Monthly Archives: August 2019

Gotland Bike Tour

Words and photography by Ambassador Erkki Punttila

THE PLAN

I saw an advert for a crew member position for the legendary Gotland Runt offshore sailing race. Being a fairly avid seafarer I thought it would be a good idea to do the course singlehanded – on a bike. Luckily someone had already thought about this and it turned out that there is a bike route called Nynäsleden which takes you from Stockholm to Nynäshamn. From there you can hop on a ferry that takes you to the island of Gotland. Gotlandsleden is another bike route that goes for about 450 km around the island. Easy riding on flat roads and chilling by the sea in perfect summer weather was the plan. Reality was something different… But as a warm-up, before we get to Sweden I decided to host a bike packing overnighter for my colleagues at Reaktor

DAY 1: HELSINKI – PORKKALA

Ten of my friends showed up at the office before noon on Saturday ready for the ride to Porkkala. About 80.000 people took part in the awesome Pride march at the same time in the city center so we walked our bikes for a few blocks before we got going toward our campsite some 60 km away. 

I took the sweeper spot at the end of our convoy and Ville led the way through the suburbs towards Porkkala nature reserve east of Helsinki. We stopped for lunch at Kirkkonummi and bought things for the bbq. After enjoying a rather stiff headwind we arrived at our destination and set up camp. Some of us tried out borrowed hammocks for the night while others had their own refined bike packing setup.  

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

DAY 2: PORKKALA – HELSINKI

After breakfast, the first train took off back to Helsinki with a sportive pace and the rest of us enjoyed the scenery and got going after 11 with an enjoyable stop at Cafe Porkkala for some crepes. From there it was a nice tailwind ride back to Helsinki. People went home and I had a couple of hours to kill before hopping aboard the ferry to Stockholm. Shower, food, a beer, sleep.  

DAY 3: STOCKHOLM – NYNÄSHAMN – VISBY

Made it to breakfast as soon as it opened and got a premium seaside table with views of the Stockholm archipelago. Once off the ship, I started to crack the puzzle of navigating through the city and suburbs towards Nynäshamn. A fellow cyclist from Germany was going to the same destination. I passed him four times before really getting out of the city. He might have been going a little slower but was much better navigating. On our fifth encounter, we approached each other from totally opposite directions. After a brief discussion in German, we decided to ride together. Once we were out of the city the route was pretty simple. At about the 25 km marker my companion took the direct route to Nynäshamn and I turned to the scenic country roads of the Nynäsleden bike route. It was a nice ride with some unexpected rain showers. Didn’t notice any cafés along the way so I just hammered into the headwind all the way to Nynäshamn without stopping except for some photos. After 83 km it was time for a lunch kebab and almost a four-hour wait for the ferry to Visby in Gotland. Luckily it didn’t rain anymore and I got aboard in dry clothing.

TOWARDS NYNÄSHAMN

NIGHT MODE

The ferry arrived on time at midnight. Since I was headed north from Visby, the south-west breeze had magically turned into a tailwind. I had anticipated that it would be rather light in the middle of the night in the beginning of July, but with full cloud coverage and zero moon it was really dark. It got a bit risky going fast on the narrow paths that the Gotlandsleden follows but once the route takes to the main road it was a joy. There was virtually no traffic at all so it was pretty safe to ride. On the open areas, the wind was giving a nice push. You can’t really see any surroundings when you focus on your front light that is a small spot on the pavement. At some point, I realised I had run out of gears and felt going pretty fast. Checked my GPS and realised I was going 40,6 km/h on the flat with knobby tires on a fully loaded Kona Sutra LTD! It started to rain again so after 40 km in the dark I set up camp in a random bush 50 m from the road. 20 hours from waking up, riding 125 km, waiting for the ferry and crossing a sea was a good recipe for some sleep. 

DAY 4: IN THE RAIN TO FÅRÖ

Woke up in the middle of the night to a strong gust of wind and a loud bang. My bike had been leaning against a tree, but it was now hugging the ground. Got going without breakfast since there was a café few km down the road. Enjoyed two wonderful home baked sandwiches and a cinnamon bun. While admiring a quarry with the road running straight through it started to rain. And it came down really hard. When I reached the town of Fårösund the streets were absolutely flooded. Hanging out in the pizzeria looking at weather reports my dreams of riding in sunny Gotland were shattered. The torrential rain would continue until next morning. With the kit already wet I took the ferry over to Fårö island and checked in at the first campsite. They offerred a small cabin for about 40 €. With the temperature down to +12° I cranked the cabin heater up and started the drying operation. Even the stuff in my frame bag and a small dry bag on the fork were wet. The rain continued until the next morning. 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

