Monthly Archives: February 2019

Private Winter

Words and photos by Kona Ambassador Tim Wiggins

For me, the winter is all about limits… finding and pushing the limits of what, when, and how far I can ride.

My winter bike of choice is the Kona Private Jake. The 2016 vintage frame has just ticked over an incredible 20,000 kilometres (12,500 miles) to date. There is barely an original component on it; they have all been worn into the ground through years of use in all manner of weather and trail conditions. It is still a joy to ride.

The KPJ keeps rolling, and it keeps me pushing the ride limits…

Heavy Snowfall = Private Trail Wilderness.

Foot Deep Mud = Natural Facepack.

Storm Force 10 Winds = Fight into them. Fly home.

Keep riding. Whatever the winter weather. #KonaAmbassadors

Gravel Grinding at Forest Park

Words and photos by Kona Ambassador Lita Monaghan

Usually, it is summertime that is associated with road trips and adventure. After being buried by a snowstorm here in the Pacific Northwest, I needed a cure for cabin fever. With a couple of riding buddies, we took a [rail] road trip from Tacoma to Portland. Destination: Forest Park.

Traveling by train with a bicycle could not be easier!  You can sit back and relax while enjoying the passing scenery and chit chat with friends.  Once we arrived at Union Station in Portland, we left a change of clothes at the baggage check and headed out on our bicycling adventure.

Of course, no bike ride is sufficient without a coffee break, so we got sufficiently caffeinated and had a light snack at a local grocery store. We then stopped at a local bike shop to drool over some Kona bikes and picked up some nutrition.  We then made our way to Forest Park via NW Thurman Street.

Forest Park is one of the largest urban forests in the US with miles and miles of forest roads.  We rode along NW Leif Erickson Drive, out to Saltzman Road, and then doubled back to where we started.  My 2019 Kona Rove ST made easy work of the gravel and mud. The weather cooled as the day went on, but somehow, despite high probabilities of precipitation, not a single drop of rain fell on us!  There was a perfect amount of mud and just enough presence of cold nipping at our toes to remind us that we were still a ways off from summer. The Northwest weather, however, made the views along the ride so green and gorgeous.

Although the ride through the park was reward enough, we made our way back to downtown, did a little retail therapy limited by the space available in our backpacks, and capped the day off with beers and dinner at a local brewpub.  From the restaurant, we cycled 3 minutes to the train station, changed into our dry, warm clothes, and took our seats on the train.

Less than 3 hours later, we arrived back in Tacoma.  We loaded our bikes on the vehicles we left behind in the parking lot for the day and headed home.  Our day trip to Portland in search of some amazing gravel grinding was an excellent reminder that wintertime can mean road trips and adventure, too.

Cory Wallace Reports on Winning the Samarathon Desert Race

Israel is a Middle Eastern country of 8.7 million people located on the shores of the Mediterranean sea.  It has a predominantly Jewish population and is regarded as the biblical Holy Land.  Racing a bike in Israel has been on my to do list for a long time as I have heard many conflicting stories about this country which has had more than its share of conflict since its independence in 1948.  Riding a bike around a country is my favourite way to feel its heartbeat and stage races specifically allow us to get deep into the countryside without having to think too hard.

The four day UCI Samarathon Desert was a great way to see the southern Arava Desert of Israel. Their organization has built a great event which allowed us riders to just show up, shut off our minds and ride our bikes through a very beautiful part of the World.  Joining 300 other riders in the event’s fifth year, we covered nearly 230 km through the desert with close to 40% being on nice single track.  Coming from Canada we are spoiled with the trails we have, but I was definitely impressed with the quality of riding that was offered to us in Israel.  The scenery was pretty epic as well, with cliffs, canyons, sand dunes and some great views of the mountains of Jordan in the distance. 

Race wise my partner, Soren Nissen from Luxembourg, and I weren’t too sure what to expect with our early season form, especially with the field being full of Israel’s top XC racers.  Rolling into the 20km prologue we were both pretty tired after a huge effort just to get to the start line.  My trip had taken three days from Pokhara, Nepal and was highlighted by two delayed flights, a missed flight, 48 hours hanging out in Katmandu and eventually a 2am arrival in Jerusalem. The next day we went on an eight hour tourist trip down to the race start near Eliat.  At one point we rode out into the desert to visit a local Bedouin family.  The Bedouins are desert dwellers who are generally Arab Nomads.  A lot of them are urbanized now but make a living showing off their traditional ways of life such as camel riding and desert camping.  It would be cool to come back and explore this part of the culture a bit more one day as living in the desert seem like quite a tough existence. 

