Barry Wicks

The Kona Adventure Team, aka The Prairie Dog Companions and the Kokopelli Trail

Photos by Patrick Means.

No, The Prairie Dog Companions and the Kokopelli Trail is not an indie band name, but it probably could be.

Rather, it is the latest installment of the Kona Adventure Team, connoisseurs of two-wheeled outings, and their recent trip to the rocky trails of Colorado and Utah. There, they competed in the 50-mile Grand Junction Off Road, followed by a two-day, 165-mile ride along the Kokopelli Trail all the way to Moab.

Aboard their Hei Hei DLs (and one aboard a carbon Honzo), they endured hot sun, spotted dinosaur tracks, and fueled up on hot dogs. Read the full account as published on the front page of Pinkbike.

Long and rugged climbs through sandstone and desert sage give way to eventual singletrack and alpine shredding.

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.

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Then you find a strong Canadian to drag you those final miles into the arms of a waiting burrito, cold beer and camaraderie.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Kona Endurance Team Racer Barry Wicks and the Party-to-Race-Ratio at Grinduro

Words by Barry Wicks, photos courtesy of Colin Meagher and Dain Zaffke.

Only in its second year on the docket, the Grinduro event has generated heaps of hype. And for good reason. A throw-back type of event that captures the stoke and excitement of the mid-’90s MTB scene, updated with all the current hashtag worthy disciplines of enduro and gravel racing, Grinduro still manages to not take itself too seriously and deliver in spades.

dz1_2097-3Dain Zaffke

After stressing out for the past year on bike/bar/tire/whatpressureyourunning? decisions, I went for broke and slapped a flat bar and modified 1x MTB drivetrain on my Jake frame, stuffed as big of rubber as I could in it and headed for the hills.

Grinduro 2016Colin Meagher

As the defending champion, I felt compelled to put in a good showing, but at the same time to remain true to the spirit of the event and its Party-to-Race-Ratio creed. Since the consensus around camp was that I failed on the party front last year, I doubled down and brought my hip hop dancing phenom and life partner Sarah “Dr. J” Robinson along this year for good measure.

Our Sprinter van clattered into the Plumas County fairgrounds late Friday afternoon, and after slapping various high fives and tolerating many podium-related heckles, I tossed a tall boy in my bottle cage and headed out for a dusk lap of the first and last stages on the course with my friend Carl Decker.

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Race morning was cold as balls. I decided to wear a long sleeve skinsuit, partly in an ironic tribute to my CX roots and partially because I feel like a super hero in one. It was the right choice. As the group climbed the steep pitches of Mt. Hough towards the first hill climb stage, informal pacts were made amongst the riders, and tactics were sorted out.

My plan was to ride with three close friends who also happen to be total badasses, and hope our collective efforts would separate us from the rest of the pack. We figured the hill climb and final singletrack stage would more than separate our small band of compatriots, and that we had more to gain than lose by working together in the middle two stages.

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Everything cruised along swimmingly, and stage two ended up being the most fun of the day. Blasting down a gravel road descent in full attack mode with three of your good friends is arguably how mountain biking started in the first place, and for good reason. Attacking out of each gravel corner, trying to out-brake your opponents and come inside them while not flying off the road and/or crashing, and laughing the whole way down was a recipe for success. Our time on stage two was the fastest of the day, and with an inconsequential stage three pace line with 30 other people, things where looking up and we ground up the final hour long suffer fest to the top of the final stage.

Grinduro 2016Colin Meagher

The fourth and final stage of Grinduro is a 12-minute singletrack shredathon, perfect crafted for getting very rowdy on a cyclocross bike. I anticipated having a slight advantage with my flat bars and big rubber, but Carl had one upped me and choose to ride a rigid 29” MTB with even bigger tires. I sent it down the track with everything I had, but I would end up coming up a few seconds short.

Grinduro 2016Colin Meagher

With the time gained on the first stage, Geoff Kabush was able to nab second place, eeking four seconds out of Carl in third, while I sat another twelve seconds behind that in fourth. We all got made a fool of by Duncan Riffle though, who crushed the course and put a solid 30 seconds into us, riding the final stage faster than anyone else all day, all on a CX bike with narrow rubber. Very impressive.

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Determined to rally for the dance party and music show that evening, I hopped in the shower, ate a ton of food, and promptly fell asleep. When my eyes finally flickered open the sun was setting, and the party was just getting started. I headed out with Dr. J to tear up the dance floor into the wee hours of the morning. Even though I didn’t win the event like last year, I’m pretty sure my #partytoraceratio was on point and I had an awesome time. I can’t wait for when we get to do it all over again. I wonder what bike setup I will come up with for next year?

Into the Valley of Skulls – The Kona Endurance Team and The 2015 Whiskey Off Road

image1“Ah-ka-ma-nah” – valley of skulls – is the name the Yavapai (Apache) Native Americans have used for the past century or more to refer to the small river valley twelve miles west of Prescott, Arizona. Long ago, an enduring drought precipitated a battle for resources and retribution between members of the Yavapai and Pima tribes.  Centuries later, the small town of Skull Valley is the half-way point of a much more friendly battle amongst competitors of the Whiskey Off Road, a long distance mountain bike race. (more…)

Transylvania Epic, Day One – Wicks and Sneddon 3rd and 4th

Kris pretending to be Demo Dave. He tried to rip his sleeves off, but ending up tearing his whole shirt off instead.