DAY 5: FÅRÖ – SLITE

Spirits were high as the sun was shining and the roads dry. Progressed towards the northern tip of the island which is best known for the ”Rauk” stone formations. Definitely worthwhile seeing. I spotted a sailing boat from Finland at the small harbour and had a chat with the crew. They had just arrived after a rough night at sea with a 15 m/s headwind for most of the way. After a little loop around the island, I took the ferry back to Fårösund and headed towards the town of Slite enjoying the wind my face. Slite has a huge quarry and the entrance to the town has a strong industrial vibe. Had coffee and cake and met a cat that demanded attention. Continued for a bit until a nice looking campsite by the sea came up. 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG
Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Fårö island is one of the most scenic places in Gotland and a must-see.

SLITE

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

DAY 6: INTO THE WIND DOWN THE EAST COAST

Made pasta for breakfast to get some extra energy to battle the wind again. Luckily after about 12 km, the route turned to the forest and finally the gravel roads started. The trees gave good protection from the wind and it was really nice to ride along the forest roads. This area is known for its iron and bronze age graves. There are over 350 of these rock formations in the forest. A few of them have been restored to give you a better understanding of how they once looked.

Had a nice fish soup at the Katthammarsvik fish smokery and continued to the eastern tip of the island. Found a great fire pit with great views by the sea. Would have been an awesome spot to set camp, but I had to continue at least another 30 km to keep on track with the plan. In the early evening the wind started to be pretty violent with gusts up to 18 m/s. I had to find some shelter to set up my tent, since the ultralight MSR Carbon Reflex 1 can’t stand such high winds. Came up to Herta camping with quite many trailers but rarely anybody there. The reception was closed too. Eventually found a helpful lady who told me that all the trailers have seasonal spots, but most of the people were home because of the weather. Set up my tent behind a vacant trailer and enjoyed the shelter from the wind. 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

DAY 7: HÖRTE – BURGSVIK

The wind was so hard that cruise ships were unable to make it port in Visby. So I lounged in the tent until it felt reasonable and safe to hit the road. Got going at two in the afternoon. Headed southwest towards Burgsvik. After a mediocre pizza at the local pub I set camp and did a little evening ride on the gravel paths along the shore. Spotted 23 rabbits and zero humans. After a refreshing shower at the camp site I planned to go the café for some supper, but they had closed already at eight, even though they said they would be open until ten. Oh well, some crackers and a protein bar before dozing off. 

DAY 8: BURGSVIK – VISBY

Got going at 8:30 and rode directly to the supermarket for some breakfast, which I enjoyed behind the store accompanied by the best dog ever. Now the sun was shining and the wind had died down to a gentle breeze that was actually coming from behind. Happy days! Took a wrong turn at some point and had to backtrack 5 km. No biggie. I was now on the west coast of Gotland and the views were terrific. A lot of sheep roaming around in some places. 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

BACK IN VISBY

With the wind helping from behind the 103 km back to Visby felt like the easiest leg of the trip. It felt like the whole town had gathered on the market place where the screened the women’s soccer world cup. I set my alarm for 05:30 in order to make it to the ferry in time.

DAY 9-10: VISBY – STOCKHOLM – HELSINKI

Woke up at 05:30, gathered my stuff, packed the wet tent after a night of rain and got going in under 30 minutes. It was only a 10-minute ride to the ferry terminal. The ferry takes about .,5 hours, so there is plenty of time to enjoy breakfast and a couple of coffees. From Nynäshamn I took the train to the outskirts of Stockholm for a 15 km ride to the center to kill some time (the train goes all the way to the city of Stockholm and you are allowed to take your bike on it, except for one or two stations in the very center). Did some sightseeing and had a couple of beers before the next ferry to Helsinki departed. Next morning I was back in Helsinki and rode home.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

THE ROUTES

You can view the routes and download .gpx files from RideWithGPS links:

Helsinki – Porkkala: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/36585027

Stockholm – Nynäshamn: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/36669065

Around Gotland: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/30643021

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG
Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Kona Dream Builds: His and Hers – Jon and Kate Strom’s Pair of Process 153s

Jon and Kate are Kentucky mountain bikers who love to ride rowdy southeast US trails, organize events for their local trail association and spend time in the woods with their rescue pup. Earlier this year, they fell in love with the playful nature of the 2019 Kona Process and began planning custom builds to ride both on their local trails and to travel with. With the help of their local Kona dealer, Broomwagon Coffee and Bikes in Lexington, KY their party builds came together featuring brands and components that are near and dear to their hearts and that complement their riding styles and aesthetic preferences.

