Paragliding Idiocy.

A day off! Three weeks of patiently waiting for this day, this very day. A day where I can do nothing, absolutely nothing.

Laundry?

Ahh, laundry.

Options are weighed.

Day of Nothing or … laundry.

Pondering advice of the sages…

Use sunscreen. Check.

Never be the last to arrive. Check.

Never be the smelliest person in the van. Che…dammit.

Laundry wins.

Turning my helmet bag into a bag of infinite holding, I cram near every piece of clothing I have into it and set of for my Adventure in Italian Laundromats.

Thankfully the instructions on the machine are in English lest I feed the thing an endless stream of euro and resemble a child with a pocket full of quarters and a foolhardy dream of finishing PacMan.

For the most part I am left alone in this small two room space, listening to the monotonous thrumming of the washer. Occasionally a local would arrive, speak some form of greeting and/or point at a machine and pose a query in Italian. I respond with a smile, nod, or a shrug in a semi-animated ‘je ne sais pas’ type manner. A true master of international linguistics.

Laundry done and bag of holding reloaded. I am lighter by 9 euro but am freed from being relegated to riding on the back bumper of the van.

Back at the hotel, I return to half Day of Nothing. Activity selected: sleep.

2 hours later, I awake.

The room is much darker than when I laid down. Odd, as it is mid afternoon.

A distant rumble. Ahhh, now I know what woke me.

I look out the patio window to see rain falling, trees oscillating to and fro in the gust front and…

a pair of paragliders still in the air, less than a kilometer away.

I watch them pull ears and turn tail to run from the front. Unfortunately the mountain ridge is blocking a proper perpendicular retreat from the storm line, so they are forced to try to run ahead and get down.

The wings disappear from my view, continuing to run west.

The rumbling continues on for another half a hour, thankfully left uninterrupted by any form of siren.

Just another Saturday in Bassano.

Sunday, Kelly has returned with a fresh pair of students – Jim, an Irish musician, and Tim, a British Intensive Care doctor who looks no older than 17. I’m half a mind to start calling Tim – Doogie, but I suspect the reference would be lost on him.

Up on the hill, high altocumulus have cut off the thermic cycles. One of the Swedes launches anyways and sinks out. I am set up, patiently watching an approaching break in the cloud. Kelly asks that I hold off until Jim and Tim are in the air. Tim is off first. Under Kelly’s guidance, Tim readily thermals up to what is likely both his highest and longest flight ever. Kelly then instructs him to head out to the landing field and begins to focus on getting Jim ready to launch. The clearing in the altoQs has been over us for about ten minutes at this point. The cycles pick up quickly in intensity and duration, then take a strong east/crosswind flow.

The mid day thermals are being trapped between the ridge and a newly formed inversion just above launch. Driven by a light eastery wind, they begin to venturi and quickly exceed 35 kph, much to the chagrin of the dozen of so pilots hellbent on staying on the ridge. Kelly shakes his head, refers to the mob of parked wings downwind from their lz as a ‘Standing Ovation’, and instructs us to pack up. We will have to wait until evening.

By the time we leave, every wing on the ridge is being driven backwards – unwilling to leave for calmer conditions over the flats. Lemming effect, I guess.

Idiocy: Never under estimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

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