super grassroots

50 Rad Seconds of Alexander Kangas

Swedish Super Grassroots Enduro racer Alexander Kangas teamed up with Mountainbike STHLM to work on these two rad videos. The above is a very cool little shredit (that would be shred-edit) featuringAlexander railing his new 2017 Kona Process 153DL on his local trails, and then the below webisode takes a look back at his 2016 season.

There are subtitlesles available for the below video, so a solid understanding of the Swedish language might come in handy.

IMB Mag Features 11-Year-Old Kona Super Grassroots Rider Kenzie Nevard

In their latest issue, IMB Magazine has published a 16-page feature on British Kona Super Grassroots rider Kenzie Nevard. Having made an early switch from BMX racing to suspension mountain bikes, Kenzie is making waves in the UK downhill scene at just 11 years old.

“A staunch regular at the tracks and trails, Kenzie is turning into one of the UK’s most promising young stars. Kenzie was eager to start racing downhill, but legally, was not allowed to do this until he was 10 and had to wait until 2015. With that out of the way, Kenzie made his first season count in which he podiumed an impressive seventeen times out of twenty-one races, six of which were wins.”

Read the full story at IMB Mag.

Photos: Brett Shelfer

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5 Girls That Shred – Featuring Kona Super Grassroots Rider Becky Gardner

OutThere Colorado has recently started a five-part series focusing on women in the outdoor industry, one of which being Kona Super Grassroots rider Becky Gardner.

“Over the course of five weeks, OutThere Colorado’s ‘Girls that Shred’ series will profile five women with roots in Colorado who have made a lifestyle out of outdoor adventure. From climbing to mountaineering, snowboarding to mountain biking, these five women are out there kicking butt on a daily basis. OutThere Colorado is so excited to showcase women who make strong beautiful everyday and who are beautiful in their strength.”

Head over to OutThere Colorado to read up on the project.

Five Things I Learned Racing Enduro

Things I Wish I’d Known Before My First Season Racing Enduro

Words by Cory Rimmer.

Along with the leaves, the temperatures have finally dropped and that marks the end of a long mountain bike season for me. This year has been one for the books no doubt! With my new daddy duties and entering my final year of college, I haven’t been able to train as much as I wanted to. When you get to a certain level of fitness, it’s hard to go into a race knowing you are not where you should be, especially as an endurance mountain bike racer. So I looked for a discipline I could better focus on with my limited training time – in came enduro! The transition did not come as easy as I had hoped. I wished I had known what I know now, so if you are looking to get into enduro racing here are a few tips that hopefully will help sharpen your learning curve.

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Tip Number One: Always have fun!

I went into my first enduro race having no idea what I was doing and I was okay with that. I was using this race to learn the ropes and didn’t really have expectations. No expectations equals no pressure. This paid off as I finished much better than I thought I would have, a solid fourth! It wasn’t until the next race that I would learn tip number one. With the next course having longer pedal sections and the confidence of doing well at the first round, I had built up my expectations and pressure to do well. This would come to bite me as I as gave it too much on a pedal section and crashed. The worst part, it cost me the win as I had lost by four seconds and ended the day third overall. Lesson learned, always have fun.

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Tip Number Two: Enduro pedaling is not endurance pedaling!

Every course this year that was considered “pedally”, everyone told me that I was going to do well because of my endurance racing background, but really I dreaded those sections. See, when you’re doing fifty-mile races, it’s very rare that you will crack a thousand watts more than a handful of times, if at all. In a short enduro stage you’re often hitting eight hundred to a thousand watts. This is extremely hard for me. I have never been an explosive rider thanks to not having much fast-twitch muscles. This was an area in my training that I overlooked and now you don’t have to! There are plenty of sprint and Vo2 max workouts online for you to check out and I recommend you incorporating one or two into your weekly program.

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Tip Number Three: If you can pre-ride all the stages, do it!

Every race during my pre-ride I would have someone tell me, “you don’t need to pre-ride that stage, it’s pretty straight forward.”  As nice as it is to save the legs a bit for the next day, pre-riding will save you more time in your race run. Some read the trail differently than others, so what could be an obvious line to them, you would completely miss if you didn’t pre-ride. So ride all the stages if it’s reasonable and don’t be afraid to try a section again to dial it in, don’t wait for your race run to do it. If you can’t clean the “A” line, perfect the “B” line.

