Enduro

Local Pride and a Star-Studded Soirée, Spencer Reports from a Top-10 at Trans Cascadia

Trans-Cascadia is a blind-format, backcountry enduro race held in the wilder corners of the Pacific Northwest’s Cascade Mountain Range. Previously held in Oregon, the fourth-edition of the event made its way north to the deep corners of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in south-central Washington State. This year’s edition included a heavy-hitting cast of gravity heroes, including international stars Greg Minaar, Steve Peat, Loris Vergier and more. Factory rider Spencer Paxson was on site to represent not only for Kona, but for his local heritage, having grown up just over the hill from where the race took place. For Spencer, Trans Cascadia was a full-spectrum experience of modern mountain biking, from exploration to advocacy to participation. From helping vet the quality of the routes to volunteering in pre-race work parties to finally racing the event, Spencer shares with us his special account from this piece of MTB goodness. 

I credit the terrain around Trout Lake, WA and the greater Gifford Pinchot National Forest for inspiring my deep connection with sport and the outdoors. When I was informed that Trans Cascadia would be venturing to this area for 2018, I leapt at the opportunity to help out. From writing letters of support to the local USFS districts to participating in trail work days, my connection to the region gave me the sense that I owed a concerted effort to support the Trans Cascadia crew and their terrific event. My family’s history goes deep with these forests, including four generations of a family-owned timber and sawmill business and many years of my grandfather and father flying surveillance patrols for the US Forest Service. Not to mention my own experience growing up in these hills. Now, as the economic landscape continues to evolve, it is inspiring to think of mountain biking becoming a more important part of the recreational activities in the area. What better way than to usher it in with revamped trail systems and a world-class event!

I never dreamed I would share these trails alongside 100 other like-minded mountain bikers, let alone legends of the sport whom I’ve looked up to throughout my cycling career. To be clear, this was the zone where I would often go to be solo, or perhaps accompanied by a stalwart family member or friend. I even performed my marriage proposal on one of these trails! This was the zone where I fostered my “benign masochism” on long rides and bushed-out loops with heinous amounts of vertical ascent and frequent hike-a-bikes. But the reward of alpine vistas and remote singletrack was always worth the effort. Fast-forward a decade-and-change later and there I was sharing the same routes with a dozen good friends, trading high fives and trail snacks with the likes of Steve Peat and Greg Minaar, and being able to reassure others with local knowledge of: “don’t worry, it’s almost the top”.

Speaking of more meet-and-greet, the video above captures perhaps the best “nice to meet you” moment I’ve ever experienced. If you follow the big mountain ski world, you’ll get a kick out of it. If not, the running commentary is entertainment enough.

For all the fun that was had, the week was not without a healthy reminder of the fragility of pleasure and the sheer remoteness of the place we were riding. On Day 1, a long time fellow pro racer and friend dropped in ahead of me on Stage 2 and ended up losing control and impacting a tree. I had given enough of a gap on the high-speed stage that I didn’t notice that he had sailed off into the woods until after waiting at the bottom when he was nowhere to be found. After a few riders passed without seeing him, I notified the stage timers and medic and ran back up the trail. Sure enough, my friend was a few minutes run up the hill and laid out on a gentle slope below the trail. The thought that I had ridden past him without seeing gave me a pit in my stomach. A medic and I arrived on scene at nearly the same time and began to administer care (I have my WFR precisely because of these backcountry activities…it’s not much, but it’s far better than nothing). As difficult as it was to see a friend in so much distress, and as scary as the uncertainty of injuries was in the first hour, it was amazing to witness the clockwork of the Trans Cascadia medical crew and staff as they switched-on to expert care for my friend while keeping the rest of the event running smoothly and out of the fray. I can’t speak highly enough of the medical crew and organizers for rallying the way they did to ensure safety and care. After three tough hours, my friend was able to get up and move out on the back of a motorcycle. As for me, I coasted out the last two stages of the day, race brain totally fried.

