Words by Travis Engel
Photos by Anthony Smith
Laguna Beach, California derives its name from the Latin "lacuna," which loosely translates to "steep, narrow, technical trails that will make your brake pads smell as strong as your fear."
This is where Scott's Ontario-based XC team, 3 Rox Racing chose to spend the southern California leg of their US visit. We spent a few days chasing them around some of those steep trails, trails you might not expect an XC team to enjoy, let alone mercilessly shred.
The 3 Rox Racing team is as rich in personality as it is in talent. Halfway down our first descent on the last day, the three team members that lead out the drop had pulled over, ditched their bikes and lined up for an over-dramatized cheer session, lacking only in body paint and vuvuzelas.
The team has been competing exclusively on Scott's 29-inch platforms, which would seem only natural to any red-blooded, cross-country-oriented Amurrican. But Scott has traditionally catered to a dominantly European market, where riders are as uninterested in big wheels as they are in a 40-hour work week and free handguns.
The 3 Rox Racing riders all manhandled their 29-inch Sparks and Scales in ways that could change that attitude. And that includes Amanda Sin, who I struggled to catch up to on a trail that sees more teenagers on downhill bikes than women on hardtails.
The team's most senior male member is Geoff Kabush. His addition has had a unifying effect on the team. The former Olympian is a uniquely recognizable character in cross-country racing, a category that simply doesn't churn out celebrities like it did twenty years ago. But Geoff has never been "just" an XC racer. He found time last year to win his third Canadian national cyclocross championship. And his early years saw a lot of downhill, which he clearly still has a passion for. It's no surprise, then, that Geoff has been doing well in the growing enduro racing scene.
In addition to simply being a fun distraction from XC, the popular format requires a rider to be well-rounded, and not just rely on a set of freakishly efficient lungs. Geoff clearly has the freakish lungs, which has given him an edge against the enduro specialists who can rarely match Geoff's pure pedaling power.
Throughout our ride that spanned four brutal ups and as many treacherous downs, everyone in attendance was impressed with how capable this cross-country team was on very non-cross-country terrain.
There's a secret thrill in dragging a visiting pro down the gnarliest of one's local stash of trails and watching them get in just a little over their head. 3 Rox Racing gave us no such satisfaction. After every death chute, they just grouped up, traded several inside jokes we wish we were in on, and asked for more.