Tips to take flight in speed riding
In the second in his series of speciality sport speed riding, our guest blogger Cookie gives advice on what you need kit-wise and tips to take flight!
I started it when I saw some locals doing it in the Alps many years ago. I did a little research and found there was a local school offering taster mornings, full days or even week-long courses.
The first run had me hooked, picking up speed and feeling the harness pulling me into the air. I immediately started looking into buying my own gear.
It’s not cheap to buy, but worth every penny! Set ups to get you flying consist of a harness (usually with a bag built in) and a wing, with costs starting at around 1,500€, increasing depending on performance. It’s a lot of money but, providing you look after them correctly, store them and service them as you should, they last a long time.
My new gear arrived only a couple of weeks after my first taster day, and immediately I took it back to the training zone I’d had my first taster on.
I ran through the checks I’d been taught not long before and began lapping the area. I bumped into my old instructor a few times who’d seen me from the lift, and he was keen to offer a few tips whenever we crossed paths and I continued to develops both my skills and confidence.
Within no time I was getting higher with each flight and, despite numerous close calls, I was getting better at landing and continuing at speed to take off again. I was hooked!
I’d already learned the local terrain well through a love of off-piste and, by watching many locals on their regular routes, I knew the good spots to continue to explore and fly.
It’s actually really easy to glide and fly on the wings – the aim isn’t usually to go high but it’s pretty fun to do; simply point towards a cliff at speed and let the wing take you off the ground. The hard bit is coming back down and landing softly where you want to, hopefully still with some speed to then take off again!
I’d recommend everyone giving it a go! Wherever and whenever you’re next hitting the snow, do a little searching and there will be a school you can give it a go at! You need no experience of paragliding to begin, just a reasonably good level of skiing.
For a background on the speciality sport speed riding and what you can achieve, read our article on how to take to the wing on the slopes!
My life couldn’t be more active! As a full-time instructor, coach & trainer, I thrive seeing others enjoy sports as much as I do.
My passions are windsurfing, skiing and snowboarding, and I love trying to inspire people to get active through social channels (and some polite peer pressure of course!).
I’m into all kinds of sports – basically anything that gets me outside and moving!
A particular love is speed-riding – like low-level parachuting with skis on, high speed skimming across the snow.
Find me a sport I haven’t tried and I’d love to give it a go!
My seasonal journey began straight from college, and is now split into two seasons.
Through the winter I live in Alpe d’Huez, working as ski and snowboard instructor and off-piste guide for the local ESF school. I teach everything from beginners to advanced and off-piste on both skis and a board. I started winters with the simple love of being in the mountain and riding.
I have done a wide mix of jobs over the years that allowed me to ski and board a lot – bars, hotels, chalets, repping and operations management. It’s amazing the people you meet through the years and opportunities that arise.
My skills were improving over the seasons, particularly in back-country and off-piste. I then became friends with the director of a local ski school while in the ski resort Flaine, who encouraged me to work for him the following year, to train and become an instructor with his school. The rest, as they say, is history (thanks again Theo!).
Through my winter life I’ve also been lucky enough to hook up with a number of brands as a sponsored athlete and brand ambassador. Huge thanks to Whitedot Ski, Planks Clothing, Cassette Optics and OLFI action-cameras for all your help and support.
The summer sees me working as a Resort Manager for Neilson Holidays. I’ve worked summers with them since 2006, across Turkey, Egypt and Greece in a variety of roles, leading me to now head up the operations in one of our Beach Club resorts. Our centres include windsurfing, sailing, stand-up paddling, biking, tennis, fitness, waterskiing & wakeboarding, and kids clubs. The last few summers I’ve been in the Cosmos Hotel, Vassiliki, a mecca for watersports with some epic biking and fitness facilities available too!
If anyone is looking for advice or to chat through options for work and overseas life, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or via my Instagram feed at @cookiesport