Day one of the TSE is in the books. Today we had a late start allowing for a relaxed morning and check in. The course today was an 11.11 mile loop of pretty much every possible type of terrain. After the dust mud and sand settled Jeremiah Bishop had open up a can of ass kicking on all of us, but Kris and I were able to continue our inseparable ways and finished 3rd and 4th on the stage, 11 seconds apart, with in half a minute of second place. Tomorrow is the longest stage of a big week of riding. Hopefully we can continue to ride together, but this time ahead of everyone else. Time now to put the legs up, eat some plate sized steaks and dream of sweet single track.
Over and out.
Wicknasty

KONA Sponsors

Orange Crush podiums on both sides of the pond

First. On the Americas side…

It was once again a battle of KONA versus Cannondale/CyclocrossWorld.com as Trebon and teammate Barry Wicks took a first lap lead only to be chased down by the tenacious trio of New England racers Tim Johnson, Jamey Driscoll and Jeremy Powers. After a barrage of attacks, the lead group boiled down to Trebon, Johnson, Driscoll and Anthony.

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BC Bike Race Day 3

Before the third stage of BC Bike Race was even underway today, event organizers were dealt a potentially show-stopping challenge this morning on course: sabotage. The course had been completely flagged for the third day and racers were lined up in the start chute ready to ride when the word came in over event radios.

Without hesitation, course director Jeremy Grasby jumped on one of the safety team dirt bikes and blasted onto the course to replace the critical missing flags while riders fidgeted on their bikes in the start chute. Sabotage is not uncommon during races like this; community members opposed to using the land for mountain biking make their point by removing flagging, placing obstacles on the trail and more. Beyond being a huge inconvenience for race organizers, such interference can be downright dangerous for riders. Incredibly, less than 8 minutes later, the flagging was fixed, the start gun fired and racers were off, spinning through the Village of Cumberland streets enroute to the trailhead.

The slight morning delay did not slow down the action on course. This was another lengthy day of almost all singletrack and riders appeared to really enjoy flowing with the trails, many of which were purpose built by local mountain bike enthusiasts or this segment of the BC Bike Race. Local course designers also conduct trail maintenance and preservation in an attempt to keep the trails active and open for riders. Again it was a battle royal for the top spots on day 3.

A fierce battle, indeed. Today, Team Jamis/Santa Cruz, Seamus McGrath and Chris Sheppard, blasted through the trails in a blistering 2:51:53, with rivals Team Kona, Kris Sneddon and Barry Wicks literally on their heels at one second later. McGrath and Sheppard retain the coveted leader’s jersey for the GC but will have to work hard to keep it, with Team Kona only 73 seconds behind overall.

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A Brief Moment in Time on Saturday Afternoon in the Santa Cruz Mountains

WickNasty_dist3…And then the road continues going on more to the right than you first anticipated and/or thought was really possible and you bump across those raised plastic dot-like things in the middle of the road that remind you, “hey idiot this is the middle of the road” and you think “yes, yes it is” but are unable to keep it (your bike) on your side of the road as small ribbons of blue black smoke begin emanating from the decreasing angle between the pavement and your tires and you start scanning for escape options and only three very viable ones present themselves and none of these are really all that great. To the left of you, (or more correctly straight ahead of you, but more or less to the left of your body due to the angle at which you are traversing the road way via sliding bicycle) is a steep embankment covered in yard debris (cheap hauling indeed!) and bottoming out in a rocky creek bed. Less to the left of that is a six foot wide redwood tree spanning the distance from embankment to road surface and even more less to the left and rapidly becoming proximal to you in the roadway, (which is definitely not the side of the road you desire and/or intended to be on) is a Honda minivan driven by a mother of five whose children (aged 3 to 12) are in repose in the back two rows (of the minivan) having succumbed to the massive amounts of sugar they ingested while terrorizing the local Costco free sample providers while mom was loading up on industrial size tubs of milk and mayonnaise. As such and being distract concurrently by the 7 year old who is no longer manufacturing Z’s and instead is requiring a slice of chewing gum, she does not see your sliding manic mass until just about too late, but she luckily also has equipped the minivan with the optional breakaway mirror package to assist in narrow gauge parking and then this is fortunate for your right forearm as it makes a sickening smack and retracts it (the rear view mirror, passenger side) a bit more forcefully than is S.O.P for the mirror but still gets the job done with minimal damage (to the mirror or your arm) and concurrently microscopic redwood bark slivers enter your left forearm in the same instant but you don’t really realize it (being distracted by the impact on the other arm and/or near death experience of threading the needle between outsized human conveyance and tree) until a week later when you notice small festering bumps on that lightly abraded forearm but that still is a small price to pay for the near miss and then you ride away thinking…