This week we catch up with Mark Leishman aka Cabin, formerly Cabin Boy.

Cabin’s been on the NZ MTB scene since before I can remember (that makes it about 10 + years I’d say?). As a young rider I looked up to him (although he won’t know this!) for the way he represented himself and his sponsors to the public. Always with a reasonable (but not usually financial) roster of sponsors I figured Cabin was doing something all the others who moaned about having no sponsors weren’t. He was; hard work, emails, proposals and phonecalls all pay off in one way or another and I definitely took notice of what he and his team mates at the time were up to, both on the bike and behind the scenes.

Cabin stands out from the regular XC crowd with his different approach to training, the different events he aims for, and certainly the different costumes he comes up with (remember him in Bananas in Pyjamas outfit and The Beige Brigade skin suit at New Zealand Singlespeed champs races).

Enough of the blabbing…. Here’s Frankly Thursday with Mark Leishman…


How old are you?


Where do you live?


First bike?

First one I really remember was this sweet Healing 16”. Was a great bike for my best Motocross impersonations until I bent the frame in half. One too many sweet jumps.

Who makes your MTB life possible?

I’m lucky to have a great team of supporters behind me (and Nic): Nature Valley, N-Duro Events, Ridestrong, Balance Nutrition, Smith,  2XU, New Balance Shoes. And a few cooperative wholesalers who help keep my garage stocked. Cannondale for MTB, Malvern Star roadie, and Haro BMX.

Best thing about traveling around the world riding your bike?

It’s sounds pretty cliché but the people you meet. Being a kiwi with next to no money you end up with some pretty cool travel stories, great memories, and great friends. These days I guess my racing adventures are more “traveling with intent.” As such these days I tend to pick out events in interesting places, rather than perhaps the biggest events. Case in point, my next event is XTERRA Malaysia.


Best spot in the world to ride?

I have to pick one?! I’d probably have to say Squamish. Epic trail riding. So many trails, and so much variety.
What can’t you travel without?

Passport and Credit Cards. As long as I’ve got those I’m good

What can you not live without?

Coffee. Ice Cream. And motorcycle magazines.

What’s your day job?

Bike NZ Rotorua Regional Cycling Development Manager. At this stage pretty much focused on getting as many School kids through fundamental cycle skills training as we can.
What motivates you to get out of bed and go to work each day?

The opportunity to try and ensure as many kids as possible get the chance to experience the thrill of being confidently in control of a bike.
Goals for the next MTB season?

Ensure Nic doesn’t start beating me in training. She’s getting so fast that I figure so long as I can meet that goal then I’ll still be at the pointy end of most XC type races in New Zealand.


What are you doing now the New Zealand summer has finished?

Same as always! Looking for and looking forward to the next challenge. I don’t put much focus on the nationals these days so there’s usually a fresh target every month. Looking into a few Moto XC events over winter (and hoping to race Tarawera 100) which should be some pretty sick crosstraining.
What’s wrong with mountain biking?

Fragmentation. The different codes are so divided and specialised now that they are almost different sports. And consequently there’s a lack of respect or understanding of each other by the juniors in their respective disciplines.

In XC; the focus on multi-lap racing. That’s so far removed from what 99% of mountainbikers want to do. I mean really, who chooses to spend their weekend riding one 5km loop repeatedly?

What’s right with mountain biking?

That at the end of the day mountain biking is whatever you want it to be. Tens of thousands of kiwis don’t care who won Race “X”… they just like riding their bike up, down, doing jumps…. Whatever.

Who do you look up to?

Well I wouldn’t mind having Pastrana’s skills/madness

There’s a real variety of people for me though. I have real respect for those athletes that who don’t make excuses, that see perceived barriers as challenges and just get on with doing what they need to do. So I guess a few I really admire in New Zealand are

Nic Leary (My partner). Justin Leov. Richard Ussher. Chris Birch. Paul Whibley (2009 US GNCC Champ). Oh, and Jack “It’s not rocket science, it’s just pedaling” Bauer

What do you like best about living in Rotorua?

The forest! Great riding and running. The great riding community. Lots of moto riding opportunity. The BMX track. And…. If we are ever sick of the place, its central location and ease of travel to anywhere else.
What do you dislike about living in Rotorua?

Majority of trails are so well groomed it’s easy to get lazy with your riding. It’s also pretty easy to forget how lucky we are with the trail access we have.


Favourite piece of bike kit?

My shoes. Doesn’t matter how good the bike is, a good ride can always be ruined by crap shoes.

What are your vices?

I’d say junk food; except pies and custard squares are a balanced diet right?

Got any dirt / story of a pro MTBer you’d like to share?

As XC riders we’re a bit tame as a rule. Thankfully I’m friends with plenty of downhillers. So there’s always the story of a Mt Ste Anne afterparty, Cedric, a crimping iron, and his penis…… disturbing memories.

Or my university mate (let’s call him “Trevor”) who while backpacking in Europe came to watch World Cup in Kaprun. Claimed to be an New Zealand DH pro at the afterparty and ended up shagging Marla Streb. Even “borrowed” a Maxxis Cup trophy from her hotel room as a memento.

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