Kona Adventure Team

Kona Adventure Team 2017 Recap!

Intro by Spencer Paxson

Words from behind the lens – In 2017, Kona launched the Kona Adventure Team, an offshoot of its Factory Endurance Program, to reach beyond the realm of competition and somewhere amidst the worlds of backcountry mountain biking, back-roads road riding, and plain-old big days on two wheels. Collaborating on ideas and bringing adventures to life is photographer and Pacific Northwest cycling ace Patrick Means. Patrick, hailing from Corvallis, Oregon, began a formal pursuit of outdoor and adventure photography in 2015 and has a long history with Kona’s affiliate Team S&M from Portland, Oregon. In 2017, he participated in and documented each of the Adventure Team’s big missions, and his work was featured in four front-page articles on Pinkbike, the largest mountain biking website in the world. Patrick is the rare breed, who knows good dirt, a good climb, and good glass. His style speaks to his ability to “shoot from within.” Patrick’s passion for both cycling and photography are apparent in his work, especially when you consider that all of his work is captured while on the move, whether it is a back-to-back century mission up the California coast, or a 2-day push across the rugged Kokopelli Trail.  Read on for Patrick’s own recap of highlights from the season’s adventures. You’ll see why we are excited to see what’s in store for 2018… 

More of Patrick’s work may be found at his website Trailhousephoto.com and on Instagram at @patrick_means  


Picking 5 shots from these adventures was hard.  I want to tell the story. The whole story!  Instead, these are glimpses.  But sometimes getting just the bits and pieces of stories can make them better.  The imagination—the most vivid and powerful of all cameras—filling in the blanks.

Double Century Sandwich. Pacifica to Healdsburg, CA. And back.
We gathered our people and gathered our bikes excited for the adventures to unfold over the course of the year.  This is version 1.0.  It’s not happened before.  How do we do it?  Will we do it wrong?  Wait, what are we doing anyway? What will it be like?  Just go. We did.  The first day, in baggy clothes and backpacks with 40c knobby tires, could have been called “Dirt Direct” taking us elite off-roaders a cool 9 hours to travel 106 miles.  In Kris Sneddon speak, it was “muscly”. We easily finished a king-sized bag of peanut butter M&Ms in one go at around mile 70.  For day 2, the good ol’ Kona boys slapped on the spandex and raced a (hard) 60 miles through some big ol’ dirt climbs in the coast range outside Occidental, California.  On the 3rd day, we rode home to Pacifica.  The highlight could have been Cory walking out of the grocery with two full grocery bags of food, with over 20 miles to finish the day still ahead of us.  I suppose we did it right.  We saw some beautiful country.  And we saw each other see the beautiful country, and that counts for something.   What else do you strive for?

Prescott Circle Trail. Prescott, Arizona.
The Prescott Circle Trail is a conglomeration of 60 miles of trails that circumnavigate the city of Prescott.  We started early and finished on the waning edges of the day.  Is this the first REAL adventure or the second one?  Was Cali a ‘practice’ adventure?  Not sure.  Wait, nah, this feels like the 2nd one to me.  After all, what’s an adventure? Maybe this is the important question. Tell the story.  Shooting from the bike, I race ahead and take a picture.  I see something rad, drop back, take a photo, chase for 3-30 minutes… Repeat.  Photographer intervals.  The best ones are the photos that don’t even turn out, and I’m left laughing (or cursing) and chasing hard.  My desire to create something beautiful has zero power over what I actually make.  The worst shots are the ones I don’t stop and take.  They haunt me, but only until I get home and look through the pics.  The worry that I didn’t get anything good goes away and is replaced by the excitement of what I do have.  What we came away with turns out to be what counts the most.

