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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.

Beer, podiums and puppies

OK, I have really been procrastinating since my last race report; I have actually had a lot to write about but I am a little lazy when it comes to typing out a few paragraphs about bike racing. Since my last report I have had a NMBS in Foutain Hills, AZ; three World Cups in Europe (Houffalize, Offenburg, Madrid); and then another NMBS in Santa Ynez, CA. Now I am back over in Europe for a month and actually have some pretty good news to write about; more about that in a bit.

Let's summarize:

* Norba #2 in Fountain Hills, AZ went bingo, bango, bongo. Desert singletrack is just about perfect for me; little climbing and lots of corners. Three races = three wins. After making contact with Johnny T, it appears I need one more XC National win to catch him in the record books with fourteen; I wore some day-glo green circa 1993 Oakley Blades to pay homage.

* We arrived in Belgium and the rain stopped for us. Checked in to our Barbie-sized house where we sampled Belgian beer all week with the staff and our guest travelling companions, Kris "Kron" Sneddon, and Barry "Circus Clown" Wicks of team Kona. Top three beers are now Chimay Bleu, Karmeliet Tripel, and Rochefort 8. Lined up with 260 guys (ridiculous) and tied my PB with a 12th place finish and a solid start to the Euro campaign.

* We continued on to Offenburg, Germany which is one of my favourite venues that is really great for the spectators. I was having a pretty good ride, got excited, turned on the turbo and got to the top ten and exploded last lap.....19th.

* Next it was on to Camping El Escorial, we usually stay in little cabins in a campsite outside of Madrid where the training is spectacular with a few drawbacks. Besides the hundreds of rules, like the strictly enforced 10km/hr speed limit, it was a Spanish holiday so the campground was absolutely packed which added a little entertainment and odor. In the race I realized early on that my legs were kind of rubbish; I pulled the plug out of the lead group and was pretty happy after I regrouped and moved up to salvage a respectable 21st place finish.

So the season was all going pretty well at the bike meets; nothing spectacular but I was exactly where I wanted to be and staying healthy. After Euro Stage One I headed back to Albuquerque where I was going to hang out for the bigger part of three weeks and get ready for altitude at World Cup #4 in Andorra. What happened in those three weeks?

* My first call when I got to the airport was from Keri who got rear-ended on her way to pick me up. At first blush it didn't seem too bad but after seeing the doctor and getting some X-rays it turned out she fractured a vertebrae and it hasn't been a lot of fun since as she can't work or exercise and is in a lot of pain....big bummer.

* We only had 5 dogs and 3 cats when I got home which was a relief. In addition to our 2 dogs and 3 cats Keri took on a couple whippets and 6 puppies from a friend; luckily 5 puppies were gone by the time I got home so it was only a little crazy; not insanely crazy.

* As all the team staff was in Europe helping Sabrina take World Cup V #1 I went for a solo mission at to the NMBS in Santa Ynez. It was hotter than a snakes arse in the desert and I had to ride in my own little world in the XC in the +100deg F sun. I didn't make the lead group but was able to pick off all but Sid the Squid for 2nd place. I bounced back on day two and beat out the Circus Clown in a STXC sprint and then restarted my downhill career with a Super D victory as well.

* I finished off my bike practice in Albuquerque by getting caught in a 60mph wind, marble sized hail storm that left me covered in welts and was so hard it ripped a couple holes in my SRM PC unit.

So after a three week break I had to pack up for Euro Stage Two, which is going to be a month long affair, for a couple World Cups (Andorra, Scotland), a bike festival in Willingen, and then World Championships in Italy.

We arrived in Andorra and instead of the dry open terrain I had imagined it was somewhat cold, rainy, and covered in a lot of trees. We checked out the course; it was at altitude, it was rocky, rooty, and a little wet. This was starting to look like a pretty good place to race for me. I started out my race in control and just tried to not get too excited and fight for position. I knew early on that the potential for a good finish was there; I didn't fall back too far and was feeling very relaxed in the technical trails. It got pretty exciting near the finish as I rapidly starting passing people and had the leaders in sight as the finished approached. I ran out of trail and ended 3rd ; missed the win by 17secs, 2nd by 9secs, but I am still extremely satisfied as it is by far my most significant result on this side of the Atlantic.

So I got some good news on the racing front as I wasn't really expecting a European podium and I hope to just keep on building the form as the summer goes on. Hopefully the rest of the trip goes as well and my thoughts are with Keri hoping that her back starts to improve.

No tears, more beers, that's it, that's all,