Kate Strom

Kate’s Custom 2019 Kona Process CR DL – The Creative Process

I started out with the intent to build a shredder, but what I got was a lesson in building a rig that fit my riding style that turned into a love letter to some of my favorite places to ride.

Kate Strom
Kate Strom

Starting with the Process 153 CR/DL frame let me cherry-pick some components from the PNW and Southeast US, places that really progressed my riding over the past several years. The 170 Bachelor post from PNW Components is super consistent and stylish. Not to mention it gets the f*** out of the way when the fire road ends. A Fox 36 Factory runs point for the downhills, while the stock Super Deluxe RT3 mixes the genres in the back. Both of these are major upgrades from my previous ride and taught me a lot about compression settings and dialing in my preferences for the rowdy Southeast.

Kate Strom

Matching that crispy mint color was a real challenge until I found Florida-based Profile Racing’s Helm stem. The OneUp EDC tool nestles into it nicely and adds some nice contrast, not to mention some CYA.

Kate Strom

Skid triggers are courtesy of TRP Quadiems, 4-piston stopping power that will literally save you from the jaws of an apex predator—in my case, a disturbingly large alligator. Sticky Disisdaboss grips from Sensus finish out the rest of the cockpit.

Kate Strom

The build is made ridable courtesy of a WTB Koda saddle and Diety Black Kats.

Kate Strom

Fork Fox Factory 36 GRIP 2
Shock RS Super Deluxe RT3
Brakes TRP Quadiem
Drivetrain SRAM GX Eagle
Dropper Post PNW Bachelor
Wheels Bontrager Line Pro 30
Stem Profile Racing Helm with OneUp EDC Tool
Saddle WTB Koda
Grips Sensus Disisdaboss

Kate Strom

Jon’s Custom 2019 Kona Process 29 CR – Rudie Can’t Fail

I was pretty happy with the starting package of components on the Kona Process 29 CR so I elected to order a complete bike and swap some parts out. At 6’3” with long arms and a long torso, the XL frame and 29” wheels were a no-brainer.

Kate Strom

The first part I swapped out was the fork because I absolutely love my DVO Diamond. I’ve been incredibly impressed with how well it handles both big hits and small chatter underneath my Clydesdale frame, so it was a no-brainer to slap some custom Slik Graphics decals on the fork and bolt it on.

Kate Strom

I then swapped out the stock wheels for a custom set built by my buddy James at Broomwagon. I strapped strong, lightweight Roval Traverse Carbon rims to Industry Nine 101 hubs. The quick engagement on the hubs is clutch for ratcheting through some southeastern gnar. Plus, after some training, the distinctive buzz helps our trail dog Stevie follow us down the mountain and find us if we get separated.

Kate Strom

For the drivetrain, I kept the reliable GX Eagle system in place but swapped the Guide brakes out for a set of Codes. When it came down to pedals, I found I’m most comfortable on the tough and affordable composite Kona Wah Wahs.

Kate Strom

I chose an anodized purple Chromag FU40 riser bar to dial in the riding position and highlight the playful nature of this bike. I mounted it with a short Blackspire Components stem and slid on a set of USDA Prime Sensus Meaty Paws grips.

Kate Strom

As the color scheme came together, it reminded me of the cover of The Clash’s London Calling album, so I’ve taken to calling the bike Rudie. It continues to inspire more confidence than this particular rider warrants and pushes me to find the rowdy lines because, as Joe Strummer said, Rudie Can’t Fail.

Fork DVO Diamond
Shock RS Super Deluxe RT3
Brakes SRAM Code R
Drivetrain SRAM GX Eagle
Dropper Post Rockshox Reverb
Wheels Roval Traverse Rims with Industry Nine 101
Stem Blackspire Components with EDC Tool
Bar Chromag FU40 Riser
Saddle Specialized Power Arc
Grips Sensus Meaty Paws

Torn Between Two Hemispheres

Words by ambassador Graham Beaumont

Roll back 10 years or so, I was in my early 20’s with a life focused towards the bike industry and intention to make my mark on it. 

At the time I was working my way up the ladder in bike shops soaking up all of the information I could. With no real goal other than knowing I wanted to ride bikes for a living, I had set out to do just that. 

My life was the Lake District. After a very short move to the ‘big city’, I knew in my heart living within the mountains was where I needed to be. 

During this short stint in Manchester My Mum spoke to me about the potential of her moving to New Zealand for a couple of years, and did I want to go with her? Looking back at this question, in many ways this could not have been timed any better. Having just had my wings clipped from moving to the city I was 100% certain that I wanted to stay here in the UK, in the Lake District. 

So a few months passed my Mum moved to the other side of the world, along with my stepdad. This was huge for us all as we are not big family, shortly after I packed my job in the city and made moves towards moving back home to the Lakes.

