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Monday, May 31, 2010

Spring in Poland and Czech Republic

Back to Europe: Czech Republic Longlining and Presentation in N.Poland

After the US Highline Trip, I stayed home for a frantic three weeks of trying to see my family, my friends, and sort out everything before returning to Europe for another open-ended amount of time. It was lovely being home, however I did not have enough time there, and wished that my flight was a bit later.

Alas, the time came, and I flew back the long journey through Washington D.C. to Copenhagen, to Wroclaw, Poland. The lovely thing was seeing Janek again, though I was disappointed to see that winter was very much still raging in Poland. His father gave me a ride into the city from the Airport, and I was glad to present him with a bottle of nice Vodka, Tito’s, handmade in Austin, Texas. It was March, and I had left lovely warm Austin weather and arrived to snow, a city blanketed in white, and streets lined with gray sludge. We set up a longline once or twice, something over 100m to 139m, but I was unable to walk the 139 though the September before I had sent the same length.

Cold feet and out of shape! I was so finished with winter, yet it refused to dissipate.

On the 9th of March we left by hitchhiking to Praha, Czech Republic to meet with the Czech crew for some longlining and possible highlining. It was cold as balls, and we left after 3pm, and finally arrived some kilometers outside of the city. Luckily Kwjet pulled some strings and his friend came with a car to pick us up, since it was freezing and difficult to catch a ride further at nighttime. We of course went straight to a pub and drank Czech Beer. It was here that I gave Kwjet his new SMC pulleys and some other gear. I had unfortunately fucked up on the order and ordered 4of small double pulleys and 2 big pulleys when it was supposed to be the other way around. Sorry Kwjet! However, we all fondled the new gear and played with it, creating possible systems for the following day.

We stayed at Smolda and Lucy’s home, they were really great hosts! So nice, I had never met them before but they welcomed me into their flat. And, Smolda has two awesome pet rats 

The first day we went to a park near the center. Of course there were still icy snow patches on the ground and it was cold as Winter.

We rigged a 100 meter line, a 30 meter trickline and a double-two -ton webbing 92 m line. First I on sighted the 100 meter line.

We rigged it with white magic and two SMC pulleys. The trickline we rigged with the mini double pulleys, it was a cute system  The 92 double webbing line was so difficult! I took some nice tries on it, almost walking it; however the shake was so intense and heavy that it was like walking a long highline.

Damian, Kwjet and Janek all crossed it of course. It was still cold and the ground had many patches of hard snow left over. That night was spent chilling out, eating dinner and having good times with the nicest nationality ever! The next day was a big event: Longlining! Surprise!

We went to another spot in a Park and set up a 220 meters long heavy-ass highline. It was 3 ton webbing, black and heavy. We did some great system for tensioning.
Here are some photos of the tensioning system:

The line appeared walkable, but ridiculously long. I tried only twice, and had a hard time getting past the beginning where the webbing was so tight it felt like walking on a rail.

Damian, Janek and Kwjet all had some really good tries, maybe even walking almost halfway.

No one sent the line, however. I think lighter webbing would be a necessity in this case. It was unfortunate, but good to test rigging and see what it felt like to stand on such a beast!

They guys also rigged a 140 meter line next to the beast.

Janek on sighted it and a couple other guys sent it as well.

Damian also walked it.

I did not try it. One of my Slacklining faults is that I am very hard to motivate in cold weather. So, I left a bit earlier then the boys and headed for some nice warm indoors.

While in Prague we also went to a Rec center with a small bouldering room. We played around there, and also set up two tricklines over the floor in a small space upstairs. The boys had a Gibbon jibline over the crash pads and a one inch flat trickline. I was so exhausted that I passed out next to the tricklines soon after jumping around a bit. Damian was practicing a power slide, and Janek was doing various crazy bounces.

So, after the two days of Longlining we headed back to Poland, to meet Jordan and travel north to Gdynia (near Gdansk) for the Kolosy outdoor adventure festival. There we would do a Slackline/Highline presentation. They even created a big poster with Jan’s name and ‘special guests’ Faith Dickey and Jordan Tybon. Of course the poster was in Polish.

We took an all night train up north from Wroclaw.

We did our usual method of locking the door to our cabin with a slackline, though when the controllers came by we had to undo it quickly. For some time there was no heat in the train—cold! Polish trains….

The staff from Gory Climbing Magazine picked us up and we went to the event. After hanging out there for a few hours and locating a place to set up a slackline inside (between two large pillars) we were able to go to our room in a student house and sleep for a bit. Some jackass in the room right above us had his radio blasting so loudly that we could hear every word and it was impossible to sleep. Janek and I marched upstairs and asked him to turn it down, he did luckily. It must have been damaging to his hearing, it was ten times louder than at a club.
Later we returned and set up our line with type 18 webbing and two SBI double pulleys. The staff at the event was really afraid we would damage the paint on their lovely pillars, but we had plenty of protection. We did some tricklining while crowds stood in front of us and watched. Some guy even asked if Janek and I would pose in a picture with his daughter! Haha!

The next morning we awoke early and did our presentation. At first no one was in the room, and we were quite worried it was a failure. However, five minutes into our slot people flooded in and we had at least 50 people in the room. Our original plan was to each talk for ten minutes about our experiences highlining, especially in regards to our US trip. While talking we played our slideshow from the US trip. However, part way into the presentation while Janek was speaking in Polish Jordan and I both realized it made more sense for him to do all the talking. It would have been difficult to translate everything so quickly, and in Poland less people speak English. So, my notes and preparation was useless, but at least we were there. At the end we had no time for questions, though some people approached Janek with questions. It was a success, I believe. Everyone seemed interested and impressed with our slideshow.

That day we were all exhausted and Janek was sick, so we forgot Slacklining that day. So we roamed into Gdynia, searched for food, found one café with Polish food, I ate nasty pierogi, and then we went and worked online at another café with Wi-Fi.
That night we drove with the Gory guys back to Katowice.

We stopped at a roadside restaurant and ate some interesting food (I had some strange fried meat with a hole in the middle and some salad) and watched as the snow came down. Everything was white.

Oh boy, more snow, whoop-dee-doo. In Katowice we took a train back to Wroclaw, arrived sometime in the morning, and Jordan headed straight back to the highway to hitchhike back to Berlin. The first mission for us was SLEEP!

After we returned to Wroclaw we spent some time preparing for the highline gathering in Greece. In the end Janek, Jordan and I decided the only way we were going to get there was if we hitchhiked our little butts down there. But that is the next post 

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