This past weekend former Kona Clump team member Carlin Dunne was killed in a motorcycle crash while competing in the Pike’s Peak Hill Climb in Colorado. He was 36 years old. Dunne was a heavy favorite to win the event, having taken the victory four times throughout his racing career.
Prior to his motorcycle racing career, Dunne was a fixture in the freeride mountain biking scene and joined the Kona Clump in 2004. He was featured in several New World Disorder films and rode alongside some of the sport’s original founding freeriders.
“It’s a shock to hear the tragic news about Carlin, a huge talent. He was an integral part of the Kona Clump during the heyday of Freeride. We have nothing but good memories of a highly talented rider, great friend and teammate. Always happy and smiling.“ -Jake Heilbron
“Carlin was one of the most upbeat and happy humans I have ever crossed paths with. He was a pleasure to have on the Clump Team and like Jake said always had a huge smile on his face. He brought his teammates and everyone around him up to another level.
He was thoughtful, kind, and had a good sense of humor. Needless to say that he had mad skills on anything with 2 wheels. A true professional on and off the bike. Buddy, you will be missed!“ -Dik Cox
Bailey from Goldstream Bicycles wanted to build himself a collectible Kona. Sensibly, he picked one of our limited-edition 30th Birthday Honzo STs as a base. We made 201 of these bikes this year and the dark chrome mirror finish is just pure bling. The resulting build is a balanced mix of steel and carbon and of old and new.
The drivetrain is an 11-speed SRAM/OneUp Components setup. Up front, you’ll find a carbon SRAM XO crankset rocking OneUp’s switch oval ring and out the back, you’ll find a SRAM 1-speed XO rear mech.
The Cassette is a Shimano XT with a OneUp 47T chainring.
She gets it done.
The cockpit is a Chromag affair with their HiFi stem holding the classic BZA carbon bar in place.
It wouldn’t be a real Dream Build without a little Chris King.
Yes that is some SRAM XO Gripshift. If you know, you know.
Thomson’s classy dropper post looks after the uppy/downy bits and Chromag’s Trailmaster DT completes the cockpit.
Some classic and reliable (if treated with love) SRAM XO Trails handle the stopping while Industry 9 Hyrdra hubs keep thing engaged.
And the whole build is rounded out nicely with a Cane Creek Helm 150 fork.
Did you know that the summer solstice and the winter solstice simultaneously occur on either side of the planet? Day is night, up is down, and well, summer is winter. We happen to be on the rather chillier side of things…
“You girls must be pretty brave/hearty/keen/adventurous/crazy to be touring around these parts this time of year!”. But wait… It’s June, July, August! These are the warm, summer playground months; the longest days when the sun greets you, swaddles you and invites you outside for 12+ hour days, right? Right?! Ahhh, we’ve got a bit of Northern Hemisphere dreaming as my partner and I are currently touring around New Zealand in…WINTER. New Zealand does sound like a tropical paradise, but I assure you, it’s not. It’s incredibly gorgeous and wild and an adventurer’s playground yes, but warm year round? Not a chance.
While many are enjoying summer up on the northern side of the planet, in the southern wedge, we’re steadily pushing onward into winter. Lying a bit uncomfortably close to Antarctica makes for some bitter cold seasons, but we’re still cycling because, why not? Long, slumbering nights of hibernation are good for a cycle tourist and though the sun is late to rise, so are we (who doesn’t love a good, non-guilty, 10-hour siesta?!).
We also make the most of our days because we know there is no time to waste any daylight. And wearing all your winter gear means you have more room to carry food, precious foooood. Hot drinks and hot meals nourish the soul, as does climbing into your tent and a warm sleeping bag at night with the cool air swirling outside. Cozy fleece-lined warmth and any splash of sunlight have never felt so delicious. The days do feel long in the quite literal longing for spring and more sunlight.
Though the sun rises and sets in quick succession, we’re still able to squeeze out a great deal of adventure before our bones are frozen solid (ok, slight exaggeration). We did a bit of bikepacking with panniers taking on the Waikato and Timber Trails. Definitely highlights of our days in NZ so far and we managed them both without a drop of rain (or should I say snow. Heave frost though, indeed). To cycle in winter you must have the correct gear and we become heavily reliant on it for survival.
It is crazy how you could travel the endless summer or endless winter on this planet. For now, we’ll keep cycling, grabbing hold of the fleeting light and warmth but also seeing the beauty of winter and the cyclical reset of the planet from a somewhat polar opposite perspective from what we’re used to.
I think winter is a time for reflection and reset and grateful longing for what’s to come.
The long days of Memorial Day weekend typically involve packing as much adventure as possible into a three-day window. After scouting a handful of logging roads during a previous climbing trip in the region, I had my eyes set on the Chilliwack zone of British Columbia for this year’s three-day adventure. In preparation, I pieced together a dreamy 240-mile loop, with day one being a 94-mile section of a 700-mile route I found on bikepacking.com. Glancing at the elevation profile of the larger route, it appeared our first day would ride along the shore of Lake Harrison, followed by a pass that required 4,000 feet of climbing, plus some change. Having been bike touring for well over a decade, this wasn’t my first rodeo. Although I still knew that a near-century on logging roads with a mountain pass smacked in the middle wasn’t going to be an easy feat. I like to push myself…so why not?
With plenty of provisions and ample water sources, we set out in a complete downpour, riding north along the eastern shore of the lake. Within a few minutes, we were already riding a roller coaster of short and steep hills, which introduced a surprisingly undulating start to our long day. Soon pavement turned to gravel, softening in the rain and transitioning into tire-sucking mud. The climbs weren’t letting up, growing longer and steeper, each followed by a roaring downhill back to the shore of the lake. It kept us engaged but also slowed our progress and gave our legs a premature burn.
Through my years of bike touring, I’m all too familiar with working hard for miles, but those difficult miles are usually balanced out by massive expanses of road that fly by before you’re done eating the PB&J stuffed into your handlebar bag. At this point in our trip, we haven’t received any of those free handouts. By the time we veered from the lake and headed inland to start the big climb, we were soaked to the bone and our warm-up felt overly rigorous. Regardless, the scenery was phenomenal and our ambitions were set high. As we began climbing, the road began to deteriorate rapidly, as washouts turned into soft sand for hundreds of yards on end. The entire surface of the road became a giant rumble strip. The climbing grades were skyrocketing to unfathomable grades and we began to weave through fields of baseball and brick-size rocks. My bike touring approach was getting crushed with every pedal push and I was realizing with great humility that bikepacking is clearly a discipline of its own. I know discomfort and generally thrive on it. However, I had never been so bombarded by a seemingly endless onslaught of required bursts of energy as I heaved my overpacked Sutra up the 28% grades of rock and sand. I kept surprising myself while I remain clipped in, pushing through these unforeseen challenges with no end or relief in sight. I pushed on, past a state of my total physical depletion.
Bikepacking requires you keep going and you do it…because you know you have to. Bonking happens. Frustration and pain exist. But these are all elements that add up to the brilliant equation of building character. I pedaled onwards until the road was steep enough, and the rocks large enough, that I tipped over while pedaling out of the saddle. My ego was screaming as I pushed my bike for the next few hundred yards, feeling a false sense of overwhelming defeat. In that moment, I discovered a new truth: Pushing Happens. Bikepacking routes vary, but the reality is they often result in planned or unplanned pushing.
When we reached the top of the pass, we were welcomed not only by the setting sun but also by a few feet of snow and the return of rain. We heaved our bikes through the snow, not knowing when it would end as twilight crept in. We pushed through as we piloted our bikes with icy feet and frigid hands, and began to descend, eagerly seeking out trees to sling our hammocks. We had spent all day cycling through a utopia of aesthetically and functionally perfect hammock trees, however, this side of the pass had recently been logged and only dense brush remained. It was 10pm and I was nearing an ultimate state of desperation. One of those moments where you feel you need to simply stop riding and lay in the mud. Maybe even take a nap in said bed of mud. But we pushed on because that’s what you do.
Finally…through a spray of headlamp-illuminated raindrops, we spotted a grove of trees large enough for us to sling our cocoons with the sound of a trickling creek nearby. As we sat huddled under our wet tarps, picking spilled tortellini pasta off the mossy forest floor, we cracked up with complete joy and fatigue as we reveled in the highs and lows of the longest day of my cycling career.
When we recapped the stats, day one of our three-day journey had turned out to be over 10,000 feet of elevation gain in 65 miles with me riding a 74-pound bike. A humble welcome to the fine art of bikepacking. I am an experienced bike tourer and mountain biker, but on this trip, I learned through humbling struggle that bikepacking is truly a discipline of its own. It requires a completely different level of planning, fitness and a more minimalist approach to packing.
