2019TheLongestDays

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

Clara’s Longest Day

Words by Kona Ambassador Clara Cendoya Ibáñez. Photos by Fernando Calle Prieto

It is Summertime! I love the summer!! I’m a teacher and I look forward to the days at the end of the school year. It’shappiness when the days get hotter and longer but also the classes are shorter. We’ve got more energy and more time to enjoy and hang out until the end of the day.

For me, it’s like living a dream when it’s the end of the workday, being on my bike and the time I’ll have to ride it till the end of the day with my friends. I can also sense around me that the solstice is near and the bike parks are opening—probably the most expected thing of the year.

I’ll spend the whole summer enjoying several bike parks such as La Pinilla in Spain, Vallnord in Andorra, and my favorite, Serfaus – Fiss – Ladis, in Tirol, Austria. For me, it is paradise.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG Serfaus Fiss Ladis

It’s the disconnection of stress, the clock, the daily things, and all the routines.

Instead, it’s the connection with the mountain and the environment in magical places, and the most beautiful views that I can imagine, and enjoying those beautiful places.

What’s better than being able to visit so many places that are only reachable by bicycle? Thanks to the chair lifts and all of those really awesome downhills, single tracks, and trails all of this is possible on longest days.

Now, you are at 2400m high atop the mountain and within 20 minutes you’ll be at the bottom. You can travel to a different part of the mountain with another view and a different downhill but no less beauty. It’s just as good as the last one. And you can do this over and over.

I can’t and never will get tired of doing it.

It fuels me up, my energy, my happiness.

What’s a better ending than a firelight sunset in between the mountains, drinking, reminiscing about the ride on a warm never-ending summer day?

The longest days, the most magical days.

The Longest Day — The Finale of the #7Countries7Passes

Words and photos by Kona Ambassador Tim Wiggins.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

In 2017, on a quiet afternoon in early summer, I pulled out a map of Europe and marked on it the locations of friends and family across Europe. A route took shape: from Copenhagen—Denmark, to Andorra in the Pyrenees; via the Swiss Alps, Dolomites and Provence. Seven countries, and seven major mountain passes.

And so, it was with my Kona Rove packed with tent, supplies, and spares that I set off on the 3200 kilometre journey, in September 2017. The account that follows is from the longest day I have ever experience on a bike; the final ride to the finish line in Andorra. It is not the farthest I have ridden, or the ride with the most elevation gain; but this final day was a mental and physical amalgamation of the preceding fourteen days—it will never fade from my memory.

Dawn breaks on the vineyards of the Corbieres. The French commune Lagrasse lies silently beneath unusually dark and clouded skies.

Shorts and a jersey are pulled on overweary legs and shoulders. Over the past fourteen days riding across the European continent, this is a ritual that has been performed everywhere from mountaintop wild camps to the spare rooms of friends and kind strangers.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG


Today is the finale of the #7Countries7Passes tour. The final climb to the finish line. Like the days that have preceded it though, it will be no leisurely ride; plentiful challenges lie on the road ahead.

Coffee is drunk. Porridge is eaten. Bags are packed. Shoes pulled on and ratchets tightened. Clip-in for the final ride.

Today, for this final day, there is the novel luxury of having a friendly face and great photographer following in his iconic Land Rover: capturing the climax of the journey.

Within minutes of departing, the darkening skies give way. Rain pelts down onto dusty ground.

A quick stop—rain jacket pulled on.


Back on the road, and the climbing begins. With the Pyrenees approaching, the pedals begin to slow. 

Heaving 26 kilograms of bike weight over some of the biggest mountains in Europe has taken its toll on the legs. Panniers packed with tent, stove, kit, and supplies; they now feel like sea anchors keeping the ship from harbour. 

Moving home is never easy, they say.


The first foothills climb done, and the temperature is dropping. It is time for a patisserie pick-me-up.

Off the road, and into the patisserie and then the Bar Tabac: grab a pastry and an espresso. Fuel for the ride.

