Lacy Kemp

Lost and Found on the Celtic Cross Trail

Words and photos by Ambassador Tim Wiggins.

It wasn’t until I was lost for strength, in a strange hotel on the most remote west coast of Ireland; having just ridden 214 kilometres through the worst storm I could imagine (fourteen hours of a Force 9 headwind!), that I finally found the strength to admit defeat. I sat on the bed with a JetBoil full of pasta — too tired and late for the restaurant, and looked at options to re-route myself away from the Wild Atlantic Way — this time, it was just a bit too wild. The helplessness of being devoid of strength or a desire to continue was overruled by a passion to keep bike riding. I re-routed. I found sunshine, beautiful mountains, ice-cream, tailwinds, and burritos… great things come to those that want to find it.

To read about Tim’s adventure in its entirety, please check out Life in the Saddle.


Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Tim’s complete kit consisted of:
Luggage and Camp Kit
Rhinowalk Waterproof Panniers
Rhinowalk Waterproof Frame Bag
Rhinowalk Waterproof Saddlebag
Nordisk Telemark 2 ULW Lightweight Tent
Rab Mythic 400 Down Sleeping Bag
Vaude Sleeping Pad
Vaude Thermal Seat Cushion
Rab Oblique Lightweight Casual Shorts
Rab Proton Superlight Down Jacket
GripGrab Merino Tee
Microfibre Towel
Flipflops
OverBoard Waterproof Bags (reviewed here)
JetBoil MiniMo Cooking System

Riding Kit
Sportful Super Giara Bib Shorts
Sportful Fiandre Light Bib Shorts
GripGrab Ultralight Climber’s Jersey
GripGrab 3-Season Base Layer
GripGrab Ultralight Mesh Base Layer
Sportful Stelvio Waterproof Jacket
Sportful Fiandre Light Wind Jacket
GripGrab AquaRepel Arm Warmers
GripGrab AquaRepel Leg Warmers
GripGrab RaceAqua X Overshoes
GripGrab Merino Lightweight SL Socks x 2
GripGrab Solara Cycling Gloves
GripGrab CloudBurst Waterproof Gloves
GripGrab Cycling Cap
GripGrab HeadGlove
Smith Optics Overtake Helmet
Scicon AeroTech Sunglasses
Giro Code TechLace MTB Shoes (with SoleStar Insoles)
Black Mamba Latex Gloves (added waterproofing)

Wash Kit
Sportique Chamois Cream
Baby Wipes
Toothbrush and Toothpaste
Suncream
Mosquito Repellent
Soap Bar
Razor

Electronics and First Aid
Thule Atmos X4 Phone Case
Goal Zero Venture30 PowerBank
Petzl Headtorch
Altuvita Cycling Phone Wallet
LifeSystems Micro First Aid Kit
Wahoo ELEMNT Bike Computer [reviewed here]
Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT Bike Computer [reviewed here]
Exposure Lights Six Pack Front Light (doubles as a power bank)
NiteRider 850 Micro Front Light
Exposure Lights Blaze Rear Light
NiteRider Sentinel 250 Rear Light
Charging cables in waterproof bag

Tool Kit
Spare 28c Tyre
LifeLine Inner Tube x3
Lezyne Lever Patch Puncture Repair Kit
Lezyne Tyre Boot
Chain Links x2
Lezyne RAP14 Multitool
Gerber Suspension Multitool
SRAM Inner Gear Cable (spare)
Pedal Cleat and Bolts (spare)
Smoove Chain Lube
Lezyne Road Drive Pump
Cable Ties
Spare Brake Pads
Black Mamba Workshop Gloves
Vel Contingency Derailleur Hanger
Spare Bolts (various sizes)
Gorilla Tape
Insulation Tape

Bike – Kona Rove Titanium Custom Build
The Kona Rove was my bike of choice for the #7Countries7Passes tour and the #RoadsFromRome. The bike is fitted with a rear pannier rack, SRAM 1X drivetrain, and Tune Dreckschleuder 700C wheels.

Total weight (with empty bottles and no stove fuel): 22.5 Kilograms

Time to Travel: A Rad Bike Adventure

Kona Ambassador Ryan Lindsay Bartz has been on an around-the-world adventure aboard her Sutra. she put together this cool little video of some of her favorite places she’s been so far.

