Monthly Archives: March 2019

Bikepacking: The White Rim Trail

IIt all started with a brainstorm amongst the Kona Adventure Team misfits. We were trying to figure out some adventures we could pair with races we wanted to hit on the calendar. Grand Junction off road was on the list so I reached out to a long-time road and CX pro-Jamey Driscoll, who lives in Park City, to see if he knew of any cool stuff in the Moab area. He immediately told me about his one-day suffer fest on theWhite Rim Trail. 

So while it didn’t end up becoming a Kona Adventure Team project it did a dance in the back of my mind, gently nudging me and being suggestive whenever I heard “Utah” being talked about. Coincidentally, we made plans to go see Emily’s sister in Salt Lake City. We were going for 10 days to ski, but we weren’t skiing until the second half of the trip. So BOOM! We made plans to ship bikes, bike packing gear, camping gear, etc. (This is where, if you watch the vlog, you’ll notice I am on a BMC mountain bike rather than my Kona Hei Hei. I mixed up some labels and shipped my Hei Hei to Becca in New Hampshire rather then Utah and I sent her bike box of parts to Utah, which I obviously couldn’t use. So I borrowed Emily’s sister bike.) Once we landed in Utah, we got our bags, stole Katherine’s bike, as well as her car, and we headed south on I15. 4 hrs later, voila, we were in Canyonlands National Park.

The White Rim Trail is more of a 4X4 road, honestly, as long as you have 4WD and your truck (or whatever) isn’t lowered you could probably drive it. It starts in Canyonlands National Park, inside of the Island in the Sky zone (actually just next to the Island of the Sky Visitors Center). 

The Island in the Sky zone is an area of Canyonlands National Park that sits high above the surrounding areas. It is a large plateau that has a drivable paved road in and out, which acts as the main artery for entry and access. As you drive in there are hiking trails that branch off of the paved road and drop down to the rim below. There are also numerous campsites up high on the plateau as well as other camping areas down on the rim.

If riding clock-wise, as we did, you immediately drop down Shafer Trail, which is a dirt road. It is located a mile before the Visitors Center as you enter Island in the Sky and it wastes no time in getting you down to the rim. ( *Pro tip- you can actually drive down the road to Shafer campground, which lies outside of the Island in the Sky park permit boundary and camp for free. We were going to do this but the road was closed because one of the switchbacks still had ice on it.)

So. Many. Switchbacks!

Kerry Werner | KONA COG

Once down at Rim level the miles fly by. You quickly pass a vast overlook for the Colorado River.

Not 5 min later you pass a pull off for Muscleman Arch, which sits at ground level and as you walk up on the arch it slowly separates itself from the edge of the rim. You can actually walk across it, which is a little scary but we heard no rock movement upon our crossing. 

Kerry Werner | KONA COG

For the majority of the ride you are 20 feet or less from the edge of the rim. Thus, the views are extremely accessible and incredibly immense. 

Forward progress was slow and we covered only 30 miles in the first 3 hrs of riding. The constant stopping and taking pictures/ picking our jaws up off the rock slabs (from the awe inspiring views, not crashing) didn’t get us to our stopping point, mile 66 Potato Bottom Campground, any faster. But we were savoring the day and the time in the saddle. The views demand a slow pace and laid back attitude. Also, this was our first dose of real sun and warm weather since our training camp in Malaga Spain in January. 

Kerry Werner | KONA COG

We passed a granite slab overlooking Monument Basin and spotted some fairly deep puddles.

We stopped to filter some water. This is the perk of doing the Rim Trail in the spring. You would be hard pressed to find any water on the White Rim at any time of year, however, during the winter and spring the temps stay cool enough that when it rains it stays on the ground for a little while longer.

With Green River being the only permanent source of water on the route we thought it was a good idea to stop. 

