European MTBO Lithuania

The Spit is quite famous in Lihuania because it has great barren sand dunes, open pine forests and beautiful coastline. It is an extremely narrow strip and halfway along it turns into Russia (Kaliningrad) and you can go no further. From Klaipeda on the mainland you have to catch a car ferry across. Julian and Jana came with us for a look. We arrived in the quaint little seaside of Nida (right near the Russian border) just in time to participate in the opening ceremony – much to Julian and Jana’s amusement.

The following morning we hopped up and headed out on the Middle Distance course starting on the jetty in the centre of Nida township.

Chris heads off...

The course was super tricky through the houses, followed by a fun easier bit out in some forested dunes, then back in to the funky red and white stripped lighthouse before whizzing back down to the wharf. The day before on the Model Map Chris had a flat tyre and his chain broke, so he was relieved when his bike survived the course.

We had a farewell coffee with Julian and Jana in the sun (it was the first sunny day in about 3 weeks) before they caught the bus and headed off the spit and on to Poland. We basked in the warmer weather, then explored the wonderful dunes that make up the reserve, getting a close up of two snakes along the way! Hisssssssssssssssss

The following day was a sprint event starting in the Sea Museum in Smiltyne (just before I started I saw a sea lion and some emperor penguins!) The sprint was challenging but heaps of fun, it mostly involved weaving through detailed tracks in the forest. Unfortunatly I made too many mistakes to do well at all and poor Chris go another frustrating flat tyre. Both feeling annoyed, Chris insisted on a repeat of my course. We rode it together and both felt much happier after analysing some mistakes and seeing how easy it was to do it so much better. In the afternoon we explored some other dunes, then headed back to our happy wee camp site in Nida.

On the dunes and the pretty surrounds of Nida

The final event was the long distance starting in Juodkrante about halfway along the spit. This was an awesome event on some really fun and difficult terrain. Both Chris and I loved it and felt much more pleased with how we went as well. I still made plenty of dumb mistakes, but I felt much more in control in general. Chris came 13th overall and was only a few minutes down on the leaders and I was pretty pleased with my 25th place. After wards we hung around on the pretty beach feeling quite content enjoying the afternoon sun.

On Saturday they held the relay which we couldn’t race in as we needed a 3 person team. So we mucked around then rode the men’s course in the afternoon. In the evening they had a banquet in a bar on the wharf and we had a fun time with the somewhat raucous mountain bike orienteers.

We left the Neringa spit early the following morning having thoroughly enjoyed the events and the amazing landscape to drive back to Riga and return the rental car, then transport our gear to catch the overnight ferry to Stockholm. Mission achieved we have made it to Sweden and are now hanging out in the flat of the very hospitable Alastair Landals and his partner Juliette. We have some orienteering maps of forests right near the flat so we are going for an exploration tomorrow. Chris is very excited.


mikemathew said…
For the 3 days we were there the weather was changable with some very heavy showers. Still of course we are talking of 20s as the lows in the night so there is no moaning about the temperature. On the first day we just wondered round the 2 main populated areas of the island. Its not very big. With a little dedication much to the disgust of taxi drivers you can walk anywhere on the island. Though I must say walking over the hill to Chaloak Bay (only 5kms) had us very neary calling a taxi. I was sweating insane amounts. Talk about humidity. Mae Saree is the lovely part of the island. Many great restuarants, cafes and guest houses.

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