At the time my sister was at university studying back in the Lakes so I stayed on her sofa for a while.

Sven Martin photo Photo by Sven Martin

All of a sudden I realised that ‘home‘ wasn’t necessarily what it used to be, and I needed to create a home for myself.  I got myself a job with a good friend of mine in a suspension service centre, and rented a house with some other folk and started to rebuild my life back home in the Lake District.

With all the modern communication platforms we have, dialect should have been easy to New Zealand. My mindset towards the whole situation put a stop on any real dialogue for the first few years. I occupied my life with partying, riding bikes and generally just pretending to be okay with it all.

After a couple of years in the suspension centre I decided to leave full-time employment and take the plunge into being self-employed down a road towards Mountain Bike Coaching and Guiding, which has lead me to where I am today.

When my sister graduated she also headed off round the world ultimately finishing in New Zealand, at this point I knew it was time for me to pull my socks up and head out to New Zealand for a trip! 

Travelling to the opposite side of the world was a daunting necessity, and I had been putting it off for too long, flying to the other side of the world opened my eyes to so many amazing possibilities and showed me that the world is full of amazing riding! 

Since that first trip I have got Flying with a bike down, I have met some of the best people and ridden some of the greatest trails, and I even get to ride in the forest with my Mum! It’s awesome to have a family who shares my passion for bikes, even if they are 11,310 miles away.

It can be so easy to look at my family situation as a negative thing, and I have definitely flicked between it being positive and that over the years. But sitting here and thinking about the trips I have had to New Zealand and other places on the way, the experiences shared, but even more specifically the trails I have been lucky enough to of ridden along the way, it’s pretty fantastic having my folks out there. 

Ben Gerrish Photo Photo by Ben Gerrish

The Brief for this project was Time Travel, and that got me thinking about certain points in my life. if I had a Time Travelling machine would I have done things differently the second time round? 

It took me back to the moment I decided to stay back here in the UK, and would I change it? I have pondered over this question for years, but I think 21-Year-old Graham had his head screwed on to a point. It was a pretty bold move to stay here as my family emigrated but it seemed less scary than packing my bags and moving. 

To think at the time I was worried the mountain biking might be rubbish in NZ! Any of you who have been will know that it’s definitely NOT the case, My mum lives a 5-minute pedal out of the redwood Forest In Rotorua. If you haven’t been to Rotorua and ridden your bike I strongly recommend it.

Staying in the UK has had so many positives for me. I love the people around me, the riding and the friendships that has created, my work and lifestyle I am able to live and accessibility to the rest of Europe in a heartbeat.  Riding bikes can take you anywhere!

Bicycling Magazine award Process 153 CR DL 29 with Editors Choice

Bicycling Magazine have just posted their Best Mountain Bike’s of 2019 list and our Process 153 CR DL 29 garnered the Editors Choice Award for “Best For Nailing the Jump Line”.

It’s tough not to have fun on a 160/153mm trail bike, but if your idea of fun involves jibbing, popping off, and generally challenging the trail’s obstacles with other unnecessary maneuvers, you’ll want this Kona Process. Its RockShox suspension feels buttery from the box, and at 31 pounds, the bike is pleasingly flickable around tight corners. The Process never feels too aggressive; more rip than race, its playful handling encourages you to try that jump line you’ve been too scared to attempt. (There’s plenty of travel for when you case a landing, as we did repeatedly during testing.) I’s also an impressive pedaling platform, and climbing technical cross-country trails is made easier by the suspension’s slow-speed sensitivity to rocks and roots. Our tester says he’s definitely ridden faster-feeling bikes on local trails, but none more versatile and consistently amusing.

Reliving the Future

A fictional story inspired by the theft of my dear friend’s Kona Humu, and the joy of klunking. –Shae James, Kona Ambassador

I am supposed to be holding one endless circle of hardened chain, a symbol of trust. It is supposed to be looped through my favorite front triangle, into my rear triangle, and around a solid piece of metal. As I stand outside of a busy restaurant, on a busy street, I am holding pieces of the bike lock that I had woven through my beloved mountain bike. I look through the window of the restaurant. How can people be eating? I look out to the street. How can cars be moving? I stand there for a few minutes. Blank. If I’d have known, I would have skipped the post-ride beer in a heartbeat.

Well, I guess it’s time to start walking home.

Two blocks down. I stare at the red crosswalk light. I wonder if I would have dabbed on that track stand. Two more blocks. I’ve never noticed that gap. I wonder if I would have cased it. Downtown turns into neighborhood, and I can’t believe how long walking takes. Just as I let out an aggravated sigh, I see a quaint yellow house. Its yard is covered in junk and treasure. 