Kerry Werner | KONA COG

Topped up on water we crept on, weighted down and bloated like tics. Passing White Crack area, little did we know we were about to start hitting some steeps. If Murphy’s Wash up to the bottom of Murphy’s Hogback was tough then ascending Murphy’s Hogback (mile 55) was like Alpe d’Huez. Of course, you would fare better if you were trying to make the loop happen in 1 day but then you wouldn’t be having any fun and you wouldn’t have enough time to appreciate the splendor and wonder of the extraterrestrial terrain.

Kerry Werner | KONA COG

We had a big long descent and then 10 miles to our campground. The shadows were growing longer and the sun was lighting up the tips of the majestic rock towers surrounding us.

Kerry Werner | KONA COG

After 6 hours, moving time, we rolled up to Potato bottom Campground, exhausted and elated. Our asses were sore from all the sitting, it is quite hard to stand up a lot with so much weight on the bike, but we both relished the throbbing of our sit bones, and elsewhere, because the views were truly unimaginable. 

Kerry Werner | KONA COG

We collected water from the Green River in a collapsable shower bag because there is a lot of sediment rushing along with the precious H2O. You have to collect the water and let it sit for 30-45min so that the particles fall out of suspension and you don’t completely clog your filter system. So we planned on letting ours sit overnight.

We fired up the Jetboil and dined on couscous, tuna packets, a bit of trail mix and crawled in the tent at 8:30. Lights out.

After sleeping 10 hours we crawled out of the tent for breakfast and got on with day 2. Cloud cover had set in thickly. We took our time packing up, eating breakfast, and filtering our water from last night’s collection. 

Kerry Werner | KONA COG

On the road at 10am we quickly warmed up on a climb out of Potato Bottom that overlooked the Green River in a big way. 

Intermittent drizzle kept us company for the first hour of the ride. At this point we had done about 12 miles and reached the mineral bottom road junction. This is where the “trail” part ends. Mineral bottom road is a 2WD rated and maintained section of dirt road that drops off of Island in the Sky Rd about 8 miles from the Visitors Center when you are driving in. 

Kerry Werner | KONA COG

This was a relief in terms of continuously moving forward, from this intersection we literally climbed straight up off the Green River. And by straight I mean lots of switchbacks. Basically, the opposite of what we started with on Shafer Trail. 

Kerry Werner | KONA COG

After pounding some modified Clif Shot bloks we put the bikes in the easiest gear and got on with it. We managed only a few paper boys and by the time we got to the top we decided the climb wasn’t so bad because you could see all the switchbacks we hit on the way up and it felt pretty bad ass looking down on the menacing snake which induced a good bit of uncertainty. 

Kerry Werner | KONA COG

We thought the going would be faster and smoother but, alas, we were mistaken. The road rolled on and on for 12 miles and while Mineral Bottom road is a maintained road and suitable for 2WD vehicles the braking bumps and small divots caused by rain erosion rattled our teeth and punched us in the taints incessantly and without wavering. Thus, for the first time on the trip we were looking forward to finishing up. 

At least on the “trail” part, the first 72 miles you expected uneven road surfaces, rocky ledges, and bumpy potholes. However, on the “maintained 2WD” we had expected to fly along on smooth hard packed dirt. The views ceased to be as big and jaw dropping. They were all behind us now as we headed east destined for the pavement of the Island in the Sky Rd.

Kerry Werner | KONA COG

The temp started to drop a little and the intermittent drizzle became a steady rain by the time we hit the pavement and had 45min left.

Emily got in my draft and we motored to the parking lot. In hindsight, we should have stopped at the park entrance, but we were hungry, cold, and wet. Plus, we left our park permit in the car so it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. We never touched the brakes when we blasted by the guard shack and he/she no doubt radioed ahead to be on the look out for two disheveled looking cyclists with a “stop for no one” attitude on their faces. 

