Episode 192- Questions answered with Myles Connolly

Our Mayhem editor Myles Connolly is about 350 hours into his flying journey and is leaving soon for an SIV course with Jocky Sanderson in Turkey. We thought it would be fun to connect and have him fire questions at me about all the things he’s currently curious about as his XC skills and training progress. Hike and fly; risk related to big events like the Red Bull X-Alps; how to approach Vol Biv (gear, locations, top landing, distance, etc.); Wing and gear developments and the new 2 liner C wings, gear choices and a lot more. Enjoy!

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Transcript

Speaker 1 (0s): Hi there, everybody. Welcome to another episode of the Cloudbase Mayhem. I got, this was kind of a treat for me. I got to sit down with our editor, miles Connolly, who was out in Santa Barbara. He took over the editing on this show, thankfully way, way back in the beginning. And as we get near 200 shows here, yeah, he's been involved since I think 2015. I couldn't do this without him. He's, he's, he's starting to build up the hours and piloting. He's, I think he's, he says he's about 350 hours now and getting more comfortable and the stoke is high.

He's getting ready to go to Turkey and do some SIV training with Jocky. And he approached me about this. He thought it'd be really fun to ask me a bunch of questions and things that are going through his head at this stage in his progression, which is a stage many of you, I'm sure are, can relate to. So we talk inevitably, we always talk about the x Alps, it seems. We talk about some of his questions about risk and stuff. The athletes are taking in the X Alps. We talk about gear, we talk about training, we talk about all the whole spectrum.

So this was a lot of fun. It was always great to sit down with miles, and it was nice to just chat about paragliding and where he's at and hopefully answer some of his questions. So enjoy this chat with yours truly. And our editor, miles, Connolly Miles. Dude, it is good to see your smiling face. It's been too long for two people that work together.

And I send you a bottle of scotch every once in a while, but we need to have some more. We need to have some more face-to-face. Good to see you,

Speaker 2 (1m 53s): My friend. Absolutely. Yeah, those bottles of scotch are well appreciated. Thank you very much for those. Fantastic. It's great to see you. It's crazy. We spend, I don't know, every couple of weeks, but probably a few hours every couple of weeks, but I almost never get to see your face, so, and see you in person. I think the last time I saw you in person was maybe the great No, I was in Sun Valley. That was like the day after Fallon was born.

Speaker 1 (2m 15s): Yeah.

Speaker 2 (2m 15s): That was nuts,

Speaker 1 (2m 16s): Man. I feel like I saw you at your house before.

Speaker 2 (2m 18s): Oh yeah. No, no. Maybe when you came to Santa Barbara. Yeah. I think you were doing some winter training here. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Well, very nice to see you and nice just to be chatting with you.

Speaker 1 (2m 27s): Likewise, my friend. Likewise, we couldn't do this without you. So the audience, you're, you're listening to my very good friend Miles Connolly. He's what? He is the person behind the scenes who makes all this possible, does all of our editing. And this is, he is way above the pay grade here for the Mayhem. He is a b BBC Nat Geo guru, sound technician, filmer, badass. You're amazing, man. And so thank you. We're very lucky to have you. It's, it's, I just feel extraordinarily grateful for, for this relationship.

And we are getting closing in on 200 shows, my

Speaker 2 (3m 4s): Friend. It's crazy. I mean, the way I came to find you was when I was getting my P two and I was just absorbing anything. I would just do Google Paragliding and whatever popped up, I would just look at it, listen to it. And you just started doing the, the Mayhem podcast, so I remember, I think maybe there were four or five that you had done, and then there was this gap of like five weeks. Yeah. There wasn't much time. Yep. And I remember thinking like, when is the next one coming out? And I sent you an email saying like, Hey, man. And you wrote back to saying they're just a lot of work and they take a lot of time.

And I said, well, I maybe help you. And you said, yeah, that's really generous. But I've had other friends offer, and it's all almost more work. And I said, well, I've got a special skillset. Like I'm a film editor and film producer. And you're like, all that's different. But yeah, it, it, you know, that was 20 15, 20 16. So where are we now? 2023. Yeah, it's been a while. It's been a while. And I love it

Speaker 1 (3m 56s): More regular these days. And we're, and yeah, 200

Speaker 2 (3m 59s): Shows and the sound quality is getting a little better.

Speaker 1 (4m 1s): That's right. All the time.

Speaker 2 (4m 3s): And I learn a lot. I learn a lot. So,

Speaker 1 (4m 6s): Fantastic. I understand you got some questions for me.

Speaker 2 (4m 9s): I do. So the way that I thought we'd do this is just, I'm, I'm now approaching 350 hours as a pilot, and I'm feeling like it's starting to gel. You know, there was a period where I was like, I got this. I can remember being down at oh, VA and watching pilots just elevator up in front of El Pin and being like, yeah, man, I totally have this. And the next day I was hanging from a tree under my reserve, you know, like, oh, maybe I didn't have this, but

Speaker 1 (4m 36s): Not right.

Speaker 2 (4m 36s): But in the, in the intervening period, I've come to realize like, yeah, man, this is a long process and you have to be patient and you have to take your time and be safe. So with 350 hours, it's starting to gel. And, and I'm not setting records, but my confidence in the air and my ability to kind of connect the dots is, is much better than it used to be. And two to three-hour flights are kind of the norm now, which is nice. You know, we, we go XC almost every single time, and I'm starting to explore some of the bigger aspects of the sport. Things like Hike and fly and vul Biv and just constantly consuming Wing and gear developments and new releases and all that.

Like, poor Jeanette, I think she's so fed up with me talking about paragliding this and paragliding that and all that stuff, but I thought today won't. Yeah, yeah. Well, anyway, it's a whole other story, but you can relate. Yes. So I thought today I'd just kind of run through some of these things and, and yeah, just ask you questions as, as still relative new. But you know, I, I don't see myself as anywhere near expert level. I'm a P four pilot. I've flown all over the world, but every single flight I'm learning every single flight I'm learning. And I like that. It's exciting.

So yeah,

Speaker 1 (5m 43s): Every single flight I'm learning, my friend, and there

Speaker 2 (5m 45s): You go. I think that's a good attitude.

Speaker 1 (5m 48s): Very different stages. Oh my gosh. It's just constant. I think that's what keeps us interested. It. I, you know, I've been involved in other sports where you just get to a plateau and, I mean, you can plateau of course in free flight as well, but where you don't feel like you're, you're getting better so fast like you did in the beginning. But this one very unlike any other endeavor or any other sport I've ever undertaken, leaves me feeling like a noob every time. Yeah. Even after all these ex ops and stuff, it's just still, wow, there's a lot to learn.

I mean, comparing myself to Kriegel, for example, is just, okay, that's never gonna be reachable.

Speaker 2 (6m 27s): Well, again, I, I think knowing your limitations and understanding where you are and what you're capable of, I mean, I think I've got 10 years on you and I'm still like hungry for it and going out and training and doing all that stuff. But I know that I will never be able to follow you through the sky unless you slow down a lot. And that's okay. Like, I think just being comfortable with your abilities and, and what you're capable of is, is kind of the first step towards enjoying the sport. You know, if you're always striving to BeReal and how many of us are really gonna BeReal ever, and like, you're always gonna be frustrated.

You're always gonna come up short. So I think, yeah, knowing, knowing what you're capable of and, and where your talents are, that's a big part of it. And so that's what I'm doing now is starting to define like, you know, I'm really interested in V Biv. I think V Biv is amazing sky camping. It's something I really want to do, but I've never done it. I've done plenty of camping, I've been flying plenty of times. That combining those two things I think is really unique. It's something that we have that nobody else really has, but I want to do it safe. I want to be smart about it. And so, yeah.

You know, I just thought because you are kind of a vul, Biv, legend, you know, what would you recommend for people that are just starting out with Vbe? Is like, what are reasonable goals? I'll give you a quick example of what I'm planning is my summer mission. And that is, I live in Ojai, so I'm gonna climb up the, the back ridge in Ojai, you know, it, the Chief's peak. I'm gonna spend the night up there, and then I'm gonna launch from there the next morning and fly across to Sulfur Mountain. It's not very far, you know, but boat around a little bit and then camp out on top of Sulfur Mountain.

