The Life & Times of Missy Giove | Higher Ground

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The Life & Times of Missy Giove | Higher Ground

Do you want to stay involved in mountain biking by way of an industry job, as a coach or mentor?

I love everything about MTB and I’d be down for helping some of the dreamers pin it and have their days! I love the intensity of the races and the mental states the riders need to attain. Creativity with line choices is always fun and hooking that up for aspiring riders would certainly be gratifying. I’d also love to jump in the commentary box with Rob Warner sometime and get him going on a good rant!

While we rode, you mentioned the idea of doing some filming, shooting and wanting to ride some remote, out of bounds stuff. Anything in the works?

I would be so down to do a film in new locations while I still wanna smash it. I also want to be behind the lens and do some film projects that involve music, art, other big mountain outdoor sports and humanitarian issues.

You were on form when we rode! Although I couldn’t notice, you say your injuries have taken a toll. Do you need any surgeries?

I spent so much of my life all injured and f–ked up that I can’t remember what it feels like to not have it by my side 24/7. Pain has been a huge teacher for me though. I am a better person cause it deepened my compassion, so I can’t trade in my experiences, but I eventually will need back surgery.

We know it’s a grocery list, but just how many broken bones and concussions have you endured over the years? You’re known for being a savage, and recovering from some huge get–offs, but on paper?

I broke my pelvis with over 17 inches of fracture, crushed it moto’ing. I had a ruptured spleen, a broken wrist, and concussion all at the same time. ICU for a long time, then a wheel chair for six months. I won worlds 12 months later. I still I have bad back and neck pain 24/7. I suffered a bad brain haemorrhage at World Champs 2001. Dude, my headaches were so bad for three months that I had to find a higher ground because it was so difficult to live through. I have a seizure disorder now and it affected my moods. I’m a little more manic than I naturally am. My highs are higher and my lows are lower. I’ve tried medication, but it didn’t really help. I’ve learned to deal with it. When I do get sad, I mostly get sad about missing loved ones that have passed. My dad, all of my animals that have passed, relatives and friends. I try to remind myself that I just need to celebrate their lives and what they brought to me in this world and carry that on. As for my seizures, they are a bit sketchy but it’s all good. As for breaks: well over 30. The last big one was my leg in two places and it blew out my knee real bad. Tibia/fibula on one side, femur on the other. I waited and went to the hospital a week later cause I couldn’t go when it happened. At the time I was in the middle of this deal out west and didn’t want record of where I was. I was skiing when I did it, so I took off my ski boots with the skis still on and left them on the mountain. I got a limo to pick me up, rolled a fat one up and shot gunned a shit ton of beers to deal with it. Never got my skis or boots back!

That’s pretty bonkers. Coming back and winning Worlds is quite the testament to your grit. Are there any particular ideologies or religious views that you hold close?

I believe in only love! I had a near death experience while having a seizure and kept leaving my body. I thought I was dying and had to go through a process of accepting my own death. The first time it was so scary to let go but I surrendered myself to the understanding that this was just a body and not who I was. I stopped breathing, which I was struggling to do. Like clothes you put on everyday. So I left my suit on the couch and I travelled to other worlds and went to what I experienced as existence in itself and there was only love. Nothing else existed, and I had the understanding instantly that this is what created all forms of life. Love is life, we are all one. As for stuff my wife says I should keep to myself: I see and pet Centaurs and Pegasus and two suns in the sky sometimes with over lapping dimensions, vibrating molecules. The air often looks like the ocean to me. I remembered that I flew dragons and the tattoo on my right shoulder was a dragon that helped me save lives. I flew some with a few of my friends I rode downhill with. We were Archangels together. Maybe one of you will remember… if you do, then get a tattoo of your dragon. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t see Jesus with a vaporizer walking on water up there, ha ha.

Most of us first saw you at age 17. Now that you’re 41 years old can you glean any particular insight how you live your day to day life? Any certain mottos, Missy’s code of ethics?

