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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
End of season
I am back home in Sydney again, it is the end of my second international season and the beginning of my off-season /Australian race series. It is also the start of a completely new training program with my new coach James from CTS. As a season wrap-up, I am really happy with how my results have progressed. However, my final three races of the season didn't turn out as I had hoped.
NORBA Finals - Durango
The Durango XC was a long race, there was even more climbing than last year and the laps were super long. I finished 27th. A better result than last year but still behind where I had been accustomed to throughout this season. I am learning that XC can be like that, I just didn't feel strong at altitude even after almost 3 weeks acclimatising. The next day we had the short track and although the course wasn't much to look at, it was actually fun to race on. I had a good start and was really starting to enjoy myself. In this race I felt like I was at sea level, even though we were still at 8500 ft. I still don't understand what I did right on Sunday and wrong on Saturday, but I felt great for the first time racing at altitude. I was comfortably sitting in the top 10 and set for my best STXC result to date when I got a flat tire. The good thing was that it happened so far into the race that I still finished 23rd because so many had been pulled by then. So results wise, it was not the finish to the NORBA series that I was aiming for, and unfortunately these results dropped me just out of the Top 20 overall which was my goal for the season. But I set these goals as an indication of improving, and there is not doubt in my mind that I feel stronger as a racer, so I am not that disappointed by the actual number.
To mark the end of the NORBA season, there was the annual party in downtown Durango and this year the theme was to wear a wig. It actually ended up being pretty fun. Everyone on the Intense team really got into it, we got online and all ordered them together. At the party it was funny because some people were so hard to recognise that it took a while to work out who was who.
Durango marked the end of racing for me in the US for this year and it was time to pack my bike for Europe. I took the hardtail because from what I had heard about the World's course, it would be the most suitable and I could only take one. Paul Rowney met me at the airport in Geneva and we drove to Les Gets to meet up with the rest of the Aussie World's team where we would be staying for the next two weeks leading up to the World Champ's.
World Championships - Les Gets, France
The MTB World Championships were held in Les Gets, France this year. It is such a nice place, so peaceful and sunny. The opening ceremony was really special and made you realise this wasn't just another race in the year. In the spirit of the occasion, Beggsy lead out the Australian team on a little motorbike for part of the way, which kind of set the mood for the evening for the Aussies.
I was feeling strong after being at altitude far the past three weeks and when the forecast was for rain on race day, I thought bring it on. However, I didn't realise how much harder the flat sections would become when this course turned to mud. You really needed to be powerful and on the morning of the race I was feeling very flat having started to come down with tonsillitis. It was a nasty day, the rain had made the course brutal. At the end of a hard day I came in 58th.
World Cup Finals - Livigno, Italy
The trip from France to Italy crosses some amazing scenery. The Aussie team bus turned a turned a short drive into a long drive. I would have liked to have been in a faster car because the roads looked pretty fun!
As my tonsillitis had fully set in that week, I was unsure if I should race the World Cup finals. On race day I decided that I wanted to start regardless of how I was feeling. I hate the idea of pulling out of a race, I always try to finish, no matter what. My goal for this race was to finish and not get pulled. I got a pretty good start and I found a pace that I was comfortable with and came in 48th. The World Champs in 2005 will be held here in Livigno, so having already competed on the course is good preparation.
Livigno was my last international race for the year. We all went to Mickey's bar to celebrate. It has the coolest entry, a slippery slide that takes you from the front door, down around a corner and drops you right at the bar! A great way to start a good night of celebrating.
Home in Sydney
So while it is great to be home, it is not for long. I get 10 days at home before I leave for my fourth trip of the year across the Pacific to Las Vegas for Interbike. I am enjoying a brief break off the bike, but shortly after I get back from Interbike, it will be time to get back into training again. I also hope to get my new Intense M3 DH bike soon so I can mix up my off-season training with a little fun at some DH races.
Have fun on your bike,
Images by Niki Gudex