Daily Archives: 08/20/2019

Enduring Distant Dreams

Words and art by Ambassador Gretchen Leggitt.

For over 5 years, my friend Robin and I have been scheming and dreaming about combining a bike tour across B.C. with a climbing trip in the Bugaboo mountain range, commonly known as the Bugs. After years of distractions, the dream was resurrected and July proved to be the perfect time for us to make this far-out vision become a reality…with only one alteration to our original plan: ditch asphalt and steer our Kona Sutras on a more ambitious gravel route.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Ambitious it was, as the first two miles took us over three hours, leaving us bloody and bruised in a very literal sense. In contradiction to our research, the Trans-Canada Trail heading east out of Chilliwack was a washed-out, sand-pitted, log-jammed and sporadically non-existent stretch of singletrack overgrown with walls of stinging nettles and thorny blackberries. The deluge of unexpected daily downpours was the perfect cherry on top of the sandbag sundae we were being dished day in, day out. Misery undoubtedly loves company. Robin and I laughed, and silently whimpered, and laughed more while we pedaled and pushed up  20+% grades over remote mountain passes on what we deemed to be the “trail to nowhere.” While we endured demoralizing conditions for the first few hundred miles, we remained chained to our dream and discovered flickers of light within our suffering. As tempting as the paralleling asphalt roads were, we always returned to the trail, lured into the unknown realms of adventure and deep wilderness it cut through.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG


Our first and only zero day, spent in Penticton, offered us rejuvenation through excessive caloric intake and a luxurious shower in a dodgy hotel, fueling us for the dusty days that would follow. As the Great Trail meandered through the Kettle Valley and passed through more urbanized areas, the condition of the trail rapidly improved, transforming into a poster child for the standard Rails-to-Trails model. Long, sandy and smooth sections with low-grade inclines crept through vineyards and along the shores of lakes and rivers, floating across dozens of train trestles and burrowing through ancient tunnels. As idyllic as the trail became for long and comfortable days in the saddle, there certainly remained a sliver of longing nostalgia for the rugged days we experienced at the start of our trip. Alas, the predictability and ease of the groomed rail trail was a dull butter knife compared the razor-sharp scalpel we had been playing with. After roughly 900 kilometers (~550 miles) and 12 days on the trail (plus a few detours), we begrudgingly flipped our sports switch and connected with our climbing partners Erin and Megan to enter phase two of the journey, climbing in the Bugaboos. 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG


If we had known that day one in the Bugs would be as treacherous as our first week on the trail, would we do it again? Most likely. The light in suffering only makes us more resilient. As we hiked up the steep granite trail through a storm of frigid sleet, depleted climbers were exiting in their sopping wet gear, with bundles of tents that had snapped like twigs. One man had even been hit by lightning, leaving his alpine aspirations soggy and ruined. When we finally reached the alpine plateau, debilitating winds bit through us as we tangoed with hypothermia while setting up our presoaked abodes. After shivering through the night as gusts crashed against our unprotected tents, we emerged the next morning to greet an exceptionally brilliant day. Drying out and gaining visibility on our objectives, we shook off our suffering and set out to climb. Over the next few days, we summited a handful of classics, crossed pristine glaciers, glissaded down steep cols and saluted the brilliant cathedrals upon which we played.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG


Another vicious storm forced us to leave a few days earlier than planned, however, we left with our hearts overflowing and our bodies fatigued. Our distant dream from many years past had become a smashingly brutal success. 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Reflecting on Crankworx

Words by Hannah Bergemann, who was having an incredible race at the Whistler EWS, holding on to 11th place when an irreparable flat forced her to pull out on the final stage.

Crankworx started off with practice for the enduro. It was my first time getting to hang out and ride with the Kona Gravity team.

Practice was fun and challenging with lots of trails and features to remember in and out of the bike park. Conditions were a bit dry, but the trails were running great. It was awesome to see the skills of racers cruising down the tracks and choosing their lines.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Day 1 started off late in the evening with the Top of the World queen stage. It had been threatening to rain all day but continued to hold off as we rode lifts up to the alpine. I was nervous and stiff at the start of the stage resulting in a small wash-out that required me to stop and straighten crooked bars. After a few minutes, I began to warm up and felt much better towards the end of the 24-minute stage. I felt a huge improvement from last year where I was just surviving towards the end, trying to make it down in one piece. This year I rode conservatively, saving energy expecting to get fatigued again like last year. In hindsight, I wish I had been a little more aggressive and pushed harder. I finished stage 1 in 28th place.

Right after finishing the first stage, the storm finally rolled in, and rain started to fall heavily. It didn’t let up all night and continued into the morning leaving the trails muddy and slick. 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG Boris Beyer Photo

The 2nd day started with a pedal across the valley to a trail called Jaws. The stage had some steep, gnarly rock rolls and chutes covered with slimy roots that were now very slick. My run was messy, but I made it down without any crashes and felt pretty good about that.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG Boris Beyer Photo

The next stage brought us over to Blackcomb to ride Roam in the Loam and Golden Boner. Both fun trails to ride, but hard to race with lots of steep, punchy climbs and one long grueling road sprint in the middle. 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG Boris Beyer Photo

After a pit stop, Stage 4 was back in the park at the top of the Garbo lift. We rode rocky Whistler tech trails down to Creekside on some new and insanely rooty trails that were wild in the wet. My goal was to ride smooth and hold momentum through all the crazy roots. I was nervous, but it ended up being an awesome run for me. I found a stride in the wet conditions and found myself in 11th place after this stage.

Stage 5 was a raw, low angle track that became a mess with the rain and hundreds of racers. I dabbed my feet in most corners and found my wheels in several muddy holes trying to get through the stage. I held onto 11th place and was excited to be almost done with the race.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG Boris Beyer Photo

The last stage started back on the upper mountain on In Deep. The tech sections were spicy in the rain, with lots of slippery rocks. After popping out onto the expressway road, I was trying to hold my speed when my front wheel found a rock in the wrong place, burping my front tire flat in a few seconds. I tried to continue on, sprinting up and across the road sections and dropping into the next trail with the front flat. When I got down to Clown Shoes, a little spill on a slippery rock reminded me of the steep rock sections ahead and that it wouldn’t be safe to ride it with the front flat. I pulled over to try and repair it. After no luck with my CO2 or my tube, I decided to pull out of the race. 

Luckily my friend Tyler happened to be standing right there on the track, so we walked down together as the race finished up down in the village (and shared a beer on the way down).

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG Tyler Deschaine Photo

I was super bummed to have to pull out right at the end but was also super proud of the way I rode in the gnarly conditions, coming back from 28th to 11th place in the end, and for keeping my body healthy!

I learned a ton and had a lot of fun during this race, and was stoked to see some huge improvements from last year! I’m heading down to Tahoe for the next round today, and hoping I can put together a good race!