“The first 6 months of a trip around the world consolidated into 3 minutes. Just a little ride through time with my two best friends (my partner and my bike!).”

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

ACK and Back

By James Joiner

In a world where everything is always at our fingertips, islands maintain a certain mystique. Maybe we read too many pirate stories as kids, maybe it’s their inherent disconnectedness.

For an island at the heart of so many fantastical adventures – Moby Dick, anyone? – from first appearance Nantucket isn’t especially exotic. There’s a small downtown area, lots of fancy vintage cars with fancy rich vintage drivers, and then just miles of beaches with booming surf, sandy roads, and rambling old money estates.

Yet even if you live just thirty miles away in a relatively identical place like Cape Cod, Nantucket stirs the imagination. Especially if, like me, you love exploring by bike.

The fast ferry from Hyannis whisks you across Nantucket sound in just one hour, barely long enough adjust to the heady fumes of sea spray, bad coffee, and diesel. An eclectic crowd of passengers is assured. Unless you’re one of the upper crust who fly over, making Nantucket’s tiny airport (ACK) even busier than Boston’s Logan International in the summer months, by boat is the only way for workers, vacationers, drug mules, fishermen, and anyone else to get there. On arrival, the ferry glides past Sankatay Head lighthouse at the mouth of the harbor and everyone gathers together on deck, tap-tapping smartphone screens. After nestling in amongst mega yachts, wooden sailboats, fishing charters, and the Ocearch shark research boat, passengers are disgorged into the very heart of quaintness.

James Joiner

Nantucket was originally made famous as a whaling port. Fortunes that endure to this day were carved from cetaceans harvested during long months or years at sea. The downtown area – the only real “downtown” on the entire 17-mile island – is exactly what you’d expect from a New England village designated as a national historic landmark. Cobblestone streets are lined with wood shingled or brick shops and nautically themed cafes and bars. While now a summer playground for the rich and rich aspirant, Nantucket’s population is still fed by the oil of whales – it’s just that these whales have whales embroidered on their Nantucket red shorts and never wear white after Labor Day.

Speaking of Labor Day, it’s long weekend marks the official end of their tourist season. If you want to avoid gridlock traffic, congested sidewalks and bike paths, and angst-ridden locals trying to get to work against an impossible tide of vacationers, your best bet is to visit after this. Things wind down quickly as September wears on, and you can find yourself blissfully alone as you push your bike from trailhead to trailhead along achingly beautiful stretches of beach. Our most recent trip was during the second week of September, and many of the neighborhoods outside of the immediate vicinity of Nantucket town were packing it in even though late summer was still in full effect.

James Joiner

Tourist frivolity aside, Nantucket retains a palpable air of independence. You have to, when all it takes is heavy winds to effectively cut you off completely from the mainland for days at a time. This independent spirit was most dramatically portrayed in 1977: Angered when redistricting resulted in less representation in state government, Nantucket and sister island Marthas Vineyard voted overwhelmingly – if ultimately in vain – to secede from Massachusetts.

Being one of Nantucket’s 11,229 year round residents takes a certain level of toughness, no wonder when you hear about them doing things like surfing slurpee waves in the middle of winter. Granted, there’s also not much to do on a seasonal island in January. For cyclists, there’s plenty of singletrack connected by sandy, rutted roads if you know where to look and don’t mind creeping across the occasional stretch of private property. Wrapped in 82 miles of sandy coastline, fat biking is also a great way to explore. One bike shop employee claimed to have circumnavigated the entire island in just a single day last winter, though I’d take that with a grain of sea salt.

James Joiner

As for our most recent trip, we pieced together a mostly unpaved 50-mile meander roughly tracing the outskirts of the island, with a midway stop at the Cisco Brewery for a liquid lunch. Beer helps mitigate aggravation during hike-a-biking when sand becomes too deep on trails to spin through. Don’t worry: drivetrains were made to be tortured.

James Joiner

Pro tips. Ride wider tires, and, more importantly, be extra vigilant when checking for deer ticks. Nantucket is ground zero for Lyme’s disease, with at least 40% of households having suffered an infection. Ferries go back and forth from Hyannis multiple times a day, year-round, so getting there is easy. The fast ferry is about $50 round trip, with a bike. There are multiple year-round bike shops in town, though most are geared toward the rental crowd. Ride With GPS and Strava have multiple routes to choose from, but I suggest setting your phone map app to satellite and making a go of it on your own. Cisco Brewery is midway around the island and is a must-visit if you like to drink. Of note, many places, close for part of the off-season. Bartlett Farms, right down the road from Cisco, offers year-round co-op grocery style supplies including a deli counter, beer, and wine. 

