Kona Process 153

Ryan Gardner reports from Mexico’s Trans Puerto Vallarta

With the major portion of the enduro race season still a few months away but a month or two of training already on the books, Becky and I decided to head south for a few days and check out the Trans Puerto Vallarta. The Trans PV was new this year and included some awesome trails we had already ridden in the little mountain town of Mascota Mexico. We were also treated to some new trails in San Sabastian and mountains surrounding Puerta Vallarta. The whole race took four days with travel to Mascota and included 15 special stages. It was the perfect opportunity to test new bikes, dial in suspension, and shake off the cobwebs from a few months away from racing. Plus, it’s hard to say no to warm temps, tacos, and those chill Mexican vibes.

After flying into PV we built up bikes including my brand new Process 153 29”. I only had one day on this monster before I crammed its big wheels into my Evoc bag, but I had already set a few PR’s on my home trails. This bike breathes fire.

 

After a bike building session, 5-6 tacos, and a margarita (It’s ok to go full gringo) we were off to bed and excited to travel to San Sabastian the next day.

 

The trails of San Sabastian (and neighboring Mascota) are old. Really old. Most of the trails we raced are leftover mining trails and roads from the 1700’s. Even the estate where we camped for the first two nights was built sometime around 1750 and was the center of gold and other mineral mining for the surrounding areas. From here, mules carried the valuable metals down to the Puerto Vallarta so they could be exported. From these ancient paths, the riders of Mexico have reclaimed (sometimes very) narrow single tracks. This, coupled with the dry season, made for some exiting blind racing as riders struggled to find speed, traction, and flow throughout the day. Ryan had a solid day placing second behind good friend and training partner Cory Sullivan by just one second, and ahead of the rest of the field by over 30 seconds. Becky crushed the first four stages before taking a big crash, splitting her knee open, and taking a stem to the sternum. Even with the crash, she finished the day in first place.

Once back to camp, riders were treated to cervecas and a mountain of carnitas. This particular combination results in near instantaneous sleep. Not even the snoring of racers and barking of extremely photogenic Mexican dogs could keep us awake.

Day two of racing saw us move to the steep and fast trails of Mascota. The tracks here are varied and include some wide open sections, some incredibly tight switchbacks, and some pretty gnarly rock gardens. It was in the latter that I made a critical error. My Process 153 had been egging me on all day, seemingly frustrated by my pace. The whole bike comes alive at speed and it’s a constant battle to keep things under control on a trail you have never ridden. I got just a little too excited in one gnarly rock garden and instead of rolling a 4ft boulder, I pulled up and hucked out towards a side hill hoping to keep some speed. Unfortunately, I landed juuuuust a bit to the right and clipped a knife-edged rock which put a 2.5-inch slice in my tough casing WTB vigilante. It was an immediate flat for me and a 30-minute time loss as I finagled a fix to get me back to town. After some Mexican ingenuity and the incredible durability of my Vigilante, I was able to get it patched up and win 3 of the 4 remaining stages including a super tight trail on which my “dinosaur bike” was supposed to be slow.

 

Becky, denouncing stitches which would have taken her out of the race, soldiered on to the amazement of everyone in the field. Rocking last season’s Process 134 and fueled by ice cream stops and adorable Mexican puppies, she rallied through the day only losing one spot on the timesheet by day’s end.


That night we set up camp at a beautiful ranch outside Mascota. There was only one cold shower, but the home-cooked food and late night pizza delivery made up for it. Talking that evening with friend and event promoter Alvaro Gutierrez Leal, he confided that the next morning’s transfer to the stages was what he was most worried about. It was a three-hour drive through 4×4 roads, in two-wheel drive Toyota vans. Turns out he was right. After a few sketchy river crossings and putting some serious wear on the clutch plate, we arrived in the coastal mountains above Puerto Vallarta.
Where the first two days were loose, these trails were on another level of negative traction. No front breaking here. Every stage of the day was wide open with almost no traction, some sand, and scary off-camber corners. We were also given some “Mexican surprises,” like a trail that enters a backyard, loops around a house, and then exits through the front gate. A flock of chickens presented a few opportunities for nose-bawks.

After finishing on a steep and sandy track known as El Scorpion we gathered together for a chill ride back to the ocean, buckets of beers, more tacos, and a bit of Raicilla (the traditional liquor Mascota made from wild agave and brewed in backyard stills). Due to the tire fiasco, Ryan finished off the podium. Becky finished the race in second place, injury and all!

