Race 3 was a bit of a surprise with the speeds 100-150 YPM higher than I thought they'd be and the birds performing better than we could have asked for. Overall I believe it was the best race so far of the series. I arrived at the release point in NW Bakersfield (off Reina & Santa Fe) around 6:20 AM. I drove I-5 down to the release point and I hit very little fog (only at the very end) of the drive but I was aware of some dense fog again on portions of the course. At the release point itself there was a very light fog/haze that was trying to develop but fortunately with the sun coming up soon that little fog was going to burn off quickly.
Race 3 will be released this morning around 7:45 to 8:00. It's currently hazy sun at release point but getting better. There is heavy fog in Tulare and Visalia though about 50-70 miles north of the release point. I'm waiting a little longer to release to give the skies more time to improve in that area before the birds reach it. Very cold right now at release area with temps in uppers 30s and light E wind.
Update: Birds were released at 7:50 in cold hazy/sunny skies with a very light east wind. They took off very quick and we lost sight of them in less than 3 minutes. They were headed due north. There was a section of fog 10 miles wide that extended for about 20-30 Miles North to South from Tulare to about Selma that was narrow enough for the birds to go around it to the west or east.
Release video posted below was shot by Gary Berthiume who lives in Bakersfield and came over to watch and help with the release. He sent me the video via text/email which is why the resolution is low. I was 2 minutes into making my own video when the camera app on my phone froze up and I lost the video. By the time I got it going again the birds were so far out of view that I could barely see them anymore.
Pending any last minute changes in weather and too severe of fog......... Race 3 will be flown tomorrow from either the NW or NE side of Bakersfield. I have 2 or 3 different spots picked out in the 253 Mile range.
Fog is the only concern for tomorrow morning as it was pretty foggy just north of the release points this Saturday morning. However the sun did break through in most spots by 8:30. Latest National Weather Service forecast discussion and model runs indicate less fog for tomorrow so we'll hope they are right but fog is a tricky thing to predict. For a 250 I would really like to get the birds out no later than 8:45 and preferably before 8:00
16% of the total prize pool and over 11,000 is allocated to tomorrow's race and of course being the race before the final this is where a lot of birds start to make their move (for overall ace pigeon) with the distance increased.
Good luck and will update tomorrow morning as to the time, location, etc - Matt
Race 2 proved to be a bit of a challenge as a result of heavy morning fog but ultimately we were able to get a race off albeit 3 hours later and 10 Miles shorter than planned. The race itself was decent overall and I'd say a good race for the first 175 Birds or so. Some of the later birds just ran out of daylight with the late release but it also appears a significant group of them got off course somewhere.
Release video from today's (Sunday) 190 Mile race is at the bottom of this post. I drove through a lot of heavy fog in the wee hours of the morning and arrived in Tulare (202 Mile) to some of the heaviest fog of all with mist all over the windshield. I hung around Tulare for a while and it showed zero sign of improving so I headed north about 12 air miles to Visalia. Once I got into Visalia the fog was lighter and started to see sun trying to come through after 8 AM. Once the Sun was starting to peak through I thought I'd try going back to Tulare. 6 or 7 Miles down the road going back to Tulare at 8:45 it was completely socked in again. Amazing what a difference less than 10 Miles made in the amount of fog.
So I went back to Visalia and by 9:15 the sun was out and directly above me it was beautiful. There was still a lot of fog on parts of the course though (including due North), so I decided to wait for skies to further clear up. FVC had also released from Fresno at 9:00 AM and waiting until 10:00 ensured the two flocks of birds would't get together. By the time the birds went out at 10:02 the skies were beautiful in Visalia and were improving on most of the course. It's possible the birds still encountered a little fog along the way but not much. The beginning of the race went very wel with a big drop arriving just about when we thought they would but returns were not very good late in the day. 67% are home now. Some of the birds were really skittish on return others looked normal Hopefully the lack of daylight and shorter window to clock birds was the reason and we'll see good returns in the morning. When you don't go out until 10:00 AM it's hard to say what good returns would have been but I would have liked to have seen 75% on day. In any event sure beats not having a race at all and many birds that did great last week repeated their performances today.
Full Race Recap will be posted in a two or three days.
Race 2 Release Video:
Race 2 is scheduled to be flown tomorrow morning (Sunday 11/15) from either Tulare or Woodville (201 to 210 Miles). Fog is a strong possibility Sunday morning at the release point and early part of the course. Good chance I may have to hold the birds a couple of hours for it to burn off. FVC and the Southern California clubs are also releasing in Fresno about 42 to 52 Miles away from our release point. This is why I probably will go to Woodville instead of Tulare to get the birds further apart and on wider paths apart west to east. At this point the fog is of bigger concern though.
Race 1 (169 Miles) was flown Monday 11/9. Overall it turned out to be a good race, with some massive drops and birds just piling in for the first 15 minutes. However the end of the race was kind of a letdown with returns just grinding to a halt for the last 30 birds or so.
Race 1 from Selma, CA (169 Miles) will be released this morning at 7:10
Release video will be posted later this morning after it uploads to Youtube and I have a chance to edit this page.
Conditions at release and along the entire course are mostly clear skies and cold (frost on ground at release point). High temperature will only reach about 49-50 today at the loft. Winds are expected to be light and variable across most of the course.
Barring any last minute changes in the weather, tomorrow 11/9 we will fly Race 1 of the 2020 Gold Country Challenge Series. Right now the forecast is for cold mostly sunny skies with very light winds. The only concern will be fog tomorrow morning around the release point. Hopefully it doesn't develop or burns off quickly. Most of the forecasts are not showing fog but it's difficult to predict.
Monday we flew the 131 Mile Activation Toss from North Madera. Release video is at the bottom of this post. It went ok although a little tougher than we would have wanted. Continued smoke haze around the release point and some significant smoke in the path of the birds for the first 50-60 miles made the flight more difficult than it otherwise would have been. The smoke conditions were just barely good enough to release in with AQI in the 120-130 range. We're already a few weeks behind though with all of the smoke delays this fall and it's time to get the races going. We'd like to avoid racing well into December before the weather really turns. The good news is that the smoke should finally be dissipating by the end of this weekend with two storms expecting to put some moisture on the fire and blow the smoke out.