ACK and Back

By James Joiner

In a world where everything is always at our fingertips, islands maintain a certain mystique. Maybe we read too many pirate stories as kids, maybe it’s their inherent disconnectedness.

For an island at the heart of so many fantastical adventures – Moby Dick, anyone? – from first appearance Nantucket isn’t especially exotic. There’s a small downtown area, lots of fancy vintage cars with fancy rich vintage drivers, and then just miles of beaches with booming surf, sandy roads, and rambling old money estates.

Yet even if you live just thirty miles away in a relatively identical place like Cape Cod, Nantucket stirs the imagination. Especially if, like me, you love exploring by bike.

The fast ferry from Hyannis whisks you across Nantucket sound in just one hour, barely long enough adjust to the heady fumes of sea spray, bad coffee, and diesel. An eclectic crowd of passengers is assured. Unless you’re one of the upper crust who fly over, making Nantucket’s tiny airport (ACK) even busier than Boston’s Logan International in the summer months, by boat is the only way for workers, vacationers, drug mules, fishermen, and anyone else to get there. On arrival, the ferry glides past Sankatay Head lighthouse at the mouth of the harbor and everyone gathers together on deck, tap-tapping smartphone screens. After nestling in amongst mega yachts, wooden sailboats, fishing charters, and the Ocearch shark research boat, passengers are disgorged into the very heart of quaintness.

James Joiner

Nantucket was originally made famous as a whaling port. Fortunes that endure to this day were carved from cetaceans harvested during long months or years at sea. The downtown area – the only real “downtown” on the entire 17-mile island – is exactly what you’d expect from a New England village designated as a national historic landmark. Cobblestone streets are lined with wood shingled or brick shops and nautically themed cafes and bars. While now a summer playground for the rich and rich aspirant, Nantucket’s population is still fed by the oil of whales – it’s just that these whales have whales embroidered on their Nantucket red shorts and never wear white after Labor Day.

Speaking of Labor Day, it’s long weekend marks the official end of their tourist season. If you want to avoid gridlock traffic, congested sidewalks and bike paths, and angst-ridden locals trying to get to work against an impossible tide of vacationers, your best bet is to visit after this. Things wind down quickly as September wears on, and you can find yourself blissfully alone as you push your bike from trailhead to trailhead along achingly beautiful stretches of beach. Our most recent trip was during the second week of September, and many of the neighborhoods outside of the immediate vicinity of Nantucket town were packing it in even though late summer was still in full effect.

James Joiner

Tourist frivolity aside, Nantucket retains a palpable air of independence. You have to, when all it takes is heavy winds to effectively cut you off completely from the mainland for days at a time. This independent spirit was most dramatically portrayed in 1977: Angered when redistricting resulted in less representation in state government, Nantucket and sister island Marthas Vineyard voted overwhelmingly – if ultimately in vain – to secede from Massachusetts.

Being one of Nantucket’s 11,229 year round residents takes a certain level of toughness, no wonder when you hear about them doing things like surfing slurpee waves in the middle of winter. Granted, there’s also not much to do on a seasonal island in January. For cyclists, there’s plenty of singletrack connected by sandy, rutted roads if you know where to look and don’t mind creeping across the occasional stretch of private property. Wrapped in 82 miles of sandy coastline, fat biking is also a great way to explore. One bike shop employee claimed to have circumnavigated the entire island in just a single day last winter, though I’d take that with a grain of sea salt.

James Joiner

As for our most recent trip, we pieced together a mostly unpaved 50-mile meander roughly tracing the outskirts of the island, with a midway stop at the Cisco Brewery for a liquid lunch. Beer helps mitigate aggravation during hike-a-biking when sand becomes too deep on trails to spin through. Don’t worry: drivetrains were made to be tortured.

