Kona Adventure Team: Double Century Sandwich

The Kona Adventure Team is an extension of the Kona Endurance Race team in 2017. We aim to expand the repertoire of our endurance athletes, embarking on adventures that inspire, both us personally and hopefully you as well. Our athletes all love the bike, and these trips are our attempt to show a shared passion not only for riding, but also for living a full and meaningful existence. 

For the first Adventure Team story, Cory, Kris, Spencer,and Barry took on a double century on the California Coast, sandwiching a race in the middle.


Words by Barry Wicks. Photos by Patrick Means.

The plan was simple. We’d ride from Pacifica, CA to Healdsburg, CA on Friday. On Saturday, we’d race the Grasshopper Adventure Series race called Old Caz. On Sunday we would ride back to our starting point.

At what point does a course of travel become an adventure? What makes it turn into something else, like a journey? Are there clear metrics that make it so, or is it just a matter of perspective? Whatever the case, the Kona Adventure Team had around 17 hours and 330 miles of bike riding ahead of us – plenty of time for engaging in some trifling handlebar philosophy.

107 miles. That’s how far we had to go one day one. That didn’t seem that far to a seasoned squad of professional bike athletes, but as the hours ticked on, and the destination remained distant, the remaining hours of daylight became a concern. The selected route, while heavy on dirt – and climbing and views in the first half – gave way to silky pavement in the last 40 miles.

Here we are, there’s were we are going. Distance and time compress and expand in rhythm with our bodies’ need for food, water, or for the climb to come to an end.

At times, pulling off in a muddy gravel lot to stare at the water and share a king size bag of peanut butter M&Ms is the entirety of one’s world.

Then you find a strong Canadian to drag you those final miles into the arms of a waiting burrito, cold beer and camaraderie.

The Grasshopper Adventure series is a longstanding race event, with its foundations firmly in the grassroots camp of “lets all get together, do an awesome ride, and try to smash each other to bits.” In this, its 19th year of existence, it has grown from the rag tag group of about 50 riders to a swollen 450+ hearty souls up for the challenge.

The gathering and swapping of tales at the finish line is the ritual by which the ride legend grows. This gathering of the athletes, watching their fellow riders struggle to the line, is the birth of the legend that each and every Grasshopper race has created.

By the book, an adventure is “playing a game of chance.” As a term, it is rooted in the unknown and a risk of loss. On an adventure, there ought to be a tension between something that is about to happen and whether you’ll arrive at the other side.

The return journey always seems easier, but at the same time bittersweet. The destination is known, it means the end of the journey is near, and the escape is coming to a close.

For us, the essential element is the experience of the place and the time spent together. Up and down the coasts, across long valleys, through the woods and over the mountains. We carve out our own version of finding happiness and bring that to the banquet to share.

In the end, we are left with tired legs, dirty bikes, large smiles and the memories we created together.kona_norcal2-85

Wherever your next adventure may take you, we hope you find all the things that you are searching for.



Barry Wicks introduces the Nasty Jake

This bike was a design as a thought experiment on blurring the lines between on and off road. After the Grinduro event last year I really started fantasizing about what limits I could push on a “cross” bike, and thus the Nasty Jake was born. The versatility and ability of the bike is unreal. Stable, fast, light, and with sliding dropouts it’s pretty hard to get stranded even if everything goes kaboom.

I started looking at the numbers on the Private Jake frame and realized the fork axle to crown and offset where not too far off from a stock 27.5 suspension fork that MRP makes.

IMG_2192 I talked with MRP about the concept, and they where into it. The resulting loop fork is basically a normal fork with the travel reduced to 40mm. Having the ramp control adjustment is a rad feature because I can get super progressive for road stuff, then open it up and get plush for the dirt with a few spins of the knob.

IMG_2193The drivetrain has seen a few iterations, but I’m pretty set on the 1x with a 44t wolf ring and 11-42 XT cassette out back. The Tanpan roller doohickey also let me marry the XTR derailleur to the Ultegra shifter which is great because I get the clutch for added chain retention. I was running a long cage Ultegra derailleur, and it actually work fine and covered the 11-42 without trouble, but was a bit slappy.

IMG_2194The dropper is a KS LevC with 60mm of drop. It really helps when pinning it down gravel and Singletrack in the drops. It is controlled by the front shifter so is very easy to access on the fly.

The wheels are stock Shimano M9000 XTR units wrapped in the Maxxis Rambler 40c EXO tires. I also have a set mounted up with the Refuse 40c slicks, and depending on the track I swap back and forth.

This bike is amazingly capable. 10 years ago I could have ridden this to a podium at a Norba XC event no problem. It really shows how far and fast bikes are progressing.

