hei hei

Bicycling Mag Loves the Hei Hei CR DL

“It can be difficult to find an impressive bike to race on, but trying to find a bike that’s built for racing and handily capable of much more is a grander task—the Kona Hei Hei CR DL is a solution to this search. -Gabriel Lodge, Bicycling

Bicycling Magazine recently took the Hei Hei CR DL out for a spin to test its capabilities on the warm, humid trails of Bentonville, Arkansas. Writer Gabriel Lodge enjoyed the Hei Hei’s innate ability to climb with ease while being pleasantly surprised at how it handled downhill sections- including a jump line he wasn’t intending to hit.

Check out the full review here.

Ready to buy a Hei Hei? Visit your local dealer today or check konaworld.com for purchasing options in your area.

Wallace in Romania

Words by Adventure/Endurance team member, Cory Wallace

Romania is a Southeastern European country with close to 23 000 000 inhabitants including the infamous Dracula character. Geographically its trademark is the Carpathian mountains which are in the forested region of the Transylvania region and are considered to be one of the last truly wild parts of Europe. Having a chance to go there to race the 4 day, Carpathian MTB Epic (UCI, S2) was an opportunity I didn’t want to pass up so off to Eastern Europe it was!

The race itself was based out of the Fundata resort, 4 hrs North of the capital city of Bucharest, and just minutes away from Dracula’s castle in Bran. With a 10 hour time difference from Canada, I showed up a bit jet lagged so opted to spend Wednesday riding down to Bran to check out one of Romania’s many medieval towns, highlighted by its fortified churches and castles. The beauty of riding a bike is that it gets you straight into the culture and its people while simultaneously getting the blood flowing and the body back online after a big travel day.

My buddy Frederic Gombert flew in from France and arrived late Wednesday night. He too wanted to get over his jet lag so Thursday morning we went for an easy pre-ride with our new friend Miroda from South Africa. Our pre-ride turned into a bit longer and tougher than expected as the shortcut we opted to take back to the resort ended up being a solid hike a bike and pretty soon we were 2.5 hours into a “recovery ride”. We came to a private property sign just 3 km from our home base back at Fundata. Thankfully the locals were warm and welcoming, opening the gate and letting us cross through there pastures. This was a small prelude of both the warmth of the Romanian locals and also what was on deck for us at the Carpathian Epic.

Later this afternoon we tackled a short 10 km prologue to officially kick off the CarpathianMTB Epic. It was underestimated as we road down some gnarly old school straight shot descents and soon had to ride up some insanely steep gradients back to the finish line. My body was in shock as I tried to push over a 36 T-45 gearing. I was ready to walk but my buddy Fred was just behind me and my manly hood wouldn’t let me get off the bike. Thus I ground the gears over at the slowest rpm possible. By the finish line, I was cracked and stunned as it’s only once every 5 or 6 years that a 36-45 gearing will let me down but apparently racing in Romania was going to be an exception.

Post race we headed up to the restaurant for a big Romanian buffet full of all sorts of meat, delicious cheeses, potatoes, cabbage, and a few other white starches. Apparently, they don’t like eating green things too much over there but we certainly had our fill of heavy proteins and Carbs. It reminded me a bit of the Mongolian cuisine. The setting for all our meals during the race had an epic view over the Carpathian mountains and turned into our hang out spot between racing.

A Romanian 4 star resort is a little different than a Canadian 4-star resort, and while it was comfortable, we also had one giant street light and one spotlight shining straight into our room. A Belgium rider had the same problem, so he put his extra bed and mattress against the window to block the light. Fred and I occupied both our beds, so instead, we unscrewed the light from the spotlight, and then slept with black shirts over our heads to try and get some darkness. The shower also shot straight into the room making it a swimming hole, unless we crouched in the tub and washed ourselves like we were kids in a tin basin. The WIFI they promised was also non-existent. I brought these issues up to the front desk but they just turned their heads and told us they’d fix it later. I’m used to sleeping in a tent in a ditch somewhere so I could really care less about this stuff, but if you’re going to charge $100 + a night for something then I’ll raise my voice in hopes of getting any silly problems fixed for the next occupant.

