2019KonaWinter

A Sutra Chinese New Year

Kona Ambassador Ryan Lindsay Bartz has the good fortune to be able to travel around the globe with her Kona Sutra. For the past several months she’s been touring through Asia and taking in the sites and sounds afforded by a gorgeous, colorful culture. For her “winter’ project, Ryan focused on the transition of winter to spring during the Chinese New Year.

“Touring on the road can bring a different form of winter than you’re used to. That’s something I love about travel. For me winter this year came in the form of raaaainy days. Though milder than usual, winter seemed to quickly turn as Chinese New Year approached. The days went from dark and grey to bright and RED. This is winter in Southern China.” –Ryan Lindsay Bartz

Erkki Puntilla’s Winter

Kona Ambassador Erkki Punttila has contributed quite a bit to Kona over the years. He’s the face to our Not Far From Home Series, which takes a look at bikepacking around the Lapland area of Finland, has penned several posts for the Cog, given us lots of great photography work. One thing we did not know is that Erkki is also a phenomenal artist.

For his winter submission, Erkii drew this really cool picture featuring his bikepacking rig- the Big Honzo. ” I wanted to create something a bit out of my comfort zone, so I picked up a bunch of markers instead of the usual camera. Here is my Big Honzo on a winter bike packing trip to the mountains. The outlines and shading are done with 0.3 and 0.1 liner pens and the colouring with Copic markers. The background aurora borealis photo is from Unsplash.com created by Isak Dalsfelt. ” Erkki Punttila

Shadow Boxing with Kate’s Operator CR

Kona Ambassador Kate Meyer is no stranger to ripping DH laps. The Bend, Oregon racer has been turning the heads of photographers with her effortless style and aggressive riding for years. We are thrilled to have Kate riding an Operator CR this year because we know she’ll do it justice. Kate recently paired up with Bend photographer Trevor Lyden to show off her gorgeous Dream Build.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

I’ve had my eyes on the Operator for some time now, but at 5’4” I was worried the medium frame would be too big for me. I decided to just go for it and create my dream build.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

The 2019 Operator CR comes specced with 29″ wheels but can be converted to 27.5” thanks to chainstay adjustment and a flip-chip on the rocker link. So I had some Spank 350 Vibrocore hoops built up with Hope Tech Pro 4 DH hubs and switched over to a Fox Factory 40 27.5” fork.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG
Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

I set the eccentric headset cups to the backward position to minimize the reach and swapped the stem out for a 40mm Hope Tech stem.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

 I added the sexy PNW Components Range handlebar and the tried and true Hope Tech 3 V4 brakes with 200mm floating rotors (in all black, of course)

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

I’m trying out some Panaracer tires and always have my CushCore tire inserts. And the cherry on top… a Wu-Tang sticker to remind me to always keep it gangster.

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


Winter Breeds the Best Crew of Riders

Words and photos by ambassador Molly Joyce.

Unlike summer, when sunrise-starts and a full day’s ride lead to grilled meats and beers with friends and sunsets, the winter is slightly different. Both seasons draw people together, but winter seems to draw out a special breed of riding crew, because, in winter, there are no guarantees.

 Summer rides mean warm temperatures, sweaty backs, dusty unibrows, and sunshine. Winter makes no such promises. Instead, a winter ride is a gamble – fit only for gamblers. Between dark nights, icy and muddy trails, hail storms, rainstorms, whiskey to warm you up, and maybe some spurts of sunshine – winter keeps you on your toes. Not just anyone is ready for a ride like that, and those are the types of people that are my favorite to ride with.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG
Feb 8 – After leading the charge across the “Dry Creek” Crossing with a rad crew of riders, I kicked back and took some photos. The creek usually is dry – I swear

In the high desert, winter means anything goes. The world around you is saturated, bright, and colorful in its dormancy; and yet that can change in an instant. One moment you are riding in a t-shirt with your friends while watching a snowstorm approach on the horizon and the 36 hours later 41 inches of snow has buried your car. All of this one week before the Sedona Mountain Bike Festival – an event slated to draw in 4,000 mountain bikers to Sedona’s Posse Grounds Park. As the festival approaches, locals sweat in terror, hoping the snow will melt before the horde descends upon the trails, cutting ruts through the clay-heavy dirt.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG
Feb 10 – A winter storm approaches from the Mogollon Rim, viewed from the top of Sedona’s famous Hiline trail. This was the first of two storms that would dump 31 inches in Sedona and 41 inches in Flagstaff.
Lacy Kemp | KONA COG
Feb 24 – View over Sedona, from the top of Sedona’s Hiline trail. The sun is already starting to melt the two and a half feet of snow that fell two nights before