Well, this is taking forever. Might as well stop and take a look. I think to myself.

Toys. Blankets. Lamps. Vintage alarm clocks. 

Wow. How old is this stuff?

“Hey, there,” I say as I notice an older man sitting in a camp chair, smiling at me. “Any RC cars, or something?”

“No, I’m afraid not.”, he replies with a little chuckle. “Those things sure are fun, and you look like you could use some kind of pick me up.”

“Oh. Yeah… “ I look down at my shoes. “My bike was stolen and it’s still pretty fresh.”

“Jeez. I’m sorry to hear that. That’s like having a piece of yer soul ripped out.” 

I nod. 

He looks at me hard for a moment.

“Tell ya what.”, he starts, as he reaches for the cane parked next to him. With much effort, he stands up and shuffles towards his garage. “I know it can’t replace your old one, but I’ve got a bike that you can have if you want it.”

“Really?! Wha… Why would you do that?”

“Look at me! I can’t ride it anymore, and I’ve been waiting for the right person to need it. You just gotta promise me you’ll take her to the top of a mountain, where she belongs.”

“You’ve got a mountain bike? For free??” I say in disbelief.

“Yep. Here she is, in all her glory!” He pulls a cloth cover off of a cruiser bike from the 70’s. It’s yellow and heavy. He stands there, beaming at it. Like it’s a trophy.

“Uh…Will it make it to the top of a mountain?” 

“Hah! This thing has been to the top of more peaks than you! I guarantee it!” 

“…Do you know what mountain biking is?” I ask with a raised brow.

“Kid, do YOU know what mountain biking is?” 

We both stand our ground.

He breaks, “Just go ride it once. If you don’t have fun, you can bring it back. No harm, no foul. Whadda ya say?”

“Blehhh. Okay. Fine. Fine.” 

Why am I agreeing to this?

“Great! I’ll be here all day tomorrow, too. Maybe you could ride it tomorrow, and come by after? I’d love to hear about it,” he says excitedly. 

“Sure. Sure. Um. Thank you. I’ll let you know how it goes.” I try to sound optimistic, but don’t do a great job.

I wheel the bike to the end of the garage and swing a leg around it. 

“Uh… where are the brakes?!” I say as I look around the bike.

“It’s a coaster brake.” He replies.

What the heck is a coaster brake?

“You know. Pedal-back. You pedal backwards, and it engages the brake,” he explains like I’m new to this planet.

“Uh sure. Well, I guess I’ll see you tomorrow, if I survive,” I say, as I test the brakes down the driveway. “Thank you. Mister….?” I look back to ask the old man’s name and the garage door is already halfway closed.

Okay then.

I start pedaling home.

Wow. Even for a tank, this is so much faster than walking. 

I am home in minutes, put the bike away, and head to bed. 

The next morning, I wake up and start getting ready like I’m going to shred all day. As I’m pulling my riding clothes together, my heart sinks.

Oh yeah. I forgot. My bike is gone…

I sit down on my bed and wallow in my misery until I remember the old man’s bike.

Might as well, I guess.

I finish getting ready, pull the bike out of my garage, and set out for the first loop that comes to mind. After about five miles, the sound of my tires changed tune. The smooth buzzing turns into a crunchy, grinding noise. A gravel road. 

Okay. Let’s really hammer this thing.

I stand up and start really pedaling. My eyes focus on nothing, and my legs become two pistons as I sink heavy into the grind. The scenery around me begins to blur. I dig deeper. The sound of my tires, the birds, the wind, it all starts to blur as well. Eventually, it sounds like someone has put their hands over my ears and I feel a hard jolt that almost knocks me off my bike.

I snap out of my self-made hypnosis and look around. 

Wha…? Where am I?

Everything looks different. The same… but different. The trees are… smaller? 

What the hell am I wearing?!

As I look around, I catch my clothing in my peripheral. My bike shorts are short. Really short. And tight. Really tight. My comfortable, and breathable mountain bike shoes are now stiff, hiking boots. I reach my hand up to my helmet. My visor is gone.

What is happening?!

I continue pedaling up the hill, frantically looking for any kind of familiar landmark or trail. Nothing. I feel around my clothing for the bulk of my smartphone. It isn’t on me.

Great. No GPS. How am I supposed to find my way around now?

I get off my bike, take a few steps, and just stand there with my hands on my hips. I look left. I look right.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG


Hmmm. I don’t see any chance of me finding a trail without my app. I’m just going to head back down. 

I get back on my bike and start down the gravel logging road I had just come from. As I gain speed down the hill, I momentarily forget about the whole coaster brake thing. I squeeze my pointed index fingers and just get air. 