Ottawa Midsummer Solo Bikepacking Trip

Words and photos by Ambassador Sandra Beaubien.

For the last couple of years, I had a trip idea floating around in my brain.  One of those trips that I thought might be too ambitious for my fitness level and experience, but this summer I finally decided to pull the trigger and just do it.  Even though I had been thinking about it for 2 years, in my usual style, I found myself two days out from my departure date without a route plan done, my food prepared or bike ready.  Time just seemed to accelerate in the 48 hours before my trip, and panic set in a little.  Since I hadn’t done a bikepacking trip yet this year, loading my bags and attaching them to on to my new Honzo CR took three times longer than expected!

(To see exactly what I brought on the trip and how I set up my Honzo into a bike packing machine, check out this link for all the details.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

I live in the city, about 5 km from downtown Ottawa, and my plan was to do a bikepacking trip that linked our fantastic bike paths, historic buildings and natural sites leading to my favourite rural riding area, Gatineau Park just north of the city, across the river in Quebec.  I chose to do this 3-day trip alone because I wanted to go at my own pace, stop and take pictures and just enjoy being outside.  It was about 45% paved bike path, 45% mtb trail and 10% road.

After loading up on a seemingly great day, I set off from my house, linking together parts of routes I have ridden before and stopping at a few of my favourite historic and natural sites.  Even living in the capital city of Canada with a population of a million people, nature is never too far away.  Our bike pathways intersect an extensive water network and I biked along several rivers, over a waterfall, and beside a beach all in the first 10 km. I especially loved biking through a graffiti-filled tunnel, which brought me back in time to my Nintendo-playing days as a teenager.

After 30 km along mostly paved bike paths, I was at my halfway point, hungry, thirsty and excited.  I was at the edge of Gatineau Park where the trails turn into dirt.  Everything had stayed attached to my bike and my legs were still feeling strong, but I knew that big hills were still to come.  I decided to fill up on tacos and iced tea at my favourite cafe, Palmier in the village of Chelsea. 

I knew the double-track trails that I would be riding were a mixture of hardpacked dirt, loose gravel, and super chunky rock, with plenty of climbing and descending.  I figured that a few hills would be hike-a-bike for me, and that is just the nature of bikepacking.  Although I could have used my Rove gravel bike to save some weight on the paths, I chose to ride my Honzo in anticipation of these loose rocky sections, because I feel so much more stable on a loaded mountain bike.  I loved this dirt section the best.  I barely saw anyone on the trails and I really enjoyed the solitude in the forest.

I did come up quickly upon a bear as I was pulling into one of the historic cabins for a snack break.  Fortunately, this doesn’t phase me as much as it used to, and I just backed up and headed to another cabin close by to give the black bear some space to keep eating his snack.  The cabins are for day use only and see much more action in the winter when XC skiing is in full swing.  In the summer, you can often get them to yourself.  It was nice to get away from the bugs and bear for a few minutes before continuing towards my first camp destination.

For the last 30 minutes en-route, I was trying to hustle to my campsite at Lac Philippe because I could hear a thunderstorm rolling in.  I got there before the downpour started and managed to get my hammock and tarp set up just in time.  I hunkered under my little tarp, trying to keep myself and as much of my gear dry as possible. I was glad time was on my side that day.  The thunderstorm passed and the sun came back out and I enjoyed a solid evening at camp after a 55 km day.  The last time I camped at this site in Gatineau Park the raccoons were bold, even aggressive and tried to steal all my food.  I had to lock it in someone’s car at night.  But this time I was more prepared and brought a rope to hang my food in a tree.  I still had to chase a few masked critters off my site, and when I went to bed, I could swear the rustling noises around my campsite were the raccoons eating my food that they had managed to get, but I was happy to get up in the morning to realize it was all in my imagination.

