Lacy Kemp

Kona And the Vamos Outdoor Project Seek to Improve Community Ties

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG Paul Kelly Photo

We are honored to announce our partnership with the Vamos Outdoor Project. Vamos is a Bellingham-based group that works to connect communities to environmental education opportunities through fundraising, outreach, and partnerships with local educational organizations.  They primarily work with the Latinx and ELL community, focusing on groups that can find language and culture exchange opportunities to build a sense of place within their ecosystem.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG Paul Kelly Photo

We asked Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition Education Coordinator Char Waller to give us more information about the project, why WMBC became involved, and how the community can help it grow.

Kona: How long has the program been around?
Vamos: Vamos Outdoors Project started April, 2018, so a little over a year and it has been very successful.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Kona: Can you give a little more information on the mountain biking program you have running with VOP? 
Vamos: The Vamos bike program began as a pilot last fall. We took the kids out on 4 rides to see how things could shake out with this group. At the end of the pilot program, both Andy Basabe, founder of Vamos Outdoor Project, and I felt it was definitely worth building into a full-fledged program. We received positive feedback from the community, WMBC board, Vamos board, and the kids. Receiving grants from Kona, Phillips 66 and several others in our community allowed us to move forward and acquire a fleet of bikes so that we could provide the youth with proper equipment, thereby creating a positive experience for them.

The program I have created is based on mountain biking, with an additional 1/4 time component of service learning/trail building included. There are certainly cultural differences and language barriers that have been a factor, but as the weeks have passed, our group has formed into a well-bonded rhythm.

Kona: What are the ultimate goals of the bike program?
Vamos: My ultimate goal is to get youth at risk and underserved youth in our community engaged in healthy outlets with the hope that they can make better choices in their lives and be good citizens as a result, and to create a trail building and mountain bike culture in Bellingham that these youth are motivated and excited to be involved in. We have the perfect opportunity to offer youth in our community a healthy and physically challenging sport that also has the right amount of adrenaline, self awareness, fun, fitness and “cool” factor.

Kona: What is the best way for the community to get involved with Vamos?
Vamos: From the mountain bike side of this question, committed volunteers that can safely ride a mountain bike are welcome, even if they haven’t gone through our Ride Leader Cert. class, and especially if they speak Spanish. All they need to do is contact me at chardotw@gmail.com and I can get them set up to best fit their specific goals/ skill set and proper training.  There are typically 4 + ride leaders on each of the rides.

Tristan Lemire Takes the Win at the Mountain Creek ProGRT

Kona Gravity team rider Tristan Lemire is making his mark in the downhill world. At just 14 years-old, Lemire is no stranger to the top step of the podium. His most recent victory came at last weekend’s ProGRT in Mountain Creek, where he was racing in the Junior Expert category. That means he is putting in faster times than kids several years older. His time of 2:19.18 would have put him in 17th place in the pro elite category, which is pretty incredible considering the level of racing taking place in that category.

Caleb Smith | KONA COG

We caught up with Lemire to ask about the experience at Mountain Creek and his plans for the future. Make no mistake, he is one to watch!

“There are only 4 Pro GRTs this year on schedule, so clearly the vibe was great and everyone was stoked to race. Some of the world’s best riders were competing. And aside from some afternoon rain on the Friday, the weather was perfect. On my side, I felt much better  and confident than at the first Pro GRT in Tennessee back in March, where after a long winter without riding, I headed into the race with a new 29 inch wheel bike riding in the worst weather conditions possible. With lots of training and riding on my new bike, I was definitely ready to improve upon performance in Tennessee.”

After finishing 2nd in seedings, the highlight was definitely putting down a great race run and finding out I won the race, beating my seeding time by 6 seconds! I am also quite satisfied with my progression to date on my new 29-inch wheel bike. The only way to really gage this is in the context of a race! I am also confident that I will continue progressing throughout the season as I still don’t feel 100 %!

Caleb Smith | KONA COG

The crew at Mountain Creek put together an amazing track. It was perfect: fast, technical and mostly dry by race time. Pretty much how I like it! As it always does, the track changed lots throughout the 3 days, from muddy to mud to bone dry; this always makes it hard on us because it is like riding and learning a new track every day. Overall, despite the pressure of the race, every lap was just pure fun. On race day, when the track was at its driest, it made me think of the track at the Nationals track in Panorama, BC, a track that I also like very much.”

