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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 FlesjŚ. 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: www.gunnrita.com
Spain, January 16, 2006
Training in Lanzarote
It's great being back at the office again! Our exercise schedule here on Lanzarote and at Club La Santa is commencing as planned. We're enjoying these days of hard work, doing exactly what we're supposed to be doing in order to be well prepared for the upcoming season.
Monday evening has arrived here on this wonderful Spanish island, and we're enjoying a quiet break in the easy chair before leaving for dinner. I've had a day of restitution today, and my exercise has consisted of one hour on the bike-rollers early this morning, plus one hour of easy jogging this afternoon. In addition I've had a good hour of massage for my somewhat tired legs. Otherwise this has been a very quiet and enjoyable day with a few telephone calls and a bit of work on the computer.
We've been here for two weeks so far and have completed our training schedule as planned. It's very good for us to get away like this and focus completely on the training, having perfectly balanced days with exercise, stretching, restitution, massage, correct food, and rest. This is a perfect day at the office for me - and not only one day, but day after day and week after week. It's only in this way that we can lay a solid foundation for the season of 2006.
We're living in the apartment complex Club La Santa, where everything is set up for people who want to exercise from morning till evening. That goes for both young and old, and the array of available activities is impressive. For us, cycling comes foremost, in addition to some running and a little swimming next to it. But one can also play tennis and badminton, run on a track, play football, swim in a 50-metre pool, take part in spinning classes, lift weights in their large and up-to-date studio, take part in aerobics classes, wind-surf, and scuba-dive. There are probably many more activities than this too which I don't know about.
It's Spanish winter here on Lanzarote, and that means that the weather can change quickly, and can sometimes surprise you. The temperature is usually around 15-20 degrees, and we've had some wonderful sunny days, but also strong winds and rain. Even so, the opportunities for training here are much better than at home, so we're not complaining at all.
Luckily we still have one week left here, and we're happy about that. My legs and body are beginning to feel the results of all the exercise I've been doing, but we adjust the amounts every day so that we get maximal effectiveness. We expect to manage to do everything we've planned for the final week here too.
I hope all of you at home have the possibility and the imagination to make some changes in your exercise plans when the weather gods only have cold and wet weather to offer. One can still do a lot of good exercise if one's a little flexible during these uncomfortably chilly winter days in Norway.
A quite different challenge for me these days is to find a road-racing team which I can join so I can take part in some road-races through this season. These races have been a regular part of my set up for the last years, and we look upon them as an important part of the total results. New UCI rules make it a bit more complicated for me to represent a certain professional mountain bike team, at the same time as representing a completely different team when racing on road. We hope this problem will be solved in the course of the next two weeks so we can lay the final touch on the plans for the season.
You'll all hear from me again in a couple of weeks, and by then we'll have had a few days at home with somewhat different activities on the program, in addition to some relaxed days of training. I'm going for a trip to Sweden and Gothenburg, to take part in a huge bike-expo for Merida Sweden. It will be my first time at this expo with our neighbours, the Swedes, and it'll doubtlessly be an interesting and exciting experience. I'm also going to take part in the introduction of a completely new fruit-juice for Co-op in Norway, which will probably be fun. There will also be a competition sweepstakes where you can win a great Merida bicycle ?
I wish you all good luck with the winter exercise, and remember that it's you who decides what's good and bad weather for exercising during the winter. Remember that it's healthy and beneficial to drink lots of water all day long, whether you've got time for physical activities or not.
Cyclist's greetings from Gunn-Rita
[Translation: Crispen T. P. de Lange]