Then the next morning launch and fly back down to the Valley Noha. So it's a couple nights out, it's in my neighborhood. It's an area that I know really well, and I think it's not unreasonable that I can do that, but you know, part of me is like, maybe I should go to the Alps. I see these guys like Dougie, Swanson, Lowe. Have you seen his video of his flight from his knees? Yeah. It's just, I've watched it like half a dozen times. It's so good. It's so good. And I want to do that, but I don't wanna start with that. So what would your advice be for people that are thinking about Yeah, trying it out.

Speaker 1 (8m 31s): I was just hanging out with Dougie down in Brazil. He's a, he's a neat kid. He's very, he's a good guy. Do it. He's got some great ideas too. You know, we, when we recorded 500 miles to nowhere, I think there's a quote in there that Nate says that, you know, how many people are doing this, maybe 50 in the world. And what is so cool is, and I think he was more or less accurate back then. And now, you know, with the advent of light gear and just how much people have seen it, I think Covid was a big one that, you know, we, that was, it was one of the things we could do is go be outside and it's just taken off and, which is terrific.

And people are doing it, like you said, all over the world, you know, there, there's a whole gang of, of pilots doing it down in Brazil. I didn't know he, the Kiwis down in the jungle. Yeah, Ben Kell in New Zealand. Yeah. It's crazy. And all over the Alps. And so to answer your questions, the, the first thing is that it's really a mindset and a gear set because you really can, with open eyes, you really can do it anywhere.

And you know, we used to have this, you know, my first really big one was the Sierra trip, and I was so fired up about that at some point in the, you know, it was 18 days and I was so fired up. At some point I turned to Nick Reese and went, man, shouldn't everybody, everybody be doing this? And he said, what are you fucking crazy? Yeah. But that's insane. Do you know how much risk we're taking? And we're, you know, we're in the Owens, and so it does, but it does, what I've learned since then is it doesn't have to be gnarly at all. You know, you can add very risky elements and, and that just depends again, on your mindset on the day, on how you're feeling and where your skills are.

Because you don't have to top land to have a kill killer bivy expedition. You can fly down to the bottom of the valley and have a coffee and have a good feed and carry very, very little gear if you're not very physically fit. You know, there's, what I'm saying is there are many, many, many aspects. You know, you can do the Alaska thing like I did, which is as about as hardcore as you can get. Or you can just do a little backyard, you know, sky camp. Yeah. Yeah. And, and so that's the first thing is that the, the, you know, tackle what you feel comfortable with tackling.

You know, if you are not really good at top landing, don't top landing. If you're not really comfortable, top landing in really boisterous conditions, let it mellow out. Go fly another 30 K, go have the coffee, you know, don't do it at all. That's where yeah. You get hurt is the, is the top landing. And so the, the one thing I see, the big mistake I, I see people making is, is when they're top landing and, and then they force it in, you know, it's not going exactly according to plan.

You know, there's a little bit more wind or there's a little bit more lift. Yeah. Or it's really plucky and, you know, because to do it in a really sexy way is to take off where you've landed. Yeah. That's, that's obviously the ultimate, but just don't force it. Be willing to do a hundred passes or more and, and, and or just fly away coming when it's, when it's totally right. Yeah. Yeah. Always give yourself a way, way out. And the other thing that I think is important is, is just to make sure that your kit is right.

And this is a really thing to really good thing to be talking about at this time of year in the spring. For those of us who are in the Northern Hemisphere, we're probably a little rusty. We haven't been flying as much. We don't have the currency. And it's an easier time to make what Nate calls schoolboy errors. And so, you know, and, and errors, errors stack up. So, you know, when you're bivy flying, the things that you should always have are even more important. So your your first aid kit, your hydration, your, your, your P tube, your radio, your inReach, your food, you know, your, your backups.

Because what's beautiful to me about bivy is, is kind of what is beautiful about flying is that it's, it's the unknown. How many times do we launch and have, and have a very clear idea where we're gonna land if we're flying xe? Not at all. We might have an objective, but whether we get there or not is, is anyone's guess. And so bivy is the ultimate of that, which is fantastic. And so then you're Yvonne Shinard, you know, it's not an adventure until something goes wrong. So I think it just helps your head space to fly with that, with that in mind, that something probably is going to go wrong.

And so if you're prepared for that, and I don't mean in a bad way, but just, you know, what, if you, what if you hook into a way better day than you thought and you get to fly out over the Mojave where you are and, and suddenly you're, you know, a hundred miles deep into the desert, but you've got your bibb kit, you don't care where you land, you don't you, you're gonna be able to walk somewhere. And so fine. Great. So in a lot of ways, flying with that man mindset and flying with that kit, even though it's gonna slow you down a little bit, going up to launch, but now you've got your kit, man, you can go do whatever you want.

So in a sense, I think we should often be attempting Vol Biv, even if that's not the plan. Yeah. If we've got the kit for it. One of the most beautiful experiences, I gotta share this in my life, and we made a video about this, it went crazy. It was one of GoPros video of the days a bunch of years ago. But Farmer and I, Matt Becher and I, and a couple of the local pilots from here, we, we hiked up Sun Peak, which is our local little launch, and it's kind of an evening site, you know, and it gets kind of, it's thermic plus ridge soy.

And we launched off, I, I think we called it, the higher you get, the higher you get, because our right, there's a cabin I've seen back behind here called the Pioneer Cabin. And it's beautiful. It's built in 1935, and the local pilots here stock it. And we bo we boomed up to 14 grand. And it was maybe the only day in my life I've ever been able to fly back in the pioneers with my wingtip Right. On the rocks. We just don't do that. It's usually very strong here and you want a lot of margin, but it was mellow and beautiful and nighttime and gorge and we could just soar.

You know, we did a 40 K out and back, and then Matt said, let's go land at the Pioneer Cabin. Fantastic. And we

Speaker 2 (15m 6s): Landed totally spontaneous

Speaker 1 (15m 7s): Pioneer Cabin. Yeah. Spent the night, there's a, there's food, took off the next morning, dialed up to 12,000 feet and flew back to the car. You know, so totally spontaneous, but we had enough gear. We weren't planning on doing this, but we had enough gear because that's how we fly here. We have stuff in our bags and, and we could do it. So

Speaker 2 (15m 25s): I remember hearing Nate, I think it must have been Nate saying at one point, like you had asked him a question, like what was the turning point in your flying career? And he said, it's when we realized we didn't have to fly next to roads anymore. Yes. Like we, we could fly across the open country. We could go through and, and even Mitch Riley, I remember talking to Mitch and he said, yeah, when I realized that a two day Hike out was something I was more than capable of and might be worth it to set a new line. Yes. Or push a distance or something like, and I remember thinking like, a, that's why we're different, but b like you've got that skill and you're ready in every flight you're thinking this might happen and I'm okay with it.

Like, that's the mindset you want to have. Right.

Speaker 1 (16m 5s): It is. And I mean, we should clarify for a moment, you know, those listening from the Alps have no idea what we're talking about. Right. There are roads everywhere and there are villages everywhere. And you know, if you wanna make it easy on yourself, I mean, it's still very committing terrain. The Alps are steep and, and big. But you know, I think that if you, anyone listening that wants to go to the Alps or that who flies in the Alps, bivy suddenly becomes very easy because it's, it's incredibly easy to reprovision, you know, there's huts everywhere, there's infrastructure everywhere.

It's gorgeous. Most mountains are covered in grass. Yeah. Like, you know,

Speaker 2 (16m 45s): LZs everywhere. Totally

Speaker 1 (16m 47s): Anywhere. Yeah. LZs everywhere. And so if you're in a place like the West, you know, in the Rockies, bivy is more challenging just because of the terrain and the conditions. And so, you know, it might be nicer to kind of stick your toe in the water if, if you're, if you can travel to go do it in a place that's, that's easier. Columbia has fantastic Biv potential Brazil that I, I didn't know that, I didn't know you could be in the, in the jungle, but they totally do.

So there's, there's a lot of places in the world, New Zealand, even you've seen Benjamin Kell's videos down there. Just amazing, incredible stuff those guys are doing. So there, pick the, pick the site and remember that many people have, have said this on the show. When you're, when you're expeditioning, when you're vying, when you're doing that kind of thing, you tend to want to kind of knock back what you're flying on a little bit and, and knock up the margin.

You know, you're, you're, you're, you're more exposed, you're more tired. Generally you're, you're maybe not getting the greatest night's sleep. You're maybe not as hydrated cuz you didn't carry enough water. So you, you want to anticipate all these potentially, you know, you're, you're maybe not operating at a hundred percent, you know, you're down at 80, you're down at 60, you're down at 40. Whatever you're at, you wanna match. You know, so for example, you know, John Sylvester used to always say when he was doing all his Biv stuff, and my first ever bivy was with him out of beer in, in India, you know, you're in the Himalayas, so your speed through the air is way faster because you're flying at really high out

Speaker 2 (18m 31s): Super high, high low density. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Screaming.

