Ups and downs

Former world champion Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa was Norway's top finisher

Former world champion Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa was Norway's top finisher (Image credit: Gunn Rita Marathon – the Granfondo del Montello)

An exciting and demanding period now lies behind us, and we have many experiences to look back on. The Gunn-Rita Marathon and world championships were a powerful experience, even though we didn't achieve the results we had hoped for. The gold medal in the Norwegian Championships last weekend was a big victory for both Kenneth and me.

At the moment, we're enjoying quiet and relaxing days at home in Bjørheimsbygda, staying with my mother and father. For Bjørnar, "holiday" out in the countryside with his grandparents is like having a zoo and a fun-park right on his doorstep. This evening we've been down by the lake fishing, we've played with the neighbour's dog, Kita, we've eaten cherries, splashed in puddles and played football.

Well organized Norwegian championships

This year's Norwegian championships took place in Horten on a track that was technically demanding with a lot of climbs and descents, and there was also a great risk of puncturing. Personally, I found this to be a very fun and enjoyable track, demanding plenty of effort from the whole body and containing very few sections giving rest or allowing for maintaining a rhythm. Even though my physical condition and feeling has been good these past weeks, we have had a demanding program for travels and competitions and I don't usually tackle the return from the States very well.

It was simply wonderful to feel able to press my body even so, and that I could work on my tasks from beginning to end. I pushed from an early stage and was thus able to ride my own race, without having to empty myself completely of energy. It was great fun doing a race at home again, and it is with great pride that I once again can compete internationally wearing the Norwegian national championship jersey.

Disappointment at world championship marathon

I have no problem stating that this year's world championship marathon was the largest and best organized championship I have ever taken part in during my 17 years as a professional cyclist, so all honour and applause go to Pedale di Marca. It was a fantastic experience for participants, supporters and the public in every way.

I felt good during the preceding week and was looking very much forward to the world championships in Montebelluna. After three weeks in Livigno, I was ready for sun and summer in Treviso, and that's what we got. The week of training at high altitude was great (somewhat too much rain!) but I unfortunately didn't get full effect as I was sick in bed the first week.

I had no problems following the leading group of 8-10 women until there were about 25 kilometres left. At that point, I suddenly felt myself hit the wall and all my energy was just switched off. I had been eating and drinking a lot, as I usually do during a marathon race, but it didn't work this day. I had the feeling that my body was utterly empty, and the feeling came over me very rapidly.

I had unfortunately been plagued with a painful and loose stomach during the four days before the race and I reckon that was also part of the reason why I suddenly ran out of energy. Bjørnar got a loose stomach when we came down from the high altitude, and I naturally got the same symptoms a few days after that. A seventh place in the World Championships was, naturally, a huge disappointment for us both, but we found a measure of consolation in the stomach upset and that this was part of the reason for the poor result.

Improvements at the World Cup

Six days after the world championship marathon, I took part in the World Cup in Canada. I left the medal winners from the previous weekend behind and crossed the finish line as number 10, the season's best result in the World Cup. The weekend after, at the World Cup in Windham, New York, in the USA, I rode in as number 11, and this time with a much smaller time difference up to place number three than the weekend before. We're approaching the top, slowly but surely.

For this reason, it was extra great to round off this tough period with the gold medal in the Norwegian championships, with both body and health in good balance. I'm enjoying a few days of quiet now so I can totally recover again before starting up the training once more. We'll have two weekends without competitions now, before the European Cross Country Championships in Slovakia on August 7.

The weather gods here at home simply do not have summer weather on the menu whatsoever, but it's possible to enjoy cycling no matter what, so it's just time to set off. The holiday is a great time to relax and recharge the batteries, and physical activity together with friends and family is a solid and dependable medicine in that respect. Enjoy your holiday and be present in everything you do.

PS - Congratulations to Thor Hushovd and Edvald Boassen Hagen for incredible achievements in the Tour de France. It's given us almost unbearable suspense in front of the television screen, and a good portion of motivation and faith that almost anything is possible if one wants it enough and gives everything.

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

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