Eastern Canada’s first official bikepacking event, the BT 700, saw a massive number of riders at the grand depart in St. Jacobs, Ontario. Whether participants came out to set records or tour the mixed surface route, everyone more than likely enjoyed some good ol’ southwestern Ontario butter tarts. Kona Ambassador Trevor Browne set off on his Kona Rove NRB DL to travel all the miles in a time of 3.5 days.
The route was challenging, beautiful, diverse, rugged, and required constant attention to navigation with all its twists, turns, ups, downs, and sometimes lack of roads at all. From rolling Mennonite farmland and gravel roads to steep boulder ascents through the Georgian Bluffs, this course proved to be challenging to the faster pacesetters as well as the slower touring-minded riders. The one thing that keeps riders coming back to great events like this one is the chance to make new friends, chat, share baked goods, and get lost with them along the trail.
Congrats to Ambassador Simone Medici for taking the overall title in the Italian Gravitalia National circuit! Here’s his recap of the big event.
I started the season with an overall podium goal. At the beginning of 2019, I started working full time in the local bike shop and the time left for training and riding my bike wasn’t that much. I basically ride my bike on the weekend and usually train on Thursday (bike shop closing day). When I’m not training I’m working on other stuff like the Ambassador project or wrenching on my bikes.
At the first national race of the year, I ended up 3rd, which was already a good position for me considering how strong the field was this year with many fast riders showing up on the race field.
After a long season of racing, some of the other top riders crashed or committed errors and a couple of riders even injured themselves, so I was able to take advantage of my consistency during the season. I never crashed and pushed myself more than I knew I could do, and I even won the 3rd round of the circuit.
Last weekend I showed up at the last race with a small advantage on Davide Palazzari, 2nd in the overall (one of my closest friends on the circuit and increasingly famous World Cup ripper).
This past weekend has been one of the most intense and nervewracking of the year because I couldn’t afford to make mistakes in qualifying and race runs.
Matteo Tini of the Kona Italy team supported me all weekend and stayed by my side every single moment before going in the start hut, and I have to thank him for all the hard work he did for me.
I ended up 2nd in qualifying and 2nd in the final race (both won by Davide Palazzari) and I finally secured myself the victory of the overall Gravitalia circuit after gettin’ 2nd overall in 2014 ( in that year I got injured while I was leading the championship and I lost my kidney). This means a lot to me and I couldn’t be more stoked because I managed to race with my mind until the very last corner. That’s not an easy part of our sport.
I’m just happy to finish the season on a very good note, getting stronger and stronger race after race and being able to not risk my safety on the track. Thank you to all the people who supported me this year, especially the people at Kona Bikes!
do you do when your Process 153 is in the shop for a few weeks, but it’s the
perfect time of year for big alpine adventure rides? You throw some Minions on
your Honzo and get ready for a wild ride! I usually choose my full suspension
bike when I have hours of rocky singletrack ahead of me, but I found that my
hardtail was more than up to the task and was actually the better choice for
Angel’s Staircase is one of the most scenic rides in Washington, passing through forests, around alpine lakes, and up and over mountain passes with sweeping views of the North Cascades. It’s also one of the most challenging and physically demanding rides in Washington, and it’s the second highest trail you can ride in the state, topping out at just over 8,000 feet elevation (Pyramid Mountain in Entiat is about 100 feet higher). The best time to go is late September/early October when the larches have changed color and it’s not blazing hot on the exposed sections. But, you have to time it just right because if you wait too long, you might get snowed out! After getting turned away by a mix of sleet and rain the weekend before, I saw that the third Saturday in September was going to be the perfect day. My Process was getting some service done at the Kona Bike Shop, so my Honzo was my trusty steed for the big day ahead.
