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Model racer: The Niki Gudex Journal 2005
Downhill and cross-country racer, graphic designer and model, Australian mountain biker Niki Gudex is nothing if not versatile. Riding for the SRM Power Team, Niki will be the first ever female rider in the team. She'll continue to focus on the NORBA series while making time to race back in Australia. Follow all the adventures in her exclusive diary on Cyclingnews.
Niki Gudex's website: www.nikigudex.com
Around Aussie Nationals
Australian MTB Championships, Eildon, Victoria, February 27-29, 2004
It is always a big week for the National MTB Championships and this year was no different.
It has been really hot here lately, with a few days where the temperature soared well into the 40s. It was one of these days that I found myself in Manly Dam at midday. It was for good reason though, showing girls the fun that can be found on a bike. Recently I did some riding with a new Aussie show coming out soon, called Girl TV, which aims to promote a healthy and fun lifestyle to young girls. I did some riding with them around Manly Dam, we were filming at midday and it was hot. It was fun and it is exciting to be able to be involved in promoting mountain biking to those that may not normally think that riding off road is a consideration.
But between mountain bike rides there is always some training on the road. There is a good group that I ride with some Sunday mornings, so the next day I headed out with them, taking visiting US rider Tara Llanes along too.
The day turned into a bit of an adventure which is always good. We rode up towards Gosford and then took the ferry to Palm Beach and rode home from there. I got home in time for lunch about five hours later. I then headed straight out to a photo shoot where I had to ride a skateboard. Pretty funny - I hadn't been on a skateboard since snowboard school in 1997, so it was certainly a weird feeling, I tried my first comeback ollie on the carpet in the hallway before we took it outside to the carpark. I must say I am very content to leave my skateboarding career behind me!
After that it was time to pack up for the Aussie Nationals. They were held in Eildon, Victoria, some nine hours south of Sydney. We arrived there on Wednesday with plenty of time to get settled in.
The XC course is super fun. I raced this course at about this time last year at the Oceania Championships and absolutely loved it, so I was looking forward to coming back. The track is predominantly singletrack, so there are not many places to pass, but it is great fun because you can really work the track, constantly up and down and ducking in between trees. This is definitely my favourite Australian XC race course to date.
There was a big turnout of women for both the XC and the DH, which was great to see. It was also good to see Anna Baylis, it is the first time I have seen/ raced against her at an Australian race since I started XC. Anna is Australian but now bases herself in Germany so I had only ever seen her overseas.
The women's XC started fast with Anna trying to open an early lead, and Lisa (Mathison) trying to not let her get away. I was chasing in fourth place for most of the first lap. Towards the end of that lap, I passed Clair (Baxter) and moved into third. Spectators were relaying the gaps to me and it seemed that if anything I was now closing on second. Heading into the third lap I dropped my bottle. Given that it was quite hot, I think I felt the effects of not drinking enough and was unable to close on Anna, who ended up getting second in the race to Lisa, and I placed third.
After that it was time for a warm-down, a few interviews, drug testing and a two min shower before the presentations. We were given our medals and then we showered each other in champagne.
It was then finally time to think about the DH. Because of the XC it was getting too late to do a run so I walked the course to check it out for the next day. I was there to focus on the XC, but once that was over if I still felt good I wanted to have some fun on the DH. There was such a great downhill turnout, including international riders Sabrina Jonnier (FRA), Fionn Griffiths (UK) and Tara Llanes (USA). Not only that, but speedy little Tracy Hannah was looking fast as well.
For me, I got two practice runs in before qualifying but with minimal practice I didn't go as well as I would have liked. I was simply tired from the XC race the previous day and just wasn't as comfortable and alert on my DH bike as I would have liked. I am disappointed that I didn't give my self the best chance to benchmark myself against the best in the world at downhill, but I am happy with what I achieved in the cross-country and that is what I wanted the most.
So in all it was a great weekend of racing. Having Lisa and Anna there to compete against in the XC (who are established contenders at any level) is a great benchmark for my training before heading OS.
It was also cool to catch up with long time friend Glen (Jacobs) who was there doing a great job adding some atmosphere on the commentating and also doing his bit on the 4X track. But the weekend wasn't over yet - we still had to get back to Sydney. We made a quick exit after the DH finals for a non-stop trip back to Sydney, getting home at 2am.
Just as I was finishing this diary entry, what I thought was a cool opportunity came through - an extremely lucrative photo shoot for a US magazine. Until I found out which mag, so I guess it goes without saying that I turned it down. Let's just say that I would have had access to a certain "mansion" in LA...
My next major race will be the Sea Otter Classic in California in mid-April, which I am looking forward to. It will be the official launch of the Intense XC team and my first chance to meet my new team mates Billy and Amon.
I hope to use this time now to move into the strength phase of my training and to prepare for a long international season.
A huge thank you to everyone that has helped me out so far, including Grant, my coach Michel Vermande, and everyone at NSWIS who helped me prepare.
Have fun on the bike,