Die Schöne Und Das Bike
"Schnell und sexy: Der Bike-Star vom Laufsteg."This German interview is here in English.
How does it feel to be one of the world’s 100 sexiest women? It is a compliment, but it really does have to be kept in perspective. I feel much prouder being one of the world’s 100 best women mountain bikers.
Where exactly do you live when you’re not travelling the world? Sydney, Australia.
Why are you changing to the SRM Team? Wouldn’t joining an Australian or American team have been the more logical choice? I think that joining the SRM team is the perfect combination for me. SRM’s North American office is based in Colorado Springs which is where my coach lives. Having both in the same town and being at altitude makes Colorado Springs the perfect base for me while I am travelling. In addition to that, I have the support of SRM in Germany when I travel to Europe for the later part of this season. I have great team mates and Uli and everyone involved with SRM are extremely supportive and genuinely nice people. On top of that, I absolutely love the SRM product. Living in Australia, the SRM allows me to have a coach in Colorado and for him to know everything about every ride or race that I do. At this point in my career, I can’t imagine a more logical team.
What came first – biking or modelling? Modelling. I started modelling when I was sixteen. I started riding bikes when I was twenty one.
What do you like about modelling? Maybe because I already have an interest in graphic design and photography but I really enjoy being creative. I feel like modelling gives me a way to be involved in creative projects with other people and create something new.
And about biking? I love riding my bike. It doesn’t matter where I am, once I am on my bike I can live in the moment and just enjoy what I am doing. I feel comfortable on my bike, it doesn’t matter if it is a trail or a road, sunny or raining, you can always have an adventure on a bike and it can take you almost anywhere.
What do you prefer – 10 hours of photo shootings or 2 hours of racing? That depends on what I have been doing a lot of lately. If it has been bikes, bikes, bikes, then a photo shoot can be a great escape. As a model you have to look flawless, but mountainbiking includes lots of spectacular falls and nasty wounds. Aren’t you afraid of scars? No, not at all. If I started thinking like that I might start thinking about how an injury could bring an end to my cycling career. I love and enjoy what I do. That is why I do it.
Have you been marketing your cat? (e.g. TV show “Celebrity Pets”) Why? No, I have definitely not been marketing my cat. But I have done many interviews and like the Celebrity Pets interview, interviewers are always trying to find out a little bit about your life outside of racing. I do have an interesting pet cat that has caught some interviewer’s attention as an interesting story.
You studied graphic design – was that just a hobby or more? It is both a hobby and more, just like cycling is. When you love something and put everything you have into it, then the border between work and hobby seem to vanish.
You have so many talents – is there anything you’re actually bad at? I am sure there are many!
Has your creativity as a designer been bearing fruit? I have painted a back pack for Oakley and I would like to do more projects, but since I have made the transition to XC racing then I am really trying to focus all my energies into becoming a stronger racer. It takes time to get the legs for endurance racing at World Cup level!
When you show the first signs of ageing and your legs get weaker, are you going to turn to design? That is probably not how I want to look at it, but yes at some point in the future art and design will be a larger part of my life than it is now. These days it is becoming rare that anyone has the same occupation for the rest of their lives. I think you should just take each day as it comes, do your best in your work and enjoy whatever you are doing.
Modelling is a well-paid job… Have you done quite well for yourself? Like many things, I am sure the grass is greener on the other side.
Who had an impact on you as a child? (Family, friends…) There are many people who inspired me as I was growing up. We moved quite often so I was fortunate enough to live in a few countries while I was growing up. I was always a bit of a tomboy when I was young, so most of my friends would be up for an adventure. We would take marine buoys out into the sea and paddle them around, climbing trees, taking horses out swimming in the ocean, etc. We lived by the water for most of my younger years so we could spend the entire day out barefoot and exploring. I am the oldest in my family too, I have 3 younger brothers and so I always liked to take them on adventures. My father is a doctor so I have a definite interest in science but then my mother is an artist so there is that creative aspect too. I think I am definitely a mix between the two of them.