Stage 1 I showed up nice and early, 20 minutes before race start, but apparently had already missed the UCI call-up. I tried to negotiate with the UCI official, but these guys can take themselves pretty seriously, thus I had a nice start position at the back of the 150 rider field. It was sketchy trying to ride through the field on marbly gravel roads but I made it up to the chase group just before the first 10 km climb. The lead group of 12 riders was already long gone, part of the joys of racing a UCI race in Europe with top riders from 20+ countries on hand. I attempted to bridge up to the lead group but the 20-25% hills were kicking my ass one after another and pretty soon I had a full meltdown as my back was unhappy and the legs were even more unhappy trying to push over the 36-45 gearing. All my smaller chainrings were at home as I never use them, and I had unsuccessfully looked for a smaller one after the Prologue the night before. Apparently, when you race in Eastern Europe you better show up with everything you need as spare parts are sparse.

Reaching the first feed zone at a mountain pass was stunning as we had 360 views of the Carpathian mountains. I stopped for 10 seconds to fix my seat and was immediately scolded by the UCI officials for fixing my bike in the feed zone and not tech zone which was 3 feet to the left. Whatever, no one else is around, but as I know these UCI guys like to show off their powers so moved a couple feet to the left to continue fixing the problem. Grabbing some food I took off, hike a biking straight up a pitch to the mountain summit and then embarking on some amazing high alpine riding. The body was still in meltdown mode as I sunk into the 30+’s but I kept on telling myself to push through it. Eventually, the legs came back online and I started moving forwards, passing riders again and slowly gaining some momentum. It’s amazing how fast the mind can switch during a race, being on the edge of a complete breakdown, to making small gains and getting the momentum back in your favour.

Mid-race I could see my buddy Fred about 3 minutes ahead, straight up this huge hike a bike section. After spending last winter hiking around the Himalayas I used these hike-a-bikes to my advantage and caught a few riders, including my buddy Fred just before a 15 km descent through the alpine on a great, technical rocky trail. This turned into one of the best 30 minutes of riding I had all year as we pushed each other, passing riders, and getting ourselves back into the race. It was sketchy in sections, dodging sharp rocks, skidding down wet grassy slopes, and bouncing off tree roots in the forest below. By the bottom of this Romanian Enduro we had moved back into the top 15, a position I’d hold to the finish, while Fred would crack and drift back a few spots.

Again after the race, I searched for a smaller chainring as I heard Stage 2 would be even tougher. One of the local Romanian teams had some but were unfortunately unwilling to sell off any of them, or loan one out for the last two days of the race. Fair enough, I was in direct competition with them, and it was my fault for not packing one. That being said, if anyone from overseas is competing against me in Canada and needs help one day I will go out of my way to make sure they get it. After being on the traveler’s side of the game for most my life I know the challenges that come with being away from home and have some karma to repay as I’ve had great help all over the world.

Stage 2 was pretty short mileage wise but a real hardman’s day. Somehow they packed 3300 climbing meters into 59 km, and it had more hike a bike then you could shake a stick at. Luke Way at Balance Point Racing has been giving me coaching guidance for years and after the last visit, he told me to work on my slow cadence efforts to really put some stress on the leg muscles to lower the blood oxidation levels. I took the steep climbs at the Carpathian Epic as the perfect spot to practice this, but it also took its toll as I would push the low gears way past my limits and after 2 hours of this I had detonated my legs.

Finally hitting the top of the last Carpathian Mountain on the stage, I was all geared up to make some spots back up on the descent. Shockingly the decent went in a straight line, through the rhubarb and grass down the mountain. It seemed whoever flagged the course just set there GPS on a straight line down the mountain and then started hanging flags up. Once out of the bushes, it eventually turned into a skid trail and near the bottom a skid trail with boulders littered all over. All in all, it took 12 minutes to go down what had taken over 1hr and 15 minutes to climb with much of it being at – 30-47%. My arms burned at the bottom and my brakes were likely melted into the rotors. From here to the finish the body was in shutdown mode, likely from going over my limit trying to grind up the last 2 mountains with no ability to spin with the big gears. Eventually, I’d roll in 20th, just glad to be over and able to start the recovery process for the final stage.

