Geoff “Gully” Gulevich mills around the basement of his parent’s house in North Vancouver, packing for a long haul.
Crankworx France, a Rocky Mountain trip, the GoPro Dirt Diaries shoot, a shot at the very first X Games Mountain Bike Slopestyle—a lot of things to stuff into only a couple bags. As one of the most capable riders in mountain biking today, this is simply Gully’s style. He’s created a career out of freeriding with video and photo documentation and multiple podium presences as proof. So how does one prepare for all of this? And how do they get there?
“You know Todd Fiander, “Digger,” from the old Digger movies like Northshore Extreme II? My brother’s friends showed me that and I saw Wade [Simmons] riding and Dangerous Dan and I was like, ‘That’s what I’m gonna do.’ I didn’t even own a mountain bike yet. It’s pretty weird.”
“My first bike was a Norco Katmandu that I saved up for six months doing my paper route. It was a three-hundred dollar bike, a complete piece. I ended up folding the front end in two months and then moved on from that. I bought another roachy bike from one of my brother’s friends and I got a real job right away so I could afford it. Then I started having a couple bikes given to me by the time I was fourteen or fifteen.”
"It was a three-hundred dollar bike, a complete piece. I ended up folding the front end in two months and then moved on from that."
The 26-year-old freerider began his career at sixteen with Cove Bikes and DaKine. It ballooned from there to his current sponsors including Rocky Mountain, DaKine, Marzocchi, Adidas Eyewear, IXS, FiveTen, MyPakage, Spank, Gastown Physiotherapy and Pilates, GoPro, Black Tusk Jerky and the Whistler Bike Park. No one waltzes into full sponsorship—there’s always a pile of junked bikes, summer jobs and sacrifices in the wake. But what fuels one from riding as a hobby to a passion to a profession is a different kind of fire, and a bit of luck.
“I played baseball, soccer, rugby, and a couple of other sports growing up. I just got over team sports. It frustrated me when people didn’t try as hard as you. Or they were making silly errors. Doing something on your own you know who to blame, and it’s only you, it’s all on you. So, that’s what kind of appealed to me, being the boss. If you don’t want to ride hard that day then don’t, you can’t blame it on anyone. If you mess up, it’s on you. If you’re doing well, you’re stoked.”
“No moto, no BMX, I just went straight to mountain biking. The first appeal was just being out of the city, being up in the woods. I basically just wanted to be on my bike every day and that’s what I did and people started to notice me here and there. I was actually just riding down some trail when Digger stopped me. He was like ‘Hey! Do you want to get some shots?’ It just sort of happened. I did a couple of his movies and then it kind of snowballed from there.”
“I started seeing the progression, like what my friends could do, and we pushed each other from that. Then my friends started getting real jobs and growing up, going to school, so they all kind of disappeared one by one. It came to the point where I started reaching out to other people from other communities, like Kurt Sorge from Nelson, Graham Agassiz from Kamloops, Jarret Moore and Scott “Wink” Grant from Victoria, the Claw [Darren Berrecloth] he’s from Parksville, Jordie Lunn from Parksville. All these guys come together and we all ride all the time now. It’s a crazy progression like that.”
“I remember Geoff coming home one day from riding when he was really young and saying, ‘Oh my god, mom, I just saw Wade Simmons!’” Says Gully’s mother, “Willmasterdotflex” as he calls her. “Out of all the people Geoff has met and looked up to, Wade is the person that he has held the same respect for through the years. Wade is still his biggest role model and influence to this day.”
The influence and inspiration
“Seeing him [Wade Simmons] in movies and interviews and things he was just so laid back and such a natural talent—you respect that. You aspire to be something like that. And when I finally got to know the guy things didn’t change. He’s still that down-to-earth guy, just stoked to ride his bike. I still aspire to be that guy when I’m his age. Watching Wade, Thomas [Vanderham], Ritchie [Schley], [Brett] Tippie—those guys got me psyched on the whole thing. Jay Hoots was actually the first guy who took me under his wing and taught me the business side of things and how to make a career out of it. He kind of gave me the first notes and I built off of that.”
This is how it all started for Geoff, growing up on the North Shore of Vancouver, BC, riding nearly every day. Now one of the premier freeriders on the Rocky Mountain team, Geoff is doing exactly what he wanted to do nearly ten years ago—ride bikes on his own terms. With idols-turned-teammates Wade Simmons, Brett Tippie and Thomas Vanderham, he continually surrounds himself with the most influential mountain bikers on the planet and still calls North Vancouver home.
The North Shore
“I think it’s some of the most technical riding in the world. And if you’re riding all the trails here with ease then you can kind of ride anywhere. It’s just all a segue into real mountain biking. We have some of the three best mountains to ride five minutes in any direction from my house. Good dirt jumps, good skateparks, and then a good community—that’s key to have. Bike shops everywhere that are all just pumping it out. It’s fun out here. I really don’t see myself living anywhere else.”
“I think it’s some of the most technical riding in the world. And if you’re riding all the trails here with ease then you can kind of ride anywhere."
Loaded up with Wade Simmons’ original Cove from 1997 with a Marzocchi Bomber fork and GripShifts, a visorless helmet and a skinsuit for flair, he and photographer Paris Gore are packed for Kamloops to shoot some old school freeriding as part of their GoPro Dirt Diaries video for Crankworx Whistler. It’s throwback themed, loose and untimed—just how Gully likes it.
On timeless bike riding and technology.
“This project is fun. We’re going out to Kamloops to ride some O.G. freeride lines that Wade and Tippie and crew did back in the day. And we’re doing it with old bikes and old gear. We’re even filming it with an old VHS style camera.”
“I’ve never been a fan of racing. I like watching it, those guys are awesome athletes and it’s cool to see. But I don’t care about the fastest line, I care about the most fun line. Like if there’s a jump on a track that’s definitely slower, I’m going to take it anyway, I don’t care. Or if I go to ride an enduro with my friends I don’t care about winning in the least bit. I’d go because I want ride with my friends and that’s what they’re doing.”
“It’s cool to see the suspension and braking progression, the suspension designs. Shifting, all the little things that come in different places. I don’t know what I like most. Brakes are nice, they’ve just saved your hands. The new Marzocchi stuff, I can’t believe how good it’s gotten. Just so low maintenance. And places like Whistler, it’s helped in every way imaginable. Instead of riding your average trails and getting like one lap in, complete rookies can hop on a bike and go to a place like Whistler and get five or six. And the trails are so safe that your level can just jump three grades in one day. I’ve see riders who can’t pedal without sitting down doing a four-footer at the end of the day. Where else does that happen?”
Geoff continues to sip a beer and tie up loose ends. It’s a strange feeling to pack dreams into a bag. Sometimes that’s what you have to do, and then open them when you get there. Before the two peel east there’s one last thing that’s undoubtedly on all our minds: the future.
The big picture
“I don’t know really. I just like rolling the dice and playing it as it comes. I’ve never been the guy who makes a five-year plan, let alone a six-month one. Right now I just like to go with it. I don’t really want to make plans unless I have to. I’ve been playing it a little safer this year, saving up for some bigger events, and that’s what it comes down to. But one day I’ll knock some chick up and that will be the end of it. You know, it’s all right being a professional teenager right now.”