Due to pre existing commitments on Kevin’s part the captaincy of the Malvern A, PG team fell into my incapable hands for the first half of the Easter weekend (as it turned out the entire weekend) and indeed the weekend before. The pre Easter weekend saw Nant-y-Moel set for the Sunday and then cancelled as the weather didn’t play ball, which to be honest was much more the pattern of activity I was expecting when I agreed to help out with the BCC thing.
Looking forward to the four, day rounds over Easter weekend, hosted by Avon, but held in SE Wales. It originally looked like it was going to be a struggle to get full teams out each day, but slowly things began to morph and take shape as the weekend drew nearer and the forecasts looked more promising. In the end Friday and Monday were cancelled but Saturday and Sunday went ahead, and we were able to put out teams for both.
Easter Saturday (X Alps Training Day)
Forecasts for Saturday had suggested Merthyr as the most likely venue and with this in mind some of the more experienced (some would say older but I couldn’t possibly comment) squad members were encouraged to sign up. However their faces were a picture when Talybont was called as the site of the day at the morning briefing! For those that don’t know Talybont is a wonderful site but a pretty big carry up (around 1 hr to the top). I had never flown there and so was quite keen (ignorance is bliss). The team assembled in the car park and I lead them off on the hike towards take off, well at least for the first 1/2 hour and until it got steep, when leading from the rear seemed a much better option. I am sure younger fitter team members were taking bets as to how many of the "experienced" members would actually make the top before the task briefing.
Finally we made it and the briefing surprise, surprise, was open XC. As I had never flown the site before my plan for the day was simply to watch the senior Avon guys as it’s their site and they know it best.
The sky looked great but there followed a day of wandering around every bowl/face the mountain had, with one or two flying each, but the wind always seemed on elsewhere . We started on the SE bowl, where one pilot got away, but received a right royal kicking as he climbed out, needless to say no one else followed, especially as it became more apparent the wind was coming over the back. We finally finished on the NW bowl where for a brief period it was soarable, but only a few got away. In the end we all flew, all be it fairly briefly, some went down, and Tony managed to fly out to a pub, although we hadn’t realised at the time. Most walked off the hill at the end of the day with aching muscles and sore feet. Later track log analysis showed 5 miles walked and probably a max of 30 minutes flown. It had the feel of an epic day in the sense of being one you were never going to forget, and has divided the squad into those that were, and those that weren’t at Talybont. All Ill say is never moan to a Talybonter about a carry up, you will never hear the end of it.
Looking back I realised the bowl we flew was one I had admired from afar whenever driving through Brecon, but thought it too remote and inaccessible, so maybe it was worth it after all. In subsequent days as aches eased most agreed they would go back given the right day, potentially a cracking site.
Late home and completely shattered I looked forward to handing the team back to Kevin for Easter Sunday and actually contemplated not flying due to exhaustion, rather sore feet and the possibility that Talybont would be the site of the day again. Unfortunately my in box revealed that Kevin was in even worse shape than me, returning from holiday with food poisoning, and so once more into the breach.
Easter Sunday. (Prayers Answered)
After a few last minute team changes, Easter Sunday saw us in a campsite in Crickhowell awaiting meet organiser Ken Wilkinson's call for site of the day. "PLEASE don’t let it be Talybont" was the unuttered cry, in fact I think someone at the back was ferreting in the boot of their car for a hammer and nails, and if Talybont had been called, Ken would have had a nasty shock, and the local church would have found their symbolic representation of the crucifixion seemed rather more life like than usual this year. Thankfully for all concerned the Blorange was called, Hurrah!
Strangely the walk across the top of the Blorange seemed much shorter than a few weeks earlier; I guess any site seems easier after the excesses of the previous day. Once on take off the task was set as an open triangle, effectively an XC with two turn points. Unfortunately the clouds were building a little too rapidly for most, and although the window was opened, most waited until it became clear nothing nasty was going to happen. Sundays Team included some competition minded types including Bryan and Nigel, and I was not surprised to see them ignoring the team ethos of "its all about the fun of taking part and not about points" as both avoided flying directly to the bottom landing field (i.e. pub) and actually appeared to be attempting to fly the task. Conditions were tricky and the rest of us ended up in the castle meadows landing field before too long, but I did feel obliged to at least put a bit of a dog leg in and thrash about attempting a lowish save over the outskirts of Abergavenny, just to make it look like I wasn’t really just flying straight to the Pub. At this time Brian and Nigel were no where to be seen, which was puzzling, at least until I had packed up and walked over the bridge to find the pub was closed and up for sale! All was of course now clear; our ace pilots were after all simply trying to fly to the nearest pub, and had just omitted to tell the rest of us about the fate of the castle meadows hostelry.
Cars and wayward pilots were finally retrieved and the customary team debrief carried out in the Robin Hood in Monmouth on the way home. I won’t talk about the naked bridge jumper that greeted us as we walked from the car park except to ask, why is it never women that do these things?
Later that night I submitted Bryans flight as the only team score, before it was pointed out to me that I had misinterpreted the rules (I am sure that cannot be right, I thought you had to read something first before either interpreting or indeed misinterpreting it).
The Weekends Teams were:
Chris Hopkins (Captain)
Noel Mc Govern
Supported by Stuart Mayson and Dennis Fernyhough
Chris Hopkins (Captain)
Chris Hopkins (Captain)
Supported by Stuart Mayson
Many thanks to all those who took part and supported the team over the weekend.
It turned out in the end that not only Bryan, but Nigel and I both scored as well. As no one got far, our scores resulted in the Malvern A team climbing to 4th in the BCC table, how did that happen?