Interview: XC racer (and trail bike rider) Geoff Kabush
Most people are familiar with Geoff Kabush because of his 18-year cross-country mountain bike racing career. Kabush has won a World Cup, stood on nine World Cup podiums, been to three Olympics, and won 13 Canadian national championships. But what you don’t know is that the quiet and reserved Canadian is a trail rider at heart.
“I’m just another guy who likes to ride bikes,” said Kabush during a recent photo shoot in Santa Cruz, California. “Don’t be afraid to come and say, hi, chat, and ask me some questions at the races.”
The SCOTT 3Rox pro team rider went on to explain how he got into riding bikes in the first place and why after all these years his passion for two wheels remains strong. Here are highlights from that conversation.
Start with the basics. Where are you from?
Geoff Kabush: My hometown, Courtenay, is located half way up Vancouver Island on the west coast of Canada.
Where are you living now?
GK: My primary base camp is now set up in North Vancouver. I feel lucky every time I go home because of the incredible adventures I have access to out my back door. In the winter I also spend a lot of time in the Bay Area outside of San Francisco where I really enjoy the culture and community. It is easy enough to stay fit in North Vancouver but California is much more conducive to serious bike practice in the winter.
When and how did you get started on bikes?
GK: I played almost every sport when I was younger but the lifestyle and exploration I found on the bike really got me hooked. I first started riding a little when I spent 8th grade in England with my family while my dad did a teacher’s exchange. The next year, I got a bike and I started riding in my hometown, and I really fell in love riding on Hornby Island where my family has a cabin. I did my first local race at around 15 years old, started traveling a bit to races the next year, and it just escalated from there.
What are your favorite results and best memories from competition?
GK: My first world championships in 1995 where I raced both downhill and cross-country as a junior really opened my eyes to sport and got me excited about pursuing the sport seriously. My first Olympics, Sydney 2000, was a childhood dream come true and will always be really memorable. My World Cup win in Bromont also still gives me chills when I think about it as well. After standing on a World Cup podium so many times in second, third, or fourth, it was an incredible feeling on an apocalyptic rainy day to have everything come together perfectly for the big win in front of a home crowd.
Not racing, what is one of your favorite ride memories?
GK: All my favorite ride memories are from getting on my trail bike and exploring new riding areas with friends. Just in the last year I can recall so many great rides from exploring rarely ridden trails on the Sunshine Coast, making my heart pound on some impressive Brittania Beach trails, witnessing some incredible new trail building in Squamish, finding some hidden gems on the North Shore, and revisiting some of my favorite trails on Hornby Island with my dad.
Do you spend a lot of time on trail bikes?
GK: Most of my mountain biking away from the races is on a trail bike. My Genius bikes are a perfect fit for most of the rough, technical trails I ride in BC. My Genius LT is the go-to bike when I am riding at home in North Vancouver; it’s light enough and with the Twin-Loc system I’m more than happy to pedal it around for 3-4 hours. I’ll also ride my Genius 700 or Genius 900 a lot on road trips around BC or when going on longer exploratory rides.
Do you find that longer travel trail bikes can benefit your cross-country racing?
GK: I definitely feel like riding longer travel trail bikes and pushing my limits has helped my racing and riding. After racing some events like the Trans Provence enduro I started to really enjoy riding new trails blind. Riding longer travel bikes also forces you to pay more attention to suspension set-up, proper bike balance to attack the trail, and I’ve found this has transferred over to my cross-country set-up as well.
Off the bike, what else do you do?
GK: Life can get busy on the road so I really value the down time I get at home to hang out with family and friends. I really enjoy slow mornings with good coffee, catching up on the world, and listening to the news on the radio.
How do you keep the fire going for racing?
GK: Most of all I just love to ride my bike. I always said I’ll keep racing as long as I’m having fun, motivated, and still feel like I’m learning something new. I definitely still feel like I’m doing all three. Mountain biking is such a dynamic sport that I always feel like there are new challenges, skills, or training I can improve on.
What’s your thought process going into 2015?
GK: I’m competitive so I always want to do well in any race I enter. I’m excited about the invigorated US CUP Series and also targeting big races like Canadian Nationals, the Mt. St. Anne and Windham World Cups, as well as world championships.
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