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.
Happy Valentines Day to you and your bikes, from all of us at Kona!
Let’s face it. If you live north of the equator there’s a decent chance you’re stuck in this weather phenomenon we call, “winter.” Perhaps you’re a skier or snowboarder and have hung up your rubber shoes in favor of wooden plans. More power to you. But, for those of you who just can’t quit your bike, we feel you. We feel you because we still have sensation in our fingers from years of trial and error of keeping our bodies somewhat temperate in cold(er), nasty weather. In fact, we have so much wonderful advice for you that we’re launching a series of posts called Winterized. Winterized features tips from Kona employees, partner and pro riders on how to best survive the winter. So grab a cup of your favorite toddy, throw another log on the fire, and soak in the advice. We’ve suffered so you don’t have to.
Name: Kevin Rutherford
Kona gig: Canada Sales/Small Parts
Bike of choice: Process
How Kevin gets Winterized:
Fall/winter is my favourite time to ride! I generally ride my Process all year long, regardless of weather and I run Minions year round.
The key riding gear I find is:
A couple dream gear additions would be:
Fenders (road) Open lug treads (MTB)
Microfleece helmet liners
Name: Molly Joyce
Kona gig: Inside sales support,
Bike of choice: Honzo
How Molly gets Winterized:
Name: Kevin Thornton
Kona gig: Graphics
Bike of choice: Whichever one has fenders
How Kevin gets Winterized:
That’s it for round one of Winterized. Stay tuned to the Cog over the coming weeks for more cold weather riding tips!
Every now and then we hear about events that make us feel so totally mortal. Things like the Tour de France, or an unparalleled athletic feat that has us scratching our heads wondering how on earth people can actually be in such good physical condition. For Kona Adventure/Endurance team rider, Cory Wallace the bigger the suffer the bigger the gain. Wallace is no stranger to mega marathon racing but has just returned from one of the world’s burliest events: the 2017 Yak Attack race, heald around the Annapurna Circuit and into the Forbidden Kingdom of the Upper Mustang in Central Nepal. Over the course of 10 days, riders battle wild weather, extremely high altitude (most the race taking place between 3000 and 5416 meters), and treacherous trails to complete the 9 stage race that traverses nearly 500km. Wallace became the first foreigner to win the event in 2016 and was able to successfully defend his title this year about his Kona Hei Hei CR DL, the perfect weapon for big days in the saddle. For the full, fascinating recap of the race be sure to head over to Wallace’s blog for all of the adventure details.
Alan Muldoon from UK magazine MBR recently requested our base model alloy Hei Hei for review, the bike retails in the UK for £2,399.00 ($2499 in the USA and $3499 in Canada), we were pretty excited to see what their verdict would be on a bike that we absolutely love and are immensely proud of! Well we weren’t disappointed, as the brutally honest MBR magazine (a magazine that pulls no punches) gave the bike a 9 out of 10 rating.
“The Kona Hei Hei is on another level. Tight responsive ride. A fast efficient bike. None of the twitchy-ness associated with short-travel rigs.”
You can check out the review published in full online here.
Uphill. 10,000 meters. 32,000 feet. It’s become a bit of a theme for cyclists to base their attempts for higher heights on the world’s highest mountain – Everesting, they call it – seeking to climb 8,848 meters in a day.
Long time Kona rider Spencer Paxson, always the geographer, sought to base his attempt on the deepest depths of the ocean: the Challenger Deep, part of the Mariana Trench at more than 10,000 meters.
On June 24, 2017, taking advantage of the maximum daylight of the summer solstice, Spencer set out to ride the Challenger High with his trusty Kona Hei Hei.
Head over to Bike Mag to read the full feature written by Lacy Kemp with photos by Paris Gore.
This just in, Spencer Paxson set out to climb over 10,000 metres in a day on the longest day of the year. Check out his Instagram stories while they’re live for the next few hours, and read on below for his report on this year’s Epic Rides Triple Crown…
Words by Spencer Paxson.
