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One of the finest to come out of Kamloops, Graham Agassiz, talks about guinea pigging massive gaps, living in a trailer, keeping stunts secret and injury. A true, modern-day ripper, riders like Graham are what keep mountain biking awesome. Read on...

Graham, I'm going to be honest and say that other than knowing you destroy it on a bike, chuck the biggest gaps and have a super rad style, I don't know much about you. Tell the Vital audience a little bit about yourself...where you're from, how long you've been riding, favorite trail, your kindergarten teacher's name...stuff like that.
Well my name is Graham Agassiz, I am 21 years old and born and raised in Kamloops BC. I have been riding for as long as i can remember, from a tricycle to racing BMX, rippin moto and now riding mountain bikes professionally for 4 years. My favorite trails at the moment would be Gnarcroft, Rio, or 420. Those are some pretty all-time trails and never get old.
WTF!!! Graham the guinea pig, 2010 Red Bull Rampage canyon gap. Photo by Sven Martin.Now that the formalities are out of the way, let's get into something that's been on my mind for a while. WTF did this feel like (Rampage canyon gap photo above)?! Were you the first to guinea pig the gap in 2010? What goes through your brain when you roll in? I seriously thought Sven photoshopped this pic when he sent it because you were so high up.
Yeah I was the first one to give 'er in 2010, and it was definitely quite a rush! Depending on where you looked at the jump, it would look either really close or really far away. The run-in was also super soft and very difficult to keep hard and fast. The more run-ins you would do, the worse the run in got, so I figured if I went as fast as I could, I might as well just go for it!
     Thank God it worked out because I did not want to come up short and fall down the back of that tranny! A wrong move out there can end your week or even your career very fast. Guinea pigging that gap was a big risk for sure but it gave me a lot of confidence for the rest of the event, unfortunately I had a lot of technical problems that year and wasn't able to follow through on a few things.

How often do you see your name misspelled? I'm guilty of it, too, sorry.
Wayyyyy too often, even in contracts sometimes! My family hates it when they see it misspelled. I guess that's kind of how my nickname came about, Aggy is just much easier to spell. But even that gets misspelled sometimes, haha. It's an on going battle.

Is it true that you're going to be living in a truck this winter? If so, what led you to a decision like that?
Well a bunch of buddies and I decided to buy this shit box camper and renovate it so we could all sleep in it over the winter. For the past 4 years now I have spent my winters up at Sun Peaks either couch surfing or renting my own place. This year none of us decided to get a place, so instead we thought we would just park this camper in a bro's driveway, plug it in and bam! It should be interesting, the camper is nearly done and we are going for our first test run this weekend.
Slumdog Grahamillionaire...this is home for a good part of his winter.Kamloops has been a place for a good crew of riders to make careers for themselves. How has the 'loops riding scene developed since you were a grom?
Growing up here in Kamloops was pretty awesome, the riding is the best and the riding community is even better! Matt Hunter quickly became a hero of mine and I was so fortunate to have guys like that to ride with. I still remember the first time he took me to go ride Harper, it was also the first time I met one of my best friends Kurt Sorge!
     I was also pretty lucky to live right above the city bike park. Being able to ride there every day after school quickly progressed my riding. A lot of my time was spent sitting at the bottom of Rose Hill road, hitch hiking every weekend. Some days you would get 6 laps in and some days you would get none. Good thing they have a nice, comfy, leather couch at the Bicycle Cafe right across the street. I spent a lot of time there those days!
     Living where I am in the 'loops, I also have full access to the hills and mountains right in my backyard. Digging and scouting went hand in hand with my riding, and I learnt at a younger age that you have to earn your ride. The only way your going to ride something new and fresh is by building it yourself. The scene now has definitely blown up over the years, more and more kids are riding bikes and the skill level is constantly being pushed. It's pretty rad seeing some of the younger rippers now making a name for themselves, Matt Miles, Ian Killick, and Luke Beers are three of nastiest riders in town right now and work so hard at it, too. Digging, filming, shredding, they do it all very well!

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Do you ever feel like Kamloops gets too much play?
Never. There's so much variety out here that there is always something different and unique to be done. Just need to tap a little further sometimes, "the grass is always greener on the other side."
 
When you scout new terrain, are you by yourself or with a crew?
The majority of my scouting is all on my own. Not very often do I take someone else.

Is it tough keeping fresh zones and spots secret as you develop them?
That is the biggest problem these days, a lot of guys don't seem to understand how frustrating it can be. This is why I don't take people scouting or digging with me anymore. You put so much time and effort into an area...to have someone find it or hear about and come poach it just grinds my gears. I mean, it's not like you own that land where your zone is, but when you start developing that area and putting in the time and effort, you sort of stake a claim. Just because you're digging on one thing doesn't mean you're going to dig on another in that area. So when someone comes into that zone and starts building something a few yards away or starts digging ON your line or even just full-on poaches what you have built, it's very frustrating.
     There are a lot of poachers out here, scavengers, coyotes, whatever you want to call them. I've had people even film and take photos on my lines before I even get to shoot them, which then makes that line pretty much unusable for me. It really sucks to see hours and weeks of hard work get raped like that, It's one of those unwritten codes that you just don't break. There are alot of riders out there today that have coasted off of others vision and hard work.