Mike Thomas

Thanks to Day 1’s strong reminder of two-wheeled hubris, I had the mind to savor and respect Days 2-4. We were still deep in the woods, and any serious incident meant a long wait and (likely) helicopter ride at best. That said, topic for a future piece is the phenomenon of continued risk-taking in the wake of incident. There are so many angles to open up on that topic that I’ll save it for later, but suffice it to say, I didn’t feel like I slowed down despite the experience of my friend’s crash. And I wouldn’t have gone any faster, either. F#@(%…it felt fast!! And on average I was still 3% off pace. I’m happy leaving that remaining sliver to the forest gods. That said, over the next three days I managed to eke out a top-3 and a few top-5 stage placings, which seemed remarkable to me (and scary/exciting?). Maybe everyone else slowed down? Whatever the case, the local pride probably had something to do with it. Witnessing everyone’s enjoyment of the trails and terrain gave me that special form of joy that comes from sharing with others. In that way, I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited to have my ass handed to me on fairly familiar trails than by the likes of the international gravity stars in attendance.

Chris Hornbecker

In the end, we grimy bunch of mountain biking adults spent 4-days feeling like 19-year-olds with no curfew, no homework, and European drinking privileges. Our cups runneth’d over. I bathed in cold streams and lakes each evening, ate delicious food, and shared lifetime good laughs and high-speed trail sensations with old friends and new ones. As for the racing part, I got myself to 9th place (FULL RESULTS HERE). The morning after the race, a bunch of us loaded into a truck and started the long drive back home. On the way we stopped in sleepy little Trout Lake. There was the gas station and cafe as it always had been each morning before school started, the mountain looming over the valley. I was a visitor in my own home this time, but there was a new twist that felt good. It had been put on everyone else’s map, and in this capacity, it felt really good to share it. I hope people come back. I certainly will!

Thanks for reading.

Photo credits: Mike Thomas and Chris Hornbecker

KONA GDURO TEAM COMPETES IN ENDURO2 DAVOS RACE

Coming to the end of a long season we decided to race in the special Enduro2 mountain bike event.

This event was held for the second time and is now one of our top 10 favorite races ever done.

Like a regular enduro race, Enduro2 offers several timed stages per day. All competitors start in a double team in the category Men, Mixed and Women. Within three race days, all teams cover a total of 120km race distance, climb almost 1500 vertical meters and ride nearly 12000 meters downhill natural tracks from rocky high alpine to loose and rooty forest soil.

Our Process 153 custom bikes were well prepared with gravity tires, big rotors, and new brake pads.

But sometimes the devil is in the detail.

 

After playing a little safe at day one with just two of sixteen stages we found ourselves in the top 60 of the 160 team strong men field, knowing that there is a good amount of space to raise the speed.

Day two was the toughest race day with eight stages and a good amount of rough sections on the high alpine parts. Raising the speed from stage to stage we decided to change the team order on stage six. Matthias on his 27.5 Process was now in the lead with me on the 29inch Process following.

“Never touch a running system,” they say and this seemed to be so true as stage six was an absolute waterloo for our team. We destroyed both rear wheels and had four flats in one stage, and spent all our spare tubes and cartridges. Matthias even had to carry his bike down to the finish. This disaster cost us more than 30 minutes additional time and let us fall back to one of the last positions of the field.

But we stood motivated as this race had a very special family character and a few of the best alpine trails in the Swiss Alps. Unfortunately, on stage nine Matthias punctured again which added another nine minutes to the total stage time.

Looking from the very back of the field day three was just to enjoy the last six stages and stunning views for us. We kept on raising the groundspeed and had most stage times in the top 30s or 40s overpassing two or three teams on every stage. This of course had no impact on our total time.

At the end of the race weekend, we must say this was one of the best races, except from the mechanicals, we ever competed in. Very well organized from a highly motivated trail crew in a stunning  location.

We’ll be back next year!

Kona at EWS Ainsa Spain

Last weekend members of Kona’s enduro team hit the Spanish countryside for a weekend of heated (literally) enduro racing. With temperatures topping out near 9oF/32C, racers were battling the intense sun, extreme heat, and a whole lot of challenging terrain.

Swede Alexander Kangas finished up the two days of racing with a 46th place.

American Ryan Gardner raced in his first EWS of the season and was amazed by the speed of the pack. Gardner finished in 87th place on the weekend and is looking forward to testing his mettle in the final round in Finale, Italy this weekend.

Becky Gardner, also racing in her first EWS of the season pushed through the heat to end up 28th.