Speaker 1 (18m 34s): Yeah. Not really a place to be on a CCC glider doing bivy

Speaker 2 (18m 38s): That doesn't and overloaded with a bunch of gear and Yeah, yeah, yeah,

Speaker 1 (18m 41s): Yeah. Exactly. You you tend to fly heavy. And, and so, you know, he, he always used to say that he was very happy on his, I, I forget what the we in the Wing was an ozone. It was a B it was a high B and, and you know, he was a comp pilot, he could fly anything. And so I think these are things you want to think about as well.

Speaker 2 (19m 3s): Yeah, that's great. I think, you know, the whole Hike and fly concept is something that's appealing. And, and lately we've been doing a fair amount of that, like Logan and they're doing the USA Hike and fly and then you had your Red Rocks event, which was a huge success. And I think that that's an aspect of the sport that's blowing up. And I think that Vul Biv is a function of that. Obviously, you know, you wanna fly more than you Hike, but ultimately you're gonna be hiking. I mean, watching the Ben Kellett videos, he's hiking, you know, 30% of the time. And, and Dougie's video is, is the, the most epic moments are the hiking moments except for that last flight.

But, but you come to realize like, yeah, you better have it dialed. So the Hike and fly thing is something that's really appealing. And you know, when I first started, you guys were doing the, the X Ops and I remember looking at that and thinking, well that's just kind of wacky and, and not really something that I have any interest in. And those Euro guys are just so crazy all the time. And then slowly but surely, as I progressed as a pilot, I began to understand how magic that event is and the talent of the pilots that are doing it. Even the people, you know, it's like the Tour de France. There's no bad cyclists in the Tour de France, but some people end up lower down in the field.

And there's the, the Lantern Rouge and the, the, the, the last, the award for the last place. A guy who finishes the race in last place because he's the guy that struggled through the, the entire thing. And I remember watching people getting, you know, booted out of the exiles and thinking you're still probably the best pilot I would ever fly with. Like, nobody should be feeling bad about that. But when you see people like Kriegel and Ben Wa and, and you know, Paul, like these guys year after year just sending it, you realize how good those guys are. So now I can't wait for the new one to kick off.

Like, I'm really excited probably cuz of Logan and Cedar. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But also because I understand it better now. So I mean mean how are you feeling about the next ex X House? Because obviously you've got history there and this is the first one you haven't done for a while. Like, where's your head at?

Speaker 1 (20m 56s): Yeah, good question. I mean, I'm 50, I've got a five year old and after the last one it was very, very clear. I mean, you always go through this at the near the end when you're, you're spanked and you're going, I'm not gonna do that again. And then, you know, a week later you, you're already thinking about the next one. And there were, the exception was in 2015. I mean, during the race we were all psyched about the next one. It was very clear that, and before the race I thought I'll only do this once I, I can't train like this again. And, you know, but during the race it's, it's so fun.

It's so crazy. And we've talked about it a lot on the show that I was very excited about doing the successive ones. And then in this last one, partly because it was very scary, it was really, really, really sketchy weather. And partly just because, you know, I I I felt like I had kind of ticked the box big time because of the family. There were a lot of reasons that came together that, you know, it's expensive, it's insanely time consuming. Especially to train as hard as I always felt like I had to just cuz I was older and bad knees and you know, I'm not one of these mar I'm not a Ben Wa I can't, I can't move like that on the ground.

I'm never gonna be able to. And so I had to train that way. But I, to answer your specifically, I'm gonna have some serious FOMO as it's going on. I know it's gonna be brutal. You know, we just had Gas Bard on the show and he talked about how hard it was to watch the last one cuz he didn't compete in 21. And that, that was pretty tricky. And he sounded like he was even harder for his team. So I know that Ben, you know, who's been with me in all four of 'em and does all my training, you know, we're gonna be hurting a little bit, not doing it. But it was definitely the right call.

I'm, I'm not flying very much right now cause I'm building this house. Mm. And I wanna be a better dad and spend time with my family and, you know, that race just makes that all pretty hard. Funnily enough, I am considering it maybe for the, for 25. And so I don't know that I've totally given it up, but I've definitely given it up this year. However, this is kind of exciting. I don't think we've announced this on the show, but they've hired me to come over and be a video journalist for the race, so. Oh, that's cool. I, yeah, it is gonna be a lot.

So that'll kind of keep me connected and I'll yeah, I'll be just roving with one of the Volkswagens who's a sponsor this year, and I'll be able to just cover a bunch of the teams and Hike with them and fly with them and, and try to send live video back. And they're, they're excited about it because they haven't had anyone who's been really intimately connected with the race report on it. And, you know, I, I kind of intimately know what's going on at a deep down level. And so I think it'll be a lot of fun. I think it'll be great, hopefully if I do a decent job of it, it'll be good for the fans and I can give them more of an insider perspective on why is Kriegel going there and what's he seeing in the weather and, and why is this team doing this and what's working, what isn't, what have, what great moves have people made on a day.

So kind of similar to Lance Armstrong's, you know, the move, you know, when he does that podcast about the tour of France every night where he pulls in the experts and they talk about what went down that day. That's kind of how I see it. And so it'll also, I'm just really looking forward to it personally because I know what's going on in my team, but I, I've never, I don't ever know what's going on in all the other teams.

Speaker 2 (24m 10s): Yeah, you'll have the inside track.

Speaker 1 (24m 12s): It's happened

Speaker 2 (24m 12s): Like never before.

Speaker 1 (24m 13s): Yeah. I can see, you know, the fights and the glory and the, and the down, you know, all the, all the, you know, there's some ups and some pretty bad downs in that race, so hopefully I'll be able to be a part of that.

Speaker 2 (24m 24s): Yeah, let's talk about that a little bit because I think one of the things that kind of kept me away from watching the X Alps and engaging with it more is just the inherent danger. I mean, paragliding is not a safe sport. I think it's all about risk versus reward. But when you put it into a competition environment like that, with some of the world's best athletes, because let's be honest, I mean, somebody like Kriegel, he's, he's a world-class distance runner, forget the paragliding. Just, you know, any of these guys are like world-class athletes, but they are born to compete.

They're going to push the limits, they're gonna take chances. And it's, it's scary to watch that because this isn't Formula One. You see crashes in Formula One and 10 seconds later the guy pops outta the car and walks away. But you know, like accidents happen in, in the exiles. And so, you know, is that just part of that, that event and it's very nature. Are there ways to make it safer? Like I know that the, the organizers Red Bull have tried in the past to instigate like night Pass, you know, where it used to be around the clock and whatever you wanted to go, you could go, but like, how much is enough in terms of safety?

How much is too much? When does it, they start to strangle the event and how much of it is just down to the pilot saying, yeah, this is more than I'm ready for. Does that even happen?

Speaker 1 (25m 35s): Yeah, I mean it's, they they have, yeah. So, well first a couple clarifications. Th this is, this is something that most people don't understand. It's actually not Red Bull has nothing to do with the event. They're just a sponsor. So the whole event is run by Zoom, they're marketing agency, they're right across the street from Red Bull headquarters up in fue, which is near Salzburg and it's Ulrich Grill's kind of baby. And he's been involved with Red Bull as one of their marketing advertising companies from the very beginning.

And it was the brainchild of of him and Haas Arch.

Speaker 2 (26m 11s): Haas Arch,

Speaker 1 (26m 11s): Yeah. And so it was kind of their, it was their brainchild and, and like you said, it has changed a lot over the years, partially in response to an attempt to make it safer. You know, in the beginning there were really no rules. You just go and there were really no way points. You passed the north side of Mont Blanc and you get down to the Mediterranean, you get down to Monaco, and then, you know, as people got better and the gear got lighter and especially, especially in 2009 when Kriegel came into the game and really pushed the Hike and fly gear, you know, revolution.

I mean, he was really, I think the instigator there that, that said, no, I'm not carrying 20 kgs on my back. We gotta make this stuff better. And, and so, and then they start, because it's Red Bull's still the big name, you know, we've gotta make this harder and we've gotta make it more enjoyable for the viewers. So we're gonna have a, we're gonna add waypoints and they gotta be hit on the ground and so people can interact with the athletes. And so, and then there was a real push by the athletes to add to, to stop do the 24 hour thing because that was just a recipe for a disaster.