Venturing into the bikepacking unknown, never expect to receive easy miles. Accomplishments are measured through perseverance rather than distance. Push. Process. Sweat. Breathe. Smile. Laugh through the shit. Find purpose in the experience of suffering, because it’s then you’ll create visceral memories. Appreciate the value of grit.
Round four of the Enduro World Series saw one massive contingent of Kona riders descend from all corners of the globe. Rhys Verner and Miranda Miller of the Kona Gravity Team were of course in attendance, also flying in from Canada was east coast cross country weapon Rebecca Beaumont and Vancouver Island U21 shredder Lucy Schick. Alexander Kangas made the trip from Sweden and Junya Nagata from Japan, Leah Maunsell fresh off her Irish national title win had driven down and Australian DH rider Jackson Frew also threw his hat in the enduro ring. We even had some staff racing, our Czech distributors marketing manager (and absolute pinner) Jakub Riha rounded out the huge Kona crew in Canazei, Italy for what was to be one HOTLY contested race.
In the Under 21 women’s category Leah and Lucy would battle it out for the top spot all day, Lucy in her first EWS race in Europe would take stages 1 and 2 while Leah would put in a solid showing on the epic 17 minute Queens stage. After the loam settled Lucy would be standing on top of the U21 Podium with her 27.5 Process proudly on display.
Some extremely tight racing made for an epic day on the bike, and I couldn’t be happier to take my first ever EWS win! It was a hot and challenging race, and I was happy to cross the finish line! Thanks to all the Kona guys for the support this weekend and to everyone back home who got me here. Ready to battle it out again next weekend in France! – Lucy Schick
You’ve got to take the good with the bad sometimes. I had a slow start to my day but left it all on the Queen Stage to pull back a heck of a time but it wasn’t enough. Ended up in second place by just 1 second. It was a tight battle and I enjoyed the close racing. Absolutely buzzing for the Kona 1-2 with Lucy. I’ll be back to battle next week in Les Orres for sure. Also, a huge thanks to everyone for the help and support over the weekend! – Leah Maunsell
Rhys Verner didn’t have the start he wanted to the 2019 EWS season. After struggling with injuries he’s been trying to find the right balance of speed and consistency, so far this season he’s had a top 50 and two top 40’s. Well, he found his pre-injury form on stage 1 on the loamy Italian trails, posting the 13th fastest time on the long 10-minute stage. He’d sneak back close to the pointy end on stage 4 with a 25th place and would finish round 4 of the EWS in 26th place. This solid result sees him move up into 31st in the overall series rankings.
Coming into race day I felt like I had a good shot at a solid result on stage 1. The long stages normally suit me, so I really went for it on this one. I’m really happy with how that stage went and I ended up 13th overall at the end of it. I really left it all out there on that stage and was completely spent after. It took me a few stages to feel good again and I came back strong for stage 4. In the end, I finished up in 26th place, my best result of the year so far. It was awesome to see such a strong showing in the U21 women’s field for Kona with a 1-2 as well! – Rhys Verner
Miranda Miller’s first full season of enduro is motoring along, the World Champion downhiller is new to the discipline and has been working on different training/practice strategies over these first few rounds. The change from riding one track all weekend in DH to having to memorize up to an hour of trails in Enduro is not a small change. A big crash on stage 4 took its toll and eliminated the gains made by solid stage results. Miranda would finish the day in 11th place.
For having very little liaison climbing, this race was insanely hard. My strategy for the weekend was to increase my practice pace, without walking the tracks but trying to ride a faster first lap. I was happy with how I reacted based on instinct vs memory. Unfortunately, I didn’t get into any sort of rhythm for my race and struggled most of the day. A big crash on 4 put me way back and I lacked the umpf to make up significant time on stage 5. Very proud of Rice Burner on his performance this weekend, as well as both Lucy and Leah. – Miranda Miller
And then there are the privateers. Our Czech distributor’s marketing manager, Jakub Riha, put down some solid stage times on his Process 153 CR 29 to finish the day in 44th place, not a bad effort at all.
Swede Alexander Kangas, who for the first time in the last few years is not racing every EWS round, posted a respectable 52nd.
And Junya Nagata, who made the long trip from Japan, struggled with the European heat wave and managed to end the day mechanical free in 117th.
There’s no rest for Miranda, Rhys and most of these enduro privateers as they head to France for round 5 of the EWS at Les Orres this weekend. Connor Fearon and Jackson Frew, will be heading to Vallnord, Andorra for the fourth round of the UCI DH World Cup.