hei hei

Bike Racing In The Land Of Maple Syrup

With CX season coming into view on the horizon Kerry thought it would be good prep to fit one last MTB race in before it’s all curly bars and skinnier tires. So he headed north, with his wife of course, and didn’t stop until he hit Vermont, home of the legendary North East Kingdom Trails and The VT3 Bike Race.

“After spending some time in BC and Washington state this summer I had encountered quite a bit of the lush green, coveted single track, big rock rolls, and dense forest the PNW was known for. It was cool to see that those kinds of trails exist on the east coast. The VT3 Bike Race claims to be “modeled after races like BC Bike Race”, which I found to be true. The race took us to a few different areas, which offered unique but awesome trails. From maple tapped forests to an enduro-specific mountain and finally fast, flowy berm-riddled woods. ”

 

Arriving in VT on Thursday he quickly settled in with the guys at Bicycle Express, a Kona dealer in Waterbury, VT. They took him out on the backyard trails for an evening spin to give Kerry a little taste of what was to come. Thus, the fire was lit.

The racing structure was this: Friday night TT, Saturday 24 mile xc race, Sunday 20 mile XC race. Kerry wasted no time in setting the pace high. He came out on top Friday night but only by a second with a local ripper, Cooper Willsey, hot on his tail.

Saturday’s course had a good bit of climbing and to give himself some breathing room going into Sunday Kerry tried to push the pace and create some separation on the hills but could only muster 22 seconds more on Coop.

Sunday, being flat and fast came down to a sprint finish. Cooper had pushed hard all race trying to lose Kerry on the tight, fast sweeping, single track, putting Kerry on the limit more than once. However, it wasn’t quite enough and the finish was decided by less than 1 bike length.

You can catch his vlog below to see what happened off the bike. He and his fellow racers spent their downtime hanging at the well known Craftsbury Outdoor Center, an Olympic ski and rowing development center.

From here out it is all about CX as the first race of the season kicks off the first weekend of September and Kerry has high hopes and big goals for the months to come.

Werner Hits US Mountain Bike Nationals

Three days after BC Bike Race ended Kerry took a “red eye” home to the east coast. He spent Tuesday being a zombie. On Wednesday he drove 5hrs to Snowshoe, WV for the 2018 USA Cycling Mountain Bike Nationals.

He spent the week watching sunsets from high up on Snowshoe Mountain, scoping out the course, and trying to catch up on sleep.

 

You can watch how it all played out on Kerry’s Vlog!

Next up for Kery is a cyclocross camp. He will be hosting a skills camp in the mountains of western NC to help those who are aware that #crossiscoming and want to get a jump on sharpening the axes!

Kerry Werner finishes his first BC Bike Race on the Podium

The boys headed to the mainland to start stage six. Kerry’s second place was now third place in the overall (he suffered a 45second time penalty for cutting a small section of course on stage 4) but Cory was still holding down 4th place, solidly.

The North Shore holds some historic MTB trails, which were influential in starting a new school movement that was focused on technical, purpose-built, riding. A few of those trails were included in the stage six itinerary. The riders navigated 19km, which pitched straight up then straight down. 19km doesn’t seem like a lot but when you get into the nitty-gritty of the stage the riders were tasked with going aerobic then white knuckled down Dales Trail, an iconic trail that put the north shore on the map for fun, but technical, riding.

Kerry’s plan was to come into the stage firing and try to put a bit of time into his French opponent. He was hoping the last two days took a toll on Francois and he would suffer on the climb to the top. However, Francois showed that he had cut his teeth racing World Cup XC in his earlier years and proved some of that fitness was still there.

Over the top of old Buck, Kerry was just 15 seconds behind but not having ever seen the Pingu or Dales descent before was a major disadvantage. He was lucky enough to follow Squamish local Quinn Moberg down these trails but come the finish line Kerry had lost another two minutes to Francois and set himself up for a big final day in Squamish.

