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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 FlesjŚ. 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

March 10, 2005

Home to snow

We actually ended up having several more cold days during our training camp on Majorca, but coming home to Stavanger was an even greater shock to the system. On our first morning back at home we woke up to 20 cm of snow and a couple of degrees below zero. But when the sun is shining and the sky is blue, one canít really complain.

Itís always the same when weíre out travelling the world with our two-wheelers. Whether weíve been away for two days or seven days, we always end up longing for home like crazy for the last two or three days of our stay. Weíre sort-of allowed to long for home when the date of our return draws near. And it was, as always, lovely to get home again and be welcomed by our four-legged children. I have to admit that our first night at home in our extremely comfortable bed, tucked under the worldís best duvet (not to be taken for granted in Spain where one usually has to fight all night to stay covered by a sheet and blanket), was actually spent wrapped up in woollen socks and a warm jersey.

Kenneth and I can look back on a well executed training camp. We completed our training programme according to plan, including long-distance trips, power-pedalling and intervals. We also had a lot of fun together with the rest of our pro team, Multivan Merida Biking Team, with eight riders and the five-pperson support crew present. Last time we were together was during the World Cup finals in Levinjo in Italy on September 19 last year. They say itís healthy to feel that you miss someone every so often!

First we had a week on our own before the rest of the team joined us. During this time we enjoyed the company of Lene Byberg, who we also train with at home in Stavanger. Sheís riding for Merida Norway this year, so it was natural that she should be with us on Majorca to train. We also had several other Merida cyclists from Merida Norway and Stians Sport living at the same hotel as us. In other words, we had great company at all times of the day.

The first five days after the rest of Multivan Merida Biking Team joined us were used for press meetings and team photographs. Merida had organized the meeting with the press very well, so we accomplished a lot and were effective during the designated time for this work. We also had a very good team photographer for this particular occasion, and got to make a range of show-off pictures which will be used for the press and for promotion of the team during the 2005 season.

We had lots of fun together during these three weeks that Kenneth and I spent on Majorca. I could have picked out many high points from the stay and tell you about them all in detail, but weíll have to wait for that. I can at least mention my birthday celebration on February 10; the snowy bike-ride on our long distance trip; stretching-sessions on the beach at sun-rise with a Spanish biking magazine; having fun meeting the Merida boss, Einar Steen Olsen; and gruelling battles with Kenneth during our interval training. The most exciting part of all this was my first encounter with my two new Merida bikes for the season of 2005.

New bikes

Iíve had a specially-designed carbon framed bike made for me, with flames in gold, which fits very well with my new golden cycling gear. The other steed, designed in white with the rainbow stripes (I dare to claim it as the most beautiful World Champ bike in the world), looks absolutely sizzling. Within a few days weíll display pictures of these bikes on our web-side (www.gunnrita.com). It was also quite an experience to put on my new rainbow jersey, which Iíll wear as my permanent uniform until the World Championships this year, which will take place in Levinjo in Italy on September 4. Itíll be a great experience competing for that great honour once again when the time comes!

I guess Iíd better not make my short report too long and detailed. The days spent here at home have been exciting and very giving, as always. Twenty-four hours here at home pass extremely quickly, and I donít quite know whether itís because of a high level of activity, or plain enjoyment. Maybe itís a combination of the two! On Saturday Iím leaving for Italy to start up with some on-road competition with my road-team, Safi Ė Pasta Zara Manhattan. Iíve been an asphalt-cowboy with them for the past three seasons. Iím really looking forward to starting competing again. Iím neither fit nor in shape, but itíll be good to get going again anyway.

I hope you all find time for everything you wish to do, and that you all manage to do all the physical activity youíve thought of doing in the next couple of days. Take a little break right now and go through your program for the week, and tell yourself that ďI can manage to reach my goals.Ē

Good luck with everything thatís coming up. Youíll hear from me again at Easter.

Bicycle greetings,
Gunn-Rita

Translation: Crispen T.P. de Lange