Leg warmers, overshoes, waterproof cap, and gloves are pulled out from panniers. 

Flandrian conditions demand all-weather protection.

Now into the Haute-Vallee de L’Aude. A puncture encourages an impromptu lunch stop, in a deserted picnic site; looking up at the mountains imminent on the horizon.

Arrival at the foot of the Col de Pailhères. The rain abates briefly; revealing a background of grey and green hairpins.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG


As the elevation reading climbs, the temperature falls further. There are few others on the mountainside today – a solitary road, up towards the clouds.

Before long that cloud is all-enveloping. Visibility falls to a matter of metres; as the wind, rain and fog arrive in abundance.

Summit. A quick memento shot next to the long-abandoned refugio. Then, the long descent to the valley floor below. The penultimate pass complete.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

After 19 kilometres clawing at brake levers with frozen frost-bitten fingers, a café is found in the Pyrenean town of Ax les Thermes.

It is 18:00 hours – dinner-time for most. The surrounding tables order salads and sandwiches; this order though is for ‘Rocket Fuel’ – (triple espresso in a Chocolat Chaud, with extra Chantilly); accompanied by a Speculoos waffle. Fuel for the final climb.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

With darkness closing in, a long delay in the warmth of the café is regrettably not sensible.

A dry base layer retrieved from the depths of a pannier, water wrung out of gloves. Then, head out once more into the Pyrenean mountains.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

The Port d’Envilara looms ahead. 39 kilometres of 8 percent gradient. 

The low sprocket is engaged on the cassette; a rhythm set. The final summit, of the seven great summits on this tour, will be another long and taxing climb.

Past the graffiti covered bridges and burnt out cars. Into the mist. 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG


Lights ablaze, and skies darkening.

Extra layers donned, as the temperature falls. 


Water beads on every surface, as the unrelenting wind finally dies, and the road heads into the darkening cloud. 

The arrival into Andorra marks the seventh country on the #7Countries7Passes tour. It has been a diverse and beautiful marathon.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

At 20:55, the final summit is reached. The beams on the photographer’s Land Rover illuminate the scene. 

The signpost, up in the clouds, marks the end of this 3,000 kilometre ride. 

From Denmark, through Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and France; over mountain passes, and past vineyards and forests.

This has been more than a bike ride. It has been an incredible adventure for bike, body, and mind.

Super (C)hill Campout

Words by Molly Sugar // Photos by Gritchelle Fallesgon and Rie Sawada 

We pushed our bikes through overgrown vertical single track from the lake to the only gravel road that bypassed the highway. It was only about a mile long but it was one of those hike-a-bikes where you stopped a couple of times so you didn’t fall face flat from the steepness. As each of us made it to the top, we clapped and gave each other high fives as if we just completed the Tour de France. It was supposed to be a ‘Super Chill Campout’ weekend but we joked that it was actually misspelled from ‘Super Hill Campout’.

That moment showed our crew’s true colors and set the tone for the weekend. Like any good campout we biked on winding gravel roads, shot slingshots at cans, ate snacks by the lakeside, roasted s’mores over the campfire and had a ‘no talent, talent show’. Sixteen of us came together to share our quirky selves and celebrate the longest day of the year in the only way we knew how. 

Huge thanks to Swift Industries’ #swiftcampout movement for inspiring this campout and celebration. The magic from these trips are what makes me wish every day was the longest day of the year. 

The Transcendent Boredom of Brandenburg Gravel

Words and photos by Ambassador Barry McWilliams.

“Drop your heels. Relaxed shoulders…Nice. Smooth circles. Good. Loosen the elbows…”

It’s a mantra running through my head as I roll down one, then another and still one more gravel road, Forstweg or stretch of pave, somewhere in the middle of Brandenburg (the German state surrounding Berlin). I’ve mapped out a route that, from the front door of my apartment in Neukölln (a neighbourhood in Berlin) and back, is 120k, 80k of which isn’t paved. Berlin isn’t Girona, the Alps or even Los Angeles. It’s not a cycling destination. Riding here can be boring. And that boredom is sometimes enchanting. 