So what’s in store for Tristan in the future?
“My long term goal is definitely to race on the World Cup, first as a Junior and then as Men, and earn few podiums. From there, anything can happen. However, for the moment, I am just taking it year by year, focusing on the short term, enjoying the chance that I have to ride bikes as much as I do and loving every minute of it.”

From all of us at Kona, congrats, Tristan! We are excited to watch you progress through the ranks!

There Cannot Be Light Without Darkness

Words by Kona Ambassador Delia Massey. Photos by Kona Ambassador Riley Seebeck.

Late winter and spring were a journey through darkness for me, but I feel like I have finally come out into the light.

The past few years I have had a policy of “just say yes” to everything—every bike ride, race, trip to Sedona/Moab/Canada, or bikepacking adventure. I thrive off of a packed weekend and post-work schedule of outdoor activities. Getting outside to exercise solo or with friends helps calm my mind and gets me through hours of sitting at a computer for my day job.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

This year, I had to just say “no” to everything so I could focus on my career, and I lost my physical, emotional, and social outlet. I had to take my professional engineering exam in late April, which meant spending my weekends indoors studying in addition to a full workload. It nearly killed my soul, but it’s the biggest and most important milestone in my career, and necessary for me to advance in the environmental consulting field. I put so much pressure on myself to pass the first time (only about 64% of people pass on their first try) and to be the first female PE at my company, that my anxiety about the exam grew to be almost unmanageable. I started having physical manifestations of anxiety like body tingling, shortness of breath, and chest pain, which was a terrifying experience and made it hard to focus on studying*. I would allow myself to go on one bike ride per week, but even then, I would get mad at myself for being out of shape and having rusty skills, and guilty for taking time off from studying. I tried to stay off social media because it made me sad and angry that everyone else was seemingly out having fun all the time, and I had nothing happy or positive to post about.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

As my exam approached, I had to get through my least favorite day of the year—April 9th. This marks the anniversary of my brother’s death in 2016 after a 12-year battle with drug addiction. Every year in the weeks surrounding that date, I relive the intense feelings of grief, anger, and loss at his passing. My anxiety and insomnia grows even worse than normal, and I feel fatigued and exhausted by social interactions. Usually riding my bike is one of my biggest comforts during this time, but I was now studying two days per weekend to prepare for my impending exam. My life was devoid of joy, and I struggled to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Exam day came, and I was tired and extremely nervous. I felt like I bombed the first half, and almost drove away at lunch and didn’t come back. I took a deep breath, reminded myself of my inner strength and tried to focus on positive self-talk, and went back in and did better on the second half, but was still afraid that wouldn’t be enough to pass. I went home and spent the weekend in a black depression, thinking I had failed and would have to re-take the exam, which would mean more weekends of studying, and admitting to everyone at my company that I was a failure. I went on a group ride to “celebrate” being done with the test and my friends were shocked at how down I was, compared to my normal cheery self.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Six days later I got my exam result. I HAD PASSED. I was so relieved I started shaking uncontrollably and couldn’t stop crying—my own personal hell was over, I was done forever, my hard work had paid off. The burden of my intense anxiety about the exam mostly melted away and the darkness lifted. For the first time in months, the future looked bright and hopeful. I am still working on fully digging myself out of my mental and physical hole, but I’ve made a lot of progress. I can finally brush the cobwebs off my bikes and start planning out as many summer adventures as I can possibly fit into my schedule!

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

*I would like to thank my therapist and my fiancé for their support while I navigated this dark time. There’s no shame in asking for help!

Peru Through The Eyes of Myles Trainer

Words and photos by Myles Trainer.

Every pedal stroke you smell it. While every revolution you hear it. Peruvian livelihood rotates around its local resources constantly changing routines to make use of another resource. Leftover eucalyptus burns from scraps used to build houses, while intricately placed irrigation canals move water into this years’ agricultural plots. Barley rotates in with potatoes, keeping the soil fresh as the mountainsides patchwork of vegetation changes like bike manufacturers hottest tan and aqua.

