Sunday, November 30, 2008

Axis Mountain Masterclass

As part of Team Axis UK, I'll be leading the an advanced mountain cross country course around the Northern French Alps (Annecy, Chamonix, St. Hilare du Touvet) next Spring.

The goal is to develop your mountain flying knowledge and skills so that you can complete long XC flights in the mountains. We'll be in the Alps at the best time of year for XC flying and will cover all aspects, including mental and physical preparation, meteorology, aerology, route planning and decision making. It is not a beginner's course. You must be an autonomous XC pilot with some mountain or flatland flying experience.

The course is non profit-making and will be run at cost, i.e. cheap, with a full budget breakdown presented to all participants.

To find out more visit the Axis Mountain Masterclass website and contact Axis UK to register your interest.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Initial preparations

Now that we've been accepted the training can being in earnest.

For the physical preparations, I'm currently most of the way through a speed programme in preparation for the Escalade running race through Geneva's Old Town in a couple of weekends time. This is a short race (7.5km) but it's a great way to kick start my training. The goal is to build a bit more leg power and muscle around my knees to reduce the strain on them during the X-Alps. The weekly schedule looks like this:
  • Monday: rest.
  • Tuesday: 20mins warm-up (12km/h) then two sets of 10x 30sec sprints (18+km/h) with 30sec gentle jog between sprints and 3mins rest between sets, followed by a warm down and stretching on the track.
  • Wednesday: rest.
  • Thursday: 30mins warm-up (12km/h) then 6x 4min hard (16km/h) with 2min rests between them, followed by a warm down and stretching on the track.
  • Friday: 60-75mins slow (12km/h) on forest tracks.
  • Weekend: long duration, low intensity with a rucksack.
For example, two weekends I ago I climbed the Pic de Sambuy in the Bauges with my paraglider (1400m of ascent, unfortunately there was too much cloud to fly so it was a walk down too!), and last weekend I did a two day snowshoe trip in the Jura mountains, staying overnight in an unguarded hut.

Alex and I are starting to discuss gear, the route, strategy and logistics, but in these early stages it's more a question of working out what we need to work out, rather collecting all the details just yet. I've also started contacting some of the other Athletes to share information about the preparations.

Many thanks to all of you who have offered advice, help or simply best wishes for the race. Much appreciated!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Red Bull X-Alps 2009

Yes! We're in!

Alex Raymont and I have been selected to compete in the the Red Bull X-Alps, one of the World's toughest and most spectacular adventure races. We start in Salzburg, Austria and race, day and night for two weeks, the full length of the European Alps to goal on the Mediterranean coast in Monaco. If the weather is good we hope to cover 100km or more each day by paraglider, but if the weather's bad it'll be pounding along the ground with the paraglider on the back.

We're a team of two. I'll be running and flying, Alex will be the supporter, driving the support vehicle, fueling me for the race and making critical strategic decisions.

I'm delighted to announce that thanks to the gracious support of Nicky Moss and Mark "Wagga" Watts at Axis Paragliding UK I'll be flying a ultralight Venus II paraglider. Les Grands Espaces, the paragliding shop and school at the Planfait landing field in Annecy, France have also pledged their support with gear, and XContest, the international cross country league will be providing valuable route information.

Up to the race start on 19 July 2009, we're be keeping you informed through this blog. We'll look at the specialist equipment in detail, cover our preparations and share with you the highs and lows of the training. Once the race starts you'll be able to follow us live on the Internet through the Red Bull X-Alps website and Google Earth, with blog updates, audio clips and video. It'll be an adventure!