But the desert delivers – both intense sunshine and in hearty trail workers who frantically worked to clear out fallen trees and shovel snow off the pump track. The special breed comes out in times like these. There were people hiking the trails doing reconnaissance, others shoveling and tamping the lips of the flow trails, and more still were frantically preparing parking lots and campgrounds for their soon-to-be occupants. The festival arrived.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG
March 1 – Day 1 of the festival and the Kona Group Ride rocked an initial crew of 15 people. By the time we made it back we had picked up some tag-alongs that made the group 18 strong.

Day 1 was sunny. Trails were dry. The 40 inches that had hit Flagstaff were melting sending 15,000 cfs into Oak Creek, and the 30 inches accumulated in Sedona had all but absorbed into the red rock. It’s bizarre to look at pictures, a mere 6-days apart, and see the difference. But the shreddy vibes of the first day were quickly made soggy, due to a rainstorm that hit at 10 am on Day 2. I expected most people to clear out – go to their hotels, or Sedona’s not-very-numerous bars, and wait out the rain. But I was wrong. The festival remained busy – vendors whipped out propane-powered fire pits and fancy coffee, the breweries opened up the beer-garden early, food trucks were slinging tacos and wood-fired pizzas like nobody’s business. The festival roared on with free beer and bunny hop competitions (the winning hop was 36 inches).

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG
Mar 2 – the rain didn’t scare anyone away. The GORE-TEX was whipped out and the bunny hops were mighty.

As the festival winds down to a close with pretty epic sunsets and lots of hugs, there is still the audible buzz in the air of people talking about riding the next day. It’s the time when all of the vendors, the volunteers, and the tireless locals get out and ride. In fact, these are sometimes the best rides – people excited, exhausted, but still amped to throw down their best laps with their best buds. By Monday, Sedona was back to its sunny, dry desert self – but with some hero dirt left over for the rad, special breed of riders that make communities like these amazing to be a part of.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG
The end of another rad ride with some of the best people. #honzoparty

Winter Kit, Animated

Animations and art by Kona Ambassador Barry McWilliams.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Barry McWilliams is an American graphic designer living in Berlin. A long-time cyclist, he cruises all around town aboard his Jake, and soon will be on a Libre DL. Barry put together these cool little graphics to help illustrate how he stays warm while riding during the winter months.

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

Earning Turns

Art and words by Ambassador Gretchen Leggitt. Photos by Paris Gore.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s definition of the word “tour” is : a journey for businesspleasure, or education often involving a series of stops and ending at the starting point. I suppose this definition accurately breaks down the components of why I am addicted to bike tours and ski touring.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG Gretchen in the snowy Methow aboard her Kona Sutra

First, I can say the business of both is to challenge my physical and mental strength. Staying fit as I grow older, held down with work and obligations, becomes more of a task that I must strategically integrate into my lifestyle to maintain success. So why not ditch the car or chairlift and earn those turns!? The business of sitting in traffic jams and long lift lines is also not something that I care to engage in. 


Next, the pleasure of a tour is indeed hard to deny. I am of the belief that there is nothing more pleasurable than feeling my heart pounding while I torpedo down black, brown or white POW. On tours, adrenaline-endorsed hill bombs and terrifyingly steep couloirs and cliff drops are brilliantly complemented by the long and meditative journey to the objective. Allowing my mind to clear and focus on sounds of my own breath, the stroke of my pedals and the clicking of my splitboard bindings while I quietly travel through space gets replaced by the scream of rushing wind and the mental silence of pinpoint focus as I fly down mountains on my chosen toys. It is the journey that provides me these juxtaposed pleasures for the mind and body, both of which remind me how brilliant it is to be alive. 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Finally, the education of a tour is something to not glaze over. On bike tours, I am acutely oberving and engaging within the changing environments and ecosystems I pass through. My body feels nuances of the terrain and climate, while I simultaneously absorb the diverse sights, sounds and smells of a place, reviving golden senses that I so frequently sacrifice to technology and automation. Likewise, a ski tour encourages me to study terrain and climate in a scientific demeanor that is lost to the average lift rider. When we ski tour, we assess slope aspects, snow quality and climate trends. We scrutenize our surroundings as we punch through fresh snow and we listen for movement. Touring provides me opportunities to intimately engage within and learn from these magnificent environments in which I play. 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG


