Missy Giove: an X Games Star's Criminal Ride
Credit: Photograph by A. E. Landes
In her life as a downhill-mountain-bike racer – bombing down fire roads at speeds up to 60 mph and plowing through root-snarled chutes – Giove was the best-known and highest-paid athlete of her kind, thanks to an all-out (some would say reckless) race style. Her wild racing also led to plenty of injuries: She sustained at least 10 concussions and more than three dozen broken bones, including her heels, pelvis, and several vertebrae. "There were times I had a concussion and just didn't go to the doctor," she says now. "But, like, when I had a broken leg, a concussion, and a broken wrist – yeah, then I'd end up at the hospital."

Giove's willingness to race while injured caught up to her at the 2001 world championship in Vail. The day before, in practice, she carried too much speed off a drop, dislocated her shoulder, and knocked herself out on the handlebars. Against all reason, she raced the next day. Toward the bottom of the run, she again went over the handlebars "at the top of a fucking super-steep section," she says. The resulting brain hemorrhage sent her into a months-long daze of blinding pain. "I didn't want to open my eyes for, like, three months," she recalls.

In the years that followed, Giove suffered seizures and chronic headaches. She had always smoked pot recreationally, but her intake soared as she looked for an alternative to prescription painkillers. "Weed definitely helped," she says. "It was the smarter choice for pain control."

When life on the race circuit ended, Giove didn't have a retirement plan or steady medical insurance. But she did have friends with large quantities of pot that needed to be moved, and she jumped into the new venture with enthusiasm. "My first drug deal was 40 pounds of weed. Go big or go home, you know?" she says. "I knew that when I started, it was a commitment. You have to be comfortable with a lot of danger."

In those early days, Giove logged thousands of miles driving around the country, selling weed to small-time dealers. Sometimes she'd be instructed to collect bags of cash from a garbage can in the backyard of a suburban home. Other times she'd ride a dirt bike deep into the woods to deliver heaps of pot grown by "very talented hippies in the hills of California."

Around 2006, two years after she stopped racing, Giove linked up with Canori, a young Californian who built koi ponds in people's backyards on the side and had access to a pipeline of exotic pot strains, including God's Gift, Blue Dream, and OG Kush. She went from moving dozens of pounds per trip to hundreds of pounds. Giove's status as a world-famous extreme athlete was the perfect cover for someone who'd be driving consistently with a locked trailer in tow.

On a monthly basis, Giove made trips to a small apartment in Marin County. There, Canori's workers would load the trailer with custom-built, seven-foot-long wooden boxes packed with dry ice and weed. Giove's dirt bike, mountain bikes, and racing gear were then packed on top to create the illusion of an extreme athlete on the road. Each trip netted her upwards of $30,000, minus what she paid to couriers. But it wasn't just the money that appealed to Giove. "Honestly, I felt like Santa Claus," she says. "I was able to bring people medicine that had personally helped me. I was fucking great at selling weed."