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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
A great place to be
Well, in Athens is probably where I would most like to be right now, but all things considered, things are starting to fall into place.
This is my third trip across the Pacific to the US this season and apart from the odd inconvenience that occurs, like bomb threats, ticket change hassles and attempting to live within baggage limits, life on the road is getting smoother. On all levels, I am getting closer to where I want to be as a professional athlete.
Racing - My first NORBA Top 10
NORBA National Series #6 - E2, Schweitzer Mountain, Idaho, July 29-August 2, 2004
NORBA 6 - Schweitzer Mountain in Idaho. The schedule for the weekend was the XC on Saturday and the Short Track XC on Sunday.
This season I have been on a roll with my results; almost without exception, I have taken a step forward at each race. Starting the long course I was keen to put the trip over here behind me and see what good three weeks at home had done. In the XC on Saturday I finished 22nd. I had been aiming for a mid-teens result, but this keeps me ranked in the top 20 and that is my goal for the season.
On Sunday it was the short track. The course had a few bottlenecks which caused the field to string out quickly, so it was crazy fast from the start and difficult to maintain contact. It was probably because I thought that I was going to get pulled well before the end that I went flat out without considering how long I could hold that pace. But the race kept going and I was still out there. In the end I hung on for 10th place, my best ever international result.
It was exciting to get a top-10 result and it is reassuring to be steadily moving up in the results.
LA and X-Games fun
After Idaho, I flew down to LA to spend the week with some friends from Oakley at the X-Games. It was a fun week, with an awesome atmosphere. It was really cool to be able to catch up with some Aussie friends who were there for X-Games, skating one of the biggest ramps I have ever seen. Skating sure has come a long way since when I used to kick around snowboard school on my old Hook Ups deck.
Being in LA when the X-Games is on is wild; the event is so much fun and everyone is really pumped for the events and parties. There is just the best atmosphere in the air.
A new way of preparing
We are all staying in Colorado Springs now. Our team-mate Billy Holmes lives here and it has been great to have him and everyone we have met in Colorado show us some amazing trails. My program of races for the rest of the northern hemisphere season includes only three more races, two of which are at altitude. I have raced a few races at altitude, but have never had the correct preparation, usually flying in 2 or 3 days before the race in the past. Most advice is that you spend at least three weeks at altitude before an endurance event to acclimatize.
My next event is the NORBA finals in Durango, which will be about 9,000 ft. I raced in Durango last year without acclimatizing and learnt a very hard lesson, finishing 47th. It will be interesting to see what effect better preparation has. From there, I come down from altitude and go straight to the World Championships in France and then back to altitude at Livigno in Italy for the World Cup finals.
I also would like to say that I have a new coach. Michel Vermande has helped me get to where I am, but as most of my racing is now in the US it was becoming more complicated and difficult. Michel has been fantastic as a coach and while we knew logistically it was hard for him to be effective from back in Australia, it was hard to find a better option.
While staying in Colorado Springs, I met James Herrera from Carmichael Training Systems on a group MTB ride that Billy took Amon and I on. I had obviously heard of CTS before and being based in Colorado Springs I was able to check out their facilities and get to know everyone there.
James has spent a lot of time with me over the last couple of weeks going through my training with me. I am going to be using the SRM cranks so that no matter where I am, James can monitor my training. I am hoping it will work well, because I can email my training ride power output measurements to James and he can tailor my program based on the feedback from the SRM cranks. I think that having the Trainright system of training with James as my coach is the best move that I could have made at this point in my career. All of this makes me really feel like I am giving myself the best chance possible coming into the most important races of the year and for the coming years.
It has been nice to spend time here in the Springs and get to know the people and trails; it is so easy to go out for a really long mountain bike ride and the climbs are long. So much singletrack and such beautiful scenery.
I have been feeding a raccoon on the back porch at night and there are squirrels everywhere. I even saw a rattlesnake on one MTB ride; after three hours' riding, I was a bit tired at the time but hearing the distinctive rattling sound helped me accelerate up the climb pretty fast.
Not only that, but on the 27th and 28th of August we get to watch mountain biking take centre stage at the Olympics. While I may not be there this time around to be part of it, that many people getting to see how much fun riding a mountain bike is can't be a bad thing.
Have fun on your bike,
Images by Niki Gudex