Stage 3 was more of a normal marathon, 60 km, 2500 km, and no hike a bike. Starting the stage out slow, I’d wind it up going over a grassy descent, passing 10 riders via letting go of my brakes and taking a sketchy outside line. I’d lose a bit on the next punchy climbs but the course was predominantly downhill to start going over some rough cattle trails which played in my favour. Eventually, I’d settle into a group from 11th-15th place as we started a long 12 km climb, first up through a giant canyon, then onto a fire road and eventually ending on some rooty singletrack. A lot of these gravel roads were full of tourists hiking around looking down at there phones which made it interesting trying to weave around all the oblivious hikers.

I kept getting dropped from this group of Euro climbers, but I’d use the rolling singletrack across the top to gain contact again. Most the trails in Romania were like rough Canadian hiking tracks. In my mind, these are some of the most fun trails to ride as they are raw and rugged and my Kona Hei Hei was eating them up. The backside descent was fast, and ended on a straight pitch down a loose dusty slope, a similar theme to the week. It wasn’t super technical but it was pretty rad how the Romanian riding was so diverse every day with every type of riding imaginable. The final climb to the finish was 12 km up a tight river valley surrounded by Transylvanian forest. It resembled the west coast of BC and the slight 3-4% gradients were much nicer than the 20%+ gradients that had dominated the race the first few stages! Crossing the finish line in 10th on the day marked the first solid ride I had since crashing hard on stage 4 at BC Bike Race back in July, and moved me up to into the money and 15th overall in GC. It was reason enough to enjoy the festivities later in the day as the organizers put on a huge Romania BBQ, complete with tables full of wine and beer. Apparently, Romania is the 10th largest supplier of wine in the world, and home to some of the best cheese and free-range meat I’ve tasted so we had a nice party.

Overall the experience in Romania was top notch. The organizing crew put on a great race and the atmosphere was nice as every stage started and finished in the same race village. The riding reminded me of the old TransRockies classic in Canada, a nice change from all the new school berm filled, smoothed out IMBA trails. The following morning all the racers cleared out and I settled in for a relaxing day to try and recupe some energy as I had an adventure planned the following day, planning to ride back to Bucharest via the backroads.

It’s interesting how the locals often try to talk you out of these sort of adventures in their countries as they try to make it sound more dangerous then it actually is. Over the years I’ve learned to trust my own instincts, take a few precautions and then get on with whatever little adventure I have planned. With a smile on your face and an open mind, this world is usually a pretty welcoming place.

The ride back to Bucharest was top notch as I planned out a 185 km route via the backroads. The first 80 km snaked its way out of the Carpathian mountains on some dirt roads, going through some pretty cool mountain towns full of impressive churches. It was good to see how well kept the Romanians keep their countryside. The 2nd half of the ride was across Romania’s agriculture flatlands and was a good mixture of small paved roads and farmer dirt roads. Every couple of hours I’d pull over at little roadside stores to refill on water and snacks. There was always Romanian country folk just chilling outside these rest stops and they were pretty curious as to what a Canadian mountain biker was doing in there neck of the woods. I learned a bit of Romanian this way and had a lot of handshakes and good travel wishes.

Reaching Bucharest the traffic picked up so I hopped on the sidewalks for the last few km of the ride before checking into the Rin hotel near the airport. The next day my friend Elena from the Carpathian MTB Epic offered to give me a tour of her city so I hopped on the bike, this time with sandals and casual 7mesh clothing, and took the scenic way into town via the many bike paths through the parklands. The city itself was pretty rad, full of the largest parliament building outside of the Pentagon, lots of historic buildings and many neat cultural things to see and do. Bucharest used to be called a mini-Paris and has some cool places to check out. A week in Romania was a good taste of the country but the more you see of a place the more plentiful the opportunities open up to explore it further. I’ll hope to have a chance to come back one day to continue exploring this Balkan country.

For now, it’s off to Norway for a two-week adventure including racing both the legendary Birken in Lillehammer and then the Skaidi Xtreme way up North above the 71st parallel. Here we come Scandinavia!

 

**Photos by MPG Romania

For all of Cory’s race reports, be sure to check out his blog featuring in-depth recaps from all of his race and events.

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.