Yes, I still own a skin suit! Amidst all of our backcountry adventuring, we members of the Kona Endurance Team have also been busy doing some good old fashioned bicycle racing. Last Sunday saw the conclusion of the 2017 Epic Rides Off Road Series in Carson City, Nevada. The three-race series began in late-April through the cactus of Prescott, Arizona, the slick rock of Grand Junction, Colorado in mid-May, and wrapped up under the hot blue skies of the the Sierra Nevadas.
I can speak from experience that within the realm of endurance mountain biking, the Epic Rides Series has come to be the most distinguished race series in North America, attracting the entire tribe of top-ranked endurance racers this side of the Atlantic (and in some cases a few Europeans, too), all vying for a piece of the prestige and $100,000 prize. This year I managed to log consistent efforts and earn 5th overall in the series.
A podium finish eluded me this season, and snagging a top-5 overall admittedly had more to do with luck. I finished 9th in Carson City, and was a subpar 14th in the other two events. Going into Carson City, a few riders in the top-10 were unable to contest the final event due to injuries, and there were some mechanicals in Sunday’s marathon that shifted things around even more. Not exactly how you want to earn your marks, but then again, consistency and luck are a reality of the sport.
While the racing is serious, one of the greatest things about the Epic Rides Series is that it proves how well-done events go far beyond the racing itself. Each event consists of a 3-day festival atmosphere where beginners, seasoned amateurs, and the world’s fastest pros come together to enjoy mountain bike culture, live music and world class singletrack. A pro fat-tire crit kicks things off on Friday night (it’s all about putting on a show!), followed by great music and beer gardens Friday and Saturday nights. Amateurs race on Saturday morning, and the pros race on Sunday. Over a thousand racers partake in the events, and thousands more come to watch and experience the weekend.
Each stop of the Epic Rides Series places a rewarding spotlight on its host communities, helping to promote community health, outdoor recreation and making a real boost to the local economy. As the Executive Director of the Carson City Visitors Bureau was quoted in the Nevada Appeal, “Epic Rides is more than just a good fit in Carson City. It has made an impact in our rebranding and we are seeing a dynamic change.” According to the Carson City Visitors Bureau, Carson City’s revenue in tourism increased 64 percent over the last four years, from $12.3 million to $20 million.
Out for food on Friday night, we noticed that several new restaurants and other businesses had opened up in Carson City since the first event in 2016 thickened their circle on the map. Significant buy-in from sponsors and host cities provides the largest cash purse in endurance mountain biking (split equally for men & women) along with a strong media platform. That in turn attracts major industry players and their top professional riders to participate in a world class set of events.
The momentum is unquestionable, and the series plans to expand in 2018 and beyond. Meanwhile, Todd Sadow, President and visionary of Epic Rides, looks to support groups within the host communities to build and maintain trails of the Off-Road series. The fundraising goal in 2017 is $30,000, and 100 percent of the funds will go to repairing, maintaining, and expanding existing trail systems — evenly split between the host cities.
It is a great series to be a part of – as an elite-level racer, as a member of the mountain bike tribe at large, and as someone who appreciates the value of a healthy, local community.
Needless to say, I’m stoked to come back for an even bigger and better series in 2018!
In the meantime…time to head into the mountains. Stay tuned for the next installment of the Kona Adventure Team’s “Cooldown Adventure”…somewhere in the mountains above Lake Tahoe…
Photos by Patrick Means.
No, The Prairie Dog Companions and the Kokopelli Trail is not an indie band name, but it probably could be.
Rather, it is the latest installment of the Kona Adventure Team, connoisseurs of two-wheeled outings, and their recent trip to the rocky trails of Colorado and Utah. There, they competed in the 50-mile Grand Junction Off Road, followed by a two-day, 165-mile ride along the Kokopelli Trail all the way to Moab.
After his win at the Nimby Fifty in Pemberton, BC last week, Cory Wallace is now over in Europe for the World Solo 24 Hour Championships. Just a hair off the win last year, he’s hungry! Read on below…
Words and photos by Cory Wallace.
