Kona

Local Pride and a Star-Studded Soirée, Spencer Reports from a Top-10 at Trans Cascadia

Trans-Cascadia is a blind-format, backcountry enduro race held in the wilder corners of the Pacific Northwest’s Cascade Mountain Range. Previously held in Oregon, the fourth-edition of the event made its way north to the deep corners of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in south-central Washington State. This year’s edition included a heavy-hitting cast of gravity heroes, including international stars Greg Minaar, Steve Peat, Loris Vergier and more. Factory rider Spencer Paxson was on site to represent not only for Kona, but for his local heritage, having grown up just over the hill from where the race took place. For Spencer, Trans Cascadia was a full-spectrum experience of modern mountain biking, from exploration to advocacy to participation. From helping vet the quality of the routes to volunteering in pre-race work parties to finally racing the event, Spencer shares with us his special account from this piece of MTB goodness. 

I credit the terrain around Trout Lake, WA and the greater Gifford Pinchot National Forest for inspiring my deep connection with sport and the outdoors. When I was informed that Trans Cascadia would be venturing to this area for 2018, I leapt at the opportunity to help out. From writing letters of support to the local USFS districts to participating in trail work days, my connection to the region gave me the sense that I owed a concerted effort to support the Trans Cascadia crew and their terrific event. My family’s history goes deep with these forests, including four generations of a family-owned timber and sawmill business and many years of my grandfather and father flying surveillance patrols for the US Forest Service. Not to mention my own experience growing up in these hills. Now, as the economic landscape continues to evolve, it is inspiring to think of mountain biking becoming a more important part of the recreational activities in the area. What better way than to usher it in with revamped trail systems and a world-class event!

I never dreamed I would share these trails alongside 100 other like-minded mountain bikers, let alone legends of the sport whom I’ve looked up to throughout my cycling career. To be clear, this was the zone where I would often go to be solo, or perhaps accompanied by a stalwart family member or friend. I even performed my marriage proposal on one of these trails! This was the zone where I fostered my “benign masochism” on long rides and bushed-out loops with heinous amounts of vertical ascent and frequent hike-a-bikes. But the reward of alpine vistas and remote singletrack was always worth the effort. Fast-forward a decade-and-change later and there I was sharing the same routes with a dozen good friends, trading high fives and trail snacks with the likes of Steve Peat and Greg Minaar, and being able to reassure others with local knowledge of: “don’t worry, it’s almost the top”.

Speaking of more meet-and-greet, the video above captures perhaps the best “nice to meet you” moment I’ve ever experienced. If you follow the big mountain ski world, you’ll get a kick out of it. If not, the running commentary is entertainment enough.

For all the fun that was had, the week was not without a healthy reminder of the fragility of pleasure and the sheer remoteness of the place we were riding. On Day 1, a long time fellow pro racer and friend dropped in ahead of me on Stage 2 and ended up losing control and impacting a tree. I had given enough of a gap on the high-speed stage that I didn’t notice that he had sailed off into the woods until after waiting at the bottom when he was nowhere to be found. After a few riders passed without seeing him, I notified the stage timers and medic and ran back up the trail. Sure enough, my friend was a few minutes run up the hill and laid out on a gentle slope below the trail. The thought that I had ridden past him without seeing gave me a pit in my stomach. A medic and I arrived on scene at nearly the same time and began to administer care (I have my WFR precisely because of these backcountry activities…it’s not much, but it’s far better than nothing). As difficult as it was to see a friend in so much distress, and as scary as the uncertainty of injuries was in the first hour, it was amazing to witness the clockwork of the Trans Cascadia medical crew and staff as they switched-on to expert care for my friend while keeping the rest of the event running smoothly and out of the fray. I can’t speak highly enough of the medical crew and organizers for rallying the way they did to ensure safety and care. After three tough hours, my friend was able to get up and move out on the back of a motorcycle. As for me, I coasted out the last two stages of the day, race brain totally fried.

Mike Thomas

Thanks to Day 1’s strong reminder of two-wheeled hubris, I had the mind to savor and respect Days 2-4. We were still deep in the woods, and any serious incident meant a long wait and (likely) helicopter ride at best. That said, topic for a future piece is the phenomenon of continued risk-taking in the wake of incident. There are so many angles to open up on that topic that I’ll save it for later, but suffice it to say, I didn’t feel like I slowed down despite the experience of my friend’s crash. And I wouldn’t have gone any faster, either. F#@(%…it felt fast!! And on average I was still 3% off pace. I’m happy leaving that remaining sliver to the forest gods. That said, over the next three days I managed to eke out a top-3 and a few top-5 stage placings, which seemed remarkable to me (and scary/exciting?). Maybe everyone else slowed down? Whatever the case, the local pride probably had something to do with it. Witnessing everyone’s enjoyment of the trails and terrain gave me that special form of joy that comes from sharing with others. In that way, I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited to have my ass handed to me on fairly familiar trails than by the likes of the international gravity stars in attendance.

