Tag Archives: Cloudbase Paragliding

Romeo of the skies

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Another day in Bali, another two-and-a-half hours souring through the big blue above Nusa Dua with my buddies from Cloudbase Paragliding. And I’ll tell ya, making it through a few hours’ of glorious flying was a bit of a surprise because I’ve been married to my toilet for the last couple of days and there aren’t too many brascos up there.

The conditions were brilliant and we were all able to get awesome height, towering over the cliffs of Pyong as we surfed the wind. There were fewer kamikaze Japs, more space, and plenty of opportunities to check out the reefs and temples from a few hundred metres above.

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When the wind picked up I was forced to take refuge on the beach – an exciting battle in itself, as I crawled the last kilometre at a speed slower than a Sydney Traoins rattler, before finally touching down just metres from where a beautiful young lady was swimming. Her tanned body seemed at one with the waves, and her face looked like something you’d kiss until your lips became numb and dropped off.

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I packed up my wing as quickly as possible and sauntered over to the girl, who was visibly impressed by my dramatic entrance. I tossed my helmet onto the sand, ripped off my shirt, stepped into the azure water and splashed over to the bikini-clad babe.
“Yeah, I descended from the heavens just to say hello to you,” I said nonchalantly. “No biggie.”

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The lass was understandably impressed, and there was an unmistakable electricity between us. She looked unbelievably good in a two-piece that made no attempt to cover her astonishing body, and the way she smiled at me told me there was a future for us. We kissed briefly and she told me to meet her at that same spot at 8pm.

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When I returned to the shore, a cluster of my fellow flyers gave me a standing ovation and offered high-fives and thumbs-up. I can’t recall how many called me a legend or the best dude they’ve ever met – but it was certainly in excess of five. I tried to explain that it was just another day in my life but they wouldn’t have it, showering me in free beer and chairing me off into the sunset. I spent the evening being hailed a hero by all who met me – I’m over here with some of the greatest paragliders in Australia, but to them, my achievements at the beach were all that mattered.

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I went back to that special spot at 8pm, flowers clutched in my hand, an excited look on my face, and love in my heart. And there she was, the girl of my dreams, kissing a chubby Indonesian bloke in the silvery moonlight. He looked at me, his ceremonial headdress draped over one eye, and laughed. I was crushed. I threw the flowers onto the sand and trudged into the night, alone with my sadness.

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My Cloudbase chums of Rich, Al and Jed took me out for pizza to cheer me up, where they assured me that I remain an inspiration to them. But their words were hollow and the pizza tasted sour. I’d found and lost love in the most dramatic way possible, but as I gobbled that last slice of pepperoni pizza and wiped sauce from from chin (pizza sauce, I should clarify), I realised that it wasn’t all bad – because life’s always good when you’re paragliding.

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Paragliding in paradise

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Forget about lying in the sun  and save the ladyboys for another day, because it’s time to get stuck into what I came to Bali to do – a shitload of paragliding. And thanks to the legends at Cloudbase and the Hindu Wind Gods, that’s exactly what’s been happening.

The skies above Nusa Dua have been swarming with gliders for weeks, and when our crew rocked up it made for a bloody awesome spectacle. There were as many as 37 pilots in the air at a time, and I’ve never even seen that many at the same time. Once I made it into the air, though, it was incredible, and I never wanted to come back down. I soared over resorts (I spent a lot of time above one in particular, because there was a really good-looking sheila lying by the pool), beaches and temples.

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There are also some mad Chinaman and kamikaze Japs flying around attached to glorified shopping bags, with little concern for their welfare. The same rules apply in the air as they do when driving – just stay the fuck away from the Asians, because they’re only ever a minute away from doing something stupid, and you’ll be sweet. While it took a bit of getting used to, learning how to fly in difficult conditions is important when it comes to becoming a better pilot.

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I’ve already clocked three-and-a-half hours of flight time over the first two days, which is mental, and that number is going to grow massively over the next two weeks. I’ve also made my first-ever top landing attempt (an utter failure) and my second (a massive success that brought tears to the eyes of all who witnessed it – and a few ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from the local female paragliding groupies).

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Those watching on included a little Indo bloke who hangs out on the hill selling DVDs (of course), cigarettes (not surprising) and Viagra (whaaaaaaaat?) Honestly, mate, the last thing I want to worry about whilst avoiding suicidal Chinamen at 100m above the ground is maintaining an erection.

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After a very long day of flying, the crew piled into buses, Bintangs in hand, and headed back to our resort, where we had a quick splash in the pool and then piled back into buses, fresh Bintangs in hand, and rolled out to dinner. It was lucky the company was so good, because the meals took about an hour to arrive, and the bill about an hour and a half to settle. Ah well, it’s a small price to pay to be able to paraglide in such a fuckin’ great place.

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Praise be to the Wind Gods

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Seriously, how good is this!