Barry Wicks writes about ST6 for Dirt Rag Magazine

Wicks BCBR When I first started racing bikes, my mom used to drive me to races in her blue Dodge minivan. My bike, my most prized possession, would be carefully tucked into the back seat, protected from scratches and the elements. We would listen to the alt-rock station or NPR when the signal was strong enough, the sounds of “Car Talk” or the Smashing Pumpkins becoming the soundtrack to life. Not much has changed, really.
Today, my friend and Kona Endurance teammate Kris Sneddon reaches a hand through the spokes and tugs at the wheel strap, trying to figure out how to secure our bikes to his new bike rack. His Jeep idles in the parking lot of a Days Inn, AC cranked, waiting to take us into the mountains as we sweat in the mid-August heat, struggling to make sure our bikes don’t fall off, AC/DC trickling weakly from an inadequate sound system. More at Dirtrag.com


Wicks Interview from BicyclePaper.com

wicks head shot Club champ, city champ, State Champ, National Champ, World Champ, but most importantly, champion of our hearts, Barry Wicks has taken the next step in his lustrous career and moved to California. The longtime Kona cycling superstar will be missed this season around the Pacific Northwest cycling scene, his gracious personality lends to those around, a good human experience. On the bike, he’s a powerful lanky wizard of a shred master with a smile that can pierce corners and sparkle dust crowds. Off the bike, ditto.

Bicycle Paper: So Barry, Why the move?

Barry Wicks: My wife Sarah is a souped-up scientist, and was recruited by a big time BioTech firm down in the Bay Area called Genentech. It was an awesome opportunity for her, so we decided to go for it.

BP: I saw on your blog that your attacking gravel grinders and endurance races this year. What led you to do those types of races and will we see you at any OBRA or Washington events this season?

BW: I made the transition away from “traditional” XC events a few years ago. I was looking for new challenges, new adventures, and at Kona we where also exploring new markets and ideas that we thought were cool. It all started with BCBR (BC Bike Race). It almost killed me, but in the end Kris Sneddon and I where able to pull off the win, and we haven’t really looked back since. It’s been awesome. The gravel races are pretty rad too. Back in college when I raced for Oregon State, we put on a road race that had a 5km gravel section every lap. I thought it was the coolest race ever. Now that gravel racing is becoming a “thing” I am excited to participate in it. It’s an area with lots of potential, and opens up whole new routes that people maybe didn’t think about before. (more…)

Paxson Selected for Pan-Am Championships

paxson xcThe team, which features four men’s and six women’s elite cross-country riders, will vie for valuable UCI points at the five-day event. These UCI points will help determine the XCO ranking for the United States as it relates to Team USA’s Olympic Rider Quota push to qualify the maximum number of mountain bike rider slots for the Rio Olympic Games next summer.

Cross-Country Elite Men
Stephen Ettinger* (Bozeman, Mont./Sho-Air-Cannondale)
Russell Finsterwald (Colorado Springs, Colo./SRAM-Troy Lee Designs Race Team)
Spencer Paxson (Bellingham, Wash./Kona Bicycles Factory Team)
Todd Wells (Durango, Colo./Specialized Factory Racing)

Cross-Country Elite Women
Lea Davison* (Jericho, Vt./Specialized Factory Racing)
Georgia Gould* (Fort Collins, Colo./LUNA Pro Team)
Erin Huck* (Boulder, Colo./SCOTT-3Rox Racing)
Evelyn Dong (Park City, Utah/Sho-Air-Cannondale)
Mary McConneloug (Chilmark, Mass./Team KENDA-M&M Racing)
Chloe Woodruff (Tucson, Ariz./Team Stan’s NoTubes-Niner)

Cross-Country U23 Men
Howard Grotts* (Durango, Colo./Specialized Racing XC)
Keegan Swenson (Escondido, Calif./Sho-Air-Cannondale)

Cross-Country U23 Women
Kate Courtney* (Kentfield, Calif./Specialized Factory Racing)

Cross-Country Juniors Men
Christopher Blevins (Durango, Colo./Whole Athlete-Specialized Cycling)

Cross-Country Juniors Women
Ksenia Lepikhina* (Boulder, Colo./University of Colorado Boulder)

Downhill Elite Men
Dylan Conte (Stowe, Vt.)
Shane Leslie (Birmingham, Mich./Northern Arizona University)
Max Morgan (Duluth, Ga.)
Neko Mulally (Pisgah Forest, N.C./Gstaad-Scott)

Downhill Juniors Men
Charlie Harrison (Trabuco Canyon, Calif.)

2K15_Team_SponsorsGroups_Endurance (1)

Icefields Parkway- Cory Wallace Adventures

wally on the ice road A couple winters ago good buddy Leighton Poidevin from Canmore and myself road 205 km of the Icefields parkway from just north of Lake Louise to Jasper in prepertion for a big year of 24hr racing. This is arguably the most scenic highway in Canada as it runs over high mountain passes through the heart of the Rockies via Jasper and Banff National Parks. That year we lucked out with some warm weather around -8 degrees but 8 inches of snow at the start which made the journey into a 13 hr slog. This year we had an urge to revisit the ride but were having a hard time finding the right weather opening to make it happen.

