scott countryman

Kona Riders Tackle Crankzilla at the Whistler Round of the EWS

The World Enduro Series rolled into Whistler for round six of the eight round series and its sole North American stop for 2018 and only its second dry race of the season! Four of the previous five rounds have been wet, muddy and miserable events, for this round it was the reverse, with BC in a bit of heatwave the was no moisture, mind you, the lack of moisture didn’t mean there was going to be anymore traction, the dust-covered roots and rocks proving just as treacherous as slimy Austrian roots. With Rhys Verner still out with a healing scaphoid, it was up to Kona Global Enduro Team Riders Alexander Kangas and Scott Countryman to represent and fly the Kona flag. Kona Supreme Hannah Bergemann had made the trip up from Bellingham and young 18-year-old Sunshine Coast enduro ripper Lucy Schiek was also in attendance.

Last year Alex’s Whistler EWS ended as quickly as it started, two minutes into stage one, a mechanical stopped him in his tracks and ruined all hopes of even finishing the stage. He was hoping for the exact opposite this year. His season leading up to the event has been his best EWS so far, despite a rough start and a DNF at the last round due to a mechanical, he was starting this event just outside of the top 30 pro men in 36th place.

Thursday and Friday were practice days and Alex decided that knocking off the 20+ minute Top of the World stage was a good place to start. Unlike last years raw TOTW stage, this year used a ton of bike park trails which meant for more holes and braking bumps but a little more flow. Saturday he hit up the remaining stages one through four, some which were located outside of the bike park. These were shorter more technical stages but according to Alex “It was clear that the final stage was still gonna have a huge impact in the overall result for race day.”

Race day for Alex was real mixed bag “After the climb up to stage one I just felt so fatigued, I had absolutely zero energy going up.” Turns out though, even with a crash on the stage, he did have something in the tank, finishing the opening stage in 26th place. Stage two started after the same steep fire road climb as stage one and his result on that was not quite as good, crossing the line a few places back in 34th due to a small crash.

Stage three was a favorite for most of the field during practice, Alex included. His race run reflected this with another top 30 stage finish, this time in 26th place. He was now sitting in 28th after the first three stages. With no energy left, the flattish and pedal heavy stage four really took its toll and it was here that he slipped out of the 30’s and finished in 40th. With just the monster stage five remaining he set off towards the very top of Whistler. The jugling act of finishing with your bike in one piece, and not making silly mistakes meant the Alex would ride the final stage conservatively. “I just went to slow on that one, tried to conserve my energy which had me settle for 43rd on that stage and 37th overall. It was not the best race for me but seeing that I didn’t even finish last year it was still OK”

Scott Countryman, much like Alex, has been having a great season, mixed in with a couple of results marred by mechanicals. Fresh off a solid 6th place at the Aspen Big Mountain Enduro just over a week ago, Scott, a Whistler virgin, made the trek up from his base in Arizona and got straight into it spending his first day in paradise sampling some of Whistler Valleys subline single track.

Day one of practice was a bit of a wake-up call, he’s not a fan of bike parks and after his amazing first day outside of the park, the lower half of stage one was a rude awakening. “The trails in the park were extremely rough and blown out. When it came time to practice the Top Of The World stage I was feeling a little better about things but was quickly put down in the dirt. Going pretty fast, I came over a blind rise and found myself on the bad line in a rocky left turn. No big deal, just a few scrapes and sore spots, but I couldn’t get back on my game after that.”

Day two of practice had him feeling much better about things. With the two first stages being outside the bike park and being more of the raw natural terrain Scott prefers. “They are still extremely rough but I found a little bit of flow on them.”

On race day Scott’s first stage was going great until a few turns from the finish, he found a wet boggy section and ended up on the ground. Unsure how the crash even happened he was shaken. The second stage was probably the hardest of the weekend for Scott and the one he the struggled most on. There were bomb holes and ruts covering the entire course; many of which were not there in practice. “It took everything I had to stay on my bike and I succumbed to the trail eventually, blowing off the trail in a rough rooty turn ending up tangled in my bike.”