I try to go through my days in life trying to be the best person I can be. For me, that means trying to connect in a positive way to whatever (like nature and animals) or whomever (family, friends, random people) I can on a daily basis and give them the love and support they need at the moment. I care if I make someone’s life better or worse, but I don’t really care too much if people like me. I would rather give people a laugh in life and make them think and show them love. But even though I am mostly a loner and spend more time with animals and nature than people, when I do wanna connect, I wanna connect. I try to be myself even if they hate me or dislike me or my views because I want them to be themselves. I just find their slant on life interesting and I want to experience it. I try not to be judgmental and connect with everyone. I want to make memories everywhere even if I don’t feel like talking to people in that moment. The other day, my battery kept dying every time I turned my jeep off. So I needed yet another jump. It was pouring rain and I had just gotten done surfing and I was already wet. I asked an old nice guy sitting next to me in his car for a jump. He came out anyway in the rain with his harmonica and I beat on my Jeep as we were waiting for the battery to charge and we were singing and dancing in the rain together. I love to live that kind of life together. The world doesn’t seem to have any strangers in it. It was such a free and happy feeling and the people passing by were smiling and laughing. I recently also got my ass handed to me by a brilliant, offbeat, lonely and alone drunk homeless guy that schooled me in chess at a local park the other day, but from him I got a killer creole crawfish family recipe and a sea tale that are now part of my own memories. There is so much to learn by letting yourself be open.

You have some pretty incredible stories…has your memory suffered from concussions and haemorrhages?

I was in Japan for a race and I was hanging in Osaka for a few days and I went for a little shred alone and drifted off the edge of a trail on pee gravel and landed in trees that saved my fall but I gave myself amnesia. So I didn’t remember who the hell I was and where I was supposed to be. I rode into the city and ended up at an arcade and spent all the money I had on me apparently. Went home with a local Japanese friend I just made and slept on a tatami mat, eating squid and miso for breakfast saying “miso Japanese!” Until I kinda just woke up and remembered my life and where I was supposed to be. Four days had past.

I also had a bad case of amnesia doing some gnarly ridge trails on the moto in the New Mexico high desert and didn’t remember anything about my life again for close to a month. I even remember seeing the moto on the ground and realizing I had a helmet on my head so I must have ridden it but I didn’t know I knew how to ride it. Finally my friend rolled up on her moto and I asked her if I was in France and if I knew how to ride the moto. She assured me I knew how and to get on it cause it was like a 10 mile trip back to the pick–up. I was supposed to follow her back but I kept taking off in different directions and she had to herd me back to the truck to drop my dumb ass off with no short or long term memory. When I emerged from my mental vacation a month later I had the experience written all over my hands, etc. My family showed me film of myself everyday for a month and I told them “that ain’t me and I’m not doing any of that”. Then I just woke up one morning, remembered everything and wanted to go smash out some shuttle runs that day, ha ha. Other than that I’d say my memory is pretty f–king good.

This may seem redundant, but what are your views on marijuana? Do you deem it to be a performance enhancer? Should it be a banned substance?

I definitely advocate herb. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been dealing it. I have my own opinion and many personal experiences with it. Personally, I know why it’s only a plus for me, aside from the legal aspects of course. There are healthy ways to use marijuana (vaporizer and ingestion).

Plants are genius and we have so much to learn from them. Millions of years in evolution. We have a society that generates and perpetuates fear and is so limiting. It’s used for control based on greed. Other things like mushrooms and cactus have been highly persecuted with no legitimate cause. It’s ridiculous that it is illegal. These plants don’t promote consumerism, greed or separatism. But communes don’t make capitalists happy. Such an asset to our society… medicine, fuel, clothing, paper, even rope. And a great stress free recreational time! The negative environmental and health impacts these replaced industries caused are terrible. Pharmaceuticals with so many side affects. The cotton industry who simply was in bed with the oil industry, nylon, etc. tobacco/alcohol companies who are poisoning people and causing health issues. Walmart is the biggest drug dealing middle man I know… of a bunch of different drugs that can and do kill people and make them not as nice as they really are That’s f–king sad. Someone’s got to say it. OK. End of stoney rant. Peace to you all! “Live your truth snowflakes!” What’s right is right! Billie Jean movie reference.

So you mentioned you surf a lot and I knew you went pretty big on skis. Your style oozed moto, so we all know you probably kill it with a throttle, but did you ever or will you ever compete in any of those sports?

