Kona Process

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.

Shimano

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

 

 

 

Process 111 Swan Song & Trans Cascadia Tech Talk with Team Rider Spencer Paxson

Kona team rider and endurance/backcountry specialist Spencer Paxson reports with an in-depth bike & gear check as he preps for the 2017 Trans Cascadia, a renowned 4-day blind format, backcountry enduro event taking place somewhere deep in the mountains of Oregon’s Willamette National Forest on September 28-October 1.    

Just as my 2017 event season began in April with a mountain bike stage race (Pisgah Stage Race in North Carolina), it will conclude in October with another multi-day mountain bike event – the coveted Trans Cascadia, a 4-day blind-format, backcountry enduro race through Oregon’s Willamette National Forest. It’s the sort of event that eager-beaver MTB folks save up for all year in their piggy banks and vacation hours in order to capture a gourmet, catered, well organized wilderness experience with friends, and the remarkable autumn riding conditions unique to the Cascade Mountains.

After a 2-month mid-season break from travel and competition (“parental leave!“), I’m looking forward to representing at this special event – a showcase of trail stewardship, eco-tourism, high-level competition, and plain old good times riding bikes in the woods. One of the special aspects of this event is that it is the impetus and fulfillment of reviving forgotten Forest Service trail networks, expanding high quality recreation resources and bringing them back into the fold for others to enjoy. See a more in-depth write-up from our friends at Pinkbike.

In keeping with the inner geek in most of us mountain bikers, below is a rundown of the gear I’ll be taking along, and my rationale for using it. As I’ve said of previous gear-related posts, hopefully you know to never listen to a sponsored professional, as they never provide unbiased advice…;)…but they do come from experience…

The 2017 Kona Process 111 w/ Team Spec – size Large. Indeed this will be the swan song for this trusty steed, as the new Process G2 platform (released earlier this month), is bringing on a new generation of trail machines well-suited for events such as Trans Cascadia. From my perspective as a team rider, the new bikes are better off selling like hotcakes and going into the hands of Kona customers asap…me, I’ll get my turn eventually.  In the meantime, lets give this horse one more good run through the mountains.

I am 5’9.5″ (1.75m) but with a relatively long torso, so the reach of this bike (475mm) suits me well, especially in a gravity & speed-oriented scenario.

I balance the long reach with a short stem (35mm Pro Bikegear Tharsis Trail Stem), 740mm bar (Pro Bikegear Tharsis Trail), and a 46mm fork offset (MRP Ribbon 130mm), which provides 5mm longer mechanical trail compared with the standard 51mm offest.  In my experience, this combination provides a pleasant balance of quick steering axis with slightly increased high-speed stability and consistency through corners.  It’s a bit different than my XC race bike setup, but not wildly different (see other post on the 10,000-meter ride setup on Hei Hei). I keep a grip with WTB’s Padloc Commander grips (30mm diameter). Shimano XTR M9020 Trail brake levers can handle a bit more abuse than the light M9000 brethren, plus the additional stopping power and reduced fade is noticeable. Those brakes are using a 180mm rotor in front and a 160mm rotor in back…and metallic pads in the calipers for longevity.

Critical to any “long” bike setup (or really any MTB, for that matter) is a dropper post, ideally one that drops all the way to the seat collar. Back on the handlebar, I run the small KS Remote lever on the left side pointing downwards so my thumb has easy access while the rest of my hand stays safely positioned for handling and braking. I run the KS Lev Integra paired with a WTB Silverado saddle on top.

Suspension – The front end is held up by MRP’s new Ribbon fork, highly adjustable and reliable, which I’ve enjoyed to great success across a diverse range of trail conditions, from marathon XC racing to aggressive trail riding. The rear end is held up by FOX’s Float DPS Evol shock.

This fork is set at 130mm. I weigh around 155 pounds (70kg) hydrated without riding kit. For fast riding I typically run a firm sag around 15%, with the positive chamber filled to 95 psi (~10psi higher than factory recommended for my bodyweight) and the negative chamber filled to 102 psi or just under 110% the pressure of the positive chamber. I have the Ramp Control knob set to 14 (2 clicks from fully “ramped”), rebound at 11 (from closed), and low speed compression is a quick flip switch at the top right leg, which at this firm setting stays open most of the time. This setup works for me because it feels very supple and progressive, and for my riding style works well for moving proactively along the high-speed, velvety, high-traction conditions of many of my favorite trails in Washington and Oregon…but of course may take some tweaking once we get to these new trails at TC.