Cory rode solidly and maintained his fourth place in the overall. After his big crash on stage four, Cory was nursing some back issues and it was taking its toll towards the end of a heavy week.

The boys nursed their wounds and recovered at Dik Cox’s house, a North Vancouver resident and in-house sales manager at Kona HQ. They were treated to two nights in a row of BBQ and corn hole, which no doubt aided in the recovery process and keep the spirits high!

A quick commute from the North Shore to Squamish for the final day’s start and the riders kicked off at 9am. The 52km loop was no walk in the park for the final day of this 7-day slugfest. Up 50 shades to Leave of Absence, over to Half Nelson, Pseudo Suga, Powerhouse Plunge, Hoods in the Woods, and finishing on Crumpet (or Crampet) Hill. It hurts just thinking about it.

Kerry was all in for the final day, with a big lead over fourth place he had nothing to lose and stuck it to the rest of the riders early and set a quick pace on 50 Shades where the first selection was likely to happen.

It definitely blew apart there but unfortunately, Francois was in the mix and thus he had to keep chipping away. Unfortunately, that early effort plagued Kerry with some heavy legs when Francois got a gap into Half Nelson, and kept the pressure on for the climb up to Pseudo Suga. Kerry fell out of the front group about halfway through the stage and rode it in from there, trying to do damage control and have fun all the same.

Cory knew, coming into the final stage, that he had fourth place on lockdown, so after the blistering pace was set early he settled in with friend, and top 10 competitor Karl Platt to ride in for sixth place on the stage.

After 7 days, 16(ish) hours of racing, and too many Tim Horton recovery donuts to count, the boys had finished third and fourth in the 12th edition of the BC Bike Race.

Kerry was more than happy with finishing 3rd “Of course I am stoked with 3rd, the podium is an honor in a race like this especially with such a strong field this year. Yes, it is a little bittersweet because I missed out on the second step but it only fuels the fire and hopefully I can make it back next year and climb a step or two.”

All Photos: Margus Riga

Cory Wallace’s Double Header

Last weekend Adventure Team Rider Cory Wallace spent his time in British Columbia competing in the Vedder Mountain Classic and the Salty Dog 6 Hour race. With a second place the first day and a new course record the second day it’s safe to say Wallace had a pretty excellent weekend!

Check out the full recap on his blog. 

 

PC: Candace Mihalcheon

Spencer Paxson Wins Inaugural XC-Enduro Combined at the Vedder MTB Festival

 

‘Enduro! It has what XC racers crave!’ my buddies and I joked as we rolled in to Day 2 of our “Vedder Doubleheader” weekend up in the Fraser Valley. The Idiocracy reference was a double entendre of sorts; the easy, no-pressure climbing and ripping downhill in enduro, along with questioning our own sensibility for racing two hard days in a row.

Why two days in a row? The true prize of the weekend, for me at least, was the newly minted King/Queen of the Mountain Trophy devised by the organizers of the Vedder Mountain Classic. It would go to the man and woman with the fastest combined time in the XC and enduro. Day 1 was the Vedder Mountain Classic, a 30km marathon-format cross country race. Day 2 was the opening round of the Canadian National Enduro Series. Combined, the days would tally around 11,000 feet of vert up and down. Imagine some of the best dirt conditions you’ve ever had (and that is not hyperbole!), and any sensible MTB-er would have taken up the challenge.

 

Well…I’m not sure if sensible is the correct word, but how about eager? You could say that Saturday’s XC was an aggressive practice day. The course was challenging, but the immaculate conditions took the edge off of the effort. Teammate Cory Wallace and I battled out on the start loop and up the first huge climb to the top of The Den with Canadian cyclocross National Champ Micheal Van Den Ham in the mix. My Hei Hei (size Large) equipped with MRP Ribbon fork and WTB Trail Boss tires was feeling spry, and I sneaked around Mr. Wallace on the long descent back down to the lake, beginning lap two with a comfortable gap, and pressing on up the second half of the race to take the win. Cory rolled in 2nd, we traded some high fives, went to the beer garden, jumped in the lake, and even collected some Canadian cash. Day 1 done!

