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Climbing back to the top: The Gunn-Rita Dahle FlesjŚ diary 2008
Norwegian cross-country mountain bike racer Gunn-Rita Dahle FlesjŚ is probably the best female rider this relatively young branch of the sport has ever seen. World champion in 2002, 2004, 2005, and 2006, plus Olympic champion in 2004, and rarely beaten in her reign as World Cup champion from 2003 - 2006, she has a breathtaking palmares.
Unfortunately, Dahle FlesjŚ was sidelined for most of the 2007 season with a virus that left her with little strength and on a program of complete rest and recovery. With the constant support of husband and coach Kenneth FlesjŚ, she has been working her way steadily back to health - just in time to pursue her goals at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
Follow her exploits on Cyclingnews as she works to regain her form and position at the top of women's mountain biking in 2008. Or, for more Gunn-Rita, see her personal website: www.gunnrita.com
March 15, 2008, Maser, Italy
Last day in Stavanger
On Thursday morning we bid a final farewell to our apartment in Stavanger. Next time we come home again, we'll be moving straight into our new house designed by KleppHus. We have packed our suitcases for half a year.
And here we are at Maser, close by Montebelluna in Treviso, in the north of Italy. We'll be living and training here for the rest of the month in familiar surroundings. We left Stavanger early Thursday morning and were fetched at the airport in Zurich. Oliver from Team Multivan Merida fetched us and drove us to Brescia, north of Milan, and a short half hour's drive from Verona.
Our plan was to start the cycling season on Saturday morning in the Italian Cup. I was out cycling 'round the course on Friday, a rough and demanding track circling around the castle in the town of Brescia, but my body felt weak and not up to it. So Kenneth and I made a joint decision to not take part in the race on Saturday morning. We're not taking any chances with my health these days. I was naturally looking forward to competing again, but it wouldn't have been a good experience anyway when my body clearly wasn't up to it.
Yesterday we drove from Brescia to Maser, where we're presently living in a hotel called "Melo in Fiore". We've stayed here several times before and we're looking forward to three whole weeks in this area. We've taken it easy for three days now, so my body is feeling much better and the energy and power is returning.
The final two weeks on Majorca went very well. I had some fantastic interval training with Kenneth, during which we got to train both endurance and strength. We only had six days at home in Stavanger, somewhat hectic as expected, but it was also the last time we would be at our apartment. It'll be placed on the market during next month, so we'll be well and truly homeless.
We've asked our family to help with packing and moving, so we'll just have to pay them back liberally when the season is over. After this coming season, we'll be moving into a brand new house designed by KleppHus at a place called Smeaheia, and will thereby be living in the municipality of Sandnes and not Stavanger any more. We've enjoyed living at Tjensvoll in Stavanger for ten years, but a change is always good every so often.
Next race on our list is a road World Cup in Cittiglio, north of Milan, taking place on the second day of Easter. I'll be racing together with the road race team Zafi Pasta Zara Manhattan. I'm looking very much forward, and it's guaranteed to be an exciting day on my new Merida road bike. I've been able to really run it in on Majorca, so I feel very comfortable on it now.
Tomorrow, we're visiting the NorthWave factory right close by where we're staying. New equipment is waiting for us there, clothing and shoes are to be tested for size, and we'll be meeting with various leaders and chatting about future plans. We'll also have a delicious dinner at a great restaurant in the area tomorrow evening.
This coming Sunday we're all meeting together in the centre of Montebelluna, where the start and finish of the GunnRita Marathon will take place. We'll be meeting up with fans and eager mountain bikers from the Treviso area, and we'll ride 30-40 km of the track together. A few new sections have been added to the race, so we'll be testing them out on Sunday.
The GunnRita Marathon will take place on the April 19, the day before I take part in the first World Cup race of the season in Houffalize in Belgium. In other words, I won't be able to take part in the GunnRita Marathon this year, but I'll definitely be a strong contender next year. I know that there are many Norwegians planning to make their way to Montebelluna that weekend to take part in the marathon race. They'll have to pedal a bit for me too :
Now its bed time here. I'm going to start reading a new book, now that I've finished off a very good detective novel by Mankel (Return of the Dance Teacher) earlier today. I have a small selection of books along with me, a bit of everything, but I imagine my next book will also be a detective novel. Kenneth is now taking over the Mankel book.
I'll try to take a few pictures from this area, which I'll post on the website next week, along with a short summary from our test of the race track on Sunday. I might also have received my new super-light bike shoes by then, plus the incredibly light underclothes that NorthWave are marketing this year! Have a great week of exercise either with or without your bike. The most important thing is that you get outside and move your body!
Cyclist's greetings from Gunn-Rita
[Translation: Crispen T.P. de Lange].