admin

Sophie is Living the Canadian Dream at Kona

Earlier this year I sent my application to Richard Wadd, and I’m now a marketing intern at Kona Bikes in Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

Photos and words by Sophie Bossier.

Please allow me to introduce myself – my name is Sophie. I’m a 22 year old BMX racer and MTB rider from France and I am now in Vancouver with my single suitcase, my bike, my boyfriend and my questions as baggage – haha. I would like to share my adventures with you through a weekly report about my trip and my experiences at Kona in B.C., as a French female rider and as an intern with the fabulous Kona family.

My trip to B.C. raised a lot of questions in my mind. Where is the best place to live? Is Canada different than France? How are the people there? How do they live? Will I experience culture shock? Will I be able to speak English? Is Kona a big company? What does it look like? How is the team? Will I have the opportunity to be involved in the marketing team? Will I have the time to ride my, or their bikes? How are the trails in B.C.?

After one week in Vancouver, I can answer a few of my questions, and I can tell you with no doubt that I’m excited for all that I am experiencing. It is only just the beginning!

The Canadian Dream

Culture shock? Yes and No. Yes, but in a very positive way. In Vancouver, the culture is organized around bikes. In France, people turn their heads in the street when you wear your full face helmet, you don’t ride on the road for fear of getting crushed by a car, and most believe it is nonsense to spend more than $300 on a bike. Vancouver has a culture that encourages and revolves around riding, with bike paths everywhere, a wealth of bike jump parks, endless trails, bike shops on every corner, pick up trucks full of $5,000 two wheeled machines at every stop. Here, riders are kings, nobody can stop them, except maybe bears. There really are bears here and I am excited to see some.

IMG_4966

I live in North Vancouver, near Deep Cove, in the Seymour mountain area with a nice family. Only 2 minutes from the nearest enduro trails, 3 minutes from the dirt jump park, 5 minutes from hiking, 10 minutes from the BMX racing track, 15 minutes from the downhill trails, 30 minutes from the biggest Canadian indoor bike park, 45 minutes from Squamish, 1h15 from Coast Gravity Park and 1h30 from Whistler. In a nutshell I am so happy. I will skip all the details for now and tell you more in my next article where I will introduce you to my incredible agenda for the next few months. I am living the Canadian Dream.

IMG_5178

My First Day at Kona Bikes

Don’t try to find a big brand new building with a Kona Bikes sign with employees in suits… Kona is more like the cave of Alibaba for riders: once you have found the building – and it’s not that easy to find – you enter and discover the treasure!

Bikes, everywhere. At first a showroom at the entrance with all the best pieces from the new lineup. Then, an excess of bikes everywhere, from the hundreds of archive bikes and frames suspended from the ceiling to the prototypes hung on the walls and hundreds of derailleurs and forks right out of the box with all kinds of other components. Looking for an unusual part? You’re likely to find it here!

They gave me a tour of the company. It’s easy – 2 floors, 4 offices, hundreds of bikes and my future colleagues, which could be counted on the fingers of two hands. However, I hear the US headquarters in Bellingham, Washington is a bigger playground. I get the hang of it.

IMG_5182

On my first day at Kona I was introduced to my new colleagues. The first one I met was the guy I sent my application to 3 months ago. They introduced me to him, telling me his name was Dik. I found this confusing. I didn’t understand because I wrote to Richard Wadd. They all found this so funny, laughing and explained that the shortened slang name for Richard is called Dik, it’s like a nickname. They laughed again and explained to me that in writing to richard.wadd@konaworld.com, I wrote to dik.wadd@konaworld.com. Damn! And then it got worse. They told me what Dik Wadd means. Too funny, imagine me, a carefree young French woman who has learned English only in books.

IMG_5181

And that is Kona – all things are like this at Kona. It’s cool, quirky sometimes but really fun – I guarantee it. But don’t be mistaken, Kona is a very serious company – you’ll see it in my future articles.

Spencer Paxson Waxes About his 2-3 Finish with Kerry Werner at the Pisgah Stage Race!

Spencer Paxson and Kerry Werner went 2-3 at the Pisgah Stage Race on their Hei Heis. As usual, Spencer’s trip report is super thoughtful and interesting! Here goes…

Words by Spencer Paxson. Photos courtesy Blue Ridge Adventures and Icon Media Asheville.

