For our third ambassador challenge we requested our team think about what they can do with the longest days of the year.
First up is Canadian Ambassador Cole Pellerin, who in one day rode Whistler, Golden, and made it to the top of Mount Seven in time for sunset. Whistler doesn’t even start spinning their chairs till 10am, so Cole had to do some serious driving in between bike park laps.
He documented it all aboard his Operator DL and Remote CTRL in his version of The Longest Day.
Winter is not a particularly difficult time for bike riding
here in California. With our mild temps and hero dirt it’s hard to really call
it a winter at all. But, there is one thing that even a Mediterranean climate
cannot provide: enough daylight hours to do a silly big ride. Not just a long
ride, but one of those rides that you sketch out on paper and wonder, will this
actually work? Between a full work schedule and an ever-growing list of races,
early summer offers a short window of time where conditions lend themselves
especially well to epics. This year, longer days, no races, a huge stretch of
beautiful California coast, and good friends all came together in the form of a
176-mile adventure from Santa Cruz to San Luis Obispo. Taking the iconic
California 1 through Big Sur over the course of 12 hours was just the thing to
kick off the summer.
There is just something special about starting and ending a
ride in the dark with a vast distance checked off in-between. However, it can
be daunting locking yourself into a ride that just might be too big for your
britches. One way to ease yourself into a big ol’ ride like this is to plan an
escape route. For this particular day out we set ourselves up with a sag van
filled with all the snacks, beers, and parts needed for a well-supported cruise
down the coast. This not only allowed for frequent fuel stops, but also allowed
easy bailout points so everyone in our diverse crew could dial in their
preferred level of mileage. As for me, I had a hankerin for suffering that only
a full-pull of coastline could satisfy.
While most of my favorite rides require a bit more travel,
my trusty Major Jake fitted with some nice wide slicks was the perfect vantage
point for 12 hours’ worth of views like this.
The Route, although mega, is fairly straightforward. Start yourself in Santa Cruz, make it to the legendary Hwy 1, and head south. There may be a few hills and all-time vistas in between and like any good day-long ride, this one ends with donuts and exhausted smiles. With the solstice right around the corner, it’s the best time of year to get out there and go big!
Late winter and spring were a journey through darkness for me, but I feel like I have finally come out into the light.
The past few years I have had a policy of “just say yes” to
everything—every bike ride, race, trip to Sedona/Moab/Canada, or bikepacking
adventure. I thrive off of a packed weekend and post-work schedule of outdoor
activities. Getting outside to exercise solo or with friends helps calm my mind
and gets me through hours of sitting at a computer for my day job.
This year, I had to just say “no” to everything so I could
focus on my career, and I lost my physical, emotional, and social outlet. I had
to take my professional engineering exam in late April, which meant spending my
weekends indoors studying in addition to a full workload. It nearly killed my
soul, but it’s the biggest and most important milestone in my career, and
necessary for me to advance in the environmental consulting field. I put so
much pressure on myself to pass the first time (only about 64% of people pass
on their first try) and to be the first female PE at my company, that my anxiety
about the exam grew to be almost unmanageable. I started having physical
manifestations of anxiety like body tingling, shortness of breath, and chest
pain, which was a terrifying experience and made it hard to focus on studying*.
I would allow myself to go on one bike ride per week, but even then, I would
get mad at myself for being out of shape and having rusty skills, and guilty
for taking time off from studying. I tried to stay off social media because it
made me sad and angry that everyone else was seemingly out having fun all the
time, and I had nothing happy or positive to post about.