I moved here nine months ago from Los Angeles, California. #LASucksForCycling. LA, where I could leave my house and within 5 miles climb 1,000’ on roads closed to cars, or do 100-mile loops with 10,000’ of climbing. Here, on a recent roundtrip to Poland, it took me 120 miles to find 1,200’ of climbing.   

There’s no getting around it. Berlin is flat. Pancake flat. Pfannekucken pflat. And riding flat roads is boring. Climbing and descending are what engage me on the bike. Not because I’m a good climber. I’m not. I’m reliably in the middle back of any group ride. It engages me because it’s so singularly-focused. When you’re climbing on a road bike, all you’re doing is riding uphill. Whether you’re going fast or slow, the climbing is there. The gradient bites your legs. You feel it in every pedal stroke. Even when you get distracted by the view or back off the pace just enough that you can talk to your friends, the climbing is always there as a constant focus. 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

That’s the riding I missed when I got to Berlin. I found lots of pretty roads through the countryside. I found great pavement (much better than in LA). I found an active cycling community. And I found that the riding all felt the same after a surprisingly short while. What’s there to do on a group ride when the road is flat, straight and featureless? Go fast. Get better at sitting in a paceline. Learn to enjoy riding in crosswinds – all thing lots of people enjoy, but not a single one of the bikes I brought to Berlin could conceivably be called “aero”. My stems aren’t all slammed. That’s not the kind of rider I am. So even though the roads are still new and the views still charming, the riding lost some of its luster pretty quickly. Until I found the Waldwege (“forest trails”). Brandenburg is littered with them and, unbelievably, they’re all mapped.

Dog walking trails next to the Autobahn are mapped, so are logging roads, abandoned train routes, overgrown hunters’ paths and kilometre after kilometre of Forstsraße, Rückeweg, Radweg and Holzweg. I’ve spent hours building routes on Komoot, tweaking them to see how little pavement I could ride and how far out of the city I could get in a few hours of riding. Inevitably there’s been some trial and error. Blame it on the map database, GPS drift or my poor Wahoo reading skills but I’ve not gone for a gravel ride this summer that didn’t involve hike-a-bike through the un-tracked forest – even as the map said I was right on track. But I guess if I’m not prepared to push my bike, I’m not prepared to ride gravel.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

And riding gravel has brought Brandenburg to life for me.

On an average ride, I’ll ride along Sees (lakes), through protected wildlife areas, small towns, and past tiny hiking shelters. In the middle of nowhere, I’ll come across a couple in their 60’s with a barbecue grill and full panniers strapped to their bikes, or a young couple with dogs. Slow down. Wave “Hallo”. Wish each other a “schönes Wochenende.” Soon enough, I’m all alone again on a long, straight gravel road…pedaling smoothly, loosely, regaining momentum and dropping into the kind of half-focus Brandenburg gravel asks for.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

“Drop your heels. Relaxed shoulders…Nice. Smooth circles. Good. Loosen the elbows…”

The straight, flat gravel roads here don’t require you to be laser-focused on your line. Eyes open for sandpits (there is a reason people call this region ‘Sandenburg’) and the occasional rut, but it’s not singletrack. It’s not about precision. It’s about staying loose. It’s floating over the chatter instead of fighting it. A death grip on the bars, locked elbows, and a half-cringe as you anticipate the next bump is a great way to crash. When I’m riding gravel well, it’s because I’ve found a cadence. I’m loose, pedaling smoothly and in a state that’s either unfocused attention or focused boredom brought on by the simple repetitiveness of bike riding. On a long ride, my first pedal stroke isn’t fundamentally different than my 500th. Or my 50,000th. “Drop your heels. Relaxed shoulders…Nice. Smooth circles. Good. Loosen the elbows…”

I’m paying only partial attention to my line. I’m breathing & staying loose. I’m in the middle of the woods, alone, hearing the crunch of gravel and watching the trees roll by. I’m rooted in the moment, kept in it through thousands of tiny repetitions. 

