From Zero to….?

This is me… taking life seriously, as you can see.

Hi! My name is Lacy Kemp. I work in the marketing department at Kona and have the keys to this blog, so I figured I’d invite you all on a three-month journey with me. I’ve been riding mountain bikes for about 10 years. I started kinda late (I’m 38 now), so the learning curve for me wasn’t as fast as, say, an 18-year-old, or a kiddo. I mean, have you seen the kids these days? There are seven-year-olds that outride me. It’s humbling, to say the least.

I ride so I can experience moments of solitude like this one.

The thing is, I’m not a bad rider. I’m a proficient climber and find my comfort in the scary steep stuff. But, for whatever reason, I feel so inadequate when I ride with my crew. Granted, I try to keep up with some exceptionally talented riders, but still. I am a capable human and I want to feel better on my bike. It has gone from just cruising with my buddies to me putting this weird pressure on myself to be “better” and  “faster,” even though none of them care whatsoever about my pace. I think this is something a lot of us deal with – especially women. Mountain biking has been a male-dominated sport for most if its life, and therefore many of us ride with the guys. Personally, I love riding in a coed group. It’s the vibe I like most. It’s silly, fun, strong, and always a good time – in spite of the mental traps I set for myself.

While I *can* climb just fine, I absolutely loathe how it makes me feel.

So, what’s a person to do? I’ve taken clinics and classes every year since I’ve been riding. I’ve raced downhill and even klunkers. I understand how to ride a bike, but what is lacking is how to keep myself physically and mentally in the best condition for enjoying my rides. Maybe you’re thinking, ‘who cares? Just go ride your freakin’ bike.’ You’re not wrong. In an ideal world, I’d just ride and not care about my pace or my hangups. But I’d be lying to myself if I said I didn’t want to ride better and feel better. The feeling is the most critical thing to me. I want to be able to laugh and chat easily on climbs. I want to be able to absorb the surrounding beauty of the land while I’m out on an adventure versus focusing on breathing and keeping up my pace. But, how do I improve my overall feeling on a bike? It seems to be largely a mental hurdle.

I want climbing to make me feel like crashing in the snow. Silly and carefree!

I decided to give myself a fighting chance at overcoming the barriers that seem to be constraining me. It just so happens that Kona Adventure Man and all around freak of nature on a bike (and I mean that in the most loving way), Spencer Paxson has transitioned his career into athletic performance services at Prime Bellingham- a high-end institute where athletes can go for goal-focused training, psychology, workouts, and many various forms of training. I’ve never had a bike coach before. I’ve never even had a structured workout plan at any point in my life. I don’t know what the difference is between circuits, high-intensity training, and intervals. They all sound like math to me, and math is scary. So to get over the scary, I have hired Spencer to be my personal coach, guru, and advisor for the next three months. My goal? Feel better on my bike.

Dennis Crane

I mean why wouldn’t you hire this guy as your coach? Clearly, he knows it’s all about having fun!

I am going to be a unique challenge for Spencer. Unlike every single other athlete he works with I have no quantifiable goal. I’m not training for an event or a milestone, per se. I’m training to understand why I get caught up in my head when I pedal. I’m training to cut myself some slack when I fall off the back. I’m training to maybe fall off the back a little less. I’m training to see what the hell training is all about. I like systems and processes and structure as much as like a free-spirited life. I’m a quintessential Libra if you believe in that kind of thing.


Our first meetings have set the tone for the next 12 weeks. We are working on what is known as Rate of Perceived Exertion (on a scale of 1-10), where I usually hang out at the 4-5 range and want to die around a 6 or 7. We are hoping to make the 7s feel more like 5s… but again it’s all based on feeling. As of this week, I’ve begun logging my miles and vert and RPE for every ride. I’m forcing myself to take recovery days (which is REALLY hard for an exercise junky like me). Next time we meet we’ll do a movement screen to see where I have physical weakness and room for improvement. We’ll check in to see how my sanity is holding up. I’ll see if Spender is ready to kick me and my quirks to the curb. Who knows, maybe I’ll actually enjoy climbing after all of this is said and done? Wouldn’t that be something!

