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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
The in between days
Having been on the road for so long it is very nice to be at home, to spend time with family and friends and spend time doing some of the things that you don't get a chance to do while away.
But it hasn't been all relaxation. I had one quick trip back to America; a trip to Brampton Island and a 2005 season to plan for. My planned 4 weeks off the bike went by very quickly.
After Worlds and World Cup finals I was able to squeeze in ten days at home, before heading over to the US for the Interbike show. This was my second time at Interbike, so I had a much better idea of what to expect. Although it is crazy busy from start to finish, the show was a great time to see people without the schedule of a race day.
It was great to catch up with everyone from Intense again. I hadn't seen Jeff (Steber, the owner) for a couple of months as he had been pretty busy with things at the Intense factory over the season and it was great to see Jeff looking so genuinely happy. It has been pretty exciting for him because only one week after Interbike his wife Jen had their first baby, a girl called Abbey Reid Steber. So it is definitely a very special time for him and his family.
Blick from Oakley had put a slideshow together of random images he and other Oakley athletes had captured over the past year. It was such a cool slideshow it really made you want to go out and ride your bike. Although I must admit that I was a little surprised to see as part of the show a picture of my burmese cat Pushka rocking an Oakley finger sweat band on his arm up on the big screen.
Speaking of animals (and unusual travel stories), while I was in the US I came across Master Psychic - a cat that will tell your fortune. Initially I was drawn to the graphic signs for his table that was set out on the street, then decided to see what he was all about. Standing on his hind legs he rubs his paws in a circular motion over a crystal ball, then passes you the rolled up fortune with his front paws. I wasn't even sure who to pass the money to until the cat indicated that he would take it in his paws. The cat looked happy enough and definitely warm in his robes and jewellery. I would have taken photos but I was laughing too much.
Following Interbike it was a quick 24 hour stopover in Sydney before heading to Brampton Island for a shoot with FHM magazine. It was so nice to not be traveling with my usual luggage. I found myself waiting at the baggage claim for a few minutes before it really sunk in: I was not waiting for a massive bike box to come through. It is so refreshing to travel light! My ideal is carry-on only, which is obviously impossible with a bike and race gear. Anyway I appreciated the moment, as they are rare.
Brampton Island is part of the Whitsundays, in the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland in the ort of Australia. Deserted beaches, warm water and wildlife made for the perfect break. I was there as part of a shoot with four other girls. We had a few days to enjoy being there, snorkeling, swimming, relaxing etc - it was so refreshing. Snorkeling on a coral reef is amazing, it is hard to believe that such an amazing world existed so close and yet was so hidden and compact.
This trip was exactly the break that I had been looking for, a spell on a tropical island before I got back into training. As it was getting time to head home, I was starting to feel the effects of not riding, as it had been 4 weeks since my last race. My legs actually started to ache and I really started to miss not riding. Thoughts of sweet single track riding and long road rides in the country started coming back. A little bit different to last year when I took 10 weeks off and still felt a little lethargic getting back into training. I think that last year I may have jumped into the deep end for my first year racing cross-country.
For me, how I feel physically is the biggest sign of improvement over last year. So now the fun and games are over, it is time to get back to work - and I can't wait!
I am now a month into my new training program and it has already been very exciting. From a training perspective, I am starting my 2005 preparations with a clean slate. The way I am training now is completely different to what I had done in the past. Using an SRM power meter allows me to see my power output, heart rate, speed and cadence simultaneously while I am riding. Applying a more scientific approach has really helped to start learning how to become more efficient on the bike. Not only that but it is a good indicator of the training I am doing and James Herrera, my coach at CTS can see exactly what I am doing on the bike and how I am responding to the work load. Having that feedback really makes me feel confident that my time is spent on quality training. After only 4 weeks into my training I can already see the difference. My boyfriend calls it the Silent Revolutionary Motor, because he thinks there must be a hidden motor built in. I wish!
Living in the southern hemisphere and racing in the northern kind of means that I have an endless summer. While some of my friends are out playing in the snow for cross training, anyone who is in Australia at the moment would have to be aware of how ridiculously hot it is getting. A solid four or five hour ride means there is no escaping the heat, no matter what time of day you ride. But the water is warm and it really is a beautiful time to be in Sydney. While an endless summer sees my snowboard pretty much permanently stored away, I did manage to get out on my old skateboard. I think it had been about 7 years since the last time - and it definitely felt like it.
This past weekend I have been in Melbourne for the release of the Games Guide for the 2006 Commonwealth Games, which are to be held in Melbourne. The best part is that events that are not limited by seats will be free to attend. This includes mountain bikes and road cycling. Being so affordable (free) it will hopefully encourage and provide people on this side of the world the chance to get involved and make the event even bigger and more fun.
Have fun on your bike,
Images by Niki Gudex & friends