By Geoff Kabush
I’m celebrating my 41st birthday, I’m in Utah, and I’m starting another race season at the Moab Rocks stage race. Racing bikes for a living is what I dreamed about doing as a teenager, but I had no idea where it would take me and how long this love affair would last. I never thought I’d still be racing but why put a timeline on something I enjoy so much? Looking back the sport has given me so many good memories and experiences.
The year of my 14th birthday I lived in England and discovered riding off-road on a “10-speed” and flatted on almost every ride. I bought my first true mountain bike, a 30lb fully rigid purple Kona Lava Dome, when I returned to Canada the following year and realized how lucky I was to grow up in a place like BC. How far bikes have progressed since then is truly amazing.
The year of my 15th birthday I discovered mountain bike racing for the first time at the final round of the Comox Cup Series put on by a local club. Clubs are so important to our sport and I really wish there were more. I was competitive playing almost every sport growing up but the adventure and lifestyle surrounding mountain biking were what really attracted me.
The year of my 18th birthday I traveled across the country as a Junior with my camping gear racing Canada Cups, eventually qualified, and attended the first of 21 Mountain Bike World Championships in Kirchzarten, Germany. I raced both DH and XC and after this experience in cycling crazy Europe I was hooked.
The year of my 19th birthday I rode my bike in the winter for the first time, started school at University of Victoria, and began learning from one of my mentors, Juerg Feldmann, who opened my eyes to training and physiology. His ideas, teaching, and my hard work over the next several years in Victoria laid the foundation for my career. I was surrounded by athletes who took shortcuts but the reward for me was always in the personal journey to be my best.
The year of my 23rd birthday I realized my childhood dream and qualified for the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Olympics came sooner than I could have imagined; I qualified at the last minute in a pressure cooker winner take all National Championship race. I went on to have a breakthrough International result with a 9th place. I’m still amazed and proud of the results I achieved as a clean athlete in this era of rampant drug use. After the Olympics I signed my first truly professional contract and was able to make a living riding my bike. Something I only dreamed of at first.
The year of my 26th birthday was another break out year. I finally finished off my Mechanical Engineering degree, focused on racing 100%, and I haven’t looked back since. Maybe the timing was right, the sport was starting to clean up, but I finally solidified myself as one of the top racers in North America. Disappointingly I had my second Olympic experience stolen away by drug users but I broke out winning the US National XC and STXC series for the first time.
The year of my 32nd birthday I had one of my career highlights, and most rewarding moments, when I finally stood on top of a World Cup podium in Bromont. This may have been the last time all hell broke loose on an XC course with thunder storms turning the course upside down. My skills growing up in Canada were always my biggest asset and they allowed me to ride away from the field. Seems strange now but I was the first rider to win an XC World Cup on a single ring as well as a riser bar.
The year of my 35th birthday I attended my final Olympics at London 2012 had one of my best results of the season to finish 8th. Over my career XC racing changed dramatically from my first Junior Worlds race which won in over 2.5hrs to a much shorter, steeper, and manufactured course really showcased in London. My strengths of pacing and subtle technical skills on natural terrain gradually became tougher and tougher to capitalize on.
The year of my 40th birthday I embarked on the season as an individual athlete for the first time. The demands of a sponsored athlete have changed drastically over my career. No longer can you race you bike, go home, and put your feet up. One of the main reasons for success in my career is I never stopped learning and taking on new challenges which has always kept things fresh and exciting. The best part now is I can go anywhere and do anything I decide sounds like fun.
Now on my 41st birthday I feel like my career has really come full circle. I fell in love with mountain biking because of the trails and good times. I’m back to travelling around to all kinds of amazing events like Moab Rocks where the riding and destination are the focus. Some may look at me with awe as an accomplished Pro racer but I’m just like everyone else at these events. I’m traveling and racing these events because I’m a mountain biker and I love to ride my bike. There is no way I’d still be racing on my 41st birthday if I didn’t.
Geoff Kabush is a Canadian professional mountain biker currently riding for Yeti Cycles and Maxxis Tires. Kabush has represented Canada at the Olympics on three occasions, won a World Cup XCO, landed nine World Cup XCO podiums and has won an incredible 15 Canadian national championships across three disciplines. He is a strong advocate for clean sport and helped launch the “Race Clean, Own Your Victory” initiative with Cycling Canada.