“Drop your heels. Relaxed shoulders…Nice. Smooth circles. Good. Loosen the elbows…”

Nothing is happening except for me riding my bike, which is a big reason why I ride my bike. 

Digging Retallack: The Longest Day

Words by Kona Ambassador Shae James, who is the first female ever invited to dig at Retallack Lodge during their annual building week with the Treelines Crew.

It’s always the last stretch of something that can feel like an eternity.

That last hour of work or the last bit of a long drive home. The more you look at the clock, the more it seems to have just stopped working altogether. Technically, the longest day of the year was weeks ago, but for me, it was the fourth, and final day of digging in Retallack BC. 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG DCIM100GOPROGOPR0683.JPG

Our crew had been crushing trail all week long. The days consisted of an exciting commute in a M1078 up a steep, and skinny logging road. Followed by a hike in, and 8 solid hours of digging. The combination of the Treelines Crew and the Retallack Dig Crew is made up of hard workers who keep each other moving. To be here, you have already passed the difficult test of proving you are worthy. So, the bar is kept as high as it was set. By the fourth day, everyone is feeling it. The fatigue is as heavy as the rain that rolls in. Swing. Pull. Swing. Pull. At this point, your pickaxe just feels like an extension of your arm. Dig. Pack. Dig. Pack. Your shovel becomes a welcomed relief from the repetition of the axe. Drag. Flick. Drag. Flick. You can finally switch to your less dominant side, and enjoy the instant satisfaction of creating order in the chaos with a rake. 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG DCIM100GOPROGOPR0649.JPG

We’ve covered so much ground. I can see the road just up in the distance. We’ve got to be getting close. I check my watch. It’s 11 am. Well, on the bright side, it’s only an hour until lunch. Keep digging.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG DCIM100GOPROGOPR0667.JPG

Keep digging.

Stop and wipe the tears of laughter. 

Keep digging.

Keep digging.

The sun comes out, and it’s lunchtime. We made it! The camaraderie really shines over sandwiches and canned beverages. My body is screaming, but I can’t stop laughing. The jokes, the dancing, the bad singing. The irony that this place is absolutely stunning, and we’ve all been staring at the ground for days. 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG DCIM100GOPROGOPR0642.JPG

With a second wind, we all go back to our posts and pick up our weapons. It’s 12:30 pm and the race is on. If 5 o’clock hits first, we’ll have failed our mission. If we get to the road first, glory is ours. We all seem to be on the same page of determination because no one says a word and grinds. Hours pass, but it’s only 1 pm.

The sky darkens. Experience has taught us to reach for our rain jackets again. As the last zipper goes up, the clouds open. But it’s thunder in the distance that catches our attention. The second clap tells us it’s headed our way. Lightning strikes the valley next to us. We drop our tools and hunker down. The sound of rain beating on our hoods intensifies the situation. I hold my breath and look nervously at the sky. The tops of the trees are like fingers reaching up, begging to be struck. Finally, time tells us that danger has skipped over us. My shovel looks different now. Like an old friend who betrayed my trust. I forgive it and move on.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG DCIM100GOPROGOPR0657.JPG

As we keep moving ahead, a river of brown trail is flowing behind us. The trees part and a corridor of greenery is all that is left. Just beyond that, is the gravel finish line we’ve been dreaming of. As the crew catches up to each other, one last push is the final nail in the week’s coffin. The stoke is immeasurable. The sense of accomplishment. But mostly, the pride. Not in ourselves, but in each other. Look what you did! That berm is amazing! That jump is rad! You crushed that benchwork! It wasn’t easy! You did it! High-five! Dance Party! Cheers! 

Celebration. Dinner. Speech! Speech! Laughter. Stories. It’s endless. The day is over, and I wouldn’t change a damn minute of it. It felt like the longest day of the year, but I wish it were longer.

The Longest Days: Escalante Bikerafting.

