Prior to my one-on-one exclusive interview with mountain biker Niki Gudex for the cover feature in this 20/20’s sports eyewear issue, I had never heard of her, myself being only a sporadic bike rider, giving up for months at a time when the chain falls off the pedal sprocket. While researching the subject of athlete sponsorship, I opened up my Shape magazine to an Oakley ad featuring pictures of Niki on horseback at the beach, waist-high in a lake lifting her bike over her head and swinging carefree in a field, and I was even more inspired to learn about this multi-faceted biker. When I had the pleasure of speaking to Niki and Oakley sports marketing manager Steve Blick, I learned about a collaboration that transcends business, an athlete whose aspirations transcend the sport itself, whose style goes beyond her cool looks. Behind the Oakleys is a girl whose life is lived, as Oakley’s campaign name puts it: Uniquely.
— Melissa Arkin
Top and left images photographed by CHRISTOPHER WRAY-MCCANN; bottom right image photographed by DEREK FRANKOWSKI