Freeride

Aggy’s 2018 Rampage Recap

Rampage 2018 has come to a dusty close. This year’s event was packed with big lines, big hits, and big crashes, but thankfully everyone walked away mostly unscathed. For Aggy, it was a test of mettle and proof of what the body can do. With just two weeks cleared of a broken scapula, he put on quite the flow show, riding smooth and giving the crowd a taste of his signature style they know and love.

We caught up with Aggy to get a couple of thoughts after the event.

What part of this year’s Rampage did you find most challenging?

Rampage is a purely mental game. No one truly understands unless they’ve been in those shoes themselves. Having the right people there to remind you of self-discipline and tell me exactly what I need to hear to perform at my best and be my best self, and also keep everyone updated while I entered my zen state for the event. Mathieu Dupelle performed at his highest level as a coach and manager and was the MVP of the event for me.

How did your Scapula hold up with the digging and the riding? 

My scapula held up fine, but day one of digging I went too hard and developed severe tendinitis in my arm just above my wrist. Felt like my arm was broken for a few days and I was barely able to lift a tool with it. Once the sports physio team showed up later in the week they were able to help me keep it at bay so I could hold on tight for the event.

What is one thing you think fans at home need to know that they don’t understand unless they’re there in person?

Everything is much bigger in person and it’s hard to describe what kind of time goes into the build. We worked roughly seven days total, waking up at 5:30 am, eating breakfast and heading to the site…We’d work all day long with taking only a short lunch break on slope and then right back at it until it was dark around 7:30 pm. It was probably between 70-80 h0urs per person over those 7 days.

Who was on your dig team and how do you know them?

Colin Davis was on my dig team and we know each other through Retallack Lodge where he works. We’ve known each other for a few years now and he’s always offered to come help and dig for me at Rampage and this year with only 2 weeks notice I hit him up and he dropped everything to come to join me. We had a great time and he worked as hard as two dudes out there. Key player to the team this year, I really appreciated his hard work and attitude throughout the entire event.

Were you listening to music at the start? 

– I was listening to, A Tribe Called RedElectric Pow Wow Drum.

You were chosen to wear a telemetry monitor. What was that like? It was interesting to see your heart rate. 

I didn’t notice it at all but ya it was really cool to see and hear about what my heart rate was looking like and doing during my run. Sounds like I was pretty chill for what I was doing!

Did you ever consider skipping your second run? What goes through your mind after your first run?

At first, I was considering calling it a day but I wasn’t happy with how I messed up the bottom portion of the run so I really wanted to clean it up. Luckily I had a pretty fun and conserved run so going back up I was almost excited but still a little nervous because there are helicopters and a lot of people watching.

Congrats, Aggy, on a successful mission to the desert!

Announcing the 2018 Kona Roster!

AGGY, FEARON, VERNER, WALLACE, WERNER HEADLINE KONA'S 2018 ROSTER

Spring is just around the corner, and that can only mean one thing: bike season is near! We’re excited to kick things off by announcing our 2018 roster, which is chock full of speed, talent, and creativity, ensuring an exciting and memorable season.

KONA GRAVITY TEAM 2018

On the gravity side Connor Fearon will be flying the Kona colors at the 2018 downhill World Cup races, set to kick off in Croatia in April. Connor will be running the Operator as he attempts to climb atop the podium throughout the season’s seven races. Also returning is legendary Kona athlete
Graham Agassiz. Whoever said, “freeride is dead,” clearly never rubbed elbows with Aggy and friends. Aggy’s goals for 2018 are to continue to push the limits of what’s possible on a bike, ride as many wild lines as possible, and create some interesting content.

The gravity team is rounded out by North Shore standout Caleb Holonko, and downhillers
Josh Button of Australia, and Anthony Poulson from Quebec.

KONA GLOBAL ENDURO TEAM 2018

New for 2018 is the Kona Global Enduro Team. The Global Enduro Team will compete in races throughout the world, including the EWS. Squamish ripper Rhys Verner, who saw strong results in 2017 will be leading the EWS charge alongside Ireland’s multi-national champion Leah Maunsell. Verner and Maunsell are joined by Swede Alexander Kangas and Americans Ryan Gardner and Scott Countryman.