Day 2 was supposed to be my easy ride day, with a simple 15 km bike ride to my next campsite, mostly on rough doubletrack trails.  Since I was staying at 2 campgrounds, I figured, as in the previous years, that there would be drinkable water near my campsite each day.  Unfortunately, this season the water was not potable so instead, each campsite was supplied with a 4L water jug each day.  The water was distributed near my first campsite, so I had to somehow carry an extra 4L of water to my campsite, on top of my 3L hydration pack.  The night before my trip, Mike had double-checked with me to see if I wanted our water filter, and I responded to him “No, I don’t want the extra weight”.  If I could go back in time, my decision would be very different!!!  I essentially emptied my entire backpack of gear and filled up every nook and cranny of my bike packing bags to put the 4L jug on my back.  I always carry an empty dry bag with me that I can fill with various items and strap onto my front roll.  Specifically, for unexpected situations just like this one!

My goal for the trip was to make it up to my favorite lookout bench on the distant escarpment above my Taylor Lake campsite.  To me, this area is a mysterious part of the park where true wilderness takes over from the recreational wilderness.  Trails are non-existent, the wolves howl at night and the lynx make this their home.  I enjoyed lunch at the bench, looking out into the vastness of the park.

My campsite was beautiful with large trees, right along the edge of Taylor Lake.  I enjoyed spending the majority of the day relaxing there and reading my book, having a nap in my hammock in the cool breeze.  I watched the sunset and listened to the loons.

For day 3, I lingered as long as I could at my campsite since it was a beautiful day with a gentle breeze blowing.  I knew I had a long 61km long day ahead of me and decided to take a few breaks.  I stopped for a late lunch at the cabin where I had seen the bear 2 days earlier.  I also stopped at the Carbide Wilson Ruins, even though it is at the end of a hiking-only trail, and I had to walk my bike for a while.  It is another one of my favorite historic relics in Gatineau Park. 

Halfway through my ride, I was back in Chelsea and absolutely starving.  My trail snacks were just not cutting it and I had another 30 km to go.  My best decision of the trip was to stop at the Chelsea pub for coffee and food.  I took a slightly different route home on the paved bike paths, and took in the awesome views of Parliament Hill, something that never gets boring for me. 

When I got home, I was absolutely beat.  It was a lot of riding (and climbing) for me over the 3 days but I was super happy I decided to do the adventure I’d been thinking about for a long time.  I had almost talked myself out of it, thinking it wasn’t as extreme as other bike packing trips I’ve read about and that didn’t matter because bike packing can be whatever YOU want it to be.

Check out this video for some more pictures and short clips from my trip! https://spark.adobe.com/video/jNJZoF6RtMUQR

2020 Kona E Bikes are Live!

Earlier this month we announced the brand new Remote 160 mountain bike. It has received some awesome early reviews and we’re really pumped to get more people on what we think is the best electric mountain bike on the market. Today is the day where the rest of the electric family comes to life on Konaworld! Say hi to the 2020 Splice E, Dew E, and Electric Ute*!

Call it adventure-assist, training-assist, distance-assist, or access-assist. Call it whatever you want, but our pedal-assist bikes will help get you there. Our all-new Remote 160 brings Process geometry and feel to our electric lineup. We’ve got bikes for parents hauling kids and cargo, weekend adventurers looking to cruise the gravel paths, hardcore adventure riders, and hard-core commuters. With a multitude of accessories and configurations, you’ll be well prepared for whatever the road, trail, or commute throws your way.

Splice-E

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Cruising has never been more fun. The Splice-E brings the joy of a pedal-assist bike to familiar territory.  Bosch power meets a Shimano Alivo drivetrain and Suntour suspension fork. Hydraulic disc brakes provide excellent stopping power, giving you total control while out on your next adventure. Fenders and front and rear lights keep you dry, warm, and safe whether you’re bar-hopping through town or out ripping around backwoods bike paths.

Dew-E

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

For the avid commuter where no hill, no amount of rain, or no gust of wind is enough to stop you, we bring you the Dew-E. From our beloved Dew platform, the Dew-E is the ultimate commuting machine. Bright front and rear lights, fenders, and a Bosch motor make quick work of all conditions. Outfitted in quality Shimano components, and puncture-resistant 650bx47c tires. the Dew-E is ready for the daily grind.

Electric Ute*

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

The Electric Ute has put the joy back into cargo biking. Haul your gear, haul your kids, climb some hills or do some skids. Looking to ditch the car? The Electric Ute is your answer. The included weatherproof Kona Ute cargo bags can fit a ton of gear! The battery is semi-integrated into the frame for a more streamlined look. Stylish, comfortable, and incredibly functional as a full-on cargo machine, the Electric Ute is powered by a Bosch Performance Line CX motor, ensuring you and your gear can make it up the steepest of hills with total ease and a smile on your face!

