New Zealand, August 24, 2006
We're all set for a new World Championship in Cross Country, and this time we'll be competing on the soil of New Zealand. Our preparations have gone as expected, and I'm in good shape. The countdown has started, and I feel excitement and nervousness increasing every day that passes.
It was a long trip down to New Zealand, but with a new World Championship gold medal in my luggage, it was an amazingly easy flight. We travelled non-stop for around 30 hours, so we were pretty worn out when we were fetched at the airport in Auckland, and then driven to Rotorua where we're presently staying. I've spent some time getting used to the new time-zone, but it's starting to get better now.
I've been out on the track today and had my physical condition confirmed, my legs and body are ready to do battle on Sunday. We women will be starting at 10:00 on Sunday morning, or Saturday night at 24:00 European time.
The track down here consists of a lot of climbing, both long and steep hills, plus rapid descents, not too technically demanding, but with lots of bends and turns. The weather report is for rain this weekend, but the downhills will be a rather different story from what they are today. The ground usually dries quickly here, but if it rains non-stop, the track will end up as incredibly slippery clay.
We don't have a very large Norwegian troop present here in Kiwi land, but the group that is here is rock solid. Only Lene Byberg and myself will be competing in Norwegian colours this time, and we're both in very good shape. Kenneth has been our support for the first week here, but the sports president Svein Gaute Hølestøl and our own mechanic from my pro team, Multivan Merida Biking Team, Ralf Tiede, have both been here since Monday. It's very good to have Ralf here with us at the World Championships too. When he's here, we can be sure that our equipment works 100 percent as it should at all times.
Rotorua is a very cosy town, and we've settled right in. We've had a very friendly welcome from the enthusiastic inhabitants, who have been preparing for this championship for all of three years. Down here it's spring time, so there are new born lambs running around on the fields, and the air tastes fresh and sharp each morning when we step outside. The temperatures have been sub freezing these last nights, and we had hail on the track when we were out training on Tuesday. So on Sunday we're all guaranteed a wet and cold experience, and no doubt lots of fun.
I know that many of you at home in Norway are excited these days about the Birkerbeinerrittet cross country race, that's being held this coming Saturday. We have family members, friends, and many of our sponsors taking part on Saturday morning, along with countless cycling enthusiasts from north to south, from abroad and from far away places, and we wish all of you the best of luck and lots of enjoyment. No matter what, it will be an experience that you'll always remember :)
Cyclist's greetings from Gunn-Rita
Multivan Merida Biking Team.
[Translation: Crispen T. P. de Lange]