DAV’S RED BULL X-ALPS DIARY
During the summer of 2003, Ozone designer and test pilot David Dagault spent 2 weeks flying across the Alps from Dachstein to Monaco as a competitor in the Red Bull X-Alps Adventure Race. Here is the first part of his diary, we will be publishing the next 3 parts over the next few months.
3 people in goal.
11 days and 22 hours for crossing the Alps (Dachstein/Verbier/Monaco).
TOTAL of 993km really flown and walked
76.7% was flown 23.2% walked
762.5km flown in 41h35
230.7km and 17.360m up walked, in 73h05.
Average flown per day 58.7km and 3h12
Average walked per day 17.8km, 1336m up and 5h37
Welcome on board. Let your mind escape for few minutes and follow me for a couple of hundred kilometres through the Alps. Live the incredible experience as if you were with me.
The web site that Red Bull set up was brilliant and allowed everyone to follow accurately our position all the way along the adventure. Now that the race is over, it’s time to go more precisely into the race and tell you all the stories that happened during these 12 days … It was quick in fact, but the intensity of each minute is worth a little story. I will split the adventure into 4 parts that will be put in the web.
First of all I have to thanks few people, which have made this adventure possible:
Ozone gave me the chance to escape from the office for 3 weeks despite the massive amount of work that had to be done. And I had complete freedom to prepare myself for the race.
Equilibre Attitude which supported me by paying most of the expenses also provided me with some nutritional products and helped me in my training.
Salomon gave me the best gear (trainers, trousers, jackets, T-shirts …) for flying and walking. The performance of their product is just amazing: technical, light, compact…
Lots of things had to be thought about and the time that I had between the official selection of the teams and the start of the race wasn’t too much!
First I had to decide what tactic I would follow which would help me to select my gear. “I’m gonna top land and bivouac in the mountains every night, to be able to fly well the following days. I don’t think that walking too much will be the best choice as the tiredness will alter the flying skills. And it’s not in running that you’ll catch up the differences you’ll do that in the air”. So I got all the things that I needed for being independent for 3 days in the wild mountains. I only allowed the lightest gear…
Then I had to find some good maps for Austria and Switzerland. It had already taken me a while to find where Dachstein was : I started my recce and asked Hans Bausenwein, our German distributor - top Hg & Pg pilot - to give me some advice about the different possible routes.
Obviously, from Dachstein to Verbier, one main route was the one to follow. All the rest were not looking as good: “So no worries that’ll be easy!!!”
Nicky and I started to make a list of all the things that we had to take with us, and listed all the different scenarios possible. We had to imagine everything to be able - during the race - to act quickly and efficiently in any situation.
Last winter we designed a new proto for the 2-3 category, all new and very performance orientated. I knew that it was very performant and I liked its behaviour. I decided to use this proto - but in light cloth, ribs, thin lines, risers - to give me the best chance to have the best glider and probably the lightest as well. 5kg for the performance of a Boomerang III: that wasn’t too bad, eh?!
“And what about your physical training?” you’re asking … I’ve always been doing all sorts of sports since I was a kid. A few times a week I go running, doing things at the week end, so I could say that my general fitness was quite good at the start. The only thing which I wasn’t sure about was my ability to be efficient for long time exercise, and also about working at altitude. You know, Gourdon is nearer to the ocean than the sky
I did some running for fun in the mountains to make some red blood cells and did a trail race of 50km (up too 1560m) at night. I made it and finished 18th out of 1200.
But I didn’t do any long days of walking with my glider on my back … I find that really not pleasant. It’s nice to go in the mountains and climb a Peak, fly down. But walking hours just for the training with 15kg on your back is not a pleasure. I enjoy more hours running with nothing to carry…
All the preparation had to be done been while I kept doing my work at Ozone. So to tell the truth, I didn’t have 100% of my time for it. I basically managed to do the minimum I had to do for feeling like I was ready, but I wasn’t in peak condition.
I managed to escape a few days before the start of the race and drove with the van full of our gear toward Landeck via Italy for 3 days of recky along the route that I was expecting to follow during the race. These days were usefull for getting into the new routine: It was good to warm up our team by doing some walking together and some map reading with real mountains to have as references. It was also good to slowly go into our new life mode which we would be living in the following 2 weeks during the race.
Our lives were basically based around the van that we had hired. Sleeping, eating, resting, storing all the gear, travelling (for Nicky) …
We spent 2 days in Dachstein for checking in, meeting the big family of the X-Alps (teams and crews from the race), getting the electronic material provided by Red Bull working, discussing about the rules, etc …
Everything went so quickly. I can still remember how I thought about the project in April but feeling so far away from it. Not aware of what it would be like in reality.
I was in Dachstein with Nicky with all these teams coming from all over the world. No one had any ideas about what would happen, what to do, where to go, how long it would last … Everyone seemed very happy to be there anyway, all convinced that we would all met up in Monaco at the end, and that we would have a good time. We enjoyed this life all together for these 2 days of preparation and shared our excitement, thoughts and ideas.
And THE day arrived …