Chris Hornbecker

In the end, we grimy bunch of mountain biking adults spent 4-days feeling like 19-year-olds with no curfew, no homework, and European drinking privileges. Our cups runneth’d over. I bathed in cold streams and lakes each evening, ate delicious food, and shared lifetime good laughs and high-speed trail sensations with old friends and new ones. As for the racing part, I got myself to 9th place (FULL RESULTS HERE). The morning after the race, a bunch of us loaded into a truck and started the long drive back home. On the way we stopped in sleepy little Trout Lake. There was the gas station and cafe as it always had been each morning before school started, the mountain looming over the valley. I was a visitor in my own home this time, but there was a new twist that felt good. It had been put on everyone else’s map, and in this capacity, it felt really good to share it. I hope people come back. I certainly will!

Thanks for reading.

Photo credits: Mike Thomas and Chris Hornbecker

Kona is 30! Come Celebrate in Bellingham on Sept 8th!

We are celebrating 30 years of good times and we invite YOU to party with us and help clean up the community.

Join the Kona Bike Shop on Saturday, September 8th to celebrate 30 years of Kona! We’ll be cleaning up a green space near the Kona Bike Shop that has been neglected. Along with the cleanup, we’ll have food, music, sales at the store and prizes to give away. Spread the word and let’s make this a big Bellingham event! Everyone is welcome! Check out the flyer below for full details. Questions? Contact the Kona Bike Shop! See you on September 8th!

Kona’s Lacy Kemp Featured in Freehub Magazine’s Pillars Series

Freehub Magazine has launched a new web series called Pillars, highlighting the people that help define the local mountain bike community. Bellingham is home to several bike companies and this first piece features an employee from both Kona and Transition. Check out what makes Kona’s Communications Manager, Lacy Kemp, a Bellingham Pillar.

 

 

“Every community has its cornerstones, the people making forward progression possible. Bellingham, WA, has a thriving mountain bike scene with so many people contributing in every possible way imaginable. However, there are a few who epitomize the community as a whole, simply through their actions.” – Freehub Magazine

Hey BC! Come Party with Kona!

We are 30 this year! That’s three decades of good times, great bikes, and wayyyyy too many hilarious moments to recall. To celebrate, we want you to come check out our new digs on the North Shore this Saturday, August 25th! We’ll be having a BBQ and prize giveaways. Bring your Kona- old or new! Check out some of our latest bikes and get to know the staff! All details below. Hope to see you there! PLEASE make sure to RSVP to  gidget@konaworld.com.

 

Pinkbike Reviews The Satori DL

“The Satori is a bombproof bike to get you in and out of just about anything you find. It has the composure to charge confidently into the “somewhat unknown” without worry.”

Daniel Sapp, Pinkbike.com

Daniel Sapp reviewed the Satori on his home trails of Brevard, NC. Sapp says he put the Satori through it’s paces riding in conditions varying from dry and loose to pouring rain, roots, rocks, and multi-use trails with ruts and wear to more XC style trails and everything in between. For the full review click the link below.

Pinkbike Satori Review

 

 

Uli Brucker vom Kona Factory/Bike Ranch Team siegt beim Schwarzwälder Tälercup in Haussach Teamkollege Markus Ziegler wird Zweiter

