On the steep banks of the Rhine, somewhere in between the crenelated walls of gothic hilltop fortifications and the steady flowing river, packed with ferry-loads of grape-intoxicated tourists, you'll find him... the woodsman. Deep in the forest. Probably with a flying mattock or roaring chainsaw in bandaged hands, or maybe he's mid-line, inverted, with the bike violently rotating overhead. His time is well split between the moving the bike and the earth. There aren't many people this guy can't out-dig, let alone out-ride.
Something of a pioneer in this part of Europe over a decade ago; proving that a German could make it to the very top of the MTB world along with fellow countrymen like Rasouli and Tschugg, Amir Kabbani has now split from competition. But he isn't done yet. The slopestyle rider who built his own bike park has a vision and it's one that few have the talent or determination to see through. Kabbani is a perfectionist with a mind to showing anyone watching the very best our sport can be.
Welcome to castle country.... There was nothing to ride here. We built ramps and drops all over in the woods and the city knew that they would need to give us kids a platform to do it legally before it got too out of control, hehe. Thankfully after a couple years, they offered us a place to build an official spot. I’ve spent more than a few rainy days down here building stuff for my training and also to create a park that gives anyone an opportunity to try riding and have fun. That’s the only way to do it and get more people on bikes after all. It still stokes me if I can make those younger generations switch off their smartphones for a minute and ride their bikes, maybe even swing a shovel now and again, haha. I gotta say, there is absolutely no bigger reward than building a new jump and hitting it for the first time! - AKThe New World Disorder and Kranked movies were a big inspiration, but my friends were definitely my biggest motivator at that time and the only thing that mattered was to do something bike related. At some point shortly after, I realised how comfy I feel on big jumps and started learning my first tricks. In 2005 I decided to compete for the first time at a German dirt jump contest, which were still rare in those days. I had my first experience riding in front of a crowd and got to see who else followed the passion for this kind of riding in Germany, which pushed me harder to progress - AKBack in the day everything felt a little more improvised and not so directed. If you look at the big events, you only see hard-working guys that train a ton to stay competitive, even managing to progress every time and deliver when it counts. From a preparation standpoint, there are way better and more professional options to practice and progress your skills right now, but you can’t argue that the risk and the level required these days, in general, is insane - AKAnd the only thing I wanted was to make sure that I do it right. I was thankful that my parents gave me the freedom to live this life plan they never thought of. In the beginning, I didn’t really realise how it affected me, but it changed my personality a lot. I was young, always traveling and while my friends at contests were doing their rockstar kind of thing I had to find my role in this crazy life I was living. Over the years I had the chance to meet so many people, see so many places and figure out my career. I was 100% independent from the get-go and I’m glad of it. - AKIf kids ask me how to make it as a pro, I tell them I think you could cut it down to the most significant part being the training itself. Every trick needs to be perfected in a way you can throw them down on all the badly built courses out there, full commitment. With all the risk we take, you gotta want it 100%. I was always willing to give everything and beyond to achieve another result I was looking for. I mean you also need to look after yourself and you learn a lot about your body from all the big hits you take. No one can say the direction the sport is really taking, only that it seems to split into more and more factions as riders push in different directions. For me, who knows what’s to come after this intense period of life? I like the idea to continue fully focussed on creating media; taking all this experience to make something rad by myself, but I am still wondering where the journey continues. You’ll see me at the Crankworx events for speed and style because it’s a super fun format, plus after all those years I definitely want to mix things up so there’s going to be a lot bigger bike action in the future. - AK
Check Amir and Lukas Tielke's 'In the Woods' trilogy here:In the Woods IIn the Woods IIIn the Woods III