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Tip Number Four: Master your weakness!

I have always taken pride in being a well rounded rider, but there were some areas I needed to work on to improve my enduro racing. Coming from an endurance background, any type of trail feature that involved my tires leaving the ground was not my strong point. Steep, rocky or technical trails were not a problem for me; however bigger features I had to take a second look at, especially dirt jump style gaps. A lot of enduro courses will have these types of features, so I went out and practiced the local jump trails and slowly moved up to the expert level trail. By half way through the summer I was able to clear everything with ease and transfer that new skill to racing. The point I’m trying to make is take a look at what your weakness is and practice. It will not only help your enduro racing, but it will help your riding overall!

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Tip Number Five: Ride the hardest trails you can find.

I have always enjoyed trying to clean hard and technical trails, so this is a fun one for me. Go out and find the hardest trail you can, something that really scares the crap out of you. Once you have found a hard trail, master it! The benefit of doing this is hopefully once you show up to the race; there won’t be anything on the course that you can’t handle. A lot of racers get psyched out when they see an intimidating section. So having built up that confidence can really help when the going gets tough. However, once you master the hard stuff, look for something even harder. Never stop pushing your limit and raising the bar!

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Final Thoughts:

So next year if you are thinking of giving enduro racing a crack, I hope these tips give you a bit of guidance and if you take one thing away from this I hope it is tip number one: Always have fun! There is a certain vibe that I have only found at enduro events and if you get caught up in trying to do well or clear that obstacle, you are going to miss it. So chill out, ride with your friends and enjoy being on your bike!

Cory is part of Kona’s Super Grassroots team. Follow him on Instagram here.

Sleeping in Your Car May Be Good Race Strategy

When the results come in like this – wins in both the State Championship Super D race and the next day’s Enduro event – you may be curious what the rider has done to prepare. In the case of Kona Super Grassroots rider Nathan St. Clair, it involved driving to Greenville, South Carolina for the Upstate Cranksgiving weekend, sleeping in his car, and proceeding to win both events. Read on below for Nathan’s recap of the weekend:

Waking up Saturday morning was rough. Sleeping in the back of your car is not always the most efficient way to sleep, but that was my only option to be able to attend the event. In fact it was my first time at this event, as well as my first road trip by myself. Anyways, Saturday morning was warm for this time of the year, breakfast was fired up and I was soon on my way to registration for the Super D.

I then decided to pedal to the top of the Super D course with a few friends: Will Washam, Caroline Washam, and Matt Meadows. From there on, practice began! Once to the top for my race run, the pre-race nervousness started setting in. My run went great and I ended up with the win. A great day of racing and riding with lots of great people.

Saturday was the grand opening of Piney Mountain Bike Lounge, a new bike shop in Greenville, SC. Saturday night everyone met up at the shop to have drinks and talk about bikes, racing, and the good times that had happened that day. There were a few of us out on the shop’s new pumptrack, built by Henry Khare. Henry has done a fantastic job of building and maintaining this pumptrack, and by the end of the night there wasn’t a single roller on the pumptrack that hadn’t been jumped.

Late Saturday night, the cold weather came in and made it a rough night. Sunday morning was very cold. It’s a strange feeling when you know you have to race down courses that you’ve never, ridden as fast as you can. Registration soon opened and I was on my way to the first stage. Stage 1 went smooth. I went as fast as I could go without knowing the course, got to the bottom and headed for stage 2. Stage 2 went better than Stage 1, and I was feeling confident and excited. Stage 3 was the same course as the Super D so I was well prepared for it and I ended up getting the win for the Enduro as well.

The Cranksgiving weekend is truly a one of a kind event. A huge hanks to everyone who helped get me here!

Cover photo by Shane Orr. Follow Nathan on his blog and on Instagram.

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Not Far From Home with Erkki Punttila

Our Finnish friend Erkki Punttila is quite the character. Through his blog, PackGoFind, he approaches his bikepacking excursions and his position on Kona’s Super Grassroots team with a straightforward manner and plenty of dry humor. We set Erkki off with a new Kona Unit for an adventure “not far from home”. Below you’ll find the video from his trip, as well as some tips, Erkki style, for your own overnight trips – even if they’re not far from home.

Words by Erkki Punttila. Photos by Teemu Lautamies.