We rolled up into the parking lot, dropped our bikes, unlocked the car and immediately started putting clean dry clothes on. About the time Emily got some pants on a Park Ranger pulled up with lights a blazing from the top of his head duty F350. He asked us to “Step to the front of the vehicle” and when I asked if I could put my mesh bag in the car so I didn’t have to put it on the wet pavement and drizzle he said “No. Just put it on the ground.” Ha! I put it in the front seat and we both played dumb as he read us the riot act while reviewing our park permits, and passes. Luckily, we paid all $75 of permits that were necessary because I am sure he was looking for a reason to slap a big ticket on us. 

We continued to get dressed once the Ranger left us be. We threw the bikes on the car and got out of Dodge.

The lack of phone service out in Canyonlands area was bittersweet. I had so many pictures and stories I wanted to share but I was stuck with them all to myself and Emily. The 45min drive in to the Island in the Sky was actually quite therapeutic on the way out. It forced us to relive a lot of the trip, talk through low points and high points, and actually refined our perspectives with parts we had forgotten about as we were caught up in the hustle and bustle of moving forward.

We got out of the wilderness on March 13th, which was my Mom’s birthday. I figured telling her about it was as good of a birthday present as there could be. I sent her a few pictures to prove it! 

If words aren’t your thing, the link below has my vlog, which depicts our actions but doesn’t do the landscape justice! It wasn’t a difficult feat to get the ride done and so I recommend if you are in the area and have a nagging urge for adventure that you check out at least part of it. Whether on foot or bike the Island in the Sky area is worth the trip.

Into the Woods: Kona’s Gravity Team Ride Rotorua with the Locals

Before the madness of Crankworx Rotorua had truly begun, the Kona Gravity Team headed into the local Whakarewarewa Forest trail network to get a taste of some of the best trails this mountain biking Mecca has on offer. Jonny Mitchell, Kona’s brand manager for the New Zealand distributor, had organized two private Southstar Shuttle ex-army Land Rovers for a private three-hour tour of the forest. The Landrovers allow access to almost all of the massive forests trail network, and they are an insanely efficient way to cram a whole bunch of riding into a small window. Most trails have an elevation drop of around 1300ft so cutting out the climbs back up was a welcome relief.

Caleb Smith | KONA COG Jonny Mitchell, Kona’s New Zealand brand manager, gets zesty on board his 30th Birthday Honzo ST.

Joining the crew was Southstar Shuttles owner (and shredder) Jeff Carter who would be guiding. Also jumping on board the seven-seater trucks were local rider Elliot Smith and a couple of NZ Kona Dealers who were lucky enough to get Jonny’s call.

Caleb Smith | KONA COG

The whole team doesn’t often get a chance to ride together, so dropping in blind in party chain elicited a whole bunch of hollering, on only their second run, the group found themselves at a popular sender, where Rhys, Caleb, Connor, and Elliot went to work. Feet came off, bikes and bodies were tweaked, and some casual heckling may have ensued.

Caleb Smith | KONA COG Connor Fearon with a some text book relaxed steeze.
Caleb Smith | KONA COG Rhys Verner lays out his brand new whip.
Caleb Smith | KONA COG Canadian Caleb Holonko only came to NZ with an Operator and a Shonky, luckily Team Manager Mathieu Dupelle had his personal bike on hand to loan the young ripper.
Caleb Smith | KONA COG

But back to back runs is what the riders were here for and after a quick photo stop everyone was back into the swing of things and loaded up for the next run, and the next run and the one after that.

Caleb Smith | KONA COG Connor finding flow in the dense regenerative forrest.
Caleb Smith | KONA COG Miranda Miller, between a rock and a hard… Rock.
Caleb Smith | KONA COG Shelly Flood needs no encouragement, her bike is just constantly popping of everything, dirt, roots, rocks you name it.
Caleb Smith | KONA COG Beats climbing this hill six times!
Caleb Smith | KONA COG Local 16-year-old Kona rider Elliot Smith had made the six-hour trip from the nation’s capital for the chance to ride with the team.
Caleb Smith | KONA COG Miranda Miller eyes up that little landing for some extra pump and speed
Caleb Smith | KONA COG Miranda Miller has a posse. (Connor Fearon missed the class photo as he was off taking part in the DH track walk).