Often times, you're basically building and riding something specifically for a shot or video clip. If there weren't cameras on you and money to be made with photos and videos, do you think you'd be riding the same way?
Of course, that's the way it's always been, even before it became my job. I feel like it's the only way I can really channel my creative energy, trying to be unique with my lines and riding style, riding the way I see mountain biking. It's all fun and it's always been about having fun for me. The feeling of finding a zone, digging a line, visualizing, and then riding it and stomping it...there doesn't need to be anyone watching or seeing it. The feeling and gratification is always the same.

Do you think you'd go as big or try to push yourself with the tricks you do?
Anyone would be lying to say that they would be doing the same tricks. Sometimes when filming or at a contest, you have to do things that you don't really want to do. But going as big is a different story. I've been riding with these guys Ron Penney and Tedman Parkinson a lot this past season and they're prime examples of dudes who are sending it bigger than most pro riders, and on a daily basis. No cameras, just straight sending it, day in and day out, because basically they just like to ride big shit! I think that's what freeriding is all about.
DUDE...Whip Off Worlds photo contest winner by James Allan.On a 5 day freeride filming adventure, how much time do you think you actually spend on your bike, riding.
On a recent film shoot in Utah with Anthill, we spent 11 days scouting/digging and maybe only 4 days of riding.
 
You must choose one of these to ride for the rest of your life, which do you pick? Dirt Merchant on your MTB, a snowmobile, an elephant, your girlfriend or Evel Knievel's Harley.
All of the above would be awesome, obviously! But if I had to choose just one...Evel Knievel's Harley!

Are you looking for a train gap in 2012?
I was looking for one and found a few, but after Inside Out, it's already been done, haha. Those two train gaps would be hard to top, as well. Those boys are gnarly! Norbz and Kenny are bad ass!

What's up with your shoulder?
My shoulder is all good. Both of them got pretty mangled over the years but I'm working on that. Just small injuries that never seem to heal 100%. Thank God for winter so I can relax, heal and get back into shape. Couldn't come any sooner to be honest, haha. I will be seeing a professional trainer over the winter and will come back into the 2012 season 110%.
 
Your Life Cycles ender slam was pretty freaking nuts. Do you ever think about injuries and whether what you do is worth the risk in the long run?
I try not to, but every once in a while it does slip into your mind. The way I look at it, I had to work my ass off to get where I am today. If I don't give it everything I have, someone will come up and replace me. It's that simple. I don't ever want to look back and have regrets, wish I did something different, chose another path...I'm sort of a YES man. I want to enjoy my life as it's happening now and live it to the fullest.
     Injuries are always a constant reminder to not take certain things for granted. When you go down hard on your bike, you go down real HARD! One good crash often scares a lot of people from getting back in the saddle, but for a lot of us it seems to almost make us appreciate the ride that much more. I'd say the odd injury is almost beneficial and gives you a chance to recharge the batteries a little. It's easy for a professional athlete to get burnt out from time to time, injuries help me stay motivated.

If you had never found mountain biking, what do you think you'd be into these days?
Snowboarding, BMX, Moto, Snowmobiling, Surfing, Fishing, Hunting and of course, Heavy Metal! 

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So apparently Kirt Voreis rules were in effect at the 2011 Whip Off Worlds. In order to win best whip, the rider had to keep their rear wheel from getting roached. Graham Agassiz didn't care and still took home $100 for this "Best Whip Not Pulled Back."

Do you feel you got robbed at Whip Off Worlds just because your wheel broke?
Hahahaha, well first off, my wheel did not break and it was not even that bent! I had a spare wheel with me, so I figured I mine as well throw it on. I didn't feel robbed at all though, that was probably the funnest session I have had to date! How often do you have racers and freeriders all together sessioning? Never! It was all-time and everyone was having a blast too. That's what it's all about in the end. Getting everyone together and having a good time.

Have you had any McRib sandwiches lately?
Not since they got rid of it, soooo bummed! I loved those!

Run down your sponsors and shout outs...Thanks Graham!
Big thanks to all my sponsors for allowing me to do what I do and for continuing to support me with all my endeavours! Kona Bicycle Co, Monster Energy, Smith Optics, Bell Helmets, The Sensus, Bicycle Rockers, Skullcandy, and The Bicycle Cafe!

Graham Agassiz is a Vital MTB member. Friend him up, and don't mess up the spelling of his name. THANKS GRAHAM!

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