Intro by Spencer Paxson
Words from behind the lens – In 2017, Kona launched the Kona Adventure Team, an offshoot of its Factory Endurance Program, to reach beyond the realm of competition and somewhere amidst the worlds of backcountry mountain biking, back-roads road riding, and plain-old big days on two wheels. Collaborating on ideas and bringing adventures to life is photographer and Pacific Northwest cycling ace Patrick Means. Patrick, hailing from Corvallis, Oregon, began a formal pursuit of outdoor and adventure photography in 2015 and has a long history with Kona’s affiliate Team S&M from Portland, Oregon. In 2017, he participated in and documented each of the Adventure Team’s big missions, and his work was featured in four front-page articles on Pinkbike, the largest mountain biking website in the world. Patrick is the rare breed, who knows good dirt, a good climb, and good glass. His style speaks to his ability to “shoot from within.” Patrick’s passion for both cycling and photography are apparent in his work, especially when you consider that all of his work is captured while on the move, whether it is a back-to-back century mission up the California coast, or a 2-day push across the rugged Kokopelli Trail. Read on for Patrick’s own recap of highlights from the season’s adventures. You’ll see why we are excited to see what’s in store for 2018…
More of Patrick’s work may be found at his website Trailhousephoto.com and on Instagram at @patrick_means
Picking 5 shots from these adventures was hard. I want to tell the story. The whole story! Instead, these are glimpses. But sometimes getting just the bits and pieces of stories can make them better. The imagination—the most vivid and powerful of all cameras—filling in the blanks.
Double Century Sandwich. Pacifica to Healdsburg, CA. And back.
We gathered our people and gathered our bikes excited for the adventures to unfold over the course of the year. This is version 1.0. It’s not happened before. How do we do it? Will we do it wrong? Wait, what are we doing anyway? What will it be like? Just go. We did. The first day, in baggy clothes and backpacks with 40c knobby tires, could have been called “Dirt Direct” taking us elite off-roaders a cool 9 hours to travel 106 miles. In Kris Sneddon speak, it was “muscly”. We easily finished a king-sized bag of peanut butter M&Ms in one go at around mile 70. For day 2, the good ol’ Kona boys slapped on the spandex and raced a (hard) 60 miles through some big ol’ dirt climbs in the coast range outside Occidental, California. On the 3rd day, we rode home to Pacifica. The highlight could have been Cory walking out of the grocery with two full grocery bags of food, with over 20 miles to finish the day still ahead of us. I suppose we did it right. We saw some beautiful country. And we saw each other see the beautiful country, and that counts for something. What else do you strive for?
Prescott Circle Trail. Prescott, Arizona.
The Prescott Circle Trail is a conglomeration of 60 miles of trails that circumnavigate the city of Prescott. We started early and finished on the waning edges of the day. Is this the first REAL adventure or the second one? Was Cali a ‘practice’ adventure? Not sure. Wait, nah, this feels like the 2nd one to me. After all, what’s an adventure? Maybe this is the important question. Tell the story. Shooting from the bike, I race ahead and take a picture. I see something rad, drop back, take a photo, chase for 3-30 minutes… Repeat. Photographer intervals. The best ones are the photos that don’t even turn out, and I’m left laughing (or cursing) and chasing hard. My desire to create something beautiful has zero power over what I actually make. The worst shots are the ones I don’t stop and take. They haunt me, but only until I get home and look through the pics. The worry that I didn’t get anything good goes away and is replaced by the excitement of what I do have. What we came away with turns out to be what counts the most.
Kokopelli Trail. 140miles one-way, from Fruita, CO to Moab, UT.
A Prairie Dog Companion: It reads like bathroom humor, but the joke was certainly on us. I don’t think we were prepared for how ‘big’ this one was. In hindsight, I like it better that way. Before the second day had even begun, it was quietly agreed upon that this was the “biggest” (whatever that means) project Barry was allowed to ram down our throats. I think there’s a very good reason that most people take 4-6 days to do what we did in 2 days, which is neat to say. But neat and smart are uncommon bedfellows in the world of cycling—best served scrambled, if together at all. Looking back, it was super neat to actually do. But at the time, it sure didn’t feel very neat. I think day 2 caught us with our pants down. Still 30 miles from home, we had run out of water, and daylight was getting a little long-in-the-tooth. With some road construction threatening to bar the path, one smiling hard-hatted man sings “the way is shut.” We talk to the next dude who says the same thing, and in the same sentence, he tells us to go hide in the woods and wait for the other fellas in Carhartts and hardhats to all drive home—in their trucks—probably full of water and gasoline and a throttle to idle home and listen to some nice music or something. We, blissfully, laid down in the dirt and rocks. Fifteen minutes later, and still out of water, we started pedaling the 2000 foot climb up to the final escarpment that would see us down to Moab, Utah. The gratitude we all felt at having made it to Milt’s—Moab’s iconic burger joint—just before closing is still hard to articulate.
Lake Tahoe. Lake to Summit to Lake.
This was a fun one. With Cory off becoming 24-hour World Champion, and Mr. and Mrs. Paxson preparing to welcome a new human into the world, the weight of the project rested on Wicknasty, Sneds, and me: top fellows to head to the mountains with, and who have just the correct (?) amount of skill, comic relief, safety knowledge, common sense, and easily-breeze-tousled caution. And, of course, no matter how big or small the adventure, a healthy belief that everything will work out great, and if and when it doesn’t, we’ll adapt and get through. This one was cool—it didn’t feel like a bike ride. It was mostly just going on a rad adventure with some pals. We rode bikes a bit and hiked over drifts of snow. Some slushy turns in the snow above lake Tahoe on a beautiful summer day was just pretty silly, really: silly in all the good ways. I think it might have been just the leisure activity to get into after our rock-smashing fest that was the Kokopelli Trail. Plus, rallying light trail bikes fully loaded with skis or a split-board makes even the most tame ribbon of trail a bit zesty!
Waldo Singletrack Snacks. Bend, Oregon to Waldo Lake and back.
Maybe, this one was about Community. The nearly 60+ miles of singletrack each day was pretty incredible, too. The 5-star trails around Waldo Lake are second to none. When I think back on this trip, it really seems like a bunch of snack breaks interrupted by periods of riding mountain bikes! Isn’t that the end goal? I mean, really. Who doesn’t ride bikes and snack? Maybe if more people knew that’s actually what cycling is about, more people would ride bikes… Just a thought.
Kona Adventure Team v2.0 What will happen with the v2.0 year? Does v2.0 mean going bigger? Is bigger the point? What is bigger? Maybe it’s all just v1.0. There is absolutely inherent value in pushing on limits. I think that we’ve all been taught that the edge—and beyond?—of our limits is where we “see god, discover ourselves, time slows down,” (Insert a saying about personal growth here) and that’s not wrong, not at all. But what of the value of consciously choosing things that feed our souls by way of their simplicity and ease? I guess I’ve always been a seeker of suffering. Only recently, I’ve given more weight to the pleasure in simple, enjoyable, ‘little’ adventures. How about an 8-mile “bikepack” from the front door of my house over to a little, greasy, recently logged peak in the forest next to the town where I live? All I need is a single backpack, and I’m up greeting the sun and ripping sweet 5-inch wide trails before clocking-in for work at 0900—low input, high in value! How do you think that work day was for me? Best day ever. But would I be as quick to toss crap in a backpack and spend the night in the woods if I hadn’t pedaled too much gear up to a fire lookout above Prescott, Arizona and realized how stupid easy it could be? I think what I can say is that I’m welcoming what 2018 has to bring. Big and small. After all, it’ll be 2018, v1.0.