Double Whammy! Shae’s BoB RoSS Process 165

Kona Ambassador Shae James likes to do things a little differently and regularly tweaks her bikes to make them juuuust right. Enter BoB RoSS, the multi-dimensional Process 165. Here’s Shae’s take on her unconventional dream build.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

“What the heck is that??” are the first words my new bike ever heard as I wheeled it out into the world for the first time. Words full of curiosity, but mostly bike lust. Not ‘What?’. But who?

This is BoB.

Short for Best of Both.

Bob is a Process 165 trail bike who, like a superhero, can quick change into a downhill bike.

But we’ll get to that later. Let’s take a closer look at Bob.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Bob has been upgraded to include a Sram GX Eagle drive train. While the cranks are the original NX arms, the rest of the drivetrain is GX.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

In addition to a new drive train, Bob has also received a set of Santa Cruz Reserve 37 Carbon Wheels with DT Swiss 350 Hubs. Light as a feather, stiff as a board. These big shoes are tied with two Maxxis Minion DHF tires 27.5 X 2.6.

With this set up, I’ll be able to ride anything, and everything, every day of the week.

Monday through FreeRide-Day.

Oh, it’s Sendy Saturday?

Now it’s time to meet Bob’s twin, ROSS.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Short for Rig of Super Steeze.

Ross is a Process 165 with a dual crown Marzocchi Bomber 58 that has been lowered to 190mm and locked into place with a Truvativ Descendant direct mount stem.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Kona handlebars and grips accompany the original Sram Code R that is still in place for Bob’s front brake, but Ross gets the upgrade of Sram Code RSC brakes for the front, and rear.

The final touch, is unclipping the KS Lev Integra, and sliding the cable into the belly of a Kona seat post topped with a Chromag Overture Brandon Semenuk Seat.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Now those matchy green Kona Wah Wah pedals are really calling for your feet.

If all of this wasn’t enticing enough, the cross over from Bob to Ross, takes about the same time as changing a set of brake pads.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

But to me, this dream build was about more than just convenience and parts.

I wanted a bike that fit me, and my riding style. This bike is meant to be fast, but fun. To pedal around gates and hit the big stuff, yet be playful enough to encourage creativity and trickery.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

I’ve added my signature touch to really affirm the originality of this steed. A set of custom decal stickers in coral and dark green metal. The finishing touch is a personally designed head badge that has signed all of my bikes throughout the years.

To me, a dream build is the bike you’re riding in all of your day dream stunts.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

…Hmm? What was I saying?

Kona Dream Builds: Matt’s Cute Little Honzo

Caleb Smith | KONA COG

Matt Mckinley isn’t the tallest rider out there, at 5’5″, the Queenstown, NZ based Atlas Bar head chef should be allowed to ride any bike he wants. The boys at Bikeaholic think so and have built him this damn rad Honzo ST in size small. Coming from a road background this is Matts first ever MTB, talk about doing things the right way, if we could all start life on Honzo ST Dream Builds.

Caleb Smith | KONA COG

The build perfectly straddles modesty with a touch of class, no where is this more evident than in the drivetrain and brakes. A simple Shimano XT/Deore setup propels the bike while Shimano Deore brakes handle stopping duties.

Caleb Smith | KONA COG

Up front you’ll find a 130mm travel Marzocchi Bomber Z1.

Caleb Smith | KONA COG

The fork angle is slackened out via a 2º Works Angle Headset

Caleb Smith | KONA COG

A Spank Spike Race bar is mounted to the bike via a Thomson stem, contact points are courtesy of ODI’s infamous Ruffian grips.

Caleb Smith | KONA COG

The wheels are a set of Praxis Works AL 32’s… with an internal rim witdh of… you guessed it, 32mm.

Caleb Smith | KONA COG

And a laced to a set of DT Swiss 350’s front and rear.