Markus u. Uli nach dem Rennen

Markus Ziegler und Uli Brucker die für das Kona Factory/Bike Ranch Team aus Schonach starten hatten am Wochenende ihre Feuertaufe. Die beiden Mountainbiker starteten beim Schwarzwälder Tälercup in Haussach in die neue Rennsaison. Die Herren-Fahrer gingen zusammen mit den Senioren auf die Strecke, die vier Mal umrundet werden musste. Entgegen bisheriger Erfahrungen auf dieser Strecke konnte sich Ziegler am Start gut behaupten. Die erste Runde hielt er sich zurück, um nicht in der hektischen Startrunde in einen Sturz hineingezogen zu werden. Danach begann er mit der Aufholjagd und arbeitete sich Position um Position nach vorne. Bald waren alle besser aufgestellten Seniorenfahrer eingeholt und es entwickelte sich eine “Herrenspitze”. Allerdings war der Führende bereits in weiter Ferne. Markus schob sich auf Position zwei und gab alles, um diese zu halten. Die Strecke forderte sowohl technisch als auch konditionell alles ab. Ziegler verteidigte seine Platzierung souverän und beende das Rennen nach 43:29 Minuten auf dem zweiten Platz. Uli Brucker der dreifache dt. Meister fuhr ebenfalls ein super Rennen. Er nutzte seinen Heimvorteil und konnte seine Stärken ausspielen. Er kam kurz hinter seinem Teamkollegen Markus Ziegler ins Ziel und dies bedeutete für ihn den Sieg bei den Senioren. “Das war ein tolles Wochenende für unser Team, gleich zweimal Podium. Wir bereiten uns auf die Marathonsaison vor und da nutzen wir solche kurze härteren Rennen um Tempohärte zu entwickeln, außerdem sind wir, wie die meisten Profis im World Cup, auf leichte vollgefederte Rennbikes aus Carbon umgestiegen. Aufwendige Tests des internationalen Teams unseres Sponsors ergaben bessere Werte im Bereich Ermüdung und Lactatbildung auf langen Strecken, sowie Traktion Berg auf und Geschwindigkeit und Sicherheit Berg ab. Die Erfolge am Wochenende bestärken uns in unserer Entscheidung und ich bin gespannt auf die Saison.“ Team Chef Schnürle

 

 

Im Anhang zwei Bilder

  1. Uli Brucker bei der Siegerehrung

Bike Love

It’s Valentine’s Day. For lots of people that means romance, fancy meals, and way too many heart-themed things.

At Kona, we also want to share the love of our favorite bikes with you. So from the bottom of our sappy little hearts, this is an ode to the bikes we are currently loving the most.

Amanda Bryan, Sales: I love the way the Process 153 sucks up the trail and pops around. It boosts confidence in the steep chunder and loves to get sideways and rowdy.

 

Jordan Sembler, Sales: This is my “One that got away” Valentine bike: “I miss my sweet baby blue Sutra LTD. She stood by me for more miles than any other bike I have had in recent memory and what did I do? I sold her for the next hottest thing… Looking back is always hindsight. She is truly the one that got away and I have to live with that. I just hope that she is happy with her new partner and looks back on our time together as fondly as I do…. I sure hope my Rove LTD doesn’t read this…”

Product Team members Justin Clements and Ian Schmitt: Justin says, “Me and my friend Ian riding a rock roll together in Squamish BC at the MY17 Kona Launch. He’s riding a Big Honzo and I’m riding a Hei Hei Trail CR.”

Product Team member Mark Allison: I love the Operator because who doesn’t love riding big bikes down gnarly terrain? It always means you’re in the woods with your buddies.

Molly Joyce, Sales: This is my Process 111. It was a party! What a sleeper of a bike. It had a way of getting you into spicy situations and at the same time see you out like a champ. I had some of my favorite rides on that bike.

Kona Adventure Team Member Spencer Paxson: My Hei Hei and Process 111 in foreground. Valentines big and small, and bikes of all kinds. Bikes + love and families + bikes = love.

Kona CX Racer Kerry Werner: My “Kona Valentine” is the Superjake. First, and foremost, it is fast as hell on the cx course! Enough said. Secondly, it is so versatile. As the CX season was winding down I was planning as many different bike packing adventures and big gravel rides I think of. Basically, this bike gets me excited to spend copious amounts of time in the saddle.

Scott McKay Sales: Gotta love a Wo and Fireball Whiskey on a cold afternoon like this. Wo+Whiskey= Love

Garry Davoren, Distributor: Who doesn’t love a Ti Honzo?

 

Kona Athlete Hannah Bergemann: The Honzo climbs with ease, which encourages me to ride longer and further. It’s insanely confidence-inspiring and stable, yet still super playful on the descents, and it has me wanting to hit all the jumps and features I can find. I can pack it up with gear for an overnight bike packing trip, or rally it down some of my favorite downhill trails. I’ve been riding the Honzo for a few months now and have taken it to most of my favorite trails in Bellingham. I’ve had a blast riding long XC routes in Mazama, WA and descending technical, rock-filled trails in Squamish. The Honzo made me reconsider my opinion of hardtail bikes, and I feel like I have yet to find the limits of this bike. Looking forward to many more miles on this bike!

Lacy Kemp, Marketing: My Process 153 CR DL is always up for diving into the steepest pitches. The steeper the better!

Kona freerider Graham Agassiz on his custom Operator: This is my favourite bike for a lot of reasons but the two biggest ones would be it’s 26″ and it’s a rainbow trout!

Happy Valentines Day to you and your bikes, from all of us at Kona!