bikepacking

Good Living and Good Times in Arizona with the Kona Adventure Team

The Kona Adventure Team has recently published a big photo story from their trip to Arizona for the first of the Epic Rides Triple Crown – the Whiskey 50 – and a multi-day bikepacking adventure on the Prescott Circle Trail. The Adventure Team is predicated on the idea that traveling to races provides the opportunity to slow things down and see another side of the places that host events. So far, it seems to be working!

“We travel for more than just racing nowadays. We travel for mountain biking and seeing the world and bringing our friends along for the ride. For some of us this is a vacation from work, for others, it’s an evolution away from the height of our competitive careers, and for a couple, it’s a route towards the next peak. For all of us, it’s good living and good times.”

Check out a few more photos from Patrick Means below, and the full photo story on Pinkbike.

 

Kerry and Emily’s Blue Ridge Bikepacking Adventure: Beta

Words and photos by Kerry Werner.

It all started during cross season. We were staying at a host house in Sun Prairie, WI, getting ready for the Waterloo CX race, when our hosts started telling us about how they ride tandem. For some reason it clicked. I immediately thought of Emily and myself doing some sort of tandem adventure.

We had talked about doing some thing really cool this summer because in the fall she will start an internship, which will keep her chained to Winston-Salem. She will have little time for extended adventures – the likes of which a standard 4 year college degree and two years of grad school allowed, the latter less often of course.

Then I thought of a conversation I had last summer with a good friend, the Lees McRae Collegiate Cycling Coach. We pondered how cool it would be to do a fully supported Blue Ridge Parkway through-ride, by raising some money for a charity of our choice. This would allow us to simply ride with two bottles and a phone to take pictures then meet the support vehicle at the end of the day, have a good meal, sleep in a bed, and wake up to do it all again the next day.

So with these two thoughts aligned my brain instantly computed that Emily and I should do a Parkway through-ride, bikepacking on a tandem. I dropped the whole support aspect of the original plan because it would be more fun to camp and make an adventure out of it. I like to get out of my comfort zone, it helps me grow and realize I am human. Plus, I was watching my friend Russell Finsterwald’s Instagram, and what not, all fall. This must have lead to an immense amount of pent up jealousy, which erupted into this idea.

From there the plan changed slightly, only in the approach. Instead of a tandem Emily would use panniers and I would pull a B.O.B. Yak trailer, behind my Major Jake of course.

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It was Emily’s spring break, instead of Punta Cana or Cancun, we decided an abbreviated bike packing trip (3 days, 2 nights) from Winston-Salem to Stone Mountain State Park. Stone Mountain State Park, along the Parkway, to Boone, NC, Boone back to Winston-Salem, with a mandatory bakery stop (and later an emergency donut stop).

We strapped on our cold weather gear, loaded up the rigs and headed out into the burliest head wind… and that is how it was for the next 5 hours.

Tall shadows confirming our late arrival at the end of Day 1, which was not a pleasant way to start this journey. It ground our average pace down to 12.8 MPH, which wasn’t planned when we started late at 12 noon.

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It was an expected low of 15ºF that night and the temp was dropping fast when we rolled in. We got out of the saddles and straight into the tent, inhaled some freeze dried food and cookies, then lights out.

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We woke…

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Breakfast…

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Packed and hit the road!

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The night was nice, our gear kept us warm, the sun was out, and we were feeling revived, refreshed, reinvigorated.

Got on the Parkway in the first 5 miles and didn’t have to get off it for the next 60.

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These were the reason the Parkway was added into this equation. Vistas to the right and left for 60 miles.

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The BRP holds a special place in my heart because I trained on it for 6 years while I was in Banner Elk, NC going to college. This is why…

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I can remember doing efforts on climbs and finishing at the top, completely blown, I crane my neck and my eyes focus on layers of pastel blues darkening and deepening as the miles stretch on.

It was just as I remember it.

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We called a friend in Boone because why struggle when awesome people want to help? We were welcomed into a warm kitchen, straight to a bubbling pot of chili, and as much hot tea as we could manage. After warm showers and a great meal it wasn’t long before lights out. Besides, tomorrow was going to be a big day.