THE CALLING

I really love exploring new places with my bike, but I also constantly hear the call of the sea – why not combine the best of both worlds? First enjoy a nice evening cruise and then hit the trails with your lights on and find a peaceful spot to camp. My boat is an old fishing boat and has a 5.4 litre truck engine from 1972 that has proven to be quite “reliable”. They are somewhat simple machines after you get to know the basics of maintenance and repair. Just like bikes. Remember your first wheel build? Slightly scary at first, but very rewarding at the end.

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INTO THE NIGHT

On longer bikepacking trips it would be ideal to find a camp site before the sun goes down. It just makes things easier. But sometimes it’s fun to ride in a pitch black forest with your lights blazing. Your focus shifts from the scenery to the trail and its obstacles. And what better way is there to scare yourself shitless than startling a sleeping moose just a few meters from you?

A few tips for night riding:

– Set up your lights before it gets dark. Then you can just turn them on and keep going.
– Know your gear. How long does the battery run on low/medium/full power?
– Conserve power. On roads you can use the low setting on your lights and then turn it up when the trail gets nasty.
– Always have a backup light source so you can continue if one fails. Probably the best option is to have a hub dynamo powered light for riding and recharging your GPS/phone/headlamp during the day. And a good quality waterproof headlamp for camp activities.
– Know where your gear is. Try to memorize all of your stuff when packing and always pack things in the same place. You can then find spare batteries or your multitool even with your eyes closed.
– Pack wisely. Having your shelter in one place with easy access is nice. I keep my tent as the first thing in the handlebar bag along with a dry base layer. Dry clothes, shelter, food, sleep.

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FLOW

If you are planning to get big miles in for the day your only choice is to get up early and get going. There is no way around that. But sometimes it is utter bliss not to have a plan at all. Sleep as long as you feel like. Enjoy breakfast and coffee. Get going when you feel like it and do it for as long as it’s good. Have a break, take a nap. Eat warm food, look at birds – whatever makes you happy.

Steps to a quick getaway:

Set up everything for a quick start before going to sleep. I fill my Jetboil with the right amount of water for porridge and coffee and keep it on standby in the tent’s vestibule. Have all the food you plan to eat ready (but don’t do this in bear country!). Then, this:

1. Make sure your alarm goes off loud as f@ck in the far end of the tent so you’re forced to get up to turn it off
2. Open the valve of your air mattress
3. Get up and light up Jetboil
4. Shut off the alarm
5. Put on riding clothes
6. Stuff sleeping bag
7. By now the water is boiling. Pour it into your favourite titanium cup and add porridge flakes. Eat and scrape the sides with your spork. Pour more hot water and add instant coffee.
8. Since the coffee is likely too hot, pack your stuff and roll up your sleeping mattress while it cools.
9. Enjoy your coffee. It also cleans your mug from the porridge. Kind of.
10. Stuff your gear into your seat and frame bag, then take down the tent and pack it along with your dry base layer.
11. Enjoy your 15 minutes of fame.

Tips for big days:

– Eat light and fast in the morning. Ride for about 1-2 hours, take a dump and have a second breakfast 🙂
– Have food ready on your stem bags to eat on the go.
– Eat something once per hour even you don’t feel hungry. You don’t really need a big lunch break, just keep on going and remember to eat.
– Hydration is key. I always have one bottle with electrolytes and one with plain water. On longer legs I fill them from my bladder or other source and try to keep the balance.
– Your favourite candy and something salty like beef jerky is good motivational food.
– If you eat at a restaurant or gas station during the day, don’t eat in. Order 3 hamburgers and a coke, eat one standing and continue with the two burgers in your jersey pockets. The satisfaction of eating a cheeseburger while coasting along a gravel road at 25km/h is heaven.

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CLIMAX

Every trip comes to an end unfortunately. If you have a specific goal that you want to reach, why not celebrate a bit when you reach it? A mountain top, a tough hike-a-bike, a big climb, a 200km day, whatever – reward yourself and maybe take a picture of it. Later on you won’t remember all the details of the suffering, but you will feel the sense of accomplishment and have a great story to tell. Just go out there and do it your way.

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For this adventure, Erkki rode our Swiss Army knife, the Unit, in completely stock form. With its Reynolds 520 steel frame and single speed drivetrain, the Unit has been a mainstay in the Kona line for years and for 2017 we’ve given it some updates that only expand its versatility. Five bottle cages and room for 27.5+ wheels – which now come stock on the bike – will enable you to get out there whether you’re looking for a singletrack ripper or the foundation of a solid bikepacking setup. The powder blue Unit in the video is available in Europe, while North America gets down with matte olive green. Get all the details on the Unit here.

