Racing

Spencer Paxson Wins Inaugural XC-Enduro Combined at the Vedder MTB Festival

 

‘Enduro! It has what XC racers crave!’ my buddies and I joked as we rolled in to Day 2 of our “Vedder Doubleheader” weekend up in the Fraser Valley. The Idiocracy reference was a double entendre of sorts; the easy, no-pressure climbing and ripping downhill in enduro, along with questioning our own sensibility for racing two hard days in a row.

Why two days in a row? The true prize of the weekend, for me at least, was the newly minted King/Queen of the Mountain Trophy devised by the organizers of the Vedder Mountain Classic. It would go to the man and woman with the fastest combined time in the XC and enduro. Day 1 was the Vedder Mountain Classic, a 30km marathon-format cross country race. Day 2 was the opening round of the Canadian National Enduro Series. Combined, the days would tally around 11,000 feet of vert up and down. Imagine some of the best dirt conditions you’ve ever had (and that is not hyperbole!), and any sensible MTB-er would have taken up the challenge.

 

Well…I’m not sure if sensible is the correct word, but how about eager? You could say that Saturday’s XC was an aggressive practice day. The course was challenging, but the immaculate conditions took the edge off of the effort. Teammate Cory Wallace and I battled out on the start loop and up the first huge climb to the top of The Den with Canadian cyclocross National Champ Micheal Van Den Ham in the mix. My Hei Hei (size Large) equipped with MRP Ribbon fork and WTB Trail Boss tires was feeling spry, and I sneaked around Mr. Wallace on the long descent back down to the lake, beginning lap two with a comfortable gap, and pressing on up the second half of the race to take the win. Cory rolled in 2nd, we traded some high fives, went to the beer garden, jumped in the lake, and even collected some Canadian cash. Day 1 done!

Phillip Jones

Sunday’s enduro is captured well-enough in the images. It was a ripping good time! I raced three out of five stages blind (good prep for TransCascadia coming up later this summer) and executed a quick-but-conservative day to get through cleanly. My result on Sunday was lackluster compared to Saturday’s XC, but it was good enough to claim the first-ever Vedder KOM Trophy! Truth be told, there weren’t many who went for the double header, so it had a bit of a tree-fell-in-the-woods level of accomplishment, but given the caliber of this event, I’m hopeful to see this “omnium” format more hotly contested in the future. It has to start somewhere! So with that, the weekend was wrapped up, and it was time to get back home to finish celebrating Mother’s Day.

James Lissimore

As I said of last year’s experience racing the Vedder Mountain Classic, there is no pretense to riding or racing mountain bikes in this part of the world, no matter your skill level, because in BC, mountain biking and racing just is. It’s a f*@#% good time!

Vallelujah Enduro Race Report – Ben Clayton, Get’s Philosophical About Enduro Racing!

UK Grassroots rider Ben Clayton tackled the Vallelujah Enduro recently. He finished a respectable 27 out of 150 riders his first race back after a broken wrist. Check out the full race report below.
First race weekend in 8 months!!!

Snow and a deluge of rain and mud led to the first two races of 2017 getting canceled. Bummer when you’re trying to get some race miles into your legs after breaking your wrist trying to conquer The Lakes. Peebles is like Mecca for us UK mtb folk, but with the beast from the east and other biblical conditions, it’s been a struggle to get good mtb time in. Road miles and the dark temptress of Zwift have been the only forms of training that have been a constant. The Kona Process 153 CR has had few dirty rides out, mainly whiteout insta vid sessions. When I got to Peebles in the sunshine I had a game plan, I’m not going into details, as everyone who knows me, knows why my usual attitude to riding was somewhat tamed down. I went to Peebles with an “enjoy the ride don’t get hurt” attitude. Somewhat different to my usual XXXX it, “let’s have it” approach to racing. Practice was everything I wanted…music, good times, the best UK trails (in my opinion) and a solid set of lads in the starting line up. Practice was fun. Fun and speed don’t always go hand in hand and that was to be true in race runs. I had the proverbial monkey on my back that’s for sure! I really need to establish the whole “race have fun ethos”. But at the end of the day, we all had a blast and results are results. One big crash on stage 3 put me well out of the running but the rest of the stages were clean but very reserved. I ended up 27th out of over 150 riders in a very stacked field with some top boys going well on home turf. It’s now on to some serious training and lots of mountain bike time before we fly out to France for round 3 of the Enduro World Series. Can’t wait to get back with the EWS circus. The fans at these races are really what makes these events so good, so I’m looking forward to putting on a show for them and hopefully getting a solid result.