The Night Pass helped, I think. But you'll see some big changes this year. They're, they're gonna allow, they're going to allow, and this is again, a big push by Kriegel that we don't get enough rest. You know, the, you're you're allowed to move until 10 30 at night and then you start at five o'clock in the morning, you know, at 10 30 at night. It's not, you know, your head's not on the pillow, you're not going to sleep at 10 30, that's just downloading, stop walking. And then you, you know, then you're doing mobility and you're, you're, yeah. And you're still pretty ramped up and you're, you know, you're eating dinner and you're playing with the team for the next day.

And so, you know, maybe you're getting to bed by 1130 and then you're up at four because you're getting ready to go and, and you got, again, you're, you know, hopefully you've got a team that's packing all your stuff and you know, I would just wake up, have breakfast that was, you know, made for right out. Yeah. And walk, walk out the door. We'd already made the plan the night before I knew where I was going, it was in my phone. All I had to do was follow the directions. But yeah, I mean it's the, the fact is is that, you know, the more rules you instigate, the less, the less random it is.

And, and you know, the people who participate in that are going for the ultimate adventure. And you know, there was, there was a really interesting, in the last race, you know, it was blowing 50, I think miles an hour at the iceberg when we were down getting ready to, when the gun was getting ready to go off, and the race organization got together with the athlete committee, which is Tom Toledo and myself and Kriegel, and said, should we not let people launch? And it was a big one because we, that doesn't happen in the X Alps.

They don't, they can't say whether we can fly or not fly. They've, you know, they can't cancel the race. And so, but Kriegel, as he always does, said, okay, well if it's, if it's gusting over, I can't remember what it was, 30, a hundred miles an hour, we're gonna, we're we're gonna put a hold. And if it's, if it's under that, then, you know, we'll let people launch. And, and, but then from then on it's totally up to you. And we've all seen footage of, of, well, and we've all flown and taken off in conditions way beyond what is recreational.

And so the, it's amazing. There hasn't been more accidents. There have been quite a few, and they don't, they don't publish those very much. There's been more than what most people know about.

Speaker 2 (29m 43s): I think word, word trickles out over time. But yeah, during the word trickles out during the event, there's no, you know, like big breaking news or anything like that. You might hear about it a month or six months later. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (29m 53s): You know, in Toma in 2015, you know, by all accounts should have died. And, you know, he's still going hard. But there's, you know, there's been, there's been broken legs and broken wrists and, and, you know, race ending injuries. But thankfully, knock on wood, there hasn't been a death, you know, is it inevitable? It sure seems like it is. And the, the, the risk is extraordinary and it is for everybody in it, you know, I think Kriegel is probably taking the least risk because he's so good and he trains so hard in those kind of conditions.

But one of the reasons, honestly, miles that I, one of the big factors for me not doing it was that I, I have always felt like to be competitive in the race and to be safe, I needed to train in similar conditions that we can often expect. Now, not always 2019 was mellow, but the but 2021 threw everything at us. And you know, you, I feel like it's probably, you probably need to train for that. You can't just show up and have that be the first time you've ever flown in those kind of conditions.

But that means you're also, you know, putting yourself in risky scenarios outside of the race as well. And then it seems like it's just more a matter of time and we're all, you know, we're already really rolling the dice and we're playing with gravity. And so

Speaker 2 (31m 25s): I, I think that's a really important point to, to put out there. Like, we all know the comfort zone. Am I comfortable in these conditions? Whatever. Okay. I don't think any of you guys are really comfortable in the exiles, but you're within your zone of capability, I'll call it. It's, it's within your skillset. You may not be liking it, but you're able to do it. Right. And so you make a conscious choice and you go out there and I see here when we're flying, sometimes people and they go up in the van and there's a dozen pilots and you can tell they're not quite feeling it, but they don't wanna say no or walk away. And so they, you know, get dragged across the launch or they have a sketchy takeoff or something like that.

And you just think maybe those guys would've been better off if they had just said, you know, this isn't my day. Like, to, to stay within that, that zone of capability as opposed to pushing their limits to the extreme and maybe getting hurt, you know, as opposed to, yeah, this isn't something I'm comfortable with and I'm gonna step away from it today so I can come back tomorrow. You know, maybe I'll go kite in the heavy air and get more comfortable with that. But it seems like in the x Alps, when it's on, everybody is on like, I, I've yet to see anybody back away.

Speaker 1 (32m 30s): No, exactly. And I think the, there, there's a really, I think one of the very addictive things about the, the race is the intensity of flow state that you experience. And everyone I know who has participated and accepts, they just, I don't need to even bring it up. They know what I'm talking about When I wink at 'em, it that it's a, this, it's a, it's a state that, and you're not always in it in the race, but when you need it, it comes and, you know, you feel very confident.

And I think especially, you know, if you've done the work and, and, but you, you get in this zone where like you're talking about you get in very powerful, very scary situations. And I don't remember being scared that often in that race. You know, I'm, I'm definitely, you know, you're, you're, you're in this zone where this is solvable and I will solve it and I'm gonna figure this out. I mean, there's a very famous, we talked about it a little bit, I think I asked Creel on the show, but he landed in 2013 in his own backyard in tears.

Oh no. Because it was so gnarly. And you know, I can't imagine how gnarly it must have been for Kriegel to be that scared, you know? So the best of the best gets really scared. And you know, he even talks about, there's a, there's a point where you're trying to make distance, you know, and you're racing, you know, you're quote unquote, you're racing. And he said, and and there there's a, there's a level where if it switches beyond that, he abandons the race and it's just survival. He's just trying to save his life.

Yeah. He's just trying to get to the ground safely. And, and doesn't matter if he loses, you know, 50 K going the wrong way, it's the, you know, there, there's a switch and that switch is what needs to be different for, for everybody. But I, you

Speaker 2 (34m 24s): Need that kind of like, tattooed on your inner arm or something like, yeah, this is, this is where the cutoff is, you know, so you never forget.

Speaker 1 (34m 30s): I mean, it's one of the reasons I've been doing all these, you know, walk and fly down memory lanes with, with, with all the athletes who have done it a bunch of different times to just pure their stories. Because what I have heard from all these guys and gals, you know, in the, either at Goal, it was the only time I ever made it was in 2015, but just after the race and stuff. And boy, everybody has a lot of scary stories. I mean, really scary stories, especially in this last one. I, I don't know anybody that didn't have something that was pretty terrifying.

And so, you know, I think that if you're signing up for it, you gotta know that that's part of the, that's part of the gig. And you, and like you said, I, here's an exception. I, I think Tom Dedo Lado probably has the best approach of anybody in that race, and he's done it eight times and, you know, he's incredibly mindful of his family and his kids, and he will walk down and he will just go, yeah, that's, I don't, I'm not gonna take this. It's

Speaker 2 (35m 29s): Not worth it. I don't care. It's

Speaker 1 (35m 30s): Not worth it. Yeah. It's not worth it. And you know, it, it's, we all should have that approach and I just know that many don't. Yeah,

Speaker 2 (35m 38s): Yeah, yeah, yeah. You know, a lot of people look to you and, and X Alps athletes and and say, you know, maybe one day I want to do that is, how do people get a taste of that? Because I, you, you don't jump in at the X Alps, you start, is that xpe? Like what, what, like the Red Rocks event, tell me about that. Is that a good way for people to get a taste of what it might be

Speaker 1 (35m 59s): Like? Yeah, absolutely. This is a really neat thing, you know, so my first one in 2015, this wasn't really available. I mean, there were a couple back then, but you know, now they're everywhere, every weekend and not here in the States. We're, we're, you know, Logan and I and others are, are trying to make that more of a thing. But, you know, if you want to, if you've, if the X Alps is something that intrigues you and feel like that's something you wanna take on, you know, now you can train for it by doing all these other events and, and just hands down, you're not gonna be competitive in the X Alps unless you do, you know, so my first Hike and fly race ever was the X Alps.

I, I just, I had done the Rockies Traverse, I had done Alaska, no, I hadn't done Alaska. Alaska was the following year. But you know, I had done a bunch of big bis, but I wasn't an endurance athlete. I had no idea how that would go down.