Yesterday was supposed to be a great day for flying. Unfortunately, the Wind Gods didn’t get the memo, and when we got to the bottom of Middle Brother, the conditions were as flat as a disappointing girlfriend’s chest. As a result, me and the Cloudbase crew spent the day waiting at the bottom of Middle Brother:

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Extreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeme!

Waiting at the top of Middle Brother:

 

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It’s wetter than a fish’s hat!

And waiting in the park at Laurieton:

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Laurieton, NSW: Where dildos double as play equipment

The day wasn’t a wash, though. With our paragliding dreams in tatters, we headed back to Cloudbase HQ for an absolutely brilliant BBQ (thanks to Ricardo’s Tomatoes), a bellyful of beer, and lots of shit talk. The weather might’ve been dodgy, but the company certainly wasn’t.

But, like a sexual drought being broken by a prostitute moving in next door, the tough times simply made the good times better. The Wind Gods must’ve heard our overnight prayers, because they were certainly smiling on us today. The weather was incredible and the flying was, in a word, phenomenal.

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Kenny!

We piled into a convoy of cars and headed out to Long Flat, where a 225m-tall mountain would serve as our launch zone. I’ve flown at Long Flat once before and loved it, so I was as excited as a kiddie with a new box of Lego as we drove up the hill.

The wind was light as we started out, and the students who are wrapping up their course with Cloudbase did awesomely to get away and have sleddies down to the landing zone far below. I was one of the last to leave the hill, which worked out well because I found myself in a monstrous thermal out in the middle of the valley. I climbed, and climbed, and climbed, until I was higher than Charlie Sheen and more than double launch height. It was an incredible flight, and really helped with my confidence after some patchy flights in recent times.

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“Dashing” Duncan has no problems getting it up

My journey to the heavens had nothing on the adventures of Mark, one of the legends who’s been flying with us the last few days. He hit the same thermal as me and took it all the way to 3800ft, or more than 1200m. I’m glad I didn’t make it quite that high, because I would’ve shat my pants, squealed, passed out, and probably ended up somewhere in Tasmania.

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View from the top of the world

I had a further two flights that were plenty of fun but not quite as good with themals, and when I made it back to terra firma I was hotter than an Indian bloke’s lunch. There’s a beautiful river that runs through the valley, so I stripped off and jumped in, splashing around like some sort of demented eel.

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Yes, I was skinny dipping

Days like this are why were paraglide. Smashing weather, awe-inspiring views, good company and the opportunity to push ourselves to do things we never thought possible. It doesn’t get better than this!

Chasing the Wind

I haven’t had something hairy and goofy-looking wake me up since my last girlfriend left me, so it was comforting to be woken up by the goats again this morning.

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Don’t you just wanna milk ’em?

Once that intimate rendezvous was out of the way, it was time to get into some paragliding. Well, more like time to wait around for some paragliding. I watched a genuinely interesting infomercial on a blunder, and a news item about an obsession with Instagram indicating a propensity to cheat. I was nodding my head so much it almost fell off, but that’s a story for a much-anticipated future entry.

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You can see my handbag down there

The wind finally rocked up, and me and the Cloudbase Paramagliding crew made our way to beautiful Indian Head, so named because one of the blokes from the Village People was caught sucking the salami there. It’s a great spot and really pretty, but the wind was a bit intense, so it was time for some more para-waiting. And more para-waiting. And more…

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Cool Chris heads for the skies

When things finally settled down, I was able to get up for a tandem flight with my homeboy Mark. He’s known as the Grand Poobah of Paragliding, so I relished the opportunity to strap myself in close to him and sail off into the endless skies. While Mark knocked back my sexual advances, we enjoyed a memorable flight above the New South Wales coastline.

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Hunks of the sky… form an orderly line, seagulls!

We waited for the winds to die down, and when they didn’t, I decided to go for a flap on my own in a smaller wing. I’ve had one flight in the last seven months, so I was as rusty as a Mormon robot’s cock, and I wasn’t happy with my performance, even under difficult conditions (I’ve said that after a few sexual encounters, trust me). My take-off was awful, I kicked a tree mid-flight, and I never felt completely comfortable. The wind was a bit too strong for me to have a fun flight, and I ended up having to land earlier than I wanted to, but it was great to get a flight out of the way as I build my hours and my confidence. And even if I was disappointed with today, there’s always tomorrow.

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Is it the shoes?

My struggles with the wind convinced Mark and Chris that it wad time to head home, and I spent the night cracking beers and enjoying the company of good people. the paragliding community is a wonderful and inclusive bunch, and I’m loving my time up in Port Macquarie.

All up, it was a brilliant day, and proved that perfect conditions aren’t required for a great day of paragliding. Good mates, a few laughs, and having a crack are what it’s all about. It looks like Middle Brother might be on tomorrow, and if it is…. yeah, there’ll be stories.