Words and photos by Kona Ambassador Colt Fetters.

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

Endless Summer Days At Highland Mountain Bike Park

Last week I took the 35-hour drive from Colorado to Northern Vermont to attend the coveted NEMBA fest. During my time there, I met up with Wilson; the fun-loving and talented Kona Demo Tour driver and his loyal fur companion, Fred.  After a fun weekend at the Kingdom Trails, we decided we were not ready to end the fun yet, and headed a few hours east to Highland Mountain Bike Park. Growing up on the east coast, I have spent many days ripping trails and watching this New Hampshire bike park grow into one of the best parks in the country. I was excited to show Wilson around, and we even convinced Kona CX Pro Becca Fahringer to come to take some DH laps with us.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG


We all met up in the morning amped on our new friendship and ready to make the most of this long summer day fitting in as much riding as possible. Luckily on this particular day, Highland offers lift access all day and then after hours pedal laps up the mountain until 8 pm making it perfect for our energetic crew.  


After our meet up we took to the trails with our posse of Process 153’s. We rode everything from smooth jump trails to rugged and rooty race trails. The Process 153 is by far my favorite enduro bike I have ever owned, and Highland Mountain was the perfect place to showcase all of its capabilities. However, our day wasn’t all just fun and games. We took advantage of the wide variety of terrain Highland has to offer by doing some suspension testing and tweaking. Wilson worked some magic on my bike and suspension, setting it up perfect for my upcoming race this weekend.
Before we knew it, the mountain was about to close, and the lift laps were coming to an end.  With a quick snack break and dog walk, the enduro phase of our day was about to begin. Highland’s “Wenesduro” has become the hot new hangout for all the locals.  It is the only night that the mountain allows uphill traffic and riders like to see who can do the most laps of the evening. We took it pretty causal but used every once of light we could squeeze out of the day. 


Beat from a day of park laps, filming, and pedaling, we all cruised up the road to a friend’s house.  After another full day of fun, we once again decided we still weren’t quite ready to say goodbye to our new pals Wilson and Fred. We decided to keep the partying going by headed up north the next day to check out some more ripping trails and make the most of these endless summer days. 

Solstice Brunch, Build, and Bike in the Mountains

Words by Ambassador Delia Massey. Photos by Kinsey Smith.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG Delia and the Darrington Fire lookout

Summertime in the pacific northwest means go time, all the time. You have to soak in every last second of sun and warmth while it lasts because the winters are dark and soul-crushing. The solstice is the best day to pack in as many activities as possible since we get about 16 hours of daylight up here in Seattle. This year I maximized my fun by heading out to the new trail system under construction in Darrington, WA to help build trails and (of course) do some epic shuttle laps to test them out.

I started my day with sun streaming into my tent at 5am, with the tip of Glacier Peak poking out to greet me above the North Cascades. I wanted to stay fueled, so I had an ambitious plan to make pancakes from scratch. This included a jar with dry ingredients, a jar with buttermilk and egg yolks, a jar with egg whites, and butter in a metal cup to melt over the stove. I had never tested the recipe, and while it claimed you could mix the wet and dry ingredients in one large Mason jar and shake to mix it, I found that I had a bit too much volume and ended up dumping the lumpy mess I had created into a plastic bowl. While my fiancé cooked up potatoes and bacon, I forged ahead with my pancake mission, hoping they would at least be edible. In the interest of time, I just made four massive pancakes that each filled the bottom of our 8-inch cast iron skillet. The first one looked terrible…but tasted great! The next three both looked and tasted amazing. Two hours after we started cooking, our bellies were finally full, and we were ready for some manual labor. Part 1 of the day, brunch, was a success!