 

 

Photos by Nico Switalski

Words by Ryan Gardner

 

 

Ride and Shine

It’s 5:30 in the morning. My phone alarm starts playing the Chan Chan to semi-rudely rouse me from whatever trippy dream I am definitely having. I am simultaneously annoyed that I’m no longer sleeping and also find myself humming to the familiar tune while being annoyed. It’s a great song to wake up to. I highly recommend it.

Now comes the crux move of the day: to actually wake up and go for a bike ride or to set the alarm for 90 minutes later and go back to sleep. I repeat my daily mantra about getting up at this awful hour to ride, “It’s always worth it. It’s always worth it.” But, in this moment of pure comfort and relaxation, it seems like a no-brainer. The mercury is hovering right around 34 degrees Fahrenheit outside (1 Celsius). My bed is significantly warmer. And more comfortable. Like a livable burrito, minus the guacamole and whatnot. My dog is starting to groan from his bed and I hear him pitter-pattering around on the hardwoods. He’s not allowed on the bed so he jumps on his hind legs to try to get my attention. I pull the covers over my face and mumble something indecipherable about sleep, cold, he has fur so he can’t be cold and leave me alone. He doesn’t care. He’s ready to ride.

The weather looks like it’s going to be another glorious day, a rarity in the winter in the Pacific Northwest. So, I take a cue from Roscoe and slowly slither out of my covers. ‘God damn my house is so cold!’ I think to myself. I get dressed as fast as I can. In spite of the cooler temps outside, I opt for minimal layering, knowing that I tend to run pretty warm on rides. Shorts, wool socks, a thick base layer, a light jacket, and I’m good to go. My lights are freshly charged (I run a 2200 on my helmet and a 900 on my bars. Yes, I look like a freight train on the trail, but I ride with the gusto of a groggy turtle this early, so I’m sure it’s a sight to behold.)

Lucky for me, the trailhead is about a 90 second pedal up the street from my house. God bless Bellingham. It’s just long enough to get the blood pumping and overcome the initial shock of no longer being in my bed burrito. The road is frosty and sparkly under my headlamp. It reminds me of sugar candy, which immediately makes me hungry. We take a left and hop onto the climbing trail and I’m blown away by the perfect texture of the dirt. Slightly moist from the morning dew, but cold enough to be almost crispy under my tires, I chug along the trail that I’ve ridden hundreds of times. Using just my bar light, I follow Roscoe as he darts up the trail and occasionally pounces on something in the ferns. He’s 9 now, but still able to hold a pretty quick pace on shorter rides. I’m hoping he lives forever. I tell myself he will because I can’t face the fact that he won’t.

As we plod along I’m always in awe of how cool my lights look against the dark setting of the woods. The alders act like tall skinny ghosts of a forest past. The shadows cast from my lights make them seem like they’re dancing in the dark. Occasionally the beam will catch a pair of eyes staring back at me. A deer? Cougar? Coyote? I choose not to find out today and keep spinning the cranks. The best part of riding before the sunrise is when that first hint of light escapes the sky and is caught by the spaces between trees. That visual ignites something in me like I’m racing the sun to the horizon. I’m in my groove now. Up and over the roots, pumping through the flatter sections of the climb, and feeling good. Each inhale is cold on my lungs but feels like a total refresh on life.

Pastel colors begin to permeate the trees as soft light casts a warm glow on the ground. I click off the light and try to navigate using only the natural light. This trail is to me what a daily commute is to a driver. I know every nuance and every shortcut. I feel like I could almost do it with my eyes closed. Almost. We reach our summit and are greeted by an unobstructed view of the mountains behind us and the slowly awakening town below. A thin marine layer has crept in off of the Bay leaving a soft blanket hovering over the downtown area. Our one tallish building pokes through the fog. The sky has turned from deep purple to an orangy pink. Thin clouds shoot across the sky like dragon’s flames making the picture-perfect scene almost seem sci-fi like. It’s nature at its finest and I can’t stop staring. These are the moments that make that rude awaking worth it. “It’s always worth it,” I repeat again.

The sun is still has a ways to go, but my time to soak in the view is running out. Roscoe is eager to run and I’m eager to fly. We pedal the few cranks to the entrance to the trail and are off to the races. My Process CR/DL is like a rocket ship on the hardpack of the frozen dirt. I pretend like we’re in some sort of high production bike film and try to throw shapes off of the little jumps. A twist of a bar here, a little skid and roost through a corner there. Roscoe is hot on my heels as if we’re dancing through the woods together. We alternate berms on tight corners and occasionally he’ll cut across a switchback and take the lead with me trying to keep him as close as possible. His scrubs would make James Stewart proud. Not bad for an old dog. Not bad.

