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Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå diary

Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Multivan Merida) on the podium

Ramping up for the Nove Mesto World Cup

Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa
May 20, 2014, 17:56 BST,
May 20, 2014, 18:11 BST

Great start to the season

Finishing number 2 in the first World Cup race of the season is A-OK by my standards. Two victories in two national cup races is also more than acceptable. We are now headed for the most exciting and demanding part of the season. My rivals are in top shape and they're all present.

My latest race was a cold and wet experience in the first round of the Bundesliga in Saalhausen, Germany. It ended up being a fight between me and Sabine [Spitz], Adelheid [Morath] and Alexandra [Engen]. In the end, I won the battle, but only barely in front of my German rivals.

The preceding weekend, I raced in Haiming, Austria, and pulled off the first victory of the season. It was a struggle too, because I had just emerged from an intense period of training back home, and my body didn't feel 100 percent good. It was fantastic to win again, and it provided me with lots of self confidence for the season. It also warms an "aging" lady's heart to see some other Norwegians on the podium, as was the case in Haiming. Both the U23 men, Sondre and Edwart, had a great race, as did Ola in the senior class.

I chose to skip World Cup round 2, which was held in Cairns, Australia, as it would have meant too long away from my son Bjørnar. Balance and harmony are important in everyday life if one hopes to make an impact at the very top of this sport. Every day is equally important, one has to work hard and remain focused and prioritize correctly from morning 'til night. This is impossible to achieve if one is full of longing and loneliness. Moreover, I really struggle to adapt to new time zones. Possibly something to do with age! But I have to take this fact seriously when I lay our plan for the season.

Nove Mesto World Cup coming up

I will be taking part in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic, where the next World Cup race will be held this weekend. After a race-free weekend, I'll be ready to race the World Cup race track here on Sunday. I'm driving to the airport in Prague tomorrow to fetch the rest of the family, and then we'll be away from home right until the beginning of June.

I did a few laps of the course here yesterday. Dry and nice, and everything is doable under the present conditions. The rock garden we had to traverse last year has settled a bit more now, and the worst rocks have actually been removed. I was one of those who chose the B-line last year when we raced here, but now I'm able to do this rocky patch without any problems. But I might have to reconsider if we get a lot of rain and mud on the rocks!

Apart from that, I don't have much news. I'm having a rest day here and am sitting on my bed, typing away on my PC. I've had an hour of stretching before breakfast today. I'll do a short hour of basic training around lunchtime. Apart from that, I'll be reading and writing more as the day proceeds. I reckon that the other riders and teams will turn on Monday and onwards, which will make things livelier here at the hotel again.

I wish you all an active weekend with your bicycles, friends and family. Remember that you can involve your bicycle in many exciting activities if you make an effort and think actively.

Cyclist's greetings from Gunn-Rita
Multivan Merida Biking Team
[Translation: Crispen T.P. de Lange]

Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Multivan Merida) at the start of the Italian national series race in Nalles

Number three at Nalles

Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa
April 08, 2014, 17:31 BST,
April 29, 2014, 18:09 BST

Next up: World Cup opener in Pietermaritzburg

I had a good result at the Italian national series race in Nalles on Sunday. The World Cup opener in South Africa is next weekend. Things are getting serious again, and it's now that the most fun period starts. Intense excitement and competitive nerves are once again part and parcel of everyday life.

We've had a wonderful weekend in Nalles (Nals), in South Tyrol in Italy, and my third place was great. It was a fight from the beginning to the end, during which three women (Katrin Leumann, Eva Lechner and I) were slugging it out for the good positions throughout the four laps.

But then Alexandra Engen came like a bullet from behind on the last lap and joined the leading group. Katrin headed off halfway up the long climb on the final round and managed to stay ahead until the finish. I lost a sprint against Alexandra, and Eva came in number four. A worthy winner of the race today.

I've taken part in this race many times before, and I like the venue and the surroundings very much. The district is probably world renowned for its fruit, and also for its exceptional wine. We even had our family holiday in this area in 2007 - fantastic nature and interesting history. We always stay at the Hotel Wilma. If you're planning to have a holiday this summer with your bicycle, I can warmly recommend this region.

