Daily Archives: 10/04/2018

Beached As – The Kona Global Enduro Team Race in Finale

Last weekend a huge crew of Kona riders descended on the Italian beach town of Finale for the last round of the 2018 Enduro World Series. It was a truly international team for Kona with Leah Maunsel from Ireland, Rhys Verner from Canada, Alexander Kangas from Sweden and Becky and Ryan Gardner from the USA. For Rhys, it was his last chance at redemption after his season was cut short by two broken scaphoids, for Leah it was her chance to shine on an international stage after wrapping up her final year of high school, Alexander Kangas was looking to move into the top 30 overall after a stellar season of racing and for the Gardner siblings it was the chance to see where they stacked up against the worlds best after a season of work and domestic racing.

Having already missed one round due to a mechanical, Kangas was looking to end the season on a high note in Finale.  Not entirely happy with his 46th in Spain he was aiming for a top result here that would move him into the top 30 overall for 2018. A small branch protruding into stage two in practice ruined any changes of that though. It caught Kangas’ bars spun them around and tossed him straight to the rough and rocky ground, hard. Though he got up, he’d suffered a mild concussion, broken fingers in both hands and had a laceration in his elbow that required 20 stitches. After being heli’d off the course, Alex’s season was over. Missing the two rounds cost him, he finished the season in 46th, not where he wanted to be, but still an impressive achievement.

Rhys Verner was looking for redemption. After finishing the 2017 season on a high note with a win in Finale in the U21 which would have had him coming 13th in the pro men. His season started off with a disaster in Chile, crashing at the end of stage one breaking his Scaphoid. After a quick recovery, he was back on his bike and came second to Remi Gauvin at the Squamish Enduro. He made it back to round four of the EWS in Austria/Croatia, but a crash in practice rebroke the Scaphoid. He came into Finale with just seven weeks on the bike eager to see where his pace was after missing of the season with injuries. He was not disappointed.

“After a season plagued by annoying injuries, damn did that feel good to put down a clean race! I ended up 56th in pro men with some pretty consistent stages left me more motivated then ever for next year! All in all my race was very smooth and under control, but 56th is a very good base to build into next year. With seven weeks on the bike since March and a bit of a bunk wrist, things are finally moving in the right direction. My bike of choice this weekend was the Kona Process CR 29er with full Sram Components and DH Casing Maxxis tires, I would not change a thing on the bike and it is helpful to know I am riding the best equipment in the game! ” – Rhys Verner

Irish Ripper Leah Maunsell holds XC, Enduro and DH titles in Ireland and while still in high school has had some solid EWS results over the last couple of years. Racing domestically this summer while finishing her high school studies she came out firing for the final two rounds. Unable to knock an on-form Ella Connoly off the top spot Leah slotted into to second in the U21 category, securing enough points from the two rounds to take out third overall in the 2018 Series!

“Really happy with second place here in Finale Ligure after another sweaty day’s racing. It’s also pretty cool to be Number 3 in the world and it gives me something to work on for next year for sure. It’s not been an easy year for me after a slow start to the season with finishing my school exams and then just being unlucky with injury after injury, so to pull it back and end the season on a high means a lot to me. That’s a wrap from me this season and now it’s time to get home and eventually start University. A huge thanks to Kona for their continued support this year with the flawless Process 153 and for making these trips possible. ” – Leah Maunsell

Originally from the East Coast, brother and sister Ryan Gardner have come up on Kona’s Grassroots teams over the last 10 years while balancing full-time jobs and domestic racing, Ryan in California and Becky in the mountain states of Colorado and Utah. After successful seasons in their home regions, the pair packed up their 2019 Process bikes and headed to the final two rounds of the EWS. Ryan followed last weeks result in Spain with a 112th place while Becky suffered a crash on stage one that ruined her chances of a top 20 result, she had to settle for 39th in Finale.

 

KONA GDURO TEAM COMPETES IN ENDURO2 DAVOS RACE

Coming to the end of a long season we decided to race in the special Enduro2 mountain bike event.

This event was held for the second time and is now one of our top 10 favorite races ever done.

Like a regular enduro race, Enduro2 offers several timed stages per day. All competitors start in a double team in the category Men, Mixed and Women. Within three race days, all teams cover a total of 120km race distance, climb almost 1500 vertical meters and ride nearly 12000 meters downhill natural tracks from rocky high alpine to loose and rooty forest soil.

Our Process 153 custom bikes were well prepared with gravity tires, big rotors, and new brake pads.

But sometimes the devil is in the detail.

 

After playing a little safe at day one with just two of sixteen stages we found ourselves in the top 60 of the 160 team strong men field, knowing that there is a good amount of space to raise the speed.

Day two was the toughest race day with eight stages and a good amount of rough sections on the high alpine parts. Raising the speed from stage to stage we decided to change the team order on stage six. Matthias on his 27.5 Process was now in the lead with me on the 29inch Process following.

“Never touch a running system,” they say and this seemed to be so true as stage six was an absolute waterloo for our team. We destroyed both rear wheels and had four flats in one stage, and spent all our spare tubes and cartridges. Matthias even had to carry his bike down to the finish. This disaster cost us more than 30 minutes additional time and let us fall back to one of the last positions of the field.

But we stood motivated as this race had a very special family character and a few of the best alpine trails in the Swiss Alps. Unfortunately, on stage nine Matthias punctured again which added another nine minutes to the total stage time.

Looking from the very back of the field day three was just to enjoy the last six stages and stunning views for us. We kept on raising the groundspeed and had most stage times in the top 30s or 40s overpassing two or three teams on every stage. This of course had no impact on our total time.

At the end of the race weekend, we must say this was one of the best races, except from the mechanicals, we ever competed in. Very well organized from a highly motivated trail crew in a stunning  location.

We’ll be back next year!