Lacy Kemp

Introducing our 2019 Gravity/Enduro Team!

2019 is poised to be a big year for Kona on the gravity and enduro side and we couldn’t be more excited to announce our teams for the upcoming season.

Headlining the gravity side is our long-time ringer, Connor Fearon of Adelaide, Australia. Fearon finished the World Cup circuit in 10th place overall last year, ensuring he’s protected in every race in 2019. Connor will be leading the downhill charge on the Operator CR. Connor will also race select EWS events this season.

New to the team this year is Canadian ripper, World Champion, and all around badass, Miranda Miller! Hailing from Squamish, BC, Miller will be racing the Enduro World Series events alongside Rhys Verner, and occasionally Connor Fearon and Hannah Bergemann aboard the Process 153 CR DL 29.

 

Another Squamish, BC native, Rhys Verner returns to Kona’s enduro program this season poised and ready to take on the big guns. Verner had a tough 2018, breaking his scaphoid on two different occasions. He still landed a 56th place in the final race of the season, in spite of missing most of the season. We’re looking forward to watching him race alongside Miller this season!

A fresh addition for this season comes with the arrival of Bellingham’s Hannah Bergemann! Bergemann came through the Kona program as a Supreme. Anyone that’s seen her ride a bike will tell you she has some incredible potential in both racing and freeride. She will race the EWS events in California and Whistler, as well as other regional events this season.

Returning to the gravity program is Anthony Poulson of Montreal. Poulson has played a strong support role to Connor Fearon while still battling it out on his own each week on the World Cup Circuit.

Moving on up in the ranks is 14-year-old Tristan Lemire, also of Montreal. Lemire quietly defeated some of junior racing’s biggest names throughout the 2018 season aboard a borrowed Operator. We’re excited to watch him grow and continue to mature into a stellar racer.

Representing Adelaide in South Australia, we’re thrilled to bring Shelly Flood to the enduro program for 2019! Flood brings a strong history of cross country, downhill, and enduro racing to the program. She’ll be participating in select EWS events as well as regional enduro and downhill races.

Keeping it close to home is important for Kona, and Caleb Holonko brings our program right back to its roots. Based on the North Shore of Vancouver, BC, Holonko carries on the freeride torch this season. Big hits, big mountains, and a big bag of tricks, Holonko is one to watch in the coming years.

We’re proud to have a well-rounded squad of men and women representing Kona across the world. 2019 is going to be one for the books for both the athletes and Kona. We can’t wait to get the 2019 season rolling!

Thanks to our generous team sponsors for 2019: RockShox, SRAM, Maxxis, Deity, We Are One, ODI, One Up, HT, Dharco, Chris King, Maxima Racing Oils, Five Ten, Cush Core, 100%, Yakima, Genio, Fastrax, and Tork!

Pedal Magazine Reviews the Process 153 27.5 DL “Ride It! You Will Get It!”

Pedal Magazine released their review of our beloved Process 153 AL DL 27.5. In a world where carbon seems to overshadow everything they gave the Process AL DL super high marks saying, “It holds its own against the most aggressive downhill challenges and to tame the climbs it takes to get to them.” They were impressed with the suspension performance of the combo of the Rockshox Yari up front and the Deluxe Trunnion RT shock in the back. “The Process performs like noise-canceling headphones for your butt – trail noise, not acoustic.”

Read the full review here.

Rove DL Named a Top Commuter Choice for Price in Road.CC

In a recent post, Road.cc named the Rove DL a top choice for commuting in their Cycle to Work program in the UK. This program helps people find great commuter bikes for a decent price, even providing a tax exemption in the process.

“The Cycle to Work scheme is a government tax exemption that’s offered through an employer, allowing you to save money on a bike and equipment. The maximum value for the vast majority of participants is £1,000, so that’s the top price of bikes included in this category.”

The Rove DL was selected as a top choice for its stability and handling in variable conditions. The Kona covers ground quickly and is quite a pleasure to ride on the tarmac. In the middle of winter when there is mud on the roads, loads of water and maybe even a bit of snow, the Rove just feels planted and confidence-inspiring.

You can read more about why the Rove DL was selected and the Cycle to Work scheme here.

Revolution Magazine Reminisces about the 2019 Dealer Launch

We love to go big at our dealer launches every year, and 2018 was no exception. We flew in our dealer network from around the globe – including some lads that traveled very far- the crew from Revolution Magazine in Australia. If you’ve ever partied with Aussies, you know it’s no joke. These guys know how to get down, and most of all, they absolutely love riding bikes.

