In Style - Think Fit
"On yer bike", is no longer a line to deflect unwanted attention - it's more a call to action. Professional mountain bike rider Niki Gudex is proving women who saddle up can go far."
There’s nothing like observing a muscular performance - a great win, easily sustained momentum, prowess under pressure - to revitalise your own intention to glow with health. Here, we provide the inspiration to try three physical pursuits, with how-tos and why-fors from expert trainers. Step off the treadmill and into the shoes of a mountain biker, two dancers and a swimmer. You’re sure to find a good fit.
"On yer bike", is no longer a line to deflect unwanted attention - it's more a call to action. Professional mountain bike rider Niki Gudex is proving women who saddle up can go far.
The Sydneysider began downhill racing in 1999, before shifting her attention to the sport’s other major competitive division, cross country, 18 months ago. “Cycling works your whole body - your arms, calves, thighs, butt, even your stomach,” says the 1.65 m, 50 kg athlete.
Sponsored by Oakley and Intense Bikes, Gudex is now the National Cross Country Series Champion and has her sights set on this year’s Olympics (cross country debuted at the Olympics in 1996; Gudex is now in Australia’s Olympic Shadow team). “It’d be awesome to be there, and pretty amazing after such a short period of time.” Her goal means committing to an average of 500 kilometres cycling a week, weight training three times a week, and the oddities (grilled fish for breakfast) of a competitor’s high protein diet.
“It is really exhilarating and rewarding,” says Gudex, and “only as dangerous as you make it,” she adds, citing speed as the main risk. “When I’m on the bike,” she says, “I don’t feel hindered or constrained. You’re so involved in the moment and what you are doing that nothing else matters.”
You thought spin classes were tough. Mountain biking, which has attracted Jamie Lee Curtis and 2 Fast 2 Furious star Paul Walker, takes riding to a new level. Because it’s off road, it demands a specialised bike. There are two major mountain biking disciplines: downhill riding, which Tony Scott, President of Mountain Biking Australia, describes as “the more extreme side of mountain biking”, and cross country, which emphasises endurance. Your whole body is put to work as you negotiate steep hills, rocky terrain and obstructed paths. Challenging? You bet, but, says Damian Grundy, national mountain bike cross country coach at Cycling Australia: “In most cases, you’re in a very quiet bush setting - it’s beautiful.”
Getting Started “A bike shop is the best port of call,” says Grundy; you’ll find out about equipment and local trails. Alternatively, contact your state’s cycling organisation or view the Mountain Bike Australia website, mtba.asn.au, for clubs near you.
What You Need A bike! “I would recommend people budget $450 for the bike, without accessories,” says Grundy. - Sunblock and clothing: bright, light jerseys and bike shorts (knicks have a built in chamois for extra padding), to prevent chafing. - A helmet. “It should be well ventilated,” says Scott, adding, “if you are doing downhill, body armour is a good idea.” - Gloves. “If you crash, your hand is the first thing you put down,” says Grundy. - A hydration pack, such as a Camelbak, to carry water as well as essential bike repair equipment.
Results “You lose weight if you’ve got weight to lose,” says Grundy. “It’s a great cardiovascular workout and really good for the legs.” Lee Campbell, Sydney based director of B.Firm Fitness Studio, adds, “You’ve got to lift your bike over bumps and push it around,” which gives you an all over workout, and “the tougher the terrain, the more you’ll burn.”
Words: Jessica Irvine. Photographed by David Mandelberg. "In Style - Think Fit" In Style Magazine, February 2004 Issue.