Above all, I find that I am most drawn to the element of simplicity that pairs both bike touring and ski touring. The ability to carry all that I need to eat, sleep, live and play on while moving through vast lands at moderate speed with a quantitively low expulsion of energy is just plain magnificent. My scrappy legs transform into powerful pistons that can take me to far more interesting places than a car or lift will ever be capable of. In turn, when weather windows open and ice clears from the roads, There is nothing more pleasurable than strapping my splitboard, hammock and Jetboil onto my Kona Sutra and venturing to the hills.

To see more of Gretchen’s art please visit Gretchenleggitt.com.

The White Dirt called Snow

Words by Kona Ambassador Markus Zieher.

Freeriding in an area which is normally not rideable but smoothed by tons of snow? It makes more sense with skis but let’s try it with the bike.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Together with photographer Christian Frumolt I travelled down south to check out a cool area in Graubuenden, Switzerland close to the Berninapass. Chris knew that place from a Photo trip he did a year ago. With the idea to ride some freeride lines I brought my Operator for this trip to the high alpine mountains.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

We were on our way to the zone after an early wake up alarm. As we stepped out of the car we got freshed up by a heavy wind. With the rising sun the wind calmed down a bit and we started to shoot. The warm days, the wind and the cold nights packed the snow well, which helped alot to make it possible to ride down on top of this deep snow.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

The hard surface was grippy but at the same time it was tricky not to catch some soft spots and get thrown over the handlebars. A few hours later the sun was high up and we called it for that morning session.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

After a short Coffee to warm up we drove to the next spot. There is this red train which winds its way through the mountains. It´s called the Bernina express. We wanted to get a shot together with the train. After we checked the timetable we had a time window for when the train would come.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

It was a mean waiting game with the heavy cold wind and the below-freezing temperatures. Chris and I were freezing cold and I wanted to quit… but Chris was sure that the train would come the next minute. And so it was. I rushed back and rode down. In the end the shot came together.

The next day we went skiing on that white stuff and enjoyed another facet of the winter.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Ray’s Women’s Weekend

Words and photos by Kona Ambassador Shae James.

Nothing says bike privilege like living in the PNW, and winter is the greatest example. We get really snowed out from riding for only about a month out of the year. The other couple of months of winter? It’s miserable, but not impossible. It can be wet, it can be cold, but nothing that could fully get in the way of cracking at least one smile during a ride. Because that’s all it takes to mark a ride worth it.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

That being said, have you ever had an epic pow day on your bike? Can you see it? Six inches of cold, fresh snow for you to shralp and slip and grip. A trail you’ve ridden before, becomes full of endless possibilities. The smooth, white finish on the trail lets you forget the obstacles lurking underneath. A confidence gets built up with every move, until a slide of your wheel reminds you just how ridiculous this is. Whose idea was this, anyway? You’re a genius.

The high of my snow day lasts a couple weeks. As I slowly come down from it, I try to maintain the boost with a temporary hit of ski days and sledding on our homemade trike sled. As the trails become unrideable, I start to think if only there was a place that was impervious to weather. A place you could ride all year long, unaffected, and progress in the bike world’s slowest months. Turns out, that place exists in Cleveland, Ohio. And thanks to Ray’s Women’s Weekend and Radical Roots MTB, I had an invite. So, I headed to Ray’s Indoor Mountain Bike Park.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