James Joiner

Pro tips. Ride wider tires, and, more importantly, be extra vigilant when checking for deer ticks. Nantucket is ground zero for Lyme’s disease, with at least 40% of households having suffered an infection. Ferries go back and forth from Hyannis multiple times a day, year-round, so getting there is easy. The fast ferry is about $50 round trip, with a bike. There are multiple year-round bike shops in town, though most are geared toward the rental crowd. Ride With GPS and Strava have multiple routes to choose from, but I suggest setting your phone map app to satellite and making a go of it on your own. Cisco Brewery is midway around the island and is a must-visit if you like to drink. Of note, many places, close for part of the off-season. Bartlett Farms, right down the road from Cisco, offers year-round co-op grocery style supplies including a deli counter, beer, and wine. 

Peru Through The Eyes of Myles Trainer

Words and photos by Myles Trainer.

Every pedal stroke you smell it. While every revolution you hear it. Peruvian livelihood rotates around its local resources constantly changing routines to make use of another resource. Leftover eucalyptus burns from scraps used to build houses, while intricately placed irrigation canals move water into this years’ agricultural plots. Barley rotates in with potatoes, keeping the soil fresh as the mountainsides patchwork of vegetation changes like bike manufacturers hottest tan and aqua.

April was a busy month blending together bike communities across the world starting in Monterey for the season kick off at the Sea Otter Classic. One week later, I linked together Peru’s terraced land chasing new and old friends on bikes. While the Sea Otter brought out shiny new product, Peru’s riding culture showed what bike equipment is still performing through thousands of descendible vert.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Headset creaked, rotors screeched, as Jose, our scrappy young Peruvian guide, led our group through Ollantaytambo, grinding his off brand DH bike through the streets. Another rider, visiting from Tennessee, rode up next to me, his bike nearly blinding me with fresh parts. He mumbled under his breath, “uh my bike is making so much noise!” With a grin, I pointed at our guides bike, “that much noise?” I said. Brushing it off, he realized where we were and the opportunity we had to ride Peru’s crazy rollercoasters.

Rolling up to both the Enduro and DH starts at Sea Otter, I felt extremely lucky to be on top of a reliable steed that wouldn’t raddle my teeth out descending. Booths in the pits sparkled with gear that might puzzle the most coveted bike nerds, but carried purpose for many onlookers. Buzzed riders fueled by high frequency IPAs grinned as they took in the California sun.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Peru’s sunshine brought out similar energy, and shared roots with the freedom achieved by rolling nobbies. After riding past the Moray ruins outside of Ollantaytambo, we were stealing daylight flowing through city streets en route to connecting the last bit of trail. We stopped for the local evening goat traffic and it was on. In a 15-person train, we chose lines suiting our style as the sun dipped behind the Andes’ continental divide. I heard it first and then in the corner of my eye, Mario, a younger fearless guide, appeared smashing rock gardens on his early 2000s’ DH bike. He didn’t care. There wasn’t a thought in his mind that his first generation Pro-tec helmet wouldn’t do a thing if it were to meet the ground.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Whether old tools made by two generations before them or Avid Juicy Sevens with rubber bands around them to keep the brake lever from getting away from their fingers, the resources our fellow riders used did the trick. I can’t say I would run them, but the joy the Peruvian’s emanated because they were riding bicycles is something that would make anyone keep their wheels turning. Although the Sea Otter gives us an idea about all the fanciness we can achieve with our gear, at the end of the day its just about blasting water bars with your friends and sharing a beer over stories at the end of the day.

What’s in Cory Wallace’s Messkit?

Trevor Browne of Messkit Magazine (and also a Kona Ambassador!) took the time to interview our marathon-man, Cory Wallace about his adventuring and what exactly fuels him on his trips. Cory relies on a wide array of foods and powders to make it through his mega expeditions. He also loves to sample the local street foods in the exotic countries where he rides.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Whether in Nepal, Bhutan, Chile, Cambodia or wherever far-flung place he rides, you can rest assured food is the top priority for making it through big days in the saddle. Jump in to see what’s in Cory’s messkit!