Phillip Jones

Sunday’s enduro is captured well-enough in the images. It was a ripping good time! I raced three out of five stages blind (good prep for TransCascadia coming up later this summer) and executed a quick-but-conservative day to get through cleanly. My result on Sunday was lackluster compared to Saturday’s XC, but it was good enough to claim the first-ever Vedder KOM Trophy! Truth be told, there weren’t many who went for the double header, so it had a bit of a tree-fell-in-the-woods level of accomplishment, but given the caliber of this event, I’m hopeful to see this “omnium” format more hotly contested in the future. It has to start somewhere! So with that, the weekend was wrapped up, and it was time to get back home to finish celebrating Mother’s Day.

James Lissimore

As I said of last year’s experience racing the Vedder Mountain Classic, there is no pretense to riding or racing mountain bikes in this part of the world, no matter your skill level, because in BC, mountain biking and racing just is. It’s a f*@#% good time!

Uli Brucker vom Kona Factory/Bike Ranch Team siegt beim Schwarzwälder Täler Cup In Urach

Bei herrlichem Frühlingswetter begaben sich die Fahrer der Seniorenklasse auf die konditionell und technisch anspruchsvolle Runde von 2,5km die 4mal zu bewältigen war. Mit einem fulminanten Start konnte sich Uli Brucker vom Kona Factory Racing Team der Bike Ranch Schonach in den ersten zwei Runden schon deutlich absetzen. In den nächsten zwei Runden brachte Axel Schnebelt(Progress-Werk Offenburg)mit einem Kraftakt nochmal Spannung ins Renngeschehen und kam vor dem letzten Downhill gefährlich nahe. Aber der gute Abfahrer Brucker spielte seine Qualitäten aus und machte auf den letzten Metern den Sack zu. Dritter wurde Markus Sell(Alender Innenausbau). „ Uli siegt jetzt schon zum zweiten Mal beim Täler Cup. Wir nutzen die Rennen zur Vorbereitung der kommenden Marathons. Am Donnerstag startet das Team bei den German Bike Masters in Bad Wildbad. Dies ist der erste Marathon dieses Jahr für uns und ich bin sehr gespannt auf das Ergebnis.“

Im Anhang zwei Bild von Uli Brucker

Pisgah Punishment: 5 Days of the Pisgah Stage Race

This is year 4 for me and there is an obvious reason why I keep coming back. At least It’s obvious to me and, I am sure, all the others that take the plunge into the Rhododendron covered, bench cut, old school woods of Pisgah. Over the course of 5 days you get to ride the most iconic single track the Ranger District of Pisgah has to offer. You can do it at pace or you can tour it. You can stop for snacks or blow right past the aid stations looking for new PR’s. Either way, everyone has FUN and this year was no exception. 

We all congregated for stage 0 on Monday night. Dinner and packet pick-up was followed by an intro into the first stage, what was expected, and thus the initial injection of butterflies/nerves.

From years passed, I knew that stage 1 was the fastest. Having Spencer Paxson in town for the race last year saw a new course record of about 1:45 for 24.7 miles and 4130’ of climbing. The competition was a little deeper this year so I was expecting the pace to be pushed even harder.

Sure enough, by the time we hit the first single track selection the lead group had dwindled down to 5 riders and the gaps were already wide open. I didn’t give enough thought to my positioning into the single track and got stuck behind some bobbles and then held up on the descent. 

Tristan Cowie got away early, which had Travis Livermon, Tristan Uhl (TEX), and I chasing the rest of the day. 

After stage 1, It was obvious that Tristan C. and Trav were on another fitness level. Therefore, I pushed aside my hopes of GC glory and settled in for the task of maintenance. 

Stage 2 started much the same way. Trav was on a mission early and Tristan C. was forced to join in. In the wake, Tex, Stephano, and I were stuck playing our own game. Tex and I separated ourselves from Stephano on Squirrel Gap and kept the pace high in hopes of staying ahead of Stephano for the enduro section at the end of the stage. 