In the prologue I did my best to stick to Soren’s wheel as we had to pass over 15 teams as we were given one of the last start positions in the time trial format.  The course was a ribbon of smooth single track through a very rocky and unforgiving desert terrain.  Luckily we escaped unscathed but lost over a minute on the Israeli leaders, signalling that the days ahead were going to be a tough battle.  After the stage we were told it was just 25 km back to camp, and there would be a tailwind, so we opted to ride.  It ended up being closer to 40 km, mostly into a headwind which left us both dehydrated and with some hunger pains.  The scenery was amazing though with the mountains of Jordan to the east and a high desert plateau leading to Egypt on the right.  This part of the country was really skinny with just 50km separating the three countries!

Heading to stage two we missed the bus transfer back to the start as we thought it was 6:15 am not 6am.  At 6am we had loaded our bikes and then went back to our tents to gather a few things.  Returning at 6:15 we found all the busses had left so hitch-hiked with the Samarathon media team.  Unfortunately our bikes didn’t get unloaded with the other racers at the race start and were now on a bus headed towards Egypt.  Thankfully one of the volunteers chased the bus down and got us our bikes just before the race start!  

This day the race started with a big climb up to a desert plateau at 500 meters.  I set the pace dropping everyone except the Israeli team in the leaders jerseys.  Soren sat back and analyzed the situation.  He told me the Israelis had struggled to hold my wheel so we made a tactic that I would attack going into the next single track and he would sit at the front letting the gap grow.  He would then attack and bridge over to me.  This tactic worked brilliantly except once Soren caught back up he started to cramp up really good allowing the Israelis to close the gap again.  The riding this stage was awesome as we rode some trails on the edge of a ridge overlooking the dry desert below.  It was a very dry climate but the temperatures were perfect for racing, sitting in the low twenties.   Towards the end of the stage Soren and I would break away from our Israeli competitors and put four minutes into them by the finish to overtake the pink leader jerseys. The highlight of the stage was the final single track climb to the finish which switch backed its way out of a box canyon. This was also the KOM of the day in which there was a side competition to see who the best male and female climbers were on the day. A Russian rider won the overall, although I’m sure Soren would’ve claimed it if he hadn’t stuck with me as a good teammate.

Once back at camp we settled into our Villa camp on the edge of a small lake in Timna Park.  It was a real oasis in the desert with beautiful rock walls surrounding us.  The restaurant on site served some great food for us racers and showed off why Israeli cuisine is so popular around the World.  The highlights were the Shakshuka, hummus, tahini and falafels – although pretty much anything after a long day of racing generally tastes good. The awards ceremonies in the evenings were entertaining events with one of the race organizers, Nimi, putting on a bit of a comedy show and the pictures of the day would allow us to see just what beauty we had missed while our heads were down pushing our pedals as hard as we could.  The awards would often go past 9pm, and the race days would start with 4:45-5 am wake up calls.  This combination led to some short nights!  I guess this is why the race slogan was “Ride hard, live Harder!”  Being a 24 hour racer these short nights probably played into our favour as I’m used to riding tired while Israeli’s XC racers are likely used to being a bit better rested!.

Stage three was the Queen’s stage and took us 85km across a desert plateau before dropping down a cool canyon and then on some rough river beds back to the race finish.  This part of the race felt pretty wild and let us really soak in the outback of the desert.  We extended our lead a couple minutes as the Israelis crashed at one point while trying to follow our wheels.  Being the polite Canadian I started to ease up to let them catch back up but Soren reminded me that they had refused to stop for a pee break earlier in the stage when things were calm.  Coming from a road racing background,  if the jersey leaders aren’t respected in the peloton then they will put the hammer down later on if things go sideways. He was right, so we took off and we had six motivated Israelis trying to chase us down into a nasty headwind.  I was suffering this day but Soren single handedly held off the charging Israelis while I went cross eyed just trying to hold his wheel.  At the finish we were both pretty spent as we weren’t just battling the race but we had also both picked up a small flu bug somewhere in the previous days.

