Three-time Olympian Kashi Leuchs has his sights set on unfinished business when the Dunedin mountain biker competes in his first Kathmandu Coast to Coast in February.
Leuchs, 38, spent 12 years as a professional rider and represented New Zealand at his first Olympics’ in Sydney 17 years ago, going on to compete in Athens and Beijing before retiring in 2009 after a successful professional career that saw him ranked in the world’s top 10 for six years.
“Competing in the Kathmandu Coast to Coast is definitely unfinished business,” he said. “I wanted to do it when I was 16 but was too young and I then raced in my first world champs mountain bike event and was the top kiwi so I could see a career on the bike instead.”
Leuchs says he has always felt a pull towards adventure racing and multi-sport and loves the fact the Kathmandu Coast to Coast starts on one side of the South Island and finishes on the other side. “It’s like climbing a mountain to the top,” he said. “When you get there it has a real finish which has a sense of accomplishment, often lap racing on a bike means you’re not going anywhere.”
Although admitting the competitive juices may well still flow in February, he says his first attempt at the event is all about just finishing, and getting a feel for where he’s at and for the event.
“It’s the multi-sport event to do and I’m planning on doing it a number of times so the first time will be all about figuring it out and I have no idea at all about how I’ll go; it will be all about just getting through it and finishing.”
Like many first timers tackling the Kathmandu Coast to Coast Leuchs has the most work to do in the kayak but is relishing the challenge having joined the local kayak club in Dunedin. “So much depends on how much time I have to train. I have prioritised business and family and now that those areas are on track I can see a little gap to do some training so it was the Coast to Coast that became the goal.”
Leuchs plans to fit training around his young family and running a Dunedin bike shop and cycling import business Black Seal. “Obviously the biking won’t be the challenge and I can run comfortably, but technically I have to prioritize the kayak as it needs the most work.”
“For me, the race is definitely an experience thing; the experience of training and learning new skills and the experience of meeting new people and being part of a different sporting community and new scene.”
Leuchs will be part of the Kathmandu Coast to Coast information night and skills sessions road show event when it hits Dunedin on Monday the 29th of May. Hosted by nine time Coast to Coast winner Steve Gurney the information nights are being held in Kathmandu stores starting at 5.30pm in eight cities and towns throughout New Zealand starting in Auckland on Monday.
The evening sessions cover how to get started with multisport, cover advice on nutrition and training tips and offer a great chance to meet other first-timers wanting some insights and information about the event. Leuchs will be part of a question and answer session with Gurney for the Dunedin evening.
A practical skills session covering rock running, kayak drills for technique and bunch riding etiquette will take place between 7-9 am the morning after the information nights at each location. Other towns hosting the information nights and skills session are Rotorua, Napier, Wellington, Nelson, Greymouth and Christchurch.
“It’s cool to encourage people to get into and enjoy sport,” Leuchs said. “It’s a good goal to have more people enjoying nature and the Kiwi outdoors more often, and the Coast to Coast is a fantastic way to do it.”