*The slime yellow Electric Ute is not available in North America. North America will continue to sell the 2019 Electric Ute, found here.

A Step into the Finnish Archives

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Bikepacker guru and Kona Ambassador Erkki Punttila has created this beautiful blog post exploring some old relics of his home country of Finland for our Time Travel theme. Erkki is known for his big rides and great photography so he put together this gorgeous piece over on his blog, Packgofind.com.

He talks about the history of bridges, antiques, and the old country that his ride travels through. Be sure to check out the full feature here.

Below are a few sample photos from his journey.

Recapping Northstar with Hannah Bergemann

Everything I’d heard about Tahoe riding was dust, rocks, and more dust. The high-altitude trails are buried in snow all winter and then emerge into moondust throughout the summer. We flew from Bellingham a few days before training started to acclimate and familiarize ourselves with the terrain. 

I went out for an evening ride with some friends who are local, and quickly realized how difficult it is to climb and ride at altitude. Any hard effort had my heart rate spiking and legs burning. The trails we descended had some technical rock rolls and gardens, some loose dust, and some high-speed sections with jumps. I felt a bit out of my element, but was also excited to learn and ride new terrain. 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

I rode these trails a few more times throughout the week until we finally got to ride the Northstar resort trails for practice. The resort trails were also full of technical rock sections, loose dusty corners, and terrain that was very foreign to me. During practice, I stopped more times than I ever have in a race to reride sections of trail and pick lines. Line choice was important for this race to stay smooth through all the rock sections. 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Day one included two stages; River Styx and Karpiel. Stage one on River Styx was flat and rocky at the top and then dropped into steep rutted sections filled with dust. It had one steep technical rock roll that had racers trying different lines and then finished out on a flat but high-speed trail. I was super nervous starting this stage and rode pretty stiff at the top which resulted in a small tumble that lost me some time. Once I loosened up my riding, I rode a lot better. You have to ride pretty loose here and let the bike move to be successful in the tractionless dust. 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Stage two on Karpiel had a ton of dusty berms and then ended in a big rock garden at the bottom. I struggled on the berm section to find speed, feeling uncomfortable in the loose corners. 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Day Two included the remaining four stages. Stage 3 was the Queen stage and was a long pull from the top (past the chairlift) down to the bottom of the resort. It started with a fast road bomb to a steep dusty chute and then flow trail most of the way down. I felt fatigued from the altitude, and noticed more arm pump than usual. It was also hard to put power on the pedals. 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Stage 4 was my favorite. It started with a super steep & loose rocky chute, then opened into a high-speed jump section with gaps. It followed a road down at mach 10 and then (literally) shot you back up onto a trail that quickly got steep again. It was then dusty & loose mayhem until the end. I had my best result on this stage with a 6th place. 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Stage 5 was short but gnarly with several challenging rock sections and a massive rock garden at the end with huge boulders. 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

The last stage on Boondocks was less gnarly, but a fun technical trail with some loose berms and jumps back to the finish. 

I was happy to ride pretty clean despite feeling foreign on this terrain and to have my best result on the gnarliest stage. I feel like I gained a lot of valuable experience in this race and came away with new skills in riding dust and rocks. I also had a blast hanging with the Kona team, and getting to ride with them all week. 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Overall I’m happy with how my EWS experience has been this year, and I’m stoked to keep the momentum going. A bit last minute, but I’ll be at the final round in Finale Ligure, Italy, so stay tuned for a bit more racing this season! 

Thanks to everyone for your support, the mtb community is something special. 

Hannah B. 

(Photos: Sven Martin @SvenMartinPhoto)

Remote 160 is a Process on E!

Caleb Smith

There’s no denying the fact that electric bikes are here to stay. At Kona, we believe in bikes—all bikes. When we sat down to figure out the best way to ride as much as possible while having as much fun as possible, the result became clear: make an electric bike that rides just like a Process. The result is the brand new Remote 160, which we are debuting this week at Eurobike!

Caleb Smith Caleb Holonko pilots the Remote 160 to takeoff!