It was a rough night as we both got sicker and the early morning wake up at 4:45 came much too early.  Going to breakfast there were only 10 other people there out of 300 riders which probably signaled we weren’t the only ones struggling with the early mornings.   With a 5 minute GC lead, we had some time to play with but the 52km final stage was suited for the punchier Israeli XC riders.  The Israelis got away from us on one of the early climbs but Soren would set the pace on the fire road sections and me on the single track, which kept the gap from growing too big.  A few spectators on course would tell us the gap was 3-4 minutes, we think just to stress us out when in reality it was just between 1-2 minutes. The riding this day was amazing as it was on a new purpose-built single track through Tinma Park.  They sure have put a lot of work into the riding in the desert and it was a real treat to race on.  Rolling into the finish in third, just over two minutes down on the leaders, meant we had successfully held onto our Pink leader jerseys and taken the title at this UCI S2 ranked stage race!  What a great way this was to kick off the year! It certainly wasn’t an easy victory, but that makes it that much sweeter.

The action didn’t stop the days after the race as time was spent in the city of Tel Aviv, and of course riding.  Tel Aviv is on the Mediterranean Coastline and is the country’s economic and technological hub.  It is also party central and has a 24 hour lifestyle.  We were pretty tuckered out from the race so settled on some more relaxing activities.  I tried a recovery ride on the coastal bike path but this turned into one of the sketchiest rides of the year as it was littered with out of control e-bikers and e-scooters.  Old men with beer bellies would overtake me and glare down as if to ask why I was going so slowly.  Because I’m actually peddling my bike while you guys have your e-bikes set up so you don’t even have to touch the pedals!  I was thankful to make it back to the hotel intact.  In the evening my friend Yoram picked me up to take me up to his farm in Northern Israel for a few days of riding in the Carmel mountains. It was interesting how different the environment was up there with lots of greenery and rolling hills.  

To cap off the trip Yoram, teamed up with a local Kona dealer Erez Golan to take us on the famous “Sugar trail” from Jerusalem down to the lowest place on earth at the Dead sea which is -430 M below sea level! It was a sweet ride as the flowing single track went past Mosques and some Bedouin settlements. One of the coolest things was to see the relationship that our Israeli hosts had with some Palestinians in the area as I have heard so much about their conflicts in the media.  To finish the day off Erez hosted us for a night of Steaks in which he BBQ’d up five different delicious cuts and opened up a cooler full of beers and champagne.  The hospitably of our Israeli friends is what truly made this trip one for the ages.

The days in Israel ended by getting combed over by the tight Israeli airport security.  This was the toughest security I’ve ever gone through as they took everything apart and even took my bike pump as they were afraid it was a weapon.  I escaped before they had time to probe me as I’m sure that was next. Now back in Nepal It’s time to rest up a bit before the next adventure up in the Himalaya’s as this trip to Israel was a tiring one.  My mind is full of great memories, especially from the Samarathon Desert which reminded me a lot of the laid back atmosphere we have at the BC Bike race and Singletrack 6 in Canada.  I’ll be crossing my fingers for a chance to return to the Holy Land again someday soon!.

Don’t forget you can follow Cory’s adventures on his blog here.

Kona Dream Builds: Kim’s Game Changing Process 153

Kim submitted her cool looking 2016 Process 153 via the #KonaDreamBuilds hashtag on Instagram, the moment it appeared in the feed we knew it just had to be featured here on the cog. The green and blue themed build is not just about color, it’s about functionality and tuneability, and Kim has the DVO suspension dialed just right. But you have to admit the limited color does have a WOW factor.

I am a nuclear scientist by trade, but I would much rather be riding my bike anytime of the day. My husband built and maintains the website for The Broken Spoke here in Santa Fe (on the side of his normal 9-5 job), so we are often found hanging out there after work. We are both members of the rather informal Broken Spoke race team.

I wanted to try out enduro racing, but I also wanted a bike that was versatile, playful, and durable for hitting up the bike park. My previous “trail/enduro” bike was a Commencal Meta 5.5 that was one size too small (among other things). The 153 was a game-changer for me. As my skills progressed, I started changing out parts, and 2.5 years later, I now have a perfectly-dialed enduro machine.

The Magura brakes were one of my first upgrades – I love the modulation and the stopping power of the MT Trails. I then replaced the rear shock with a DVO Topaz for better fine-tune adjustments and better overall feel. As a lighter rider, changing the negative volume on the Topaz helped me to dial in the right balance.

I am a snob when it comes to engagement, so some Industry Nine hubs laced to Stans Flow rims were next. Thus far, the new MK3 Flow rims have been stout, without needing a true yet! Then I upgraded to the SRAM Eagle GX drivetrain to help with the steep terrain here in New Mexico. A little dash of green was added with the OneUp chainguide, a much needed device for riding the trails at Angel Fire and Glorieta.

Most recently, I replaced the fork with a DVO Diamond, not only because the green matched the bike decals so damn well, but also because I wanted a stiffer, more predictable fork. Again, as a lighter rider, the numerous adjustments allowed me to finally get the correct feel.