The mission is pretty solid in the winter and takes a lot of convincing to get the mind on board. After some humming and hawing I finally convinced it this was a good idea and gave Leighton a call. He’s a real trooper and up for anything pretty much. We made a little plan and soon I was piling some stuff in a pack, hopping into the truck and leaving Jasper in the late afternoon. After driving 140 km south to Rampart creek hostel, I ditched the truck and set off at dusk for a 60 km ride south to Mosquito creek hostel, just north of Lake Louise. The short(ish) ride turned into a nippy one as the temperature dipped from -17 to -24, requiring numerous stops to adjust the clothing. The body was holding up pretty good except for my legs, which were getting frostbitten as just my bike shorts and gore tex pants weren’t meeting the insulation requirements. It was a bugger stopping in the middle of the highway, stripping down and putting on long underwear and redressing, but it was needed and after that the ride improved. Traveling through the dark was a crazy sensation as I had no idea where I was but after 4 hours I finally checked into Mosquito creek hostel for the night. I ate a huge a quinoa dinner and had short visit with some ice climbers from Victoria, then it was off to bed for some shut eye before meeting Leighton at 7:30in the morning for the 205 km back to Jasper. I hoped it would be warmer in the morning. More Here

Helen reports from Koppenberg

helen descending in sand The past weekend wasn’t exactly my best weekend on the bike so I’ll get that bit out of the way first. At GP Twenty20 Cycles, Koppenberg, I took the lead, crashed with no help from anyone else, and the pain that followed held me back and I wasn’t able to perform at all. A very sad 8th place finish in my hometown race was a big disappointment but I’ll be back. So it was on to Zonhoven, a sandy classic in the East of Belgium. (more…)

Cory Wallace wins stage 4 at Croc Trophy

wallace croc While the overall race lead remains with Atherton’s Greg Saw, today the Crocodile Trophy camp is celebrating its fourth elite stage winner with Cory Wallace. The Canadian National Marathon Champion finishes almost three minutes ahead of Ramses Bekkenk (NED) and Greg Saw after a wild ride, literally, only narrowly escaping the attack of a wild bull. The Austrian Guido Thaler achieves a personal best at the Crocodile Trophy with a fourth place ahead of Milton Ramos (ESP). The Elite Woman Imogen Smith calls today’s stage “the best one yet”.
Today’s stage had been a wild ride, said Cory Wallace, as he crossed the finish after 3h11:10.81, which pushed him up into third overall and only half a minute behind Ramses Bekkenk (NED) who advanced into second place after four stages. “On the first section before the technical feed zone suddenly there was this herd of wild cows and this black bull – it was huge – was chasing us”, Wallace recounted the close encounter with the “locals” that must have motivated him to pedal even harder, because he arrived at said feedzone with a 2-minute gap to a chaser group including Bekkenk, Greg Saw, the Austrian Guido Thaler and Milton Ramos from Spain, who weren’t as lucky as Wallace. They had to duck and dive to get away from the bull. “I’ve raced the Crocodile Trophy three times already, but that was the single scariest moment so far”, admitted Wallace. More at www.crocodile-trophy.com


Helen Second at World Cup round one

wc podium 1 “2nd in the opening round of the World Cup, I’ll take that. Racing in a World Cup is always different from any other race. Everyone comes motivated, fit and ready to put it all on the line, so your early season races aren’t always a good indicator.

However, when it comes to Katie Compton, class is a good indicator of form. After a lap today she decided to give everyone a head start. I think I was around 40 seconds up on her, but that proved to not be enough.

The group at the front (Me, Cant, Harris and De Boer) didn’t hang around. Lucie Chainel decided it would be a good idea to rip everyone’s legs off at the start of the race, and when it came back together us 4 up front each took our turn to drive the race and take a small advantage. But Katie’s speed is destructive. 22 seconds quicker than me on the 3rd lap shows why she fully deserved the win. I actually thought I had a pretty good lap on lap 3…..guess I need to reconsider the use of the word good.

Anyway, It was a great race, a good crowd and a real confidence boost at this stage of the season. It puts me 2nd in the World Ranking, 2nd in the World Cup and 2nd in the BPost series. I’m going to keep believing “1st the worst, 2nd the best”.

Valkenburg is an amazing town. The atmosphere there all weekend is great and I love spending time there. Obviously Milton Keynes is going to be the best World Cup this year, perhaps even in history, but Valkenburg, keep doing what you do, because its great.

See you next year V’burg.” Helen


Cory Wallace wins Tour de Timor

cory timor Timor Leste is a small country situated on the eastern end of the Indonesian chain of islands, the western half of the island is Indonesian while the eastern half is a young 12 year old country called Timor Leste. It is a country which has been battered around for years, first under Portugues rule, then invaded by Japan during the 2nd World War and most recently invaded by Indonesia in 1975 which brought on 24 years of bloodshed and hardships. After years of turmoil, flattened infrastructure, massacres and referendums the country of East Timor became the first new sovereign state of the 21st century on May 20, 2002. Since then the small country of just over 1 million individuals have been busy as they started nearly from scratch to build up there nation. There is a lot of pride in the people as they are full of hope and aspirations to make there country something special. It is also a long road ahead for this 96% catholic country as they are still working on basics such as nutrition and are ranked as the hungriest nation in Asia, and 4th hungriest in the World. More at corywallace.com