It’s Dirty Kanza time and Kona Adventure Team rider Cory Wallace is back in the saddle aboard his Libre! Last year Wallace raced the DK200 for his first time and ended up with a respectable 14th place out of over 1,000 racers. He endured several mechanical issues, including a couple of flats that took precious time to fix. Anthony Smith chronicled last year’s race in this gorgeous photo essay.
We caught up with Cory to chat about this year’s race which Bicycling Magazine is calling the most difficult to date. Some top-level road racers have entered into the fray this year, including Taylor Phinney. Wallace will have is work cut out for him, but we know the 2-time 24-hour World Champ has exactly what it takes to push the pace!
“My goal this year is to have a clean race. If I can stay out of trouble I expect to be fighting for the Win.
My preparations this year took place in Nepal as I hiked and biked all over the Himalayas at some high altitudes this winter. One key ride was riding the Annapurna circuit in under 24hrs. After that this fully supported DK doesn’t look so daunting. Training in Nepal might sound very different than racing across the hot and humid flatlands of Kansas but it built a big Diesel engine which is what you need at DK. It also kept my mind happy while putting in some 30 hr + training weeks. Being happy and positive is the biggest key in these ultra-endurance races so that is what I try to focus on.
A couple of weeks ago I also spent 2 weeks racing and training in the heat of Costa Rica which should help have the body ready to go this weekend! Last year I double flatted early on in the race then spent 11 hours riding from 700th ish position up to 14th at the finish. It was amazing how many riders detonated during the race and it showed me that a really good result is within grasp if a guy can stay out of trouble early on.
Going into this year I changed my tires up to a bigger 700 x 45c WTB Riddler. These tires should be tougher and they will also add an extra element of comfort over the duration of 202 miles on bumpy Gravel roads. I’ll be riding a Kona Libre this year with Shimano Dura Ace electronic shifting, a WTB Silverado saddle and a shorter stem (65mm vs 80) for comfort and handling.
For songs I’ll just be listening to the birds out there, trying to stay in the present moment and soaking in the sights and sounds of one of the last remaining native grasslands in the USA.
My snacks during this ride will be all Clifbar based. I plan to eat 9 Clif bars, 2 whey protein Clif bars, 4 packages of blocks and 2-3 double caffeinated Clif shots. The treats will be the two ice cold V8’s I’ll have waiting in the feed zones. A key to this race is having a good support team in the 2 feed zones and I have that covered with Marco and the boys at Velo + KC looking after me!” -Cory Wallace
The long-awaited gap between World Cup races is over and Connor Fearon is set to take on the world’s best at the beloved Fort William track in Scotland. Qualification round is on Saturday, with finals slated for Sunday. Connor finished #10 last season so he is protected regardless of his qualification result.
Connor finished 13th last year, 8th in 2017, and 10th in 2016, so we know it’s a track he’s capable of putting down a solid run.
Connor made an appearance on Wyn TV’s track walk video today discussing his confidence and comfort on the track.
Be sure to tune into Redbull TV for all of the finals action on Sunday!
The 2019 California Enduro Series kicked off this past weekend in Baja, Mexico. Ambassadors Ryan and Becky Gardner have both have raced in Mexico multiple times and couldn’t pass up another opportunity to get south of the border and check out a new zone. With a van packed up with bikes, surfboards, and camping supplies the sibling team ventured south into the fabled Baja peninsula. As they followed the coastal road south they peered over the beach dunes to see glassy, perfect waves peeling down the coast. It took the promise of raw Mexican single track to fight the urge to go surf as the two kept the van pointed south knowing there would be more time for surfing later.
The inaugural (Baja) California Enduro Series race was held in the mountains just above Ensenada at the Horsepower Ranch. The ranch typically caters to Baja 500 racers and was its own little oasis with flowers, horses, a pool, and any amenities that racers could need. Ryan and Becky rolled into the ranch a little late but were able to wrangle up a shuttle vehicle and set out into downtown Ensenada with a few pins on their phones dropped by race promoter Big Lou. Racing in Mexico is always full of surprises and the two have learned over the years that going with the flow is the only way. After a little trial and error, the crew found all the stages and Becky and Ryan were once again unsurprised to find heaps of steep, rocky, and raw Mexican terrain.