We woke up at 4am to get to the trail by 9, and as I had predicted, the weather and conditions were perfect. Thanks to the rain the week before, the normally dusty trails were tacky, and while it was clear and sunny out, we never got too hot or too cold. With my pack full of snacks, water, and extra layers, and we set off up the seemingly endless climb. The Honzo is always an excellent choice for climbing, and I had to remind myself to slow down and wait for my fiancé. We passed the point of no return, Cooney Lake, and did the hike a bike section up to 8,000 feet. Hiking with my Honzo was actually quite nice because it’s much lighter than my Process! The rocky descent down the backside was admittedly a bit rough, but I rode most of it aside from the gnarlier switchbacks, and we eventually made it to Boiling Lake. One more big climb/hike (a moto rider cheerfully told us “it’s only four switchbacks!”) and after four very long switchbacks, we got the reward of the final descent down the Eagle Lake Trail. I’m not going to lie, my body felt a bit beat up after almost 25 miles of pretty rough trail and 6,000 feet elevation gain on a hardtail, but the Honzo handled it like a champ. As I stuffed pupusas in my face at our favorite post-ride spot in Wenatchee and reflected on our ride, I couldn’t stop smiling after another great day on the bike. I’m stoked for more big adventures on my hardtail this winter!
As we enter fall the days are becoming shorter and the temperatures are dropping. It seems like it always happens so fast. While most of us celebrate the longest days of summer, Ambassador Trevor Browne opted to ride through the shortest night on his Dynamo Ride.
“Introducing The Dynamo solstice ride. Basically it was a rad group of 25 folks from Montreal who rode 130km during the shortest night of the year from sunset to well past sunrise. Starting at CL Cycle we partied our way through some gnarly roads north, up into the beautiful Laurentian Mountains. After about 7 hours of night riding, we stopped at Lac Masson for the most beautiful sunrise. Coffee, red bull and cigarettes were on tall order. Watching the sun come up over the water after hours of riding in the darkness with a great group of people was a life-affirming experience. Little did we know we’d have some challenging gravel climbs ahead. We finally arrived at camp tired but smiling. Food, folks, and fun made for an awesome summer solstice road trip.”
You may be familiar with the age-old practice of giving specific anniversary gifts based on the number of years you’ve been married. Anniversary gifts start out simple, and as the years pass, a strong marriage becomes associated with more significant investments for gifts. For each year of marriage, there are traditional and modern anniversary gifts, as well as gemstones and colors.
For the 20-year anniversary, the traditional gift is china, the modern gift is platinum, the color is green, and the gemstone is emerald. Last year, my husband, Eric, and I achieved the 20-year milestone. And to celebrate our anniversary, we gave each other the gift of bicycles: the 2019 Kona Rove ST! Steel and Gloss Racing Green, in lieu of platinum and emerald green, seemed to be the perfect alternative for him and her!
Eric loves his Kona Rove ST, possibly more than me, 20 years of marriage or not! So when it was recently stolen, he was incredibly upset. This story is about his plight to be reunited with the [real] love of his life!
On a recent Friday morning, Eric got a call from the car mechanic that our car was ready. He hopped on his Kona Rove ST and rode two miles to pick up the car, which was already equipped with a bike rack. On his way home, he decided to make a quick stop at the grocery store to pick up a needed ingredient (flour, in case you were just dying to know).
In the span of the few minutes he was inside the store, his bike was stolen off the rack. (Nope, it wasn’t locked up.) Within 20 minutes, the staff at the grocery store was able to review surveillance video and provide details regarding the incident. Although they would not share the footage, a friend who was an employee there did share details about the suspect. The local police were immediately notified of the incident and Eric spent the next hour canvassing the area in hopes of spotting it, to no avail. Devastated but determined, Eric listed the bike stolen with Bike Index, a nonprofit online bike registry where anyone can register their bicycles for free. He also listed it as stolen on the Facebook group, PNW Lost/Stolen Bikes (https://www.facebook.com/groups/pnwLostStolenBikes/). The following Wednesday, a member of PNW Lost/Stolen Bikes messaged Eric and shared an ad he spotted on OfferUp:
Copper bottle cages, flat/clip dual-sided pedals…that was definitely Eric’s bike! Eric made contact with the seller that same day and they agreed to meet at 2:00PM. Around 1:30PM, the seller got cold feet and backed out of the meeting. Eric decided to head over to the meeting place anyhow to take a look around and he noticed that the parking lot was shared with a commercial glass shop. The pictures in the ad had glass shower doors and glass tools in the background, so he went over to the shop. (Eric is a general contractor and knew there were a limited number of commercial stores to carry those particular glass shower doors in the area.)
He spoke to the owner and inquired if a bike had been in the shop recently and explained the situation. The owner left the office, returned about five minutes later, and told Eric that the bike would be returned to him the next day. The owner offered an apology, offered the name of the bike thief, and explained how her shop employee came into possession of the bike via another employee.