I love soul sports in nature. I surf all the time. I have been backcountry skiing and boarding my whole life and need these things. I competed in three events in the X–Games all in one year. Snowboarded for Burton, skied for Salomon, sort of like Napalm. But I really just like big mountain powder skiing/boarding. I’m getting into wind surfing and kite surfing cause I live near OBX and it’s killer for that. You can see tons of sharks out there! As far as moto goes, I love it but not as much as the others cause I don’t feel as connected to the nature because of the noise. I love rallying minis in the woods with drunk friends. But I typically like to freeride in the desert/high desert, Crusty’s type shit. Creative natural hits and arroyos. When I moved back east I did a few of the GNCC races on a clapped out two–stroke RM125, hung over, on the breakfast of champs. I took a couple hits off an apple and then I ate it, then raced for three hours. I passed 376 dudes and got second in pro chick’s class with three crashes.

You recently had a taste of modern equipment and rode a bike with a 63º headangle and a sub 14” bottom bracket. Game changing isn’t it?

Oh man, these new bikes are so sick! Hats off to the geniuses that engineered all that stuff. I couldn’t believe the coin people were dropping on bikes. Then I got on one and now I’m saying, I can’t believe money can buy you that much fun! I can’t stop thinking about what a blast I had. So many new line choices open up. Your reaction time is quicker cause the bike is lighter and more manageable. I came off of a 48.5lb bike. Now I just want to get a new bike and smash the shit out of some of these new trails with some friends. I don’t feel as limited. My bike was tight and she did me right but it’s a 2002 or 2003, feelin’ me?

So what do you think of the courses these days? Considering how much more competent the bikes are, don’t you think some of them are a bit tame?

The tracks are fairly legit. I’d like to see wider courses with lots of line choices. I would love to do a few WC races again just to drift on some of these new courses on these new bikes. Val di Sole (#1 choice), Hafjell, Norway (#2 choice), also the Northwest (Oregon) would be a place I’d want to see a WC land in the US. The trails they build look so natural and technical but still flowy. I love finding backsides on sketchy roots and rocks to just be an artist in the moment. Plans suck, they feel so limiting!

I’m sure you have tons of old stories about sponsors, pits and shenanigans. Are there any in particular that we should hear about?

I’m gonna throw it way back. I wanna give a quick shout out to one of my first sponsors I ever had that didn’t know they sponsored me. Thanks for my first pair of riding shoes – Specialized’s hot from Putney Bike Shop. I stole ’em and put my soleless hiking boots in the box. The duct tape wouldn’t work anymore. Sorry man, I rode in ’em every day. I wore a wool jersey and raced a slalom finals run in it at Mt. Snow NORBA one year for you. Dope shop in a cool old barn in Vermont! Thanks for not calling the cops if you knew. I love you guys. Sorry!

After letting Missy’s truly cosmic stories percolate through my brain one question lingered, ‘where have the big personalities gone?’ Who exudes this calibre of star power, charisma and flair these days? Nowadays most of the key players are pretty tame. Enthusiasts get riled up by riders who drift once in a while or throw whips into a race run. Online pontificators carry on banter over who’s cooler based off of whether a racer uses clips or flats, but there aren’t any true enigmas like we once had. This shouldn’t come off as cynical, but just an observation about where things could be headed. We’ve seen some class acts come and go, Peaty and Cedric Gracia are still adding more zest to the sport than most of the young guns. Chris Kovarik, Sam Hill, Nathan Rennie and others were hectic, wild guys in their heyday, but none of them, nor anyone else for that matter, can even carry Missy’s bags in terms of personality, she was a rock star in the sport. After parting ways and getting on the plane it dawned on me… is this sport getting watered down by gluten free diets, concerns over who has more Twitter followers, and 33lb carbon bikes being heated in tents before race runs? Are the ‘gonzo’ days really over? While we’ve seen some amazing advancements that allow us all to have more fun and go faster, a lot of these changes may be for the worse. They could serve as a distraction from what really matters – idols that stir the pot, take huge risks and captivate fans. One thing is certain, it’s imperative that we continue to see some raw energy and attitude if we want this sport to continue flourishing.

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