Saturday, March 5, 2016

Georgia on My Mind - an interview with Besik Gavasheli

 
 If you came to the COMBO winter fatbike series, you probably noticed a racer in a screaming red kit with “Georgia” on it.  You may have also noticed his fur-hat wearing father assisting him before the race.  You may have been curious about his story. 

I was curious too, so I asked this Georgian to answer ten questions for me.  Unlike most people, he didn’t tell me to fuck off, and actually was quite happy to answer the questions.
 
No, he’s not from Atlanta.  His name is Besik Gavasheli (“Beso”) and he’s a 27 year old racer from the Republic of Georgia.  That’s also where Stalin came from.  Beso may ride like a boss, but that’s the only similarity. Beso attended school in Tbilisi, Georgia, then went to the Georgian Technical University for four years to finish with a degree in civil engineering.  


It was hard to find cycling sponsorship in Georgia, so Beso moved to the US in October 2015 and currently lives in Cincinnati with his folks.  Beso would love to stay here in US for the next few year but he’s not sure if he will stay in Ohio or move to another state.  What a gutsy move for someone to follow their passion by moving to an entirely different country.

Beso’s main sponsor for his international races is the Georgian Cycling Federation.  In the US he has recently been picked up by the Trek bike store of Cincinnati. 


He started cycling as an amateur downhill rider in 2006-2007, and within a few years made the switch to the Cross Country Olympic discipline.  Since 2009, Beso has won the national title in Mountain Bike XCO seven times and twice won the national title in road bike time trails (TTI).


Beso was the first ever Georgian mountain bike rider in his country’s history to make the world pro level for XCO.  He earned the first UCI international points for Georgia in 2010 and was the first Georgian ever ranked in worldwide level.  He has participated in and won international races all around the world.  His best UCI rank was in 2013, where he was ranked 130 in the world.  His race resume is staggering, including World Cups and WCH, and he competed in the first ever European Olympic Games in Baku 2015. 


Beso doesn’t have heroes per se, but aims to achieve greatness on his own right.  And he has already achieved quite a lot for his country.  But, in his opinion, the Frenchman Julien Absalon is the best mountain biker all of time.  (Somewhere, Ned Overend just felt a chill rundown his back).

Absalon wearing the world champion colors.  From selleitalia.com

Absalon also won best MTB unibrow 2015.

"I will hypnotize you with my eyebrow." From orbea.com
Beso hopes to enter some big races again this year like some US based UCI races, World Cup Stages, and hopefully the World Championship in Nove Metso.  But lookout, because he’s going to do some popular local races too.  And, of course, he will go back to Georgia to fight for another national title too. 


Beso came to the COMBO fatbike races for a little off-season training.  He has been resting for a few months, but is getting back to training.  He believes that the best training is still racing.  It helps him to back on my optimal shape fast.  And it’s true – you can’t really replicate the effort of racing in training (at least I can’t).  For Beso, wintertime fat bike gives you very good base together with other training during winter time. I couldn’t agree more.   And what a fun way to get those base miles!



Beso had a lot of fun during the COMBO fatbike race, and he hopes to see even more strong competition in the future at these events.  He called it “racing stress” – I think he’s tapping into a naturally competitive nature. 


COMBO ran variations of the course this year, changing the race for a unique feel on each of the four race days.  Beso really enjoyed the course changes.  I did too!  (Thanks Paul). 

And the guy in the fur hat – that’s Beso’s dad – and his biggest fan!  His dad has more than 36 years in cycling industry (which may explain Beso’s lve of the sport).  His dad is a well-known and very popular man in Georgian cycling too.  He was Georgian National MTB team coach for many years.  And his dad gets fired up – even at little “fun” races like COMBO’s.  We should all be so lucky to have such a dad!


And Beso loves having him at races, so his dad can spot “mistakes” and make suggestions for skill improvement.  According to Beso, learning from mistakes is very important to improve to the next level.  I guess this means each of my rides is a clinic! 

So, next time you see Beso on the trail, be sure and yell a friendly “hi!”  Just remember, in Georgian, it’s “gamarjoba,” not “howdy”!

Gamarjoba means "hi," but literally translates to "victory".  That may explain some things . . .
 
Check out Beso’s Facebook athlete page at https://www.facebook.com/Besik-Gavasheli-144063572283196/?ref=hl 

Be brave like Beso!

 

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