Check out their full take on our launch over on their website.

From Zero to Mouth Breather

Hello again and welcome back to my journey to attempt to achieve greater fitness. To catch you all up, I – an average mountain biker of average fitness- have decided to hire Spencer Paxson to try to help me suck a little less on bikes. My goals are simple: be able to ride longer and not want to die at the top of climbs. I’m not looking to win any races or be the best or fastest at anything. I just want to enjoy longer rides as often as I can. I want to enjoy type two fun, and you know what? I think it’s working!

Our plan is pretty simple. Spencer has set me up with a workout schedule that includes a few high-intensity interval sessions a week, some regular trail rides, yoga, and a few other quirky things are thrown in-including rides where I only breathe through my nose. When I first thought about this I figured it would be easy. I teach yoga and a huge part of yoga is what we call Ujjayi breathing- where you inhale and exhale slowly through your nose as if you were fogging up a mirror. Benefits of this kind of breath are tension release, increased endurance, and body temperature regulation. Personally, I like to think it helps me control my heart rate, which comes in handy when I get stressed out about whatever. It’s also a great party trick when you go to the doctor’s office and lower your heart rate to 40bpm. They usually think they’re miscounting or I’m dying. I always laugh just a little…

The slow pace climbing is getting me to some pretty views!

Back to the plan! Turns out nose breathing is freaking brutal. I was able to find a shallow shuttle road where I like to ride my downhill bike and up I went on my Process. The point of nose breathing is that it absolutely forces you to go at a minimal pace in order to keep your heart rate down. Steady-state endurance is the name of the game. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t cheat a few times and drink in some massive breaths. Mouth breathing never felt so good! After a little while, though, I found my rhythm and before I knew it an hour had passed and I’d scooted my way four miles into the mountains for a super ripping descent down. I tried keeping the nose breathing going for the descent but I was too busy whopping it up and giggling down the trail in order to keep that business up. If you want an interesting physical challenge, try this!

For the first time in my life, I started using Strava (privately though, so no one can see how crappy I am at everything) to record my distance and elevation. I have to say, it is pretty fun to see how far I’m riding and how high I’m climbing. Sometimes I surprise myself with how far I am going. Other days I’m disappointed that my favorite loop is barely 4 miles. Do we even call that a workout? Who knows. The main focus of all of this is my perceived exertion. We’re rating this on a scale of 1-10 where 10 is pure vomit-inducing output and 1 is akin to walking at a very chill pace. I tend to live in the 5 zone, which is pretty heavy breathing while trying to maintain conversations with my riding buddies. Spencer is having me do my intervals at around an 8 and my regular rides around a 3. It turns out it’s hard to not go at a 5. It’s my comfort zone. That tiny bit of pain I feel as I climb is what I’m used to, so I’m learning to slow down- perhaps a good metaphor for the rest of my life.

Looks like the perfect day for a ride!

On one of my first prescribed rides, I pedaled out around 6 pm. It was pitch black, raining sideways, and really freaking cold. It was about a week before Christmas. On my mind were the looming holiday parties and social events I wanted to attend. I found myself climbing and stressing over how I was going to fit in all of these workouts with my desired social calendar. I also hated myself just a bit because I chose THE WORST TIME OF YEAR to do this. It’s horrendous weather – mega wind, constant near-freezing rain, and dark 16 hours a day- the exact hours I’m not at work. ‘Why didn’t I wait until at least the holidays were over?’ I was mentally kicking myself. I decided if I could push through the holidays I could push through anything. So, up and away I went, spinning and logging every little meter.

I’m essentially on week 4 of a roughly 12-week program. Here’s what I’ve learned: using an indoor trainer is saving my sanity on the super harsh winter days. Doing intervals in a controlled environment is paramount to success for me. I was really struggling to find a road that had the proper pitch where I could properly execute the full length needed for these workouts. Toning down my pace from a five to a three is harder than I thought it would be, especially on social rides. I want to be on the wheel of whoever is in front of me, but the reality is that the fast people that I ride with are… really freaking fast and it’s not feasible for me to be at their pace, especially not in my “three” zone. I’m finding that I enjoy pedaling the cross-country style rides way more now than I did even a month ago! That is a HUGE victory for me. I’m fretting way less about the distance and elevation. Instead, I’m focusing on pace and am much more able to take in the beauty of the woods and feeling of accomplishing a longer, more challenging ride. Perhaps my most celebrated victory came yesterday on a simple ride. There’s a section of singletrack that has always put me in the pain cave for whatever reason. I think it’s just steep enough to make me struggle throughout the duration of that section (I’d guess it’s about 12-15 minutes). Yesterday I got to the end full of breath and energy and found myself smiling, silently celebrating this tiny little milestone.