After some tacos and a good night’s sleep race day was here. The day started out with 2 stages high up on a mountain facing the beautiful coast. The first stage was about 8 minutes and was one of the more difficult stages with hidden rocks, high grass, and awkward technical sections making it really easy to clip a pedal or break a derailleur off. Ryan had a great stage 1, while Becky accidentally clipped a pedal on a rock that sent her bike down the hill costing her some time. Stage 2 was even higher up on the mountain and was one of the best tracks of the day if not the year. To get to the stage you rode through fields of flowers and grazing cows to overlook some of Ensenada’s most beautiful views. However, once dropping in there were eight minutes of primo hand built Mexican single track. With rocks and ruts up top opening up into high-speed berms and jumps below, everyone’s hands were smoked by the bottom.
The last two stages of the day were located back near the ranch which made the climbs and tracks significantly shorter. Stage 3 had a lot in common with the trails of southern California with sandy pits and rock rollers, while track 4 was steeper and loose. Both courses went smoothly for both Ryan and Becky. However, track 3 did not go as planned for some racers, with the tape being blown and some fires from excited locals being started too close to the track. Stage 3 ended up being canceled from the race, in the end, pushing Ryan’s overall result down a spot. With mostly clean runs and fast times, Ryan ended up in 5th place and Becky in 4th. Although the race was over, the good times didn’t stop here. The racers headed back to the ranch to enjoy tacos, Mexican beers, and some hard-earned pool time.
Lucky for Ryan and Becky, the race was just the first stage of a proper trip to Baja. Now with business out of the way, the Gardners headed to the beaches with a few friends to spend the next few days camping and catching some waves. They first hit a spot right outside Ensenada for the day. This was probably Ryan’s favorite surf spot of the trip with a solid point break giving them good waves all day. The crew then moved up the coast checking out a surf and camp spot near La Fonda. This was one of the coolest camping spots the Gardner’s have ever seen. Surrounded by other surfers they van camped on a cliff overlooking the ocean. The town was small with a friendly vibe that lent itself well to long surf sessions and cervezas. The next few days were well spent exploring new surf breaks, eating tacos, and enjoying sunset campfires. As the trip came to an end the Gardner’s reluctantly headed back to the border sun-dazed and salty with another great Mexico trip in the books and the anticipation to come back soon.
Wendi Sebastian-Takakura and her husband Yohsuke Takakura are east coast XC racers with a penchant for 29ers, kittens, and tacos. What’s not to like? Check out their sweet his and her Hei Hei CR DLs!
I work full time in the design/editorial field while racing
XC at the Pro level on the east coast. My hometown of Vernon, NJ is near
amazing trails covered in happy rocks. Although I recently moved to upstate NY
(Guilderland) with my husband and cat, I’m still riding and racing my favorite
trails in NJ, NY and Vermont. My love of rocks is one of the reasons I prefer
full suspension, although for years I did race a 26er hardtail and then a 27.5
full suspension. And being a small rider, I try to reduce weight on the bike,
which also helps with climbing. This is my second season on a Hei Hei and I
just love this 29er platform since it fits my riding style really well. The joy
it brings me on the trails reminds me of how I feel when I’m snowboarding
through the woods.
RaceFace Next Riser Carbon Handlebar: I prefer wide bars and the stock 720mm 720 mm just works great for me and love the blue details which compliment the orange of the frame and my plush Fox SC32 fork.
WTB Koda Team Saddle: I’m super picky with saddles and it’s rare I find one that’s comfortable. The WTB Koda is not only super comfy, but also light and reasonably priced.
