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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
Norway, November 30, 2005
Gigantic wedding celebration
We've won many a gold medal on our bikes during the last seasons, but the greatest event was celebrated with a big wedding feast in Stavanger on the 15th of October. With lots of help from our families, led by Kenneth's older sister, Hege, we had an unforgettable wedding ceremony and feast. Three days of enjoyable wedding celebrations were rounded up with three fantastic weeks in Mexico.
As I write, we're sitting here at Lanzarote (Club La Santa). We've been here since Thursday for a photoshoot for PowerBar, who sponsors both me personally and my team (Multivan Merida Biking Team). We had a week at home in Stavanger after Mexico, days which were used for getting into a more normal routine, catching up on work, and struggling to overcome the jet-lag. The greatest contrast we experienced when we came home was bitter winds and bucket-loads of rain after three weeks of blue skies and temperatures above 30 degrees centigrade!
An unforgettable day
I can't quite manage to convey to you how fantastic our wedding was in writing, but I'll try to give you a small impression of what the day was like. We said our "yesses" to each other, loud and clear, in the Stavanger cathedral, one of Norway's most impressive medieval churches from the 1100's, during a very personal ceremony.
Straight after the wedding ceremony we had a short bike ride...on a three-wheeler which Kenneth had to pedal and I got to sit on like a lovely princess. The reception was held at the Radisson SAS Atlantic Hotel in the centre of Stavanger. There was never any doubt that our wedding was going to be a success. Everything was so well prepared and planned down to the smallest detail in an impressive setting.
We had many helpers on the big day, in addition to the unforgettable efforts of our family. Gunn's Stil was responsible for a fabulous wedding-dress (very much my style), plus beautifully tailored clothing for the closest family. My wedding flowers were done by Kolnes - Zwerg Flowers, who also decorated the church and wedding reception area with flowers. The flower decorations were a very important element, with a mixture and contrast between Norwegian heather and exotic orchids.
The wedding day started with many hours spent at Frisørsenteret at Bryne, where I, together with my mother, Brit, and my sister, Peggy, were made up and prepared like never before. It's almost a little weird how beautiful one can become when professionals do the job. I was reasonably nervous and could feel the tension building from the moment I woke up, after only a very few hours sleep that night.
I won't go into more detail on the actual reception, except to mention that the food tasted fantastic and was served in a very nice fashion to a large number of guests. Our toastmaster, Eivind, did a fantastic job, we got to listen to varied and interesting speeches, and the wedding cake, made by Kenneth's parents, looked and tasted fantastic. It had five layers! The renowned comic "Bøggvald" (Dag Schreiner) made a grand entry and made everybody laugh with plenty of hilarious jokes. The gift tables were amazing, the band that played for us got everybody out onto the dancefloor, and all the guests said they enjoyed themselves despite five solid hours of sitting at the tables.
Celebrations for three days
As I mentioned in the introduction, we celebrated the wedding for three continuous days. On Friday evening we had a sort of get-to-know-each-other party at a bar called "Halv-12" in the centre of Stavanger. We had a good 100 guests come to this party, where we were served good food and enjoyed good entertainment in cosy surroundings.
On Sunday morning after the wedding party, there were 18 of us left, so we set off for a trip to the Prekestolen, perched hundreds of metres above the Lyse fjord. Many of our foreign guests came along, and it turned out to be a memory for life for all of us. The weather gods provided us with sun and warmth for the whole weekend. The grand finale for us was sitting with our feet dangling over the edge of the ledge at Prekestolen on Sunday afternoon with a clear view to the very end of the Lyse fjord and the sun shining happily down on the mountains.
Wedding trip to Mexico
Our first week in Mexico consisted of some promotion work and an MTB race in the town of Pueble, a few hours drive from Mexico City. We were well taken care of by our Merida friends in Mexico throughout the week, and closed off the first week by taking part in the Popo Bike Festival. I would like to thank all our friends and Merida dealers in Mexico who really took good care of us and gave us very memorable days experiencing Mexican culture. Popo Bike turned out to be a bike experience we'd love to repeat, and we hope to be able to take part in it again.
The next two weeks were spent out by the coast on the south-west side of Mexico, far away from both bikes and people. We never got a chance to take a holiday after the bike season, so this was a very welcome break for both of us.
Our honeymoon is now over, and we're well underway with our winter training programme and everything else that's part of our lives. Our programme is intense for the next two weeks, but we prioritise training first. We get lots of good help from our manager, Roar, in dealing with sponsors and various requests that naturally pop up around this time of the year. We expect to be in the Stavanger area during the weeks leading up to Christmas, and we really need to settle down a bit at home after 250 days of travelling we've had during the season of 2005.
You'll all be hearing from us again in about a week. We'll be back in Stavanger this coming Thursday and expect that King Winter will be in evidence along the roads of the sunny coast. Our next project is to build a house together with our sponsor, KleppHus, and we're really looking forward to that.
Wishing you all a great week and good health,
Biker's greetings from Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå.
[Translation: Crispen T. P. de Lange]