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Kona Super Grassroots Rider Cory Rimmer Wins Brevard Enduro in North Carolina

So this year I have changed my focus a bit, from XC to enduro racing. With limited time to train for longer endurance events and stage races, enduro racing fit perfectly with my schedule. The transition hasn’t been a easy one however, I’ve had to work on my jumping skills and reading the trail at much higher speeds, but mainly I’ve had to work on my mental game the most. If you want to do well at an enduro race you have to be mostly mistake-free, but there is a fine line between going too easy and pushing too hard and crashing. This is a balance I’ve struggled to find until this past weekend in Brevard, North Carolina.

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The Brevard Enduro put on by 3rd Coast Enduro Series was a race I was really looking forward to. I was familiar with the terrain, but due to the high amount of traffic the trails are getting these days, lines are constantly changing. I had pre-ridden the Thursday before and was feeling good about my riding and line choices. Pre-riding also gave me the chance to dial in my Kona Process 153 DL. Due to the rough tracks and high speeds I had to increase the air pressure in my fork and slow down the high speed rebound on my CaneCreek DoubleBarrel Air shock to control the high speed hits. I also switched out my tires to a Maxxis High Roller II with DH casing in the rear and a Minion DHF WT with DoubleDown casing in the front. I took no chances, as the tracks were 95% downhill and very rocky.

Stage 1 was Black Mtn Trail to the bottom of Avery Creek Trail. Everyone was thinking it was going to be a wild day as it had rained all night and things were a little greasy on the climb up. However to my surprise, once I started the stage the trail was in great shape! The tires were digging in great and really boosted my confidence. With the downhill casing tire on the rear I was able to forgo the traditional line that snaked through the rock gardens and was able to just point and shoot right on through. This made for some wild times, but I was able to hang on all the way to the bottom.

After a long transfer and a bit of hike-a-bike with some incredible views, I arrived at stage 2 known as “Upper Black”. This would be the shortest stage at just over four minutes, but was easily the hardest one. It starts off with some fun singletrack with high-speed corners, and then quickly gets you pointed down with some rough rock chutes. As you descend, you gain a lot of speed as you approach the most challenging part of the track. You enter a series of three to four foot drops with landings which can best be described as rocky ditches. Not much of a line as you send off the drops, I just held on and cashed in my luck that I had been accumulating all my life. After some pucker moments I was spit out to scan my chip and finish the stage.

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After telling war stories and describing our near misses with the ground, we all made the short transfer to the third and final stage also known as Middle and Lower Black Mtn Trail. This would be the longest stage of the day at just over seven minutes. At the start everyone was still trying to recover from the arm pump of the previous stage. This would play a factor with my run, as I was barely able to hold the bar at some points. While the upper section was mainly blowout rocky trail as it is tight and steep, the bottom section was more groomed and had more pedal sections. The bottom section also had some smaller jumps that became much more difficult because at that point I was just a blown up blob on a bike trying to make it to the end. Barely able to hang on I had made it to the final scanner and rolled back to the start/finish area.

I had to leave for a collegiate race nearby before awards started and this meant I left before I knew how I had finished. I found out from a friend the next day that I had won the race overall! I was blown away and extremely stoked for my first ever enduro win. The tracks were some of the best all year and the talent ran deep in the pro field, so getting a win here was awesome and a big confidence booster! With two races left in the series, I’m sitting 3rd overall, so now with a win under my belt I will be looking to finish the year out strong!

Getting to Know Kona Super Grassroots Rider Caleb Holonko on Pinkbike

Kona Super Grassroots rider Caleb Holonko has been ripping it up on his Shonky AL and Process 167 this year. You may have seen some of his recent exploits at the Whip-Off World Championships on our Instagram, and he’s recently been featured on Pinkbike as part of their Getting to Know series. Scroll down for some photos and head over to Pinkbike to get to know Caleb.

Photos by Nick Tingren, Kaz Yamamura, Caleb Smith, and Adison MacDonald.

