North Vancouver-based Geoff “Gully” Gulevich is an undisputed legend of the freeride mountain bike world in Canada and beyond. In his competitive years, he finished 5th in both the Red Bull Rampage and Crankworx, placing him among the elite of the elite.
Now in his late thirties, he continues to stretch out his pro riding career into something nearly every human on earth could envy: he rides bikes for a living. We definitely want to be Geoff Gulevich when we grow up.
Last year Gully busted his femur in 17 places in a ski accident but he’s back on the bike and as stoked as ever to get after it. Here are some highlights from our conversation.
The Ski Accident
“Skiing with two experienced and knowledgeable friends in a very familiar zone [in the Coast Mountains of B.C.] I had my skis swept out from under me due to my own slough. It triggered a small slide that tossed me a tree. When things settled, I tried calling for my group but was met with silence. I dug myself out of a waist-deep burial to find that my right femur was broken and my leg was completely sideways. Realizing that this had now escalated from a close call to an actual emergency, I scanned my surroundings and thought about my options.
I knew it would take too long for my crew to realize something was wrong and then I wasn’t sure they would be able to get to me. With adrenaline flowing, I straightened out my leg, got my left ski off and decided to slide my body down the remaining slope to get down and make contact.
I slid myself down the final 150 feet of steep slope to the flat bottom. My team called North Shore Rescue while I crawled away from the avy zone and was able to straighten my leg again, build an elevated snow block for my leg and then cover it in snow to prevent the swelling from getting too bad, while we waited for the helicopter.”
“When you’re coming back from an injury, you don’t really see the gains because you’re so close to it.“
ML: Have you been on skis since?
GG: I’ve done four days now. Day one was as safe as you can get. Probably did three times as many turns down a chill run than I would normally. That first day was a bit of a mind hurdle to get over. I got more and more nervous the closer I got to the top of the mountain. And then for the first couple of turns, I was just like, Man, there’s so much leverage on skis. Like if I was to take a hard left and my leg snapped, my career would be done. But then by day four, I’m racing my buddy, telling myself I need to chill out.
When you’re coming back from an injury, you don’t really see the gains because you’re so close to it. But every time your buddies see you and you’re making leaps and bounds, it’s important to hold on to all those small victories and just keep marching on.
MTB Riding Style + “Big Sweet Adventures”
“I’m trying to remember when I stopped competing—I was probably around 30. I moved more into adventure riding and started finding incredible destinations that most people wouldn’t think they could take bikes to. Mountain biking is so much more than just competition.
I don’t know if people want to call it a vacation or an excursion. But there are always ways to travel with your bike and do something that not many people get to do. So it’s been cool to hop on that train early. And that’s kind of where my passion is now: big sweet adventures.”
“I was in the Red Bull Rampage five times. My best result was fifth. A bunch of top-tens on top of that. That event is so unique and truly it’s the pinnacle of our sport.”
ML: You were commentating at the Rampage last year, right?
GG: Yeah, that was pretty cool. That was a blast. But you know, the judges get such a hard time. I’ve judged it twice myself and I decided to step away from it just because it’s so hard to pick that one apart. I don’t envy the judges whatsoever, but having someone in between to kind of break down why they’re scoring things and why people have got which positions, whether I agree or not—it’s fun just to verbalize it and show the viewer why things are happening.
ML: It seemed like last year the judging was particularly controversial. Is that fair?
GG: I don’t think that’s anything new. I mean, it’s a super tough one. To even define what the Rampage is supposed to be, is tough. There’s almost two kinds of riding coming together at this point: the big mountain guys—the pure, full suspension, downhill racer homies. And then there’s the slopestyle guys that come in and add their flavor to it. And they always do well. It’s always a cool combination to see what those guys can piece together—both the most important elements of big mountain and slopestyle and apply it where you’re going to score. It’s nuts. And the evolution continues.
“E-bikes are so much fun. I was on mine today. Just getting over some crux peaks and things like that. That kind of “Oh Shit Power,” I call it. I don’t want to stress my [injured] leg too much. So I’ve been e-biking like a ton. It helped me rehab through this injury. I could go cycling and begin to build strength before I was “allowed” to because I had the motor. And just for everyday riding, it’s incredible. It’s the eco shuttle. You can leave your vehicle, just go pedal it out. And the climbs are so much fun now. You get almost more of an upper body workout, hauling a little more weight around. I feel like we’re just all going to be on e-bikes eventually. Everybody already has electric derailers and everything. They’re one step away.”
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