It’s hard to put Ray’s MTB into words, other than it’s really frickin cool. They somehow have encapsulated the skate rink vibe, the skate park vibe, and the mountain bike vibe into one cohesive package. It’s old school, but it’s new school. It’s sketchy, but it’s dialed.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Coming out of the woods, and into the woodwork, it took me some time to adjust. But once I got acclimated, I had so much fun riding this place. I learned more than I thought possible in one weekend event, about bikes, myself, and my riding. Part of this is credited to the actual park, but the other part is definitely because of Ray’s Women’s Weekend. I had the unique first timer experience of attending Ray’s W.W. as both a student, and an assistant coach. I was quickly adopted by the amazing coaches into their tight knit circle of hilarity and professionalism. These women are an inspiration. They are decorated athletes that really love teaching their discipline. I was amazed at how well organized the event was, and also how much there was to learn. I wish I had been able to attend more classes, but with a full work load of assisting, I was so grateful to have the opportunity to jump in on any classes at all. Covering all my bases, I took a jumping class, a foam pit class, a cornering lesson, and had a very humbling intro to BMX. By the end, I was impressed. This event is definitely geared towards learning, and it shows in the progression of its disciples.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Heading back to the upper left, life gets busy and the sun comes out. Unfortunately, the leftover snow is relentless. It lingers well past any form of welcome. Before you worry, I’ve got another trick up my sleeve. Eager to apply what I’ve learned to dirt, I head to a friend’s front yard. Known to many as The Bike Ranch, my friend Steve lets me cruise around his hard work. Between the comfort of a fire pit, and the effort of riding laps, the cold can’t catch you in here. Even though the remnants of snow is lurking just a few feet outside the invisible walls of the Ranch. As long as you keep riding, you’ll beat it. So, keep riding.

Bikes + Coffee + Winter = Magic

Words and imagery by Kona Ambassador, Trevor Browne.

Time is slipping away at too fast a rate these days. This seems to be especially true in the mornings. While hurrying to make breakfast, I’m usually juggling my time between having a shower, checking the latest Instagram post, getting annoyed by the barrage of unread messages already piling up in my inbox and kids screaming at me to take them to school. All while my coffee and oatmeal get cold. Sound familiar?

Maybe there is a way that can give us a little reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the morning schedule. It would be nice to just slow down, reclaim your life, enjoy the outdoors and maybe sneak in a little extra time on the morning bike commute to work. The solution is called #coffeeoutside and it’s nothing new. Many groups around this small world of ours have been meeting up on two wheels for a while now, to just slow down and brew up a good cup of joe. Imagine a quiet half hour where you can just meet with a friend or group of friends (hell, I’ve even done it solo) to make human and outdoor connections, and ease into enjoying a delicious cup of coffee. Think of #coffeeoutside as a way to fit some magic into your day. And yes, it is even possible to do this in the winter.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

First things first. Schedule a morning where you and or your friends can set aside half an hour, or more, to make #coffeeoutside happen. It’s best to keep this consistent so that you always have something to look forward to and eventually have it become a habit. Once you’ve scheduled a morning that works the next step is to find a location. This preferably has a nice place to sit, possibly covered and out of the wind, not near a major traffic zone, and, if its winter, make sure there is easy access so that you aren’t trudging through two feet of snow. Luckily for me, I live in Montreal near a small mountain called Mount Royal, where there is a plethora of hideaways and paths, but any park will do.

Once you’ve booked a time and place and you are dressed warmly it’s now time to focus on making the coffee! There is a smorgasbord of options for this, but it all comes down to 5 elements: coffee, water, heat, brew method, and your favourite camp mug. The tools can be as complex or as simple as you want. I use an MSR Pocket Rocket bikepacking stove along with a 750ml pot, a Nalgene bottle to hold the water, some local fresh ground coffee, an Aeropress and my favorite Miir camp mug. If it’s really cold I might even forego the stove and Nalgene and just brew my coffee at home, pour it into a thermos and it’s ready to go once I arrive at my secret hideaway. Again, this is my method. The fun part is learning to use your own kit and refining your technique. If you are in a group, it’s always fun to see and learn about the wide variety of methods that people use. Oh, and don’t forget the snacks. If you’re in a group try taking turns buying some local fresh baked goods. Try using #adozendonutsoutside as a new hashtag!

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

It’s all about slowing down, making connections and doing something that is fun and active even if it’s in the middle of winter. Get outside, ride your bike, help build community, and conjure up some #coffeeoutside magic.

Crosstraining in Telluride

Words by Kona Ambassador, Becky Gardner.