April was a busy month blending together bike communities across the world starting in Monterey for the season kick off at the Sea Otter Classic. One week later, I linked together Peru’s terraced land chasing new and old friends on bikes. While the Sea Otter brought out shiny new product, Peru’s riding culture showed what bike equipment is still performing through thousands of descendible vert.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Headset creaked, rotors screeched, as Jose, our scrappy young Peruvian guide, led our group through Ollantaytambo, grinding his off brand DH bike through the streets. Another rider, visiting from Tennessee, rode up next to me, his bike nearly blinding me with fresh parts. He mumbled under his breath, “uh my bike is making so much noise!” With a grin, I pointed at our guides bike, “that much noise?” I said. Brushing it off, he realized where we were and the opportunity we had to ride Peru’s crazy rollercoasters.

Rolling up to both the Enduro and DH starts at Sea Otter, I felt extremely lucky to be on top of a reliable steed that wouldn’t raddle my teeth out descending. Booths in the pits sparkled with gear that might puzzle the most coveted bike nerds, but carried purpose for many onlookers. Buzzed riders fueled by high frequency IPAs grinned as they took in the California sun.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Peru’s sunshine brought out similar energy, and shared roots with the freedom achieved by rolling nobbies. After riding past the Moray ruins outside of Ollantaytambo, we were stealing daylight flowing through city streets en route to connecting the last bit of trail. We stopped for the local evening goat traffic and it was on. In a 15-person train, we chose lines suiting our style as the sun dipped behind the Andes’ continental divide. I heard it first and then in the corner of my eye, Mario, a younger fearless guide, appeared smashing rock gardens on his early 2000s’ DH bike. He didn’t care. There wasn’t a thought in his mind that his first generation Pro-tec helmet wouldn’t do a thing if it were to meet the ground.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Whether old tools made by two generations before them or Avid Juicy Sevens with rubber bands around them to keep the brake lever from getting away from their fingers, the resources our fellow riders used did the trick. I can’t say I would run them, but the joy the Peruvian’s emanated because they were riding bicycles is something that would make anyone keep their wheels turning. Although the Sea Otter gives us an idea about all the fanciness we can achieve with our gear, at the end of the day its just about blasting water bars with your friends and sharing a beer over stories at the end of the day.

Illuminated Days

Words and illustration by Kona Ambassador Gretchen Leggitt. Photos by Wang. Gretchen rides the Kona Sutra LTD.

A few months ago, as a bonus hour of daylight coincided with the trees sprouting their first buds, opportunities for spontaneous, bike-fueled camping adventures blossomed. Although I’d consider myself open to adventure in all conditions, the invitation of longer days and clearer skies beckoned for mini bikepacking getaways.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

So often, adventures involve epic planning and packing, followed by days of grueling hardships and suffering. One- or two-night bikepack trips, however, present just the opposite: light hearts, light planning, light hardships and not-so-light bikes. Necessities on these quick getaways are a hammock, sleeping bag and pad, headlamp, Jetboil and coffee. Secondary items include a cribbage board, Jitterbug Perfume, a bocce set, wetsuits, watercolors, shrimp, rigatoni and an assortment of spring squash. While they are not mandatory, they are welcome baggage on my two-wheeled steer named Sutra.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

In early March, with the promise of a crisp and clear evening and an additional hour of light, a small group of us kicked off our “midweek bikepacking micro-expedition” season. Leaving at 7 pm on a nondescript Tuesday, we pedaled a handful of miles, just long enough to shake off the workday and feel the sea breeze on our faces. Pushing our bikes across rocky beaches, we slung our cocoons in seaside trees and ate a memorable dinner by bonfire. Waking to the lapping of currents and squawking gulls, we pedaled into work by 9 am the next morning.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

As days grow longer, multi-day getaways to the San Juan Islands and regional hills follow. The planning becomes slightly more involved as we add extensive gravel exploration, mid-ride snorkeling and extreme bocce tournaments to the mix, although the logistical simplicity of these carefree, car-free expeditions remains the same.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

My Kona Sutra is a faithful reminder that we have a choice to cycle left of the mainstream, mix up our stagnant routines, and recognize that life (and adventures) don’t need to be so serious.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG


The Final Rays

Words by Kona Ambassador Becky Gardner. Photos by Ryan Wiegman. Becky rides a Process 153 CR DL 27.5.

