Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Top Gear, Audi VS Mountain climbers

They call everybody "Douche."

That speed climbing is impressive, I must say. 

We too have mountains. 

Proper mountains. But the city is near the foothills. My parents house is tucked into the foothills. Those are like bumps. Lookout mountain is such a bump. Zion mountain on some maps, it overshadows Golden Colorado dominated by Coors factory. 

Colorado School of Mines nearby installed a letter M made out of painted rocks that serves as landmark. There are towers at the top. It is not that high, but driving down the road scared the piss out a friend from Louisiana, a large man, he screamed like a girl in the car certain we were meant to die. It wasn't funny.

Several videos to choose from, cars going down, motorcycles going up, every curve is familiar, here is a bicyclist with a GoPro riding down lookout mountain. A foothill. I drove this road at least a hundred times. 

Okay, fine, twenty-five times. There is a launch site near the white stone M. During the summer the whole valley of Golden warms up and creates thermals, bubbles of warm air that rise up, bubbling like boiling water except atmosphere and not water, the prevailing breeze tends to move the air bubbles toward the slopes where they crowd, shove together and the shape of the mountain funnels the thermals up a channel in the terrain,  a steady stream of warm air flows upward until the stream reaches  the height of the peak behind where it meets another prevailing wind sheering across the mountain range flowing in the opposite direction, this at just the right time of day on just the right days, there are many of them but not reliably so. Hang gliding in Colorado involves a lot of waiting.

The red dots are where we park cars, the tiny red dots are a trail to the launch site. It is very steep. You can see the road is cut into the mountain, that creates a wall that must be scaled, with the glider rolled up in its sleeve balanced on your shoulder you attempt to hike up crabbing sideways or with the glider aiming up the slope as you climb. It is difficult. You must be athletic. You must be strong. Assembled at the launch site, when ready you can take only one step, one step into the void but you must act as if you can run so your legs spin comically as if peddling an invisible bicycle. But you must try to run. Were the step to fail, there is no jogging down the slope, no, it is too steep for that. You will crash head first and it will be ugly. But that never happens. Because of the thermals instead of down or straight outward, instead of a sleigh ride down, you go straight up. Like a flying monkey. It is amazing.

But this guy is not launching from the site described. He did not hike up to the launching site that catches the thermals, he is not waiting for thermals. He waits for a breeze and that is not what that launch site is about. He is on the side on a more gentle slope. He does have a chance to take a few steps in the direction of Golden, not to the side of Golden as the above more hazardous but more glorious launch site does.

Plus he has training wheels on his glider. That's like a dinosaur.


bagoh20 said...

Oh now I get it. that's what they mean by the "Fundamentalist wing of gay advocacy"

I was thinking something entirely different, and much more dangerous.

That's what I intend to do over my 4 day thanksgiving weekend: fly, fly, fly!

FYI, they aren't "training wheels". They're badges of humility that save you and your glider on a bad landing. Everybody needs them sooner or later, and if you don't have em when you do, something gets broken.

bagoh20 said...

One of the the great things about L.A. is the hang gliding. We used to have a lot more, but development has us down to about 3 sites in the mountains that ring the huge metropolitan basin, and a few more on the other side of the range facing the desert. The result is about 340 flyable days a year. The problem is that work and life cuts that down to a handful anyway. Life can really cut into your life.

ricpic said...

I have great memories of Golden Gate Canyon State Park above Golden, way above. I was there too early in the year, if I remember correctly it was sometime in late April and absolutely freezing when I arrived at the entrance at 9 AM. Drove all over the place, managed to set up and paint a looking down the mountain type picture starting at about 11 AM, when it was a little warmer but not much. Anyway, after the picture, this must have been about 3 PM, I was driving alongside a mountain creek and saw, out of the corner of my eye, an old man fishing the stream. Paradise. So that made it all worthwhile. Lucky to live there, you Coloradans.

rcocean said...

Sorry Chip, no intelligent response other than "Well Done".

Unknown said...

Lookout Mountain is one of the few places you see hang-gliders. You'd think there would be more launch sites outside of Boulder, moving south or north along the front range - but not that I can see. I have no idea why?