My buddy gave me a Garmin, which is super helpful. Turns out hair elastics work great as Garmin mounts, too!

In summary: I think it’s working! It’s still early. I still have a long way to go, but I like the structure that Spencer has laid out for me and I’m excited to add some gym elements to the program.

You can check out Spencer’s training and coaching at Prime Sports Institute here!

Ivan Gallego Wins Jr Men 15/16 CX National Championship!

Ivan Gallego, 16, of Missoula, Montana took the nation by storm as he brought home the gold at US Cyclocross Nationals! Here is the recap from the champ himself. Congrats Ivan! Way to make us proud!

Overall, this season of cyclocross racing has been a glorious and unexpected success.  I came into the season feeling pretty inexperienced yet eager to be challenged and excited to focus on my favorite sport. I spent my entire year training and analyzing cyclocross racing. It never crossed my mind that a win at the USA National Cyclocross Championship in Louisville would be within my grasp.

This fall I maintained a packed schedule of school and travel and racing outside of my home state of Montana. My coach (aka my dad Alex) and I decided that it would be worthwhile for me to get more experience by attending big events such as Jingle Cross in Iowa, the US Open of Cross in Colorado, and the races for NECXS in Massachusetts. From these events, I witnessed first-hand the level of riders from across the country in my age category. I was impressed to see them riding at a level that I had not yet achieved. I was determined to reach my ultimate form to stay competitive with these guys.

It is hard for me to know when I am feeling ready to go, but a few weeks before Nationals, I convinced myself to be more confident given my months of training and preparation. After arriving in Louisville, I had a loss of hope because the course seemed completely daunting. Muddy, slick, unpredictable and very much a physical course. In my mind, my strengths seemed to be dwarfed by the colossal presence of my known weaknesses. Alas, we had made the long trip to Kentucky, and I knew deep down that I had put in the effort. Therefore, I had no excuses that would allow me to quietly retire into a hole with my pre-race “demons.”

Fast forward to the start line. The light turned green and we took off, or rather, they did. I weighted myself far too heavy over the front my bike, which in turn left the rear wheel attempting to grip the pavement without the added friction of my weight on top of it. I spun out. The mishap at the start did not end up playing as big a role in my positioning as I had feared that it would. Yet, it still left me to scramble back to the front of the pack. I say scramble because, after the upper section of the course, it was a matter of getting on the bike only to slide out or fall over again. Given the conditions, I was surprised to find myself quickly making up lost ground. I met up with the leaders coming into the downhill chicane after the limestone steps and ended up finding a lucky line that moved me into second place. Around the next corner, I steadied myself in the slick mud and managed to take over the lead.

From that point, I was in awe as the laps flew by. My Kona Major Jake took care of all terrain very well. That was extra confidence when I needed it. I tried to keep my stops in the pit short and efficient. I focused my energy on staying balanced and consistent, especially when running – and there was a lot of running – in the heavy muck with what was at times a 35-pound mud-caked bike. The final lap was surreal- like I was in a dream. The weight of my bike seemed to vanish. My steps followed one after another in a comfortable rhythm. Finally, I completed the last round of barriers and rolled into the straight-away to cross the finish line. The realization that I had just won hadn’t soaked in yet, and the win didn’t feel real at that point. I did an on-camera interview (my first one ever!) and congratulated some friends before going to the tent to wash off and warm up. I felt a rush of excitement. I asked my dad, “Did I really just win?” He nodded. I was suddenly overjoyed and spirited. It was awesome!

 

You can read more about Ivan’s victory on CX Magazine’s site too!

Photos courtesy of  Gabriel Shipley.

Squirrel Chasing

Words: Matt Falwell of Gear Up Cycles in Kentucky

My granny’s people lived on the banks of the Tennessee the river and were forced out by the TVA during the reclamation of floodplain areas in order to usher in the advent of affordable hydropower for the common man.  When dammed, the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers rose to create an unintentional recreational area that resulted in 170,000 acres of “Land Between the Lakes,” home to a wealth of outdoor activities, such as water sports, cycling, fishing, hunting and the like. I spend most of my time on the bike solo in these woods, on lonely back roads poking around the remnants of often-forgotten communities and homesteads. The plan for this trip came about while on these back roads–the idea of bridging together the two worlds of bikepacking and hunting.  Squirrel hunting does not require a massive firearm. In fact, you can legally hunt them with a slingshot if you have the dexterity.  It is also a social activity that can have several people out together walking the ridgelines and hollows, sharing conversation and stories that continue post-hunt back at the fire.