Caleb Smith | KONA COG

That rigid post will be saying goodbye shortly, as it’s getting replaced with a OneUp dropper, which will match the OneUp alloy pedals nicely. It’s probably also worth mentioning the rad rubber as well, Maxxis skinwalls and a touch style, that’s a 2.4″ Ardent up front and a 2.2″ Ikon out back.

Miranda Miller 6th at Cranwkworx AirDH

Kona gravity team rider Miranda Miller finished in a solid sixth place on Wednesday aboard her Process 153 in the Air Downhill race at Crankworx Rotorua. Miller, whose primary focus is the Enduro World Series, was thrilled with her placing and looking forward to practicing for the EWS race, which starts tomorrow.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG PC: Andy Vathis

Up next for the Kona team is Speed and Style with Caleb Holonko, happening today. You can stay up to date with all Kona team riders and the events with our Crankworx Post here.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG PC: Andy Vathis

A Dew Reimagined Turns into the Ultimate Cargo Bike

Words by Kona Adventure Team Rider Spencer Paxson.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

“For those skeptical action-oriented new parents out there, it turns out that cargo biking is a way, for me at least, to experience a terrific oxymoron: to step out of one comfort zone while staying completely comfortable. That is to say, my comfort zone on two wheels typically involves some element of performance, speed, distance or other mix of benign masochism. It was gratifying to have none of those elements, save for the 100-pound bike to lug up the hills, yet still have every bit as much fun on this trip as I had on pre-kiddo outings. Instead of being stressful, I found it satisfying to feel the responsibility of our family outside the comfort of home. And like any backpacker has experienced, we were energized by the simple act of traveling under our own power with all of our needs at hand.”

Read all about the Paxson family cargo bike trip to the San Juan Islands on the Mount Baker Experience website.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Kona at Crankworx Rotorua

Crankworx Rotorua kicks off TODAY in New Zealand, marking the official start to the 2019 season. We have finally dug ourselves out from piles of snow here in the PNW, our wheels are back on dirt, and we’re all excited to watch our newly minted gravity/enduro team kick off their season!

Here’s a complete list of our Kona team riders and their schedules, as well as a few other folks we think are worth watching this week. All times are listed in Pacific Standard Time

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Connor Fearon

  • Downhill – Thursday, March 21st: 7:00pm – 9:00pm
  • Enduro – Saturday, March 23rd: 12:00pm – 9:30pm
  • Whip off – Wednesday, March 20th 11:30pm – 1:00am
Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Miranda Miller

  • Enduro- Saturday, March 23rd: 12:00pm-9:30pm
  • Air DH – Tuesday, March 19th: 19:30pm – 21:30pm
Caleb Smith | KONA COG

Rhys Verner

  • Enduro- Saturday, March 23rd: 12:00pm-9:30pm
Lacy Kemp | KONA COG Shelly Flood

Shelly Flood

  • Enduro – Saturday, March 23rd: 12:00pm-9:30pm
Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Caleb Holonko

  • Pumptrack- Thursday, March 21st: 23:30pm – Friday, March 22nd: 1:30am
  • Speed and Style: Wednesday, March 20th: 9:00pm – 11:00pm
  • Whip off: Wednesday, March 20th 11:30pm – 1:00am

Ones to watch:

  • Alexander Kangas– Enduro – Saturday, March 23rd: 12:00pm-9:30pm
  • Jai Motherwall – Speed and Style- Wednesday, March 20th: 9:00pm – 11:00pm
  • Jackson Frew- Downhill- Thursday, March 21st: 7:00pm – 9:00pm

Stay tuned to the our social media channels throughout the week for updates and results!