Adison MacDonaldPhoto: Adison MacDonald

 

adisonmacdonald-1Photo: Adison MacDonald

 

Caleb SmithPhoto: Caleb Smith

 

Kaz YamamuraPhoto: Kaz Yamamura

 

Kaz YamamuraPhoto: Kaz Yamamura

 

Nick TingrenPhoto: Nick Tingren

 

Nick TingrenPhoto: Nick Tingren

Kona Super Grassroots rider James Rennie heads to Kamloops for round three of the BC Enduro Series

Kamloops hosted the 4th round of the BC Enduro series, another new location for the series this year. The race was held at Harper Mountain, offering around 800m of vertical drop with all trails offering up some great speed and flow along with some technical steep sections.

The race consisted of four stages, stages one and two would be around the 10 minute mark, stage three, a short flow trail and stage four, a short grass slalom to finish. After a hot day of practice it was evident that the race would be mostly decided on the first two stages, both of which consisted of some super fun trail, but they would also be taxing on the body with considerable flat sections in both stages.

Race day dawned and it was a scorcher with the temperature around 34 degrees, hydration would be key throughout the day especially with two long climbs back up the mountain. The total climbing for the day would be around 1600m.

1Q8A7944After a short climb up to stage one, we realized we had left too early and ended up waiting for around an hour while the rest of the field started the course. While waiting someone heard a hissing noise coming from my bike, it turned out that while my bike was hanging out in the sun a hole in the rear tyre (which must have sealed the day before) had opened up. I quickly had to chuck in a tube in and pump it up as hard as possible as my track record while running tubes is dismal.

Stage one started off well as I just tried to stay smooth and conserve as much energy as I could as the stage would be the longest of the weekend. Things went well but I felt very tired and felt like I didn’t have much to give on the pedals, most noticeably in the flatter section near the bottom of the track. I was almost at the finish line when I clipped a small rock with the front wheel and saw the distinctive spew of sealant come out of the front tyre, I quickly pulled over and forced the sealant to the hole as I had no spare tubes after using it before the stage. I finished the stage in 15th a long way back from the leaders.

After a long hot climb back to the top of the mountain it was time for stage two, luckily my front tyre had sealed up and seemed to be holding air. Stage two started off rocky and tight before flattening out and finishing with some flowy corners that would rival Whistler Bike Park for deepest braking bumps. I just put together a clean run, once again feeling very fatigued finishing the stage in 11th.

Another long climb back to the top of the mountain led us to stage three, a short new flow trail with lots of jumps and turns. As the stage was short I laid down as much heat as I could, finishing the stage in 8th only a few seconds back from the leaders.

The last stage was a short grass slalom, not a stage that the race would be won on but a fun way to finish the race. I finished the stage in third.

Overall I finished up the day in a disappointing 12th after my troubles on the first stage. The race may have been my favourite of the year, the trails were awesome and the day was a great test for all riders. Thanks to the BC Enduro team for putting on yet another stellar event!

I now have a well earned break from racing after 6 weekends in a row. My next race will likely be in August for the NAET round in Squamish.

Third times a charm. Becky Gardner’s Collegiate Mountain Bike Nationals report.

Last weekend I traveled with Fort Lewis College to Snowshoe Mountain located in West Virginia. It took three flights and a three hour drive but the twenty-something of us made it to the mountain late Wednesday night.  Growing up on the east coast and enjoying the rowdy and rocky nature of the courses which play to my strengths, left me in anticipation for the weekends race.

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All Photos: Max Thilen

The next day we walked the course and to my surprise we were given a relatively smooth track with a massive pedal section that appeared to be much faster and less technical than most east coast courses I’ve encountered. Although at first glance the course seemed easy, Fridays practice showed us just how tricky the fast paced track was once you were up to speed.

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Quick turns and fast straightaways had everyone feeling pretty awkward and slow. I told myself to take it easy in seeding later that day and just see where my time would put me. My seeding run went smooth and as planned with a couple encounters from other racers, but still put me in the top spot going into race day. 

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Saturday’s downhill race was late in the day and the gloomy sky showed signs of rain. However the trails stayed dry and my run went as planned as I came down in 1st landing my third National Downhill title. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to race and attend Fort Lewis College and I’m stoked on being the National DH Champion for three years in a row. However my achievement wasn’t the only highlight of the weekend, the rest of the team crushed it in their events as well giving us the overall team win and crowning Fort Lewis College as the Division I National Champions. 

You can follow Becky on her Blog here.