Maxxis Ikons 2.2 Tires: Thanks to the 3C MAXX SPEED compound, the Maxxis Ikons are fast rolling, while gripping well on the rocks and corner nice when it’s wet.
Stans Notubes Crest MK3 rims with DT240 hubs: 28 straight pull spokes front and rear laced to the gold standard DT240 hubs. These are nice and light, yet stable and strong.
Fox SC32 Fork: I’m happy to be racing this fork which has been great in all terrain. As a bonus, the orange matches the frame and compliments the handlebars.
Shimano XTR M9100 Drivetrain: The shifting is perfect and lightweight.
Shimano XTR M9100 Brakes: I prefer Shimano brakes as they provide the right amount of braking when I need it, without any noise or issues. Paired to Carver Rotors, I get smooth modulation and they are lightweight.
Shimano XTR M9000 pedals: The previous brand I was using kept braking, but I haven’t had any issues with these pedals.
Thompson Elite X4 Stem: With my long arms, I felt I needed a longer cockpit, so this stem delivered by not just having the right length, but also the right angle, or actually, no angle (0°).
Thomson Masterpiece: This is a super reliable seat post that is also lightweight.
I found my love for cycling and tacos in Mexico, my home
country and narrowed my interest on mountain bikes in the technical trails of
the northeast of the US. It was on the same trails that I met Wendi, my wife,
so we are all about bikes and a very special kitty cat. As an engineer, working
on bikes is natural to me. From lacing wheels to fully servicing forks,
everything gets done in-house. The Hei Hei is an awesome platform that I’ve
been using for my last three bikes. Not only is it perfect for XC racing, but
also a lot of fun for an everyday ride.
Fox SC 32 with remote lockout: Nothing means XC racing more than this fork, which is very lightweight and tracks really well. 100mm of travel sounds minimalistic, but the key is in the tuning. Bottomless tokens are key.
Shimano XTR M9100 Drivetrain:
Yeah! Shimano shifting quality in a 1×12 drivetrain! Shimano may not be
always the first to deliver but they deliver right. I am most excited about
this upgrade. I just love being able to downshift with my pointer finger while
pedaling off the saddle.
Shimano XTR M9100 Brakes: Best brakes ever since they redesigned the levers for stiffness, not that it bothered me before, but it’s nice that they refined their design. I run my brakes backward (right lever-front brake, left lever-rear brake), so my shifting cable & brake hoses routing isn’t standard as it can easily be spotted in the photos.
Fox Transfer Dropper post: This is the ‘mullet’ to the XC front of my bike. It takes a little to get used to it, but it is a game changer. The roadie in all XC racers makes you always concerned about the weight. But, what if a little bit of weight makes you gain lots of speed and control? It really helps so much that it should be banned from XC races. Oh, wait, MTB isn’t road nor cyclocross.
SRAM XX1 drive side crank arm paired with a STAGES POWER CARBON POWER METER: I have been using Stages Power Meters on all my bikes for five years now and they just keep getting better. There isn’t a better way to train than with a power meter. Since I have a day job, I don’t have the luxury to ride all day long. A power meter (and HR monitor) ensure that I get the most out of my time on the bike.
Shimano XTR M9000 pedals
Reliability. Sure, it isn’t the lightest pedal, but when riding through
rock gardens and don’t want to DNF a race because all that’s left of your pedal
is a spindle, then Shimano XTR is the way to go. They also have great mud/snow
Selle Italia SLR Flow X-Cross
I’ve been using the SLR line for close to 20 years now and this is what I
run on all my bikes. Light and comfortable. No need to look anywhere else.
Syntace Megaforce 2 stem This stem is light and stiff. By the looks you would think it’s an anchor, but then you realize how properly machined this stem is to reduce weight without compromising stiffness.
RaceFace Next Riser Carbon handlebars Very nice bars with just ¼” rise make my hands comfortable on the bike. They are stiff enough to hit the right lines at speed but not too stiff that break my wrists.
