We have three more practice courses under our belts and are feeling more prepared for the upcoming competition. Just one more training course tomorrow morning--and it looks like a challenging one!--then we move to Rakvere for the coming week.
Yesterday afternoon we rode a middle distance course with 14 controls. My ride was rather disastrous as I got completely disoriented trying to find the first flag and had to go almost back to the beginning to relocate myself. Sue later referred to this area of the course as The Matrix; we had to ride through it several times and it always seemed confusing. I was able to basically follow someone to #2, then got back on my feet and navigated well up until #8 where I again took a wrong turn and wasted several minutes. I was pleased with my route choice to #9, though (avoided going up and over a hill and the out and back section meant I returned over familiar terrain) and even mastered The Matrix to #10.
Abra and Tom had the best rides of the day for Team USA. Disheartened and feeling in over my head, I set out today to navigate cleanly, even if it meant slowing down the ride and stopping a lot to verify map features. I made a few errors on the short course here at Janeda this morning, but nothing disastrous and never lost track of my position. Everyone else rode really well; unfortunately Tom had a flat but he fixed it and finished the course.
Sue feeds grass to a horse on our cool-down spin:
This afternoon we drove about 30 miles to Tamsalu for a really fun middle distance course. We started in town near the sports center and again I bungled the first control. Once I get out in the woods, I'm fine, but the urban stuff is really challenging for me! For the most part, I was pleased with the rest of my ride; again, a few errors, but mostly learning experiences (note to self: the tiny dotted trails barely exist and should be avoided when possible; even if you can find them, you probably can't ride them). Tom aced the course (except for a failed attempt at a rolling punch which left him off the official results) and Sue and Abra both had strong, consistent rides.
On the drive back to Janeda, we stopped to visit this church:
Dinner tonight was perhaps the biggest adventure of the week so far. We went to the usual dining hall at the usual time of 7 pm to learn that it was closed for a private party (a school reunion, perhaps? the language barrier made it hard to understand). After some wandering around, we found the Aussie's seated at a pre-set table in a building that appears to have been a stable in a former life. When we went to sit at the next table over, the server blocked it with her arms and shook her head. So we joined the Aussies at their table; they had been told that dinner would be at 7:30.
We were hungry from riding all day, so after we finished the carrot salad that had been pre-placed, we devoured our desserts (something like the filling of strawberry cheesecake). And waited. And waited. Suddenly, a troop of young boys marched in and sat down and were served heaping bowls of fish chips and potatoes and salads. We finally were brought bowls of baked chicken (2 per person, the server indicated with her fingers) and rice with a hollandaise-like, mustardy sauce. Delicious! But we were still hungry. The boys vacated the tables as abruptly as they had arrived and Sue quickly ran over and grabbed leftover bowls of potatoes and salads. All this training has us eating heartily.
Perhaps a bigger challenge than the training course tomorrow will be fitting four bikes, four bike boxes, four people's luggage, and four people in the van for the trip to Rakvere...