If the Bible had been written in the Pacific Northwest, the expression “shake the dust off your feet” would go something like “scrape the moss off…” At least that was my thought as I hummed out of town in my moss-covered truck early one April morning for my first race trip of the 2017 season. It had been a long and wet winter in Bellingham. The longest in recorded history. I had let the legs go good and fallow since my last race in November, and then spent all of December off of the bike (on account of the snow). For the past three months I had been riding the magic carpet of loam on the trails around town to get back in shape. Now it was time to put it to the test and wake the senses from hibernation with a trip to the Pisgah Stage Race in North Carolina.

Needless to say, I was keen to get out and stretch my legs in the old crumbly Blue Ridge Mountains and rhododendron groves of western North Carolina. The objective was the Pisgah Stage Race, a 5-day humdinger of a mountain bike stage race based out of the town of Brevard. This would be the 9th edition of the famous event and my first time racing it. Along the way I’d link up with new teammate and North Carolina native Kerry Werner and the good folks at Tennessee Valley Bikes (TVB) in Knoxville.

IMG_4941-1

There was no lacking in fine Southern hospitality as soon as I landed in Knoxville. In no time I had tossed my bag into the back of a big truck and was driving down the highway with a Nikki Lane song twanging on the radio as the sun set over the Smoky Mountains. A big dinner of hole-in-the-wall Mexican food with Scott and Eric from TVB and the road warriors from Kona Bicycles Demo Tour had me feeling fat as a tick. With a happy post-travel coma fast approaching, I passed out that night to the sound of the local crickets and katydids.

2017 Pisgah Stage Race Day 4_76

We shook our legs out at the Kona Demo Day at the new Knoxville Urban Wilderness trail system, followed that evening my some official pre-fueling at TVB’s new shop grand opening. Kerry and I were elected as chief judges for a “guac-off”. We sampled 14 different kinds of guacamole scoring on 8 criteria each, then topped off on street corn and sausages before bidding farewell to Knoxville and caravanning down the Blue Ridge Highway to Brevard. We weathered a flat tire on the RV and made it to the Pine Ridge campground and my first night in the Pisgah Forest. Just before midnight I had pitched a tent on a little grassy nook next the Davidson River with the blue light of the moon shining so bright I could read a book without a flashlight.

Coffee, pancakes, and NPR News in the morning would begin the routine for the coming week as Kerry whipped up a mighty fine breakfast before our first day pre-riding some of the Pisgah trails. The weather was looking prime, with sun and short-sleeve temperatures forecasted for the week, maybe a frogwash or two along the way, but otherwise uncharacteristically dry for spring. Despite the warm temperatures, the trees had not bloomed yet, and the only green in the woods was the dark evergreen of rhododendron groves. The absence of leaves gave the forest a brisk and flinty appearance. I kept an eye out for the famous white squirrels of Pisgah and imagined old-time Civil War era history as we rolled out to the trails.

“This one’ll get a little loose,” noted Kerry before we dropped into the first descent of the day. I had expected Pisgah to be rough based on the stories I had heard, but that said, I was caught off guard after four months of riding the luxurious loam carpets of Cascadia. Yes, our trails in Bellingham can get rough and wild, but there’s a nuance to everything. The trails of Pisgah are refreshingly raw, rocky and rooty, ungroomed and unapologetic. Riding fast here requires a smoothness akin to the prolonged vowels of the Southern drawl. Managing traction and speed are as different here as the accent. Fundamentals are the same, but the expressions don’t work without the subtleties. I felt like I couldn’t carry my speed if I had a bucket with a lid on it! Let’s say my Yankee rigidity would hold me back through the first half of the stage race, but I eventually adopted a smoother Southern style.

2017 Pisgah Stage Race Day 3_50

Racing arrived soon enough, and on the morning of Stage 1 the air was abuzz as the crowd of 200 racers from 11 countries lined up for the 5-day, 140-mile journey. We plunged through an icy stream and into the rhododendron forests. A group of four, including Kerry, a local elite rider named Tristan Cowie, one Mystery European and myself, quickly separated from the masses and soon we were all seeing double as we navigated our way up and away into the forest. The battle was on.