I run around 25% sag in the rear with the custom Process factory tune from Fox.  This works out to 142 psi with rebound set at 10 clicks (from closed) and the compression switch flipped to “open” most of the time. Again…this may need to be adjusted for the conditions in Oregon.

Wheels and Tires – WTB tires and wheels go round and round.  Given the blind format racing, I plan on needing extra braking traction on the front end of the bike to keep from flying into the woods on unfamiliar turns, which is why I’m likely going to run the 2.3 Vigilante, Tough Casing, Fast Rolling compound.  It’s a bit heavy (1140g) compared with the next option, the 2.25 Trail Boss Light Casing Fast Rolling (795g), but the extra grip and security may be worth it.  We’ll see.  In the back I’ll run the Trail Boss.  And depending on conditions, either dual Trail Boss if it’s not too rough, or dual Vigilante if the skies decide to open up. Tires are mounted to the WTB Ci31 29″ rim, laced to Shimano XT hubs.

Trail Boss…a bit less bite than then Vigilante, but this casing option is significantly lighter and may be the ticket for speed on the balance of climbing and descending.  It treated me well on the 10,000m Challenger High Epic back in June.

 Tire pressure will be a day-of decision based on trail surface and conditions, but in general have been running anywhere from 18-21psi, typically the same front and back (weight distribution shifts to either balanced or more weight on front of bike while riding aggressively down). I think about “system weight” for tire pressure…bodyweight + kit + bike.  Though I weigh around 155lbs (70kg), my system weight is closer to 190lbs (86kg).Drivetrain – An MRP 1x V3 chain guide keeps things in line aboard the Shimano XTR/XT drivetrain, with 175mm XTR M9020 cranks, 36t ring, XTR M9000 rear mech, and XT M8000 11-42 cassette, and XT M8000 chain.  The front chainring size certainly isn’t for everyone (nor is anything on any bike, for that matter, all setups are individual!), but I prefer it because 1) I have the strength and power to push it efficiently, 2) there is slightly less chain-wrap around the ring so it feels a bit better and wears less in the muck, and 3) I can keep a bit more tension on the chain as it spends more time in the smaller-interval middle cogs in the back (15-17-19-21) …and if I need to cover lots of ground at a very high speed, I don’t spin out as quickly. Pedals are XTR M9000 pedals…with fresh cleats after a long summer of riding!

I spend the majority of my bike time in the more fitness/endurance-oriented world of XC, marathon, and cyclocross, and since 2012, a power meter has been an important training tool.  I use a Stages power meter mounted to my XTR crankarm in order to collect performance data from training and competitions so that I can be more efficient with training for a specific discipline, tracking progress and managing fatigue along the way.

The ride kit will include the following items tucked into a High Above Designs Lookout hip bag, and a Barrier Micro seat bag by Blackburn Designs:

CLIF product (Bars & Bloks) in a 1/2 size screw cap “snack can”; Sawyer water filter & 1L bag (there’s time to stop and refill in putt-putt enduro biking); tire plugs for quick fix + 2x spare tubes 27.5×2.3 w/ tire lever, filled by Blackburn SL Mini Pump w/ CO2 backup; emergency whistle, space blanket, compress & quik-clot, plastic baggie /w NSAIDs + antihistamine just in case; zip ties, spare der. hanger, Blackburn Wayside multi tool for a good fix; iphone + GoalZero battery pack.

Off the trail…Though Trans Cascadia will provide tents and sleeping pads a generally posh setup, I’m still planning to travel with my go-to quiver of Kona Adventure Team gear. After all, this is a backcountry adventure.  You never know what’s going to happen!  Tents from Eureka, sleeping systems by Klymit, bags and camp wear from Mission Workshop, backup camp food from Mountain House, cookwear from JetBoil (in case we need some midnight snacks), and gear bags from Blackburn Design.

Over and out for now…

Pinkbike.com review the 2016 Process 134DL “Kona have packaged up a slice of the Pacific Northwest’s riding style for the rest of the world to experience and enjoy”

Rachelle Frazer from Pinkbike.com has been riding a 2016 Process 134 DL for the last few months now and her in-depth review is online now and its a pretty darn through write up that leaves few questions unanswered. You can click here to read the the full report.

