|John waves as he hits the road for Nationals.|
I love to take photos (though that doesn't mean I'm good at it, LOL) and one of the reasons is because cycling is a colorful sport. I like to see the myriad of colors from the riders' kits which are as lively as the action whizzing by in front of me.
This weekend, I watched a different kind of race that was equally as colorful but the competitors fly by at a much slower pace, the 30th annual Reno Great Balloon Races! Now you many wonder how a balloon race is similar to a road bike race, but in many ways it is.
When John started racing, we would get up super early because his group was usually the first to start. There was no sleeping in for me this past Saturday morning. I had to wake up before dawn to get to the balloon race. How early? About 3:40 a.m. because the Glow Show would start at 5 a.m. I didn't make it to the Rancho San Rafael Park in time to see it but there are photos of it like this one.
What I did see was the launch of The Dawn Patrol where a handful of balloons qualified to fly in the dark put on a show. Flying at this time is dangerous because atmospheric conditions change drastically as the sun begins to rise. As still as the morning air seems, it wasn't calm enough for a simultaneous launch of the balloons so one by one, they rose up to the sky in sequence. The balloons glowed, twinkled, and burned to synchronized music. It was like watching fireflies.
|Glow, twinkle, and burn show by The Dawn Patrol.|
Then the balloons landed back near the area where they launch, which to me was pretty impressive considering hot air balloons have no steering mechanisms or propellers. Hot air balloon pilots can somewhat control the direction and speed of their balloon by adjusting their balloon’s altitude and using the different wind currents to move the balloon where they want it to go and at what speed.
|The Dawn Patrol landing on the field.|
All this and it wasn't even 7 a.m. yet! The schedule of events continued with the flying of the American flag over the crowd below...of course, hanging off the basket of the balloon named Patriot. A young lady sang the national anthem, her voice as chilling (in a good way) as the morning twilight. Then there was a T-6 "Missing Man" formation fly over to remember those who lost their lives during the tragic Reno Air Races last year. Next weekend the annual air races begins but I will not be there in person to watch.
|The American Flag hangs off the basket of the Patriot balloon for the singing of the national anthem.|
|Mass ascension launch of the Reno Great Balloon Races|
This is a 'balloon race' after all, filled with several competitions including Balloon Blackjack. Pilots try their hand at throwing markers at jumbo-sized playing cards placed on the field. Those hitting 21, by hitting the closest to the center of the cards win the hand of the day.
|The balloon race fills the Reno skyline.|
|Balloons can be spotted from downtown Reno.|
By the way, John had a rough week in the time trial, road race, and criterium competition. He is racing with a tougher group since his upgrade to the Men's Cat 2. Although he crashed twice during the downtown crit, he crossed the line which 22 others in the same race were not able to do. He has lost a lot of skin and I am sure it is a painful seven-hour drive home today. We all are proud of him and miss him so we will be happy to have him home.
On the bright side, I will share these photos with him to help cheer him up.
There are many other awesome photos from this great event (it is free to the community). Here are links to a few: