Alternate uses for a mountain

The second Sunday in July is when the footrace is held up the Mt. Ascutney auto road. It’s 3.7 miles, and 2300 feet of elevation gain. The day when the race is held (and ditto for the bicycle race and auto race on other weekends), the mountain is closed for flying, either for the whole day, or until sometime in the afternoon, because the road and summit parking lot are occupied. Last year I had been thinking about running in the race, but I lacked ambition and skipped it, opting instead to just fly later on after the race crew cleared out. That was the day when I screwed up in a huge way, and I hadn’t been back to Ascutney since. It was largely a matter of schedule and circumstances, but I also sort of felt like I needed to make a payment on the karmic debt I had incurred to the mountain.

Proper physical training would have been a good plan, but there are a lot of things in my life competing for my time, and I’ve been a slacker in that regard, although I’m not a couch potato by any means. I do a lot of orienteering races and I’ve done a few trail races, but I think this is the only time I’ve been an official entrant in a running race on pavement. I was able to run the whole thing (although sometimes that running was probably no faster than I would have been going if I had walked), and I finished in 52:17, which put me in 131st place out of 191, and 35th out of 44 in the M40-49 age group. To put this in hang gliding terms, that a climb rate of about 44 fpm.

After I finished, I took a stroll out to launch, where the wind was trickling in — it would have been launchable for a sledder, and later in the day, things started to look increasingly good, although I don’t know what the wind direction was by then. I was the only one there, and there were a bunch of thrushes singing. I could see roughly where the spot was down near the LZ where I ended up in a tree, but a visit there will have to wait for another day.

I ran back down the road as well, in 28:06 (that’s 82 fpm sink). I feel ready to come back and fly the mountain, and I hope it takes longer than that for me to get down next time.

In the evening I went to see Toy Story 3 with my girlfriend and her teenage kids and their friends. Good movie, although I will say there was one sequence that started by giving me a big smile, and shortly took a turn that completely freaked me out. Aaaaaugh! Hit a little close to home…


About cleversky

Hang glider pilot in New England since 2004. Also an avid orienteer, and an embedded systems firmware engineer. And some other outdoor stuff.
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