Fit youth

The lineup at the start in Nalles was very strong, both in the men's and women's elite class, and as expected, masses of juniors of both genders. The race at Nals is the season's first so-called "WC" race for juniors, and we've seen and trained together with many fit young people this weekend.

The juniors will no longer take part in World Cup races together with the elite class - that's new for this season. We will miss the young generation, but now I've at least enjoyed the opening race together with them, and it was good fun.

I never raced as a junior myself since I only started mountain biking when I was 22. Those who have grown up with the sport are lucky, and it really shows in their technical abilities.

Next stop: South Africa

On Monday night, the whole Multivan Merida Biking Team flew together to South Africa and Pietermaritzburg where the first World Cup race will be held on Sunday. I'm excited and somewhat unsure about my physical shape, even though I felt good today. No matter what, it's going to be wonderful to get going properly on a season again. The race track in South Africa is quite simply awesome. You can follow us live at

On the drive to the Zürich Airport by car, our mechanic, Daniel, was at the wheel. Kenneth kept him company in the passenger seat, and I was dozing in the back seat. I have to try to lower my heart rate and level of excitement after a race. It's not easy. The adrenaline is still pumping hard and I never sleep well the night after a race.

Unforgettable days at home

We had a grand total of five days at home after our two-week spell on Lanzarote, and the days flew by, as usual. We had utterly fantastic spring weather at home, and we enjoyed it to the fullest with various activities in the garden, trips out with Bjørnar, and gorgeous rides in the woods and fields on our bikes.

It feels good to be on the go again with a new cycling season. Excitement and racing-nerves feel both good and bad, and it's a long-awaited sensation after a lengthy winter with lots of training. This feeling is simply going to be a wonderful source of energy in the days to come. A bit of excitement and trepidation is good for just about all of us, I think. I wish you and your closest a great and stimulating day.

Cyclist's greetings from Gunn-Rita
Multivan Merida Biking Team
[Translation: Crispen T.P. de Lange]

Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Multivan Merida)

Wonderful Cyprus

Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa
March 11, 2014, 15:07 GMT,
April 29, 2014, 18:16 BST

Wrapping up the Sunshine Cup races

Why on earth does half of the Norwegian population travel to the Canary Islands to cycle during the winter, when one can fly to wonderful Cyprus for almost the same price? Maybe there are fewer planes going to this amazing cyclist's paradise, but that would quickly change if bike-enthusiast Norwegians were to change destinations!

I am once again buckled into my plane seat as I write, this time on my way home from Cyprus, and my "suit case of adventures" is somewhat bigger and definitely more full of experiences. Loads of wonderful sunshine, beautiful nature, happy and helpful people, great food and unforgettable experiences together with my bicycle and the Merida team.

A four-day stage race in rough terrain has been completed, plus a demanding cross country race yesterday - well-invested time and energy in every way. Competing in this year's Sunshine Cup on Cyprus has been inspiring and loads of fun. I left for Cyprus without particularly high expectations for race results, but with the hopes of being able to compete with that good feeling and a strong body. These hopes have been fulfilled in every way.

First time on Cyprus

I've had two extremely enjoyable weeks with the whole of the Multivan Merida Biking Team troop, for the first time in my whole career. Jose Hermida and I were the only ones taking part on Cyprus for the first time ever, as the others on the team have competed for their own countries in the same race in previous years.

I have to admit that I was slightly lost on some of the stages during the first week, as I hadn't seen any of the tracks beforehand. But this kind of experience is also educational and gives extra adrenaline, which means it wasn't a waste of time at all.

We lived in a small village called Tochni, Cyprus Villages, half an hour's drive from Larnaca Airport. It was a reasonably central location vis-à-vis the various race venues and we got to know the area pretty well. If the whole of Cyprus has just as many exciting dirt roads and tracks as we've seen during these weeks, then Cyprus is simply a "Mecca" for us mountain bikers.

There are roads absolutely everywhere, and one can decide oneself if one wants to do long climbs or rather flat terrain along the coast. There are a mass of small asphalted roads in every direction too, with very little traffic, which also gives roadies a lot to choose from.