As my exam approached, I had to get through my least
favorite day of the year—April 9th. This marks the anniversary of my
brother’s death in 2016 after a 12-year battle with drug addiction. Every year
in the weeks surrounding that date, I relive the intense feelings of grief,
anger, and loss at his passing. My anxiety and insomnia grows even worse than
normal, and I feel fatigued and exhausted by social interactions. Usually
riding my bike is one of my biggest comforts during this time, but I was now
studying two days per weekend to prepare for my impending exam. My life was
devoid of joy, and I struggled to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Exam day came, and I was tired and extremely nervous. I felt
like I bombed the first half, and almost drove away at lunch and didn’t come
back. I took a deep breath, reminded myself of my inner strength and tried to
focus on positive self-talk, and went back in and did better on the second
half, but was still afraid that wouldn’t be enough to pass. I went home and spent
the weekend in a black depression, thinking I had failed and would have to
re-take the exam, which would mean more weekends of studying, and admitting to everyone
at my company that I was a failure. I went on a group ride to “celebrate” being
done with the test and my friends were shocked at how down I was, compared to
my normal cheery self.
Six days later I got my exam result. I HAD PASSED. I was so
relieved I started shaking uncontrollably and couldn’t stop crying—my own
personal hell was over, I was done forever, my hard work had paid off. The
burden of my intense anxiety about the exam mostly melted away and the darkness
lifted. For the first time in months, the future looked bright and hopeful. I
am still working on fully digging myself out of my mental and physical hole,
but I’ve made a lot of progress. I can finally brush the cobwebs off my bikes
and start planning out as many summer adventures as I can possibly fit into my
*I would like to thank my therapist and my fiancé for their
support while I navigated this dark time. There’s no shame in asking for help!
It’s 5 pm and I’ve just finished with whatever was on my plate for the day. I debate with myself if I have time to quickly get changed and head for the trail. Of course, I am cutting it close. The sun is setting soon, but I scurry out the door inspired to chase the sunlight I have left. Evening rides just like this are some of my favorite. There is something really special about riding bikes while the sun is going down and chasing that last ray before the sun sets behind the mighty Rocky Mountains. Maybe I head out solo or maybe some friends join. Either way, the lighting and temperature on these spring days are prime during the last few hours of daylight.
Here in Salida, we have an extraordinary trail system at the base of the town called the S Mountain Trails. These trails are designed for all riders from beginners to advanced and have some of my favorite downhill trails in the valley. The best part of the S Mountain Trails is that all the trails easily link together so depending on how much you want to ride or how much time you have you can put together a perfect ride. The trail system is heavily maintained by a group of volunteers, local support, and passionate trail builders. The trail builders are always on the lookout to build more singletrack and have an open mind to building difficult and technical terrain which is a rare treat amongst public trails.
My all-time favorite trail on S Mountain is a rocky, loose, technical trail called Sand Dunes. I am notorious in the valley for riding this trail at an obsessive rate. On a solo day, I can lap it in 45 minutes making it a prime selection for a quick evening ride. I never get sick of this trail and it always brings a smile to my face as I drop down through multiple rock gardens and deep loose dunes of sand with the Collegiate Peaks and the Arkansas River as my backdrop.
The trail ends at the heart of town where you are dazzled by the small town vibes of Salida, Colorado. From here I can grab a beer from one of the many local breweries and restaurants or hit the grocery store and head home.
Chasing down the sun will always be one of my great joys of mountain biking and there is nothing quite like coming home from weeks on the road to enjoy some of my favorite local dirt.
Kona Ambassador Leah Maunsell is well into her racing season and hitting her stride, taking a win in the most recent round of the Irish National Enduro Series aboard her Process 153 CR DL 29.
“After less than a week at home after the EWS, I decided to race round two of the Irish National Enduro Series. It was a great weekend with unusually sunny weather and dusty trails. I had the best two days at home on a bike in a long time and I’m delighted to take the win in Pro Women to consolidate my series lead. I’m feeling more and more comfortable on the new bike. I have a few weeks at home now before heading off to the next two rounds of the EWS.” -Leah Maunsell
Springtime in the Pacific Northwest usually means a lot of rain, but on the days that the sun comes out – expect the trails bursting with color. We took full advantage of a sunny day by mountain biking at Syncline where we had sweeping views of the Columbia River and Mt Hood.
At the top of the trail, we even had an impromptu engagement photo shoot with a bouquet of trailside flowers. My partner Skyler and I got engaged only a week before, and our friend Rie thought it was the perfect time to capture our love in full bloom! We couldn’t have chosen a better backdrop to all the things we love – sunshine, flowers, mountains, rivers and mountain bikes.