I’m writing this for you because I plan to share the experience with you. The highs and the lows. The learning and growth. The frustrations and challenges. Maybe I’m crazy for starting this around the holidays, but if I can make it through without royally screwing up the next few weeks then the rest of the program should be manageable. I think as cyclists and humans we all have insecurities. Some of us are just better at not giving AF. Maybe that will be my greatest takeaway- learn to let go. It’s a lesson we could all probably use.

Until next time, I’m turning on my Strava (something I NEVER thought I’d say) and will see where this sweet little bike takes me.


Bikes take us to the most amazing places!


Cory Wallace’s High Altitude Training Plan

Kona Endurance and Adventure team rider Cory Wallace is no stranger to super intense training plans. Last year he dabbled with high altitude training as a part of his quest to secure the 24 Hour solo world championship. The hard work paid off and now Wallace is reflecting on lessons learned from training, overtraining, and how altitude plays a big role in his success. Recently, he posted a super in-depth piece on his blog outlining his plans to race over 20 events ranging in duration from 20 minutes to 24 hours. Find out how the world champion builds up enough strength and stamina to withstand the most challenging of races.

Read the full report here.

Spencer Paxson’s PROgram

Adventure team rider Spencer Paxson is no stranger to punishing days in the saddle. Last year’s monster 32,000 feet of vertical in a single day proved exactly that. Paxson’s drive to elevate his base fitness so he can handle the big days comes with a ton of training. Recently Stages Cycling profiled one of his workouts to show just what goes into his training practices.


Cory Wallace’s Nepalese Winter

Kona Adventure Team Rider Cory Wallace knows a thing or two about high altitude training. This past winter, Wallace spent five months pedaling his Kona Hei Hei around the Hymalian mountains and the surrounding cities. His experiences ran the gauntlet from peaceful and extraordinary, to stressful and frustrating, exactly what true adventure should be. Wallace took the time to write up this recap of his trip. Check out some of his tips on where to visit and where to avoid- especially if you’re someone who appreciates sleep.

You can read his full write up here. 


A Brief Moment in Time on Saturday Afternoon in the Santa Cruz Mountains

WickNasty_dist3…And then the road continues going on more to the right than you first anticipated and/or thought was really possible and you bump across those raised plastic dot-like things in the middle of the road that remind you, “hey idiot this is the middle of the road” and you think “yes, yes it is” but are unable to keep it (your bike) on your side of the road as small ribbons of blue black smoke begin emanating from the decreasing angle between the pavement and your tires and you start scanning for escape options and only three very viable ones present themselves and none of these are really all that great. To the left of you, (or more correctly straight ahead of you, but more or less to the left of your body due to the angle at which you are traversing the road way via sliding bicycle) is a steep embankment covered in yard debris (cheap hauling indeed!) and bottoming out in a rocky creek bed. Less to the left of that is a six foot wide redwood tree spanning the distance from embankment to road surface and even more less to the left and rapidly becoming proximal to you in the roadway, (which is definitely not the side of the road you desire and/or intended to be on) is a Honda minivan driven by a mother of five whose children (aged 3 to 12) are in repose in the back two rows (of the minivan) having succumbed to the massive amounts of sugar they ingested while terrorizing the local Costco free sample providers while mom was loading up on industrial size tubs of milk and mayonnaise. As such and being distract concurrently by the 7 year old who is no longer manufacturing Z’s and instead is requiring a slice of chewing gum, she does not see your sliding manic mass until just about too late, but she luckily also has equipped the minivan with the optional breakaway mirror package to assist in narrow gauge parking and then this is fortunate for your right forearm as it makes a sickening smack and retracts it (the rear view mirror, passenger side) a bit more forcefully than is S.O.P for the mirror but still gets the job done with minimal damage (to the mirror or your arm) and concurrently microscopic redwood bark slivers enter your left forearm in the same instant but you don’t really realize it (being distracted by the impact on the other arm and/or near death experience of threading the needle between outsized human conveyance and tree) until a week later when you notice small festering bumps on that lightly abraded forearm but that still is a small price to pay for the near miss and then you ride away thinking…