Downhill may well need ambassadors. It may well need some rock and roll too…the one and only Missy Giove…
Taken from Dirt issue 65, July 2007
There was no hype, just a fantastic character totally into two wheels who turned up, rode her bike and smiled. That she podiumed at the US Open seemed to matter hardly at all, Missy Giove had showed up out of the blue and everybody loved it. Yet even though no big deal was made of this, the enthusiasm was as pumping as ever. You can never, ever, accuse Missy Giove of being boring.
Prior to the event the former champion was uncontactable. Rumour that she was in hiding had kept the gossip open. There may well have been no Giove at World Cups for the past five years, but you can bet everyone was thinking about her. I for one had given up hope of contacting her after several dead ends. Even two former managers didn’t know where she had got to. But there she was, prepping her bike in the pits.Dirt: Missy, great to see you again, you disappeared.
Missy Giove: I had a conversation with Anne (Caroline Chausson) earlier in the year (2002) that maybe we should both retire. We felt shattered. And I didn’t know how she felt, but I felt like it would be silly for one of us to stay on because we were the two top people and it was a good time to change the guard and so on. It might have not as been so interesting to stay on. Anyhow I didn’t want to do as much travelling either, so I stopped. I ended up training some motocrossers back home. I d been travelling for 15 years so I needed a home life, you know what I mean. Have a barbecue, hang out with friends and shoot shit.
You’ve been enjoying that?
Yeah, full on, and it’s been really, really good, and I have had the time with family after all the time of being away and not necessarily ignoring them, but not really being able to dedicate the time I needed to.You get pulled along.
Always, and then I got broken and then came back from a tour every year broken and then I’d have to repair. And then I’d train hard and then have a crazy accident and then have to train again. Riding with injuries is what gave me all the other injuries. I’d race when broken sometimes because I had too, with a dislocated shoulder and then get a broken wrist and so on. You remember when I got that brain haemorrhage at the worlds? Well the reason that I even crashed was because that my arm was f–ked, I had dislocated it two days previously jumping the rock section.
What you been up to?
When I first retired I ended up going to Santa Fe, New Mexico and I had a great time, I just rode every day; dirt jump, downhill, motocross. I had a great time and probably did more riding then than in the previous four years because of the injuries. And then I met my partner and she has got kids and they are in West Virginia, but it’s as flat as f–k. The closest race is five and a half hours away. I’m buying some land and a condo in Canada right now, which is a good place to go. But we have this place down by Virginia Beach and seeing as I couldn’t ride downhill every day I switched to motocross. And you know it is because I wanted to ride and I love that.
Here in Diablo, one hour from New York, it’s a great place. Where did you start?
Up in Vermont when I started racing you know, but I grew up in New York City so we came up here often. This was like the first place I ever skied at. I mean it’s a great location, the east coast doesn’t have as much riding as the west coast, but the west coast riding is less organised. Here we have parks, same up at Snow Shoe, they have the same thing. They have the whole f–king mountainbike park set up, fast runs, two sides of the mountain, lots of runs, everyone is right here, you don’t have to worry about organising shuttles and stuff like it has to be on the west coast. Canada gets a lot of the press.
Big Bear closing down hurt mountainbiking a lot around LA, Canada is more organised as well. It’s hard for me because there are not so many places to ride, but I really feel downhill is so where it’s at, moto is something I always wanted to do and a dream I always had as a kid, I wanted to race motocross. I never really thought about bike racing. I couldn’t really afford to do motocross.
I’ve now found I’m doing a lot of Hare Scrambles, all singletrack for about three and a half hours. It’s f–king dope, it’s hard action. Its like two and a half hours of downhill, and after two hours it starts to get physically very difficult. You’re like, ‘ughh I’m on a death march all of a sudden’. I’m like done, my arse is torn up. I’m definitely a two wheel person, I can’t drive always backing up into shit, scarping shit all the time, I’m terrible, just bad, I don’t pay any attention. Not into four wheels.
