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A turbulent start to the season

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Gunn-Ritah Dahle Flesjaa (Multivan Merida)

Gunn-Ritah Dahle Flesjaa (Multivan Merida) (Image credit: Multivan Merida Mountain Bike Team)
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Gunn-Ritah Dahle Flesjaa (Multivan Merida)

Gunn-Ritah Dahle Flesjaa (Multivan Merida) (Image credit: Multivan Merida Mountain Bike Team)
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On her 40th birthday Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesja (Multivan Merida) was still the model professional

On her 40th birthday Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesja (Multivan Merida) was still the model professional (Image credit: Robin Wilmott)

So far this season, I have only done one race. The first World Cup race takes place in two short weeks from now. A bad crash and sickness has really slowed down my preparations for the season.

Even so, I am in high spirits as I sit here. My body feels almost 100 percent good again and I'm looking forward to an effective week of training. Regular adjustments are always necessary, and exercise-free days are very important from time to time, but three weeks with very little training is too much when one aims to compete at the top in the first World Cup race of the year.

Sickness and crash

It all started with a bad crash while riding off road a week after coming home from a training camp on Gran Canaria at the end of March. I was cycling alone, playing around on the bike in Sørmarka (Stavanger). We have some incredible tracks in that area, with rock gardens, fast descents with lots of roots, and a hefty portion of jumps and drop-offs, most of which I can handle very well.

The spectacular wipeout I had happened right after a jump, when the handlebars were forced out of my hands as I landed. I was left hanging with my stomach over the handlebars for a few meters down the hill before I finally fell forward. It was my neck and ribs that got the worst of it, and I've been struggling with the results for the past four week.

The week after this happened, my sinuses started hurting, with pain radiating through my whole body, so I had to adjust my amount of training before the start of the Bundesliga race in Müsingen in the middle of April. I should never have taken part in that race, but it's always easy to see the right choices in retrospect. The weekend after that, I was unable to complete my race in Heubach (Germany) and had to stop after only two laps. And then I postponed my return home in the hopes of getting well again so I could race in Austria a week later.


I travelled straight home the day before the race in order to run a lot of tests. Luckily there was nothing seriously wrong, just some virus that takes its time to get out of the body. I felt very stuffed in my head, unwell in my body, and very weak. I just wanted to sleep all day and all night.

Now my energy has returned and it's fantastic not having pain in my head any more. A whole week passed without cycling after I got home, but I got to cycle a bit the weekend after, and that was wonderful. I should have taken part in the Landsbyrittet race at Randaberg (Stavanger) on Saturday, but I wasn't able. I could have rolled through the race, but with a start number on my back, I'm not really able to do a "slow and relaxed" race!

Recharging my batteries

Today I've had a fantastic day of restitution which has recharged my body and mind. I was woken up by a little boy who was shouting for his mother at 7:00 am this morning, then a bit of children's television in bed before breakfast. After that, a quick trip to the doctor's office, as Bjørnar has got eye issue and needed a check-up. Then an hour of back massage from Kenneth, then an appointment with my kinesiologist, Otto, and a bit of beauty treatment at Eliksir, and to round it all off, an hour of stretching and adjustment with Camilla at the Stavanger Sports Clinic. A wonderful day of treatments which really does it for me sometimes?

Not many days remain before the opening of the World Cup in Albstadt on Sunday May 19. I can't regain lost training time, but I need to manage to "wake up" my body again, train with extra power, focus on speed, and do lots of good technical training without overexerting my muscles. This weekend the Norwegian Cup is being held in the east of Norway, but I need as much rest as possible between the training stints, and unfortunately it's difficult to combine that with the extra days of travels.

Apart from that, I'm expecting a pretty quiet week here at home. I'm looking forward to an exciting evening of braking and cycling techniques with the employees at Aarbakke tomorrow evening. Bjørnar is going for one day to Bjørheimsbygd this week to visit his grandparents. He hasn't been to the countryside for a while now, so it's going to be exciting for him to drive tractors and diggers again, plus play with all the lambs at the neighbouring farm.

It's bed time here at home. I'm hoping for some spring soon, as we haven't seen much of it yet here for the past weeks. I wish you all great days of cycling in the time to come.

Preparations for the big race in this region, Nordsjørittet, are well under way, so you're likely to meet many likeminded people cycling along the roads if you go out for a ride.

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

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: