Daily Archives: 07/02/2019

Tour de Blast

Words and photo by Kona Ambassador Lita Monoghan.

I always look forward to my birthday, not because I love getting another year older, but because it means we’re finally approaching the longest days of the year here in the Pacific Northwest (and hopefully getting some warm Summer weather). How would I spend my birthday weekend this year with so many daylight hours? I spent a long day in the saddle, of course! 

The Tour de Blast is an annual organized bike ride in Washington put on by Longview Rotary Club. The route winds along the Spirit Lake Memorial Highway into the Mount St. Helens blast zone with the final destination at the Johnston Ridge Viewpoint.  Up and back, the ride is 82 miles with 8,800 feet of elevation gain. My friends somehow convinced me to do this ride again this year despite declarations that I’d never do it again after doing this ride a couple of years ago. Going into this year’s ride, however, I was resolved to just ride to the top and shuttle back to the start.  That is still a healthy 41 miles and 5,500 feet of elevation gain!

The alarm clock buzzed far too early for a Saturday morning and I awoke to strange surroundings in one of the finest motels that Castle Rock, WA had to offer. I got dressed, ate a small breakfast, and generously applied chamois butter in anticipation of the long ride ahead. 

Despite not being thrilled about the long route ahead, I was super excited to be riding my Kona Libre.  This was my first group ride on the bike after spending the past couple months stripping the bike down to the frame and building it to my dream build specifications.  I got so many compliments on the bike before the ride even started!

We rolled out of Toutle High School early in the morning to make our way to the top.  The weather was cool and a little bit wet. The first 7 miles are a false flat and a good way to get the legs spinning to warm up before the real climbing begins.  As the ride went on, and up, the weather got less and less wet, but still cloudy, obscuring views of Mt. Saint Helens. The day just felt like a lot of slogging myself up the hill to our viewpoint at Elk Rock.  

As I left Elk Rock to descend nine miles, the clouds slowly started to burn off and the skies began to turn blue in patches.  I stopped to shed some layers at the bottom of that long descent and sadly forgot to restart my onboard sport camera. Probably good to not subject you to my long and slow slog up the last six miles, but my beautiful purple Kona and I finally made it to the top to Johnston Ridge Viewpoint.  

There was more than plenty of daylight left in the day to enjoy the views, which had cleared on cue as I arrived!  It may have taken me all day to get there, but what an accomplishment and reward to see Mount St. Helens! It was worth the long day in the saddle, but please remind me to say no the next time someone asks me to do this ride with them!

Spanning Time

This is a photo story of a Vermont summer day featuring Kona Ambassadors Stephen Pope and Ryan McEvoy.

HELLO! Stoked to send off this photo essay for the “Longest Day” theme! Seasonality is so drastic in Vermont, and summers here are wonderfully long. We wanted to celebrate this Kona theme by capturing a day-in-the-life photo journal of one of the first days of summer. The photo series went from misty mornings to hot, bright afternoons in the East Haven woods building bike trails. After work, Ryan and I headed up to the Burke Mountain summit and rode our Kona Processes on trails he and the crew built last year. A massive summer storm rolled in from across the valley. We had just enough time for a quick dip before the monsoon waves rolled in. And to cap it off – a sunset and a storm rainbow over Burke Mountain. It was a long, awesome day.” -Stephen

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG 5:16am
Lacy Kemp | KONA COG 6:38pm
Lacy Kemp | KONA COG 6:58pm

Hannah Bergemann Takes NAES and Squamish Enduro Podiums

These North American EWS qualifier races are no joke… two of the toughest races I’ve ever done on back to back weekends. It’s been super fun to challenge myself at these tough events, and I feel like I’ve been learning a lot along the way. 

The first stop was at Silver Mtn resort in Kellogg, ID. This sleepy northern Idaho town is home to one of the largest elevation and arguably best bike resorts in North America. 

This race featured 6 long, tough stages on a variety of terrain from raw, off-camber fresh cut to rocky alpine shale to bike-park-style berms. 

Stage one was entirely fresh cut… like freshly built the week prior to the race. It was loose and raw, with crazy lines waiting to be cut in with tires. It was also one of the hardest stages I’ve ever raced, with lots of flat pedally sections on loose dirt and rough off-camber roots for over 12 minutes. I found myself upside down in the bushes only a few corners into this stage and decided I need to ride much more conservatively on the loose terrain. 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG Nick Ryser navigates through the fresh cut trail // Cam Sloan Photo

Stage 2 was my favorite, a short and steep DH track with lots of high lines and a large step down.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG Hiking up to the summit

After a gondola ride, we pedaled a long ways up past the chairs to the top of the Silver mountain summit to reach stages 3 and 4. They were both fresh trails with some shale rock gardens, steep loose sections, and even some sketchy snow patches. 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG Top of stage 4 at the top of the mountain!

Stage 5 started back at the top of the lift access and was a short bike park stage. The last transfer seemed to take forever as we pedaled and traversed back up the mountain. We finally reached the top again and had a full-pull stage to the bottom to finish out the race. This stage was brutal on the hands and super challenging, but also insanely fun with some good heckling at the end. 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG Cutting berms on the last stage // Chris McFarland photo

After 6000’ of pedalling and 12’000 feet of  descending, my hands felt like they couldn’t even hold onto a cup of coffee. I was stoked to come in 2nd despite some costly mistakes on the techy tracks.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG Thanks Chris for capturing the struggle! I need some help…

The next weekend, I headed north to Squamish, BC for the next round of racing. After the Silver mountain race, I didn’t think a race could get much harder, but Squamish proved me wrong. 

Stage one took us down Rigs in Zen, a technical, rough & rocky track on the north side of Squamish with plenty of punchy climbs and hand-numbing chunder. While this trail is a blast to ride, racing it is super tough. I had many “oh-shit” moments but managed to hang on and have a relatively clean run. 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG Ripping through the rigs chunder // Adrian Marcoux photo

Stage 2 was a blind stage down a Squamish classic called Rupert. Lots of fun rock slabs and ripping single track sections. 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG Squamish has some of the most beautiful forests and terrain to ride // Adrian Marcoux photo

Stage 3 was a long transfer from Alice Lakes over to Diamond Head area to ride another classic called 19th hole. This track felt more like a DH run with a lot less pedalling, fewer rock moves, but more high speed sections and jumps. I felt my best on this stage and actually practiced it twice the day before because it was so fun. 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG // AJ Barlas photo

Stage 4 was a relatively mellow transfer over to a trail called “Somewhere Over There.” It had some awesome rock moves, and some gorgeous single track. The last stage was on the furthest south hill called Valleycliffe. I was pretty gassed by the time we made it to this stage, and didn’t have much left in the tank for the sprint sections, but thankfully it was a short stage. A very slow pedal through some neighborhoods and across town brought me back to the north side where I laid in the grass so happy just to have finished the race. 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG Brittney Phelan (1st) & Laura Battista (2nd) missing from the photo as they prepared to leave for Europe EWS rounds the next day // Adrian Marcoux photo

I was surprised and stoked to have finished 3rd behind some quick local ladies! 

After two huge weekends of racing, I’m feeling more confident in my riding and learning some things that help out on big days. Taking the climbs and transfers slow is helpful to conserve energy for the race stages. Also, carrying and consuming as much food and water as I possibly can have been super important for keeping energy levels up! Huge thanks to Spencer Paxson with Peak Performance Bham for all the help with my race prep this season. 

I’m stoked to have some good momentum at this mid-point in the season, and looking forward to tackling Trans BC this month!