The World Solo 24hr Championships are taking place this weekend on a scenic plateau above the Italian Riviera near the border of France. After coming within 3 minutes of the title last year in New Zealand I’m grateful and excited to be back for another shot this year! It’s shaping up to be quite the battle with riders from over 30 countries showing up to Italy, including 7 time World Champion Jason English, USA Champ Josh Tostado, a number of Europeans and some dark horses.
My friend Leighton Poidevin will be managing the Pit area with help from Hiran who is here with bags of Radical Lights to make sure the night riding is brighter then the day. Leighton and I have been racing each other for years at 24 hour races around the World. He’s one of the most accomplished riders to ever come out of North America and one hell of a friend to volunteer to come over to support this effort. For this year I’ll be running 2 full suspension Kona Hei Hei’s which should help soften the blows on the rocky and short 8 km course.
Huge thanks to my friends and sponsors who have supported me over the years and have enabled this trip back to the start line at Worlds for another shot at the title. Kona bikes has always had my back, local bike shops Freewheel Cycle in Jasper, Straight up Cycles in Victoria, and a huge thanks to Hiran at Radical Lights for flying over with the brightest and best lights in the game.
Live results from the race can be found starting at 10 am on Friday Italian time: which is 2am Friday morning mountain time in North America on the www.tds-live.com website.
Off to work…
Kristien Achten of Swooth MTB Shop in Belgium has found redemption on the course at Transvesubienne. Kristien found herself in 2nd place at the end of the 2016 race and, setting Transvesubienne as a main target for 2017, took her Kona Hei Hei to victory in both the Prologue and the main race. While XC races are usually won on the climbs, Kristien notes that her carbon Hei Hei also lets her ride away from her competitors on the descents. For the rest of us, that stacks up to a competition-ready bike that is a lot of fun on the trail! Congrats Kristien!
Photos courtesy Art Reflex Photography.
Spencer Paxson and Kerry Werner went 2-3 at the Pisgah Stage Race on their Hei Heis. As usual, Spencer’s trip report is super thoughtful and interesting! Here goes…
If the Bible had been written in the Pacific Northwest, the expression “shake the dust off your feet” would go something like “scrape the moss off…” At least that was my thought as I hummed out of town in my moss-covered truck early one April morning for my first race trip of the 2017 season. It had been a long and wet winter in Bellingham. The longest in recorded history. I had let the legs go good and fallow since my last race in November, and then spent all of December off of the bike (on account of the snow). For the past three months I had been riding the magic carpet of loam on the trails around town to get back in shape. Now it was time to put it to the test and wake the senses from hibernation with a trip to the Pisgah Stage Race in North Carolina.
Needless to say, I was keen to get out and stretch my legs in the old crumbly Blue Ridge Mountains and rhododendron groves of western North Carolina. The objective was the Pisgah Stage Race, a 5-day humdinger of a mountain bike stage race based out of the town of Brevard. This would be the 9th edition of the famous event and my first time racing it. Along the way I’d link up with new teammate and North Carolina native Kerry Werner and the good folks at Tennessee Valley Bikes (TVB) in Knoxville.
There was no lacking in fine Southern hospitality as soon as I landed in Knoxville. In no time I had tossed my bag into the back of a big truck and was driving down the highway with a Nikki Lane song twanging on the radio as the sun set over the Smoky Mountains. A big dinner of hole-in-the-wall Mexican food with Scott and Eric from TVB and the road warriors from Kona Bicycles Demo Tour had me feeling fat as a tick. With a happy post-travel coma fast approaching, I passed out that night to the sound of the local crickets and katydids.
We shook our legs out at the Kona Demo Day at the new Knoxville Urban Wilderness trail system, followed that evening my some official pre-fueling at TVB’s new shop grand opening. Kerry and I were elected as chief judges for a “guac-off”. We sampled 14 different kinds of guacamole scoring on 8 criteria each, then topped off on street corn and sausages before bidding farewell to Knoxville and caravanning down the Blue Ridge Highway to Brevard. We weathered a flat tire on the RV and made it to the Pine Ridge campground and my first night in the Pisgah Forest. Just before midnight I had pitched a tent on a little grassy nook next the Davidson River with the blue light of the moon shining so bright I could read a book without a flashlight.