Kerry was the defending champion of Pisgah and bringing the thunder after a career best cyclocross season in 2016, not to mention a long history as one of the top MTBrs in the country. Tristan Cowie was no stranger to the top-level of mountain bike racing himself, having been a regular on the US National Team in the 2007-2009 period. And as a local, he knew each of the trails like a tree knows its roots. The Mystery European turned out to be from Spain and was an ex-World Cup dominator. With fast conditions and good legs, we blazed through the stage setting a course record a whopping 20 minutes faster than the year before! Midway through, Tristan launched a perfect attack into a long descent, placing the Spaniard between him and myself. Spaniard’s skill going down was not as good as it was going up, and Tristan began to float away. I eventually snuck around Spaniard, but I wasn’t riding very smooth either, and though I was reeling Tristan in, there wasn’t enough of the day left to close the gap. I came in second on Day 1 by 19 seconds, a gap that would ebb and flow through the week. Kerry rolled in third.

2017 Pisgah Stage Race Day 5_33(1)

Meanwhile, Kona Grassroots rider Jena Greaser was dominating the Open Women’s category, and would go on to do so through the week. Jena is beginning to rack up impressive results, with a top-3 finish a few week’s prior at the TransRockies Moab Rocks stage race in Utah. Desert to Appalachia, she is a Canadian force to be reckoned with. In the Open Men’s field and just a possum’s tail behind us was Super Grassroots rider Cory Rimmer, a young and rising star from North Carolina. Cory put the hustle to the enduro sections like a fart in a fan factory and would go on to take second overall in the Enduro portion of the race.

2017 Pisgah Stage Race Day 2_125

At the front end of the field, the days at Pisgah are relatively short at around 2-2.5hrs each. The upside is that the fatigue doesn’t stack up the way it does in longer death-march style races where each day is over 4 hours. The flip side is that the short days make for very intense and fast racing. The pace each day is faster than green grass through a goose. Course records fell left and right as we stormed through the hills, beating times set by previous legends of the sport Jeremiah Bishop, Thomas Turner, Sam Koerber and Adam Craig. Was it the trail conditions, the modern equipment, the legs, or all combined?

Whatever it was, it made for a tight battle between Tristan and me. It turns out we were well-matched. I won three stages and chopped the gap down to as little as 9 seconds, while he won the other two stages. My advantage early on was in going uphill, a metabolically expensive option. Tristan was already strong as an ox on acid on the climbs, yet his advantage was in going downhill, a much more energy-efficient option. Each day we logged at least 10 minutes worth of sustained 6 watts-per-kilogram efforts, interspersed with plenty of digs so hard they could make a preacher cuss, and long descents that left the arms feeling like a pair of arthritic snakes full of hot sauce. By day 4, I was going downhill on pace, but just couldn’t close the gap. Despite my best efforts, I finished my now customary 2nd place by less than 0.2% after five days of racing. That’s tighter than a pair of pants on a bloated elephant, and something like my 6th consecutive stage race that I’ve finished as bridesmaid.

2017 Pisgah Stage Race Day 5_30

Kerry wrapped up the week in third overall, and took the win in the Enduro, the race within the race, comprised of a timed segment of downhill trail on each stage. Kerry rode over those rocks, ruts and roots faster than a one-legged man in a butt-kicking competition, and was still there with a cheery smile to make breakfast for us every morning. When it was all said and done we basked in glory and downed several beers, sprawled under the sun in a grassy field at the after party listening to Nikki Lane live in concert serenade the crowd, grinnin’ like possums eatin’ sweet taters. It was a damn fine week.

IMG_5104

Check Spencer’s blog for the full article, and follow him on Instagram !

Magnus Manson Wins NW Cup Round 1 at Port Angeles

If you’ve been following early season DH news, you may have caught wind that young BC ripper Magnus Manson is riding a Kona Operator this season. And just this past weekend at the NW Cup race in Port Angeles, Magnus has taken his first win aboard the Operator.

Magnus Manson (Pro Men).

Eric Ashley was at the race shooting photos, and wrote an in-depth race report which you can check out over on Pinkbike. Watch the recap video below and read all about Magnus’ season plans in his Getting to Know article.

Magnus Manson (Pro Men).

Photos by Eric Ashley.

Jena Greaser on the Podium at the Moab Rocks Stage Race

Canadian Kona Grassroots rider Jena Greaser killed it with a time of 6:52:12.4 at the TransRockies Moab Rocks Stage race! Here’s her recap of three days of XC racing with her Hei Hei Race Supreme.

Words by Jena Greaser. Photos courtesy TransRockies / Moab Rocks.