Speaker 2 (36m 49s): And the comp mindset just by itself. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (36m 52s): Yes, exactly. And so I think that, you know, but now if I was 30 or whatever of 20, and I, and I thought, man, that Xop looks amazing. I really wanted, you know, my first one that I really saw was 2011. I watched the whole thing. I was just glued to it and I thought, oh my gosh, that was where it, you know, the, the seed was planted. And I started thinking that, wow, that's something I'd really like to, to do, but it wasn't on my radar that you could do the Barns to Fly and the air tour and the, and the grew year and the Iger, and I mean, there's, there's a million out in Doy and the X Red Rocks and Logan's events, and so they're all over the place and they're the ex burg.

I mean, there's so many and they're amazing training platforms. And the great thing is they're all shorter and less intense than the ex AVEs. And so you can build up and, you know, just like sailing, no one should sail around the world the first time they go outside of the harbor. You should do little sails and learn, you know, do you get seasick? Do you like it? Do you, do you know how to handle a storm? Do you, you know, you learn all these little things every time you go out. And eventually, yeah, feel like I got the skills for that. You can, but I think that if you can build up to it, you know, you can learn things that I had no, and in 2015, I trained in the desert, I trained in my hometown in Sun Valley.

I didn't know it was so wet in humid in Europe and that my feet would fall apart, the

Speaker 2 (38m 17s): Feet would swell. I remember you saying like, I shoes that fit perfect and ended day one.

Speaker 1 (38m 23s): Yeah. I had a dozen pair of shoes and six of them. And I mean, I needed shoes that got bigger and bigger and bigger as the race went on. So you'll learn a lot of tricks of the trade doing these shorter events. And, you know, the X Red Rocks is, is a perfect one for that. It's a three day stage race. I think it's the only one in the world that operates that way. So each day, at the end of the day, everybody's done and gets to come back and we start the next day totally fresh. So in theory, you could blow one of the days and still win the comp. And last year we had Aaron De Gotti and Patrick Vacan, and Tim, Tim Roaches and Tangi were now good, you know, so three of them are in this X alp, so some really high caliber athletes.

And so you kind of get the rub shoulders with the best of the best, and you don't have to fly across the pond to do it. So yeah, I think that the for sure if you're, if you're intrigued or you're into it, then the shorter events gives you a wow that this is really hard and it'll give you, but it'll give you a taste of the adventure and the risk and, you know, make sure it kind of fits what you wanna do. And then the other thing I think is a lot of people that are maybe intrigued or really excited about it really have no idea what's involved.

It's, it's a, it's not just the flying and the hiking, it's,

Speaker 2 (39m 39s): No, it's logistics and the crew and oh my God, whether data, it looks like everybody now has to have a, a bespoke, you know, dedicated camera guy and a media team and all this stuff. Because if you don't have that, your sponsors aren't gonna be happy, right? So it's, it's not just right go out and push yourself to your flying and physical limits, but oh by the way, make sure that you've carved out enough brain space to satisfy all the other requirements that are parting of, of

Speaker 1 (40m 4s): The event. Yeah. And I mean, and you can, you know, there are a lot of different levels. You can certainly do it without sponsors, and especially if you live in Europe, it's, you know, it doesn't have to be really expensive. And, you know, fur Van Chauvin has done incredibly well five times and he's, you know, he's usually done it with his wife doesn't have any sponsors, you know, and he takes a pretty basic approach and he crushes it. So, you know, there are a lot of different ways to the end and, you know, whether you're racing or just going in it for the adventure or just going into not get hurt or, you know, there, there's many different levels, but it's certainly gotten way more pro and way faster.

You know, it's, it's the, the level that it is at, you know, now versus when I started in 2015 versus what it was in the early two thousands is it's almost, it's

Speaker 2 (40m 50s): On, no, it's insane. It's insane. But I think also part of the appeal to me now is that it has risen to that really lofty status. Like again, everybody in there is a world class athlete. In any sport they would be, you know, outstanding endurance athletes, logistics strategy, all that stuff. And so it's great to watch, it is like a chess game, you know, for the, that period of days. That stage race idea is a really interesting one. In, in sailing we used to do that where, you know, you get points based on your position at the end of the day, and then at the end of a week long, or two week long, regatta, you know, the person with the, the points, the lowest number of points is the winner, but you get your drops, you know, you get all that stuff.

But what it did was there were no runaways from early on in the, the regatta, you know, there's nothing worse than a two week event. And on day three, Kriegel sends it, you know, he flies 250 K and everybody knows, well that's it, that race is over. Like nobody's gonna come back from that. Yeah. And so as an audience member, you know, knowing that every day is a fresh start, and yeah, they're tracking points and all that stuff, but you know, any day somebody could come from behind and suddenly cl climb their way up, I love that stuff. So do you think that the X Alps will ever go that way, or

Speaker 1 (41m 58s): I don't know. You know, we have pushed that because that has been, they, you know, Kreo has actually had some ideas for making it more of a stage race. So you set the course like it is, but you know, at the end of 24 hour you have, you have basically, you have a time period to get to the next whatever it is, whether it's the way point or that part of the course, and then it ends. And if you get there first you get a time bonus basically. Right, right. And then everybody starts together, so better for the fans, you get a chance to get more rest and it just has never worked out or it's never really landed because it logistics, you know, partly because it used to be a race that was open-ended, you know, it could be 18

Speaker 2 (42m 38s): First long, took

Speaker 1 (42m 40s): 18 days before somebody got there and just as a professional race. No, you know, they, they, they, that wasn't manageable. So then it, then they made it 12 days, you know, for a long time before 2015, it was whoever got in first, which was always kriegel from 2009 on, then you had 48 hours to, to get there. And, and then sometimes no one else would get there. And so the, and then they, now it's just 12 days. You just have, you just period. You have 12 days to get there. Now, I think, and I have pushed this, think it would be a more interesting race that, that in 2015 we had, we had some longer legs and we had less way points.

So still a very long course, almost the same distance that it is now. But you had these long, you know, distance between Waypoint was really long and so you could make really creative moves and you know, Nick Nans would go out in a space somewhere and, you know, there'd be a southern line, a middle line, a a, a straight line and a northern line and, and then the weather and forecasting and made a huge difference. And then sometimes you could just go, I'm just taking the riskiest line, I gotta take the deep way and, and, and pull this off, or I'm not gonna, or I'm gonna get eliminated.

You're rolling in the dice. It allowed it, you rolling in the dice. It allowed the athletes to be way more and the teams to be way more creative. Yeah. And to me they've ruined that a bit because of, you know, the, the, one of the reasons, one of the ways they're paying for the race is they had the, the waypoint sponsors. And so the towns, you know, or become, become turn point sponsors because it's, it's cool, you know, you have to land in the town and the, and the, the fans can interact. So I totally get it. I understand. But to me, it has made the race more follow the leader.

And so everybody, you just, there's not enough breadth between the turn points to take a different route. Doesn't make any sense. You're going too far off route to, to get to the next turn point.

Speaker 2 (44m 39s): So, and that's just because the legs are shorter between the turn points. Right. So you just don't have Yeah,

Speaker 1 (44m 43s): And they, they've, they, they're listening. I mean, and they, they're, they, they have attempted to solve that a bit with the two return legs and you know, now that it's an out and back around Mont Blanc, the southern sections have have some pretty fair distance, but if, you know, if someone is way out in front on the northern leg, they're gonna be impossible to catch. Yeah. And so, yes, I, I think, you know, the, the race organization knows this. It's a tricky solution. You know, there a lot of things have been proposed.

When it comes down to it, it's still kind of the rat solution. You know, I, a lot of things have been thrown at it. It's just very little sticks and, you know, I, I think all these things are, you know, they sound good when they come outta someone's mouth, but then when you really iron it out, it's, that may not work. I mean, there just is, they, the, the data I've, I've heard that, I don't know if this is true, but just the data to run this race is over a hundred thousand dollars.

So, I mean it's, it costs a lot of money to run this race. So all the various things have to fall into place to, you know, that's why there's live tracking and that's why there's, you know, 12 video teams running around and you know, the is is to make it palatable and fun to watch and to, to pull that off and start adding other things is tricky.

Speaker 2 (46m 10s): Yeah. I mean, as a filmmaker, as a film producer, I know from my own experience that nothing is easy. You know, you see like, oh, there's a director and a camera man, but behind those guys are 20 people and a dozen trucks and all this gear and somebody's dealing with lunch and who's got the hotels figured out and all of that stuff costs money, right? So in the Excel logistics, you've got the athletes and you've got, you know, all these things. But behind every pilot is probably, you know, 3, 4, 6 people and vehicle rentals and all that stuff. And then the organization itself.

