The Girls of FHM - Bikini Heaven
"After 6 months on the road in North America and Europe racing, Niki spent a relaxing week on Brampton Island for a bikini shoot. Along with Niki, was Amy Erbacher (Fox 8 TV presenter), Yvette Duncan (MTV host), Alana Russell (Miss University) and Jo Lawden (Playstation Getaway)."
"Losing mountain bike races to a girl ain’t so painful when the winner looks like Niki…
Mountain biking has never been sexier – with a world ranking climbing higher and faster than a Nepalese Sherpa on speed, Niki Gudex is devastatingly sexy and frighteningly talented. You’ll never catch this lass slowing you down!"
How has it been doing this shoot on glorious Brampton Island? Oh my god, it’s been awesome.
When you can’t go mountain biking, do you get itchy feet to jump onto a bike and go for a ride? Actually, this is the first time I’ve really had time off from mountain biking this year. In my second year doing cross-country, I had three weeks off and my legs actually started to hurt.
Your legs hurt from not riding? We struggle to ride a deadly treadly to the corner shop and back. They started aching, like they do if I’d been doing a massive ride, but I hadn’t been riding. So I’m pretty excited to get back on the bike now.
You have your fingers in a lot of pies, mountain biking, modelling, graphic designing. What do you say in the “Occupation” space on forms? I’m a mountain biker. I’ve sort of come to the point where you have to specialise and that’s where I see myself. I love the modelling and the graphic designing, too, but they complement my racing.
The modelling must be great for getting the all important sponsorship dollars… Yeah, but I have fun. With the mountain biking you need to have a career based on sponsorship to continue. It’s such an expensive sport to pursue because you’re travelling all over the world. So yes, the modelling helps but it’s also fun because as a mountain biker you’re out in the mud and the rain and the heat. Modelling makes you feel feminine - and it’s just fun to take on another character.
Do you reckon you could take on the guys in professional competition? No. I’d love to say I could, but I don’t think so. The men who race pro level are so strong. There is a physical difference.
How about just taking the guys on for fun? I’ve had a guy challenge me to a race because he didn’t know I was a pro. I said: “You choose the bike, you choose the location because I don’t have a problem with this at all.”
Did you wipe the floor with him? He backed out in the end!
Do any other guys get intimidated because you’re such a good mountain biker? I’m overseas for half the year and the guys I hang out with are pro athletes – they’re not intimidated because they could whip my arse.
What’s the worst stack you’ve had? Snow boarding. I fractured T4 and T5…
Huh? Aren’t those future Terminator movies? [Bones] in my back, thoracic four and five.
Sounds serious... In a way, it didn’t bother me. Everything happens for a reason. I always wanted to be as fast or faster than the boys, so I was going beyond my limits. From the injury, I learnt you’ve got to build up to things.
How did you get into mountain biking? The snow was really bad one day, so I went to watch some friends ride motocross just out of Jindabyne and I decided to ride a bike there. The road was really bad and I decided to take a short cut through the bush. I’d never ridden a mountain bike over dirt but it was so much fun. I was about 21 so I started late. I’ve been pretty fortunate.
That’s awesome news because people who excel at something usually start out at the age of three... Like precocious violinists and concert pianists. And their parents had forced them… I know. People I’ve been competing against have been doing BMX since they were young but in cross-country you need the experience behind you. I’ve been doing cross-country for two years and the girls I’m competing against have had eight or nine years at the top.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a professional mountain biker? Well, when I was at school I never thought I was sporty or athletic, so to be doing sport is so funny. Being energetic, I’d have an outlet for that so maybe I’d be doing something athletic - but then I’m pretty creative as well, so with modelling and graphic designing, I get to do that.
Do you consider yourself a bit of a tomboy? I think the more I’ve been mountain biking, the more I see myself as a female. In letting your femininity go to become a mountain biker, you actually find it more. If that makes sense. So if you let something go, it actually comes back.
What’s your ranking at the moment? I don’t know. It’s probably around 50 but I’d have to jump on the computer to find out. I’ve been travelling so much that I don’t really have an idea.
I know I’d be thinking about how much my bum hurts and where the nearest pub is, but what are you thinking about when you’re racing? You’re definitely hurting – someone said we do it so we can feel good when we stop. Also, I am just thinking only about being in the moment because that is when I am at my best. You can achieve things that may usually be out of reach - when you are in the moment, things are easy. Like this morning a bird flew through the room and I put my hand up and caught it.
Weird. That could be your next party trick at one of your mountain biking piss-ups. I let it go! But I felt bad, because it was just too easy.
So your reflexes are just insanely well tuned? It must have been a really tame bird – and yesterday I caught a fish with my hand on the coral reef!
A little bird called Amy Erbacher told me that you all panicked when someone yelled out “shark”! Was there an outbreak of girly shrieking? No, I was in the water and out a bit deeper than them and I saw this really big, brown, floating-looking thing and I thought “what is that?” And I said: “Come look at this massive fish!” and they all swam over. There was a guy snorkelling who saw it near me and he said: “It’s a shark!” Then I went back under to have a look and the other girls yelled!
Profile: Justin Schoenmaker. Photographer: Fabrizio Lipari. "Niki Gudex - The Girls of FHM - Bikini Heaven" FHM Magazine, February 2005 Issue.