Carver Carbon UL XC wheels
Paired with Novatec hubs and bladed spokes the custom wheelset from Carver
has no rival in terms of weight, stiffness and affordability. Add some Carver
Rotors and Carver Alloy bolts and you get a perfect XC wheelset.
Schwalbe Rocket Ron 29 x 2.25 With SnakeSkin sidewalls and Addix Speed compound, these tires are fast and still have a good bite on turns. They are not too wide causing the tire to feel sluggish and not too skinny that handling and traction are compromised.
Inspired to build your own Dream bike? Start here!
The quintessential Aussie measure of stamina used to be how many Weet-Bix would you need to eat that morning. But when it comes to Bosch powered e-Bike rides it’s all about how many bottles of water will you rip through, as the telltale sign of how epic your trail adventure was that day. 1-2 bottles, come on, that practically a morning jaunt, you can do better than that. 3-4 bottles, that’s more like it. Now you’re in for a full day of trail adventures!
Top-10 World ranked downhill racer Connor Fearon certainly isn’t afraid to push the envelope all day long. And now thanks to the long battery life and silky-smooth power delivery of the top of the line Bosch Performance CX motor factory-fitted to his Kona Remote CTRL, Connor is able to ride further and explore harder than ever before. When he heads to the trails on his e-Bike you can be assured it’s going to be at least a 4-5 water bottle epic day.
So, what about you, how much adventure do you have in your tank?
There’s something to be said for leaving the party while it’s still thumping – that way you are left with all the positive vibes without the letdown of the last call and the lights coming on. But sometimes the party is so good that it’s worth jumping to the final beat of the last song, and when it’s done, you’re not sad that it’s over, you’re happy because it happened. In the case of the NIMBY 50 marathon cross country race in Pemberton, British Columbia, the party was that good, and it carried on for ten solid years until its final round on May 26, 2019.
Team Kona landed itself across the podium and five of the top-10 spots. Spencer fought a tight battle with eventual winner Ricky Federeau (2004 Canadian XC National Champ), Michael Van den Ham (3x Canadian cyclocross National Champ), and past Nimby winner Quinn Moburg, with the win coming down to a handful of seconds in a dogged sprint across the fields to North Arm Farm. Cory put together an amazing ride for being the fastest rider on a hardtail (on a decidedly NON-hardtail course) with the Cinderalla story Mark “Donny” Allison nipping at his heels in a sprint across the line for 5th. Barry rocked in aboard his Process 153 Carbon in 6th as the fastest person on a 6″ trail bike, while Rhys spun out his enduro skills and XC roots for 9th.
Some six hundred racers plus their families and friends showed up for the last call and the most rowdy and rad rendition of the Nimby so far. Rain had soaked the already technical course for the prior two days, which may have even amplified peoples’ spirits, for it meant an even greater challenge lay ahead. That’s what the “BC-XC” vibe is all about. Dedicated community, awesome terrain, and superb trails. In all it added up to as good a “valedictory” edition of the Nimby 50 as possible. And to fit the occasion, the spectrum of Kona team and alumni in attendance made it even more special: Barry Wicks and Kris Sneddon, the original “BC Bike Racers”; Cory Wallace, ultra-endurance and 2x 24hr World Champ; Spencer Paxson, ex-World Cup XCer and recent dad-strength convert; Rhys Verner, XC-to-enduro sensation; Sean Babcock, ex-Kona Factory Cyclocross and Team S&M tough guy; and perhaps most remarkable of all, Mark “Donny” Allison, a Kona Bikes staff Product Manager and unofficially latest inductee to the “working class” elite roster of hairy-legged Kona hammer smiths.
We are honored to announce our partnership with the Vamos Outdoor Project. Vamos is a Bellingham-based group that works to connect communities to environmental education opportunities through fundraising, outreach, and partnerships with local educational organizations. They primarily work with the Latinx and ELL community, focusing on groups that can find language and culture exchange opportunities to build a sense of place within their ecosystem.