“Things started to smooth out on the third and fourth stages and found a little bit of flow but still couldn’t get up to pace. The last stage was the mother of all stages; 11km and 1500m of descending. I needed to pace myself to make it down smooth and clean but I went a bit too far and finished with more energy than I should have. My bike rode perfectly all day but I couldn’t match its performance.”

Scott would finish the day in 69th position.

18-year-old Lucy Shieck is a Grassroots Kona racer based on BC’s Sunshine Coast, she has been having an awesome season locally with a bunch of podium finishes. Coming into this, her first ever EWS event, her goal was to have as much fun as possible, and it looks like she certainly did that! “I felt fast on the bike and by the time I made it to the bottom of stage five all I wanted to do was go up and race it again I had so much fun. I was super stoked to take second at my first ever EWS and to share it with two other Canadians made it even better. Thank you so much to everyone who has supported me this season, it has been incredible!”

Kona Dream Builds: Scott Countryman’s Race Ready Process 153 CR DL

We caught up with Flagstaff, AZ-based Kona Global Enduro Rider Scott Countryman after Sea Otter and thought that his race-ready Process 153 CR/DL was a damn dreamy build and well worth sharing with you. Scott manages a full on race season while also working as a mechanic at Flagstaff Bike Revolution in Arizona. His build is a mixture of sponsor’s parts and parts that he knows will go the distance for a privateer racer on a limited budget. Check it out below.

Kicking things off with the drivetrain, Scott is running Shimano XT Di2 combined with MRP’s SXg guide for added chain retention.

Out back, the electronic XT Di2 keeps things shifting smoothly.

The Shimano Di2 cockpit.

Keeping things blue and S themed, Scott has opted for XT stoppers to slow things down.

ESI silicone grips hint at Scott’s XC roots, while the ANVL components equipped cockpit indicates Scott’s current enduro focus.

Grand Junction-based company MRP have been on a roll as of late with their forks, and the burly Ribbon keeps the front end exactly where it should be for Scott.

Like many racers and riders out there looking for reliability and ease of service, Scott has opted for the super popular Wolf Tooth remote…

…paired with the KS Lev Integra seat post.

Scott also runs Ritchey’s Block Lock headset to prevent his bars from spinning and crossing the top tube in a crash.

California based company RideFast look after Scott’s wheel needs, the RideFast SPM 28 hole hubs are laced to the RideFast Hotline rims.

Tire wise, up front, Scott is running WTB’s burly Convict 2.5 TCS Tough casing tire, while out the back he’s rocking a custom cut WTB 2.25 fast rolling Trail Boss, also with WTB’s TCS Tough casing.

Kona Super Grassroots rider Scott Countryman finds Nirvana at the Monarch Crest Enduro

It’s the end September and I have been racing my bike for nearly six months this year. The fatigue is starting to pile up, my social life is dwindling, and I have one more race. It can be hard to stay motivated this time of the year when all you have been doing is training, traveling, and racing, all in addition to working a full time job. A weekend sitting around at home doing nothing starts to sound more appealing than being out in nature riding bikes with your best friends. The Monarch Crest Enduro is the final hoorah and I should be stoked.

The stoke started out differently. Reminiscent from last year when I had one of my best results to that point at the inaugural Monarch Crest Enduro. The trails are incredible, the vibe is perfect, the event is top notch. This time around though, I couldn’t seem to get excited.

Riding in the shuttle to the first stage I was anxious, nervous, excited, and ready for it to be over all at the same time. I wanted to have fun riding my bike but the element of racing was keeping me from turning off my brain and relaxing. I just wanted to get it over with.

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At the start of stage one it was cold and rainy. We got word that one of the shuttles broke down and some of the other pro riders were delayed getting to the start so we made a group decision to wait for them to keep the racing fair, which only increased my anxiety. As soon as I started that first stage all of those feelings faded and I was having the time of my life. The ripping-fast, chunky top section of the track eventually faded into a flowy, pedally ending. The euphoria at the finish took over and carried me through the rest of the weekend.

Silver Creek was my least favorite stage from last year (keep in mind, all of these trails rank in the top ten percent of all the trails I have EVER ridden). But this time around I found a flow that rivalled everything else in the weekend and I might even say it was my favorite stage this year! The perfect mix of fast, technical, flowy and chunky riding.

