Gunn-Rita diary: First off-road race

Gunn-Rita next to the support vehicle

Gunn-Rita next to the support vehicle (Image credit: Kenneth and Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå)

My first confrontation with rough terrain this year was very demanding. A few slips and falls, plus cramping in fingers and lower arms, really gave me an authentic sensation of being back in my element. Fantastic to be on the go again!

My first mountain bike race of the year took place yesterday [Sunday, April 6 - ed.] and it was a fantastic experience in more ways than one. My nerves were already playing up the evening before, with a touch of loose stomach and butterflies, and not quite as many hours of sleep as usual. So it was a terribly nervous and excited Gunn-Rita eating her breakfast on Sunday morning. In other words, nothing out of the norm!

Marlene Sunshine Race is part of the Italian Cup and this year was the eighth year it was being run. The race has a high number of international riders, both men and women, and includes a very tough race track, both up and down. Long and steep climbs and technically demanding, steep descents. An exciting and fun track to race on for the well-trained and experienced mountain biker.

The only riders from Multivan Merida Biking Team taking part at Nals were Robert Gebauer and myself, with our mechanic Marco. (The rest of the team had taken part in a mountain bike race in Switzerland the day before.) We also received good support from the Italian Merida team which has a good number of riders and an excellent support team (in addition to their super-cool RV - see the pictures). They're a friendly bunch, one big family, and it's good fun being together with them.

I sat on the rollers warming up before the race at the Merida Italy stand and got to do my normal routine as always. I had a good feeling before starting the race and was totally euphoric about getting to race again. My goal for the day was to keep up with the riders at the front for as long as possible, and work on specific points through the race.

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