Rhys Verner

All New Kona Process Tops the Podium at EWS Finale Ligure

Kona riders were out in force over this past week in Finale Ligure for the final round Enduro World Series. New Zealand, Sweden, Ireland, France and Canada were all represented. The physical and technical nature of the seven stages did take its toll on riders, however: Jonathan Maunsell, Alexander Kangas and Jordan Regnier all had their weekends end abruptly, but our two U21 riders, Leah Maunsell and Rhys Verner, both had weekends they will remember forever.

Rhys had an absolute stormer of a weekend. Not only did he ride the all-new Process 153 CR/DL to the top spot in the men’s U21 category by over a minute, but his time was fast enough to put him in 13th in the pro-men’s field.

Leah, who led after the first day of racing, tried her best in the tightly contested women’s U21 field to lengthen that lead on day two. She’s no stranger to the podium at EWS events but the stop step has eluded her. The final of stage would be her undoing, losing precious seconds relegating her to second place. Not the top spot she was looking for but an amazing result for the young rider all the same.

We have both Rhys and Leah‘s race reports below, along with some fantastic photos from our EWS photographer Sven Martin.

Rhys Verner

What a week for me! This was pretty much a dream trip as far as racing and fun goes. The whole week leading up to the final round of the Enduro World Series was great, going for long rides and just taking in the amazing scenery of Finale! Pre-riding the stages I felt great and right at home on the new Process 153 CR DL and I genuinely couldn’t wait to get the racing underway. The weekend started out with a 20-minute stage from the highest mountain at around 1400m and descended almost all the way back down to sea level.

I’ve always been a fan of the long stages coming from XC but this stage went better than I could have hoped for. I ended up pulling a 39-second lead on the 2nd place U21 rider and had by far my best stage result ever with a time that would have had me 5th in the Elite men’s category. The rest of the day I tried to ride smooth and just stay within my limits as to not toss away the lead. I ended day one with a 36-second lead in U21 and ranked 7th overall.

Day two I woke up again ecstatic to get the racing underway and pedaled up to the stages full of energy and just living the dream. I again rode smooth throughout the stages and ended up winning stages four, five, and six, with one stage left to go I had a 1:14 lead on the nearest competitor. Stage 7 was a rough stage so I played it on the safer side as to get down in one piece and secured my first EWS win with an overall time that would have placed me 13th in the pro men’s field.

I am coming away from this race with a lot of confidence knowing that I can ride with the best and really couldn’t be happier with how the week went! – Rhys Verner

Leah Maunsell

Coming into day two with a 9-second lead after the first day’s racing was great, but I knew it was going to be a tight battle right until the end. With a 50km loop and 1300m of climbing to tackle it was going to be a tough day in the saddle. I was delighted to be battling it out for the top step right until the last stage but missed out by 12 seconds. I could say that I’m a little disappointed, but how could you after a great week riding in Finale Ligure. Getting to finish off my season with some really tight racing and ending it on the beach with some gelato with your mates was amazing! – Leah Maunsell

Rhys Verner Rides the Kona Process G2 in British Columbia’s Sea to Sky Corridor

Kona pro team rider and Sea to Sky shredder Rhys Verner is a perfect match for the all new Process G2. Together, they climb efficiently and descend in harmony. The Process has a long history of dominating the descents, and with this new design, now has climbing manners more commonly attributed to shorter-travel bikes. No switches to flip, just pedal up efficiently, then smash the descent.

After you enjoy the video below, scroll down for a huge gallery of photos from Caleb Smith.

 

Rhys is riding the Process 153 CR/DL 27.5, one of seven all new models in the Process G2 lineup. With two materials and two wheel sizes spanning three distinct frame platforms, the Process G2 is a well-rounded range of aggressive trail and enduro bikes. The Process G2 is now available through your local Kona dealer or through Kona Ride Online.

For all the details on the new Process, head over to Konaworld.com, and check out the in-depth technical details on the Innovation page.

Nostalgia-Free: Pizza & Bikes at the 2017 Fraser Valley Mountain Bike Festival

Our Endurance Team is deep into the 2017 spring season and this weekend are in Grand Junction, CO for Round 2 of the Epic Rides triple crown. They’ll be putting their Hei Hei DLs to the test across the rugged terrain of the Grand Mesa. Leading up to this weekend, team rider Spencer Paxson clues us in on a fantastic event held close to Kona’s home in BC, with some special heritage dating back to Kona’s founding individuals. Stay tuned for more action from the Endurance Team as this weekend unfolds. 

