Team Kona rider, Geoff Kabush, made his mark on the international cross-country scene by taking ninth in the 2000 Olympics. Since then, the young Canadian has found life on the World Cup circuit a roller-coaster affair, with more than his fair share of bad luck, but he recently managed a well-deserved tenth place in front of a home crowd at Grouse Mountain. Geoff offers you an insight into the often difficult, and seldom glamorous, life of the pro mountain bike racer.
The last fortnight has included too many Air Miles for my own good, a sub-par performance over in Madchesta, and a better than expected NORBA back over in Durango.
After the Canadian Nationals I had to head over to jolly old England for the Commonwealth Games. I started off-roading in England way back in Grade Eight when pops was on a teacher’s exchange for a year, so it was a bit of a homecoming for me. The games experience is always kind of fun; hanging out with all the other countries, and other Canadian teams in the all-inclusive resort they call the Games Village.
The riding didn’t start off great when I checked out the course for the first time. It was pretty basic, and included mostly a lot of road and bumpy road, but I managed to find a little grass whoop section to take a digger on. It wasn’t really much of a fall, but after I stopped, I noticed my jersey was soaked with blood. I managed to catch a sharp rock and rip a good flap off my forearm; pretty nasty looking and I spent the rest of the day in the good hands of the Canadian medical team. A bunch of stitches and some bandages and I was ready to race.
Unfortunately, my legs and a few other factors decided it wasn’t going to be a good day. I was pretty disappointed because I really had the potential to get a good result at the Games. Roland (Green) and Seamus (McGrath) went 1-2 and I really wish I could have been up there with them. I also wished that we could of had some more time to hang out but I still managed to fit in a lunch with the Queen in the athlete’s cafeteria and some last minute, mad-trading of my Zeller’s Team Canada gear for some much cooler Kenyan and Nigerian tracksuits, and a sweet Sierra Leone traditional native outfit. After the Monday race it was back on the plane to Victoria and then down to Colorado for Friday and Saturday NORBA races.
After arriving the night before the cross-country and not getting to check out the course I was expecting to hurt, especially after the feeling I had in England. It wasn’t super, but I was pretty happy to ride fairly strongly, and be in the race to finish up 11th just behind Peter (Wedge – Team Kona) who continued his good stretch with a 10th place. The race got really crazy midway through, when some thundershowers turned the course into a slip’n’slide. It was really unusual, because the next day it was also pouring, and turned the Short Track into a pretty wet and spongy course.
The fast course kept the group together and made for an exciting day. It had been a year since the last time when we hit the floor together in Utah, but Pete and I were at the front, and Pete was putting down the heat. I had a bit of a nightmare flashback when someone came up my inside and piled into the fencing with two laps to go; I thought it might have been Pete. Luckily it wasn’t, and in the final lap throw down, Pete laid down the smack for second and I came in for fifth to finish off the podium.
We can finally put Utah out of our minds. Our theory of just ignoring the altitude seemed to be working as well. We had to celebrate after a double podium, and we went a long way towards dispelling the myth that the cross-country guys are a bunch of dorks. At many points in the evening it was so crazy I thought I must be on crazy pills. I’m glad we have a weekend off, and I am really looking forward to finishing off strong in the final pull: the NORBA Finals, the World Champs, and the World Cup Finals. Till then…