 

Under 21 racer Leah Maunsell of Ireland is fresh out of high school and ready to put the pedals down hard. She finished the weekend with a 2nd place in the U21 class.

 

Next up: Finale Ligure- perhaps the most beloved course on the EWS circuit. Riders are looking forward to the tracks and race. Practice starts tomorrow!

 

 

 

Hannah Bergemann Takes the 2018 CDC Overall!

We wrapped up an awesome race season for the Cascadia Dirt Cup this last weekend at Tiger Mountain in Issaquah, WA. If you haven’t visited this place yet, its worth a trip! Evergreen has been working hard to build and maintain tons of brand new trails, and they are a blast!

We got to race the fresh tracks with tons of greasy roots, rocks, and peanut butter mud to keep things interesting.

 

Stage 1 raced down a new trail called EBAD that was full of greasy, off-camber, rooty goodness. Stage 2 transferred over to Legend & MegaFauna. This stage was my favorite of the day with some on-trail doubles and steep sections.

Stage 3 took us down another new trail called NOTG which was less steep than EBAD, but a bit sloppier creating some long peanut-butter mud sections.

Photo: Erik Mickelson

Stage 4 started back at the top for a final run down the infamous Predator. This trail is one of my favorites and feels like a downhill race track with high speeds, big jumps, and rock gardens. This trail is always rowdy and a great way to finish the race and season!

I’m super happy with my second Pro season and stoked to finish strong and healthy! I finished the day in 2nd, and took the CDC Pro womens overall title! Huge, Ginormous Thank you to Trey, Camille and crew at Race Cascadia for all your hard work and amazing events this season! And for donating over $100,000 back to the local trail building organizations in the PNW to keep building more amazing trails!

Thank You to everyone who has and continues to support me in my bike riding endeavors! It’s been so much fun, and I’m looking forward for next season!

Kona BikesTenet ComponentsStoked RoastersTerrain GymHigh AboveMarzocchi MTBDakineESI gripsSmith OpticsHand-Up Gloves, & of course all my friends and family

Hannah B.

Hannah Bergemann’s First EWS

Words by Kona Supreme, Hannah Bergemann

I successfully finished my first EWS at Whistler last weekend. It was such a cool experience to ride and race with some of the world’s best in one of the best places!

Some highlights of the weekend started with practice on Friday and Saturday. I got to ride some amazing and classic Whistler trails in the bike park and in the valley with people from all over the world. Some rain on Saturday evening made for some tacky dirt and helped hold off the dust for the race.

Race day started with a pedal through the village over to the Blackcomb trails. I was nervous about making my start time and pedaled maybe a little too quickly up the steep road to Microclimate for stage 1. I rode conservatively on this stage with my nerves running pretty high, but rode clean and relatively smooth for such a technical trail.

Stage 2 brought us back up the road to Crazy Train, an even steeper, gnarlier version of stage 1, with more than a few big moves. I felt like I rode my best on this stage, passing a few people and riding clean on all the big features.

After pedaling around Lost Lake and getting stuck in a long line for the Creekside gondola, I rushed over to stage 3 and made my start time with a few minutes to spare. Stage 3 on Delayed Fuse was a bit of a contrast to the previous stages with some steep chutes and greasy roots. I made a few mistakes and ended the stage with a slightly crooked brake lever after a minor tumble in some wet roots.

After a short transfer, I started down stage 4. This stage had a bit more flow, a lot more pedaling than previous stages. I finished completely out of breath but had a clean run.

For the last stage, I took 3 different lifts and gondolas to get to the Top of the World. This stage started us across a suspension bridge hanging across two peaks. The final stage was expectedly brutal, descending 5500 feet from the Top of the World to the bottom of the bike park, and I was definitely low on steam at the end of the day. The top of the stage is basically a 3.5 mile long rock garden. After descending that, we still had to descend another 3000 feet all the way down the bike park (through some rather bump filled, dusty and blown out trails) to the base of the park where we started. When I finally finished the race, I had to peel my hands from the handlebars.

I ended up placing 25th overall, a solid midpack finish for my first EWS. My bike was running great all weekend despite taking some serious abuse on all the Whistler trails. Thanks to everyone for all the support this season!! Looking forward to trying some more big races next season!