Pancakes for breakfast, lots of them, or rather one giant one that would fill your plate like a mini pizza but was half an inch thick and absorbing all the syrup you could throw at it.

Out the door, but first to Hatchet Coffee for a little pick me up and a pastry from Stickboy Bread Co.

Now for real, Boone to Winston, 100 miles! The previous two days were 65 miles. We were a little nervous because the all day head wind and the 60 miles of Parkway forced our average speeds down – below 12 the second day. If we didn’t have a tail wind or wouldn’t have started the ride by dropping Elk Creek Road – a big paved, snaking decent, which intermittently pops on and off gravel as it serpentines next to a gently rolling creek – we wouldn’t have made it before dark.

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Luckily, the bike gods were on our side because by the end of the day we averaged 16.1 MPH. This was after an emergency donut stop just outside of Wilkesboro, NC. As well as a stop at the Amish Bakery in Windsor, NC before the last push home.

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It was a long three days and the temps were certainly unfavorable, thus adding to our post ride exhaustion.

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In hindsight it is comforting to know that we managed to do the trip in the harsh, cold temps that we experienced because this was all just practice for the big hoorah! The real Blue Ridge Parkway through-ride is planned for early June, after the Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike stage race. We plan to use fitness gained from that 5 day MTB stage race to get through the Parkway through-ride.

This mini 3-day trip was crucial to first see if bikepacking is something that we both could enjoy as well as dial in our gear and weed out unnecessary pieces of equipment. I am more excited for the through-ride now than before our adventure. The warmer temps will make the whole ride more tolerable and give us longer days; we started before the time change. Thus, we will have more time to follow the brown signs of the park services to waterfall off chutes, swimming holes, and welcome centers that will be open in the summer, which were not at the beginning of March. All in all Emily and I are both excited for the big trip, though I doubt you will see us towing the B.O.B. trailer across America or down the Continental Divide anytime soon. Baby steps.

Winter Bikepacking with the Kona Sutra LTD and Unit

Words and photos by Morgan Taylor.

This past weekend being a long weekend here in BC, myself and some friends decided it would be a good idea to head out for our first overnight of the year. With overnight temperatures near freezing it was sure to be a cold wake up call, but the weather forecast was for sunny days, and we headed out with good spirits to meander the Sunshine Coast and hang out with good people.

I’ve recently put together a Sutra LTD, which happens to be the perfect size for my sweet polka dot Porcelain Rocket frame bag. Add the matching seat pack, a front rack with Monkey Wrench Cycles basket bag, my trusty Ortlieb panniers, and a set of full fenders, and the Sutra is quite the all-weather hauler!

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My friend Pat was stoked to get out for the first fully loaded trip on his new bike, which happens to be the only European-model Unit on this side of the Atlantic. He’s outfitting the powder blue Unit for an extended trip on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route this summer, with an 11-speed drivetrain on the way and a dialed bikepacking setup coming together piece by piece.

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To see the rest of the portraits from this set, head over to The Radavist.

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Kona Wozo in Ireland: A Microadventure

Microadventure: an adventure close to home; cheap, simple, short, and yet very effective.

A Local Microadventure
Bikes, beer and a break from life.
Words by William O’Connor, photos by Michal Dzikowski

This story begins at my house, in a small village in the west of Ireland where bank holiday weekend biking plans are being made. My usual plan involves packing a van, a motorway dash, service station food and a late night drive home. Our rule of thumb states that the time spent on the bike should be at least twice as along as the journey. So a two hour drive should equate to a four hour bike ride. A big day out on the bike might involve hitting the road the night before to conform to this rule.

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Lately, however, I’m on a newfound quest to make my biking life more adventurous by taking inspiration from the British explorer Alastair Humphreys and his idea of a microadventure. A microadventure, in Humphreys’ world, is an adventure that is short, simple, local, and cheap. By this reckoning, my usual weekend biking routine fails to measure up. It lacks adventure. It isn’t local. And it seldom works out cheap.

So working from this premise I started with three basic principles. Firstly there should be no cars involved. Secondly there needs to be camping involved. Thirdly, and possibly most importantly, the mountain biking has to be worth the effort.

