Chris, Kris and Andy spent two weeks in  Piedrahita (Spain) with Chris in early July - both Kris & Andy achieved personal bests.  Chris acted as retrieve driver! There was a large contingent of Kiwis in Piedrahita - Russell Read, Craig Collins, Grant Middendorf, Jasmine Hill, Sheralee MacDonald, Angus and Gette Tapper, and Fiona Dalziel (a NZer living in the UK) - approx. 3% of the NZ paragliding population!

The first week was spent cruising around the hill near Peidrahita, and attempting (unsuccessfully) to "jump the gap" at Villafranca - about 12 kilometres from the launch.  The NordicOpen was on at the same time that Kris and Andy were there - 140 competitors. Circling with 80 - 100 other paragliders in thermals is a little bit like riding a huge fairground attraction - all these brightly coloured wings circling around you in the same direction.

A few days before the departure date Kris flew 38 kilometers and then 42 kilometres the final day.  Both days he caught a low thermal from an area above a quarry, going straight up to 3000 metres (10,000 ft).  The area surrounding the quarry has lots of wild thyme - which you could smell it for quite a distance up the thermal!!

At one stage Kris was King of the thermal - with 150 paragliders lower down.  An amazing feeling!  Another time Kris was circling in a thermal with a kite - a European bird of prey. - with each eyeing the other cautiously!

Andy managed to fly 51 kilometres on the final day of flying.

For more info on paragliding in Piedrahita go to www.flypiedrahita.com and for aerial views of the town.

Piedrahita, where we stayed, is a wonderful little city - there are no other tourists other than paragliding and hang gliding pilots - so it makes it a rather nice place! Piedrahita also has lots of storks - there is a tree just outside the place we stayed had over 20 nesting in it!!  The food in this region, however, isn´t anything to write home about - french fries with everything, and most other things are deepfried...  The tapas and calamari however are good.

After several of  our flights we went to a little swimming hole in a river about 20 kilometres away - huge square blocks of granite which you can lay on, and a deep pool to jump into to cool off.  Over the pool was a 10 metre high stone arch bridge - lots of photos were taken!  We took baguettes, Spanish cheese, olives, tomatoes and cheap Spanish red wine - it was absolute paradise...
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Avila - about 60 kilometres from Piedrahita, and our goal for XC flights!
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