We asked Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition Education Coordinator Char Waller and Vamos Director Andy Basabe to give us more information about the project, why WMBC became involved, and how the community can help it grow.
Kona: How long has the program been around? Vamos: Vamos Outdoors Project started April, 2018, so a little over a year and it has been very successful.
Kona: Can you give a little more information on the mountain biking program you have running with VOP? Vamos: The Vamos bike program began as a pilot last fall. We took the kids out on 4 rides to see how things could shake out with this group. At the end of the pilot program, both Andy Basabe, founder of Vamos Outdoor Project, and I felt it was definitely worth building into a full-fledged program. We received positive feedback from the community, WMBC board, Vamos board, and the kids. Receiving grants from Kona, Phillips 66 and several others in our community allowed us to move forward and acquire a fleet of bikes so that we could provide the youth with proper equipment, thereby creating a positive experience for them.
The program I have created is based on mountain biking, with an additional 1/4 time component of service learning/trail building included. There are certainly cultural differences and language barriers that have been a factor, but as the weeks have passed, our group has formed into a well-bonded rhythm.
Kona: What are the ultimate goals of the bike program? Vamos: My ultimate goal is to get youth at risk and underserved youth in our community engaged in healthy outlets with the hope that they can make better choices in their lives and be good citizens as a result, and to create a trail building and mountain bike culture in Bellingham that these youth are motivated and excited to be involved in. We have the perfect opportunity to offer youth in our community a healthy and physically challenging sport that also has the right amount of adrenaline, self-awareness, fun, fitness and “cool” factor.
Larger goals include making traditionally white spaces appealing to Latinxs and people of color. Another goal of the program is that by bringing Latinx youth up to Galbraith, we are making present part of our community that isn’t seen in as many places. Connecting with WMBC and the mountain biking community, both very visible in Whatcom County, helps Vamos connect youth with other organizations.
Kona: What is the best way for the community to get involved with Vamos? Vamos: The best way for the community to get involved with VAMOS is by connecting with us through our website, www.vamosoutdoorsproject.com, Instagram @Vamosoutdoorsproject, or at one of our community events. We are volunteer dependent, so making sure we have volunteers is a big priority for us. We would love to connect with more Latinx and English Language Learner folks on a volunteer level.
Kona Gravity team rider Tristan Lemire is making his mark in the downhill world. At just 14 years-old, Lemire is no stranger to the top step of the podium. His most recent victory came at last weekend’s ProGRT in Mountain Creek, where he was racing in the Junior Expert category. That means he is putting in faster times than kids several years older. His time of 2:19.18 would have put him in 17th place in the pro elite category, which is pretty incredible considering the level of racing taking place in that category.
We caught up with Lemire to ask about the experience at Mountain Creek and his plans for the future. Make no mistake, he is one to watch!
“There are only 4 Pro GRTs this year on schedule, so clearly the vibe was great and everyone was stoked to race. Some of the world’s best riders were competing. And aside from some afternoon rain on the Friday, the weather was perfect. On my side, I felt much better and confident than at the first Pro GRT in Tennessee back in March, where after a long winter without riding, I headed into the race with a new 29 inch wheel bike riding in the worst weather conditions possible. With lots of training and riding on my new bike, I was definitely ready to improve upon performance in Tennessee.”
After finishing 2nd in seedings, the highlight was definitely putting down a great race run and finding out I won the race, beating my seeding time by 6 seconds! I am also quite satisfied with my progression to date on my new 29-inch wheel bike. The only way to really gage this is in the context of a race! I am also confident that I will continue progressing throughout the season as I still don’t feel 100 %!
The crew at Mountain Creek put together an amazing track. It was perfect: fast, technical and mostly dry by race time. Pretty much how I like it! As it always does, the track changed lots throughout the 3 days, from muddy to mud to bone dry; this always makes it hard on us because it is like riding and learning a new track every day. Overall, despite the pressure of the race, every lap was just pure fun. On race day, when the track was at its driest, it made me think of the track at the Nationals track in Panorama, BC, a track that I also like very much.”
So what’s in store for Tristan in the future? “My long term goal is definitely to race on the World Cup, first as a Junior and then as Men, and earn few podiums. From there, anything can happen. However, for the moment, I am just taking it year by year, focusing on the short term, enjoying the chance that I have to ride bikes as much as I do and loving every minute of it.”
From all of us at Kona, congrats, Tristan! We are excited to watch you progress through the ranks!
Late winter and spring were a journey through darkness for me, but I feel like I have finally come out into the light.
The past few years I have had a policy of “just say yes” to
everything—every bike ride, race, trip to Sedona/Moab/Canada, or bikepacking
adventure. I thrive off of a packed weekend and post-work schedule of outdoor
activities. Getting outside to exercise solo or with friends helps calm my mind
and gets me through hours of sitting at a computer for my day job.
This year, I had to just say “no” to everything so I could
focus on my career, and I lost my physical, emotional, and social outlet. I had
to take my professional engineering exam in late April, which meant spending my
weekends indoors studying in addition to a full workload. It nearly killed my
soul, but it’s the biggest and most important milestone in my career, and
necessary for me to advance in the environmental consulting field. I put so
much pressure on myself to pass the first time (only about 64% of people pass
on their first try) and to be the first female PE at my company, that my anxiety
about the exam grew to be almost unmanageable. I started having physical
manifestations of anxiety like body tingling, shortness of breath, and chest
pain, which was a terrifying experience and made it hard to focus on studying*.
I would allow myself to go on one bike ride per week, but even then, I would
get mad at myself for being out of shape and having rusty skills, and guilty
for taking time off from studying. I tried to stay off social media because it
made me sad and angry that everyone else was seemingly out having fun all the
time, and I had nothing happy or positive to post about.
As my exam approached, I had to get through my least
favorite day of the year—April 9th. This marks the anniversary of my
brother’s death in 2016 after a 12-year battle with drug addiction. Every year
in the weeks surrounding that date, I relive the intense feelings of grief,
anger, and loss at his passing. My anxiety and insomnia grows even worse than
normal, and I feel fatigued and exhausted by social interactions. Usually
riding my bike is one of my biggest comforts during this time, but I was now
studying two days per weekend to prepare for my impending exam. My life was
devoid of joy, and I struggled to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Exam day came, and I was tired and extremely nervous. I felt
like I bombed the first half, and almost drove away at lunch and didn’t come
back. I took a deep breath, reminded myself of my inner strength and tried to
focus on positive self-talk, and went back in and did better on the second
half, but was still afraid that wouldn’t be enough to pass. I went home and spent
the weekend in a black depression, thinking I had failed and would have to
re-take the exam, which would mean more weekends of studying, and admitting to everyone
at my company that I was a failure. I went on a group ride to “celebrate” being
done with the test and my friends were shocked at how down I was, compared to
my normal cheery self.
Six days later I got my exam result. I HAD PASSED. I was so
relieved I started shaking uncontrollably and couldn’t stop crying—my own
personal hell was over, I was done forever, my hard work had paid off. The
burden of my intense anxiety about the exam mostly melted away and the darkness
lifted. For the first time in months, the future looked bright and hopeful. I
am still working on fully digging myself out of my mental and physical hole,
but I’ve made a lot of progress. I can finally brush the cobwebs off my bikes
and start planning out as many summer adventures as I can possibly fit into my
*I would like to thank my therapist and my fiancé for their
support while I navigated this dark time. There’s no shame in asking for help!
Kristina Young is the Brand Manager at All Spoked Up in Batavia, Illinois. When she’s not trying to keep their two locations fully operational, she tries to balance bikes, bills, and mom life with her husband and two kids.