So, you know, because as soon as you said like, it's complicated to do the stage race, I go, well, tour de France does it. And I've been around that four times, but then I suddenly realize like, the budget for that is, is through the roof. That's, it's crazy. It's

Speaker 1 (46m 53s): Crazy. Yeah. And it's hard, it's hard then also to finish the race in 12 days because, you know, one of the things about that makes it possible, you know, last year, you know, five people got in, in 20 17, 2 people got in and so, you know, it's in 20 19, 10 people got in and the weather was pretty decent. And so I, I think it's just, it's just, it's cool that they're still crossing the Alps, you know, I think that a little thing, a tiny thing has been lost going to Monaco cuz you ended the sea.

That was really special. But I love the new course. It's, it's, you know, that southern section is really dicey. It's really neat. It's nice that we get to go upwind and then downwind. You know, I, I think I, I think it's very close to perfect. It will never be perfect. It can't be, but it's, you know, that's the other thing too,

Speaker 2 (47m 47s): So far.

Speaker 1 (47m 49s): Yeah. And the, you know, Kriegel still had his breakaway, he still proved how amazing he is in the last race, but boy, we got, what, seven days of pretty tight racing. And, you know, they're, they're, those young guns are shooting hard for him and he knows it. And I mean, they're biting at his tail. And so, you know, I think I, I, I, my, my, my money is still on Kriegel for sure, but, you know, I think it has, at least he's not so far out in front.

Speaker 2 (48m 20s): Well, and I, he is, he's dominated for so long and he's clearly just top of his game in terms of the competitiveness. But he's also just such a good guy. You know, when that day comes and somebody else takes it, he'll be the most gracious, you know, like he'll just concede it and be super happy that somebody else has taken on the mantle.

Speaker 1 (48m 38s): Well, you know, I, I worked with his coach quite a bit in this last one. Thomas. Yeah. And he, Thomas said, you know, the, the, the, the most incredible competitors are the ones that get beat and come back, you know, so, oh, man, I, I, you know, that, that shows, that shows real class, you know, Kobe Bryant, you know, everybody gets beat and Kriegel is gonna get beat. Everybody does. But then, boy, I, I'd like to see him two years later. Whoa.

Speaker 2 (49m 6s): You got any favorites this year? You don't have to say, you don't have to say Kriegel. I think Kriegel too. Is that crazy? I

Speaker 1 (49m 17s): Think so. I mean, I, I think it's interesting. There's a lot of rookies, you know, there, there are people, there are athletes who in the past have done incredibly well who aren't there. You know, we've lost Ferdie, we've lost Ben Benua, we've lost Gaspar, you know, there, you know, so I think there's, there's quite an opening for the, for the rookies. Oh, Manuel Noble isn't there, who had an incredible race in 21. So I think that I, I would say overall, I don't see the strength this year necessarily, or the depth that, that there has been the last couple years.

But there's some pretty strong rookies, and that's always been exciting. And so I'm, I'm just thrilled to watch it, you know, I probably, the, the, the contender to watch the closest his Maxine. Yeah. You know, I think he's, he's, he's definitely got the pilot skills and, and the fire sane fitness. Yeah. And you know, who's really on fire right now is Aaron du Gotti. He has never really, he's always in a sense, I mean, in a sense, I mean, he crushes everything, but he's, he al he has felt that he hasn't really ever done, he hasn't nailed the X Alps for him.

He's won everything else super final twice and the Dolo media and everything. But the X Alps has always been the kind of bone spur for him. And he's putting together a totally different kind of team this year who are non pilots. They're mountain athletes. And because he wants to do a lot more of the decision making on his own. And I saw him at the X Red Rocks, you know, after he'd spent five or six weeks in Pakistan at high altitude. That dude is moving. He's always insanely strong, especially uphill.

But man, he's moving fast. He's fearless. He's an insanely good pilot. And so this could be his year. But, you know, like I said, my money's

Speaker 2 (51m 18s): Always on kriegel. Yeah, you'd be foolish not to go with Kriegel, just if past past results are any indication. All right. Let's talk a little bit about gear. Let's talk about gear. So every time I turn around, there's something new coming out, whether it's wings or harnesses or, you know, just all kinds of cool stuff. Reserves. I, I, I've been spending a lot of time looking at reserves. Super cool. The developments. It's not just circles and squares anymore, like all these different things. But I guess, you know, as an intermediate pilot, part of me just wants to go out and get the latest and greatest stuff because I think it's gonna help my performance.

But I also recognize that just buying gear isn't the way to get better performance, to learn how to be a better pilot. But what would you say? Like, should people just be buying new stuff if they want it? Or should they stand back and wait to see how it all plays out? Cuz there's been some technology that was really touted in the last few years, and then it's kind of faded away and people go, yeah, it wasn't as good as we thought it was gonna be, or whatever. Like, what would your recommendation be to pilots who are just jonesing for all the latest kit?

Speaker 1 (52m 19s): I would say that the old adages are still true. I, I've had a couple of really interesting conversations lately about the new two liner CS, and maybe that will, maybe we will all need to shift our perspective because of these wings. I, I don't, I don't know yet. And what I mean about that is, you know, is the middle B pilot, should they jump on one of these new two liner Cs? Because they're less, they're less collapsed prone, you know, they're more collapsed resistant.

They're gonna have better performance on bar, they're still a C so they're relatively safe, you know, to me they're still a two liner. Yeah. And a two liner's gonna bite. And so a two liner requires currency. It requires feel, and it requires a different mindset. Do you, do you, are you a kind of pilot who is relying on passive safety? Or do you do, do you build in passive safety? Like Alex Roby says from flying in the right conditions, you know, he flies an Enzo, he flies six times a year.

He's not getting the currency, barely knows how to do a Wing over. He says, but he flies an Enzo because he wants that, he wants that touch, he wants that feel. And he flies on days that there is no wind that are perfect and really good days that are perfect that he can fly a 300 K f a I. Yeah. So, you know, approach is everything. And so, but so the old adage where I was going with this, is that you change your gear when you're bored stiff out of the stuff that you've got, and you want more performance, you want a different experience because you're, you feel like you're really ready for it.

You don't get something different because you're not getting the a hundred K you're not getting whatever your goal are, you're not reaching and it's because of your gear. That is never true. That's not true. You, you can do amazing things on a mentor. I saw Willie Cannell do it here for two years in Sun Valley, just flying epic lines and long days. And so the gear is very rarely holding us back. And so we just have to get the spectrum right on what we're chasing.

Are we chasing performance or are we chasing our own ability? And we should be chasing our own. We should be, we should be pushing our own ability. So I think that's still true. Agree. Even with all this new stuff coming out. I agree. I I I I, I would be, it'd be hard, I'd be hard to convince me otherwise, you know, that, you know, if you're on your bee and you know, you're just, you're just not, you're not able to stay in the air more than three hours or four hours.

That is not gonna change if you move. I guarantee that's not gonna change if you move up. Because if you move up, what keeps you in the air observation keeps you in the air. It's the ability to observe what's going on around you. It's not the Wing. And so when you move up in a Wing and you're suddenly looking up at your Wing all the time and you're worried about your Wing, even if it's 2% more than you were on the bee, you're gonna fly less time. You're gonna fly less distance because you're not observing. And so, you know, it's the, you know, to me flying a two liner, a high end two liner is just a beautiful experience because I, I love the performance, I love the feel.

I can feel every little thing in the air, but I've got the currency and I'm not worried about my Wing. I I'm not even thinking about it. I'm never looking up at it. You know, I've done the, I've done the work and so it's the right tool for me, but it's, everybody's different and everybody's different on a different day.

Speaker 2 (56m 7s): Yeah. But I think, I think that point of, of having the Wing dialed, I mean, when I race sailboats, we used to say, you know, the guys that win races are the guys that can get their head out of the boat. They're not worried about yes, sail trim. They're not worried about heel angles, they're not worried about any of that stuff. They're looking at what's the water doing? What's the wind doing, you know, a mile up the course. What are the other boats doing? You know, what's, what's the flag on the beach doing? And if all you're doing is tweaking the boat, you're falling backwards. And I think it's the same thing with paragliding in that if it's not intuitive, if you're not, you know, flying actively just on intuition, if you're thinking about what the Wing is doing or how your harness is set up or anything, then you're probably not ready to, to move up a class or move into something more progressive.