Based on our award-winning Process platform, the Remote 160 is the ultimate enduro E-bike. Powered by Shimano’s natural-feeling E8000 drive unit, the Remote 160 will get you deeper into the woods, more laps on your favorite trail, and more miles under your belt. Featuring 160mm travel front and rear with a RockShox Lyrik Select fork and Super Deluxe trunnion shock, SRAM Code R brakes with 200mm rotors, and a SRAM GX/NX 12-speed drivetrain, the Remote 160 is a performance-based machine ready for big adventures.

Caleb Smith Sherry Staples gets rowdy in the Squamish rain.
Caleb Smith

The Remote 160 is powered by the Shimano e8000 motor.

160mm of front and rear travel is supplied by a RockShox Lyrik Select fork and Super Deluxe shock.

Caleb Smith

Process-inspired geometry makes for a fun, lively ride across all terrain.

The Remote 160 is available now! Check with your local dealer or visit us on the web at the Kona Ride Online!

Gotland Bike Tour

Words and photography by Ambassador Erkki Punttila

THE PLAN

I saw an advert for a crew member position for the legendary Gotland Runt offshore sailing race. Being a fairly avid seafarer I thought it would be a good idea to do the course singlehanded – on a bike. Luckily someone had already thought about this and it turned out that there is a bike route called Nynäsleden which takes you from Stockholm to Nynäshamn. From there you can hop on a ferry that takes you to the island of Gotland. Gotlandsleden is another bike route that goes for about 450 km around the island. Easy riding on flat roads and chilling by the sea in perfect summer weather was the plan. Reality was something different… But as a warm-up, before we get to Sweden I decided to host a bike packing overnighter for my colleagues at Reaktor

DAY 1: HELSINKI – PORKKALA

Ten of my friends showed up at the office before noon on Saturday ready for the ride to Porkkala. About 80.000 people took part in the awesome Pride march at the same time in the city center so we walked our bikes for a few blocks before we got going toward our campsite some 60 km away. 

I took the sweeper spot at the end of our convoy and Ville led the way through the suburbs towards Porkkala nature reserve east of Helsinki. We stopped for lunch at Kirkkonummi and bought things for the bbq. After enjoying a rather stiff headwind we arrived at our destination and set up camp. Some of us tried out borrowed hammocks for the night while others had their own refined bike packing setup.  

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

DAY 2: PORKKALA – HELSINKI

After breakfast, the first train took off back to Helsinki with a sportive pace and the rest of us enjoyed the scenery and got going after 11 with an enjoyable stop at Cafe Porkkala for some crepes. From there it was a nice tailwind ride back to Helsinki. People went home and I had a couple of hours to kill before hopping aboard the ferry to Stockholm. Shower, food, a beer, sleep.  

DAY 3: STOCKHOLM – NYNÄSHAMN – VISBY

Made it to breakfast as soon as it opened and got a premium seaside table with views of the Stockholm archipelago. Once off the ship, I started to crack the puzzle of navigating through the city and suburbs towards Nynäshamn. A fellow cyclist from Germany was going to the same destination. I passed him four times before really getting out of the city. He might have been going a little slower but was much better navigating. On our fifth encounter, we approached each other from totally opposite directions. After a brief discussion in German, we decided to ride together. Once we were out of the city the route was pretty simple. At about the 25 km marker my companion took the direct route to Nynäshamn and I turned to the scenic country roads of the Nynäsleden bike route. It was a nice ride with some unexpected rain showers. Didn’t notice any cafés along the way so I just hammered into the headwind all the way to Nynäshamn without stopping except for some photos. After 83 km it was time for a lunch kebab and almost a four-hour wait for the ferry to Visby in Gotland. Luckily it didn’t rain anymore and I got aboard in dry clothing.

TOWARDS NYNÄSHAMN

NIGHT MODE

The ferry arrived on time at midnight. Since I was headed north from Visby, the south-west breeze had magically turned into a tailwind. I had anticipated that it would be rather light in the middle of the night in the beginning of July, but with full cloud coverage and zero moon it was really dark. It got a bit risky going fast on the narrow paths that the Gotlandsleden follows but once the route takes to the main road it was a joy. There was virtually no traffic at all so it was pretty safe to ride. On the open areas, the wind was giving a nice push. You can’t really see any surroundings when you focus on your front light that is a small spot on the pavement. At some point, I realised I had run out of gears and felt going pretty fast. Checked my GPS and realised I was going 40,6 km/h on the flat with knobby tires on a fully loaded Kona Sutra LTD! It started to rain again so after 40 km in the dark I set up camp in a random bush 50 m from the road. 20 hours from waking up, riding 125 km, waiting for the ferry and crossing a sea was a good recipe for some sleep. 