We took a quick rip down the steep, raw, loamy, techy “Peak-to-Park” trail that runs from the builder’s campsite to the bottom segment of the trail, which had a few sections that needed some serious work before they would be fun to ride. With the help of a large crew of volunteers and the expertise of the Evergreen MTB professional builders, we dug down to the “good” mineral dirt, filled in holes with rocks, cleared roots and stumps, and built some flow to fix those awkward segments. I strongly believe that anyone who rides trails should get out and throw some dirt, even if it’s just one day a year. Once you see how much thought and effort goes into trail building, you’ll realize just how much work it takes to keep all of your favorite trail systems running and new ones coming. I love riding down a trail and knowing that I helped build that berm, or moved a rock to make that high line possible. It’s a very rewarding experience. Part 2 of the day, building, was a success!

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

My body was sore from digging, but it wasn’t going to stop me from testing out the goods. We got another lap on the top-to-bottom trail we had been working on, which is an absolute blast. It’s one of the longest runs I know of in Western Washington, and it will keep you on your toes, especially when those roots are greasy! Our crew headed up to the shuttle zone for some faster laps and got a run down one of the black diamond trails that had rock rolls and rowdy technical sections that made me incredibly thankful that I had my Process 153 29er to roll over anything the trail threw my way. We connected with a blue square flow trail and went screaming around berms and over jumps, with epic views of the jagged mountains around us. One more top-to-bottom lap and I was spent. Time to cook up some dinner, fall asleep under the Milky Way, and do it all over again. Part 3, biking, was a success!

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

If you live in the PNW and want to get out to Darrington to help build and ride, check out the Evergreen MTB website for upcoming trail days. There is a work party this weekend, go here to sign up: https://www.evergreenmtb.org/calendar/eventdetail/6159/darrington-north-mountain-camp-dig-shred

Thank the Mountain Bike Advocates for their Longest Days

Words by Ambassador Sandra Beaubien.

Before the long days of summer solstice come, every mountain bike organization has been busy putting in their longest days since the first scent of spring air.  Ironically, the evening we received this topic I was representing the Ottawa Mountain Bike Association at a Public Advisory Committee meeting with our largest landowner.  I thought to myself, yes, this was certainly a long day, adding on a 2-hour meeting onto a regular workday!

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG Sandra doing all of the behind the scenes work for the Ottowa Mountain Bike Association.

Many mountain bikers are out enjoying their local trails, many not really understanding just how many long days and how many people it takes to keep everything running seamlessly in the background.  There has been a solid shift in mountain bike access in many areas (Ottawa included!) and that has come from years of long days and a group of committed people.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG The OMBA board makes sure everything runs smoothly in their trail network.

It’s important to thank the Board of Directors and the other dedicated volunteers of your local mountain bike club.  It certainly doesn’t happen enough and what you see them doing, is only a scratch at the surface of what is getting done.  They liaise with landowners and land managers, organize group rides, organize trail days, create documents to help everything run smoothly, write reports for land managers, visit local shops, run demo days, set up training for ride leaders, ensure proper insurance is in place, review and sign contracts, notify land managers of any environmentally sensitive species, inspect trails, install trail signs, design t-shirts, run the website, file legal documents, fundraising, keep software running smoothly, track finances, and do media appearances.  Some of those sound pretty boring, eh?  That’s why it takes a unique team to step into the volunteer roles, so make sure you thank all them!

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

The other people quietly putting in the longest days are the land managers, and without them, we wouldn’t have nearly as much diversity in mountain bike access in Ottawa as we do.  The same can probably be said for any other local riding area – it is the land managers who are truly invested in developing the sport of mountain biking that produce the best trail networks. Before the season kicks off and the sun is shinning, they have transitioned the trails from winter use to summer use.  This takes a lot of trail inspections, planning, preparation, meetings, documenting and most of it is done when the trails are too wet to even ride.  Having volunteer trail crews helping the land manager with all of these jobs helps it all run more smoothly and can get the trails open sooner!

This season, as you are out enjoying your longest days on your mountain bike, if you see a land manager, board member or volunteer out on the trails, make sure you say THANK YOU for their longest days.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

What to Carry on The Longest Day

Hey! My Name is Graham

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG Graham and his Big Honzo CR DL

I’m so proud to call my self a Kona Ambassador! 