THE DIRTY SANCHEZ (TDS) RACE REPORT

Ali stopping for a mid-run beer with encouragement from Mark and Heather.

The Dirty Sanchez: the gnarliest enduro out there. Broken & bruised limbs, mid-run whiskey shots, hundreds of hecklers, the rowdiest bike trails… sums up to my idea of an epic weekend. The Kona crew made an appearance in full force with Ali Osgood, Becky Gardner, Hannah Bergemann, Ryan Gardner, and Scott Countryman, and put together a race report from the weekend.

Becky, Ali, and Hannah on day 1

Hannah B. – Through an Instagram contest submission I was granted a “golden ticket” to race in the 2018 TDS enduro. A month later I was flying with my bike down from Bellingham to Northern California, not quite sure what I was getting myself into.

 

Perry, Chelsea, & Hannah; the 3 Golden Ticket contest winners

Friday was practice day which involved riding as many of the trails as possible, with shuttles to the top after every lap. This meant riding until my arms felt like they might not work anymore.

Dropping into the steep rock garden section of stage 3

Saturday was race day 1, and started off with 3 of the gnarliest trails. My goal for the weekend was to keep it upright and I was (barely) able to make that goal! Stage 6 brought us through the infamous and gnarliest stage, Vigilante, which runs through a steep, dried up creek bed of loose rocks. Hundreds of Hecklers lined the gully, hollering as all the racers wobbled and tumbled their way down the trail.

Trying to stay high on the wall rides among the hecklers

Sunday was day 2, and we endured another 6 stages of gap jumps, loose rocks, and off camber steeps. I finished each stage completely gassed but with a huge, cheesy grin on my face.

The whole weekend was amazing. I landed in 7th in a large field of ladies and was happy to have relatively clean race runs. The Sanchez family and friends are one incredible crew of people, and I’m so grateful they let me come experience all the glory of the TDS.

Until next time!

Hannah B.

 

Ali Osgood:

When I rolled up to the Sanchez Compound for my second TDS I had 2 goals. The first was to not repeat my first year at the event by getting injured in practice, and my second goal was to be the first woman to win the Spirit Leader Award.

Ali getting steezy on a step-up

(side note: The Spirit Award goes to the racer who meets the spirit criteria of TDS legends like Mark Weir and Ariel Lindsley. That racer must improve the experience of all TDS goers, be it on the race course, during pastimes, or, especially, round the campfire into the late hours of the night. Every year in contention for the coveted award voices are lost, beers are chugged, trails are slayed, and many laughs are shared.)

I picked up Hannah Bergemann from the airport thursday night, we settled into our camp, and woke up to a chilly Friday morning of practice. As always, the trails didn’t disappoint. Imagine a trail system that somehow manages to feature unparalleled flow with gap jumps, massive wall rides, and deep berms, steep rocky gnar, spongy fragrant loam, rooty chutes, and high speed tech. That’s what makes up the 13 stages of TDS. But the mtb wonderland got the better of me and by my fifth run in practice I managed to scorpion over my bars and punch a rock, rendering my pinky both broken and dislocated (I would discover days later after finally getting an x-ray).

The result of Ali’s crash during practice.

So I managed to fail my first goal, but the trail side doctors seemed confident I could still ride with the proper ratio of booze to ibuprofen and a firm buddy tape system. With my grip and general bike control being more compromised than I anticipated, I found myself crashing in the first few stages on Saturday. So I reorganized my goals and decided I didn’t care how slow I had to go, that I would still finish the race smiling.

Yep.. a pantsless run was in the cards on day 2. There’s a reason Ali earned the spirit award

After that, my weekend took a hard left turn from a bike race to a beer chugging, bar humping, break dance fighting shit show that I somehow survived with minimal bodily harm (besides an array of bruises and a pissed of left pinky). I made a lot of new friends, improved my beer bong skills, rode with some of the raddest pro women on the West Coast, and learned how to stay positive when things don’t go my way.

Getting the spirit award takes commitment…

While I failed to walk away from TDS uninjured, I somehow found myself accepting an impressive spread of prizes after winning the spirit award. I’v had some good wins in my race career, but this one takes the cake. After navigating the wild waters of TDS weekend, I finally understand what it’s all about and I am grateful to be apart of it.

So what’s it all about anyway? Come out next year, and you’ll find out…

Ryan Gardner:

Becky and I have attended the TDS enduro for several years now and have had the pleasure of watching it evolve from a couple guys in the woods to an elite enduro with hundreds of racers. Every year we head to Grass Valley eager to race on some of Northern California’s best terrain. I made the trip over the mountain from Oakland and was stoked to see what my new Kona Process 153 could do.

 

Ryan keeping it pinned through the hecklers

After ripping practice laps and remembering just how awesome the tracks are, I was ready to send it into day one of racing. Unfortunately, the first day of racing was not in my favor. After a crash in the rock garden, a flat tire, and a few more less-than-ideal runs, I didn’t find myself where I’d have liked after day 1.

Vigilante took more than a few people down, unknown rider.

Thankfully, the best part of racing TDS is not just the riding, but the festivities and like-minded people that make the Dirty Sanchez. After some bike repairs, having a few Hey Buddy beers, I was ready for more races, and day two brought a way better day. With clean runs and no mechanicals, I was able to put some top ten runs together against a stacked class of riders.

Becky Gardner:

After finishing up another winter in Telluride, Co, I made the trek over to TDS. After a winter of skiing, and recently recovering from a broken rib, my game plan was to ride consistent, smooth, and in control, especially after a history of injuries at the race. The first day of practice at TDS is always interesting coming from southern Colorado where the only trails available to ride all winter are more fitness-oriented and the rocky, gnarly trails lay beneath the snow.

 

Becky looking stoked after a day of practice.

By the end of the practice day and practicing all the features, I was feeling good going into race day. The weekends sunshine brought perfect dirt and tacky berms. Feeling super confident on more pedally stages, it took a bit to warm up to the more technical stages, but by the end of day 1, I was feeling strong on my Process 134.

Becky tackling the nasty rocks of Vigilante

All 12 stages went well, except for a few mishaps on some of the earlier stages, but the whole race was mechanical free and I was stoked to sit inside the top 10 against some very strong riders.

-Becky

Vlogging His Way Through The Pisgah Stage Race

Kerry Werner of the Kona Pro Cross Team and Adventure Mountain Bike Team is taking on two new challenges this week. One, the Pisgah Stage Race. This will be his 4th time competing in the event, which is held in Brevard, NC and is comprised of 5 stages baring 140 miles of the most iconic trails in the area.

The second challenge is vlogging! A longtime contributor to the Kona Cog via typing blog entries Kerry is trying something new in hopes to of engaging with ya’ll a little bit more and give a more personal look into the life of a racer and what it’s like. Mostly showing that it isn’t all serious and it’s really fun!

Check out the first episode below and give him a follow on Instagram (@KerryW24) for updates the rest of the week as today is stage 1! Good luck Duder!

Imaginary Domination Under the Eye of Stravaman

After suffering a mishap 15-miles in to a 54-mile day, Adventure Team rider Spencer Paxson shares his experience of what possessed him to keep riding real hard through the forests of the Black Hills.  

On the penultimate day of March, spring seemed preterm in the Black Hills (Capitol Forest) outside of Bordeaux, WA. Just shy of 200 bike riders gathered in the chilly, misty fields of the Evergreen Sportmen’s Club, set at the edge of the forest. Named for its border with the Black River, which is named for the “dark water” of Black Lake, the woods of the Black Hills did not hide their sinister nature. Indeed, the Eye of Stravaman loomed over all who pedaled through.

Spooky woods

Bordeaux, WA circa March 1903. Not much has changed except that there are bicycle races here on the weekends.

This was the sophomore year of the Cascadia Super G, put on by the Race Cascadia crew, which is best known for its regionally popular Cascadia Dirt Cup Series. This event was intended as a blend of enduro-meets-road-racing, or what these days we popularize as “gravel racing”.  At 9:30am we set out on a 54-mile course (shortened by 1 mile due to logging activity) to see just how we would fare. Unfortunately, the enduro timing system (which was supposed to record special downhill segments along the way) had been stuck in customs, so aside from the clock ticking at the finish line, we were all left with the Eye of Stravaman to decide the (unofficial) champion of the “race within the race”.

They say few can endure its terrible gaze, but for better or worse, with the Eye staring down, it didn’t matter so much when I suffered a nasty gash in my sidewall just 15 miles in, which I proceeded to have trouble fixing. After a few false starts of plugs, CO2s, boots, pumps, and even a nice helping hand who pulled over to see that I was alright (thank you, kind Sir!) I had lost around 18min. The race was rightly over, so it was time to go in to TT mode and let the Eye see what I was made of.

Blazing through moody clearcut vistas and spooky woods, I got to say hello again to most of my fellow bike racers who had passed me while I dealt with my mishap. For the next two hours I carried on with the Computer of Power weighing ever heavier on my handlebar. Lured by the Eye, I saw just how fast I could sustain.

With cracks beginning to show at the seams, I crossed the finish line a bit over 3 hours since I’d left it. According to the the clock I was 5th, but according to the Eye, I’d logged the fastest times on the major climb and descent segments. Be that as it may, the Eye grants no real dominion, only imaginary domination. And thus the ride was done and we left the Black Hills behind for another go some other day.

Chris Mcfarland

Racing against myself after getting rolling again…flat-out from mile 15 to 54.

Relive ‘Morning Ride’

 

Spring petals and pastels. Super Jake dressed pre-race like it was ready for an Easter egg hunt (it was Easter Weekend).

Super Jake with CX/MTB gearing combo (46/36 front, 11-40 rear) was the ride of choice for the 2018 Cascadia Super G

Super Jake, super gravel style. It was just an unlucky matter of physics and statistics (okay, and probably rider error!) that got the better of an otherwise burly tire setup.

The Computer of Power, displaying some heavy numbers from the day. It was “flat out” despite “flatting out”.

Crown Town

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

 

 

Kerry Werner’s Road to Bronze

Kona cyclocross racer Kerry Werner had a stellar cross season finishing 28th at the World Championships last weekend in the Netherlands. Prior to that race, he landed on the podium in third place at US Cyclocross National Championships in Reno, Nevada. BikeFlights.com put together an incredible video of Kerry’s prep for his bid at US Nationals. If you’re a fan of storytelling and getting to know the athletes, this is a great watch.

Wyman 3rd in Belgium

Kona cyclocross ringer Helen Wyman finished on the podium at the DVV Verzekeringen Trofee Scheldecross in Antwerp, Belgium. After a grueling race on a track riddled with challenging obstacles, Wyman was able to hold off those charing from the behind to take home third place behind Sanne Cant and Katie Compton. Congrats, Helen, on another strong result.

Velonews has the full recap here.

Travel Insight: Clara Honsinger Crosses the Pond

Recently Under 23 cyclocross racer Clara Honsinger was invited to Europe for her first time as a part of USA Cycling’s 10-day training/race camp in the Netherlands aboard her Major Jake. She recounts some of the interesting cultural differences between racing in America and Europe in this insightful post she wrote to recap her trip. She found that both sides of the pond have lots of great things to offer, but the attitude towards racing and cycling is totally different in Europe. Check out her full recap here.

Wyman Wins in Spain!

Going to Spain for some training is a pretty standard event for me, something I’ve been doing for many years.  This season, though, I managed to squeeze a race into the training camp and help put some speed into my legs.  I’m glad to say it went well, with win number 6 now in the books.  Overall it was a good block of training and I’m now back in Belgium and ready for the busy block of races that faces me for December. These races outside of Belgium have become a vital part of this season, with my focus on gaining a higher UCI rank, following last season’s injury.  I’ve moved up to 10th in the world rankings now, which gives me hope of a front row start the World Championships in January.” – Helen Wyman

Pedaliero Team Reports from the German Enduro One Series

Here’s an update from Kona-supported pedaliero team in Germany, who have been busy racing the regional enduro series this summer. You can follow their progress at pedaliero.

Words by Stefan Westerveld. Photos by Nico Gilles.

For the third time the region around the 1024-metre-high Ochsenkopf was the venue for the growing German Enduro One series.

With the Bullhead House and the organizer WSV Oberwarmensteinach, the BABOONS crew had once again brought in two competent partners who made the best of the trails around the Ochsenkopf and the local bike park.

A total of five stages, with Stage 5 also being the prologue on Saturday evening, had to be raced on Sunday.

The relatively short round with 18km and 350hm had everything for intermediate technical skills but between there were always difficult bits which had to be mastered. And the very rocky terrain provided some flat tires for the riders.

Nevertheless I didn’t choose a tire with a double wall and rode my favorite tire Nobby Nic with a little more pressure on the rear wheel again which worked well in Laax.

The weather played along and everybody had a smile on their face at the end of the day.

But the organizers should perhaps think about Stage 4 again. A 40 seconds “straight line” along a lift corridor would be much more fun with at least a few berms.

In the end a top ten, a podium and a nice weekend was a perfect outcome.

The Enduro One series is a favorite for many Enduro racers these days. For a good reason! Be sure to join in if you’re in the area. In the beginning of October we will see each other at the final in Wipperfürth!

Cheers!
The pedaliero crew

Kona Riders on the Podium at Both USA and UK 2017 Cyclocross National Championships

Kona riders on both sides of the Atlantic had successful racing weekends aboard their Jake CX bikes at their respective 2017 Cyclocross National Championship races. On the European side we saw Amira Mellor of team NEXT Wyman racing in the British Cycling U23 Women’s race, while Kona Endurance team rider Kerry Werner lined up with the Elite Men for the final race of the USA Cycling calendar.

Amira Mellor 2nd in UK U23 Women’s Cyclocross National Championship

Beginning with Sunday’s races in Bradford, England, Amira Mellor clinched a solid second place in the U23 Women’s category. Following up on her first UCI win the weekend previous, Amira is riding strong in the final weeks of her season, and battled to regain position after getting caught behind traffic in the first lap. With a silver medal on home soil, Amira now looks forward to one final UCI round before the World Championships in two weeks’ time.

amira-british-nats-medal

amira-mellor-huw-williams-cxnatsPhoto: Huw Williams
Kerry Werner 3rd in USAC Elite Men’s Cyclocross National Championships

Lining up on the front row with the Elite Men in Hartford, Connecticut, Kerry Werner stormed into 2nd place off the start and held on to that position for the majority of the hour-long race. Conditions in Hartford were legendary, with snow covering much of the course and temperatures well below freezing. Kerry kept it upright for a 3rd place finish, enjoying that giant bottle of champagne with Stephen Hyde and Jamey Driscoll.

kerry-usa-nats-podium

Keep up with Amira Mellor, team NEXT Wyman, and Kerry Werner as they head into the 2017 Cyclocross World Championships in Bieles, Luxembourg on the weekend of January 28-29.

2K16_Team_endurance