This is when I consciously decided to go for the Enduro overall. After a second day of watching Tristan and Trav ride away, I knew I wasn’t going to put a dent in their time gap so I shifted perspective and decided that getting pitted on the enduro sections was my best card to play. 

I managed to go into first in the enduro overall after stage 2 and was excited to push the pace over stage 3 and 4, as they are some of my favorite trails in the forest. 

Stage 3 is dubbed the queen stage. The most climbing and the most technical climbing throughout the race. Heart rates surged early, as we started uphill right off the line. We ascended Black Mountain, which was built for going downhill, not up… and hit Buckhorn to Club gap and into the enduro section of the day, Avery Creek. 

By this time the gaps were big enough to land an airplane in so there wasn’t much concern about getting held up on the enduro. Thus, it was throttle wide open and smiles from ear to ear. 

I got 1st on the stage and extended my lead in the enduro to 30 seconds over Tex. However, stage 3 wasn’t all peaches. I did lose time to Stephano, cutting the time gap from 4:20 to 2min between 3rd and 4th in overall. That’s the difference between one mistake!

I was dreading stage 4 from the start of the week… The climb up Laurel Mtn is a 50 min+ grunt, at pace. That meant I needed to come into that climb with a big buffer to hold off the climbers and hope for a clean run on the enduro, which dropped off the top of Laurel and turned into Pilot Mt trail.

Stephano pushed the pace from the gun and I was forced to follow. He gapped me some but I gritted my teeth and kept it manageable to the point where I was able to pass him just as we hit Squirrel Gap. 

I pushed the pace on the narrow single track opening up a gap and hit the gravel climb up to Laurel mtn seeing red and on a mission. 

The next 1:15 was a struggle but it passed soon enough, at least looking back on it. I crested the top and held on as my Hei Hei bounced down the chunkiest of the descents that Pisgah has to offer. 

The top of Pilot is comprised of big massive rock slabs with tight loose switchbacks. The trail opens up halfway through but the rocks become smaller and they seem to multiply like bacteria in a public bathroom. The speeds get higher and the arm pump becomes a real issue. By the bottom, my arms were the limiting factor. I struggled to pull up over some curb sized water bar obstacles but pushed on through to the finish. 

I missed out on the enduro stage win by 5 seconds to another Kona mate on a Process. Understandable, Kona’s are the bike of choice when trying to fight the signs and symptoms Pisgah punishment. 

Going into stage 5 I had 1 min on the Enduro overall and a solid gap to 4th in the GC overall. The theme for stage 5 was smooth sailing, which is easier said than done when Farlow Gap is looming in the near future. 

I held my own pace up the 20 min + climb to the Farlow descent. The boys at the front were on fire and I was trying not to blow up. The enduro section was at the end of the day so I needed to save some matches. T. Cowie, who had second in the enduro knew the section much better than I. A fewslip-upss could cost me the top step. The enduro was the longest of all the others at 22 min and the most pedally, more like a super d. (do ya’ll remember those?)

After ripping down Farlow and rejoining the lead group, we ran into a cheer squad handing out bacon feeds, which really elevated my mood. Then I missed a bacon feed, which was the biggest bummer of the whole week.

The lead group split apart on the climb up to the back of Bracken. T. Cowie and I sat back and enjoyed a nice party pace into the enduro while the others traded blows. 

I was gassed pushing my way through that final enduro. It was obvious as Tristan put 20 seconds into me closing down the gap from 1st to 2nd in the overall to only 45 seconds. 

Wiping sweat from my brow I was all smiles, but even the muscles to help me smile were sore. After 5 days of pushing the pace with my comrades, I was feeling it. I hadn’t done any efforts prior to the race except for training races. It’s crazy to look back and think that I just got back from the Euorpean CX racing scene 2 months ago. 