KONA ENDURANCE TEAM 2018

Keeping the spirit of fun alive is the major goal of Kona’s Endurance and Adventure Team. Personality and talent run deep with this crew, and a good time is never far away. With 24 Hour Solo World Champion Cory Wallace in the mix, big races, and bigger challenges are sure to unfold. Finishing in 3rd place at US cyclocross nationals, Kerry Werner is back and ready to challenge for the top step of the podium. Americans Barry Wicks and Spencer Paxson are always up for whatever shenanigans they can concoct on their bikes and will be joined on big adventure days by Sechelt’s Kris Sneddon.

The 2018 Kona team covers a massive spectrum of riding talent and abilities and we’re looking forward to seeing what’s in store! Be sure to check out our team page on Konaworld.com for more info on each rider, and tune into the Cog throughout the season for updates on race results, expeditions, and adventure logs.

Life in The Loops With Soren Farenholtz

Words and photos by Dylan Sherrard

It was only a few short years ago when Soren Farenholtz found himself falling in love with biking. In the spring of 2014, he and his childhood friends would spend their days digging small jumps behind his house, converting the family treehouse into their bike store, ‘RAD REPAIR,’ and generally “grommin’ out,” as Soren says it.

And as the story so often goes, imagination and a thirst for adventure lead Soren and his friends to longer days of exploring the edges of their neighbourhood in search of bigger jumps and longer trails. It was during one of these outings that Soren stumbled across the Kamloops Bike Ranch, completely by chance.

“I was blown away,” Soren recalls, “I saw kids riding all these huge jumps, and I thought it was just nuts. I remember thinking I was going to fall off a cliff or something. I was scared at first.”

Soren returned home that night, unable to shake the sights of the Bike Ranch from his imagination. He went back to the Ranch soon after and began picking his way through the smaller jump lines. Within a few visits, he was riding through a whole six-set, making new friends, and finding a place in the scene of older, more experienced riders.

And although it’s been just a few short years, Soren already appears mature on a bike with smooth and effortless style in every regard. He rolls around the Ranch with a heavy flow and ease, a deeper bag of tricks than we’ve ever seen for a Kamloops kid, and a level-headed attitude that makes you want to be around him.

The summer of 2017 was a season of huge progression for Soren, which saw that bag of tricks padded to the brim. He learned every 360 variation you can imagine, backflips, 720s, and anything else you can add a barspin to.

Soren’s rapid progression matches the rapid pace with which his generation digests media content. They are growing up in a social media world where they have, in their pockets, the tools to manufacture their own content, dictate their own image, and see things the way they want to see them.

“Insta is more, like, I look at it more than actual edits,” Soren confesses. “It’s easier, watching friends who live in different towns. It’s easier to scroll through. And making my own edits is fun. Not as many people see a big edit on a website. But all the followers see it on IG, and comment, and it gets me stoked to know my friends are watching.”

That style of constant, yet casual, production, makes weekly progression feel normal. Soren can watch what his favourite riders are doing, practice it on the airbag, move from the airbag to a trick jump with a soft landing, and dial it in. He can watch himself in slow motion, adjust his approach, and then take it to any other jump in the park, all in the span of a few days.

Despite such a rapid and progressive learning curve, Soren maintains that style is paramount.

“I don’t really see the point in having a trick unless you really have the trick, you know?” Soren mentions in regard to the routine he tries to keep in tune with.

He doesn’t want to be one of those riders that can whip out anything in their imagination, but only on a soft trick jump. So most days at the Ranch, Soren rattles off a trick list in a certain sequence and reaps the rewards of repetition, always pushing to make it feel easier. Soren wants his tricks to feel dialled, and to feel attainable on any jump, at any time.

“I’m so much less likely to get injured that way,” adds Soren, “having that air awareness of every little detail of a trick, and knowing how to bail from it feels really important for learning.”