Wonderful people

What possibly made the greatest impression on me was the hospitality of the people we met. Very open and accommodating, and not in a stilted manner at all. Friendly, genuinely courteous and wonderful to be together with. In addition, almost everybody here speaks good English, which is a great advantage for us tourists. Of course, they drive on the "wrong" side of the road, but one soon gets used to that. It's going to be exciting to get home to RHD driving again, after a fortnight on Cyprus!

The Merida team of course always travels around with the world's best cook, Andi S, so we haven't really gone out to eat much during our stay. But most people say the food here is great, tasty and varied. That in itself can be a good enough reason to visit Cyprus with your bicycle!

Inspiring results

It's been great fun for me to compete again, and it was really fantastic to experience getting the first podium finish of the season. Maybe a bit more than I had expected, but we've been training very well this winter and have laid a good foundation for what awaits us this season. My next race will be in Nals in Italy, South Tyrol, and we're looking very much forward to that as we have many great memories from this region.

I have to stay overnight at Oslo Airport, Gardermoen, tonight, but will fly home again to Stavanger early tomorrow morning. It's going to be wonderful to be together with Kenneth and Bjørnar again. I'm looking forward to masses of playing and activities together with our favourite little boy this week.

On Saturday, we're leaving again for Lanzarote (Spain) for a two-week training camp together with my parents. The final week my sister and her husband, Espen, will also visit us, and I'm looking forward to that. We will focus on speed and intervals as a final touch-up and preparation for the World Cup opening in Pietermaritzburg (South Africa) in the middle of April.

Where I'm sitting now, there is terribly little space for my toes, and I'm doing toe-lifts to get a bit of circulation in my legs. I need to use the rest room, but am sitting next to the window, and both the men outside of me are staring with great concentration into their computer screens. I got to exercise my bladder pretty well yesterday as I was picked out for a random doping test and it took almost three hours, so this should work just fine!

Physical activity is good for your body and your mind. If you like, you can get inspired by the movie files of strength-exercises on my official fan page,

Cyclist's greetings from Gunn-Rita
Multivan Merida Biking Team
[Translation: Crispen T.P. de Lange]

Road world champion Rui Costa with Marathon MTB World Champion Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa

Headed to Cyprus to kick off the season

Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa
February 25, 2014, 15:00 GMT,
February 25, 2014, 14:03 GMT

Multivan Merida team camp a success

The start of this season on Cyprus is a new challenge for this lady. After a successful press camp on Majorca for my Multivan Merida Biking Team, it's now time for an energetic team effort in the first race of the season, on Greek soil.

After only two days at home, I have now fastened my seat belt on the plane to Larnaca and Cyprus. But we're not just taking a holiday in the sun this time, even though this destination is usually associated with that sort of summertime activity. Team Merida is ready with a full troop for the first race of the season, and that's an inspiring thought in itself.

Quality time at home

I have to admit that it was hard saying good bye to Bjørnar early this morning. I got home on Wednesday evening and we got to eat supper together, had some time for some fun and games before the bed-time responsibilities, and I got to read and sing with my little boy, too.

Thursday and Friday at home, with a bit of exercise and some clothes washing and packing, made the days too short for my taste. It's at least comforting to know that Kenneth and Bjørnar are enjoying themselves at home and doing lots of fun stuff together, while Mom is off travelling without her family for once.

Unchartered territory

So now I'm heading for two weeks of various races on Cyprus, and this is guaranteed to be an exciting, demanding and important period for both body and mind. My physical shape could have been better, but one has to start somewhere and I'm glad to be able to take part in a few races now, before the first World Cup race in the middle of April.

I know very little about the terrain and tracks on Cyprus since I haven't been there before, but I've been informed that the tracks are technical with lots of tough and steep climbs, and rough ground. My plan is to take part in all four stages of the race, starting this Thursday. First, climbing tempo, then two days of point-to-point (marathon), and the final stage will be on a normal cross country course. After that we're looking at a week of training and hopefully good days of restitution before a standard cross country race on the Sunday the weekend after that.