Wallace World Travels: Racing in Norway

Kona Adventure Team rider and racer Cory Wallace is a traveling fiend these days. His latest adventure took him far north to the gorgeous Norway mountains.

Words from Wallace:

I spent the last two weeks traveling around and racing in Norway. First up was the legendary Birkebeiner race based out of the Olympic village of Lillehammer. This race was at one time the largest mountain bike race in the World with over 17 000 participants. It is a bit smaller now but is still the “big show” in Norwegian mountain biking. The race was like a road race, 84 km long mostly on gravel roads, with average speeds of over 32 km/hr. On the finishing descent, one rider hit 100.1 km/hr as the track went straight down a ski run. I had a rougher day, fighting hard for 22nd.

Next up I flew up North with my buddy Anderl to the northernmost town before the North Pole, Hammerfest. Here we spent a few days adventuring around the Arctic terrain with the Skaidi Xtreme race organizers and other racers before racing their event on Saturday. The Skaidi Xtreme was the opposite of the Birken, and a real mountain bikers race across the arctic tundra. It was boggy, muddy, rocky and pretty technical, with average speeds around 18 km/hr. I flatted early on but managed to fight back pretty good to get within throwing distance of 3rd place, eventually rolling in 4th. It was cool to see both the southern and northern parts of Norway in one trip. The Nordic country is a leader in this world in many ways and they certainly know how to put on some good bike races!

Next up is the Canadian Marathon Championships in Saint-Felecian, Quebec this weekend. It’s been a couple years since I won the title but I’m fired up and ready to take a run at claiming a 3rd Maple Leaf Jersey this weekend.

Over and out!


Photos by Frank Rune Isaksn @ The Skaidi Xtreme

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. 


Experiencing Haleakala

Dale Plant helped build the custom Kona Blasts for Maui Bike Tours

Recently one of our sales reps, Dale Plant, took the trek to his Hawaiian territory on Maui to pay a visit to some of his dealers including Maui Bike Tours, located in Hakiu. Just like the poem. Maui Bike Tours specialize in the famous Haleakala Volcano descent, featuring self-guided tours down Maui’s massive volcano. Constantly listed as a must-see attraction on Maui, the tour starts with a shuttle up to almost 9,000 feet where guests can experience incredible views. The actual self-guided portion of the tour starts lower, at around 6,000 feet. The idea is that instead of making people have to keep one certain pace while descending they can go as fast or slow as they’d like.

Kona’s association is massive as Maui Bike Tours recently outfitted their rental fleet with 300 custom Kona Blasts. Maui Bike Tours were looking for something reliable with good brakes, durable tires, comfortable to ride, and simple to operate. All bikes are outfitted with a 1x drivetrain to keep shifting simple and intuitive for their guests. A gorgeous Burnt Matt Orange paint job was applied to keep with the tropical theme. Dale and his wife Laura took the Blasts out of for a test run with the tour and raved about the scenery. “When it’s clear, you can see forever,” Plant said. “It’s like riding down from the top of the world. The bikes felt great, too. They’re the perfect tool for the job!”

For more information on Maui Bike Tours, be sure to check out their website.

Kona Adventure Team 2017 Recap!

Intro by Spencer Paxson

Words from behind the lens – In 2017, Kona launched the Kona Adventure Team, an offshoot of its Factory Endurance Program, to reach beyond the realm of competition and somewhere amidst the worlds of backcountry mountain biking, back-roads road riding, and plain-old big days on two wheels. Collaborating on ideas and bringing adventures to life is photographer and Pacific Northwest cycling ace Patrick Means. Patrick, hailing from Corvallis, Oregon, began a formal pursuit of outdoor and adventure photography in 2015 and has a long history with Kona’s affiliate Team S&M from Portland, Oregon. In 2017, he participated in and documented each of the Adventure Team’s big missions, and his work was featured in four front-page articles on Pinkbike, the largest mountain biking website in the world. Patrick is the rare breed, who knows good dirt, a good climb, and good glass. His style speaks to his ability to “shoot from within.” Patrick’s passion for both cycling and photography are apparent in his work, especially when you consider that all of his work is captured while on the move, whether it is a back-to-back century mission up the California coast, or a 2-day push across the rugged Kokopelli Trail.  Read on for Patrick’s own recap of highlights from the season’s adventures. You’ll see why we are excited to see what’s in store for 2018… 