This bike crushes it. The geometry is ideal for the type of riding I do. I can’t see myself needing to upgrade for a long, long time…

Kona Dream Builds: Ben’s Monochromatic Honzo St

Ben started seriously mountain biking a year ago. He had an entry level 29er and in just over a month he had beat the crap out of it. His home trails in the Palm Springs/Coachella Valley area are loose, techy, and not really that easy to ride on. He started riding three to four times a week and got better and better. Unfortunately, that entry level 29er just wasn’t cutting it on his trails and on some of the stuff he wanted to ride.
He knew he needed something more.

I started researching bikes, and found this new breed of “aggressive hardtails.” I thought that kind of bike would suit my riding perfectly. I ride a lot of desert backcountry, and I need something that I can beat without any loss of reliability. An expensive full squish bike seemed like too much hassle and after demoing some I found I liked climbing on a hardtail better.

I heard about the Honzo ST frame through the all-knowing interwebs, and reached out to The Path bike shop in Tustin, CA. They had a frame available in my size, and I took it. I had never built a bike before, but I like putting things together and “DIYing.” The parts stashing began. I started buying the bike bit by bit. Finally, last March I finally put it together in my living room and with a quick trip to my LBS I was able to get it tuned up and ready to ride pretty quickly. The first ride I took it out, I crashed it and scratched the frame up pretty badly, even putting a couple of small dents in the drive side chainstay, but the bike was still fine. Riding didn’t stop there over the next several months I put 2,000 miles on the bike, and climbed 300,000 ft.

I’m still new to the sport. I ride a lot – almost too much, but I’ve raced the bike already in some endurance type races. My riding is for the most part trail/cross country. I don’t care for hucking off of big rocks, jumps and bike parks. Since my other passion is photography I like long rides with my camera, big climbs, and slow tech stuff. This bike is perfect for my kind of riding, and my build has evolved over the past year to suit my riding as I grow and get better.

A lot has changed on the bike since my initial build. I have dialed it down to just what I like. I started with a WTB i29 29er wheelset and then recently I had a 27.5+ wheelset built for it by Wayne over at SpeedGear bike in Wausau, WI. 27.5+ is absolutely where this bike needed to be for me. Out here in the desert, the terrain is loose and rocky. The big tires give loads of traction, roll fast (I know right!) and give you predictable cornering through some sketchy track. The added suppleness makes this bike feel like a full suspension bike. I love big tires and I cannot lie.

Although it’s subject to change at any time the build currently includes:
Wheelset: 27.5 Stans Barron MKIII rims laced to DT Swiss 350 hubs with the 54t star ratchet upgrade.
Fork: Fox Factory 34 140mm 
Drivetrain: Standard, but reliable Shimano XT M8000 with one up 32t oval chainring and 11-46t cassette (I’m on my fourth chainring, sixth chain, third cassette, and second derailleur…)
Brakes: Shimano XT M8000 & 160mm Rotors
Tires: Maxxis Rekon+ 27.5+ 2.8 Skinwalls
Dropper Post: STG Tellis Dropper with WTB Volt saddle
Cockpit: Raceface Aeffect 35mm Stem with Turbine R 10mm rise 760mm bars and Ergon GA3 grips.

Things I might change:

Now that I have more cushion in the tires I think I’m going to change the air spring on the fork and drop it down to 120mm which would be better suited for some of the races I have coming up. I plan on bumping the rotors up to 180, and I might move the bike over to Sram Eagle in the near future because I have been falling in love with Sram on my gravel bike. 

I plan on taking this bike to the Whiskey 50 and doing the full 50 Proof race on it in April. I’ll be doing some local races in Big Bear Lake this year as well as possibly doing the Downieville Classic all mountain on it. My Honzo ST gets better as I get better. My bike is no show bike – It is ridden hundreds of miles of backcountry trails every month, and it is a reliable and ever so enjoyable steed.

CX Magazine Interview with Rebecca Fahringer

Rebecca Fahringer’s first season as a Kona cyclocross racer saw steady improvement from race to race. She ended the season with a strong showing in her European leg of the season and finished a personal-best 16th at World Championships in Bogonse.

CX Magazine recently conducted an in depth interview with Fahringer and discussed everything from her segue into CX from triathalons, her rise in the domestic rankings, and her years-long contest with Kerry Werner to see who had the better season. Do you know who won? Be sure to check out the article for the results and a lot more about Fahringer.