I truly love traveling by bike. It is often with the mindset, though, to get to and from a destination with the minimum amount of equipment as fast as possible.   This trip would be in the winter months with temperatures hovering in the 30’s.  So slower, more comfortable travel was made with the intent of riding to an isolated primitive camp.  Said camp hopefully would be full of squirrels to provide a meal and tales of daring bushwhacking and the eventual outsmarting of our prey.   I invited my longtime friend, Nathan Brown–artist, and avid outdoorsman, and Rockabilly music legend–along with my eldest son Isaac, also a musician and accomplished adventure paddler, to come out with me and wander the woods.  It had been a long time since we last camped together.   We packed light, as far as equipment, although, I carried equal the weight in fresh food.  With the potential of possibly not shooting any squirrels, my “Be Prepared” attitude kicked in.   Loaded, we rolled off into the forest.  With a few water crossings and pauses to watch our bushy-tailed prey flit back and forth taunting us, we made our way into a series of remote glades that typically are flush with rabbit, squirrel, and birds.  We rode overgrown roads, past remnants of farms, further back into the hollows.

Once we arrived at our destination, we set to the business of making camp, filtering water, gathering firewood, and building our cookfire.  It was clear and cold with the temperature just above freezing.  We warmed ourselves by the fire and had an appetizer of Brie and crackers with hot tea and bourbon. We are not savages after all.  Foil packs of roasted veggies and a squirrel I had shot and marinated beforehand were our supper.  That would be the last squirrel we would see for the rest of the trip.  The freezing rain that night drove all the wildlife deep into their winter burrows. We awoke the next morning and shook off the ice.  Strong cups of coffee were made while bacon warmed in the skillet.  The sun began to show its face above the ridge, setting the glade ablaze in golden warm light.  We spent the day wandering from hickory tree groves to tall stands of oaks, finding piles of empty eaten nut shells and worn entrances to hollow trees. Our bushy-tailed friends eluded us.

As the day drifted into dusk, we loaded our bikes and rode back to the trailhead, eyes at the ready for signs of movement in the trees, just in case.  We had returned empty-handed with no meat for the pan. Yet the time away from the hustle of daily life was reward enough.  A day in the open and a night on the ground, the song of the wind in the trees, or the laughter of a friend while feeling the warmth of the fire growing in your toes is what we really brought back.  I remember my granny always ready to set a place at the table for family or friend that came to her house, with a gesture of time and a warm plate.  I believe it is the shared experience that is the meal that feeds the heart–the meal oftentimes skipped in our daily rush.  There will be future days riding in the woods with lone solitude or with the harmony of friends. Till then, I look forward to the abundance of nature and the freedom the bike provides, while I roll my way through my granny’s land between the rivers.

TVA: Tennessee Valley Authority

Bike info:

XL Kona Wozo stock

MD Kona Big Honzo

54cm Kona Sutra LTD frameset, 27.5×2.8 WTB wheels w Arisun tires, Sram Freagle  12 spd Eagle drivetrain with 11 spd microshift thumb lever set on friction, Crust Jungle runner bars, Brooks C17 saddle with Specialized CGR seat post. Shimano hydro disc

 

From Zero to….?

This is me… taking life seriously, as you can see.

Hi! My name is Lacy Kemp. I work in the marketing department at Kona and have the keys to this blog, so I figured I’d invite you all on a three-month journey with me. I’ve been riding mountain bikes for about 10 years. I started kinda late (I’m 38 now), so the learning curve for me wasn’t as fast as, say, an 18-year-old, or a kiddo. I mean, have you seen the kids these days? There are seven-year-olds that outride me. It’s humbling, to say the least.

I ride so I can experience moments of solitude like this one.

The thing is, I’m not a bad rider. I’m a proficient climber and find my comfort in the scary steep stuff. But, for whatever reason, I feel so inadequate when I ride with my crew. Granted, I try to keep up with some exceptionally talented riders, but still. I am a capable human and I want to feel better on my bike. It has gone from just cruising with my buddies to me putting this weird pressure on myself to be “better” and  “faster,” even though none of them care whatsoever about my pace. I think this is something a lot of us deal with – especially women. Mountain biking has been a male-dominated sport for most if its life, and therefore many of us ride with the guys. Personally, I love riding in a coed group. It’s the vibe I like most. It’s silly, fun, strong, and always a good time – in spite of the mental traps I set for myself.

