Posted by Editoress on 03/3/17
Earlier this week, Canadian mountain bike legend Geoff Kabush announced that his career was entering a new phase [see Geoff Kabush Announces New Program]. While he would still be racing some of the World Cup level races that he has in the past, Kabush would also be entering a variety of other events, including stage races. We spoke with Geoff at Bear Mountain in Victoria, BC, where he is preparing for the opening Canada Cup of the season.
Geoff's career extends over 22 seasons, from his first national title as a Junior in 1995. He has amassed an impressive resume, including three Olympic appearances, 15 national titles in cross-country and cyclo-cross, a World Cup win and nine World Cup podiums.
World Cup win, Bromont 2009
2006 National XC Champion
2000 Olympics, Sydney (9th)
Geoff Kabush with his tricked out Olympic ride 2008 Olympics)
Leading at the start of the 2008 Olympics
2012 Olympic Games (8th)
"It's been interesting ... I wasn't there quite at the start of mountain biking, but soon after. I can still remember the first suspension forks and the first clip less pedals; I've seen the evolution of this sport - the highs and lows, and the passing through of a lot of people."
"It's been over 20 years but I'm still having fun. My age is getting up there, but that's just a number and I'm stilling feeling good and having fun."
"My first Olympics [Sydney in 2000] was a bit of a surprise, for sure. At 23 [years old] I just snuck in there at the last minute. I got two top-16s [in the World Cup] to qualify, and that was really my breakthrough. 2004 didn't work out ... for reasons later to be revealed [referring to the subsequent acknowledgement by two Canadian mountain bikers that they had used banned substances in 2003]. But I went again in 2008, and 2012 was a real high note for me with a top-8 result."
"I gave it a go for Rio but wasn't quite able to put it together. And now I'm switching gears a bit away from that Olympic discipline and branching out. I grew up in B.C., riding the trails and mountain biking has split from what it used to be with just cross-country and downhill; I actually did both in my first world championships. Now it's split into so many fun different events and disciplines, and I'm looking forward to exploring some of those a bit more."
Kabush has long been one of the dominant riders on the North American circuit, winning numerous cross-country and short track titles in the U.S. as well as Canada.
"I stuck with mountain biking through my career and had a lot of success over here [North America]. It was during what some might say was a dark period in cycling [doping]. I tried racing on the road; like every cyclist I had dreams of riding the Tour de France. But I did enough big races to know that wasn't going to happen and that my heart was with mountain biking, and that I enjoy racing on the dirt, and exploring the trails. I have no regrets about my career and nothing in the closet that I have to be worried about; I can be proud of all my accomplishments. I had to work hard and it's really rewarding looking back at what I've achieved. There's a lot of highlights to look back on."
Among the changes Kabush has seen is in the courses. "I remember at my first Worlds as a Junior my finishing time was over three hours and the winner was over two and a half. The courses had gotten more manufactured and tend to not deteriorate and get as muddy and challenging as in the past. It's something I've had to adapt to in my career; these shorter courses that require more punchy on-and-off power. But there's always new challenges and you have to evolve and keep learning about the sport."
Kabush has also always been an outspoken proponent of clean sport, including Cycling Canada's Race Clean, Own Your Victory program.
"It [doping] has certainly had a huge impact on my career, personally on my results. But I can't look back and change it. Through it all, there wasn't much I could do to change other people's decisions and I had to focus on myself. But at the same time it is frustrating that the last thing I wanted to deal with when I had success, was that people might think I was on drugs too."
"All the young athletes struggle; it's a hard sport and you start questioning 'can you do it?'. I know, there's a lot of good role models - I'm not the only one - that can give those young athletes the idea and the confidence with the Race Clean, Own Your Victory, that it's possible to succeed as a clean athlete. I want to be able to give them that drive. Certainly at points in my career, missing out on an Olympics and a lot of big wins, it's frustrating, but there's nothing better than to be able to look back on my career and be proud and have nothing to hide. I can ride my bike and enjoy it, and I don't have to hide my face anywhere."
At the national training camp leading up to the Canada Cup, Kabush gave a talk to the athletes on Race Strategy and Tactics, and he has been a mentor to younger team mates over the years.
"I've always tried to; whether it be my team mates or just younger riders in the system. I have a ton of experience and I've seen all different sides of the sport; anti-doping being one thing. I feel like I've seen a lot of undulations in the sport and at Cycling Canada I'm trying to take more of a role. I'm sitting on the Athletes' Council and Cycling Canada Board of Directors [as the athlete representative]."
"So in my talk I'm going to talk about tactics and race craft and give some of my perspective on racing. Hopefully, there's a lot of things I can contribute to the program."
For the coming season, Kabush will be running his own program, after a number of years on the 3Rox squad.
"It was an interesting off-season. I had a lot of fun with 3Rox, but unfortunately the sponsorship relations for the team and I changed. Scott Sports wasn't continuing with their program and I have sponsorship continuing with them. So, it led to me leaving the program. I'm certainly glad the 3Rox program is continuing on and I'm excited for those guys. But for me, the timing is kind of good for where I am in my career; changing focus from the team's focus."
"I've built a lot of strong relationships with Scott Sports and Maxxis and a lot of people. So I can put together my own program, which is pretty exciting. I'm putting together my own look [Kabush and Garneau just announced a partnership for his kit design] and being in control of what events I'm going to do."
"The sport of XCO has gone away a bit from my strengths - the trail riding and endurance. I'm looking forward to doing a bit more of the epic rides; the 50-milers and more trail-oriented races like BC Bike Race and other stage races, which I've always really enjoyed. I'll also do some gravel events and other things. Change is always good, and it's renewed my motivation and definitely been a fun project to work on putting together."
"I'm looking forward to some more fun years."
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