Revisiting World Champs with Clara Honsinger

Photo by Patrick Means

Team S&M CX’s Clara Honsinger has had a pretty incredible season. In her final year as a U23 rider, Honsinger wrapped up the US National Championship, a World Cup podium, and was named to the World Championship Team. Racing CX across the pond is a whole different ball of wax, as attested by our Kona Maxxis Shimano team of Kerry Werner and Rebecca Fahringer. The level is extremely high, strategy is paramount, and preparation is everything.

With the wind in her sails from her stellar 2018, Honsinger had a strong race at Worlds and finished in 10th place—something to be extremely proud of.

Team S&M CX has two great recaps of worlds on their website, including some great photos by Patrick Means. Congrats, Clara and Team S&M!

Dreaming of Summer

Kona Ambassador Sandra Beaubien is no stranger to winter riding. She leads the charge all winter long as the president of the Ottawa Mountain Bike Association, and you can bet she’s out on her fat bike when the mercury doesn’t even register.

But, just because Sandra is a hard core winter rider doesn’t mean she sits around in the summer time waiting for the snow to fall. Just like the rest of us she takes advantage of long days and often travels to the desert for that famous rocky riding.

Sandra put together a few words and photos about a recent trip to Utah that is having her pining for warm, summer days. You can check out the full story wtih some beautiful photos here.

Caleb Holonko bags Feature and Cover of Broken and Coastal Issue 4

Portland-based ad-free zine Broken and Coastal just dropped their massive fourth issue in print and online via Issuu. Regardless of whether anyone was on a Kona in this edition, it seemed only right that we tell you what an awesome little publication this is. It’s home grown and heartfelt and those are two pretty solid traits if you ask me… The fact that Caleb Holonko, our resident freerider/freeracer/dirt jumper gets a little feature is just a bonus. A bonus that is well worth checking out mind you, along with the rest of this awesome zine!

Kona Dream Builds: Jason’s Immaculate Hei Hei CR DL is Ready to Party

If you are a regular here on the Cog, or at least a regular here checking out Kona Dream Build’s then you will be well familiar with what Jason and the crew at Chainline Bikes get up to. If you are new here, then after checking out this beauty of a bike you may want to have a gander at this Process, or this Process, or maybe this Libre, this Big Honzo, or perhaps this Honzo ST. You get it right? Jason, and his customers don’t skimp on their builds and this Hei Hei CR DL is a testament to that. Only the finest components from Fox, Enve, Hope and SRAM have gone into this bike, the result has me thinking that owning this Hei Hei CR DL might just be akin to mechanical doping. Let’s Check it out!

In an ever so slightly reserved move from Jason, he has left the Fox suspension on the Hei Hei CR DL stock. The rest of the build saw upgrades and a whole bunch of carbon added. Up front you’ll find ENVE’s carbon M6 handlebar, held in place by a matching ENVE M6 carbon stem.

Hope brakes seem to be popular with the crew at Chainline and the Hei Hei gets a set of the British companies powerful Enduro Tech 3 E4 stoppers. Shifting is courtesy of SRAM and their XX1 line. Ergon’s popular GD 1 grips round out the cockpit.

ENVE M6 carbon rims are laced to DT Swiss hubs…

…And then shod with Onza’ Canis 29 x 2.25 tires front and rear

The drivetrain itself is a mix of SRAM XO and XX1 Eagle, with the later handling shifting duties while the XO looks after power transfer. Ergon’s carbon bodied and Ti railed SME3 Pro Titanium saddle sits atop a KS Lev Integra seat post.

And like we mentioned earlier, the stock Fox Float DPS Performance Elite rear shock and 120mm Float 34 SC Performance Air fork remain unchanged from the bikes stock form.

Jason getting after it on Mt Laguna onboard the Hei Hei CR DL

Cory Wallace Kicks of 2019 with a Win in Israel

Here at Kona we are positive that Cory Wallace is actually a robot sent from the future to show us mere mortals that Type 2 fun is actually a good time and that we should all be pushing our bodies to their absolute limit.

Having just finished riding in Nepal and complete the Annapurna circuit in under 24hrs Cory headed to Israel with race partner, Danish ex-roadie Soren Nissen. The pair were there to take part in the 5th edition of the Samarathon Desert MTB Race, 240km of grueling shadeless desert racing.

After coming in second on the 19km prologue, the pair then went on to win the remaining 68km, 76km and 86km stages to take the overall win in a time of 9hrs and 51 minutes just 2 min 45 seconds ahead of second place. After 10 hours of racing, it’s clear the locals did not take it easy on Cory and Soren.