Dahle Flesjaa becomes Norwegian champion

A few weeks ago, my family cheered me across the finish line as I became the Norwegian national cycling champion. A good week ago, I completed my first circuit race in Bern, and now it's time for the mountain bike marathon World Championships. Even though breast-feeding restricts the amount of sleep and rest I can get, I'm managing pretty well despite it all.

At the moment we're in Graz where the mountain bike marathon World Championships will take place this coming Sunday [See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the UCI Marathon World Championships - ed.]. We travelled here before the weekend in order to rest up properly and relax before this challenge that awaits me. I'm looking very much forward to it, even though merely completing the 84-kilometre course, which incorporates a good 3,000 metres of altitude variation, is going to be very demanding.

I've cycled parts of the track already, done a few of the climbs and several of the technical descents, and it's no piece of cake. I was quite shocked the other day when we were driven up to the highest point of the track, almost 1,500 metres above sea level, to try out the final descent before the finish. It was extremely steep and rocky, plus the high amounts of precipitation the past weeks have made it very slippery, so it was an exciting descent in every way. Luckily, I didn't fall once, but was on the verge of cramping in both my hands and arms. It's extremely fun and exciting to get to ride terrain like this.

Becoming Norwegian champion

Almost a month ago, I became Norwegian Champion on my home turf, in a race arranged by our own bike club, Sola Cycleklubb. We haven't had the opportunity to take part in Norwegian Championships during the past years, so it's going to be great to ride this year wearing the Norwegian Champion's jersey until next summer.

Kenneth completely shattered the competition in the master class, and I thought that was quite something, even though I really dislike it when he leaves me behind.

I didn't feel great during the Norwegian Championship race. The simple explanation is that my body is beginning to show the results of having had to get up two to three times a night, every night, for almost five months now.

Breastfeeding in itself drains the body of a lot of energy, but having to get up every third hour through the night becomes tiring over time. But seen in relation to the joy and energy radiating almost all day long from our little boy, Bjørnar, I'm fully capable of handling this challenge, too. This past fortnight, I've been pumping myself before going to bed so that Kenneth has been able to give Bjørnar his first nocturnal feed, and it's been a real help for me.

Action-packed days

Time passed quickly before we became parents, but now we don't know what becomes of our days. We've been at home practically all summer but now it's already almost over! We've had some good training stints together over the past weeks with a pretty good physical feeling, but there are several more days of rest inserted in between due to my nights being extra short.

We had our first ride to "Oltedal Mastå" a few weeks ago. It was a three-hour ride to a mountain top just outside of Sandnes which we used to ride to very often. The ride is rather demanding, so it was a positive experience for me to master it.

I've posted pictures from both the Norwegian Championships, bike rides at home and the race in Bern (Switzerland) on my website. In addition, you can check out videos from the Gunn-Rita Marathon, both this year and earlier years, at www.gunnritamarathon.com.

The weekend after the World Championships, our whole family will be taking part in the Birkebeinerrittet bike race, with a total of 25,000 participants (10,000 on the waiting list). Kenneth and I haven't taken part in this race for many years, so we're really looking forward to it. I might not have the energetic legs I'm used to, but it'll be a great experience no matter what.

Just now Bjørnar came in through the doors together with his grandmother (my mother) who is staying with us this week. It's feeding time. After that, it's time for massage and possibly a short, easy jog. We're enjoying relaxed days here at Graz and are very lucky to have somebody to watch our baby here with us. Bjørnar really enjoys travelling and has already seen just about the whole city.

Good luck with your exercise and coming competitions, no matter what the activity.
Cyclist's greetings from Gunn-Rita, Kenneth and Bjørnar
Multivan Merida Biking Team

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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: