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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
Cross-country World Cup #5 and #6, Mont St Anne, Canada and Calgary, Canada
After 24 hours, still 20 minutes from home
Airline bomb scare makes life interesting
Before I get into the racing, I wanted to make a late addition to this diary. I have been at home for the past three weeks for a mid-season break. I wanted to write a diary about being at home and the two World Cups I raced before coming home. I was 90 percent finished writing it and had plans to finish it off on the plane on the way back to the US. That's when things went a little crazy.
I unfortunately had boarded United Airlines flight 840 from Sydney to Los Angeles. Ninety minutes into the thirteen hour flight we were told that there was good reason to believe that there was a bomb on our plane and a threat to not continue to the US. So the pilot dumped our fuel (133,000 pounds' worth) and we turned back to Sydney, causing a Level 3 alert. Quite an experience, it was absolutely crazy. Definitely a pretty unusual flight.
We had to go through a number of security-related things, so an afternoon flight turned into a very late night. After 24 hours, I was still only 20 minutes from my home. Our flight was rescheduled to head out the next day whilst they spent the night searching the plane. They said they didn't find anything more on the aircraft, so we headed out the next afternoon. Luckily everything went well, I actually have a lot of confidence in flying after seeing how well the aircraft personnel dealt with the experience.
Anyway, getting back to where I left off with my last diary. After four NORBA races in the US, it was time to head to Canada for the two North American World Cup rounds. The first in Quebec, followed by an epic drive across Canada to Calgary.
I raced at the World Cup in Quebec last year, my first ever World Cup race and I absolutely loved it. I think what makes it so good is that the track has a nice flow to it; you can really keep your momentum and it is just good fun! I've heard that part of the Athens course is modelled from this track - another reason I wish I was there!
Cross-country World Cup #5 - CDM, Mont St Anne, Canada, June 27, 2004
Actually Mont Sainte Anne was the final Olympic selection event for the Australian selectors. There was one female spot up for grabs and junior world champ Lisa Mathison will be out there for Australia. So make sure you give her a cheer! In the men's, look out for Aussies Sid Taberlay and Josh Fleming.
Selection aside, I had a great race in Mont Sainte Anne. Last year I finished 43rd, which was probably my best race of the season. I was feeling really confident for an even better result this year. It was a great race, with the rain holding off and I finished 23rd. There were a few of the Europeans missing from the start line, but I am still extremely happy with how I rode. Looking at how I placed against girls that have also been competing in the NORBA rounds this year was a good indication that the improvements I have been getting with each race are continuing. In the past, 23rd would have been a good result for me in a NORBA, so to place 23rd in a WC makes me pretty happy. I love the World Cup events; the courses are much more suited to my style of riding.
Cross-country World Cup #6 - CDM, Calgary, Canada, July 3, 2004
We then had to drive all the way to Calgary for the next World Cup, what a mission! We (Intense Cycles team) convoyed with the Mad Catz DH team. Trevor, the Intense DH mechanic, was a trooper. We drove for three days solid, day and night. One night we even slept for a few hours in the trucks, parked amongst the interstate trucks roadside.
Driving for up to 19 hours a day doesn't leave much time for training. There wasn't any room to set up a trainer inside the truck, so by the time we arrived at our accommodation in Calgary I needed to spin out, no matter what. I was the only XC rider on our team for this leg, so I was on my own. I headed out for a 1am spin around the city of Calgary. It was nice and refreshing to be out in the cold, exploring downtown. April and Sabrina thought that I was crazy - maybe I had been cooped up too long - but night riding in the city is so much fun.
I hadn't placed any expectations on this race. After all, I hadn't had the best preparation. But I had a good start position and I was feeling great when it was time to race. It was an awesome race, and I was loving being out there and I came in 23rd for the second week in a row.
So then it was time to pack before heading home to Australia. It was so nice to be home for a break. It also gave me the opportunity to be home for my birthday. I came home from a morning ride on my birthday to find a box of cool gear from Roeckl at the door. Then when I checked my email I found that the August issue of Maxim was out in the US. All of this on top of an already great day... It is always good to get some time at home.
So after the unusually long travel experience, I am now back in the US preparing for the final rounds of the NORBA series, before heading to Europe for the World Championships and World Cup finals in late September. The first stop will be Idaho, then three weeks at altitude in Colorado in preparation for the NORBA finals and World's.
Have fun on your bike,
Editor's note: The pilot of United Airlines flight 840 decided to return to Sydney shortly after departure on July 27, 2004 after cabin staff found a sick-bag in the toilets with the hand-written letters "B-O-B". "Bomb on board" may have been one meaning for the acronym - and was the interpretation of the cabin crew and pilot - but the letters are also an in-joke among flight attendants, meaning "babe on board" or "best on board", referring to particularly attractive passengers.