A few beers were had to celebrate… 

My little dude came into town with Emily to check out the end of the race and explore Pisgah Forest. He even helped me look good on the podium.

We capped off the night with s’mores and passing out before 10pm. Until, next year. Cheers!

Cory Wallace’s Nepalese Winter

Kona Adventure Team Rider Cory Wallace knows a thing or two about high altitude training. This past winter, Wallace spent five months pedaling his Kona Hei Hei around the Hymalian mountains and the surrounding cities. His experiences ran the gauntlet from peaceful and extraordinary, to stressful and frustrating, exactly what true adventure should be. Wallace took the time to write up this recap of his trip. Check out some of his tips on where to visit and where to avoid- especially if you’re someone who appreciates sleep.

You can read his full write up here. 

 

Bike Love

It’s Valentine’s Day. For lots of people that means romance, fancy meals, and way too many heart-themed things.

At Kona, we also want to share the love of our favorite bikes with you. So from the bottom of our sappy little hearts, this is an ode to the bikes we are currently loving the most.

Amanda Bryan, Sales: I love the way the Process 153 sucks up the trail and pops around. It boosts confidence in the steep chunder and loves to get sideways and rowdy.

 

Jordan Sembler, Sales: This is my “One that got away” Valentine bike: “I miss my sweet baby blue Sutra LTD. She stood by me for more miles than any other bike I have had in recent memory and what did I do? I sold her for the next hottest thing… Looking back is always hindsight. She is truly the one that got away and I have to live with that. I just hope that she is happy with her new partner and looks back on our time together as fondly as I do…. I sure hope my Rove LTD doesn’t read this…”

Product Team members Justin Clements and Ian Schmitt: Justin says, “Me and my friend Ian riding a rock roll together in Squamish BC at the MY17 Kona Launch. He’s riding a Big Honzo and I’m riding a Hei Hei Trail CR.”

Product Team member Mark Allison: I love the Operator because who doesn’t love riding big bikes down gnarly terrain? It always means you’re in the woods with your buddies.

Molly Joyce, Sales: This is my Process 111. It was a party! What a sleeper of a bike. It had a way of getting you into spicy situations and at the same time see you out like a champ. I had some of my favorite rides on that bike.

Kona Adventure Team Member Spencer Paxson: My Hei Hei and Process 111 in foreground. Valentines big and small, and bikes of all kinds. Bikes + love and families + bikes = love.

Kona CX Racer Kerry Werner: My “Kona Valentine” is the Superjake. First, and foremost, it is fast as hell on the cx course! Enough said. Secondly, it is so versatile. As the CX season was winding down I was planning as many different bike packing adventures and big gravel rides I think of. Basically, this bike gets me excited to spend copious amounts of time in the saddle.

Scott McKay Sales: Gotta love a Wo and Fireball Whiskey on a cold afternoon like this. Wo+Whiskey= Love

Garry Davoren, Distributor: Who doesn’t love a Ti Honzo?

 

Kona Athlete Hannah Bergemann: The Honzo climbs with ease, which encourages me to ride longer and further. It’s insanely confidence-inspiring and stable, yet still super playful on the descents, and it has me wanting to hit all the jumps and features I can find. I can pack it up with gear for an overnight bike packing trip, or rally it down some of my favorite downhill trails. I’ve been riding the Honzo for a few months now and have taken it to most of my favorite trails in Bellingham. I’ve had a blast riding long XC routes in Mazama, WA and descending technical, rock-filled trails in Squamish. The Honzo made me reconsider my opinion of hardtail bikes, and I feel like I have yet to find the limits of this bike. Looking forward to many more miles on this bike!

Lacy Kemp, Marketing: My Process 153 CR DL is always up for diving into the steepest pitches. The steeper the better!

Kona freerider Graham Agassiz on his custom Operator: This is my favourite bike for a lot of reasons but the two biggest ones would be it’s 26″ and it’s a rainbow trout!

Happy Valentines Day to you and your bikes, from all of us at Kona!