Successful press camp

The days on Majorca were intense and action-packed, so now it's going to be great to get to do a few relaxing everyday things like training, resting, eating good food at the correct times, going early to bed, and doing lots of stretching and gymnastic exercises on the floor. In other words: lots of time to work on great performances on the bike, plus rest for both my machinery and psyche, so I can reach my goals for the season of 2014.

The job that is done at the annual Merida press camp is important for our sport, and for the sponsors and the media. It's exciting, fun, challenging, demanding, giving, and educational. Even though one is really worn out when it's over, it’s great to know that our efforts were apprecated by everyone on the team, and that we can now concentrate on training and competition. A total of 116 journalists and photographers from 25 different countries, is pretty massive.

The presentation of Multivan Merida Biking Team and Lampre Merida on Friday evening last week, was very impressive. New history was presented and written for the 330 dinner guests. World champions in both on-road and off-road disciplines, riding for the same brand, presented at the same venue - this isn't your everyday experience in the world of cycling.

New adventures on my bike

I intend to train on one of the longer marathon tracks early tomorrow morning. I envisage some fantastic hours on my bike in beautiful and exciting nature, meeting new people, new culture, and eating tasty food.

I made a deal with Bjørnar as I was leaving the house early this morning that we're going to Skype every evening, and that he's going to tell me about his day at home together with Dad and his friends at the nursery. I know that there will be times on this trip when my longing for my loved-ones at home will be almost unbearable. But I also sense the energizing excitement that surrounds the whole concept of new adventures on my bicycle.

My challenge to you is: Seek out new adventures together with your bicycle. It is you who decides what those experiences will be, even if you can’t travel far from home.

Cyclist's greetings from Gunn-Rita
Multivan Merida Biking Team
Translation: Crispen T.P. de Lange

Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa's son Bjornaar rides to kindergarten every morning.

Press camp time for Multivan Merida

Gunn Rita Dahle Flesjå
February 08, 2014, 18:43 GMT,
April 09, 2014, 15:53 BST

Back together in Majorca

New bicycles, new equipment, new clothing and stacks of enthusiasm and motivation for a new season: the annual press camp for Multivan Merida Biking Team on Majorca is right round the corner.

The press camp symbolizes the start of a new season and it's the first time the riders and support team come together in the New Year. Most of us won't have seen each other since the World Cup finals at Hafjell in the middle of September, and that's a long time to have been away from one's "family." It represents a whole lot of energy gathered together for one week with a busy schedule.

I flew from Stavanger early yesterday morning and had a short bike ride down here when I arrived. This is the third year Merida has its press camp at Alcudia and Iberostar Hotels & Resorts (Playa de Muro), with the help of Max Hürzeler bicycle hire that is located here.

The official gathering isn't before Monday, when the team leadership, riders and support team are arriving. I know that some press people will arrive on Tuesday, and it'll fill up gradually towards the grand opening which is next Friday (February 14). At that time there'll be a big presentation of both Multivan Merida Biking Team and Lampre Merida.

I am already in good company. My teammates Cinky [Ondrej Cink] and Thomas [Litscher] are already here, and we're joined by our physiotherapist Andi Berger. We're hoping for some good days of exercise down here before filming, photo shoots and meetings with the press all starts up. Under those conditions, daily help and treatments are invaluable.

Demanding transition

It was rather tough returning to the Norwegian conditions after three weeks on the Canaries. The first week at home, with many days of zero or sub-zero temperatures, was demanding in many ways. The bronchies are easily irritated when exposed to such sudden changes in temperature, so we prioritized training indoors instead. The combination of cold weather and a tired body can be a bit brutal, and there's a real risk of getting ill. I've been somewhat tired and my breathing has been a bit labored, but I'm getting used to it.

It's great to be out travelling, but best to be at home, and that goes for all three of us. It really is nice to get home to one's own kitchen, one's own bed and some other clothing. Bjørnar was longing to get home to his toys, especially the Legos, and his friends at the nursery. It was also great to see him back on his bike again after three weeks without it. His eyes were full of joy and enthusiasm as he pedaled off to the nursery early every morning.

