Thursday, May 31, 2012

Flying in Algodonales

Since I have been slacking a bit on writing, now you get a double portion. 
Few days ago I came back from yet another fabulous week of paragliding in Algodonales with FlySpain
It felt a bit like visiting the family. It's a small place and there is nothing except for pilots and flying sites and in the evenings the conversations are pretty much all about paragliding. You are in Andalusia, in a sense, wines are fantastic, food is fresh and cheap, but it's a sub-culture made by people with common interest and adventurous nature. It really feels like extended family, even if you have just met. 
Day 1, we go straight up to the mountain above the village. After 5 months of not flying I am understandably nervous which translates into 2 genuine encounters with the local flora, namely the nearby bushes. All bruised up, but stubborn as I can be, I finally launch and OMG! Pure joy. That's why I was there, for that cocktail of fear-excitment-rush-stress-pureawesomeness. Nothing beats flying. Seriously. 
Ok, ok, let's re-phrase that, so that I don't underrate running, snowboarding or surfing which I also enjoy. Nothing beats flying for giving you that feeling of freedom and being alone with nature. You are in the sky, beating gravity and there is nothing but air around you. How more free and alone can you be?
It was not the great flight I have had, but it made me feel as if I was brand new again. Extremely liberating feeling, notwithstanding the dodgy landing, which luckily no one saw. 
Day 2, I was up for it. It was ok day, two flights but no much airtime. Day 3! yes, that was it, the magic happened, I was ridge soaring at Ronda la Vieja for a good 30 minutes and got a great lift. At some point I was above everyone and went higher than ever before. After I landed, I felt like jumping up and down from joy. 
Paragliding at Ronda la Vieja 

Landing at Ronda la Vieja after amazing flight
Day 4, even better! I was in the air good 40 min soaring above Algodonales and feeling even more excited. For the first time after starting all over again with paragliding and after my accident, I felt that that passion is totally back and is not going to go away. In my head I was already booking next flying dates and plotting buying a new wing. 
Day 5 and 6 were a bit unlucky, with only 1 flight and not that great, but all in all I was satisfied and looking forward to go back for more. I love FlySpain and I think it will be hard to beat the experience with them. 
I just spoke with some clubs in the Alps about going there in July, hopefully that works. 
This is a happy face, of a qualified CP pilot, yeah:)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Paris marathon

Viva la France!
After 3 marathons in 8 months, I can modestly say that I enjoy running. In fact I enjoy running quite a bit. 3 marathons, 2 half's and several 10 K races. And you know what, marathons are tough and you can't help wonder around the 35th km, why on earth are you doing this. Because it hurts. But then you do it, you cross that finish line and you feel like a God. Barely any other 4 h and a bit activity can make you feel so exhilarated and full of sense of accomplishment.
And then you drink that wine, get that food you so badly need and everything taste absolutely Fantastic. Since in France food always tastes fantastic, imagine that and multiply by 10. One of the purest moments ever, post marathon moments of pure joy.

I did ok-ish, 4:21. It's pretty good given I had some bad luck that I won't go into details about.
Running is a sport for the disciplined. You can't just go and run a marathon, at least if you are human like me. You need to work hard to get there. But it's very achievable if you work on it and makes you feel absolutely great.
As hard as it is, once it was over I was already thinking about my next race.
And Paris, oh Paris... I am a big city lover and that's one of The cities. Simply heavenly. I will never get tired of going to Paris. Always something new to discover and always sad to leave. You simply need a bit of Paris in you and it makes things more... real.
After that I went for a short surfing trip to Biarritz. Had a blast though surfing was short and meant using pretty sore post-marathon muscles. Biarritz though is a lovely place. One day I want to retire in a place like this. Ideally where you can also fly. And have sun most of the year, good food, friendly people, not too touristic, not terribly expensive, language that I speak. Do I have demands about paradise?? Ha!