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This quest for adventure had been sparked a couple of years ago by my purchase of my first fat bike, a Kona Wo. Living in the west of Ireland official bike trails are very limited yet the Atlantic coastline – more recently christened The Wild Atlantic Way – is a landscape calling out to be explored. My fat bike opened up trails and areas previously ignored because of the type of bike I normally rode. No matter where you end up the fat bike will allow you to have fun and link sections of interest together.

I had just taken delivery of my new fat bike… a Kona Wozo. This is a fat bike with trail ambitions, an evolution of the Kona Wo that started me on this journey and a bike that just might be a match for my now-neglected full suspension bike on more challenging terrain. This adventure had to involve some good trails to have a blast on and see how a fat bike would ride the more technical and fast trails.

A plan started to unfold.

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Deciding that this trip deserved company, I pitched the idea to Garry, my biking buddy and local bike shop owner who had input to the design of the Kona Wozo. I plotted a route, linking various roads and bits of trail I had ridden over the years.

So the day came and myself and Garry headed off out my driveway to embark on this bikepacking microadventure. Bikes were loaded with gear and we were giddy with the thought of the 24 hours ahead.

On the road, we quickly settled into the natural rhythm of pedaling and banter. Ten minutes out from the house and the frantic life at home was quickly slipping away. As we came through Kilchreest, a small one-pub village (that’s how we measure the size of a village in Ireland) we passed the window of a small rural shop. I had passed this little shop numerous times in the van on the way to a local gravel grind and had always wanted to call in.

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The shopkeeper and a local farmer were inside chatting. It was a small room with basic wooden shelves stocked with everything from blue rope to beef nuts to porter cake and bread. A definite slice of nostalgia. A bit of chat and the inevitable checking of family lineage until ‘sure I knew your father well’ said the farmer, declaring his sadness when I mentioned my father’s passing two years previous and his sincere apologies that he hadn’t heard sooner.

On a bike the pace of life changes and stopping at a small shop and taking time to talk to local people, though strangers, seems perfectly normal. A simple pleasure that now passes us by in the blur of a car window.

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The route sees us cross the Slieve Aughtys, an upland in the south of Galway County. It’s an area off the beaten path and sees few tourists or visitors. The route is a mix of small country roads, gravel trails and singletrack.

We were aiming for the small lakeside village of Mountshannon (this one a three-pub village making it a ‘good size’ of a place). We needed to start covering ground and put a push on. Little gems of trail are unearthed along the way by way of small sections of sweet forest trail or classic gravel descents. It’s a magical time, a landscape of golden yellows, burnt oranges and amber browns. There is nothing subtle about this landscape. It’s a feast for the eyes.

Arriving in Mountshannon I thought it would be rude not to reward ourselves with a quick pint. This is where things quickly deviated from the plan. It was small country pub. No TV, open turf fire and one of the aforementioned little grocery shops attached. Seven locals sitting at the bar. The sight of two fully loaded fat bikes being wheeled into the pub immediately spun the locals around on their bar stools.

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Garry was assured the bikes were fine in the pub and would be watched as we had our dinner across the road. Upon our return to the pub Garry was in shock. The bikes were gone. In their place were two old high nelly bikes fully loaded with our gear. The bar erupted in laughter. The locals had switched them and had been awaiting our return.

The next few hours were spent chatting, explaining the weird bikes and laughing with an incredibly welcoming and open group of people. A few more pints, and a whiskey or two and it was time to go get some sleep.

A little fire and a huge starry night sent us off to bed. The pints always help with sleeping and I was almost instantly asleep. However as I have discovered previously I was almost as quickly in need of the toilet.

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The morning came. I was feeling sore from the previous day’s ride and fuzzy headed from the socializing but it was a fine dry morning so stoves were lit and coffee was quickly brewed. That was about all that happened quickly but eventually we hit the road.

We spent the morning grinding out the distance on tarmac to get to the trails but these quiet country roads are a pleasure to ride. There is always something over a wall or around a bend to catch the eye and not much by way of traffic to intrude.