Fearon and Lemire Win in Canada

Last weekend Kona downhill racer Connor Fearon traded in his Operator for a Process 165 and won the Bromont leg of the Canadian National Enduro series ahead of notable riders Sam Thibault and Keegan Wright.

Connor’s timing chip didn’t work on the second stage so he had to climb up and repeat the stage, adding a huge extra climb to his day.

Meanwhile, junior rider Tristan Lemire won the downhill Canadian National Championships in the cadet category, giving Kona racing a hugely successful Canadian weekend! Congrats to Connor and Tristan!

 

Kona Dream Builds: Jason’s Process on the side “Katie”

No stranger to assembling Gucci dream builds for his customers, Jason from Chainline Bikes in San Deigo put together this unbelievably rad and seriously custom Process 153 for himself. You won’t likely see another bike like this rolling the trails, the ENVE M70’s feature custom graphics and the Boxxer red Rock Shox Lyrik’s get the matching custom decal treatment as well. The XO rear mech and cassette are the only remnants from the original bike with nearly all other parts getting swapped out, from the Deity cockpit to the Hope Race Evo E4 brakes all the way to the carbon 175mm KS Lev CI dropper. Anyway, you’re not here to read this, you want to check the build list and ogle these photos, we wont stand in your way.

Dayum! That Enve M70 and Lyrik combo is just insane! The M70’s are laced to DT Swiss 240’s with Sapim bladed spokes. The fork is the brand new 2019 Rock Shox Lyrik RC2, and the bike rolls on Onza’s Ibex 2.4’s front and rear.

The cockpit is built around a carbon Deity Mohawk DC31 bar and 35mm Deity Copperhead stem. Ergon GD1 grips keep digits attached while Hope’s powerful Race Evo E4 keep excess speed in check.

And like pretty much every custom build we feature, Wolf Tooth’s dropper lever controls the KS Carbon posts actuation.

Oh yeah, that 175mm drop Carbon KS Lev Ci and Ergon SME3 Pro saddle.

Race Face’s Six C carbon cranks and a 34t direct mount chainring drive the Process. Deity’s Bladerunner pedals are there to win medals (on shop rides)

Frame Kona Process 153
Rear Shock Rock Shox Super Deluxe Air RCT
Fork Rock Shox Lyrik RC2
Headset FSA
Handlebar Deity Mohawk DC31 Carbon
Stem Deity Copperhead 35mm
Grips Ergon GD1
Brakes Hope Technology Race Evo E4
Shifters SRAM XO1 Eagle
Rear Derailleur SRAM XO1 Eagle
Cranks Race Face sixc
Chainrings / Sprocket Race Face Narrow Wide 34T
Bottom Bracket Race Face
Chain SRAM
Cassette / Rear Cog SRAM XO1 Eagle
Pedals Deity Bladerunner
Rims ENVE M70 Thirty HV
Hubs DT Swiss 240s Boost
Spokes Sapim Bladed
Front Tire Onza Ibex 2.4
Rear Tire Onza Ibex 2.4
Saddle Ergon SME3 Pro
Seatpost KS lev 175 Carbon
Weight 30 lb 0 oz (13608 g)

Jonathan Maunsell Wins Round 4 of Grass Roots

One half of our Irish Enduro racing family was back in action yesterday at Round 4 of the Grassroots Enduro Series. Jonathan Maunsell has had a stellar year so far with several big victories aboard his Process 153CR. This weekend was no exception, capturing yet another victory at the Grassroots.

He said,  “After taking the win at the first 3 rounds, I was feeling the target on my back this weekend but the DH style stages suited me and I’m happy to make it 4/4! Looking forward to heading out to Europe for the next EWS round!”

Action shots: @home_of_the_mind

Podium pic: @cahirmedia

Ryan Gardner Reports from Mammoth

Words by Kona enduro racer, Ryan Gardner.

 

2018 marks my 10th year of racing mountain bikes. During this time I have had seasons where everything seems to go as planned and the flow just came naturally. Others though required a bit more work. This season started off as the latter. With each race came a new hurdle. Mechanicals took me out of contention in Mexico and the TDS and a tough race in New Mexico had roused those little voices in the back of my mind that suggested that I might not have what it takes this year. As I continue to grow at my 9 to 5, the responsibilities there have become more demanding, personal relationships all require time and energy, and the number of hours in the day seem to disappear quicker each year. But despite all the fits and starts of this season, the effort it takes to rally after a 10-hour work day and get out for a training ride, and all the other little sacrifices it takes to be competitive at racing bikes, I keep coming back. It’s the little tastes of success, of progress, that makes all the work worthwhile. So after three lackluster races, it was time to pack up the van and head to my first California Enduro of the year, Mammoth Bar.

