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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

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Photo: © Kristy Scrymgeour

Mr. Congeniality: The Geoff Kabush diary 2008

Popular Canadian mountain bike racer had his best ever season in 2004, winning the NORBA final and overall series, continuing that success through 2005. After a stellar 2007, Geoff will once again be bringing us his unique slant for 2008 on the racing scene in his diary as he campaigns the NORBA circuit for Team Maxxis. He'll also be riding on the road this year with the Canadian professional team, Symmetrics.

Teaching Yao Ming about beer drinking at the Olympics

Welcome to another Kabush Report,

Big air in front of big buildings
Photo : Keri Pink
(Click for larger image)

The season is almost over and I am trying to hold it together for another week. I have one more trip to Europe for World Cup Finals at which point I may figuratively drop off the side of the earth. Actually, I am going to go to Belgium for a week to visit a friend and, well, that's where all my favourite beer is from. I thought it would be a good idea to put together a race report before that.

At last check I was out in Quebec racing two World Cups. I finished fourth in the second race in Bromont, which was quite a nasty affair, but I liked it. It was also polar opposite to the conditions I would soon face over in Beijing. In final preparation for Beijing I headed back to Victoria, where the weather was spectacular; I wouldn't know, because I was doing a bunch of training indoors with the water boiling and the heat cranked up to 35degC.

I was also staying up until 3am watching the Olympics; it was a little surreal knowing I was going to be over there in a few days. At around twelve each morning I would roll out of bed and make my way over to Pro City Cycles and pull myself some espresso; it was a pretty simple life for a while but I was glad to finally hit the road again for Beijing.

So, Beijing was a pretty big deal, I guess.... and I had my hopes up pretty high when I headed over. Obviously it didn't work out for me, which was frustrating; mountain biking is a complicated and unforgiving sport. It is not as easy as just trying hard; usually we have another chance the next weekend, but the problem with the Olympics is the next chance doesn't come around for four years.

I did learn a lot from the experience and there will be some changes made if I get another chance. The goal of the Olympics has definitely raised the level of my game and I think I would have to attribute the best season of my life to that. There was also a lot of work done by my support network of family, team, and sponsors to get me to the Olympics and it was frustrating not to have my best race there for them.

Finding my wife after the race was difficult as I was getting mobbed
Photo : Keri Pink
(Click for larger image)

So, enough, serious talk. Keri and her sister, Kristin, did get to make the trip to Beijing and it was definitely nice to see them after the race. I wasn't too happy afterwards but it was nice that we got to take in a few sights and make a few memories around Beijing. Kristin was a bit of a freak show, or special (as usual but on a different level here), because of her blond hair; she was constantly getting stopped for a picture with random Chinese people. In fact, we had to cut them off just to prevent another mobbing. It helped take my mind off the race a bit.

Even though I didn't feel much like celebrating, I decided to go to the Closing Ceremony. I'm glad I did because this is where my real Olympic moment happened: Seamus, who also had problems in the race, and I were standing around getting pretty bored with the speeches on the infield. Being Canadian we were also thinking "Where can we get a beer?" At this point we exited the infield on a mission.

After negotiating some back stairwells, elevators, and security points we found a smooth route to the fifth floor concession, where beer was about as cheap as a "designer" suit in Beijing's Pearl Market. We picked up as many as we could carry and started shuttling beer back to the infield, handing them out to deserving, and somewhat surprised, athletes who were wondering where the beer came from.

On one of the early beer shuttles I offered a Tsing Tao to Yao Ming and he gave me some line like "I don't drink, but that is best beer"; yeah right. So a little later he is a little blown out and sitting down with his team and I have another box full of beers.

Me: "Yao, how about now? You want a beer?"
Yao: "Yeah, ok"
Me: "Cheers" ....followed by me downing my entire glass.
Yao: "Your glass only half full"
Me: "Okay, you want to go again"
Yao: "Okay"
Me: "1,2,3"

It was pretty close and you have to watch this clip in slow-motion to figure out a winner:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yk40YN1q4eU

I was pretty impressed with his speed but I figured he must have a pretty big advantage with his 7ft sized mouth. We also go a picture in the Ottawa paper:
http://www.ottawasun.com/PhotoGalleries/OlympicsClosing/2008/08/25/c17.jpg

After the beer drinking contest we traded pins and shook hands in the spirit of Olympic competition.

A local fan
Photo : Keri Pink
(Click for larger image)

So, the next bike contest was another twenty-hour travel day away in Australia, which was the start of my two races/two days/two continents weekend. I also had the plan to fly another twenty hours back to Utah, where with the help of the date line, I would try to make it to the NMBS finals. I needed to finish to secure the XC series title; unfortunately I couldn't win the STXC title because, well, I couldn't be in two places at once.

Most of the riders were pretty blown out from Beijing all week in Australia but the course in Canberra saved it for most of us. It was a super fun course to ride with snaking singletrack, berms, rhythm sections, and even a few small jumps. I wasn't too sure about the legs but it was a super tight race and I ended up third within sight of the front two. I tried racing a wicked new Maxxis tire called the Aspen that you will have to look out for. I was pretty happy considering how I was feeling and I will definitely look forward to Worlds in Canberra next year. After the race I moved into a tie for second overall in the World Cup and have a little motivation for World Cup Finals in Schladming.

Stage 2 of the weekend started Sunday with a 5am wake-up in Canberra, I could only make it with carry-on only so Gary took my bike, I flew to Sydney, delayed, #$%&, landed late in LA, %#$&, sprinted to Customs, sweating, soaked shirt, missed first flight to Las Vegas, &^%$, thank goodness I booked a backup flight, sprinted down four terminals to United, arrived in Vegas, sprinted to the car where Keri is waiting, hooked-up radar detector Keri brought, ate burrito and drank some water Keri had waiting, Keri pinned it to Brian Head, I changed in car, arrived with about 30min to spare, ran to Luna Chix where all my gear and bike are good to go, phew.

That's it, that's all... See you on the trails
Photo : Keri Pink
(Click for larger image)

As the race went on I kind of got into it and found I couldn't just cruise in. The podium was just ahead so I started pushing myself to super-hyperventilation at 11 000 ft. After descending back down to 9000ft and hyperventilating for another hour I managed to fight my way up to another third place for the weekend. Mission accomplished and another NMBS XC title; all tied with Deadly Nedly for four titles. After that Keri and I drove back to Vegas and I slept for 14 hours. The next day, after a few nice meals, we slowly made our way back to Albuquerque for a little down time.

It has been nice to be home for a bit to relax and see my doggy. I am trying to pull myself out of the hurt & tired locker; I just keep telling myself "one week, one week, and then it is done like dinner for 2008".

Cheers,

Geoff

Photography

For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Keri Pink