A fantastic season

Gunn Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Multivan Merida) on her way to a top three finish.

Gunn Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Multivan Merida) on her way to a top three finish. (Image credit: Bert Geerts/dcp-bertgeerts@xs4all.nl)

We can now look back on an incredibly exciting season, with top results and a good feeling. Now we're all set to start placing stone upon stone in the build-up towards an unforgettable Olympic season in 2012.

It's a long time since you heard from us, and I can't quite understand that almost two months have passed since we did the cross country world championships in Champery, Switzerland. The last race for me was the Bundesliga finals in Bad Salzdetfurth at the end of September.

I was supposed to have raced in Holland the following weekend, but got a cold and wasn't going to take any chances racing with troubles in the machinery. I rounded off this year's season in very good physical shape despite it all - a great feeling to bring into the coming months of winter training.

Regarding results, we're still cheering after winning the European Championship cross country gold medal, and I still feel joy and pride at coming in as number three in the World Cup in Val di Sole only two weeks before the World Championships. I experienced my very first third place in Plymouth in England in August of 1995. During the season we've just completed, we've gradually improved our results at every race we've taken part it. A rough winter last year, with lots of sickness, forced us to treat the first half of the 2011 season as a sort of basic training period, interspersed with a few races.

We made use of all our experience and tried to get as much as possible out of every hour of the day to be able to perform at our max in every racing event we entered. Our efforts and strategy paid off when we won the gold medal at the European Championships. The world championships was a good day for me, and I was a contender for the medal on the first rounds, but couldn't quite keep it up till the finish. A sixth place isn't something we gloat over, but we've achieved more this year than what we could have expected with our given starting point. There's a lot to work on as we're presently just starting up training again.

The Merida team deserves a lot of praise for what we've achieved together in the season of 2011. All the riders had a few off days this year, but I think it'll all be worked out next summer. I know that everybody that's associated with Multivan Merida Biking Team is working incredibly hard in order to make it the world's best mountain biking team in 2012.

"Holiday" at home

Now we've enjoyed four weeks of holiday at home, a so-called "active rest-period" during which I've had five to six hours of training per week. A bit of jogging, hiking, swimming and spinning. I haven't been riding my bike much, and there's a reason for that. I did a long slow-paced ride yesterday, the first in four weeks, and it was wonderful. I've missed my bike these past weeks, so it's time to start up fantastic and action-packed days of training again.

The break that we usually factor in, in October, is important for both body and mind, and we always say that if we don't get to re-charge our batteries in October, it will have great consequences for what we're able to achieve the following season. Now I feel like my machinery is ready for a new and exciting winter.

The weeks here at home have passed frighteningly quickly, but we've managed to deal with all sorts of jobs that we don't take time for during the season. And we've spent a lot of time together with Bjørnar - a joy and a show every single day. Sometimes I ask myself, "What became of my little baby?" Now he's talking like a torrent, and we talk to him as if he was one of the grown-ups, and we have many discussions in the course of a day.

High activity levels

Bjørnar is amazingly active once he's awake and that's maybe also the reason why he sleeps so soundly through the night - luckily. He's already become very good on his bike. He naturally has a Merida balance bike without pedals, which he's very proud of. Going for a walk with him when he's on his balance bike is anything but a quiet walk. It's more of a running-stint, plus a strain on the nerves since he loves high speed when descending, no matter what the terrain.

We didn't have a holiday abroad this year, because what we wanted most of all was to just be at home. I have concluded a season with 210 days out travelling, so it's just hugely enjoyable to simply relax at home. We've done a few activities together with our sponsors, since we were home, and it's always a very nice and giving experience.

Going spinning together with the employees at DnB NOR bank was wonderful. I'll be having a new spinning class with them on Thursday morning this week. Spinning for NRK's nationwide charitable ingathering effort, led out by Norsjørittet, was also a fun experience. I've also been for a visit to Elisabeth at Eliksir for some wellbeing, wonderful treatment for my face, and a new session awaits me next week. It's just as wonderful every time, and I highly recommend it. Much better than a new jersey or new mittens!

Great sponsors

Today all three of us have been to Frisørsenteret barbers at Bryne and tidied up our hair. Bjørnar is sitting there like a little vicar on the barber's chair right now. I think he enjoys it quite a lot, but I suspect that the promise of candy, if he sits still, is probably making all the difference. I'm here because we're having a big wedding in our family in under two weeks, as my dear sister is getting married ? (She runs the Lyst shop in Stavanger and has a lot of really nice clothes for most of us women. I've found a dress for the wedding in Peggy's shop, and it's stylish and beautiful).

Today I started my day with treatment and training at Stavanger Idrettsklinikk (sports clinic) at Hillevåg, Stavanger. We started a cooperation with SIK more or less exactly one year ago, and I don't quite know how we would have got through this last year without their help and support. Every time we've been home throughout the season, we've stopped by Stavanger Idrettsklinikk in order to correct and adjust any problems that tend to arise when one pushes one's body hard. If you expect a lot from your machinery, no matter what your job or physical level, maintenance is very important.

Regarding training, this week will be a sort of "get going" week before starting up full power on November 1. I'm flying to Oslo on Thursday to have a meeting with Stians Sport and Merida Norway, in addition to meeting NCF and Olympiatoppen regarding plans and set-up for the winter and spring and the season of 2012. We're headed towards a very exciting period, my body is in balance and feels very good, my motivation is at top-level, and the goals for 2012 are very high. There's a lot to do and we have a lot to look forward to.

You will be getting a new update prior to our departure for the Canary Islands on November 12.

I wish you all a fit week, during which your priorities will decide what you achieve, regarding plans and goals. Keep it up.

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

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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:

www.gunnrita.com (opens in new tab)