DAY 4: IN THE RAIN TO FÅRÖ

Woke up in the middle of the night to a strong gust of wind and a loud bang. My bike had been leaning against a tree, but it was now hugging the ground. Got going without breakfast since there was a café few km down the road. Enjoyed two wonderful home baked sandwiches and a cinnamon bun. While admiring a quarry with the road running straight through it started to rain. And it came down really hard. When I reached the town of Fårösund the streets were absolutely flooded. Hanging out in the pizzeria looking at weather reports my dreams of riding in sunny Gotland were shattered. The torrential rain would continue until next morning. With the kit already wet I took the ferry over to Fårö island and checked in at the first campsite. They offerred a small cabin for about 40 €. With the temperature down to +12° I cranked the cabin heater up and started the drying operation. Even the stuff in my frame bag and a small dry bag on the fork were wet. The rain continued until the next morning. 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

DAY 5: FÅRÖ – SLITE

Spirits were high as the sun was shining and the roads dry. Progressed towards the northern tip of the island which is best known for the ”Rauk” stone formations. Definitely worthwhile seeing. I spotted a sailing boat from Finland at the small harbour and had a chat with the crew. They had just arrived after a rough night at sea with a 15 m/s headwind for most of the way. After a little loop around the island, I took the ferry back to Fårösund and headed towards the town of Slite enjoying the wind my face. Slite has a huge quarry and the entrance to the town has a strong industrial vibe. Had coffee and cake and met a cat that demanded attention. Continued for a bit until a nice looking campsite by the sea came up. 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG
Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Fårö island is one of the most scenic places in Gotland and a must-see.

SLITE

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

DAY 6: INTO THE WIND DOWN THE EAST COAST

Made pasta for breakfast to get some extra energy to battle the wind again. Luckily after about 12 km, the route turned to the forest and finally the gravel roads started. The trees gave good protection from the wind and it was really nice to ride along the forest roads. This area is known for its iron and bronze age graves. There are over 350 of these rock formations in the forest. A few of them have been restored to give you a better understanding of how they once looked.

Had a nice fish soup at the Katthammarsvik fish smokery and continued to the eastern tip of the island. Found a great fire pit with great views by the sea. Would have been an awesome spot to set camp, but I had to continue at least another 30 km to keep on track with the plan. In the early evening the wind started to be pretty violent with gusts up to 18 m/s. I had to find some shelter to set up my tent, since the ultralight MSR Carbon Reflex 1 can’t stand such high winds. Came up to Herta camping with quite many trailers but rarely anybody there. The reception was closed too. Eventually found a helpful lady who told me that all the trailers have seasonal spots, but most of the people were home because of the weather. Set up my tent behind a vacant trailer and enjoyed the shelter from the wind. 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

DAY 7: HÖRTE – BURGSVIK

The wind was so hard that cruise ships were unable to make it port in Visby. So I lounged in the tent until it felt reasonable and safe to hit the road. Got going at two in the afternoon. Headed southwest towards Burgsvik. After a mediocre pizza at the local pub I set camp and did a little evening ride on the gravel paths along the shore. Spotted 23 rabbits and zero humans. After a refreshing shower at the camp site I planned to go the café for some supper, but they had closed already at eight, even though they said they would be open until ten. Oh well, some crackers and a protein bar before dozing off. 

DAY 8: BURGSVIK – VISBY

Got going at 8:30 and rode directly to the supermarket for some breakfast, which I enjoyed behind the store accompanied by the best dog ever. Now the sun was shining and the wind had died down to a gentle breeze that was actually coming from behind. Happy days! Took a wrong turn at some point and had to backtrack 5 km. No biggie. I was now on the west coast of Gotland and the views were terrific. A lot of sheep roaming around in some places. 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

BACK IN VISBY

With the wind helping from behind the 103 km back to Visby felt like the easiest leg of the trip. It felt like the whole town had gathered on the market place where the screened the women’s soccer world cup. I set my alarm for 05:30 in order to make it to the ferry in time.

