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On top of the world: The Gunn-Rita Dahle diary 2005
Norwegian cross-country mountain bike racer Gunn-Rita Dahle is probably the best female rider this relatively young branch of the sport has ever seen. World champion in 2002 and 2004, Olympic champion in 2004 and unbeaten in the World Cup in 2003 and 2004, she has a breath-taking palmares.
Dahle says her success is due to an unrelenting focus - she describes herself as a '24-hour athlete' - and the constant support of her boyfriend and coach Kenneth Flesjå. Follow her exploits on Cyclingnews as she works to stay at the top of her game in 2005. Or, for more Gunn-Rita, see her personal website: www.gunnrita.com
First training camp completed
Norway, January 30, 2005
Dear biking friends,
Time simply flies when it's sunny summer outside and one is surrounded by training buddies. I've completed two weeks of training on the Canary Islands, and it's been wonderful, despite a break due to sickness that left me lying in bed for four days upon arrival. Now my batteries are fully recharged again, and I've cycled many more kilometres and crossed many more mountains than I've done for a very long time.
Now I'm sitting on the plane home again, dreading the snow and cold that will meet me at home. On long flights like this I can finish a whole deal of office work if I'm effective. The rest of this week will consist of very busy days, so it's a good idea to get some of the work done now.
Kenneth and I have stayed on the Canaries together with our friends Lene Byberg and Håkon Austad, in lovely apartments in the town of Puerto Rico. Our days have obviously largely been used for training, rest and massage, so I don't really have all that much exciting news apart from these activities. I've enjoyed every day there, and now feel relaxed and good after these 14 days in the sun. We've eaten out every evening together, and it's an equally great luxury every time - absolutely fantastic food at a low price.
I would rather have avoided the sickness just after I arrived, but when one's body is worn out it naturally becomes less resistant to sickness. I wrote a small piece for the national Norwegian newspaper VG which I'm including with this report. It feels like a complete catastrophe to get sick. Right then and there everything goes to pieces. But now that I'm well again and have gotten going with the exercise again, this small hiccup is already forgotten.
There are quite a few exciting happenings coming up during this week at home. I'm leaving for Oslo as early as Wednesday evening, so I won't have that many hours at home in Stavanger. On Thursday I'll be giving a lecture for the employees at Shell Norway in Oslo. The same evening we'll have an exciting press conference together with Stians-Sport and Merida Norway, at which many young cycling talents will be presented. On Friday I'll take part in a large doctors' conference in Oslo led by Natumin Pharma, which is a new sponsor of mine in the build-up towards the Olympics in Beijing.
We'll be staying at home in Norway for two weeks this time before packing our suitcases and bikes for yet another training camp on Majorca. I'll write a few lines to you all before I leave again. By then I'll probably have taken part in all sorts of exciting things, and also trained a lot at home. I would like to encourage everybody to experience a trip out into fresh air almost every day of the week. It will give you lots of energy, and it's wonderful to feel that your body is alive.
Training this week: We had a completely crazy trip on Saturday which few of us will forget in a hurry. Fantastic weather, spectacular landscape, and such long and steep hills that we could hardly believe it.
Dinner of the week: Barbecued octopus in garlic. A mind-blowing new taste experience, and difficult to get hold of at home.
Tip of the week: Always start your day with half a litre of water – a great start to the day for your entire system.
Cyclist's greetings from Gunn-Rita
Article from the newspaper VG, Thursday January 20
Sick but prepared
Outside the sky is blue as far as the eye can see, and the thermometer says to get sunbathing by the poolside. Lovely warmth for everybody but me. I should have been out doing a long trip on my bike, enjoying life. But here I lie, sick in bed, feeling sorry for myself. Getting sick is always just as inconvenient.
For many of us cyclists, January and February is the time to travel to warmer climes so we can continue our bicycle training. Training in warmer weather gives more effect and better quality, and enables us to cycle even further.
For the last two years we've travelled to Boulder in Colorado in January for training, but this year we decided on the Canary Islands, where we are right now. We chose a little differently this year because we needed a change, we needed sun and warmth, and we had limited time. Next year we're talking about maybe going to South Africa for a whole month. That would at least be something completely new for both of us.
I didn't sleep much last night. I'm landed with a heavy flu and fever, inflamed throat, and thundering headache. It really hurts being sick. I think everybody would agree wholeheartedly. I'm really quite a sight as I trudge despondently around in our little apartment here.
We actually have quite a fine tuned body. A body can take the toughest of stress and strain for long periods of time, but not for ever. Finally it says "enough" by getting sick. I always tell myself that it's my own fault when I get sick. Totally my fault. I simply haven't been clever enough at taking care of my body and health.
When the fever is at its worst and it seems as if you're never going to get well again, it can be hard to think rationally. One lies there thinking about all that good exercise one's missing out on, how this sickness is setting you back compared to your competitors, and how long the road back to top shape again will be.
As a matter of fact, I got sick at exactly the same time last year. Last year we left for Boulder the day after the Norwegian Sports Gala, and this year we went straight southwards after it. Even so, the 2004 season was quite a success, and that should be a comfort to help me feel a bit better about things.
I choose to think that when my body gets sick, it's my body sort-of crying out for rest and recuperation. Many people these days have a very busy and active everyday life. When one ends up sick, it can be difficult to totally relax even though one's lying down in bed. It sort-of takes a couple of days before the body actually relaxes properly and accepts that now it's time to rest and calm down.
Right now my body has reached this rest-mode. My body feels strangely relaxed and my batteries are gradually being reloaded. I know I'll soon be back on my bike again, more invigorated than for a long time, and all set for new challenges and a new season of cycling. Get well soon!
Translation: Crispen T.P. de Lange