The Dragon Bites
Yesterday, then weather forecast promised good winds all day and Giorgio was chomping at the bit to get his buggy fix. Unfortunately, the workshop messed up his metal bits for the Shamal (Composite buggy), so that wasn’t ready. Still, he could use my DB-I (Death Buggy Mk I). Meeting under the Ghaf tree as usual we debated what kite to use. This is a common scenario that goes something like this: “What kite are you putting on?” says I. “Dunno yet, what are you putting on?” “Either 4m Blade or the 5m Blur but wind seems like it’s dropping, so might use the 4.9 Blade”. “In that case I’ll use my 4.5 Fury” “As wind forecast promises to pick up during the day finally I think I’ll use 5.0m Blur.”
We decide to run around the sabkah for a bit but then the dunes looked too inviting, My Blur has 25m lines, which aren’t the best for the dunes, so headed back to the Ghaf to put on some 40m lines. During my line changing exercise, Giorgio came back quite elated telling me he’d achieved a new personal best of 64.9 kph. “Crazy Italian”, crossed my mind as I said, “Well done Giorgio, I’ll photograph your GPS to get that registered on Popeyethewelder’s Records”.
GIORGIO’s PB (01)
Now I wasn’t decided if I should do the Half Pipe or The Dragon Run but winds looked more favourable to do the Dragon.
I was buggying about a kilometer from the Ghaf when I saw Angelo’s car kicking up the dust headed for the Ghaf. I will run down these dunes and tell Angelo that we will do the Dragon Run as soon as he is ready. As this thought was passing through my mind , ‘Ping’ as a right hand brake line appeared to break during a particular hard pull up a soft dune coupled with a sudden nasty gust.
Examination showed that the Blur had blown apart & will need professional fixing.
Brig driving her Razor picked up my 4m Blade from the car. I could then carry on back to the ghaf where Angelo was about ready.
We ran around the sabkah a while for Angelo to warm up and then I said are you both game to try the Dragon Run?
No hesitation from either of them and as I was the only person who’d ever done this run led out across the sabkah watching Giorgio going like a mad thing as the buggy spent a lot of time quite unplanned on two wheels. “ Crazy Italian” crossed my mind again.
Heading south towards the Dragon’s teeth sat at the bottom of the dunes, we easily mounted the first high dunes. It was then a series of climbing big dunes & dropping down the steep leeward sides. The strong South Westerly we’d had about a week ago had deposited a lot of soft sand on the now windward side of the dunes making it very difficult close to the dune ridges at the buggies sunk deep into this soft stuff.
THE DRAGON (02,03,04)
I’d dropped down one very long & steep wall into the trough & zipped up to the ridge of the next dune and waited there for the others. I saw Giorgio & the DB-I catapulted over the ridge I’d just crossed. Giorgio was flying through the air with the buggy tumbling over and over as both hit the sand close to the trough. It looked very nasty so buggied over to Giorgio to see how much he’d been damaged. Fortunately, just one kneepad and & one elbow pad had taken the brunt of the impact, so nothing was broken.
DAMAGED KNEE & ELBOW PADS (05,06,07)
He removed his helmet and his face was covered in sand with him swearing about the kite being no good. Brig was stifling a laugh “Crazy Italian”, I said out loud. He seemed shaken but was putting on a brave angry face. The impact had blown all the air out of the rear left hand tyre and we thought it was a puncture at the time. A spare wheel was fitted , Giorgio dusted much of the sand off & deeper into the Dragons’ belly we went.
Just to show the Dragon wasn’t going to let anybody off, Brig badly stuck her Razor on a dune crest. We all walked back to help her with me moaning as usual. A little more digging. Angelo & Giorgio feeling very strong lifted the rear of the 650 kg Razor clear over the dune crest. When in front knowing the other guys hadn’t been in the Dragon before, I would occasionally look back to see if I could still see their kites. Where’s Angelo? I headed back with much difficulty I might add and his kite was down with a broken leader line on his right handle. So the dragon bites again but not as much as before. Finally, we made it on to a large sabkah, which was the start of a long 8 km (point to point) upwind tack. My longest single tack on that stretch was 3.3. kms. Checking my GPS download, I’d actually buggied 20 kms to tack this 8km upwind.
UPWIND TACKING (08)
Giorgio & I followed the black sealed road for about a kilometer but Angelo went off in the wrong direction, which necessitated him having to drag his buggy & kite with help from Brig under a power line. Back into the dunes on the last leg back to the ghaf was easy for me as I’d been through this part many times before & recognize almost every dune, shrub & tree along the way. Back at the car Wendy & Pete along with Francesco who had later turned up during the day were messing about. While waiting for Giorgio, Angelo & I were laughing about our adventure in the Dragon. After some time, Giorgio arrived with helmet damaged. The Dragon had taken one last bite at him before he made it back. He told us he’d lost control on one of the dunes with a spectacular OBE landing him on his head. “Crazy Italian!!!”
Sand-Yeti – 7 March 2009