Kokopelli Trail.  140miles one-way, from Fruita, CO to Moab, UT.
A Prairie Dog Companion:  It reads like bathroom humor, but the joke was certainly on us.  I don’t think we were prepared for how ‘big’ this one was.  In hindsight, I like it better that way.  Before the second day had even begun, it was quietly agreed upon that this was the “biggest” (whatever that means) project Barry was allowed to ram down our throats.  I think there’s a very good reason that most people take 4-6 days to do what we did in 2 days, which is neat to say.  But neat and smart are uncommon bedfellows in the world of cycling—best served scrambled, if together at all.  Looking back, it was super neat to actually do.  But at the time, it sure didn’t feel very neat.  I think day 2 caught us with our pants down.  Still 30 miles from home, we had run out of water, and daylight was getting a little long-in-the-tooth.  With some road construction threatening to bar the path, one smiling hard-hatted man sings “the way is shut.” We talk to the next dude who says the same thing, and in the same sentence, he tells us to go hide in the woods and wait for the other fellas in Carhartts and hardhats to all drive home—in their trucks—probably full of water and gasoline and a throttle to idle home and listen to some nice music or something.  We, blissfully, laid down in the dirt and rocks.  Fifteen minutes later, and still out of water, we started pedaling the 2000 foot climb up to the final escarpment that would see us down to Moab, Utah.  The gratitude we all felt at having made it to Milt’s—Moab’s iconic burger joint—just before closing is still hard to articulate.

Lake Tahoe. Lake to Summit to Lake.
This was a fun one.  With Cory off becoming 24-hour World Champion, and Mr. and Mrs. Paxson preparing to welcome a new human into the world, the weight of the project rested on Wicknasty, Sneds, and me: top fellows to head to the mountains with, and who have just the correct (?) amount of skill, comic relief, safety knowledge, common sense, and easily-breeze-tousled caution.  And, of course, no matter how big or small the adventure, a healthy belief that everything will work out great, and if and when it doesn’t, we’ll adapt and get through. This one was cool—it didn’t feel like a bike ride.  It was mostly just going on a rad adventure with some pals.  We rode bikes a bit and hiked over drifts of snow.  Some slushy turns in the snow above lake Tahoe on a beautiful summer day was just pretty silly, really: silly in all the good ways.  I think it might have been just the leisure activity to get into after our rock-smashing fest that was the Kokopelli Trail.  Plus, rallying light trail bikes fully loaded with skis or a split-board makes even the most tame ribbon of trail a bit zesty!


Waldo Singletrack Snacks.  Bend, Oregon to Waldo Lake and back.
Maybe, this one was about Community.  The nearly 60+ miles of singletrack each day was pretty incredible, too.  The 5-star trails around Waldo Lake are second to none.  When I think back on this trip, it really seems like a bunch of snack breaks interrupted by periods of riding mountain bikes!  Isn’t that the end goal?  I mean, really.  Who doesn’t ride bikes and snack?  Maybe if more people knew that’s actually what cycling is about, more people would ride bikes…  Just a thought.

Kona Adventure Team v2.0 What will happen with the v2.0 year?  Does v2.0 mean going bigger?  Is bigger the point?  What is bigger?  Maybe it’s all just v1.0.  There is absolutely inherent value in pushing on limits.  I think that we’ve all been taught that the edge—and beyond?—of our limits is where we “see god, discover ourselves, time slows down,” (Insert a saying about personal growth here) and that’s not wrong, not at all.  But what of the value of consciously choosing things that feed our souls by way of their simplicity and ease?  I guess I’ve always been a seeker of suffering.  Only recently, I’ve given more weight to the pleasure in simple, enjoyable, ‘little’ adventures.  How about an 8-mile “bikepack” from the front door of my house over to a little, greasy, recently logged peak in the forest next to the town where I live? All I need is a single backpack, and I’m up greeting the sun and ripping sweet 5-inch wide trails before clocking-in for work at 0900—low input, high in value!  How do you think that work day was for me?  Best day ever.  But would I be as quick to toss crap in a backpack and spend the night in the woods if I hadn’t pedaled too much gear up to a fire lookout above Prescott, Arizona and realized how stupid easy it could be?  I think what I can say is that I’m welcoming what 2018 has to bring.  Big and small.  After all, it’ll be 2018, v1.0.