 A wise note for a young lad on a tear.

But trick lists and the topic of self-preservation are not the only areas in which Soren displays fleeting moments of wisdom beyond his years. He’s also quick to note his appreciation for the Kamloops community and the Bike Ranch he rides every day.

“I wouldn’t be into riding the same way without the Ranch,” says Soren. “It’s so crazy that we can just go there and ride for free. I mean, if it cost, say twenty bucks to go and check it out, I probably wouldn’t have ended up riding there by accident. Brad makes the place truly dialed, but me and my friends all feel responsible to look after the jumps, too.”

“Kamloops is such a good town,” Soren continues. “Some of my older friends are moving away for school and work and stuff, but it’s still such a good riding scene. Kamloops is a legendary biking town. My friends and I, we’re all into more tricks. I think Kamloops is used to seeing all the big hits. We don’t go as big, but we’re riding with tricks that are a little more technical. I think it’s cool to be part of a younger generation sort of making our own chapter. Doing it our way.”

Soren finds confidence and inspiration in abundance, living in a town where many happy careers and healthy lifestyles have been found in mountain biking. 
At just fifteen years young, with such a deep bag of tricks and such a level head on his shoulders, Soren Farenholtz is a Kamloops grom truly poised to blow it up big time. And the most exciting aspect is that he doesn’t really care to be caught up in the hype around any of that.

Catch Soren on Instagram.

Kona at Rampage – The True Story

It is one of the most dramatic competitions in all of sports. Over 30 athletes from around the world converging on a venue that, upon first glance, looks totally un-conducive to mountain biking. Armed with their dig crews, and a week of shoveling, watering and picking in lines that defy both gravity and reasonable thinking, riders then mentally prepare to drop in on what can only be described as insane. Kona has history at Rampage. Our best result ever came at the bravado of Antoine Bizet in 2012 when he placed 2nd. Graham Agassiz has threatened to crack the podium numerous times having won qualifications in 2013 and 2014, but hasn’t been able to put it all together when it counted in the finals. In 2013 he came within a slipped grip of winning it all.

_52G8182_Ale de Lullo

Graham Agassiz with a suicide no hander off of his signature 70-foot step down. Photo: Ale di Lullo

For riders it’s an incredibly challenging mental and physical endeavor. The amount of time they actually ride is quite minimal. Most of their week in the Utah desert is spent digging and sculpting, choking back the nerves that come with creating lines you’re not sure you can actually ride. But the risk to reward ratio outweighs the jitters. If you want to be a professional big mountain rider, you have no choice but to buck up and ride Rampage. The numbers dictate as much, this year’s viewership broke all previous Rampage records with rumors that this was actually the second most viewed event in Red Bull broadcast history.

Rampage2015 (11 of 19)

Brothers in burl: Bizet and Aggy warm up together before the finals. Photo: Mitch Scott

But not all is right as rain for one of mountain biking’s more seminal events. For years the riders have complained about the lack of ownership of the imagery that comes out of the event, not to mention the relative shortfall when it comes to prize money. Know that none of the athletes are paid an appearance fee, and with a total prize purse of $100,000, amongst the 30 or so athletes that participate in the event, there’s not too much love going around. While the organization, medical response teams, and broadcast production systems are world class, the value that comes to the riders is measured only exposure. Significant to be sure, however, from a bike company’s perspective, not to mention the athlete’s, it’s a nerve racking, risky endeavour. Exposure isn’t necessarily guaranteed while the potential for injury is massive.

Rampage2015 (6 of 19)

The builders behind the riders. Aggy with his legendary Kamloops crew.

Rampage2015 (10 of 19)

Bizet with his brother Ben, part of his French crew.