Moab Rocks 3-day stage race successfully fulfilled my goal for racing this season: to find the best mountain bike races in North America! This was my first stage race. I gained mental, technical and tactical strength and experience that will go a long way into this season and beyond. Moab Rocks is certainly on the race calendar for 2018. It was an excellent, well organized event with tons of great people, trails and prizes.

17545163_1815933165335851_5181979802197212037_o

 

Day 1: Porcupine Rim
Distance: 25.3 miles. Elevation: 4200 feet.

After 15 miles of CONSISTENT climbing, myself and female competitor, Marlee Dixon, had maintained a steady pace to break away from 2016 bronze medal Olympian, Catharine Pendrel, in the last few miles of the ascent.

On this first day, I suffered from lack of “terrain knowledge”; chunky, technical rock, with multiple drops and various lines to take. Mechanically, I made the error of riding with too high of tire pressure as well, which didn’t help on the rough descent. I learned a lesson on climbing up into thin air this stage. Oops!

Take note, this is one stage that riding on a more “trail” style bike is certainly advantageous: The time you lose on the climb can be made up on the long downhill. Overall, it was a super long, dirt road/pavement climb, followed by an hour of some of the wildest, best descending you’ll ever do in a cross country race.

17493138_1815473675381800_3373958015702139047_o

 

Day 2: Klondike Bluffs
Distance: 25.8 miles. Elevation: 2800 feet.

This stage was the most “cross country” type layout of the three days. After a fast 3 miles of dirt road, it was a mass sprint up the first short slick-rock climb. At this point, I made my move on the rest of the women’s field. I knew that I needed to take advantage of my motivation and increase my lead. Lead I did; across the finish line to own an impressive stage win. Overall, this was the most exciting and best performance day in the saddle!

17504290_1815474015381766_5115532726094702702_o

 

Day 3: Magnificent 7
Distance: 28.6 miles. Elevation: 3600 feet.

Stage three had a mix of everything. Some steep climbs, some smooth flowy singletrack and of course, more slickrock! I had my most challenging day in the saddle, mentally and physically. Despite my legs not responding the way I had hoped and a few tactical errors early on in the race, I was able to keep a steady pace. In the final 8 miles of the race, I had a sketchy endo that luckily, did not leave me toothless or end my race! After feeling like my mouth was disconnected from my face and seeing stars, I somehow “found another gear” and charged onward to the finish; leaving everything I had on the Moab dirt.

At the end of the day, the rough terrain had worn me out, as any good race should. However, after taking on such an endeavor together with my teammate and partner, Dylan Bailey, we were all smiles; full of happiness, learned valuable lessons, and got to ride some of the best, most challenging trails we’d ever raced. Three days at Moab Rocks served as a great catalyst to stage racing, and prepared us well for the next event: the 5 day Pisgah Stage Race in North Carolina April 11th – 15th.

Jena is raising funds to keep her US race travel going this spring. You can donate through this link. And in any case, follow Jena on Instagram!

17545256_1450545231636161_5625458727621532989_o

The Advantages of Riding at Altitude in Guatemala

To be one of the most accomplished marathon mountain bike racers in the world, you have to put in the work. Kona Endurance and Adventure Team rider Cory Wallace, well, he puts in the work. Year after year. After a good experience last year’s early season training at elevation in Nepal and India, Cory chose to head to Guatemala this spring. Below are a few excerpts, but there are lots of gems in the longer version, which you can go to Cory’s blog to read

Words and photos by Cory Wallace.

Marathon mountain bike racing is similar to being a smart investor as it requires a pile of time invested into training during the off-season to prepare for the payoff later in the season when the big races come around. It can be easy to lose your focus in the middle of winter when the weather is challenging and there’s no real immediate payoff for the hard work, but this is when seasons are made and lost. It’s common to be putting in 25+ hours per week on the bike so it’s nice to have accommodating weather!

17854960_10154254927601193_3933351633206159026_o copy

 

This winter Guatemala was chosen, partly to take part in the El Reto de Quetzal race, partly to study Spanish, and partly to try out an experiment and to see how training at altitude would payoff. Having good success riding at altitude in India and Nepal last fall and the amazing feeling of having 3 lungs after returning to lower altitudes it gave me the inspiration to explore this avenue a little further.

Doing a bit of research and with past experiences I’ve come to my own conclusions about what should work and it seems living and training at altitudes between 2200 m and 2600 m seems ideal. Anything lower and the concentration of oxygen in the air is still high enough that it may limit adaptations, while any higher and there is not enough oxygen to be able to push yourself hard enoughto keep your muscles strong.