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We stashed away the bags and dropped our seats. The trails here are steep and fast and just what I was looking for to test the new bike. The Wozo really is a trail bike and the big wheels give the confidence needed to stay off the brakes. You know (or hope) they will eventually grab something and keep you pinned to the ground.

Between trail sections, Garry explained the details of the bike that he helped design with Kona that give it trail credentials. Super short chainstays, long reach, aggressive geometry. Stuff I always read about in magazines but never really pay attention to.

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We had a great day riding super trails which are a real credit to the local trail builders. The day finished as we sat on a bench high up on the hill overlooking Lough Derg and the hills we crossed to get here.

We managed to leave from the front door of my house on bikes and have two days of adventure, with the feeling of so much more accomplished than if we’d sat back and done our usual motorway trip. The idea of a microadventure, something small yet achievable by anybody, changes the way you can approach your regular spins. Adventure biking doesn’t have to be far away in some exotic corner of the world. It can be found just outside your front door.

Keep up with Garry and William at Disruptive Adventure.

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For their microadventure, Garry and William rode our Wozo fat bike. For all the details on the Wozo and our original fat bike, the Wo, head to konaworld.com.

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Bikepacking.com’s Long Term Review of the Big Honzo: “Outstandingly comfortable and capable.”

Skyler des Roches over at Bikepacking.com has been riding our Big Honzo for several months now, getting into development projects such as Porcelain Rocket’s Albert seat pack for dropper posts and taking the bike on a number of backcountry bikepacking trips.

This week he published his long term review of the Big Honzo. Skyler went in-depth on the geometry of the Big Honzo, praising its capabilities as a 27.5+ mountain bike first, noting its plus-tire-specific geometry, and concluding that these traits lend themselves well to his style of unsupported, off-road bike travel.

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“The Big Honzo and Big Honzo DL are throwbacks to the go-anywhere recreational bikes from the dawn of mountain biking. It’s a bike with no racing niche. This being 2016, you need just a mountain bike with smart, progressive geometry that will make the most of your abilities and let you ride.”

“Kona has done well at the balancing act between making a bike that people will love, and hitting a price point. Besides, the Big Honzo’s precise and intuitive handling, and its powerful riding position, make it far greater than the sum of its parts.”

Scroll down for a few more photos below, and head over to Bikepacking.com for a whole pile of great photos and words.

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Kona’s “Not Far From Home” Featured on Bikepacking.com’s 2016 Bikepacking Awards

We only released Not Far From Home earlier this week, yet it’s been making waves with its excellent cinematography and editing all wrapped into a relatable story that makes you want to explore your own back yard.

We’re honored to be featured alongside some great films in the Cinematography category of Bikepacking.com’s 2016 Bikepacking Awards. Head over to Bikepacking.com to see the list.

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Bikepacking.com and the First Dropper Post-Compatible Seat Pack – On a Kona!

We love seeing what people get up to with their Kona bikes – especially when they’re doing things that have never been done before. A while back we sent Skyler Des Roches of Bikepacking.com our Big Honzo DL for review. Skyler is a well-known pioneer in the bikepacking world, seeking out uncharted overland routes and putting his equipment to the test in tough, real world circumstances.

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Skyler is currently riding the Big Honzo DL on the North Shore attempting to shake the production Albert into submission.

Skyler works closely with the folks at Porcelain Rocket, makers of high quality bikepacking gear in Calgary, AB. As one of Porcelain Rocket’s beta testers, Skyler takes prototype product out into the unknown and rides it until it falls apart – sometimes catastrophically. With the Big Honzo, Skyler has the perfect platform to test Porcelain Rocket’s new dropper post-compatible seat pack, named Albert.

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Innovation through iteration.

Over at Bikepacking.com, Skyler has written up his experience with the R&D process of the Albert seat pack in great detail. It’s an interesting read, and a window into the dedication that innovators like Porcelain Rocket have to improving or enhancing our experience of bike travel. We’re so happy to have Skyler on the Big Honzo, and look forward to reading his long term review of the bike.

Check out a few more photos below, and head over to Bikepacking.com to read the Albert’s development story.

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The Albert employs a removable dry bag.

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Skyler testing on the Colorado Trail earlier this fall.

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The Big Honzo DL, all packed up and ready to shred!