Oh shit.

I begin to panic as I realize that just because I ride with my fingers habitually pointed towards a brake lever, doesn’t mean there is always a brake lever there to be pulled! 

Uh. PEDAL BACK! I remember.

I drive my back leg down into the pedal as hard as I can in an attempt to shut down the massive amount of speed I have acquired; the rear tire locks up and begins skidding. My eyes grow wide as my rear end is fishtailing back and forth. I lift my foot up and release the hub.  I re-engage, but this time with some tact. I am able to slow down enough to step off the bike and come to a stop. I breathe relief.

Woah. Am I crazy? Or was that actually insanely fun?

I place my bulky shoes back on to the pedals and start rolling down the road. This time with a mischievous smile on my face. 

Skiiiiid. 

Giggle. SKIIIIIIID.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

As I come around a long right-hand corner, I’m spraying gravel and laughing. I look like a maniac. There is a group of four cyclists pedaling up the road, and I’m headed straight towards them. They look up, eyes wide, and all dart to each side of the road. I narrowly squeeze between them, before I slam on my brake, plant a foot on the ground, and spin my bike in a 180 to face them.

“Jump back, man!”

“You almost reamed us!”

“Jeez, hot pants!” 

“Take a chill pill, dude!”

They all exclaim differently.

“Sorry, guys. Just had a little too much fun looking for the trail, ” I explain.

“Well, you’re going the wrong way, first off,” the tallest one points out.

“Yeah. I was just giving up, actually,” I admit.

“Look, we were just headed up. If you can keep up, you can stick with us, ya dig? “Oh. Yeah. I can dig. Do you have tools somewhere or something?” I ask.

“What? No! ‘Ya dig?’ Like, do you dig it? Do you understand? You cool?” he demands.

“Oh! Yeah. Uh… totally, man.” I respond as I realize what he meant.

They all continue pedaling up the hill, this time with me in tow. I don’t say much during the climb but instead, listen to their conversation. After a while, I piece together an impossible theory. 

“Hey guys, uhh, weird question. What day is it, exactly?” I ask, afraid of the answer.

“Man, did you hit your head or something? We haven’t even started the real ridin’ yet!” Laughs the one with the thickest mustache. “It’s Wednesday. June 20th.”

“Right. Right. Just for fun, what year?”

“Man! You DID hit your head, didn’t ya! 1979!” he responds, shaking his head. Half in amusement, half in concern. He laughs again and goes back to talking to his friends about some girl named Mary Ann.

Okay. Don’t panic. You somehow traveled to 1979. You broke some kind of time barrier while pedaling your face off, and traveled back to 1979. It’s fine. You’ll be fine. At least there’s still biking. Just ride. And figure it out later. Yeah. Groovy.

As I talk myself into living in the moment, whenever that moment happens to be, the fellas stop at what looks like an overgrown trailhead. 

“ Okay! Here we are! Is everyone ready? New girl! You’ll go second to last, so we don’t lose you. Better ride fast, so you don’t spoil his good time, ya dig?”

With barely a moment to get into formation, we drop in and it’s absolute chaos. The fully rigid frame of my bike feels bombproof yet somehow rattles me to my very bones. The first corner I come across, I brake a little late and end up skidding into it. The tires hook up at the last possible second, and I shoot out of it. I can hear dirt flying behind me. The rider behind me gives a delighted holler in approval. I pedal through the next flat section and graze the bottom of my right pedal on the top of a rock. 

Woah! No freewheel. I really gotta pay attention to where my feet are with this thing!

A minute into the trail and I really start to warm up. Once I connect all the dots, I realize this is true mountain biking. It is controlled chaos. Endless creativity in slashing the earth behind you. I’ve never had so much fun on a bike. You let it out, get scared, and reel it back in. Over and over. Thankfully there is more laughing than crashing, but the numbers are close. There is so much fun to be had, but we all know the trail will end soon. The fast pace, the non-stop riding, is refreshing. No apps. No photos. No line discussion. Just riding. 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

The trail finishes with a bang! Three consecutive corners, and final ping pong through some rocks and we explode out of the trail and back onto the road we started on. Everyone is laughing and exclaiming at what they had just witnessed. 

“Did you see me almost hit that rock?”

“Did you see me definitely hit that rock!”

“I cleared that gap!”

“I saw! That was so sick, dude!”

“Far out, New Girl! You survived! And kept up!”

“Heh. Yeah, I did. Didn’t I?” I say, thinking of what I had said to the old man in the garage. “That was insanely fun, you guys. Thanks for letting me tag along.”