Great days at home

Apart from that, the 10 days at home have passed quickly, as always. Besides the training, I've taken care of my body (various treatments), done a lot of office work, enjoyed myself at home, had a bit of social interaction, and had as much quality time together with Bjørnar as possible. I think two weeks away from our boy is quite a lot, and it's important to experience a much as possible together with him before I leave again.

I'm looking forward to a good and exciting period here on Majorca, and I have a good feeling about the season being right round the corner again. November, December and January have been great, so I feel ready for the new season.

Many of you bicycle enthusiasts at home might have a later start to the season than me, meaning that you have plenty of time to get in shape in the time that remains. Remember: "It's never too late." I wish you all great and active days to come.

Cyclist's greetings from Gunn-Rita
Multivan Merida Biking Team
[Translation: Crispen T.P. de Lange]

Riding at Intervall

King Winter awaits

Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa
January 27, 2014, 16:45 GMT,
January 27, 2014, 16:52 GMT

Reviewing 2013 in between training sessions in Majorca

The life of an athlete consists of ups and downs. A slap in the face once in a while keeps me sharp and focused. The taste of gold stimulates my hunger for ever greater achievements. And a new rainbow jersey from the season of 2013 is utterly magnificent.

I felt pretty bamboozled at the beginning of the 2013 season. Several breaks due to sickness through the winter and a long break due to a viral infection right before the start of the season had set me back a lot. It didn't exactly help matters when I took a spill in Sørmarka (Stavanger) a few weeks before the first World Cup race and broke a few of my ribs. A half-hearted race and illness still present in my body was the only contents in my baggage when the World Cup circus began.

It was a shock to start the race in Albstadt at the very front, and then to be overtaken by so many other riders as the race proceeded. Thoughts of quitting a race hardly ever enter my mind, but this race was unbearably painful for my whole body! Every part of my body was just screaming out for a bit of mercy. Everything was agonizing. Luckily there was also a tiny small voice in the back of my head that kept saying to me, again and again, that this was exactly the type of beating I needed in order to advance another step.

I rolled over the finish line as number 21 that day and felt completely thrashed from head to toe. The following weekend, however, I was fighting for one of the top five positions in the World Cup at Nove Mesto, but I met the wall a bit during the final round and ended up as number 10. Still, this was a fantastic improvement for me, and a confirmation that things were now on the move.

Our plans for the period were already laid, from that point to the marathon world championship race on the 29th of June, five weeks later. Now we had the certainty we had been hoping for, after a rather heavy start to the season.

It's quite easy to maintain focus and to make all the right decisions each day when the world championships are only five weeks away, and when one simply can't afford to make a single mistake if one wants 100% success on the day in question.

I could have written many pages about the last two weeks of preparation before the world championships last year, but we don't have time for that here and now. We managed to ride several sections of the race track during the 14 days we spent at Kirchberg and also rode in the mountains around Kitzbühel. We spent time reviewing tactics, choosing tires, testing air pressure, and going through our focal points for the race itself, etc.

When I lined up at the start on Saturday morning, June 29th, I was tense, nervous and very ready for the challenge that I was now programmed to complete, and it was truly an unforgettable day.
The season and the way onwards, from this fantastic world championship gold medal and a new rainbow jersey, started with some great weeks of training in Livigno with steadily improving physical condition. I took part in the French Cup finals in Meribel (which will also host next year's World Cup finals) two weeks before the cross country world championships in South Africa , and I felt that practically everything was as it should be, despite legs which were pretty chockablock after many weeks of hard training. From then on, the main focus was to be rest and restitution.

A whole lot of sickness

But I ended up having a completely different type of rest than I had hoped for. It all started with a sore throat a few days before leaving for Pietermaritzburg, and then a full-on infection of the sinuses after arriving in South Africa. This naturally resulted in a pretty bad experience in the world championships, and I had to make do with taking part in the World Cup finals at Hafjell with a rather rusty motor two weeks after that.