It really needs to be that, almost like riding a bicycle. By the time you learn to ride a bicycle properly, you don't have to think about turning the bars or, you know, pedaling the pedals or what to do to break. You wanna just be thinking about the ride or the flight.

Speaker 1 (57m 4s): Yeah. I mean this is, you know, thinking fast and slow stuff. You know, we're, we're getting back into flow state here where, you know, if you're using your type one brain, your, your analytical brain to figure out flying, you're not gonna fly very well. You know, we have to be able to use that brain when you're approaching, you know, a big gap. How do I get across this valley? Am I gonna end up, should I be on the east facing or the west facing? I mean, you have to use that side of things in, in a lot of situations, but, but really you want to go on autopilot when you're going big and, and all that stuff is in there, and it gets in there from flying hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of hours, thousands of hours.

And so it's not the gear I, I just, I I think that people are barking up the wrong tree when, when it's, when they're, when they're chasing that. And I think often the risk there, and I hate to bo beat a dead horse, I know we've talked about this on the show a lot, but you know, the, the risk there is that you have an experience that is spooky. And we we're, we're doing a lot of work on this with fear injuries with, with Jessica Love.

And you know, that what we know about fear injuries is they can be worse than a physical injury in terms of coming back. And, you know, if you're in flow state when a, when an accident or an incident happens and you've done all the training and you understand vividly what's going on, you're not gonna be scared because of the incident. You're, you, because you understand it, you've seen it. It's when you hit the deck or hit the ground or have an incident or have a cascade and you're not in flow state because you're way spun out and it's just spooking really spooking, you have no idea what's going on.

And it happens in a flash and boom, those are terrifying. And, and that can be a long time back. And so flying gear that's a little above your level, I, I think is risky because it's not necessarily you're gonna come up to the level it's gonna kind of leave you behind potentially. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I, and, and again, everybody's different. It can, it can be that you are, you're totally ready and this thing feels amazing and this is a really sexy beast to fly and you love it and you never look back.

So

Speaker 2 (59m 27s): Yeah. But you know, people that are banking on that natural ability to bridge the, the talent gap, the skill gap and, and are jumping up a class before they're really ready, you know, that's a big gamble and it might work and it's worked for lots of guys, but it might not work. And it's definitely not worked for lots of guys. But I, I find, so one of the tools that I use is emulation. I look at other pilots that I really respect and admire and kind of watch how they fly. And now with YouTube, you can go and, and spend all day, every day watching YouTube videos. But Tim Petri, this is somebody who have a lot of respect for, because he does these running commentary when he is flying and you can just hear his thought process and it's never like, whoa, it's, you know, rough air or whoa, I need to be on more bar.

He's just talking about what he sees and where he's gonna go and how he's gonna make a decision. And you know, is this a smart play? Is that like, okay, I'm down low, I need to pull this out, you know, come on, thermal. And, and I was channeling my inner Tim last weekend, you know, I was like a hundred feet off the ground in Santa Barbara and I needed to climb out and it's just like, be patient, just be calm like Tim says, you know, like, it's gonna come. Just wait for it, wait for it. And it worked and it was amazing. So, you know, I think that finding people that you can emulate and then seeing how much time are they spending tweaking the Wing and trying to figure out the basics and how much time are they just thinking about the flight and down range and what has to happen and when you can do it that way.

And I dream of the day that I can do it like Tim, but you know, then you're dialed and then it's time to start thinking about progression and, and moving up classes and things like that. But I'm still a ways away from that, you know? So you mentioned currency. Yeah. Can we talk about currency? So, sure. You know, I see wings, I see manufacturers saying, oh yeah, this Wing is designed for a hundred hour a year pilot, or this is a Wing designed for a 50 hour a year pilot. Like, what is the tangible difference? Is it just about feel or is it just about, you know, like what would you say the difference between a 50 hour and a hundred hour per year pilot is

Speaker 1 (1h 1m 24s): Experience? You know, I, I heard Bill Belco say the only way to be a tenure pilot is to fly for 10 years. And I've been using that a lot lately because that makes so much sense to me. I, I don't think we can shortcut progression in this sport. Our, it's just hours period. There's not, I mean there's now there's different kinds of hours. Ridge soaring is different than launching the chief and flying XE over the back of the Mojave desert.

You know, there, there's it's ridge soaring in, I'm trying to give our European friends

Speaker 2 (1h 1m 60s): Like Tori Pines example

Speaker 1 (1h 2m 1s): The same. Yeah. Yeah. But I mean, in Europe there's, you know, coastal soaring versus flying deep in the Alps are, are two that's different kinds of currency. They're both currency and they both add up and they're both important and valuable, but the, they're different. And so, but I just, there's nothing that replaces ours. You can visualize, you can watch videos, you can read books, you can listen to the podcast. You know, there's all those things and they are all incredibly valuable.

But what it comes down to is ours now, I think ground handling is pretty relevant. Huge. You know, maybe an hour of ground handling is worth 50 minutes in the sky. It's, it's awful close. And I think incredibly important because that's where we get hurt is, is is near the ground. And so, you know, and the more you ground handle, the more you feel the wheel, the Wing. And so the less you have to look up at the Wing when you're flying. And so the more you're able to observe. But regardless of talent, there are people in this sport like there are in every sport who have a lot of talent.

But like you're walk, you're talking about in sailing, those, those sailors that the helmsman that are just so deep and flow that they can feel that telltale movement just a tiny bit when no one else can, you know, when, when it's not even visible. They know something's wrong with their rig. Yeah. It's totally intuitive and they know that that just needs a tiny bit of tune and, and just a tiny bit of help, whatever. And, and it's the same thing in this sport. And there is no way to get there without ours.

And so, you know, I I think rather than talking about, you know, a hundred hours, I, I definitely think a hundred hours is where the pilot is the most susceptible is is the most dangerous. But we used to talk about that, you know, at at 200 hours you're

Speaker 2 (1h 3m 54s): A hundred hours and try to total air time. Yeah. Not a hundred hours per year. Yeah,

Speaker 1 (1h 3m 58s): Totally. Exactly. At total air time. Yeah. You know, we used to talk about that, you know, at 300 you get to this point or 500 you get to this point. I really think we need to be thinking about it in terms of thousands of hours. Yeah. You know, that you're, you're really susceptible at any level, you know, whether it's, you know, beginner, intermediate syndrome, expert, halo, all the things we've talked about in the show many times. But you know, you're, you're, you're at risk at any of these different levels, but you're really not.

I think we should have in our heads, we're not very good until we get into the thousands of hours. And then, and then because we have seen so many, felt, so many, Ben been subjected to so many different situations that, you know, we can really use that autopilot when we need it. There's just no way to get there without hours. I think that's, and so currency is a, is a different thing in each year, at each month at a different part of the season because we're either flying a lot or we're not.

Yeah. And you know, so even me, thousands and thousands of hours under my belt, you know, at this time of year I'm being a little, I'm giving myself more margin. Yeah. I'm giving myself more, you know, even thinking about flying right now as, even though I just got back from Brazil, Brazil and War Cup and we were flying every day. I'm still gonna be, I'm gonna be pretty tender. I'm gonna be pretty conservative this spring, you know, cuz spring is feisty. Yeah. And spring is big and especially, especially

Speaker 2 (1h 5m 31s): Where you are valley.

Speaker 1 (1h 5m 32s): Yeah. Yeah. So, you know, I'm gonna take it easy. I'm gonna be careful.

Speaker 2 (1h 5m 36s): Well, I think, you know, to distill what you're saying in, into something that I can sort of chew on is that the difference between 50 and a hundred hours is sensitivity and fine tuning and, and efficiency as well. Because if you're not finely tuned, if you're not sensitive, then everything is gonna be a little rougher, a little edgier. But a hundred hour pilot has probably got a better feel for what's happening. And I think, you know, to your point about ground handling, so I've been ground handling a lot the last year and what I've learned is to know what the Wing is gonna do before it does it right.

So, you know, like you'd like to think that you're, you're able to predict the behavior of the Wing in the air, but on the ground it's different. But now having done it a bunch of times, I know like if that tip dips, then the next thing is gonna happen, is it gonna surge up and I'm ready for it. You know, I've already got a little damping on it and so I am proactive as opposed to reactive. And because I know what's happening, I can focus on, okay, that Gus is getting stronger or you know, it just shifted 10 degrees. I'm gonna have to launch a little bit this way. Like, I'm not thinking about the Wing anymore.