We enter the steepest part of the root-strewn trail. My repetition on this section has taught me how to float over the majority of the obstacles. I feel like I’m riding on a cloud. Tight trees require my fast twitch muscles to be on high alert as we thread wooden needles with precision. I don’t even realize it but I’m whooping with pure elation as I descend as fast as I possibly can. My eyes are watering with tears from the cold. We reach the final jump on the descent and hit the perfect sweet spot, sailing just perfectly centered through the corridor of trees, landing softly on the frosty leaves just in time to slide into the final corner of the trail. And just like that, we’re down. I stop and look around, The leafless alders are completely shrouded in hot pink. The frost has begun to melt. Roscoe and I trade breath for breath as our exhalations puff out gloriously satisfying clouds. My face hurts from smiling, or maybe from the cold. It’s hard to tell. Riding with the sunrise never ceases to amaze me. It’s like riding through a new, stunning canvass every morning. I take a deep breath in and sigh it out and start to pedal home. Roscoe looks up at me as we’re rolling. “It’s always worth it,’ I tell him.

 

Kona Grassroots Rider Jordan Regnier in Reign on the Alps

The French Alps had better watch out… our European Grassroots rider Jordan Regnier is ripping it up with his Process 153!

Notre European Grassroot rider Jordan Regnier nous impressionne avec sa toute nouvelle vidéo! Les Alpes françaises n’ont qu’à bien se tenir. Avec son Process 153, il est prêt à vous en mettre plein les yeux et les oreilles!

Stephane Pelletier Hearts New Zealand

Canadian Kona Grassroots rider Stephane Pelletier relocated to New Zealand to study late last year and his move just happened to coincide with the end of the Kiwi summer.  Jump on board with Stephane as he hits up Queenstown and Rotorua onboard his Kona Process 153 in this banging iPhone filmed clip.

Kona Process Challenge Teaser

Welcome to the inaugural Process Challenge! For this premier event we gathered XC Beast Spencer Paxson, DH Destroyer Connor Fearon and FR Animal Graham Agassiz and started them atop Retallack Lodge’s Reco Peak for an all out blitz to the bottom. We placed each rider aboard a skill specific Process and awarded points for cross country power, downhill steeze and freeride flair to determine a winner. With a mountain of singletrack ahead of them, who emerged victorious at the first ever Kona Process Challenge? Find out when we release the full video at 12:00 PST Monday January 18th.

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Retallack’s Reco Peak is not the worst place to start a race. Spencer Paxson, Connor Fearon and Graham Agassiz get ready to drop in on a race for the ages. Photo: Blake Jorgenson

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World Cup DH rider Connor Fearon follows Graham Agassiz off one massive natural stepdown. Photo: Blake Jorgenson

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Spencer Paxson finds himself all alone on one seriously stunning piece of singletrack. Photo: Blake Jorgenson

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Spencer Paxson uses Retallack’s flowy singletrack to hold off an attack from Connor and Aggy. Can he hold the pole position? Photo: Blake Jorgenson

 

 

Bike Magazine hearts The Kona Process. Again!

Wow. The folks over at Bike Magazine just can’t seem to get enough of our Process range of bikes. Vernon Felton, Bike’s web-editor and one of the main reviewers has just posted up his pick of products and tech developments that made 2015 and sitting right at the top of that list, the Process 153. Thanks Bike, we think the Process rocks too! Check below for Vernon’s words of wisdom or head to bikemag.com for the full post.

Kona Process 153

It’s not made of carbon. It’s not the lightest bike in its class. It doesn’t even have a particularly “rad” name. I couldn’t care less. Kona just killed it with this one. Hate me all you want for calling a $3,500 bike “affordable”, but when it comes to bikes that can truly perform at the highest levels for a couple seasons without some kind of thousand-dollar upgrade, well the pickings are mighty slim these days. The Process 153, however, ticks off all the boxes: quality frame, stellar geometry, great suspension, an excellenct dropper post, decent wheels and brakes and, here’s the kicker, the Process 153 is ridiculously fun to ride. Other companies have done the long top-tube, short chainstay formula in the past–plenty of companies, in fact–but Kona hit that geometry formula out of the park. You could spend more and get a lighter version, but the Process 153 motors up hills reasonably well and takes no prisoners on the way done.

Kona Process 153DL makes the Prestigious Dirt 100 List

Back in November 2014 the Process 153DL made the 2015 Dirt 100 product list, Dirt Magazine’s annual list of the best products and innovations within the mountain bike industry. Well they have just started posting up all the individual items on their website and we thought “what the hell”, whats wrong with a little reminding that the Process 153DL is one of the raddest bikes on the planet. Check out what they had to say a second time round below or click the photo to head to the Dirt website. (more…)