Daily Archives: 07/09/2019

Solstice Brunch, Build, and Bike in the Mountains

Words by Ambassador Delia Massey. Photos by Kinsey Smith.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG Delia and the Darrington Fire lookout

Summertime in the pacific northwest means go time, all the time. You have to soak in every last second of sun and warmth while it lasts because the winters are dark and soul-crushing. The solstice is the best day to pack in as many activities as possible since we get about 16 hours of daylight up here in Seattle. This year I maximized my fun by heading out to the new trail system under construction in Darrington, WA to help build trails and (of course) do some epic shuttle laps to test them out.

I started my day with sun streaming into my tent at 5am, with the tip of Glacier Peak poking out to greet me above the North Cascades. I wanted to stay fueled, so I had an ambitious plan to make pancakes from scratch. This included a jar with dry ingredients, a jar with buttermilk and egg yolks, a jar with egg whites, and butter in a metal cup to melt over the stove. I had never tested the recipe, and while it claimed you could mix the wet and dry ingredients in one large Mason jar and shake to mix it, I found that I had a bit too much volume and ended up dumping the lumpy mess I had created into a plastic bowl. While my fiancé cooked up potatoes and bacon, I forged ahead with my pancake mission, hoping they would at least be edible. In the interest of time, I just made four massive pancakes that each filled the bottom of our 8-inch cast iron skillet. The first one looked terrible…but tasted great! The next three both looked and tasted amazing. Two hours after we started cooking, our bellies were finally full, and we were ready for some manual labor. Part 1 of the day, brunch, was a success!

We took a quick rip down the steep, raw, loamy, techy “Peak-to-Park” trail that runs from the builder’s campsite to the bottom segment of the trail, which had a few sections that needed some serious work before they would be fun to ride. With the help of a large crew of volunteers and the expertise of the Evergreen MTB professional builders, we dug down to the “good” mineral dirt, filled in holes with rocks, cleared roots and stumps, and built some flow to fix those awkward segments. I strongly believe that anyone who rides trails should get out and throw some dirt, even if it’s just one day a year. Once you see how much thought and effort goes into trail building, you’ll realize just how much work it takes to keep all of your favorite trail systems running and new ones coming. I love riding down a trail and knowing that I helped build that berm, or moved a rock to make that high line possible. It’s a very rewarding experience. Part 2 of the day, building, was a success!

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

My body was sore from digging, but it wasn’t going to stop me from testing out the goods. We got another lap on the top-to-bottom trail we had been working on, which is an absolute blast. It’s one of the longest runs I know of in Western Washington, and it will keep you on your toes, especially when those roots are greasy! Our crew headed up to the shuttle zone for some faster laps and got a run down one of the black diamond trails that had rock rolls and rowdy technical sections that made me incredibly thankful that I had my Process 153 29er to roll over anything the trail threw my way. We connected with a blue square flow trail and went screaming around berms and over jumps, with epic views of the jagged mountains around us. One more top-to-bottom lap and I was spent. Time to cook up some dinner, fall asleep under the Milky Way, and do it all over again. Part 3, biking, was a success!

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

If you live in the PNW and want to get out to Darrington to help build and ride, check out the Evergreen MTB website for upcoming trail days. There is a work party this weekend, go here to sign up: https://www.evergreenmtb.org/calendar/eventdetail/6159/darrington-north-mountain-camp-dig-shred

Thank the Mountain Bike Advocates for their Longest Days

Words by Ambassador Sandra Beaubien.

Before the long days of summer solstice come, every mountain bike organization has been busy putting in their longest days since the first scent of spring air.  Ironically, the evening we received this topic I was representing the Ottawa Mountain Bike Association at a Public Advisory Committee meeting with our largest landowner.  I thought to myself, yes, this was certainly a long day, adding on a 2-hour meeting onto a regular workday!

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG Sandra doing all of the behind the scenes work for the Ottowa Mountain Bike Association.