The next day, Eric got a call from the owner that the bike had been recovered and available to pick up, which he did later that afternoon. Eric joined my bi-monthly Bike Ride Across Tacoma (BRAT) later that evening and fell in love with his bike all over again. (((hugs)))
They say the only constant in life is change, and the seasons are the perfect reminder of this. Once we get all cozy and comfy with one season the weather quickly rips the rug out from under us reminding us that there’s always something better ahead. For the past few weeks, I have been out in California racing and working, which means hanging out a lot with my brother, Ryan. He conveniently lives in Oakland, CA, and only about 30 minutes from one of my offices, which means a work trip doubles as sibling shred time. Although Fall is right around the corner the last week in Northern CA has been miserably and unusually hot. Typically the Bay area is a steady 75 degrees with pleasant crisp nights. However, all week Oakland was a blistering 95 degrees making us and everyone else in the city feel more than a little cranky. This was highlighted during the three hours we were stuck in the house due to police activity down the block. As the helicopters circled around the neighborhood, it became clear that we needed an escape plan. It seemed like higher ground was required, and the Sierra Nevada mountains were calling. With one of California’s quirkiest races of the year, the Grinduro gravel race, going on in Quincy CA we had our first destination in mind.
While we hoped for a little respite from the heat, little did we know driving up to the mountains we would be saying goodbye to summer and fully embracing winter. About halfway through the Grinduro race, the skies clouded over, cold winds blew in, and sleet and snow started falling on the ground. After a long cold day of winter conditions, Ryan finished his curly bar race aboard his Major Jake a little chilled. While warming up, the topic of the next day’s ride came up.
With the snow starting to fly, it seemed like this might be one of the last opportunities to summit one of the lost sierras most epic peaks, Mt Elwell. The plan was to camp out and get an early start to the epic bike adventure we had plotted out. There would be abundant hike-a-biking followed by one of the most ripping DH’s that still flies under the radar in CA. About halfway through our drive from Quincy to the Lakes Basin, we realized that we had officially lost summer and found winter. It was absolutely dumping snow. The roads were covered, and we could barely see a few feet in front of us. Not only that, but we were surrounded by thunder and lighting. The skies crackled with electricity illuminating the snow-filled skies and increasingly white landscapes. The snow got so bad we ended up split up from our buddy who, being a few minutes behind us, could not make it over the pass. With our cell phones out of service and feeling like we were in the early 90’s, we made a plan to search for him in the AM.
After a night of a pretty epic drive in some two-wheel-drive vans, we woke up the next morning to a frosty winter wonderland. We made some coffee, went and found our friend that was stuck, and re-planned our ride to fit the new weather conditions. Ryan, who rides up in the Downieville area often, put together the best ride I have ever done in Northern California. The trails were rocky, technical, and the snow and mud was the cherry on top for two East Coast-born bikers. We both were riding our Process 153 which over and over again prove to be the best overall bike for these adventures. Easy to climb and fantastic for descending. We know that no matter what the terrain ahead is, these rigs can handle it.
The ride started with a long climb to the shoulder of Elwell. As the terrain goes more vertical, the steep pedal becomes a mandatory hike-a-bike. From the summit, you could look out over many lakes and basins all glistening with its new coat of snow and even as far north as the 14k foot caldera of Mt. Shasta. We then descended for over an hour through every type of terrain. The top was cold and snowy which eventually turned into tacky, loamy, hero dirt. The bottom of the trail was full of bright green trees and ended with loose and steep shoots. We got to experience all of California’s riding in one epic descent.
We couldn’t stop the fun there though. The three of us decided to take our cold and tired hands back up the mountain to do one more lap on Downieville’s iconic DH run. We all have done this trail many times, but this time we had the path to ourselves, and it came equipped with some of the best dirt we have seen in these notoriously dry mountains. After a pinned run down through the snow, mud, and tacky dirt again, we finally called it quits on one epic day. We started driving back to the Bay with high fives and smiles, knowing the summer heat is over, and fall and winter’s crisp air and ideal riding conditions are here to stay.