“Oh yeah! We didn’t know anyone else liked to do this kind of stupid stuff! Or even knew what it was! Happy to ride with you!” he chuckles.

“You’d be surprised who could get into a sport like this.”, I grin. “Thanks again! I’ll catch ya on the flip side!”

I wave my good-bye and head down the last bit of the road I had originally started on. I throw one last skid, before my tires touch where gravel meets pavement. Time shifts and my surroundings change again. I’m home. I head straight for the quaint yellow house. As it comes into view, I see the garage door begin to slowly slide open. I put the power down, and pedal up the driveway, and skid into the garage. I stop just before the old man who gave me this fantastic yellow bike.

“So? How are my friends doing?” he says with a big grin. 

Kona Dream Builds: History Repeats – Connor Fearon and Jackson Frew’s Custom World Champs Operator CR’s

We love the World Champs. Each year Gravity Team Manager Mathieu Dupelle works with Impact Designs in Quebec and constantly knocks it out of the park with Connor’s custom World Champs Operator. Yesterday they unveiled Connors 1998 Kona Stab Deelux inspired Operator CR. This bike is on another level, and you can dive into the details below!

Caleb Smith | KONA COG
Caleb Smith | KONA COG
Caleb Smith | KONA COG
Caleb Smith | KONA COG
Caleb Smith | KONA COG
Caleb Smith | KONA COG
Caleb Smith | KONA COG
Caleb Smith | KONA COG
Caleb Smith | KONA COG
Caleb Smith | KONA COG
Caleb Smith | KONA COG
Caleb Smith | KONA COG
Caleb Smith | KONA COG
Caleb Smith | KONA COG

While Pat at Impact Designs was busy working on Connors bike, team mechanic Alex Pleasant was busy stripping and painting Jackson Frew’s bike as well as polishing every single bolt to produce this stealthy forest green and silver rocket, complete with throwback 98′ graphics to boot.

Caleb Smith | KONA COG
Caleb Smith | KONA COG
Caleb Smith | KONA COG
Caleb Smith | KONA COG
Caleb Smith | KONA COG
Caleb Smith | KONA COG
Caleb Smith | KONA COG
Caleb Smith | KONA COG
Caleb Smith | KONA COG
Caleb Smith | KONA COG
Caleb Smith | KONA COG

Before and After: Martin Johannesen and his Rove

Mads Olivener Martin on May 2nd, 2019

Mads Olivener took these super cool before and after photos of his good friend Martin Johannesen. The photos were taken before and after a recent three month bikepacking trip of Europe. Not one to chill, he’s ready to embark on another trip, this time a little closer to home with a tour of some North Western Norwegian roads.

Mads Olivener Martin on August 15th, 2019
Mads Olivener Martin’s 2014 Rove St on May 2nd, 2019
Mads Olivener Martin’s 2014 Rove St on August 15th, 2019

Wales by 35mm

Kona Ambassador Tudor Gillham wanted to switch it up and take a step back in time for his latest project. He ditched the fancy camera gear and simply used his trusty old film camera to create this project.

“I had a weekend away planned and thought it would be the perfect subject for the film. So for this one, I traveled back in time and used my thrift store film camera to cover my tour of West Wales on 35mm. Not getting caught up on quality, focus etc or worrying about charging a camera / how many memory cards I had was a breath of fresh air! I’ve popped the snaps into a little film which I think is pretty fun and looks really cool.” -Tudor

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG
Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Introducing the Swift Rove, a Limited Edition Kona X Swift Industries Collaboration!

Caleb Smith | KONA COG

Bikepacking is all the rage these days. The Rove ST makes the perfect base for this special edition build. We’ve partnered with Seattle’s Swift Industries to kit out the Rove ST with color-matched bags and custom touches, sending you into the wild in style! Only 201 Swift Roves exist, so they’re sure to be a collector’s item!

Caleb Smith | KONA COG

Each bike features Swift Industries Jr. Ranger Panniers, a Paloma handlebar bag, and a Zeitgeist saddlebag.

Caleb Smith | KONA COG

The Swift Rove also features Shimano’s new GRX 600/800 groupset, made specifically for those who love to ride gravel!

Caleb Smith | KONA COG

We’ve created a super cool custom headtube badge commemorating our collaboration with Swift Industries.

Caleb Smith | KONA COG

The Swift Rove also comes with a Tubus Tara Big Apple front Lowrider rack and fenders with mudflaps.

Caleb Smith | KONA COG
Caleb Smith | KONA COG

WTB Venture tires keep you rolling steady across any terrain.

Caleb Smith | KONA COG

Go Deluxe! The Rove NRB DL and Libre DL Are Here!