We asked our Ambassadors to play with light for their spring theme. Alex Luise took it very literally and created a few really cool images of the Remote CTRL. He then compiled them all into a short YouTube clip. Long story short? The Remote CTRL is ready to party!
• 16 bottles of CLIF Hydration (~1,300kcal) • 2 bottles of regular water (0kcal) • 1 bottle of coconut water (~150kcal) • 1 pouch CLIF Organics Beet & Ginger (110kcal) • 3 packs of CLIF BLOCKS (600kcal) • 2 CLIF Nut Butter Bars (500kcal) • 1 can Trader Joe’s Dolmas (~400kcal) • 1 CLIF Builder Bar (250kcal) • 1 Whole Foods Pork Burrito (~700kcal)* this was the only nutrition mistake of the day, resolved within an hour • 1/2 PBn’Honey Sandwich w/ Banana (~200kcal) • 1/8 block of sharp cheddar cheese (~180kcal) • 1 Mountain House Chicken Casserole pouch (700kcal) • 1 Banana and PB (~150kcal) • 1 Cold Brew coffee w/ honey (~30kcal) • *Breakfast in the morning was a small cup of coffee (to coax the morning BM at 3 AM!) and • • 1/2cup (dry) teff with maple syrup, almonds, berries, cinnamon, and 2 fried eggs • more pizza and beers at the finish
Kona ambassador Graham Beaumont isn’t any different than the rest of us that live in dark, dreary winter places. The Lake District in the UK is known for it’s damp winters when every day seems like a gloomy mud fest. This is fun…for a while. But as soon as the days start to stretch out even just a little bit longer, we all start to pine for summer. Graham took advantage of the evening light and shot a series of photos with Ben Gerrish aboard his Process 153 29 CR.
“There’s nothing better than razzing in the woods with your best buddies after a long day at work. Team that up with a post-ride BBQ and you’ve got a match made in heaven. Cheers to the lighter nights giving us more time to play out!” –Graham Beaumont
As winter comes to a close, my job as a photographer becomes more difficult. I have developed a style for the dark, dankness of the PNW. Light encompasses all that is photography and becoming a master at capturing light is an eternal journey. Through the human eye, light looks brilliant pretty much any way you look at it however, the lens of the camera sees a much more different picture.
My biggest challenge as a professional photographer has been getting myself to adjust for harsh conditions in the woods, to master this elusive image in my head. Often light looks really great coming through the trees but will cause the camera to darken a lot of the shadows so your subject is black and vice versa. This has been an eternal goal for me to face as I have been trying to figure it out for years now.
My techniques for capturing light amongst the thick PNW woods has been an artistic process. Often I feel the highlight is the priority which gives the photo a more dramatic look with darker shadows and often leaving the viewer curious for what’s behind the shadows. This I hope leads the viewer to use a bit of their imagination.
As I continue this journey through the light it often guides me while directing my eye to perspectives I normally wouldn’t see. I hope that you as a reader are able to appreciate the light on the same level I see it. It often brings me lots of excitement and joy to see it breaking through the fog in the early morning. I cannot express enough how in love I am with the surrounds here in Washington. Every day this state inspires me, drives me to get out and instills trust that life is a wonderful journey where change is always a constant.
Light and photography go hand in hand, the right light really does make or break a photograph so that was the task for this topic, go find some good light!
Unfortunately, all too often the weather does not play ball. I had high hopes for a recent trip to ride some new spots but the grey skies and moody mist didn’t let up all day. It was certainly atmospheric but that wasn’t the brief!
Two days bikepacking provided more opportunities and after a beautifully clear night under the stars, we were woken by the first soft rays of the day breaking through the trees.
Still not quite getting the light I was looking for there was only one thing left to do, drop everything if the forecast looked good and head to the hills in time for golden hour.
The light may have been inconstant but the new bike was anything but, from big jumps to all day epics the Hei Hei Trail hasn’t missed a beat!