Fifteen years of racing. What do you look back on that you did well?
I’d say number one was consistency. I mean me Anne and Nico; you can go out there and say every f–king race we were in contention to win. It’s definitely the overall and going head to head with everybody, but with Anne, no matter what we upped the pace at every race. And it wasn’t simply just to win it was about pushing the sport at the time. We weren’t lazy riders.
Do you think it is an important moment for downhill when Nico Voilloz races Champery?
I think there is more hype around it than anything else. We need to take it as a buzz that it is, rather than people being threatened by older riders coming back into the sport. He was the World Champion. But look at Steve Peat now; he is one of my favourite riders. I’ve ridden with a lot of guys, but it’s not just how Steve rides, it’s his style and how he does everything. Nico was different obviously, but Steve is one of the most amazing riders that mountainbiking will ever see. And now I wouldn’t say he didn’t have the consistency because he had the skill to come out every time and if he wanted to throw down and win, but whatever, once in a while you can be a little inconsistent.
Hard to keep up though year after year, when many have dropped off?
Every race eyes are on him, in the race and in practice. F–k me, if he has one slow practice run it’s like ‘f–k your going slow, what you doing checking the line out or what?’ But yeah, he’s one of my favourite riders to watch and ride behind. I’m not saying the champions now are not flying the colours well, but he really could be, and he is, an ambassador for downhill. The way sports work is that they look to a couple of individuals to carry the sport. As many people as there are, and they are not any less important as those couple of people, but the media needs a couple of people to focus on.
Nico is racing for himself.
Exactly, he’s probably coming out to have a good time and to check it out and all of a sudden there are people pretending it to be something it’s not.
He’s doing it in a friendly way.
You get bored, you do it all the time and then suddenly it’s not your life and it’s fun to just go out there and two-wheel drift you know. It’s harder to do that when you’re just training, it’s harder to push yourself to a speed you would at a race. All the riders up there on the hill today there pushing to see how far they can go before they get out of control.
Your last World Cup was?
Les Gets…but I had a horrible haematoma and my leg wouldn’t work. I couldn’t stand on the thing.
That was the week after Kaprun.
Oh my god I nearly died remember? That’s right I raced the Worlds in Kaprun and got third. Hell do you remember that? I went really wide on the corner and before and I came and I almost hit the lift tower pole or whatever and I f–king over jumped and I closed my eyes and I thought I was dead and I landed and did a nose wheelie all the way to the line…it was awesome. Martin Whitely closed his eyes because I had seat jumped the jump and was heading for the timing equipment.
New York. A great city.
Awesome. I love it. I love the music, the art, I love that you can be a freak there and it doesn’t matter you know. You can be an artist or a drug addict. The place is very cool. And it’s the people that make New York; it’s not the shopping or anything like that. It’s just being and meeting interesting people. You can go and have a coffee by yourself at three in the morning, have a piece of cheesecake and meet somebody you know.
Where do you like hanging out?
Oh, tons of different places. You know there are some great places over in Brooklyn to get some good music and whatnot. And there’s this weird place called Mimi’s over on 53rd, a place where my dad used to go. Over on east side and it has a very casual atmosphere, great place to go and have a bottle of wine with friends at one in the morning. And where older people can sing on the piano and get drunk. And of course I love going down Greenwich and East village.
What have people been saying to you this weekend?
Err, I don’t know. Well you know it’s funny because like I said, I came out to ride and have a good time and see my old friends and not have a plan. I wasn’t even sure if I was going to do my race run, but I am going to. Just saying it’s good to see you and it has been mellow, real nice. All the girls came down and then there was a big bunch of us talking, it was great. Had some people crash at my condo last night, it was a lot of fun.
How do you think your riding is?
Erm…well seeing as my bike is set up as it is I could go damn faster that’s for sure, I’ve started to pick my wheels up rolling wise but I’m not at my top speed. I need another week on my bike, but its OK I’m having fun. I’m able to two wheel drift, which is good. Good, again.