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“Kona have packaged up a slice of the Pacific Northwest’s riding style for the rest of the world to experience and enjoy in the 134 DL. It’s no featherweight, but the DL climbs well enough that you could go and race your local enduro on it. More importantly, you will be getting the most of descending while having a lot of fun. If we’re honest with ourselves, many of us don’t need 160mm+ of suspension for our local trails but if you still want to get a little sendy, the 134 DL has a bulletproof frame, a lifetime warranty, is ready, obliging and will cost you less than a beat up Subaru.”Rachelle Frazer

Leah Maunsell reports from Round 3 of the Enduro World Series in Carrick, Ireland

Taking the win here in the U21 women last year had its pressures, with all of our crazy Irish fans expecting a repeat result again this year. On the other hand, I had so much support this weekend with people cheering me on all the way up every transition and down every stage.2016-Ireland-Race-2920

Not long after sprinting off the line of Stage 1 I had a mechanical. I wasn’t able to fix it mid stage so I had to ride the whole of stage one chainless. I pumped everywhere I could and rode smooth. I had to run the end of the stage because of the uphill. It wasn’t an ideal start being 37 seconds behind but I knew I still had six long stages to fight for some time back.

I had an over the bars at the start of Stage 2 but I still managed to get back 3 seconds.

Heading up to Stage 5 after lunch I was 23 seconds off the lead. I attacked Stage 5 hard and got back 20 seconds leaving me with a time fast enough for top 6 in Elite Women.2016-Ireland-Race-2923

Coming into the field at the finish was nerve–racking sitting in the hot seat and watching the times appear on the board one by one! I was stoked to find out I had taken the win in U21 Women by 11 seconds! ‘

Jonathan punctured on stage 2 like so many others in the sharps rocks, he keep it going sending everything all day for the massive home crowds, but incurring a lot of time penalties after running late for two stages he was out of the running!

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Kona Super Grassroots riders report from Round 1 of the 2016 EWS in Chile

, during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round one Valdivia, Corral, Chile.

Ryan Gardner during practice on Day 1 of 2016 Enduro World Series, round one Valdivia, Corral, Chile. Photo Sven Martin

Kona Super Grassroots enduro riders Ryan Gardner and James Rennie made the decision this year to take their Process 153’s and tackle a bunch of EWS rounds, both riders figured that kicking things off with Round 1 in Chilé, South America was as good a place to start as anywhere. Over the four epic days, between practice and racing, Ryan and James rode over 120 miles and climbed over 20,000 feet. Both coming from full time work at their respective homes, the two posted some solid results over the weekend. James’ first stage result of 32nd being one of them and Ryan’s consistency, which placed him in the top 50 (surround by full-time sponsored professionals) being his. Unfortunately for James, a very similar top 50 result was thwarted as he snapped his chain powering out of the very flat stage six start. Both Ryan and James have fired through their race reports, read on to hear about round one of the Enduro World Series went from their perspectives.

, during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round one Valdivia, Corral, Chile.

James Rennie embracing the Spirit of Enduro on the first day of practice, because of the physical nature of the courses only one practice run was possible, creating any incredibly level field of riders where everyone was essentially racing blind. Photo Sven Martin

Round 1 of the Enduro World Series in Corral, Chile is in the books and it was everything that makes Enduro great. Huge days on the bike, far off places, friendly people, and rugged downhills all combined to make an awesome kickoff to the season. With Corral being well off the beaten path for most EWS racers, everyone came into the race with zero knowledge of the courses. Almost everyone’s first glimpse of the stages was during practice on Thursday and Friday and with the distance between each stage, only one practice run was possible. This made for nearly blind racing on tracks that never looked overly difficult, but made for some very tricky racing. Most of the courses started with tough corners and lots of pedaling before dropping into more technical descents. The super steep and physically demanding switchbacks on stages two and five claimed handfuls of riders both during practice and the race as fatigue began to set in. World class riders, even those known for their fitness, began to show visible signs of wear as the week wore on. However, the absolutely stunning backdrop of coastal Chile, and a backpack full of empinadas made the grinding climbs a little easier to power through.

, during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round one Valdivia, Corral, Chile.

James Rennie en route to a 32nd place finish in Stage 1 , during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round one Valdivia, Corral, Chile. Photo Sven Martin

After a winter of racing cyclocross and doing big rides around California, I was hoping to meet the first round with a full head of steam and all the fitness I could ask for. Instead I was forced to meet the 120 miles and 20k feet of climbing over four days with a pretty solid cold that never quite let me feel like myself. With that in mind I told myself that I needed to just get through the weekend and not worry too much about placing. However, as any racer knows, it’s easy to get a little over excited and I pushed myself way too hard on stage one. I finally blew my hands off the bars in a hard g-out and took a digger. I got up as fast as I could and sprinted hard to make up time, only to blow out the very next corner in the loose dirt and dust. I finished off the stage and decided that it was probably better to dial it back a bit and be consistent and I managed to stay off the ground for the rest of the weekend. There were a few injuries including a compound fractured ankle that really highlighted the risks involved with riding as close to the line as you can on demanding trails with minimal practice. Enduro is continuing to come into its own and the consistent speed and concentration required to be a top international rider is truly impressive.