Cory Wallace Defends His Title at the 2017 Yak Attack

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.


Lost Trails Found, Trans Cascadia 2017

An adventure in the woods. Rustic trail. Real fast. Part race, part revelry, part trail stewardship, the Trans Cascadia is all about uncovering ancient trails, creating a valuable resource for those who like to share good times amongst friends going self-powered through the woods on two wheels.  Our own Adventure Team rider Spencer Paxson takes us inside a distinctive journey to the Old Cascades of central Oregon as part of the third annual Trans Cascadia, where he partook in four days of riding racing uncovered trail.

Daniel Sharp

A long time ago, before any so-called mountain bikers roamed, a wide web of trail was built in these here hills…the Old Cascade Crest…in a land called now Oregon.

Trails once upon a time meant to move through the forests in order to skirt the flanks of fearsome mountains, to be with the land and to trade things like huckleberries. Later on, to move wagons and pack animals, or to spy forest fires. Eventually, trails just to have trails, to experience nature, and move through the forests. 

Leslie Kehmeier

Eventually the trails were lost, or forgotten. Signs marking the way had become one with the trees, and the path through the forest was no longer.

Mike Thomas

Until, one day, a party gathered in the woods to uncover these old trails and clear their way through the forest again.

Dylan VanWeelden

“Mountain bikers”, they were called. These new trail stewards, those who value a certain way of going through the forest. Many came to rebuild, and then the rest came to ride the handiwork.

Mike Thomas

The goods are best when shared, yet kept secret enough. Undisclosed until the night before, queue cards are handed out in camp and studied under headlamp.

Mike Thomas
Nate Johnson

Like the operators of the old Santiam Wagon Road, the hosts treated their people very well and looked to every detail to make their stay comfortable. Much food is prepped for 100 people spending five nights in the forest. Special ingredients are added to stave off the inevitable loamatosis, which afflicts those who consume lush trail with such gluttony.

Nate Johnson

…and after dinner ceremony, neon dance revelry…

Mike Thomas

…and after neon dance revelry, neon sleep in the woods ritual…

Lyden Trevor

…and come morning, the wheeled stables bring the steeds and their riders out the paved road and on to the primitive trailhead.

Chris Hornbeck

The ride begins along an old way through the forest. The trail is barely perceptible through the thick green moss. Walking.

Mike Thomas

A delicate balance across the creek to the next path. No pole vaulting required, just bike balancing.

Mike Thomas

Eventually out of the thick forest and up into the mid-alpine meadows, kept open long ago for living and hunting, the trail is barely perceptible through the golden grass. Old stone cairns mark the way, and clouds float.

Chris Hornbeck

Across misty, huckleberry-strewn ridge tops they go.

Leslie Kehmeier

As the descent becomes ever closer, the excitement builds.

Mike Thomas

Dropping down through the fiery fall foliage.

Dylan VanWeelden

Travelers were obliged by the swiftness of the trail to join in a train of shred. Unlike covered-wagon routes, these trails are as serpentine as possible.


The author foot out, flat out

Mike Thomas

A section of trail ripe with Loamatosis shredarensis

Lyden Trevor

Airborne, peak sustained speeds in the section: 33.6 mph

Leslie Kehmeier

Returning to covered-wagon speed, back uphill again, across the next section of the pass.

Mike Thomas

Trail snacks galore since 1873…

Dylan VanWeelden

Along the Old Cascade Crest…

Mike Thomas

Really, it was like a dream. Repeat.


Joe Lawwill

The author and his steed. Spencer ended up 7th overall aboard his 2017 Process 111, snagging a few 4th & 5th stage placings across 16 stages in four days, and over 25,000 ft of descending. Check out more of Spencer’s outings on his blog, or follow along his Instagram account @slaxsonMTB




What It Takes to Climb 10,000 Meters in a Day on a Kona Hei Hei

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.

The Kona Adventure Team, aka The Prairie Dog Companions and the Kokopelli Trail

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.