Mammoth Bar is not my favorite race of the year. It’s really pedally, really dry, and often really hot. But the racing is tight and it’s a good chance to get into the swing of things. After working three-quarters of a day I ducked out early and got a practice lap in on each stage Friday night for Saturday’s race. With only four stages of racing, each stage required 100% effort. I did my best to remember the stages, stay off the chicken levers, and put power down wherever I could. When it was all said and done I was able to round out the podium in 5th place. Though not the result I was aiming for, it was a step in the right direction; no mechanicals, improved riding, and a podium spot. I even got a feel for my new Satori which has been surprising me with its quick handling and snappy feel. It’s a much different bike from the Process, but its well suited to the fast and flowy singletrack found at many of the CA Enduro Races.

With the season moving into full swing, I’m going to keep focusing on finding the flow, enjoying the ride, and savoring those small victories week after week. Sometimes things don’t come easy. But that’s exactly when the most progress can be made.

2018 CDC CAPITOL FOREST ENDURO

Kona Supreme Hannah Bergemann reports from the CDC Capitol Forest Enduro race:

Capitol Forest has one of the most stoked and supportive bike communities of any riding zone I’ve traveled to. After a few hours of riding and hanging with the locals, you feel welcomed as part of the crew. Not to mention they work countless hours to build and maintain some of Olympia and Washington state’s best trails and trail systems. They host several events each year, including the Capitol Forest Classic XC race, and their events never fail to be some of the best. The Cascadia Dirt Cup started with their very first enduro race in the area back in 2013, and it’s cool to come back to the original venue and see the massive progression in racing over the last few years.

This year we got to race a completely new trail system on a different side of the mountain. In the past, Cap Forest has been known for its flowing XC trails and long descents. This year was quite different, with several short, steep, and technical descents on freshly built loamy trails.

The race was one of the shorter races of the season but definitely didn’t lack any excitement. We arrived Friday afternoon to pre-ride the course and were surprised with a late spring downpour. Despite getting completely soaked, the rain was happily welcomed as it revived the previously dry and dusty trails.

Just a little wet and muddy after Friday practice

On the day of the race, the sun came out and made the trails just slightly on the wet side of hero dirt.

Stage 1 was a short, technical descent down a trail called stormy. It was surrounded by bright green moss covered trees and ferns that made it feel like a trail deep in a tropical jungle. It was pretty greasy after Friday’s rain, so the main objective was to stay upright on the wet roots.

Photo: Chris McFarland

Stage 2 brought us to the top of the mountain for a longer descent. The first section raced through a clear-cut with fast bermed corners and a few gap jumps.

Stage 3 ducked back into the dense forest for a ripping descent down a trail called “Down and Rowdy”. It was quite fitting as the trail was scattered with jumps, ripping fast sections through the ferns, and technical steep bits.

Stage 4 was my favorite of the day. It was a newly-built downhill track with fast berms, large jumps, and plenty of steep off-camber sections of trail.

Stage 5 was another short, technical trail similar to the first stage with a few crucial line options to save time.

I landed on the podium in 2nd, with Delia right behind me in 3rd! Once again, the Capitol Forest crew never ceases to impress me with their incredible community and trails. Looking forward to next year!

Becky Gardner Scores Two Podiums in Colorado

Becky Gardner had a a great weekend of racing in the high altitude events of the Vail Mountain Games and the FIBARK cross country race. She landed in third in the enduro and scored a victory in the XC event. Congrats Becky!

“For the past few years, the first two weeks in June I have taken a break from DH laps and gravity enduro competitions to compete in two endurance oriented races, The Vail Mountain Games Enduro, and the FIBARK cross country race. I skip the full spandex kit but try and give it my best to compete against some very fit ladies.