More of Patrick’s work may be found at his website and on Instagram at @patrick_means  


Picking 5 shots from these adventures was hard.  I want to tell the story. The whole story!  Instead, these are glimpses.  But sometimes getting just the bits and pieces of stories can make them better.  The imagination—the most vivid and powerful of all cameras—filling in the blanks.

Double Century Sandwich. Pacifica to Healdsburg, CA. And back.
We gathered our people and gathered our bikes excited for the adventures to unfold over the course of the year.  This is version 1.0.  It’s not happened before.  How do we do it?  Will we do it wrong?  Wait, what are we doing anyway? What will it be like?  Just go. We did.  The first day, in baggy clothes and backpacks with 40c knobby tires, could have been called “Dirt Direct” taking us elite off-roaders a cool 9 hours to travel 106 miles.  In Kris Sneddon speak, it was “muscly”. We easily finished a king-sized bag of peanut butter M&Ms in one go at around mile 70.  For day 2, the good ol’ Kona boys slapped on the spandex and raced a (hard) 60 miles through some big ol’ dirt climbs in the coast range outside Occidental, California.  On the 3rd day, we rode home to Pacifica.  The highlight could have been Cory walking out of the grocery with two full grocery bags of food, with over 20 miles to finish the day still ahead of us.  I suppose we did it right.  We saw some beautiful country.  And we saw each other see the beautiful country, and that counts for something.   What else do you strive for?

Prescott Circle Trail. Prescott, Arizona.
The Prescott Circle Trail is a conglomeration of 60 miles of trails that circumnavigate the city of Prescott.  We started early and finished on the waning edges of the day.  Is this the first REAL adventure or the second one?  Was Cali a ‘practice’ adventure?  Not sure.  Wait, nah, this feels like the 2nd one to me.  After all, what’s an adventure? Maybe this is the important question. Tell the story.  Shooting from the bike, I race ahead and take a picture.  I see something rad, drop back, take a photo, chase for 3-30 minutes… Repeat.  Photographer intervals.  The best ones are the photos that don’t even turn out, and I’m left laughing (or cursing) and chasing hard.  My desire to create something beautiful has zero power over what I actually make.  The worst shots are the ones I don’t stop and take.  They haunt me, but only until I get home and look through the pics.  The worry that I didn’t get anything good goes away and is replaced by the excitement of what I do have.  What we came away with turns out to be what counts the most.

Kokopelli Trail.  140miles one-way, from Fruita, CO to Moab, UT.
A Prairie Dog Companion:  It reads like bathroom humor, but the joke was certainly on us.  I don’t think we were prepared for how ‘big’ this one was.  In hindsight, I like it better that way.  Before the second day had even begun, it was quietly agreed upon that this was the “biggest” (whatever that means) project Barry was allowed to ram down our throats.  I think there’s a very good reason that most people take 4-6 days to do what we did in 2 days, which is neat to say.  But neat and smart are uncommon bedfellows in the world of cycling—best served scrambled, if together at all.  Looking back, it was super neat to actually do.  But at the time, it sure didn’t feel very neat.  I think day 2 caught us with our pants down.  Still 30 miles from home, we had run out of water, and daylight was getting a little long-in-the-tooth.  With some road construction threatening to bar the path, one smiling hard-hatted man sings “the way is shut.” We talk to the next dude who says the same thing, and in the same sentence, he tells us to go hide in the woods and wait for the other fellas in Carhartts and hardhats to all drive home—in their trucks—probably full of water and gasoline and a throttle to idle home and listen to some nice music or something.  We, blissfully, laid down in the dirt and rocks.  Fifteen minutes later, and still out of water, we started pedaling the 2000 foot climb up to the final escarpment that would see us down to Moab, Utah.  The gratitude we all felt at having made it to Milt’s—Moab’s iconic burger joint—just before closing is still hard to articulate.

