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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

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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.

The long haul towards Beijing

Hello again.

Geoff Kabush wining his 12th NMBS in March
Photo : Dave McElwaine
(Click for larger image)

Once again it has been a while between reports; I usually only get the motivation to write when the racing is going well, and recently, well, it has been going smooth. I signed off my last report while I was still in the middle of a month-long European stint.

The trip went as good as hoped, with a few snags. After the podium performance at the World Cup in Andorra, I had podium legs in Scotland but technical problems put an end to that opportunity. It made for an interesting race, as after a pit-stop in the technical zone on lap one I had to charge from the back of the pack all the way up to 24th, which I was pretty satisfied with regarding the circumstances.

By now, I can only remember a few things... the weather was unbelievably nice for the whole week, I saw the top of Ben Nevis for the first time and there was one guy I had to ride behind in the race who has become a little notorious for riding downhill extremely slowly. It just bugs me sometimes how people call themselves professional mountain bikers but have never actually learned how to ride a mountain bike. It is not like this individual isn't serious either; he has been a National Champion, top ten in the World Cup and he actually rides a full suspension with riser bars, which, you would think it would help him ride down hills faster. I am just saying if you want to race mountain bikes it might be a good idea to learn to mountain bike a little bit. Okay that is my rant, see if you can figure out who I am talking about... he might like sauerkraut.

So from Scotland we went to Willingen, Germany, where they serve sauerkraut a lot. There is a big bike festival there and it was a great place to hang out for a week besides the fact it rained a lot, I got sick and the beer isn't very good. I got some decent training in though and thanks to the Maxxis Germany guys there, who hooked us up for the week. We had time there to hang out before our last stop of the Euro campaign, the World Championships in Italy.

I was sure glad to get to Italy, the land of excellent one euro macchiatos, because my beans were getting old and I was tired of hand grinding my beans. I figure the hand-grinder, although annoying, was some good cross-training while in Europe. At the Worlds, it was a hot steamer and I wasn't quite healthy; I was satisfied to end up with a 16th and move on with a few more points in the bank.

I flew back from Europe, had a few fleeting moments with Keri and the animals and then I was straight off to another NMBS bike meet in Park City, Utah. I fell a little short of the "W" in the XC, took the "W" in the STXC and was bitterly disappointed to have a technical problem in the Super D. After some trash talking with the downhillers all week I wasn't able to take it to them as I wanted; next time they better watch out if I don't have any problems. It was cool to see my team-mate "Caveman" Cole step up and take a win in the Dual Slalom though; I was happy to take some credit though for pushing his bike back up the hill for semi-finals and finals.

After a busy schedule, I was pretty psyched to finally have some downtime and enjoyed slowing down for a few weeks on Vancouver Island. I put some new grips on my townie, hit the coffee shop circuit hard and even had time to get back to my favourite place to ride in the world; Hornby Island. My hippie van started and even made it both ways with no problems.

Before I left town, Logan, from my favourite coffee shop, Discovery Coffee, hooked me up with some very special beans to take out to Quebec for team-mate Mr. Mat Toulouse. These were some of the incredible Hacienda la Esmerelda Especial, Auction Lot, Best of Panama #1, 2007; that is some coffee nerd talk there. It is pretty much the best coffee in the world and Mat deserved to get a taste after taking care of business at the NMBS race in New York. While I was cruising around the trails of Hornby Island, Mat was taking out his first NMBS XC race win and it was great to see.

I met up with Mat and the rest of the team in Mt. St. Anne for Canadian Nationals and the first of a tri-fector of race weekends in Quebec. The Nationals were a great appetizer for the World Cup which would happen the following weekend, I took my fifth Senior XC Maple Leaf jersey and Toulouse brought home a solid bronze.

I was initially disappointed to hear many of the Europeans weren't going to come to the two World Cup's in Canada. We spend months in Europe because of the understandably Eurocentric schedule, but they are not willing to make the easy trip to Quebec for 10 days? It is there job to race and support the series and there is still plenty of time to rest and train before the Olympics in my opinion.

Anyway, I was happy to see that the top two riders in the World showed up, Absalon and Sauser, because I want to race and compete against the best. Unfortunately, Sauser's bad month continued with another crash in training which forced him out of the race; see YouTube for his other crash at Marathon Worlds. Absalon, however, showed up on the start line with his "A" game and showed why I think he will be the guy to beat in Beijing. I had an excellent race on a course that is excellent for my skill set and was happy to be back on a World Cup podium for the second time this year. I separated myself from the rest of the field and felt great but I wasn't able to close down the gap to Absalon. I am very encouraged at where I am with a month to go to the Olympics. It is nice to train hard and get confirmation that the work is paying off.

So next up is another World Cup in Bromont and then a couple weeks back in Victoria before Beijing. I will be staying up late, cranking the heat and mainly just trying to stay healthy. If that happens, I think anything is possible. If not I will have a really sweet red and white bike with a bunch of red and white parts. Thanks to Gary and all the sponsors for the special bits and pieces it looks pretty, pretty, fast. I might have to shave my head to keep up.

Over and out,
Geoff