For some, happiness is a bike ride in the country, but pro mountain biker Geoff Gulevich’s tastes are a bit more extreme. Schön! tries to keep up with him as he takes on the world… Two wheels at a time.
Mankind’s desire to watch other humans undertake potentially fatal feats is not a new thing – but it does appear to have evolved. Although we may not be so quick to watch gladiators fight to the death, or witness someone fire themselves out of a canon anymore (thankfully), we still live vicariously through the daredevil activities of those who thrive on adrenaline. One such thrill-seeker is 28-year-old freeride mountain biker Geoff ‘Gully’ Gulevich. It’s been a decade since he turned pro and now the laid-back Canadian is at the top of his game – and generally at the top of a mountain somewhere too.
It’s midday in Vancouver, Canada, when we speak with Gulevich. He paints a scenic and calming picture of his surroundings: it sounds like spring is in the air, the February weather is mild, providing the “perfect biking conditions”. However, there’s more to blooming blossoms and baby sheep when it comes to the perfect biking conditions for Gulevich, as we’re not exactly talking about a jolly ride around the park.
Gulevich’s day job takes guts. You only have to watch a Youtube video of what he does to experience the rollercoaster ride of competition mountain biking. A fish-eye lens placed on top of his helmet during the Red Bull Rampage last year takes us through the twists and turns and gravity defying leaps. First impression? Gulevich is a mad man.
The job is not without its injuries either. At 18, the biker broke his kneecap. “The doctors told me I wouldn’t be able to ride again,” he says. “That was a solid two year recovery right there.” Despite the risk, his love for the sport is always apparent, and it’s been this way for most of his life.
“When I was about 12, I always wanted to hang out with my older brother and his friends,” Gulevich recalls. “They were all deeply involved in [riding], and they always showed me biking videos and things like that, and right away I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do.” Coming from a baseball family (both his father and brother were semi-pro players), he was encouraged to take a different career path. “They both ruined their shoulders, so obviously they wanted me to play baseball,” he explains, “but I was just over the team sports thing and I just love the serenity of being in the woods by myself or just a couple friends, being away from the city and not being told what to do.” Gulevich stuck to his guns and has gone on to forge an enviable career. He’s always been more of “a trail rider, like a technical rider, more than I was dirt jumper”, which sees him navigating things like 15 metre drops and seriously dangerous terrain. He’s also known as one of the most progressive freeriders in the sport, having placed in the top five in competitions such as the Red Bull Rampage and Jumpship.
This year, Gulevich plans to explore a different path, but one that is no less physically demanding. “I’m definitely doing less competitions,” he divulges. “I’m going to capitalise on the adventure story side of mountain biking. [I’m] over the contest scene.” With plans to start a family at some point in the future, a less frenetic pace of life is inevitably on the cards. “This is definitely something that I’ll do recreationally forever,” he says, but adds that he’d like to move out of the limelight, while still being “involved in the industry”.
In the meantime, Gulevich turns to other adrenaline-inducing activities in his spare time, such as skydiving and more… “I’ve always just been excited to push the boundaries,” he explains, but when he isn’t jumping off cliffs or casually riding down steep heart-in-our-mouth trails you’ll find him… reading.
“I love old war stories or like survival stories,” he reveals. “I’m reading Unbroken right now, a story about an American prisoner of war. I’m two thirds of the way through and I’m just hooked on it. Every night, I’m like ‘shall I watch a movie? Go to bed? Nah, I’m gonna read!’” he laughs.
Whether it’s literary cliff-hangers or literally riding off cliffs, Geoff Gulevich certainly enjoys living life on the edge.