Aboard their Hei Hei DLs (and one aboard a carbon Honzo), they endured hot sun, spotted dinosaur tracks, and fueled up on hot dogs. Read the full account as published on the front page of Pinkbike.

Long and rugged climbs through sandstone and desert sage give way to eventual singletrack and alpine shredding.

Good Living and Good Times in Arizona with the Kona Adventure Team

The Kona Adventure Team has recently published a big photo story from their trip to Arizona for the first of the Epic Rides Triple Crown – the Whiskey 50 – and a multi-day bikepacking adventure on the Prescott Circle Trail. The Adventure Team is predicated on the idea that traveling to races provides the opportunity to slow things down and see another side of the places that host events. So far, it seems to be working!

“We travel for more than just racing nowadays. We travel for mountain biking and seeing the world and bringing our friends along for the ride. For some of us this is a vacation from work, for others, it’s an evolution away from the height of our competitive careers, and for a couple, it’s a route towards the next peak. For all of us, it’s good living and good times.”

Check out a few more photos from Patrick Means below, and the full photo story on Pinkbike.


Kona Adventure Team: Double Century Sandwich

The Kona Adventure Team is an extension of the Kona Endurance Race team in 2017. We aim to expand the repertoire of our endurance athletes, embarking on adventures that inspire, both us personally and hopefully you as well. Our athletes all love the bike, and these trips are our attempt to show a shared passion not only for riding, but also for living a full and meaningful existence. 

For the first Adventure Team story, Cory, Kris, Spencer,and Barry took on a double century on the California Coast, sandwiching a race in the middle.


Words by Barry Wicks. Photos by Patrick Means.

The plan was simple. We’d ride from Pacifica, CA to Healdsburg, CA on Friday. On Saturday, we’d race the Grasshopper Adventure Series race called Old Caz. On Sunday we would ride back to our starting point.

At what point does a course of travel become an adventure? What makes it turn into something else, like a journey? Are there clear metrics that make it so, or is it just a matter of perspective? Whatever the case, the Kona Adventure Team had around 17 hours and 330 miles of bike riding ahead of us – plenty of time for engaging in some trifling handlebar philosophy.

107 miles. That’s how far we had to go one day one. That didn’t seem that far to a seasoned squad of professional bike athletes, but as the hours ticked on, and the destination remained distant, the remaining hours of daylight became a concern. The selected route, while heavy on dirt – and climbing and views in the first half – gave way to silky pavement in the last 40 miles.

Here we are, there’s were we are going. Distance and time compress and expand in rhythm with our bodies’ need for food, water, or for the climb to come to an end.

At times, pulling off in a muddy gravel lot to stare at the water and share a king size bag of peanut butter M&Ms is the entirety of one’s world.

Then you find a strong Canadian to drag you those final miles into the arms of a waiting burrito, cold beer and camaraderie.

The Grasshopper Adventure series is a longstanding race event, with its foundations firmly in the grassroots camp of “lets all get together, do an awesome ride, and try to smash each other to bits.” In this, its 19th year of existence, it has grown from the rag tag group of about 50 riders to a swollen 450+ hearty souls up for the challenge.

The gathering and swapping of tales at the finish line is the ritual by which the ride legend grows. This gathering of the athletes, watching their fellow riders struggle to the line, is the birth of the legend that each and every Grasshopper race has created.

By the book, an adventure is “playing a game of chance.” As a term, it is rooted in the unknown and a risk of loss. On an adventure, there ought to be a tension between something that is about to happen and whether you’ll arrive at the other side.

The return journey always seems easier, but at the same time bittersweet. The destination is known, it means the end of the journey is near, and the escape is coming to a close.

For us, the essential element is the experience of the place and the time spent together. Up and down the coasts, across long valleys, through the woods and over the mountains. We carve out our own version of finding happiness and bring that to the banquet to share.

In the end, we are left with tired legs, dirty bikes, large smiles and the memories we created together.kona_norcal2-85

Wherever your next adventure may take you, we hope you find all the things that you are searching for.