You left Australia pretty young to join a snowboard academy in Sweden. Are you always this ambitious? It probably was ambitious, I didn’t really think of it like that. I think I must enjoy finding where my limits are. I had always been curious about Sweden and so it evolved that it became possible to move there and go to snowboard school. It was definitely a great experience. Although when I fractured my T4 and T5 it did change my life,. I became much more aware of how vulnerable the body is and that we are not invincible throwing ourselves onto concrete with a skateboard or even landing in snow.
How did you get to biking? When I was in snowboard school I had the T4 and 5 injury. It changed my approach and I didn’t feel as comfortable taking risks on the snowboard. So by chance, during the Australian snow season when the snow was not very good, I ended up on a bike one day. I rode it on the road, then ended up taking a shortcut through some bush. I was by myself, had no idea where I was and then the pedal broke. But I had a great time. So when I went into a bike shop to get a new pedal the guy working there asked if I raced mountain bikes. That was the first I had ever heard about mountain biking. But it sounded like something I would enjoy so I spent the money I had been saving for a snowboard trip to Whistler on a mountain bike. But I did not know anyone who ride bikes or even where there were any trails so I went to a bike race that weekend, (2 days after getting my bike). I had no idea about cycling so it was all completely new but it was great fun and from there I went to a bike race almost every weekend so that I could ride new trails. I started in downhill and then moved over to xc 3 years ago, but I am still enjoying dh.
You auditioned for a film role at 20th Century Fox. Do you dream of a Hollywood career? That was an opportunity that came up that sounded like a lot of fun. I was contacted about playing a part in a movie and they wanted me to come in and meet with them. That role didn’t turn out for a few reasons, but it did sound like fun. No, it is not a dream, but yes it is certainly something I would consider much more seriously further in the future if I had the opportunity. Right now I am focused on being the best cyclist that I can be. To be one of the best is my dream.
Niki Gudex: Men want her, women want to be her. How do you see yourself? All I know is that I feel happy when I am healthy. Having a healthy body and mind is the most important thing for anybody, because then they are capable.
Do you have role models? I have no role model as such. There are many people who I admire and respect. It makes me happy to see people who feel comfortable with themselves and are passionate about what they are doing.
You are a beautiful woman. Do you think you are being taken seriously by the bike scene – especially by the other females? I guess there are many stereotypes that can be easily attached. The more that I pursue cycling, the more polarised opinions may become. But I guess that is to be expected and it is not something that I have control over. I am a racer and I enjoy riding my bike. My only response to something like that is through my performance on the race track, so that is my focus.
Which clubs or bars do you like going to in Sydney? Since I have started XC racing I haven’t had much time for going out because I have been putting all my energy into become stronger on the bike. I have a permanent race season, so it is always hard to find time for an “offseason”. The Australian mtb race season starts in October, just as the international mtb race season comes to a finish. I have been able to go to some fun bars in LA when I went there for the Summer X-Games. There is a good scene in Sydney though.
Your job makes you travel the world and move around a lot. Does that create tensions with your partner or family? No not really. I enjoy travelling, but it can be hard to miss spending time with my family and friends back home. Poor telephone connections can be frustrating at times, but not the travel (unless it is lost luggage!). Being away from those that you love for large parts of the year is always going to be part of a job like this, I knew that before I started. To be one of the best racers in the world is my goal and I know that I will not achieve that immediately. It is going to take a few years to develop and progress and I want a long career, so it is best to focus on the positives and enjoy the time that I do spend back home in Australia.
What are your goals for the near future? Obviously I want to continue enjoying what I do. I do enjoy the process of improving and I enjoy success. I believe that no matter how much success you have, there is always somewhere that could be improved. Gunn-Rita still says that she is striving to complete the perfect race. This is probably what I admire about her the most.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? As a designer, the boss of a model agency, coach of the Australian national team, or a housewife? Why didn’t you ask if I would still be racing? (In 10 years I will still be younger than Alison Sydors current racing age).
Profile: Björn Scheele. "Die Schöne Und Das Bike" Bike Magazine (Germany), September 2005 Issue.