I had to endure many disappointments toward the end of the season. One invests a whole lot of hard work over a long period of time, and then ends up without the results one had hoped for. But that's what it's like in the world of sports, and almost all other participants experience this kind of thing through their careers too. My disappointment wouldn't let go for a while after the end of the season, even though there really wasn't any reason for it to linger. Being able to put on the world champion's jersey every single day when one goes out to train, tells quite a lot about what a fantastic season we had in 2013.

Fantastic season for the team

All the members of Merida Biking Team had a lot to celebrate in the season of 2013. We started the year with a humdinger of a press camp on Majorca together with Team Lampre Merida. We've had a whole lot of fun together, plus unforgettable experiences and a very impressive effort from the team as a whole.

At the World Cup in Nove Mesto the young guns on the team, Thomas [Litscher] and [Ondrej Cink] Cinky, did extremely well and got number 4 and 6. I was out along the side of the track myself and was running around like crazy, shouting and encouraging them. Jose [Hermida] fought for victory at Mont-Sainte-Anne (well done old fellow!) and Cinky was leading the World Cup for a long period of time in Andorra, but was beaten almost on the finish line by Nino [Schurter]. Most impressive, even so, and extremely exciting to be a part of.

We finished the season with an absolutely "APPROVED" at Hafjell in Norway, both for the riders and for the team supporting them, but I think we had the best party by far and were probably the last ones to go home that evening! I beat all the other competitors in beer drinking, and that's a victory well worth achieving in these circles.

The most memorable day in the season of 2013, was no doubt the team building we had the day afterwards. We had booked the whole group in at the activities area by the bobsled track right next to Hafjell, where we started all together at 11:00 on Sunday morning. Some had more pallid faces than others, and some of us had a somewhat enlarged head compared to normal. But this was simply one of the very best things we've ever done together as a team.

There were many activities to take part in, involving every part of the body, and naturally also activating our competitive spirits. One of the best activities was running as far as possible tied to a bit bungee cord. This was an activity executed with one's life in both hands, and it led to some seriously spectacular falls when the elastic reached its limit and pulled the person backwards. Marco was the one who managed to run the farthest - the bungee was un-hooked without him knowing it, and he just ran and ran and ran!

Everybody survived the bobsled activity - though not everybody was equally ecstatic about the idea of bobsledding. Everything was obligatory though, and nobody was let off the hook. Even so, a few were exempt from the beer tasting at the brewery in Lillehammer that afternoon - Marcel was one of them.

Home to winter and low temperatures

We now have two days of training left before leaving for home on Saturday afternoon. Today we did intervals together with some other Norwegian mountain bikers and it felt great. I've been able to complete all my training as planned during these three weeks, and that always makes me feel great.

I would like to direct a big thank you to the Volkswagen dealership here on Gran Canaria which has lent us a van for our whole stay. It was a real luxury for the whole family to have a Multivan at our disposal for our training camp on this warm island.

Now King Winter awaits us at home in Norway, which means sub-freezing temperatures and very strong winds, plus the possibility for snow. Our training will definitely be taking place exclusively indoors during the first week at home.

I'll write a short update before leaving for Majorca again in the beginning of February. Believe it or not, but now even I have managed to get onto Facebook at

Cyclist's greetings from Gunn-Rita
Multivan Merida Biking Team
Translation: Crispen T.P. de Lange

Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå diary

Norwegian cross country mountain bike racer Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå is a favorite on the international mountain bike circuit.  For years, she has delighted loyal fans as she raced her heart out in cross country and marathon events.

She made an impressive comeback in 2008 after a season of illness. In 2008, she won the Madrid, Spain, round of the UCI World Cup and the UCI Marathon World Championships and finished 12th in the World Cup final standings.

Dahle Flesjå then took on the challenge of motherhood in 2009 when she gave birth to her first child in the spring. With the support of her husband Kenneth Flesjå and her family, she returned to competition within a few months after becoming a mother.

Dahle Flesjå was World Champion in 2002, 2004, 2005, and 2006, plus Olympic champion in 2004. In 2003 to 2006, she dominated the sport, winning the World Cup overall.

Follow her faithfully recounted exploits on Cyclingnews as she balances the roles of mother and elite racer. Or, for more Gunn-Rita, see her personal website: