Major Jake

CX Magazine posts their First Look at our 2018 Major Jake

Andrew from CX Magazine swung by our booth at Sea Otter to check out our new drop bar bikes and quickly absconded with our brand new Major Jake. They teased us with an Instagram post from the show but have now posted up this in-depth First Look on their website.

“At Sea Otter 2017, we got a first look at the new carbon 2018 Major Jake cyclocross bike, and it looks like Kona did its homework with this new frame.”

Read Andrews’ First Impressions at CX Magazine here.

Sleek lines and thin seat stays offer up a smooth look, and reportedly, a 10% smoother (more compliant) ride. The new 2018 carbon Kona Major Jake cyclocross bike. 2017 Sea Otter Classic. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

Sleek lines and thin seat stays offer up a smooth look, and reportedly, a 10% smoother (more compliant) ride. The new 2018 carbon Kona Major Jake cyclocross bike. 2017 Sea Otter Classic. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

Kerry and Emily’s Blue Ridge Bikepacking Adventure: Beta

Words and photos by Kerry Werner.

It all started during cross season. We were staying at a host house in Sun Prairie, WI, getting ready for the Waterloo CX race, when our hosts started telling us about how they ride tandem. For some reason it clicked. I immediately thought of Emily and myself doing some sort of tandem adventure.

We had talked about doing some thing really cool this summer because in the fall she will start an internship, which will keep her chained to Winston-Salem. She will have little time for extended adventures – the likes of which a standard 4 year college degree and two years of grad school allowed, the latter less often of course.

Then I thought of a conversation I had last summer with a good friend, the Lees McRae Collegiate Cycling Coach. We pondered how cool it would be to do a fully supported Blue Ridge Parkway through-ride, by raising some money for a charity of our choice. This would allow us to simply ride with two bottles and a phone to take pictures then meet the support vehicle at the end of the day, have a good meal, sleep in a bed, and wake up to do it all again the next day.

So with these two thoughts aligned my brain instantly computed that Emily and I should do a Parkway through-ride, bikepacking on a tandem. I dropped the whole support aspect of the original plan because it would be more fun to camp and make an adventure out of it. I like to get out of my comfort zone, it helps me grow and realize I am human. Plus, I was watching my friend Russell Finsterwald’s Instagram, and what not, all fall. This must have lead to an immense amount of pent up jealousy, which erupted into this idea.

From there the plan changed slightly, only in the approach. Instead of a tandem Emily would use panniers and I would pull a B.O.B. Yak trailer, behind my Major Jake of course.

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It was Emily’s spring break, instead of Punta Cana or Cancun, we decided an abbreviated bike packing trip (3 days, 2 nights) from Winston-Salem to Stone Mountain State Park. Stone Mountain State Park, along the Parkway, to Boone, NC, Boone back to Winston-Salem, with a mandatory bakery stop (and later an emergency donut stop).

We strapped on our cold weather gear, loaded up the rigs and headed out into the burliest head wind… and that is how it was for the next 5 hours.

Tall shadows confirming our late arrival at the end of Day 1, which was not a pleasant way to start this journey. It ground our average pace down to 12.8 MPH, which wasn’t planned when we started late at 12 noon.

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It was an expected low of 15ºF that night and the temp was dropping fast when we rolled in. We got out of the saddles and straight into the tent, inhaled some freeze dried food and cookies, then lights out.

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We woke…

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Breakfast…

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Packed and hit the road!

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The night was nice, our gear kept us warm, the sun was out, and we were feeling revived, refreshed, reinvigorated.

Got on the Parkway in the first 5 miles and didn’t have to get off it for the next 60.

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These were the reason the Parkway was added into this equation. Vistas to the right and left for 60 miles.

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The BRP holds a special place in my heart because I trained on it for 6 years while I was in Banner Elk, NC going to college. This is why…

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I can remember doing efforts on climbs and finishing at the top, completely blown, I crane my neck and my eyes focus on layers of pastel blues darkening and deepening as the miles stretch on.

It was just as I remember it.

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We called a friend in Boone because why struggle when awesome people want to help? We were welcomed into a warm kitchen, straight to a bubbling pot of chili, and as much hot tea as we could manage. After warm showers and a great meal it wasn’t long before lights out. Besides, tomorrow was going to be a big day.

Pancakes for breakfast, lots of them, or rather one giant one that would fill your plate like a mini pizza but was half an inch thick and absorbing all the syrup you could throw at it.

Out the door, but first to Hatchet Coffee for a little pick me up and a pastry from Stickboy Bread Co.

Now for real, Boone to Winston, 100 miles! The previous two days were 65 miles. We were a little nervous because the all day head wind and the 60 miles of Parkway forced our average speeds down – below 12 the second day. If we didn’t have a tail wind or wouldn’t have started the ride by dropping Elk Creek Road – a big paved, snaking decent, which intermittently pops on and off gravel as it serpentines next to a gently rolling creek – we wouldn’t have made it before dark.