How on earth did I wangle that one? Well, it’s petty sweet really, I’m a mountain bike guide and coach from the Lake District UK. I also do lots of other bike related things and after one hell of a journey, it has enabled me to say that my job revolves solely around riding bikes and helping others ride too! 

At this time of year, my diary is packed full of varying trips, Bikeability and days out on the bike which is super exciting! 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

So I wanted to give you a little insight to what I carry while guiding a group in the lakes, the layout shows what I always carry in my rucksack before I have packed clothing, water, and food for the day. 

My rucksack is an Evoc Fr Trail 20L. I have used petty much every bag under the sun and found that this particular vessel is the best suited as it stays put on my back, that’s important when you’re slinging your bike down a mountain with enough tools to fill a small workshop and the kitchen sink inside it!

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Anyway, I thought I’d go through a few key bits that will stop you ruining a nice day out.

1. Spare hanger, Now this one is obviously for a Kona,  I do think everyone should carry one of these bad boys. What is it? It’s a tiny bit of aluminum that holds your rear mech (derailleur) to your frame, and legend says it’s designed to break under load and save your frame or mech from total destruction! Even the less mechanically minded could fit one of these in a situation where it breaks, it can save you one hell of a walk home. Ask my friend Stid! Years ago we were in Wales riding some of the trail centers and his rear mech had a fall out with the frame some 20k from the van, rendering him completely stuck and preparing himself for a long walk. However, by some incredible miracle, I had the exact mech hanger to fit his bike in my bag! We were back riding again in 5 minutes with high 5’s all around!

Wicked Awesome Cool Kona Fact. The G2 Process has a spare hanger hidden in the down tube… go find it! 

2.  Fibre spoke, Yeah, a string spoke… super light and packs up small, adjustable in length and can even stretch through multiple holes. 

My other friend Dan knows about this little guy. He had a falling rock smash 5 or 6 spokes out of his front wheel leaving it unrideable. Luckily for us, the fibre spoke was there to save our ride, pulling the wheel back enough so it passed through the fork and spin freely. We even did extra runs that day!

3.   Group Shelter, or a ‘Bothy’.  if you ever need this things have generally gone bad, but on that occasion, it can save someone’s life, 

It’s just what it says on the tin: a shelter for your group. Mine will comfortably sit 6 people and 8 at a squeeze. It’s a tent-shaped bit of fabric to protect you from the elements, or even carry this thru the summer months and it can be pretty exposed on those hills. Mine weighs 300g which is nothing compared to some of the tools I carry! 

As you can see from the layout (damn that was satisfying) I have so much stuff in my bag but it’s all there for a reason. Here’s my kit list for anyone still interested in reading!

Tubes x3 

Tubeless repair kit 

Normal puncture repair kit 

Pump

C02 inflator 

Shock pump 

Knipex pliers 

Knife 

Cable ties (various)

Multi tools

Gear cable

Fibre spoke 

Dropper post clamp

Hanger

Power links 9,10,11,12 

Brake pads 

Crank bolts 

Crank bolt tool 

Spd cleat bolts 

Various brake mount bolts 

Coach bolt (in case you break a pedal)

Tube of grease 

Bottle of lube 

First aid kit (too vast to photograph or even list)! 

Group shelter 

Back up food

Duck tape

Sniper tape

Dingy repair tape 

Scissors 

Super glue

Fold out saw 

Rear light

Compass

Map

Permanent marker 

Pencil

Waterproof paper

Sun cream 

Bug repellant 

Bike lock 

Money

Credit card 

On top of this ridiculous list of things, I pack clothing/water/food to suit the day and most importantly I always carry my phone!

 I ALWAYS carry this bag while I’m out Guiding.

Although I have got to admit if I’m not working, you will probably find me carrying as little as a water bottle and a Mars bar with whatever tool I can strap to my bike! 

Please feel free to fire me any questions on my social about any of the kit I carry and why IG handle @graham_beaumont