It’s 5 pm and I’ve just finished with whatever was on my plate for the day. I debate with myself if I have time to quickly get changed and head for the trail. Of course, I am cutting it close. The sun is setting soon, but I scurry out the door inspired to chase the sunlight I have left. Evening rides just like this are some of my favorite. There is something really special about riding bikes while the sun is going down and chasing that last ray before the sun sets behind the mighty Rocky Mountains. Maybe I head out solo or maybe some friends join. Either way, the lighting and temperature on these spring days are prime during the last few hours of daylight.

Here in Salida, we have an extraordinary trail system at the base of the town called the S Mountain Trails. These trails are designed for all riders from beginners to advanced and have some of my favorite downhill trails in the valley. The best part of the S Mountain Trails is that all the trails easily link together so depending on how much you want to ride or how much time you have you can put together a perfect ride. The trail system is heavily maintained by a group of volunteers, local support, and passionate trail builders. The trail builders are always on the lookout to build more singletrack and have an open mind to building difficult and technical terrain which is a rare treat amongst public trails.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

My all-time favorite trail on S Mountain is a rocky, loose, technical trail called Sand Dunes. I am notorious in the valley for riding this trail at an obsessive rate. On a solo day, I can lap it in 45 minutes making it a prime selection for a quick evening ride. I never get sick of this trail and it always brings a smile to my face as I drop down through multiple rock gardens and deep loose dunes of sand with the Collegiate Peaks and the Arkansas River as my backdrop.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

The trail ends at the heart of town where you are dazzled by the small town vibes of Salida, Colorado. From here I can grab a beer from one of the many local breweries and restaurants or hit the grocery store and head home. 

Chasing down the sun will always be one of my great joys of mountain biking and there is nothing quite like coming home from weeks on the road to enjoy some of my favorite local dirt.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG


Leah Maunsell Wins the Latest Round of the Irish National Enduro.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG Photo by Yaroslav Alpizar

Kona Ambassador Leah Maunsell is well into her racing season and hitting her stride, taking a win in the most recent round of the Irish National Enduro Series aboard her Process 153 CR DL 29.

“After less than a week at home after the EWS, I decided to race round two of the Irish National Enduro Series. It was a great weekend with unusually sunny weather and dusty trails. I had the best two days at home on a bike in a long time and I’m delighted to take the win in Pro Women to consolidate my series lead. I’m feeling more and more comfortable on the new bike.
I have a few weeks at home now before heading off to the next two rounds of the EWS.” -Leah Maunsell

In Full Bloom

Words by ambassador Molly Sugar. Photos by Charries Cafe

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Springtime in the Pacific Northwest usually means a lot of rain, but on the days that the sun comes out – expect the trails bursting with color. We took full advantage of a sunny day by mountain biking at Syncline where we had sweeping views of the Columbia River and Mt Hood. 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

At the top of the trail, we even had an impromptu engagement photo shoot with a bouquet of trailside flowers. My partner Skyler and I got engaged only a week before, and our friend Rie thought it was the perfect time to capture our love in full bloom! We couldn’t have chosen a better backdrop to all the things we love – sunshine, flowers, mountains, rivers and mountain bikes.


Berlin, Bikes, and Coffee

Kona Ambassador Barry McWilliams is an American transplant living in Berlin—a city rich in history, culture and…coffee. It’s safe to say that biking and coffee are pretty excellent compliments to each other. Cool mornings, hot coffee. Long rides and a little caffeine. The invigorating smell of coffee is enough to perk up the sleepiest cyclist. In Berlin, Barry and friends use #coffeeoutside as a means to explore some of Berlin’s historic parks and find that the city comes to life with a little bit of coffee and springtime light.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG
Lacy Kemp | KONA COG
Lacy Kemp | KONA COG
Lacy Kemp | KONA COG
Lacy Kemp | KONA COG
Lacy Kemp | KONA COG