Lake Tahoe. Lake to Summit to Lake.
This was a fun one.  With Cory off becoming 24-hour World Champion, and Mr. and Mrs. Paxson preparing to welcome a new human into the world, the weight of the project rested on Wicknasty, Sneds, and me: top fellows to head to the mountains with, and who have just the correct (?) amount of skill, comic relief, safety knowledge, common sense, and easily-breeze-tousled caution.  And, of course, no matter how big or small the adventure, a healthy belief that everything will work out great, and if and when it doesn’t, we’ll adapt and get through. This one was cool—it didn’t feel like a bike ride.  It was mostly just going on a rad adventure with some pals.  We rode bikes a bit and hiked over drifts of snow.  Some slushy turns in the snow above lake Tahoe on a beautiful summer day was just pretty silly, really: silly in all the good ways.  I think it might have been just the leisure activity to get into after our rock-smashing fest that was the Kokopelli Trail.  Plus, rallying light trail bikes fully loaded with skis or a split-board makes even the most tame ribbon of trail a bit zesty!


Waldo Singletrack Snacks.  Bend, Oregon to Waldo Lake and back.
Maybe, this one was about Community.  The nearly 60+ miles of singletrack each day was pretty incredible, too.  The 5-star trails around Waldo Lake are second to none.  When I think back on this trip, it really seems like a bunch of snack breaks interrupted by periods of riding mountain bikes!  Isn’t that the end goal?  I mean, really.  Who doesn’t ride bikes and snack?  Maybe if more people knew that’s actually what cycling is about, more people would ride bikes…  Just a thought.

Kona Adventure Team v2.0 What will happen with the v2.0 year?  Does v2.0 mean going bigger?  Is bigger the point?  What is bigger?  Maybe it’s all just v1.0.  There is absolutely inherent value in pushing on limits.  I think that we’ve all been taught that the edge—and beyond?—of our limits is where we “see god, discover ourselves, time slows down,” (Insert a saying about personal growth here) and that’s not wrong, not at all.  But what of the value of consciously choosing things that feed our souls by way of their simplicity and ease?  I guess I’ve always been a seeker of suffering.  Only recently, I’ve given more weight to the pleasure in simple, enjoyable, ‘little’ adventures.  How about an 8-mile “bikepack” from the front door of my house over to a little, greasy, recently logged peak in the forest next to the town where I live? All I need is a single backpack, and I’m up greeting the sun and ripping sweet 5-inch wide trails before clocking-in for work at 0900—low input, high in value!  How do you think that work day was for me?  Best day ever.  But would I be as quick to toss crap in a backpack and spend the night in the woods if I hadn’t pedaled too much gear up to a fire lookout above Prescott, Arizona and realized how stupid easy it could be?  I think what I can say is that I’m welcoming what 2018 has to bring.  Big and small.  After all, it’ll be 2018, v1.0.

Cruising the Road to Hana

There are fewer places on earth more beautiful than Maui. Expansive lush green jungles hug the most pristine, curvy roads the eyes have ever seen this side of Italy. While throngs of tourists are gawking at waterfalls and floundering about in the ocean on foam-surfboards boards, those in the know will dip out on two wheels to experience one of the island’s most coveted treasures: the road to Hana. The Radivist’s Morgan Taylor and his wife recently spent some time dodging cars and tourists to see what the hype was all about.

On a pair of borrowed Konas, (a 2013 Red Zone, and a 2015 Esatto Ti) their adventure came to life. Check out the full story over on the Radavist.