Kona Facebook // Kona Instagram

Shadow Boxing with Kate’s Operator CR

Kona Ambassador Kate Meyer is no stranger to ripping DH laps. The Bend, Oregon racer has been turning the heads of photographers with her effortless style and aggressive riding for years. We are thrilled to have Kate riding an Operator CR this year because we know she’ll do it justice. Kate recently paired up with Bend photographer Trevor Lyden to show off her gorgeous Dream Build.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

I’ve had my eyes on the Operator for some time now, but at 5’4” I was worried the medium frame would be too big for me. I decided to just go for it and create my dream build.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

The 2019 Operator CR comes specced with 29″ wheels but can be converted to 27.5” thanks to chainstay adjustment and a flip-chip on the rocker link. So I had some Spank 350 Vibrocore hoops built up with Hope Tech Pro 4 DH hubs and switched over to a Fox Factory 40 27.5” fork.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG
Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

I set the eccentric headset cups to the backward position to minimize the reach and swapped the stem out for a 40mm Hope Tech stem.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

 I added the sexy PNW Components Range handlebar and the tried and true Hope Tech 3 V4 brakes with 200mm floating rotors (in all black, of course)

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG
Lacy Kemp | KONA COG
Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

I’m trying out some Panaracer tires and always have my CushCore tire inserts. And the cherry on top… a Wu-Tang sticker to remind me to always keep it gangster.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG
Lacy Kemp | KONA COG
Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Winter Breeds the Best Crew of Riders

Words and photos by ambassador Molly Joyce.

Unlike summer, when sunrise-starts and a full day’s ride lead to grilled meats and beers with friends and sunsets, the winter is slightly different. Both seasons draw people together, but winter seems to draw out a special breed of riding crew, because, in winter, there are no guarantees.

 Summer rides mean warm temperatures, sweaty backs, dusty unibrows, and sunshine. Winter makes no such promises. Instead, a winter ride is a gamble – fit only for gamblers. Between dark nights, icy and muddy trails, hail storms, rainstorms, whiskey to warm you up, and maybe some spurts of sunshine – winter keeps you on your toes. Not just anyone is ready for a ride like that, and those are the types of people that are my favorite to ride with.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG
Feb 8 – After leading the charge across the “Dry Creek” Crossing with a rad crew of riders, I kicked back and took some photos. The creek usually is dry – I swear

In the high desert, winter means anything goes. The world around you is saturated, bright, and colorful in its dormancy; and yet that can change in an instant. One moment you are riding in a t-shirt with your friends while watching a snowstorm approach on the horizon and the 36 hours later 41 inches of snow has buried your car. All of this one week before the Sedona Mountain Bike Festival – an event slated to draw in 4,000 mountain bikers to Sedona’s Posse Grounds Park. As the festival approaches, locals sweat in terror, hoping the snow will melt before the horde descends upon the trails, cutting ruts through the clay-heavy dirt.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG
Feb 10 – A winter storm approaches from the Mogollon Rim, viewed from the top of Sedona’s famous Hiline trail. This was the first of two storms that would dump 31 inches in Sedona and 41 inches in Flagstaff.
Lacy Kemp | KONA COG
Feb 24 – View over Sedona, from the top of Sedona’s Hiline trail. The sun is already starting to melt the two and a half feet of snow that fell two nights before

But the desert delivers – both intense sunshine and in hearty trail workers who frantically worked to clear out fallen trees and shovel snow off the pump track. The special breed comes out in times like these. There were people hiking the trails doing reconnaissance, others shoveling and tamping the lips of the flow trails, and more still were frantically preparing parking lots and campgrounds for their soon-to-be occupants. The festival arrived.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG
March 1 – Day 1 of the festival and the Kona Group Ride rocked an initial crew of 15 people. By the time we made it back we had picked up some tag-alongs that made the group 18 strong.

Day 1 was sunny. Trails were dry. The 40 inches that had hit Flagstaff were melting sending 15,000 cfs into Oak Creek, and the 30 inches accumulated in Sedona had all but absorbed into the red rock. It’s bizarre to look at pictures, a mere 6-days apart, and see the difference. But the shreddy vibes of the first day were quickly made soggy, due to a rainstorm that hit at 10 am on Day 2. I expected most people to clear out – go to their hotels, or Sedona’s not-very-numerous bars, and wait out the rain. But I was wrong. The festival remained busy – vendors whipped out propane-powered fire pits and fancy coffee, the breweries opened up the beer-garden early, food trucks were slinging tacos and wood-fired pizzas like nobody’s business. The festival roared on with free beer and bunny hop competitions (the winning hop was 36 inches).

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG
Mar 2 – the rain didn’t scare anyone away. The GORE-TEX was whipped out and the bunny hops were mighty.

As the festival winds down to a close with pretty epic sunsets and lots of hugs, there is still the audible buzz in the air of people talking about riding the next day. It’s the time when all of the vendors, the volunteers, and the tireless locals get out and ride. In fact, these are sometimes the best rides – people excited, exhausted, but still amped to throw down their best laps with their best buds. By Monday, Sedona was back to its sunny, dry desert self – but with some hero dirt left over for the rad, special breed of riders that make communities like these amazing to be a part of.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG
The end of another rad ride with some of the best people. #honzoparty Reviews Kona Process 153 CR 29

Caleb Smith | KONA COG

You gotta love Google Translate. I mean, I know a few German words and phrases, enough to get a beer at a bar, or buy a lift pass and say thank you, but there is no way I could ever decipher a bike review. Well, the German MTB bible that is has just posted up a solid review of our Process 153 CR 29 on their site (in German of course), if you can’t read German, don’t worry because Google Translate does an absolutely bang up job of converting this one.

„Je mehr grobes geläuf sich vor dem vorderrad auftürmt, desto besser.” Chris Spath

“The more the rough track piled up in front of the front wheel, the better.” – Chris Spath

Caleb Smith | KONA COG

You can check out the full review in German HERE.
Or you can read the translated review HERE.

Levi Koroscil’s Excellent New Zealand Adventure

TransNZ is like no other race around. It brings together riders from around the world into a supportive encouraging race environment. This six-day event travels through the South Island of New Zealand. Hitting up some of the best riding locations in the area. Pushing the riders mental and physical limits. I’ve been lucky enough to be part of the volunteer team for this years event. Being part of the volley team means being part of the organizers, Megan Rose and Nate Corrigan’s family. They are ultra welcoming and in return, we provide the required labour for their event. I was in a marshaling role. This involves being sure the race stages are marked and ready for the racers. As well as helping the racers time in and out of the stages. It’s as rewarding to be part the excitement at the top of the stages as to be part of their story at the finish of the stages. 

Caleb Smith | KONA COG Before the climb to Arthur’s Pass

Before we get into more about the event let’s rewind. I volunteered last year for the TransBC and was so energized by the event it got me thinking about joining in the New Zealand adventures. This being my first time to New Zealand I wanted to be sure to get the most of it. And what better way than to do a cycle tour. Therefore this is how I started my trip and how I arrived to meet the TransNZ crew in Castle Hill. My flight landed into Queenstown. Where I spent an afternoon riding and flagging what would be the day three of the event with Megan and Nate. The following morning involved a bus ride out to Franz Josef glacier. This was the start of my cycle tour. The tour ended up taking a little more than two days of travel. Where I covered 300km and climbed 3100m of elevation. With only two major mishaps; one being pushed off the road by a transport truck due to the narrow winding roads on the way up Arthur’s Pass. And the second being some road rash due to a miscalculation in my bag positioning on the bike. My sleeping bag got caught in the front wheel, causing the bike to stop and me fly over the handlebars onto the pavement. Some friendly roadside campers helped me to the Greymouth Hospital where all scrapes and cuts got checked over and I was on my way.

The cycle tour was a success. I got to get see some amazing landscapes, meet amazing people and spend a good chunk of time on my new Kona Process 153.

The following days after my arrival into Castle Hill involved some work and some play. We planned and flagged days one and two of the event as well as causal shuttle laps with the rest of the volunteers. The racers arrived after those few casual days and it was go time. However as the event drew nearer the weather wasn’t looking welcoming for the start of the race. And sure enough the weather forecast was accurate. Rain fell all night and the high mountains got a blanket of snow. Which created amazing views but less then desirable riding conditions.

Day one took place below the Craigieburn ski area. Due to weather the original plan had to be modified. Two stages were removed to reduce time spent in the adverse weather. The highlight of this day for me was a track called the Edge trail. It’s a very unique trail which traverses across avalanche paths on scree slopes and finishes on beautiful beech forested single track.

Day two took place at the neighbouring ski area Cheeseman. This was the shortest day of the event and only involved two stages. The first stage was a long one, Cocayne Alley. It start with high pace grassland single track then dumps into a root filled trail under a beech tree canopy. Stage two continued the beech forested rooty singletrack theme. The day was short because following the days racing all members of the event were on the long road south to Queenstown. This is where we would be located for the remainder of the event.

Caleb Smith | KONA COG Slip Saddle, Coronet Peak, Queenstown Photo: Digby Shaw

Day three took place around Cornets Peak. It involved four stages and we finished at the village of Arrowtown. The weather was perfect for the day and the riders spirits were high. Everyone got a lift up the main access road and stage one started near the base of the peak. This was achieved by a 30 min hike-a-bike. It was an smooth track where you had to put the pedal power down. The top of stage two was the legendary Rude Rock trail. A trail that has seen so much media attention due to the superb landscape in which is flows through. Stage two branches off onto Skippers. This left the racers far down a drainage where they pedal back up a historic gold mining road back up to stage three. A much appreciated shuttle from bottom of stage three puts them within a 20 minute climb to start of stage four. The steepest trail of the whole event. I was the mid way marshal for this stage. Sitting at rocky canyon section, where I cheered on and support the racers through the technical section. It was at this location that a photographer, Digby Shaw pointed out a rock drop that Kelly McGarry built years ago. I was happy to have been shown it and even spoiler to have got some photos from it. A mellow pedal from bottom of stage four brought the riders to Arrowtown where snacks and beer where plentiful.

Unfortunately day four was a scratch. It was meant to occur at Cardrona Ski Area. However due to adverse weather the lift operations manager decided to not take the risk. Winds were high and rain was falling heavily. So everyone was back onto the buses and back down to our Queenstown lodge. The riders either took a rest day or went for a causal rides on the nearby trails.

Day five was one of the highlights for me. We travelled roughly an hour from Queenstown to a town called Alexandra. A six stage day in a desert landscape. These trails were rocky and challenging to hold race pace on. Every stage got progressively rockier. With the final stage involving some mandatory two foot rock drops into rock gardens. It was wild terrain and I hope to ride more of that soon. The day finished at a local pub where the beer was flowing the burgers were plentiful.

Caleb Smith | KONA COG Queenstown Photo: Scott Countryman

The final day took place fittingly at the Queenstown bike park, Skyline. Everyone pedalled directly from our accommodations up the steep access road to the top of the gondola. Stage one was a mellow park lap to the bottom of the gondola. A ride up the gondola and an hour or more hike/ride put riders at the top of stage two, near the Ben Lomond saddle. Stage two was awesome in that it raced down near a hiking trail where tourist would be watching and cheering on as the racers whizzed by.

The final stage of the whole event was in my mind one of the biggest endurance challenges of the whole event. A fifteen minute stage that incorporated everything from technical rocky sections to monster root gardens to flowy park trails. I was fortunate enough to be the marshal at the bottom of this stage. Welcoming the races into the finish of their six day adventure. Many laughs, high fives and hugs were had.
And to finish off the event we all went to town and had dinner together where awards were presented and a party ensued. Great finale.

It was a fantastic event. I am so happy to have met many new friends and have ridden some of the best trails New Zealand’s South Island has to offer. I will hold and cherish the memories created. Big shout out to all the racers and my fellow volunteers. And biggest shout out to the event organizers, Megan Rose and Nate Corrigan. With out you two this family wouldn’t be a family.