“To find oneself again one must have the right balance between the forces of the unconscious mind and those of the conscious mind.”-Matteo Mainetti
“Get lost and find yourself, like in a dream. To leave and then return, as in a journey. Explore new spaces and environments, where real mixes with surreal, to let your imagination wander. On the first day of autumn, summer is already a memory, but the mind still struggles to accept it. A dream, a pool without swimmers, where the algae have taken away water transparency, like the summer memories that become more and more blurred.” -Alex Luise
Alex and Simone took our Lost & Found theme and went to crazy extremes to bring their vision to life. Here are just a few of the photos, but be sure to check the full photo story on WeLoveToRide.com.
Kona Ambassador Colt Fetters is big on adventure biking. When it came time for him to choose a bike, he opted for the Wozo. The bigger tires and carrying capabilities were exactly what he needed for adventures in the desert or snow. Colt also modified the bike to be able to carry all of his gear: pack rafts, skis—you name it!
Bikepacking.com has done a cool in-depth review of Colt’s bike. Give it a look!
The Beast Coasters (ambassadors Stephen Pope and Ryan Mcevoy) have been busy playing hard throughout the Vermont summer. They put together this fun little video of their home turf on Burk Mountain. A little bit BMX, a little bit DH- these boys know how to have a good time.
It’s been a long time since I started showing up to my first ever cross-country races on my early-2000’s Kona Stuff. Back then I raced in skate shoes, a bucket helmet, and baggies, and my bike was a conglomerate of borrowed parts. Yet, it was those early local races and barely functioning bikes that hooked me on the buzz of racing and the good fun you can have on two wheels. These days bikes like my Process 153 are made of space plastic, have brakes that work, and suspension that makes all but the rowdiest trails feel like a bike path. Don’t get me wrong, I really like having bikes that make going fast easy. It’s downright awesome and kind of the point of racing. Maybe it’s the pace of life right now, or maybe nostalgia, but coming into the Downieville Classic this year I was suddenly struck with the urge to turn back the clock and kick it old school. I wasn’t quite ready to kick all the way back to skate shoes and flat pedals, but my no-nonsense, all-aluminum Honzo that’s usually relegated to after-work rides seemed like the perfect time machine to bring me back to the early days.
Similarly, Downieville is the perfect destination for heading into the past. The rocky trails of the classic were once cut by industrious gold miners and the town hasn’t changed all that much since. A great bike, a favorite destination, and a classic race, the stoke was at an all-time high.
Now, Downieville isn’t a standard XC race. The “XC” starts with a 40-something minute climb from Sierra City to Packer Saddle. The hardtail shined out of the gate and as the pre-race jitters worked their way out and I worked my way through the crowd I congratulated myself on how awesome an idea it was to race the Honzo! Fast! Responsive! Awesome.
These feelings continued even as the sun beat down and the arduous climb sapped the power from my legs. This was all to be expected. It’s Downieville after all. But as the trail left fire road and entered singletrack, I realized that the areas where I usually rest now took a lot of energy. Rocks and braking bumps continued to wear me down until I found myself thinking that it was an absolutely terrible idea to race Downieville on a hardtail. I pushed on, and after hitting some of the smoother faster sections of the course, my morale improved, but the beating continued. Turns out, there is a reason most people don’t race hardtails anymore, especially at Downieville. By the end, I started thinking about an old friend who wore a kidney belt when he was riding and that I sort of wished I had one. Crossing the finish line and collapsing into a folding chair was a thing of beauty. I may not have put down my fastest time, but I held my own and even passed some fancy space-plasticky-fully-suspended bikes in the process.
After the race ends, everyone convenes at the confluence of those once gold-filled streams, cracks open a beer and settles in for some much-needed leg icing and river jump spectating.
That leg icing is absolutely key because that’s just day 1! The next day was the downhill and another 50 minutes of kidney rattling. Making it through the weekend with no mechanicals, no cramping, solid finishes, and heaps of type 2 fun was exactly the result I was hoping for. I even had some extra time for a few meditative casts and hooking up with a few small Yuba trout, about the only shiny thing I’ve yet to see in these rivers. My trip on the Honzo time machine was, in all honesty, a little rougher than expected, but the destination was exactly what I hoped for—a trip back to simpler time amidst a seeming ever more complex world. It’s nice to know that type of escape still exists and its always just a few pedal strokes away.