We’ve got some hot bikes to announce this week and we’re starting off with the stunning Libre DL and the badass Rove NRB DL. Both bikes are coming equipped with Shimano’s new GRX groupset, which is geared towards the gravel market.

Libre DL

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

The 2020 Libre DL moves to 650b wheels and a 2x Shimano GRX 800 drivetrain, providing a broader gear range for a wider variety of terrain. The Kona Race Light Carbon frame is mounted with an Easton carbon bar, Race Face carbon seatpost, Easton EA70 AX wheels and a Kona Verso Carbon touring fork providing a light and fast ride. Numerous mounts for water bottles and frame bags give you the ability to be more self-sufficient and travel further than ever before. Similar to last year’s Libre, this bike features one of our gorgeous prism paint jobs that changes colors depending on the angle of the light.

Rove NRB DL

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

The Rove NRB DL represents the light and fast mentality of a long-distance rider. We’ve spec’d this bike with a high-end, yet affordable Shimano GRX 600 drivetrain and 105 hubs. The NRB DL also features our new full carbon flat mount disc fork with three-pack cage mounts, which is perfect for touring and long days in the saddle. Big tire clearance, custom dropouts that are fender-compatible, and hydraulic disc brakes make the Rove NRB DL a unique bike that is ready for anything.

Time to Travel!

Words by Ambassador Clara Cendoya Ibanez. Photos by Fernando Calle Prieto.  

And it happens!! Summer holidays are here and with them, time to travel!! It’s the moment to start thinking and planning the different travels we want to do to bike parks around Europe, the bicycle paradises.

For this year we taught in order to visit again, but this time with more days and time to enjoy it. The bike park of Serfaus Fiss Ladis in the Tirol, Austria.

The Tirol is a beautiful and wonderful place, with dreamy views and happy people.But it is even better if you decide to visit it with your bicycle.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG Ponferrada, Spain

It is going to be a great adventure because we are going to travel by car this time. A little Volkswagen Polo from the 90’s will bring us there, with no air conditioner, with all the luggage and bicycle equipment in there, and also our two Kona Process in there. From Spain to Austria, almost 24h… Are we crazy??

It will be worth it for sure because once we get there, this amazing place will be waiting for us. The bike park is so much fun with super long and natural trails.

Days start at 2400 meters high on the top of the mountain and ends with several downhills to the bottom of the mountain at 1300 meters where the bike park is. It’s perfect for achieving goals and encouraging and practicing jumps.

By the end of the day, those icy Austrian beers will be waiting for us. Bar, terraces with magical views. It is a perfect plan!!

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

After this beautiful travel and experience, we will be back home. We will go to the north of Spain to a no less desirable place called Ponferrada. It’s a city surrounded by a lot of mountains and another paradise to keep enjoying our Processes! It’s pure enduro biking, lots of uphills and peddling.

It’s wonderful to visit this place while practicing your favorite sport. I’m learning the downhills from everywhere I ‘ve visited.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

But Ponferrada has something special. The food and eating are the best.

These are magical places and for sure for our Kona Process. Can you imagine a better plan?

Clara’s Longest Day

Words by Kona Ambassador Clara Cendoya Ibáñez. Photos by Fernando Calle Prieto

It is Summertime! I love the summer!! I’m a teacher and I look forward to the days at the end of the school year. It’shappiness when the days get hotter and longer but also the classes are shorter. We’ve got more energy and more time to enjoy and hang out until the end of the day.

For me, it’s like living a dream when it’s the end of the workday, being on my bike and the time I’ll have to ride it till the end of the day with my friends. I can also sense around me that the solstice is near and the bike parks are opening—probably the most expected thing of the year.

I’ll spend the whole summer enjoying several bike parks such as La Pinilla in Spain, Vallnord in Andorra, and my favorite, Serfaus – Fiss – Ladis, in Tirol, Austria. For me, it is paradise.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG Serfaus Fiss Ladis

It’s the disconnection of stress, the clock, the daily things, and all the routines.

Instead, it’s the connection with the mountain and the environment in magical places, and the most beautiful views that I can imagine, and enjoying those beautiful places.

What’s better than being able to visit so many places that are only reachable by bicycle? Thanks to the chair lifts and all of those really awesome downhills, single tracks, and trails all of this is possible on longest days.

Now, you are at 2400m high atop the mountain and within 20 minutes you’ll be at the bottom. You can travel to a different part of the mountain with another view and a different downhill but no less beauty. It’s just as good as the last one. And you can do this over and over.

I can’t and never will get tired of doing it.

It fuels me up, my energy, my happiness.

What’s a better ending than a firelight sunset in between the mountains, drinking, reminiscing about the ride on a warm never-ending summer day?

The longest days, the most magical days.