Results for day one were not what I expected. I felt like I overcame my anxiety and found a great mix of fun and fast trail but nothing amazing. As it turned out, I had the fastest time on stage one and the second fastest time on stage two. Only five seconds separated me from the top spot overall held by the legendary Mike “Old Man” West.

Day two only had one race stage, but it was a monster. Two and a half hours of pedaling and hiking took us to the top of a 12,600 ft. peak. The stage started there. It descended 3,300 ft. over the course of 9.5 miles to the finish. It took nearly 30 minutes at an average pace of 19.6 mph with my heart rate pegged at 170bpm nearly the entire way. Sensory overload on every level and in the best way possible. The flow was found again and I held down my second overall with a second place stage finish behind Mike again.

As a successful race weekend comes to an end I can often let that get to my head in a bad way. I’ll think about how well I have done which strangely makes me want to ride harder than normal, resulting in mistakes and lost time. I was nervous about day three, the last day. I knew what I had to do but would my mind get the best of me again?untitled

Stage four, although not the longest, was the most physical. It is a full on rip from top to bottom with no rests; 23 minutes of pumping and smashing. I still needed to put down a good run to maintain my position but, with two days of race fatigue, it seemed like I was bound to screw up. Greens Creek is my favorite stage of the entire race, which just added to my concern that I would get in over my head. I kept it upright, did not make any mistakes, and pedaled my heart out when I could. One more stage to go.

Again, I needed to have a good stage time to maintain my second place but I couldn’t risk a big mistake. That would be heartbreaking on the last stage. I dialed it back as far as I could and rode super conservatively on the fast, steep, and technical portions, but still put down some power on the flat, pedal-intensive parts. The whole time I was racing down the trail, I was telling myself, “stay smooth and stay safe.” When I finished the stage with a clean run, it felt like a massive burden had been lifted off of me. I still didn’t know the results from the day, and I didn’t expect anything amazing, but I was happy to finish with clean runs.

All the racers shuttled back to town and we waited for times to be tallied and final overall results to be posted. When the results finally came through I was amped to see I held my second place overall. I was even more blown away to see I finished the whole race with a win on the last stage. What a weekend! I can’t think of a better way to end the season; racing some of the best trails in the country as part of an amazing event and hanging out in the beautiful Colorado mountains with rad people and gorgeous yellow aspen leaves.untitled-3

When I really think about it, I can’t believe how lucky I am to be able to spend my summers traveling the country and riding my bike. I wouldn’t be able to do it without the amazing support I have from Kona and my sponsors, as well as the encouragement from friends and family. I can’t thank you all enough. Now for some rock climbing, skiing, and hiking. Can’t wait for next season!

Kona’s weekend of Grassroots Cyclocross

Unless you were living under a rather large rock you would probabley be aware that in the Northern hemisphere Cross’ season is well and truly upon us. This weekend two of our Super Grassroots riders and one son of a long time staff member all landed themselves on various podiums across North America.

Screen-Shot-2015-11-02-at-10.05.59-AMNew Mexico based Super Grassroots rider Nicolas Lemke kicked things off in Lafayette, CO on Saturday at the Schoolyard Cross event taking 5th in the stacked Open Senior Mens category. Sundays race didn’t go quite as well, but he backed up Saturdays performance with an 8th place in Boulder, CO at the Feedback Cup.

IMG_20151031_142524814_HDRDown in Flagstaff, Arizona enduro shredder Scott Countryman grabbed his Kona Explosif and entered the one and only cyclocross race in town. He raced the Pro/1/2/3 first and finished 5th, just off the three man podium, but made up for that competing in the 3/4 race and winning it!

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Dillen Mauer had an awesome weekend in Cincinnati, OH racing the UCI C1 at Kingswood park and the Pan American Champs at Devou Park. He managed to pull off 20th in the U23 PanAms in the most aggressive and fastest field he’d ever raced in. 

Screen-Shot-2015-11-02-at-10.05.32-AMAnd back in Vancouver, Seth Cox (son of longtime Kona employee Dik Cox) had a stella day at the ultra wet Pumpkin Cross racing the Intermediate Men’s category. After five intense and muddy laps he pulled of a second place missing first by Just 28 seconds .