Many mountain bikers are out enjoying their local trails, many not really understanding just how many long days and how many people it takes to keep everything running seamlessly in the background.  There has been a solid shift in mountain bike access in many areas (Ottawa included!) and that has come from years of long days and a group of committed people.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG The OMBA board makes sure everything runs smoothly in their trail network.

It’s important to thank the Board of Directors and the other dedicated volunteers of your local mountain bike club.  It certainly doesn’t happen enough and what you see them doing, is only a scratch at the surface of what is getting done.  They liaise with landowners and land managers, organize group rides, organize trail days, create documents to help everything run smoothly, write reports for land managers, visit local shops, run demo days, set up training for ride leaders, ensure proper insurance is in place, review and sign contracts, notify land managers of any environmentally sensitive species, inspect trails, install trail signs, design t-shirts, run the website, file legal documents, fundraising, keep software running smoothly, track finances, and do media appearances.  Some of those sound pretty boring, eh?  That’s why it takes a unique team to step into the volunteer roles, so make sure you thank all them!

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

The other people quietly putting in the longest days are the land managers, and without them, we wouldn’t have nearly as much diversity in mountain bike access in Ottawa as we do.  The same can probably be said for any other local riding area – it is the land managers who are truly invested in developing the sport of mountain biking that produce the best trail networks. Before the season kicks off and the sun is shinning, they have transitioned the trails from winter use to summer use.  This takes a lot of trail inspections, planning, preparation, meetings, documenting and most of it is done when the trails are too wet to even ride.  Having volunteer trail crews helping the land manager with all of these jobs helps it all run more smoothly and can get the trails open sooner!

This season, as you are out enjoying your longest days on your mountain bike, if you see a land manager, board member or volunteer out on the trails, make sure you say THANK YOU for their longest days.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Alasdair’s Retro Builds: Part 2 – 1997 Kona Manomano

In 1996, the Atlanta Olympic Games featured XC mountain biking as a sport for the first time. Internationally, teams were shifting to a full-time time basis as the race calendar intensified. Downhill and XC courses became more and more technical so bikes needed to withstand the new terrain and rider limits. Everyone was pushing for more speed, more fun and more challenges.

Kona was tasting success on the downhill circuit with Tomi Misser, Steve Peat and more. At the same time manufacturers were experimenting to find the most effective suspension design: single linkage/swing arms, Horst links, Unified Rear Triangles (URTs), Softrides, and so on.

Alasdair McAlley
Alasdair McAlley

The Manomano, first introduced in the 1997 range, means “great” or “four thousand”, a nod to the 4-bar linkage system that became Kona’s suspension template for the next 10 years. It brought huge success and ushered in the Stab followed by the Stinky.

Alasdair McAlley
Alasdair McAlley

I wanted to take the original Manomano to the next level. When it launched at the start of the season no-one knew the impact Marzocchi would make with the introduction of the Z1 and Z2 forks. Taking motocross technology, Marzocchi wiped the floor clean of 63mm travel elastomer forks with over 80mm progressive travel coil and oil suspension. Even today, this early model dual disc mount Z1 fork is very capable and transforms the overall ride experience.

Alasdair McAlley

The bulletproof Shimano XT M739 drivetrain features throughout with super-strong Mavic 221 rims fitted with the 90’s classic tire combo (re-issued) Panaracer Smoke and Darts.

Alasdair McAlley

I like mountain bikes to look how they ride and this looks like a beast so it’s my trail center machine of choice. The Z1s and original Fox Vanilla shock still provide reassuring little air squeaks over the rough stuff. The bike feels planted, steady and always puts a smile on my face.

Alasdair McAlley

The rear linkage pivot points are very slender by today’s standards, so trips to Whistler, Winrock and the North Shore aren’t recommended. But on any normal day, it will keep up with modern trail bikes thanks to the progressive gear ratios, sub 29lb weight and a strong pair of legs.

Alasdair McAlley
Caleb Smith | KONA COG

This is a piece of history and the sport will continue to evolve, just like it did back in 1996. With that in mind, this season I fitted a period correct Azonic stem and riser bars to help better navigate the gnarly stuff.

Alasdair McAlley