At 11:35 the official race started, with three of the prologue winners having started 5 minutes earlier with their "headstart". Cameras snapped photos everywhere and we all took off running, for a little while at least. I managed a couple of kilometers I suppose, before the blasting heat had me walking and trying to find shade. Luckily as the climb up to the Gaisberg got steeper, the trees were there too.
I was last by a few minutes getting up to the summit but the day was just turning on then. Chuck Jarek and Boga were there with my flying gear and some needed liquid. So I managed to launch somewhere in the middle of the field, right in the mix and getting lots of help in the air from other wings. Not that it was really necessary, the day was very lifty and our main problem was staying out of airspace as we worked our way south from the Gaisberg.
Day 1 of the Red Bull X-Alps exceeded everyones expectations! For the first time in the history of the race, it was possible to fly to the turn point at the Dachstein, and every competitor did this. Amazing flying conditions with a few athletes almost reaching turn point 3.
I flew 100 km and then made a tactical mistake, landing on a pass somewhere before Saalfelden. A few cows were there to greet me but I quickly packed up and walked over the hill to try to launch on the other side. Unfortunately there were launch options but nothing high enough over the valley to get high again. I even tried to fly, but re-landed near my launch before packing up again.
By now it was past 6 pm and my only option was to hike up to 2000 meters to see if I could eek out a flight across a few small saddles to get down to the main valley. I was in the air by 7:30, but shadows were lengthening and no thermals were there to greet me. What I did find was very lifty air, giving me a 15:1 glide ratio, allowing me to fly across some snaky roads and avoid a lot of distance on the ground. I was quite happy to have two such great flights in one day, and was even happier to learn that there were other competitors behind me.
My supporters were all there to greet me when I landed, including Jim, Chuck, Jarek, Boga, Cano and Mike. They headed into Saalfelden to get pizza, and I had a nice late evening stroll through town. Then munching pizza, I continued until it was fully dark. With the light of my headlamp, I made it to the motorhome for the night with 5 minutes before the time cutoff at 10:30 pm!
Here are some photos from my camera, but assuredly I will have a better collection once I get photos from some of my supporters.
Read about the rest of the 2015 X-Alps here:
Prologue: Hot Hiking
Day 2: A Long Walk
Day 3: Flying to a Night Pass
Day 4: Walking in the Rain
Day 5: Flight over the Spine
Day 6: Crossing an Italian Pass
Day 7: Turnpoint 5 in the Dolomites!
Day 8: Switzerland Glaciers
Day 9: Hot and Windy
Day 10: An Amazing High Flight
Day 11: Arriving in Zermatt!
|Heading to the Dachstein and Turnpoint 2!|
|Looking DOWN at a 3000 meter summit of the Dachstein!|
|Heading to Bischofshofen|
|Landing on a pass west of Bischofshofen|
|...and wishing I was still flying up there....|