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Luckily, the bike gods were on our side because by the end of the day we averaged 16.1 MPH. This was after an emergency donut stop just outside of Wilkesboro, NC. As well as a stop at the Amish Bakery in Windsor, NC before the last push home.

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It was a long three days and the temps were certainly unfavorable, thus adding to our post ride exhaustion.

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In hindsight it is comforting to know that we managed to do the trip in the harsh, cold temps that we experienced because this was all just practice for the big hoorah! The real Blue Ridge Parkway through-ride is planned for early June, after the Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike stage race. We plan to use fitness gained from that 5 day MTB stage race to get through the Parkway through-ride.

This mini 3-day trip was crucial to first see if bikepacking is something that we both could enjoy as well as dial in our gear and weed out unnecessary pieces of equipment. I am more excited for the through-ride now than before our adventure. The warmer temps will make the whole ride more tolerable and give us longer days; we started before the time change. Thus, we will have more time to follow the brown signs of the park services to waterfall off chutes, swimming holes, and welcome centers that will be open in the summer, which were not at the beginning of March. All in all Emily and I are both excited for the big trip, though I doubt you will see us towing the B.O.B. trailer across America or down the Continental Divide anytime soon. Baby steps.

Spencer Paxson Tops the Podium at the MFG Woodland Park GP!

Last Sunday was the grand finale of the MFG Cyclocross series, which saw close to a thousand racers and even more fans flock to Woodland Park in Seattle. Kona Endurance team rider Spencer Paxson took the win in the Elite Men’s division after a close duel with Olympic MTB runner-up Stephen Ettinger, and Northwest ‘cross juggernaut Steve Fisher.

Perhaps Spencer got the edge from the good vibes and extra course practice after leading a course preview and clinic for new ‘cross racers at 8am. Spencer wrapped up the MFG series in 5th overall, and is now cringing at the thought of going to lose at the single-speed cyclocross world (non)championships of the irreverent in Portland, OR next month.

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Time Flies When You’re Racing Cross: Kerry Werner on the Podium Again

Words by Kerry Werner. Photos by Meg McMahon.

Holy cow! It’s already November!

The last two weekends were great. In my opinion the only thing that would have made them better is a little bit of rain. It has just been too dry lately. CX is mud, ruts, and bike changes! Not dust, roots, rocks, and teeth covered in a thin film of sludge from filtering out the dust-nado that ensues from 60+ racers running sub 8 min lap times. However, I can’t complain. I had solid finishes for both weekends, solidifying my 2nd place in the ProCX overall and pushing me further up into the World UCI ranking. And besides, the warm, dry weather certainly makes for some easy prep and clean up, which is nice.

The Ohio Valley puts on the Cincy Cyclocross weekend, comprised of Pan American Championships on Saturday and a C1 race on Sunday. Those are two YOUGE! opportunities to obtain UCI points. The Cincy weekend is followed by the iconic Derby City Cup race weekend at a venue where 2013 worlds were held. These two races are a big deal in the overall scheme of CX racing in America and have historically been big races for spectator turnout.

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Photo courtesy Dave McElwaine.

The Pan Ams course is always one of my favorites. It plays to the hand of a MTB riders skills as it contains lots of technical corners and even a large rooty shoot dubbed the “Pan Am Plunge”. Coming of the double win at DCCX I was feeling confident and ready to rally and that certainly shined through as I found myself in the top 5 early and stayed there.

I am not a huge fan of group racing. Coming from an MTB racing background the only tactics I am used to are “go hard then go harder”. The Pan Am course provides plenty of elevation change and therefore groups tend to be small and break up quickly. Halfway through the race there were 4 riders, including myself at the front battling for the podium.

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While I say that, the race still came down to a sprint between Danny Summerhill and I for the final podium spot, which he nabbed from me. I hung my head in disappointment at missing out on the podium but internally I was reveling in the fact that last year in this same race with the same competition I ended up 10th, nowhere near the podium.

Sunday turned out to be interesting. The course was very flat, lots of corners, and super dry/grassy. Everyone lined up with file treads because of the aforementioned conditions, though rain was in the forecast. In fact, on the line with less than 3min to go we felt rain drops. Tobin Ortinblad swapped to an intermediate tire immediately and I followed suit. We were the only ones to do this and received some heckles from fellow racers but it proved wise. 2 laps in the rain came down for real and everyone hit the pit. We, however, just kept on rallying.

Again, the race came down to a sprint for 2-4 and I ended up not playing my cards right. We all came into the final corner together but there was no room to sprint around anyone and I brought up the tail end for 4th. Again, I was disappointed but still happy because I got 10th last year on the same course with the same competition. This year I was on the front taking pulls and mixing it up for the top spots. This has been huge for my confidence this year and I have a lot of people to thank but my coach Jim Lehman at CTS is certainly high on the list.

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After a solid weekend and a boost in UCI points Doug and I drove 1.5 hrs southwest to Louisville to hang out for the week before the Derby City Cup. During this time I found Louisville to be a pretty cool city with lots of activities to do in order to skirt the constant tug of boredom. For instance, distillery tours, restaurant discovery, coffee shop frequenting, movies, and cool bike path cruising.