I'm just thinking about the launch.

Speaker 1 (1h 6m 42s): I, I think the other thing too that the 5,000 as we go up is just confidence, right? So the, the more confidence you have, and I'm not talking false confidence or you know, showing off, but real confidence. So

Speaker 2 (1h 6m 58s): Capability,

Speaker 1 (1h 6m 58s): You spend a lot of time ground handling and you walk up to launch and there's 50 people and there's a lot of big eyeballs because it's cross and it's gusty and it's plucky and you're seeing people blow it and you just know when you step up to bat that you're not gonna blow it and it's gonna be totally fine. Probably gonna be fine.

Speaker 2 (1h 7m 21s): Yeah, exactly.

Speaker 1 (1h 7m 22s): Because that's what you're head, you've trained for it, you've done it, you've spent the time, you've, you've spent the hours. So I mean, for me, a big thing with currency is just purely confidence. You, you know, and you, and only we know that. And I mean you can see it, like you said, riding up in the van and you can see it in the gondola that, you know, if people are sketchy and, and they're, they're feeling a little bit sketched out by the conditions and you can see it versus, you know, I'm pretty sure Kriegel is not like that when he's going

Speaker 2 (1h 7m 49s): To

Speaker 1 (1h 7m 50s): Launch. Yeah, for sure. He knows he's got it. And so, and that's, that's just currency

Speaker 2 (1h 7m 54s): And that's, that's confidence. It's legit. That's based on skills and practice and everything. It's not just a blind like, you know, I've got this like that, that mentality kills me. But Cool man. Well, we're just about an hour, a little over an hour. Let me ask you a couple more quick questions. Oh, they can be sure as long as the answer is that you want to lay out there. But what else have you got going? Like any projects? We, we, we were talking a little bit, we're about to hit 200 episodes. That's crazy, right?

Speaker 1 (1h 8m 19s): Yeah. I, you know, I, I know it's crazy. I, I think we're gonna do, I'm gonna check in with the magazine about this and Hugh who were so involved in the last book, but sounds like we're gonna maybe do another book. So based on the second hundred shows, you know, the first one is based on the first hundred shows. I'm pretty excited about this X Alps journalism thing. You know, it kind of keeps me connected to the race. I'm very excited to get this house done so I can get back to what I love doing, which is flying. And, and also just being more on it with the, I'm very, I'm still really thrilled about the podcast.

I think it's, you know, I hear all the time that it's, it's helping people and keeping people safe and keeping people alive and, and they're, they're digging it. And so, you know, but it, like anything to do it well you gotta put energy into it. And I always, you know, this year I have felt, because of the house build and stuff, I'm always just barely keeping up. And so I, I'd like to throw more energy into this once we get the house done. And so, yeah, I don't have any big expedition stuff planned, you know, it's still, I would love to continue on where I left off with the Alaska project.

You know, we, we ended at the, at the end of the Alaskan range and which is right at the very beginning of the Regals. And so that has been calling me for years now. I don't know if that's going to be something I can tackle with, with little one, you know, it's just a lot of time that would be, yeah. Be a big one. But yeah. Yeah. Still fired up about flying. I I've been doing a lot of comps lately, which has been really fun. And so yeah, I'm, I'm still all in.

Speaker 2 (1h 9m 57s): Is Fallon kiting yet? Have you got her, has Fallon got her own mini Wing to play with

Speaker 1 (1h 10m 1s): Yet? No, no, I don't. I need to. That'd be, that'd be a blast. I just did get, you know, Nate gave me his tandem kit, so Right. I have tandem kit. I mean, I'm sorry, a a kid harness I have T

Speaker 2 (1h 10m 10s): Kit. Right, right, right.

Speaker 1 (1h 10m 11s): He gave me the kit harness, so that's gonna be fun. She's been begging me to go take her to fly so nice. So we do doing some of that this summer hopefully.

Speaker 2 (1h 10m 19s): But yeah, I remember, I, I forget what episode it was, but Hanza and his son doing that Vve trip, I was so jealous cuz they just sounded like they were having the time of their lives and I, I don't have kids, but I remember thinking that's gotta be pretty special.

Speaker 1 (1h 10m 30s): Yeah, they keep doing it, you know, he had a big one last year as they've, they've done it a bunch of years in a row now. So that's, that's been really fun. That's been kind of his replacement for X Alps.

Speaker 2 (1h 10m 40s): And doesn't Kriegel have a son or two that are training him? Two, yeah, yeah they were, that's

Speaker 1 (1h 10m 46s): Gonna be like actually I remember watching a video he showed me before the 2015 start. We were there at the Mozart plots and he showed me a video of his kids kiting and doing these little, little flights and I mean they were six and nine then. I mean Kriegel started when he was nine so I'm sure they're well into it now. I'm sure we'll be hearing their names pretty soon.

Speaker 2 (1h 11m 3s): Can you imagine the scenario when Kriegel says no, I'm not gonna do the next Red Bull X Alps and then there's a new entry with the last name Mauer. Gosh. It's just be like the handoff. Right? The legacy continues.

Speaker 1 (1h 11m 16s): Oh

Speaker 2 (1h 11m 17s): My gosh. Cool man. Is there anything else you wanna talk about? I mean I've been watching the USPA numbers go up, I think in the last quarter, 2022 there are like 250 new P one and P two pilots. I, it seems like it's steadily moving in the right direction. It's not golf, it's not skiing, but like you go out to the training hill here in Santa Barbara and there's rarely a day without a dozen new pilots, you know, whether it's fly above all or Eagle, you

Speaker 1 (1h 11m 42s): Know, you know what we need is we need the drive to survive guys to get involved in paragliding cuz they did F1 made F1 crazy Pi, I'm totally addicted to that show. Yeah. And then now they're doing it with golf and tennis. So now, now I'm watching, I'm watching both those. So yeah, we need to get 'em involved in paragliding. I don't think there's the money to get those guys involved, but that would be, yeah, we need those guys to make it all sexy.

Speaker 2 (1h 12m 4s): Well, and I'm sure there are people out there that are thinking that's the last thing we need. Right. But yeah, probably like, like anything, there's a balance. There's a balance, so. Sure. Well cool man, I think from my side that's pretty much it. I'm just, I'm stoked on the Mayhem and it's still every time we do a new one, I'm excited cuz I get to hear and learn and, and just, yeah, it's great. At one point you and I calculated, this is a while back, but if every pilot that we've had on the show had an average of 10 years of experience, you know, at that time it was like 1500 years. It's probably getting close to 18, almost 1900 years, a flying experience.

Like you're bound to learn something, right? You're gonna learn something. So I hope so. Yeah. Cool man. Well I'm looking forward to seeing

Speaker 1 (1h 12m 45s): You. Always pleasure. Good to see you man.

Speaker 2 (1h 12m 46s): Yeah, yeah. Thank you very

Speaker 1 (1h 12m 47s): Much. See you Cloudbase, my friend.

Speaker 2 (1h 12m 48s): All right, you got it.

Speaker 1 (1h 12m 54s): If you find the Cloudbase Mayhem valuable, you can support it in a lot of different ways. You can give us a rating on iTunes or Stitcher, however you get your podcast. That goes a long ways and helps spread the word. You can blog about it on your own website or share it on social media. You can talk about it on the way up to launch with your pilot friends. I know a lot of interesting conversations have happened that way. And of course you can support us financially. This show does take a lot of time, a lot of editing, a lot of storage and music and all kinds of behind the scenes cost. So if you can support us financially, all we've ever asked for is a buck a show.

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And I also want you to know that these are authentic conversations with real people and these are just our opinions, but our opinions are not being skewed by sponsors or advertising dollars. I think that's a pretty toxic business model. So I hope you dig that. You can support us if you go to Cloudbase mam.com, you can find the places to support, you can do it through patreon.com/ Cloudbase mam, if you want a recurring subscription, you can also do that directly through the website. We've tried to make it really easy and that will give you access to all the bonus material, a little videocast that we do and extra little nuggets that we find in conversations that don't make it into the main show.

But we feel like you should hear. We don't put any of that behind a paywall. If you can't afford to support us, then just let me know and I'll set you up with an account. Of course that'll be lifetime and hopefully in a, you're being in a position someday to be able to support us. But you'll find all that on the website. All of you who have supported us or even joined our newsletter or bought Cloudbase, Mayhem merchandise t-shirts or hats or anything, you should be all set up. You should have an account and you should be able to access all that bonus material now.

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