Training camp draws to a close...
Saturday, 23 August 2008
Today is the first rainy day we've had since arriving in Nowa Kaletka for the 2008 MTBO WOC training camp. Luckily it is also our first rest day, and the team are in a bike-washing and TV-watching frenzy. We had some vital last-minute tips from Coach Kay, but unfortunately she clashed with the Olympic Men's XC race so we might not have been listening too effectively!
The MTBO Team arrived in NK a week ago, converging from various adventures: AJ arrived in Poland fresh from several months of racing in Canada, France, Poland, France again, back to Poland; Thor and Larry came straight from the WRE in Sweden; Mel has been exploring Norwegian glaciers on her bike; Cath recently broke a world record for the number of nappies fitted into a hire car and Darvo claims that this has been a three month 'work trip', haha.
The training camp has been a great success with some impressive outcomes. Darvo has taken an early lead in the pancake-eating competition, but a late entry from Jon (Mr Egerton) might threaten his win. AJ had an easy win in the uncontested liver-eating contest. Kay owes Jen and Mel a lifetime supply of icecreams each for exchanging their names. The team are ramping up for a last minute paddle-boat race across the lake, as soon as the rain lifts.
Between monotonous bread-and-ham meals we have even been doing some mountain biking, in varying amounts. AJ, Alex, Darvo and Jen started their odyssey with a 75km XC race. They came home happy, muddy, and with an array of trophies in various sizes. We spent a few days in Wilimy, acclimatising to the nettles, before moving into our post-communist lakeside holiday resort in NK. The meal-times here are at 8,1 and 7. No exceptions. No swapping tables. 4 slices of cheese each but if you are nice you can have more bread. But on Friday night they lit up the outdoor dance floor for and eclectic mix of international music across the decades.
The lake is gorgeous, and we have swum most days, in the fenced off swimming area (we learned early that swimming outside the fence earns you a lot of polish shouting and whistle-blowing from the lifeguard).
The forest here features nettles, many diverse types of fodder rack, and some exciting wildlife. Poland is apparently home to most of the world's stork population, and we have come across a few of them. Kay warns us daily about old ladies collecting berries. Alex claims to have met Bambi, but this could have been a caffeine-withdrawal hallucination. AJ and Jen thought they saw a moose, but it turned out to be Darvo.
Training is going well- we have done some sessions with the tough Russian team (their coach believes in "tough love", she explained to us when Larry complained about all the legs going through fields of waist-deep nettles). The more experienced aussie boys have been tailing the girls through the forest, giving some excellent advice, and our skills are all improving as a result. Coach Kay is teaching us to deal with pressure by appearing in the bushes at intervals, pretending to be an old lady picking berries.
We are learning some new O-techniques, such as looking upwards to find the tracks (a useful gem from Alex: the indistinct tracks in poland really, really, are. But sometimes you can pick them if you can see a gap in the trees). Darvo has introduced us to the 'happy speed', which is a zen concept, meaning 'the fastest speed at which you can ride without losing your smoothness.' Happy speed changes depending on the track surface, weather, nettle density, and of course your mood on the day.
Cath and Mel claim that they ride their best when being followed by Darvo, and we are arranging some little model darvos that they can carry on their shoulders in the WOC.
So tomorrow we are off to Stare Jablonki and the WOC- keep posted, we are struggling with technology but will post some photos soon (we have some great ones, of us all in a row pretending to be wooden soldiers!) and will keep you all updated with our results.
From the MTBO Team