worst ranking and it was obviously the e one of the easiest years because so many people made it more than half the field made it so it wasn't, you know, it was nowhere near as I guess unique or special as making podium.

But it always, for all those other four additions being not quite a goal and being told it's time's up stop, get in the van and now drive to Monaco and celebrate. It was, it was super, super cool to arrive in, in Monaco to be there. Yeah. The one thing I was gonna mention on that 2015 is I think as I was saying in 2013, I was getting a little bit cocky about landing in, in the lee of things.

Just like, okay, it's flushing over over this hill and I want to go there and I'm just gonna, I'm not gonna clear it, but I'm just gonna, I'll, I'll, I'll, I'll land, you know, and just land in the lee like I was saying, well this time I did it and it was, it was really windy and it felt, it really felt like a constant stall into the ground. I know it wasn't, I know it was still flying, but there was just so much sink and it was, you know, probably kinda like 15 gusting to 18 miles an hour where I landed and, and it was in, in the Lee and luckily it was mostly grassy and took, you know, it was really hard landing, but it was one of those, I kind of check myself and everything was fine, but I was thinking, man, you only get so many of these, you know, this is not the right thing to be doing.

It's not worth it. It's just like, it was, it was one of those realizations, it's like, okay, you've been getting away with some of this, this and just kept doing it in stronger and stronger conditions and just, just don't do that again.

Speaker 1 (1h 17m 15s): At some point it's gonna bit in, it was that, I, I'm curious, Hanza, was there an overriding one thing after 2015 that was, okay, I'm done. Was it because you made it? Was it cuz the kids family?

Speaker 3 (1h 17m 32s): Yeah, I think it was, it was, it was, it was Tony's second kid was, you know, on the way by Tony was born in 17 in March. And I kind of, I felt like I sort of checked off all the boxes, you know, I mean it's like, I knew it wasn't, I was obviously descending for the last four. I was descending through the rankings. So, so like the, the heyday was obviously, you know, early on being able to crawl up into ninth after such a bad start, then making podium, then still like one more of holding the top 10 and then just kind of slipping through the rankings.

And I could see the pace of the race was getting, you know, so intense. The profession prof, if that's the word, professionality, I don't know. But you know, now they'd opened it up to more than one supporter you had, you know, so, so many people like preparing year round and I just, yeah, I didn't have the time to invest in it. I mean, if you, if I'd won the lottery and if I didn't have kids, I think I would do it again. Maybe even, maybe even just the lottery, you know, if you didn't have to work then, then you could do a lot more flying as you know.

But yeah, I think, I think it was a good time, it was a good time to stop. I mean it's, it's, you probably, you know, you've just gone through the same thing recently yourself is there's, there's a point where you decide it's, you know, you're not, you're not getting better. It's, it's getting the race is only getting just crazier faster matter. Yeah. And, and, and you just kinda, you got, I guess it's time to let somebody else have a go at it.

Speaker 1 (1h 19m 18s): Yeah, totally. Hansa what a treat, man. That was, that was really fun. I've been smiling the whole time. That was, it was fun to relive those races with you. Thanks man. Thanks for

Speaker 3 (1h 19m 29s): Sharing. Yeah, yeah, it, it was, it was definitely fun to, I'm glad we got to race each other in, in 2015. I'm glad you got to represent for another three years and yeah, we're gonna see how Logan and what's the other Cedar, how, how they do. Yeah, I'm, I'm, I'm wishing, wishing 'em lots of luck. I know they're training hard. I got to see Logan shortly a few weeks ago in, in Carpenter and had a, a really fun sky camp with him last May in the Owens.

We just had just stellar, stellar conditions like minimal wind, but good proper may time strong thermals. So yeah, I think it'll, it'll, it's, it's time to give the next generation a a a go at it.

Speaker 1 (1h 20m 17s): Absolutely. Well, cool bud. All the best and can't wait to fly with you again sometime

Speaker 3 (1h 20m 23s): Soon. Yeah, yeah. No, no, thanks, thanks for having me over again for the, for this chat and yeah, it's, it's, it's been great. It's, it's always a fun walk down memory lane looking back at all these X outs and look, look forward to flying with you too, man.

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