, during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round one Valdivia, Corral, Chile.

Ryan Gardner trying not to get distracted by the insane views of coastal Chilé, during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round one Valdivia, Corral, Chile. Photo Sven Martin

The whole race experience was a blast as it was visibly clear how excited the people of Corral were to be hosting an international group of racers. Each transfer stage was made a little easier by the throngs of locals smiling and waving as we passed and the Spanish cheers echoing from along the steepest parts of the descent. It was also nice to share the climbs and recap the previous stages with new super grassroots racer James Rennie who was having a killer weekend (placing near the top 30 on stage one!) before getting unlucky on the last stage with a broken chain. I am personally super happy to have made the top 50 riders and place 5th fastest American. Not too bad for an office jockey with a cold! Next up is a day or two of rest and then on to Argentina this weekend for Round 2. – Ryan Gardner

, during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round one Valdivia, Corral, Chile.

Vancouver based Kiwi, James Rennie, recovering after the first days racing at the 2016 Enduro World Series, round one Valdivia, Corral, Chile. Photo Sven Martin

, during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round one Valdivia, Corral, Chile.

James Rennie, Foot Out, Flat Out. Photo Sven Martin

After two long days of practice I was already feeling weary coming in to the first day of racing. The trails in Corral proved to have a good mix of everything, great dirt and high speeds seemed to be the main theme though. Day one went well for me, finishing the day in 60th after losing a whole of time on stage two. I was stoked with my first stage time though, where I finished in 32nd.

, during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round one Valdivia, Corral, Chile.

James Rennie Scandi flick though a Chilean switchback, during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round one Valdivia, Corral, Chile. Photo Sven Martin

Day two the weather was cooler making the climbs a bit more manageable. My legs felt great and stages four and five went well with both finishes around the top 50. After a longer wait at the top of the final stage my legs felt fresh, so fresh that I snapped my chain out of the gate and couldn’t get along the first flat section of the stage losing a whole lot of time. All in all it was a great weekend and the first EWS I have successfully finished! I ended up 73rd.

The Process 153 smashed it all weekend and it was great to hang out with fellow Kona Super Grassroots rider, Ryan Gardner. – James Rennie

, during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round one Valdivia, Corral, Chile.

Ryan Gardner, keeps calm and consistent en route to his solid top 50 finish. Photo Sven Martin

, during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round one Valdivia, Corral, Chile.

Look mom, no chain. James Rennie rode all of stage six from the start gate to the finish line chain-less. Photo Sven Martin

, during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round one Valdivia, Corral, Chile.

James Rennie getting all colour coordinated in some fresh 2016 TLD kit , during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round one Valdivia, Corral, Chile. Photo Sven Martin

, during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round one Valdivia, Corral, Chile.

Ryan roosts some of the hero dirt in Corral, Chilé during the 2016 Enduro World Series, round one. Photo Sven Martin

Full Results can be found here.

Freehub Magazine Review the 2016 Process 153DL “The Kona Process 153 DL is an absurdly fun bike”

The Freehub magazine guys ride the same trails as us here in Bellingham, so it only seemed fitting that we get them on a bike designed with those same trails in mind. Their review of the 2016 Process 153 DL is online now and it appears they loved the bike, I mean really LOVED it, if you don’t want to take one for a spin after reading it, well i’m guessing you work for one of our competitors. You can check out the review here (or by clicking on any of the images below).

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Bike Magazine Review 2016 Process 134 Supreme “If ever I have ridden a bike that felt like an extension of myself, this is the one.”

We love Bike Mag. And this month we love them more than usual as they have posted up this comprehensive 2016 Process 134 Supreme review. You can check out the review here (or by clicking on the image below). You can also pick up a digital copy of Bike right here and head to the work … boardroom (we know you read magazines on the throne).

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Mountain Bike Action Review the Process 134 “It really proved itself to be the best all-around rig.”

The March issue of Mountain Bike Action is out now and it features a massive Trail Bike Shootout, wouldn’t you know it, the 2016 Process 134 (spoiler alert) came out on top. Click HERE to read the full review and be sure to check out their latest issue, available where good magazines are sold as well as online.

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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