Look for continued and rapid improvement from Niki. Again, as per Anna and Lisa, Niki can count herself amongst the very best of the technically proficient Elite Women XC athletes in the world. The challenge is now to develop the ability to get to the top of the hills as quickly as the best. But watch out when that happens Niki will be able to show most a very clean pair of heels on the down hills!!
It is hard to believe that 2003 was Niki's first year of serious XC competition. Prior to 2003 Niki had been a DH competitor representing Australia at the 2001 MTB World Championships in that discipline. Niki will focus her efforts in 2004 on the NORBA series riding for Intense.
It has been a huge 12 months for you, give us a little run down on what you have been up to. Well, a lot of travelling, photo shoots, learning some new sports, and mostly a lot of training.
Did you have any great expectations for the last 12 months? I had always expected to be challenged and that certainly happened. Racing overseas is a big step up from Australia, it is a lot of fun but there are a number of new aspects that get introduced once you are in a new scene. Also the preparation required for XC racing is very different to DH.
Did you discover anything new about racing OS? Was it an eye opener? Wow, definitely, before I went racing OS I had no idea what to expect. I am sure I will keep learning, but what I have learnt so far has already influenced my training back home in Australia. For example, the womens fields are substantially deeper, so you may start a race in 80th place and have to try and work your way up from there. The races are also much longer. Generally a XC race here in Australia is 1:30 hours, whereas overseas I found myself racing for 2:20 hours, sometimes longer.
Did it create any new opportunities? Definitely. I am glad that I made the step, I just want it to continue to be a relatively smooth transition. It has been great to have the opportunity to get to know my sponsors better. In particular every one at Oakley who really went out of their way to make me feel welcome. It has also opened the opportunity for me to do it again. I have signed on with Intense Cycles for 2004 as part of their new XC team. I can't tell you how excited I am for this to have come about!
Will you be racing at the Nationals? If So what Events? Don't tell me your not racing DH! Yes I will be racing at the Nationals. I want to race both the XC and the DH. I will be focusing on the XC but I am looking forwards to having some fun on the DH. Because the event is held over a weekend it is hard to get practice in for both events and not get worn out.
Noticed you hit up the National at Ourimbah on a brand new Intense, How did that go? Ourimbah was fun, I had been busy with some XC for a while and wanted to get out and give the DH bike a bit of a run again. The new bike is amazing. I hadn't ridden DH in so long, also it was the first time that I had ridden DH clipped in. I ride XC clipped in obviously, but it was still a little daunting to try it for the first time on a DH bike. My new bike just felt so natural that I was just able to relax and enjoy it. It was also fun to catch up with everyone in the DH circuit again.
What XC bike are you on at the moment? I am riding an Intense Spider, with Shimano components. This year I will have both an Intense hard tail and the VPP Spider for racing, although the considering the way the Spider goes up hills, I am not sure how much need I will have for a hard tail. Has there been much training going on since you got home in prep for the Nationals or have you just been hanging? After I got home from Europe I definitely spent some time just hanging out, getting over a cold and catching up with my family and friends again. I started training again at the start of the year. My training is focused on the longer term this year. Last year I really realised how important it is to remain healthy when traveling. It is all for nothing if you are sick, it's no fun and your results really suffer. It is the best job in the world, and I really want to enjoy every minute of it.
What did you think of the Eildon course last time you raced there? How did you go? Eildon is fun, I like it there. I raced both the XC and the DH there at the Oceania Championships last year. It was fun to do both events but I didn’t get to do any DH until after the XC race on the Saturday afternoon. The XC course was great last year, quite technical, I placed 4th there in very strong competition so I think that was probably my best XC result so far. Then I placed 2nd in the DH the next day.
Niki Gudex, Men love her, Women want to be Her. What would you say to this? What can I say to that?
Niki, thanks for your time sugar. No probs. Anytime for you sugar.
Words: Robbie McNaughton and FreeWheel Magazine. "Glam Girl" National Championships Program, FreeWheel 2004 Issue.