Telluride, Colorado is an old mining town tucked away in a box canyon within the beautiful San Juan Mountains. Hidden away from mainstream Colorado, it is the winter gem of the western slope. Telluride is a dream for any winter enthusiast with an amazing resort constantly recognized as one of the best places to ski in the country, epic backcountry runs, miles of Nordic recreation, and a community full of talented athletes. Although this quaint town is a skier’s paradise it does push you to be creative in order to train for a bike season. After many winters spent in this small ski town I have created a training program to help myself get ready for the up and coming bike season.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

The first part of my training plan is to transition from riding bikes into snowboarding. Luckily for me Telluride’s resort is full of steep terrain with plenty of hike-able areas to keep my legs strong all winter. When the snow is good I always hit the slopes. Tree runs are my favorite and I never seem to get bored of Telluride’s rugged runs. Once the snow settles and the storms die down a bit I typically switch gears into more touring and splitboarding than resort riding. This is my favorite outdoor recreation and reminds me so much of enduro racing because you can spend hours hiking up a hill for one epic run down. I love the feeling of earning your turns and touring at 10,000 plus feet can really get you in great shape quickly.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

The second part of my training is cross country skiing, more specifically skate skiing. When the resort is crowded and sunbaked, the backcountry is unstable and I’m looking for something outside to do, I turn to skate skiing. I live right across the street from some awesome nordic trails and we often take the dogs over for a ski. This style of skiing works out muscles you never knew you had and is a fun way to get in a good workout while soaking up the bright Colorado sun. Here in Telluride, we have multiple Nordic trail systems making it easy to sneak in a quick workout wherever your day takes you.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Next up on my training plan are gym workouts and spin classes. I am religious about these workouts and keep to a strict schedule. We are fortunate enough to have a twenty-four hour gym called FUEL and a spin class studio called Pedal Den. Spin classes are taught by local powerhouse ladies who can kick your butt no matter what class you jump in on. These classes are crucial for me to keep my riding legs under me since riding outside daily is impossible. In addition to spin I frequently train in the gym as well. I have had several bad injuries throughout my years of biking and playing college soccer, including breaking my back which has forced me to become as lean and strong as possible. My go-to exercises consist of kettlebells, plyometrics, stretching, and running.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG Photo by Ryan Wiegman

Lastly, I try and ride my bike whenever I can and am constantly on the lookout for dry trails to ride. Living on the western slope puts you a few hours from Grand Junction and Moab making it easy to get away to ride for a few days. I also make weekend trips to Salida, Colorado, where I live during Summer, to find rideable trails. This winter has been harder than most due to the amount of snow, which means little riding and a lot of winter sports.  As the snow dries up in the surrounding area I will find more and more trails to ride to get as much time in as possible before spring.

Caleb Smith | KONA COG Photo by Ryan Wiegman

Telluride and the surrounding area also put on fat bike races throughout winter, such as the Silverton Whiteout and the Lone Cone Challenge. This year was my first time competing in a fat bike race and I was stoked to win the Lone Cone Challenge, a 25 mile fat bike race through the backcountry of Norwood, Colorado.  Although training for bike season in a ski town can be difficult, with a little creativity and a lot of inspiration it’s more than possible to get ready for the upcoming season.

I have about a month left of the ski season before I head west to California to hang out with my brother, and fellow Kona Ambassador, to get some pre-season riding in and kick off the bike season with the Dirty Sanchez Enduro.

Wild and Free

Brooklyn Bell is a Kona Ambassador that is pushing the boundaries of comfort and expectations on a daily basis. Aside from cutting her teeth on a mountain bike as a Kona Supreme, Bell is also a widely-recognized artist, public speaker, and stellar athlete. In fact, she just competed in her first ever Freeride World Tour skiing qualifier contest in Lake Louise, Alberta.

Bell’s art is a direct reflection of her experiences in life and it’s one of the reasons her work is so vibrant and powerful—because she is also vibrant and powerful. For her “winter” ambassador assignment Bell created this gorgeous drawing, pulling from her experiences at Mt. Baker this season.

She had this to say about her piece.

“I made this piece of art during January. During that time I was mountain biking on wet and warm days and skiing on the dry days. This piece to me represents the special dynamic that happens between skiing and biking, sea level and being at 6,000ft. They somehow magically co-exist in this place. They are different in so many ways, yet so similar. Their landscapes seem to have contrast but also flow seamlessly into each other.”

You can see more of Bell in this month’s Patagonia catalogue in the mountain bike section. To view more of her incredible art work please visit her website.