Coffee, pancakes, and NPR News in the morning would begin the routine for the coming week as Kerry whipped up a mighty fine breakfast before our first day pre-riding some of the Pisgah trails. The weather was looking prime, with sun and short-sleeve temperatures forecasted for the week, maybe a frogwash or two along the way, but otherwise uncharacteristically dry for spring. Despite the warm temperatures, the trees had not bloomed yet, and the only green in the woods was the dark evergreen of rhododendron groves. The absence of leaves gave the forest a brisk and flinty appearance. I kept an eye out for the famous white squirrels of Pisgah and imagined old-time Civil War era history as we rolled out to the trails.
“This one’ll get a little loose,” noted Kerry before we dropped into the first descent of the day. I had expected Pisgah to be rough based on the stories I had heard, but that said, I was caught off guard after four months of riding the luxurious loam carpets of Cascadia. Yes, our trails in Bellingham can get rough and wild, but there’s a nuance to everything. The trails of Pisgah are refreshingly raw, rocky and rooty, ungroomed and unapologetic. Riding fast here requires a smoothness akin to the prolonged vowels of the Southern drawl. Managing traction and speed are as different here as the accent. Fundamentals are the same, but the expressions don’t work without the subtleties. I felt like I couldn’t carry my speed if I had a bucket with a lid on it! Let’s say my Yankee rigidity would hold me back through the first half of the stage race, but I eventually adopted a smoother Southern style.
Racing arrived soon enough, and on the morning of Stage 1 the air was abuzz as the crowd of 200 racers from 11 countries lined up for the 5-day, 140-mile journey. We plunged through an icy stream and into the rhododendron forests. A group of four, including Kerry, a local elite rider named Tristan Cowie, one Mystery European and myself, quickly separated from the masses and soon we were all seeing double as we navigated our way up and away into the forest. The battle was on.
Kerry was the defending champion of Pisgah and bringing the thunder after a career best cyclocross season in 2016, not to mention a long history as one of the top MTBrs in the country. Tristan Cowie was no stranger to the top-level of mountain bike racing himself, having been a regular on the US National Team in the 2007-2009 period. And as a local, he knew each of the trails like a tree knows its roots. The Mystery European turned out to be from Spain and was an ex-World Cup dominator. With fast conditions and good legs, we blazed through the stage setting a course record a whopping 20 minutes faster than the year before! Midway through, Tristan launched a perfect attack into a long descent, placing the Spaniard between him and myself. Spaniard’s skill going down was not as good as it was going up, and Tristan began to float away. I eventually snuck around Spaniard, but I wasn’t riding very smooth either, and though I was reeling Tristan in, there wasn’t enough of the day left to close the gap. I came in second on Day 1 by 19 seconds, a gap that would ebb and flow through the week. Kerry rolled in third.
Meanwhile, Kona Grassroots rider Jena Greaser was dominating the Open Women’s category, and would go on to do so through the week. Jena is beginning to rack up impressive results, with a top-3 finish a few week’s prior at the TransRockies Moab Rocks stage race in Utah. Desert to Appalachia, she is a Canadian force to be reckoned with. In the Open Men’s field and just a possum’s tail behind us was Super Grassroots rider Cory Rimmer, a young and rising star from North Carolina. Cory put the hustle to the enduro sections like a fart in a fan factory and would go on to take second overall in the Enduro portion of the race.
At the front end of the field, the days at Pisgah are relatively short at around 2-2.5hrs each. The upside is that the fatigue doesn’t stack up the way it does in longer death-march style races where each day is over 4 hours. The flip side is that the short days make for very intense and fast racing. The pace each day is faster than green grass through a goose. Course records fell left and right as we stormed through the hills, beating times set by previous legends of the sport Jeremiah Bishop, Thomas Turner, Sam Koerber and Adam Craig. Was it the trail conditions, the modern equipment, the legs, or all combined?