And while there’s always been a history of injury at Rampage, this year proved to be the most consequential in its 10 event history. Miraculously there hasn’t been a life altering injury (or for that matter, death) at the event. Sure, there’s been a slew of broken femurs and deep gashes, and a myriad of close-calls, with a couple of life-flight medivacs every year, but there has yet to be an injury that had the potential to dramatically change someone’s life. Until this year. Unfortunately, long-time Kona and Red Bull athlete (he currently rides for Scott), suffered a broken back when he couldn’t regain control of his bike after a giant air. Paul Basagoitia, who rode for Kona for almost a decade and is a much respected and followed athlete in the sport, shattered his T12 vertebrae and is currently on a long road back to recovery. For those watching the Rampage both live and on their computers, shortly after his dramatic medi-vac, Red Bull reported that Paul was fine and only needed to have a leg injury checked out the hospital. This has obviously infuriated many and as a result Red Bull has some answering to do. Regardless, a good man is down. And it’s no one’s fault necessarily, just a sign of how elevated the stakes have become at this event. If you’re interested in participating in Paul’s recovery, you can do so here.

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 4.18.45 PM

Paul B laying out his team issue Cowan, circa 2008. Photo: Scott Markewitz

After Paul was evacuated, standing at the top of the mountain was Graham Agassiz, who qualified 1st the day previous, his third consecutive Rampage qualification win. As the wind started to pick up, Aggy had to watch as his friend and former teammate was airlifted from the venue. You can only imagine the stress. Not only had Aggy encountered terrible luck in the years previous when it came to the finals, he had to mentally let go of the fact that his friend was obviously hurt real bad. Not to mention, earlier in the day his teammate and second place qualifier, Antoine Bizet, was carted off to the hospital earlier in the finals, suffering a broken humerus after attempting a double back flip on the bottom of the course. “If he had landed that double he would have won for sure,” said Aggy after the event. “The kid is such a badass, he was inches away from one of the best runs in Rampage history.” To watch Antoine’s incredible 2nd place qualifications run, which included a backflip over the 70-foot canyon gap, go here.

IMG_9180

Antoine’s double backflip induced broken humerus. He recently had surgery and will make a full recover.

When it’s all said and done, we here at Kona can’t deny the power of this event. Of course we celebrate the successes of our athletes. Qualifying 1st and 2nd was huge for Kona. Aggy hitting the podium in 3rd and Antoine coming so close to glory–despite a fairly serious injury–shows just how talented and committed our athletes are. Would they be tested, and ultimately showcased, at this level without the Red Bull Rampage? Perhaps not. Questions remain for the future of the event, however, which is under heavy scrutiny right now. By closing out the athletes when it comes to prize money and ownership of media, as well as the companies behind the athletes–their was virtually no mention of athlete sponsors during both the live broadcast and on-site–Red Bull risks alienating the people who ultimately make the event happen, that being the Antoine’s, Aggy’s and Basagoitia’s of the world. Them and the company’s that stand behind them through all the glory, failure, injury and exaltation that comes with being a professional mountain biker.

SLorencePhoto_kona_012

Aggy’s line was all about style and steeze. Photo: Sterling Lorence

Antoine’s huge backflip over the 70-foot canyon gap. Photo: Sterling Lorence

And therein we’d like to congratulate all who participated in this event. For those who conceived it and bring it to life every year. And hopefully to see this showcase of talent figure out the dirty little details so that everyone benefits from the great risks being taken far away in the Utah desert. That and we hope our friend Paul Basagoitia the speediest of full recoveries.  -Mitchell Scott, Kona Communications Director and Gravity Team Manager

Bizet’s Team Issue Supreme Operator. Photo: Sterling Lorence

Aggy’s Monster Green Supreme Operator. Photo: Sterling Lorence

2K15_Team_SponsorsGroups_Gravity-1

Red Bull Stumps Clump and Jumps Tour Part 2

Portland, Oregon is known for two things. It’s one of the most cycling friendly cities in the US and it has the largest amount of adult dance clubs per capita in North America. Everyone on the RV could relate to both. When it came to the cycling side of the equation, the one day we spent in Portland was dominated by super urban shredder, Wayne Goss. The kid from Smithers, BC sure can ride the street.

(more…)