While I *can* climb just fine, I absolutely loathe how it makes me feel.

So, what’s a person to do? I’ve taken clinics and classes every year since I’ve been riding. I’ve raced downhill and even klunkers. I understand how to ride a bike, but what is lacking is how to keep myself physically and mentally in the best condition for enjoying my rides. Maybe you’re thinking, ‘who cares? Just go ride your freakin’ bike.’ You’re not wrong. In an ideal world, I’d just ride and not care about my pace or my hangups. But I’d be lying to myself if I said I didn’t want to ride better and feel better. The feeling is the most critical thing to me. I want to be able to laugh and chat easily on climbs. I want to be able to absorb the surrounding beauty of the land while I’m out on an adventure versus focusing on breathing and keeping up my pace. But, how do I improve my overall feeling on a bike? It seems to be largely a mental hurdle.

I want climbing to make me feel like crashing in the snow. Silly and carefree!

I decided to give myself a fighting chance at overcoming the barriers that seem to be constraining me. It just so happens that Kona Adventure Man and all around freak of nature on a bike (and I mean that in the most loving way), Spencer Paxson has transitioned his career into athletic performance services at Prime Bellingham- a high-end institute where athletes can go for goal-focused training, psychology, workouts, and many various forms of training. I’ve never had a bike coach before. I’ve never even had a structured workout plan at any point in my life. I don’t know what the difference is between circuits, high-intensity training, and intervals. They all sound like math to me, and math is scary. So to get over the scary, I have hired Spencer to be my personal coach, guru, and advisor for the next three months. My goal? Feel better on my bike.

Dennis Crane

I mean why wouldn’t you hire this guy as your coach? Clearly, he knows it’s all about having fun!

I am going to be a unique challenge for Spencer. Unlike every single other athlete he works with I have no quantifiable goal. I’m not training for an event or a milestone, per se. I’m training to understand why I get caught up in my head when I pedal. I’m training to cut myself some slack when I fall off the back. I’m training to maybe fall off the back a little less. I’m training to see what the hell training is all about. I like systems and processes and structure as much as like a free-spirited life. I’m a quintessential Libra if you believe in that kind of thing.

 

Our first meetings have set the tone for the next 12 weeks. We are working on what is known as Rate of Perceived Exertion (on a scale of 1-10), where I usually hang out at the 4-5 range and want to die around a 6 or 7. We are hoping to make the 7s feel more like 5s… but again it’s all based on feeling. As of this week, I’ve begun logging my miles and vert and RPE for every ride. I’m forcing myself to take recovery days (which is REALLY hard for an exercise junky like me). Next time we meet we’ll do a movement screen to see where I have physical weakness and room for improvement. We’ll check in to see how my sanity is holding up. I’ll see if Spender is ready to kick me and my quirks to the curb. Who knows, maybe I’ll actually enjoy climbing after all of this is said and done? Wouldn’t that be something!

I’m writing this for you because I plan to share the experience with you. The highs and the lows. The learning and growth. The frustrations and challenges. Maybe I’m crazy for starting this around the holidays, but if I can make it through without royally screwing up the next few weeks then the rest of the program should be manageable. I think as cyclists and humans we all have insecurities. Some of us are just better at not giving AF. Maybe that will be my greatest takeaway- learn to let go. It’s a lesson we could all probably use.

Until next time, I’m turning on my Strava (something I NEVER thought I’d say) and will see where this sweet little bike takes me.

-Lacy

Bikes take us to the most amazing places!

 

It’s CX Nationals Weekend!

It’s been a wild ride for the cyclocross teams this year. Crazy, unpredictable weather has made gear selection and maintenance extra critical. In spite of the curve balls from mother nature, we’ve seen top results from our in-house Kona Shimano Maxxis CX Team of Kerry Werner and Rebecca Fahringer, as well as incredible results from our sister crew, Team S&M CX! This is the weekend they’ve all been waiting for. The Super Jakes and Major Jakes are tuned up and ready to slide around some Louisville dirt!

Kerry Werner testing out the latest in muddy facial technology

We’ve handed the keys to our Instagram stories over to Kerry and Becca for the weekend so be sure to follow along with their shenanigans. If we’re lucky Kerry’s dog Sherman will make an appearance too! CX Magazine will also be streaming the races live on Sunday, so you can watch all the action live online!

Team S&M CX’s Clara Honsinger is one to watch for the weekend! She’s been grabbing the top step all season in the U23 category. Photo by Adam Koble