Whatever it was, it made for a tight battle between Tristan and me. It turns out we were well-matched. I won three stages and chopped the gap down to as little as 9 seconds, while he won the other two stages. My advantage early on was in going uphill, a metabolically expensive option. Tristan was already strong as an ox on acid on the climbs, yet his advantage was in going downhill, a much more energy-efficient option. Each day we logged at least 10 minutes worth of sustained 6 watts-per-kilogram efforts, interspersed with plenty of digs so hard they could make a preacher cuss, and long descents that left the arms feeling like a pair of arthritic snakes full of hot sauce. By day 4, I was going downhill on pace, but just couldn’t close the gap. Despite my best efforts, I finished my now customary 2nd place by less than 0.2% after five days of racing. That’s tighter than a pair of pants on a bloated elephant, and something like my 6th consecutive stage race that I’ve finished as bridesmaid.
Kerry wrapped up the week in third overall, and took the win in the Enduro, the race within the race, comprised of a timed segment of downhill trail on each stage. Kerry rode over those rocks, ruts and roots faster than a one-legged man in a butt-kicking competition, and was still there with a cheery smile to make breakfast for us every morning. When it was all said and done we basked in glory and downed several beers, sprawled under the sun in a grassy field at the after party listening to Nikki Lane live in concert serenade the crowd, grinnin’ like possums eatin’ sweet taters. It was a damn fine week.
Canadian Kona Grassroots rider Jena Greaser killed it with a time of 6:52:12.4 at the TransRockies Moab Rocks Stage race! Here’s her recap of three days of XC racing with her Hei Hei Race Supreme.
Moab Rocks 3-day stage race successfully fulfilled my goal for racing this season: to find the best mountain bike races in North America! This was my first stage race. I gained mental, technical and tactical strength and experience that will go a long way into this season and beyond. Moab Rocks is certainly on the race calendar for 2018. It was an excellent, well organized event with tons of great people, trails and prizes.
Day 1: Porcupine Rim
Distance: 25.3 miles. Elevation: 4200 feet.
After 15 miles of CONSISTENT climbing, myself and female competitor, Marlee Dixon, had maintained a steady pace to break away from 2016 bronze medal Olympian, Catharine Pendrel, in the last few miles of the ascent.
On this first day, I suffered from lack of “terrain knowledge”; chunky, technical rock, with multiple drops and various lines to take. Mechanically, I made the error of riding with too high of tire pressure as well, which didn’t help on the rough descent. I learned a lesson on climbing up into thin air this stage. Oops!
Take note, this is one stage that riding on a more “trail” style bike is certainly advantageous: The time you lose on the climb can be made up on the long downhill. Overall, it was a super long, dirt road/pavement climb, followed by an hour of some of the wildest, best descending you’ll ever do in a cross country race.
Day 2: Klondike Bluffs
Distance: 25.8 miles. Elevation: 2800 feet.
This stage was the most “cross country” type layout of the three days. After a fast 3 miles of dirt road, it was a mass sprint up the first short slick-rock climb. At this point, I made my move on the rest of the women’s field. I knew that I needed to take advantage of my motivation and increase my lead. Lead I did; across the finish line to own an impressive stage win. Overall, this was the most exciting and best performance day in the saddle!
Day 3: Magnificent 7
Distance: 28.6 miles. Elevation: 3600 feet.
Stage three had a mix of everything. Some steep climbs, some smooth flowy singletrack and of course, more slickrock! I had my most challenging day in the saddle, mentally and physically. Despite my legs not responding the way I had hoped and a few tactical errors early on in the race, I was able to keep a steady pace. In the final 8 miles of the race, I had a sketchy endo that luckily, did not leave me toothless or end my race! After feeling like my mouth was disconnected from my face and seeing stars, I somehow “found another gear” and charged onward to the finish; leaving everything I had on the Moab dirt.
At the end of the day, the rough terrain had worn me out, as any good race should. However, after taking on such an endeavor together with my teammate and partner, Dylan Bailey, we were all smiles; full of happiness, learned valuable lessons, and got to ride some of the best, most challenging trails we’d ever raced. Three days at Moab Rocks served as a great catalyst to stage racing, and prepared us well for the next event: the 5 day Pisgah Stage Race in North Carolina April 11th – 15th.