I’ve ridden hardtails forever, but have always wanted a full squish. Having eyed up all the Hei Hei’s our team riders seem to enjoy racing, I decided that I’d like to join the party as well with one. I saved for a while and presented a hardly rational argument to my husband as to why I needed this bike. He humored me and was cool with it. As if he had a say ultimately…
At All Spoked Up, we have great relationships with a number of companies that make amazing components and help support our shop’s junior development program ASU Devo.
I felt that it was only right to spec the build out with the choicest components they have to offer. Industry Nine’s Ultralight 235’s are crazy light for an alloy rimmed wheel and handled all the hucks and jump-lines I took at the local XC race recently. Samesies with the FOX Float 32 Factory Step Cast.
It was the only fork that seemed to be perfectly matched to what the frame is all about, light and shreddy. Of course, orange, cuz the bike demands attention.
We love Race Face, and the NEXT cockpit, cranks, and chainring keep it real by being light, tough, and mean looking.
Shimano XTR shifting and XT brakes do their job flawlessly and effortlessly.
A Selle San Marco Lady Aspide saddle, ESI grips, and crank brothers pedals keep all the touch points comfortable and efficient.
I love this bike. It climbs like a dream, inspires the confidence to try more difficult lines, and it makes me smile. Did I mention its fast?
It’s all because of the donut top cap. Thinking of donuts makes me wanna go faster.
Every pedal stroke you smell it.
While every revolution you hear it. Peruvian livelihood rotates around its
local resources constantly changing routines to make use of another resource.
Leftover eucalyptus burns from scraps used to build houses, while intricately
placed irrigation canals move water into this years’ agricultural plots. Barley
rotates in with potatoes, keeping the soil fresh as the mountainsides patchwork
of vegetation changes like bike manufacturers hottest tan and aqua.
April was a busy month blending
together bike communities across the world starting in Monterey for the season
kick off at the Sea Otter Classic. One week later, I linked together Peru’s
terraced land chasing new and old friends on bikes. While the Sea Otter brought
out shiny new product, Peru’s riding culture showed what bike equipment is still
performing through thousands of descendible vert.
Headset creaked, rotors screeched, as
Jose, our scrappy young Peruvian guide, led our group through Ollantaytambo,
grinding his off brand DH bike through the streets. Another rider, visiting
from Tennessee, rode up next to me, his bike nearly blinding me with fresh
parts. He mumbled under his breath, “uh my bike is making so much noise!” With
a grin, I pointed at our guides bike, “that much noise?” I said. Brushing it
off, he realized where we were and the opportunity we had to ride Peru’s crazy
Rolling up to both the Enduro and
DH starts at Sea Otter, I felt extremely lucky to be on top of a reliable steed
that wouldn’t raddle my teeth out descending. Booths in the pits sparkled with
gear that might puzzle the most coveted bike nerds, but carried purpose for
many onlookers. Buzzed riders fueled by high frequency IPAs grinned as they
took in the California sun.
Peru’s sunshine brought out similar
energy, and shared roots with the freedom achieved by rolling nobbies. After
riding past the Moray ruins outside of Ollantaytambo, we were stealing daylight
flowing through city streets en route to connecting the last bit of trail. We
stopped for the local evening goat traffic and it was on. In a 15-person train,
we chose lines suiting our style as the sun dipped behind the Andes’
continental divide. I heard it first and then in the corner of my eye, Mario, a
younger fearless guide, appeared smashing rock gardens on his early 2000s’ DH
bike. He didn’t care. There wasn’t a thought in his mind that his first
generation Pro-tec helmet wouldn’t do a thing if it were to meet the ground.
Whether old tools made by two generations
before them or Avid Juicy Sevens with rubber bands around them to keep the
brake lever from getting away from their fingers, the resources our fellow
riders used did the trick. I can’t say I would run them, but the joy the
Peruvian’s emanated because they were riding bicycles is something that would
make anyone keep their wheels turning. Although the Sea Otter gives us an idea
about all the fanciness we can achieve with our gear, at the end of the day its
just about blasting water bars with your friends and sharing a beer over
stories at the end of the day.