DAY 9-10: VISBY – STOCKHOLM – HELSINKI

Woke up at 05:30, gathered my stuff, packed the wet tent after a night of rain and got going in under 30 minutes. It was only a 10-minute ride to the ferry terminal. The ferry takes about .,5 hours, so there is plenty of time to enjoy breakfast and a couple of coffees. From Nynäshamn I took the train to the outskirts of Stockholm for a 15 km ride to the center to kill some time (the train goes all the way to the city of Stockholm and you are allowed to take your bike on it, except for one or two stations in the very center). Did some sightseeing and had a couple of beers before the next ferry to Helsinki departed. Next morning I was back in Helsinki and rode home.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

THE ROUTES

You can view the routes and download .gpx files from RideWithGPS links:

Helsinki – Porkkala: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/36585027

Stockholm – Nynäshamn: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/36669065

Around Gotland: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/30643021

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG
Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Torn Between Two Hemispheres

Words by ambassador Graham Beaumont

Roll back 10 years or so, I was in my early 20’s with a life focused towards the bike industry and intention to make my mark on it. 

At the time I was working my way up the ladder in bike shops soaking up all of the information I could. With no real goal other than knowing I wanted to ride bikes for a living, I had set out to do just that. 

My life was the Lake District. After a very short move to the ‘big city’, I knew in my heart living within the mountains was where I needed to be. 

During this short stint in Manchester My Mum spoke to me about the potential of her moving to New Zealand for a couple of years, and did I want to go with her? Looking back at this question, in many ways this could not have been timed any better. Having just had my wings clipped from moving to the city I was 100% certain that I wanted to stay here in the UK, in the Lake District. 

So a few months passed my Mum moved to the other side of the world, along with my stepdad. This was huge for us all as we are not big family, shortly after I packed my job in the city and made moves towards moving back home to the Lakes.

At the time my sister was at university studying back in the Lakes so I stayed on her sofa for a while.

Sven Martin photo Photo by Sven Martin

All of a sudden I realised that ‘home‘ wasn’t necessarily what it used to be, and I needed to create a home for myself.  I got myself a job with a good friend of mine in a suspension service centre, and rented a house with some other folk and started to rebuild my life back home in the Lake District.

With all the modern communication platforms we have, dialect should have been easy to New Zealand. My mindset towards the whole situation put a stop on any real dialogue for the first few years. I occupied my life with partying, riding bikes and generally just pretending to be okay with it all.

After a couple of years in the suspension centre I decided to leave full-time employment and take the plunge into being self-employed down a road towards Mountain Bike Coaching and Guiding, which has lead me to where I am today.

When my sister graduated she also headed off round the world ultimately finishing in New Zealand, at this point I knew it was time for me to pull my socks up and head out to New Zealand for a trip! 

Travelling to the opposite side of the world was a daunting necessity, and I had been putting it off for too long, flying to the other side of the world opened my eyes to so many amazing possibilities and showed me that the world is full of amazing riding! 

Since that first trip I have got Flying with a bike down, I have met some of the best people and ridden some of the greatest trails, and I even get to ride in the forest with my Mum! It’s awesome to have a family who shares my passion for bikes, even if they are 11,310 miles away.

It can be so easy to look at my family situation as a negative thing, and I have definitely flicked between it being positive and that over the years. But sitting here and thinking about the trips I have had to New Zealand and other places on the way, the experiences shared, but even more specifically the trails I have been lucky enough to of ridden along the way, it’s pretty fantastic having my folks out there. 

Ben Gerrish Photo Photo by Ben Gerrish

The Brief for this project was Time Travel, and that got me thinking about certain points in my life. if I had a Time Travelling machine would I have done things differently the second time round? 

It took me back to the moment I decided to stay back here in the UK, and would I change it? I have pondered over this question for years, but I think 21-Year-old Graham had his head screwed on to a point. It was a pretty bold move to stay here as my family emigrated but it seemed less scary than packing my bags and moving. 

To think at the time I was worried the mountain biking might be rubbish in NZ! Any of you who have been will know that it’s definitely NOT the case, My mum lives a 5-minute pedal out of the redwood Forest In Rotorua. If you haven’t been to Rotorua and ridden your bike I strongly recommend it.

Staying in the UK has had so many positives for me. I love the people around me, the riding and the friendships that has created, my work and lifestyle I am able to live and accessibility to the rest of Europe in a heartbeat.  Riding bikes can take you anywhere!