 

First up is always The Vail Mountain Games. This event is really cool for me because it is the only race that combines my love of bikes and whitewater sports. My day job is running marketing for a Colorado rafting company, Dvorak Expeditions. So, when I am not on a bike I am on the river rafting, whitewater SUPing or exploring new and amazing rivers and canyons. The Vail Mountain Games brings both these worlds together with tons of whitewater events, bikes, and all sorts of outdoors inspiration. It’s awesome to see such diverse athletes at a single weekend event.

 

Although the atmosphere of the Vail Mountain Games is spot on, the enduro course has always put me out of my comfort zone. The Enduro is located just outside Vail in Eagle Co. The courses are buff, fast, dry, loose, and pedally. Not really the forte of an east coast downhiller, and to top it off the big prize purse brings in a lot of heavy hitters- especially in the cross country world.  But over the years of living in Colorado and training hard on my endurance, the Vail Mountain Games Enduro has become a race I can succeed in.

This year I opted out of practice because of work commitments and showed up the night before the race. I quickly got ready the next morning, picked up my plate, timing chip, ate some food and got on my way to start the race. The first climb takes about an hour to reach the top of stage one which was one of the faster trails of the day. This stage has a few steep pitches, fast and flowy turns, and one major hill in the middle of the track to really make your lungs burn. I finished stage one seamlessly and was sitting in second place which felt awesome since most times my first run of the day is always a little slower than the rest of my stages. We immediately started our transfer to stage two which is a hot, long climb with little shade. Once reaching the top we quickly went onto stage 2 to try and finish our laps before the hottest part of the day arrived. Stage two had the most pedaling of all the stages but I felt strong and tried to really let go in the fast areas trying to gain as many seconds as I could. I pedaled as hard as I could and felt happy with the effort given and went on the repeat the same climb to get to the last two stages of the day. Stage 3 was another awesome lap and I felt confident going into the shortest, easiest, and last stage of the day. Unfortunately for me, I took a corner a little too hard and a rock flew up breaking a spoke into my cassette. I quickly stopped, wrapped the spoke up, and got on my way to finish the run. Luckily I didn’t lose too much time and I ended up sitting in 3rd place at the end of the day. This was my best finish at the Vail Mountain Games Enduro and I can’t wait to keep working hard and get faster.

 

Next up is a race I would never have thought I would enjoy competing in, the FIBARK Cross Country race. This race is held on my local trails in Salida, Co. It’s also held during the busiest weekend of the year in my town which for me means working long days and nights. I showed up to the race a few minutes beforehand after catching up on some much-needed sleep and went straight into the start gate. Before I knew it the race started and we were on our way! I thought I had a great start and was feeling confident in my fitness but then I noticed a lady pulling way ahead of me up the fire road start. She looked strong and I knew I couldn’t pedal that hard or I would be spent in a few miles. So I let her go and I kept a solid pace for the first 20 minutes. Once we reached the trail I felt on fire, I was riding fast, taking clean lines and felt like I could go forever. Finally, I reached the woman that seemed impossible to catch. I passed her in a rock section and kept pedaling as hard as I could. I wanted to get as far ahead as possible because I knew on lap 2 she could catch me on the uphill. I charged my way through lap 1 and went on the lap 2 with no one in sight. I finished the race in first place and minutes faster than last year. Although the downhiller in me is laughing I am really stoked how far my fitness has come and I’m excited to see the benefits of it in my DH and Enduro racing!”

 

Lucy Schick Reports From Harper Mountain

Kona grassroots rider Lucy Schick and her Process 153 CR DL had a solid weekend at the Canadian National Enduro Series race at Harper Mountain, including a stage victory by over 30 seconds. Way to go Lucy!

“This past weekend was the second Canadian National Enduro Series race at Harper Mountain in Kamloops and it was definitely the most fun I have ever had at a bike race. I crashed on stage one and sprained my finger but finished the race strong and even managed to win the gnarliest stage by 30 seconds. I placed 3rd in U21 and was super happy with my race other than the crash. The trails were amazing because you got a bit of everything. Some stages were technical and some were super fast. Stage 4 was grass slalom down the ski hill and it was a riot. My bike was dialled and felt super smooth on the steep dusty rocks. Really looking forward to the next CNES race in Panorama but first I’m racing the Gryphon this weekend!”

All photos by Jackson Parker of Clear Glass Media (@clear.glass.media)