17492877_10212484119728009_2536762149969056276_o copy

The idea is that the body will increase the volume of oxygen-carrying red blood cells, become more efficient at using oxygen, and due to the lack of oxygen both the lungs and heart will have to work at an elevated intensity. It also seems to be important to break up the altitude training with retreats to lower elevations to help with recovery to put in some strong efforts in oxygen-rich air, and once you return to altitude the body re-kickstarts the adaptations. Time will tell but things are on track right now with the body showing nice improvements every week.

Check out a few more photos below, and read the full story on Cory’s blog

17807635_10154252161976193_107433963935202753_o copy

 

17807694_10154254924251193_4025124748684723531_o copy

17807504_10154254927701193_752864005267030333_o copy

17632061_10154251470786193_4760969111701201679_o

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kona and leading on-line retailer team up to create HeyWe’reHereToHelpYa app

Bringing a whole new level of service to where you need it the most.

Ever find yourself on an amazing ride, deep in the heart of the mountains on a day that would inspire the best bloggers to over hashtag the word epic on their Instagram photos, only to have your cassette blow up and turn into a future wind chime leaving you stranded? Or maybe your last Fondo was a dud because your friends all ran out of tubes that you never bothered to bring. Sure, we’ve all been there. And we want to make sure that it never happens again.

untitled-3977

Your turn to stash the mid-ride beverages and you were to lazy to get them there? HeyWe’reHereToHelpYa

That’s why Kona has teamed up with a very prominent on-line retailer to take trail side repair to the ultimate level. Introducing the HeyWe’reHereToHelpYa drone delivery service.

untitled-8556

Chamois cream starting to wear a little thin? HeyWe’reHereToHelpYa

Born out of want and developed to cover your mistakes. Simply download the App to your Apple device (no android or Blackberry OS’ Apps are in development) and when trouble strikes on your ride naturally reach for your phone and open the app to select the parts and level of service required. Within a reasonable amount of time the order will be fulfilled and whisked away by a drone that is homing in on your location utilizing the very first version of Apple Maps (delivery times and actual delivery locations to vary). It’s just that easy, and the possibilities are endless.

Zipper on your Hip Bag split and your Slim Jims fare littering the trail? HeyWe’reHereToHelpYa

Lose your shoes in the middle of your ride?HeyWe’reHereToHelpYa

Crash your bike in the middle of a high speed decent and require medial attention? Call 911

So download the App for free tomorrow and begin a whole new trail life, free of ever being prepared or responsible.

Laajavuori Bikepark Finland- Grant Fielder Returns

2 weeks ago i received a phone call asking if i wanted to go over to Finland for the annual Nasse ride event hosted at the Kona Bike Park Laajavuori. With an early friday start i set off to Heathrow for my 3 hour flight to Helsinki followed by a 3 hour drive to Jyvaskyla.

The trip was a wet one for sure but to brighten things up i was lucky eneough to try out a fair amount of the 2013 bikes on display. I chose the Entourage, Mikko was on the operator and tapbeir (probably the coolest name in history, i called him beertap!) was shredding Konas latest member of the family the Process. Despite the weather we managed to get in plenty of runs and certainly didn’t care about the mud and rain. We were filming out there so expect to see more info on the trip shortly.
Peace.

Crankworx De Alpes- Grant Fielder

It has been one busy season to date. Germany, France, Hungary, Scotland, Wales, Italy and of course my homeland have been ridden this last month! Plenty of school demos are happening so watch out as i could be in a school near you! haha
I just arrived back from Les De Alpes where they will host the European Crankworx and Im telling you it will be insane. The course is exactly how a slopestyle course should be and it reminds me of the older Crankworx courses.
Yannick Granieri invited myself, Sam pilgrim and Sam Reynolds to ride in the official testing of the course. The demos were set for Friday and Saturday evening and it certainly went off. The jumps were so big making it so fun but really scary at the same time and the crowds were big
During the day we had plenty of time to go ride the bike park. I decided to take my my old Bass bike for both the trail riding and the slopestyle course. Where i haven’t rode DH (mega brake bumps) for a while, arm pump kicked in big time. I can’t wait to go back there.
Back to a busy week of sorting bits out like my trailer and getting bikes sorted for the events coming up. Must go spray my new ramp for this weeks demos