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The race weekend came faster than expected and I was amped up for Saturday’s C1. I was hungry for the podium after, narrowly, missing out twice in Cincy.

The Louisville course is pretty flat, though surprisingly technical. There is a large sand pit that we were routed through three times, lots of loose corners and two off the bike stair runs, unless you are Cody Kaiser (#codyrodeit).

A video posted by konabikes (@konabikes) on

The start is a flat as pancake road section then a drop into a flat as pancake grass section before the first important corner. I managed to set myself up welll for this and found myself in the front group when the separations started to occur. Once Stephen Hyde distanced himself from the front group the battle for the podium was on between four of us. Curtis flatted, which meant one down, two to go. I was looking towards the end of the last lap and positioning before the last corner as there was no hope of sprinting around anyone coming into the finish.

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I found myself second wheel into that corner and brought it home for 3rd. Podium acquired!

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That was the goal for the weekend and with that accomplished the motivation for Sunday waned somewhat. Mentally I just wanted to get it over with so I could take a little break and ramp it back up for the end of the season. This showed by lack of aggressive positioning off the start and I found myself back in 20th or so.

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From there I fought my way up to the front group but by that time I burnt quite a few matches and didn’t have the gusto to be in the right place when the separations started to happen. Three riders went of the front so our chase group of five was fighting for 4th-8th and I got 6th. I was disappointed because I made a mental mistake, though I focused on the silver lining, which was now I could take a break and reset so that doesn’t happen again. Plus, 6th isn’t terrible…

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All in all the last two weeks were awesome. Good quality, high level racing, with good spectator turn out, and lots of good vibes moving forward. Dave Toll asked me if I had gotten on the podium yet this year in a C1 and explained that I had at the KMC Cross Fest back at the end of September, which now feels like last season. Hence, the title of my post.

The anticipation for cross season in July and August make it seem like the racing will never start. However, when it does get going it feels like time travel. With such a heavy loaded front end I have a hard time distinguishing which race was when, they all seem to blur together. Hopefully, over the rest of the season, as the schedule settles down I’ll be able to slow down with it and enjoy the rest of the racing like a slowly simmering crock pot building of flavor overtime. Where the beginning of the season was more like a searing, quick and painless, but now that it’s past I wish it was still happening…

Kerry Werner Doubles Up on Pro CX Wins at DCCX

After having a good weekend in Charm City two weekends ago I went into a weekend off with high spirits and an excitement to reset mentally. All the while I was keeping tabs on my team mates, Helen Wyman and Amira, who were racing up in Gloucester, MA. Helen ended the weekend with a 2nd and 1st place so going into DCCX I was looking forward to keep the Major Jake on the top step.

I was certainly excited to race but also excited to try out my RV. I had never taken it to a UCI race before so my mechanic, Doug Sumi, and I were the guinea pigs, testing out the efficiency and worthwhile-ness of the RV at the venue.

With 4:15 pm race times I had loads of time to kill both days before the race. I spent my morning checking out Rock Creek Park on morning spins and lounging in the RV watching racers from the comfort of my mobile couch!

Sunday, I partnered up with Ricoh Riott who is a talented photographer in the Baltimore, DC area. We went over to Rock Creek Park and sessioned a sweet stair set on a gravel walking path. Ricoh artistically pulled some shots and put it together for this cool, short video.

A video posted by konabikes (@konabikes) on

The course was really flat but had some punchy rises and lots of cornering. Saturday brought heavy winds and the race reflected that be being a group race from lap one. I was on top of it from the gun and managed to holeshot. From there a front group of five established and that was the race. Dan Timmerman, Anthony Clark, Cole Oberman, Adam Craig, and myself took turns throwing metaphoric punches at each other with strategically timed attacks but nothing was working. It came down to the last lap and a spring between Dan and I, which I was able to pull off!

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The course on Sunday was exactly the same but not nearly as windy and the race played out completely different, for the most part. A second corner crash caused a big separation early in the race, which left Dan and I off the front with the same three from Saturday chasing. They brought the gap down to within spitting distance with two laps to go. I got a little nervous and jumped. This ultimately strung it out and made the race a two person battle between Dan and I again.

I came into the finish straight with Dan on my wheel and was ready for him to come around me because of the dig I put in on the previous lap. However, I was still hungry for the win and managed to summon my inner Peter Sagan to hold Dan off and take the Sunday crown. This finish was much closer than Saturday, with only half a wheel determining the top two steps.

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Needless to say I was floored.

I couldn’t be happier with the way the weekend turned out. I got to put two W’s on the resume, keeping the Major Jake on the top step for two ProCX race weekends in a row, and getting the wins doubled as a great birthday present for my dad who was part of my weekend fan club (along with my mom).

Now it’s off to Cincinatti for Pacific American Championships followed by Louisville and the Derby City Cup.

Follow along with Kerry on Instagram as he continues to smash it on his Major Jake!