Words by Spencer Paxson. Photos by James Lissimore and Scott Robarts.

Before there were trails at Vedder Mountain, there was pizza and mountain biking. The year was 1984 and it was the first “unofficial” Canadian MTB Championships, comprised of a group of cyclists from Deep Cove and the BFJCC, including the eventual co-founder of Kona Bicycles.  The winner was Alex Stieda, who would go on to become a 2-time Olympian and, in 1986, the first North American to lead to Tour de France.  The route began in Yarrow and finished near Cultus Lake with après celebrations planned at Beethoven’s Pizza off the Columbia Valley Highway.

Today there is still pizza and mountain biking at Vedder Mountain.  Beethoven’s has endured and the trails have evolved.  In fact, the mountain bike community in the Fraser Valley (Fraser Valley Mountain Bike Association) has grown in the last three decades to create a trail system that may be as timeless and pleasurable as a hot slice of pizza pie.  And so on the weekend of May 6-7, 2017, hundreds of cyclists and their friends flocked to the lakeshore for two days of mountain bike racing.  Day 1 was the Vedder Mountain Classic, a historic marathon cross-country race birthed from the original event held in 1984.  Day 2 was the Fraser Valley Enduro, a multi-stage downhill trail race and part of the more recent BC Enduro Cup and North American Enduro Tour.

During the post-race interview on Saturday, I was asked what is special about racing in this part of world.  My on-the-spot answer spoke plainly to the sense of fun, community and great trails that are so abundant in BC.  After the interview I had a further thought.  I’ve only been racing mountain bikes since 1998, around the time when the Vedder Classic went on a 16-year hiatus.  That said, I’ve raced all around the world since then, and have grown up with this sport and lived and breathed its evolution as a core participant.  What’s special about racing in this part of British Columbia is that there is no nostalgia around it.  The heritage and the heroes are still there, some are still fast as hell, all are still stoked, and some even share podiums with their children.  There’s no pretense to riding or racing here, no matter your skill level, and no need to waste time on reflecting on how it used to be, because in BC, mountain biking and racing just is.  It’s a f*@#% good time!

So, thirty-three years after the first event, it seemed fitting that a few of us representing the now globally recognized Kona Bicycles brand could collect a few accolades.  I took the win in the marathon XC ahead of rising star Rhys Verner in 3rd, long-time Kona Legend Kris Sneddon smiling from mid-pack, and second-generation Kona Employee and core newcomer Seth Cox.  On Sunday, young Rhys showed us all how the new-schoolers get it done with a top-10 overall in the enduro, while I donned my goggles-and-a-half-shell to earn second fastest overall time in the XC + Enduro combined.  It was worth a few extra slices from Beethoven’s, and with specks of Vedder’s loamy trails and pizza grease on my face, I headed home happy and ready for more.

Fun in the Mud at the 2016 Kona Kup

The Kona Kup at Nanaimo’s Bowen Park is an annual tradition as part of the Cross on the Rock series on Vancouver Island. The race is run by Nanaimo Kona dealer Rock City Cycles and this year they spiced up the deal with a Private Jake giveaway for one lucky racer at Sunday’s race.

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Photo by Braison Images.

The Kona Kup was the second race in a double header weekend, with Saturday’s Hot Cross Bunnies race at Beban Park setting the tone. Kona Endurance Team rider Rhys Verner saddled up on a fresh Major Jake for the weekend and took to the course with main goal of having fun in the mud:

“After a month off from bike racing it was time to start getting back into things with a double dose of cyclocross in Nanaimo. The first race on Saturday was probably the muddiest race I have ever done. There was so much mud so that most of the competitors could barely ride through it, including a 30 foot long axle deep puddle no go around. I finished the race with a decent result but mainly just had a fun day getting back into it.

Sunday’s Kona Kup course was much better suited for mountain bikers: super twisty, with lots of little climbs and little descents. The Bowen Park course was also quite a bit drier, so it actually felt like you were riding fast. I finished off the race in 10th place and had a ton of fun. I’m really looking forward to doing a few more cross races as well as lots of fun adventure cross rides for the rest of the off-season.”

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The shiny new Private Jake went to Nanaimo local Dave Morris, pictured here with Rock City Cycles co-owner Sean Lunny.

For a taste of this year’s event, here’s a video from Twofiveoh Creative: