Arrived into Madrid Wednesday at noonish and realized that Katie and I didn't make arrangements on how we were going to meet up since we were flying in on totally different flights. Thankfully we both thought to just meet up at the rental car agency, too bad we were in different terminals at different counters. After a few phone calls back and forth by the Avis reps we got things sorted out and headed out to pick up Emma at her hotel in the city then made the 3hr drive up to Extramadura. Katie only managed to stall the car out in the middle of Madrid traffic, oh about a dozen times or so, but she is slowly getting the hang of it ;))) We met up with Mel and Ross at the villa to find out that BA had left their bikes in Seattle and they had no idea when they would get in. American continues to win best airline award as it got my bike here no problem, no damage and no charge, the trifecta!!
It was pretty late by the time we got everything unpacked and built up so we left heading out to the race venue until Thursday morning. We got a really late start to the morning which was probably a good thing as we ran into the guys in the parking lot who had spent the morning re-routing the course. The venue is really quite scenic, surrounded by mountains with lots of blooming wildflowers, but there really aren't any mountain bike trails. (kinda important for an off-road tri) So the bike course is four loops of 5km with a bit of jeep track, some random bush wacking through fields and a bunch of riding along the rough sandy, rocky shoreline.
While more technical than the flat out dirt road course we were expecting, it is still not all that inspiring. Add to it that it has been raining on and off for a bit and the lake level is slowly rising, gradually putting the shoreline track into the water!! With more rain on the forecast for tonight and tomorrow is it going to be really muddy tomorrow.To enjoy a bit of the local culture and sights, Mel, Ross and I headed out to one of the small nearby villages, Hervas, for the "official" Team Canada dinner. (Katie was out with family) We enjoyed walking around through the crazy narrow streets and alleyways before adventurously ordering a gourmet meal without having any idea what is would be. The seven course meal ended up being a appetizer of some sort of meat pate (good) mushroom ravioli in a potato puree (very good) salad with hidden calamari (good until I found the calamari) poached egg on top of cooked veggies (so so) pork cheek (well...) very salty fish in a broth (okay) and tiramisu (not the best I have ever had but okay) The Rioja took first prize and several bottles will definitely find their way back home. Today we took another couple spins around the course and suffered through the pro meeting. Unfortunately Mel and Sara are still without their bikes and both doing an amazing job staying positive while dealing with the likelyhood of having to ride borrowed bikes for the race. The young-ins are off to bed as their race is in the morning, while the pro's get the very late 4:15pm start for the ladies and 6:30pm start for the men. Nice to not have to get up at the crack of dawn, but really a little too late for my liking. No matter, it's still exciting to see the ITU get involved in the off-road scene and one way or another tomorrow will be an exciting race!!!