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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

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Photo ©: Multivan Merida

On top of the world: The Gunn-Rita Dahle diary 2006

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, 2004 and 2005, Olympic champion in 2004 and rarely beaten in the World Cup in 2003, 2004 and 2005, 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 husband and coach Kenneth Flesjċ. Follow her exploits on Cyclingnews as she works to stay at the top of her game in 2006. Or, for more Gunn-Rita, see her personal website:

Working holiday, October 25, 2006

Home at last

In the 2006 season so far, we have travelled for a total of 266 days, visited 17 different countries and crossed a dizzying number of time zones. Even our holiday is over now, and we're looking forward to a period with more time at home in Stavanger and Norway. Right now it's just a huge luxury to be allowed to be at home in our own sitting room!

I am, admittedly, sitting on the aeroplane from Stavanger to Amsterdam as I write, but will be returning home again tomorrow evening. Kenneth and I are having a quick trip to Amsterdam to take part in the huge bike expo there. Cycling is really big in the Benelux countries, and Merida is constantly growing larger here. So we're prepared for high intensity at the Merida stand tomorrow.

Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Norway)
Photo ©: Robert Kilvington
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We've experienced so much through the last weeks. Since we were in Beijing, where we took part in the last race of the season a good four weeks ago, we've travelled from China to Oslo, then on to Spitzbergen, and from there to Majorca. We had all of four hours at home in Stavanger before leaving again for the Caribbean and Curacao - where we spent one week on holiday, without bikes, naturally. During the past week I've been taking part in a 'rock tour' around Norway.

In other words, we're into the month during which exercise and rest is toned down while my body and mind are recharged again, before the winter season of exercising starts up again on November 1. The final week of October will be enjoyed to the full at home in Stavanger with minimal exercise.

The visit to Spitzbergen was exciting in many ways, a very fascinating little world of its own which I hope to visit again before too long. I visited Longyearbyen in connection to the 100 year's anniversary of Coop Norway up there. I had some action packed days, with a children's bike race and an evening party together with all the inhabitants of the town and the employees of the Coop shop, plus a visit to the museum and the church.

The week on Majorca was used for attending meetings, having lectures and presentations, a bit of holiday with many delicious dinners, and a bit of cycling. We were a part of a group of almost 60 people from Stians Sport and Merida dealers in Norway. It was a very social experience, as always at such settings. With such a friendly group of people, the week passed quickly.

We had a so-called pit-stop at home before leaving for the Caribbean, arriving at our local airport, Sola, one Friday night at a bit past 0100hrs in the morning, and were back at the airport again the same morning before 0600hrs. We had no time to wash clothes and of course no time for sleep, but we got to change the contents of our suitcases and made a good dinner for us and the two cats.

Our week on Curacao was relaxing and wonderful, and we enjoyed a 'lazy' spell on the beaches. Most evenings I fell asleep early, after wonderful suppers under the palm trees, without any disturbing alarm clock the following morning. It was a lovely holiday, apart from the experience of being attacked by two huge dogs and a deranged Dutch man - a confrontation which resulted in bleeding legs and back for Kenneth. Not a nice experience at all. We travel a lot, but experienced here that it's possible to meet nasty people and animals in the most unexpected places in the world!

We came home to Stavanger last Sunday evening and I'm leaving for Trondheim on Monday afternoon again. The 'rock tour in Norway, without any electric guitar or singing involved, is none-the-less an exciting week together with my personal sponsor Coop Norway. We've been in Oppdal, Molde, Ålesund and Haugesund so far this week, and my days are spent having presentations and taking part in various activities in the food shops. I'm also meeting with young people in schools for lunch, and many other friendly and happy customers in various shops. I've even managed to sell some Merida bikes at the "Sport 1" shop in Domus at Oppdal.

Now a good dinner is hopefully waiting for Kenneth and me here in Amsterdam, naturally accompanied by a good red wine. Tomorrow we're attending the bike expo. I'm sure there'll be a whole lot of excitement and activity there, meeting many cycling enthusiasts.

Have a great weekend with lots of physical activity

Cyclist's greetings from Gunn-Rita and Kenneth
Multivan Merida Biking Team