winter riding

Bikes + Coffee + Winter = Magic

Words and imagery by Kona Ambassador, Trevor Browne.

Time is slipping away at too fast a rate these days. This seems to be especially true in the mornings. While hurrying to make breakfast, I’m usually juggling my time between having a shower, checking the latest Instagram post, getting annoyed by the barrage of unread messages already piling up in my inbox and kids screaming at me to take them to school. All while my coffee and oatmeal get cold. Sound familiar?

Maybe there is a way that can give us a little reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the morning schedule. It would be nice to just slow down, reclaim your life, enjoy the outdoors and maybe sneak in a little extra time on the morning bike commute to work. The solution is called #coffeeoutside and it’s nothing new. Many groups around this small world of ours have been meeting up on two wheels for a while now, to just slow down and brew up a good cup of joe. Imagine a quiet half hour where you can just meet with a friend or group of friends (hell, I’ve even done it solo) to make human and outdoor connections, and ease into enjoying a delicious cup of coffee. Think of #coffeeoutside as a way to fit some magic into your day. And yes, it is even possible to do this in the winter.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

First things first. Schedule a morning where you and or your friends can set aside half an hour, or more, to make #coffeeoutside happen. It’s best to keep this consistent so that you always have something to look forward to and eventually have it become a habit. Once you’ve scheduled a morning that works the next step is to find a location. This preferably has a nice place to sit, possibly covered and out of the wind, not near a major traffic zone, and, if its winter, make sure there is easy access so that you aren’t trudging through two feet of snow. Luckily for me, I live in Montreal near a small mountain called Mount Royal, where there is a plethora of hideaways and paths, but any park will do.

Once you’ve booked a time and place and you are dressed warmly it’s now time to focus on making the coffee! There is a smorgasbord of options for this, but it all comes down to 5 elements: coffee, water, heat, brew method, and your favourite camp mug. The tools can be as complex or as simple as you want. I use an MSR Pocket Rocket bikepacking stove along with a 750ml pot, a Nalgene bottle to hold the water, some local fresh ground coffee, an Aeropress and my favorite Miir camp mug. If it’s really cold I might even forego the stove and Nalgene and just brew my coffee at home, pour it into a thermos and it’s ready to go once I arrive at my secret hideaway. Again, this is my method. The fun part is learning to use your own kit and refining your technique. If you are in a group, it’s always fun to see and learn about the wide variety of methods that people use. Oh, and don’t forget the snacks. If you’re in a group try taking turns buying some local fresh baked goods. Try using #adozendonutsoutside as a new hashtag!

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

It’s all about slowing down, making connections and doing something that is fun and active even if it’s in the middle of winter. Get outside, ride your bike, help build community, and conjure up some #coffeeoutside magic.

Taking Advantage of the Golden Orb

It’s January. Typically, in the Pacific Northwest that means we’re drinking way too much coffee to stay warm, we’ve wrapped ourselves in Gortex and wool to stay dry, and we spend just as much time cleaning the mud off of our bikes as we do riding them. This is a familiar song and dance to me. Wake up, stare outside at the pitch black pelting rain and make an impulse decision on whether or not to trudge my way through another wet, soggy, coldAF ride. I’m about 50/50 on this one. Some mornings I do it because it’s the only time I’ll have to ride on that particular day. Other mornings, I convince myself that the extra 90 minutes of sleep is great for my sanity and crawl back into my bed cave.

However, each January there also seems to be this little nugget of magic that pierces through the seemingly impermeable thick gray blanket of wetness and bestows upon us a few gloriously sunny days. To the locals, these days are known as “Holy-shit-it’s-summer-in-January!” days. They are treasured the way a mother treasures her child’s first pair of shoes. They’ll be talked about throughout the rest of the dreary wet season (aka, until the sun shines again on July 5th). We’ll even reminisce about them next January when we get another round of gloriously brilliant golden light and crisp bluebird days.


This past dose of sunshine was felt all along the west coast as my Instagram feed slowly dissolved from muddy shins to gorgeous rays of light bursting through the trees on Mount Seymour on the North Shore, endless island views from the mountain tops of Bellingham, to golden-hour panoramas from the hilltops of Seattle and beyond. One thing is for sure, when the weather gives you roughly eight months of dark, cold and wet conditions, we definitely learn to take advantage of the sunny days whenever we have them.

Here’s to more random gorgeous days in the winter! Until then, I’m going to go wash the mud off of my bike from last night’s rain ride.


*Header image by Scott Mackay

Winterized: Tips from Spencer Paxson

In this special edition of Winterized, our cold-weather riding guide, we hear from Kona Adventure team rider Spencer Paxson. Spencer grew up in the Pacific Northwest and has been dealing with cold wet winters his entire life, so he’s got some creative ideas on how to make your winter rides a little more tolerable.

During the winter I am riding a wide range of bikes, either MTB trail, cyclocross, or a road bike for winter training. Setup is a little different for each, so here are some of my go-to’s:
In general, layering is key. I live in a place that is really wet but doesn’t get super cold (by midwest or Alaskan standards, anyway). I find that for anything where you actually get your body temperature up, as long as it is above 35deg F, a combination wind resistance and fleecy/wool insulation is best. I rarely ride in waterproof anything since I just get wet from the inside with condensation. My most heavily used winter riding items are: wool arm warmers (I can pull down on hot climbs and pull up for cold descents), wool socks, wool base layer, windproof lightweight vest, fleeced nylon long-sleeve jersey, trousers for MTB or fleeced nylon leggings w/ windproof front for road, and neoprene booties for road.

Dennis Crane

It’s not snow… but it’s wet and cold, so that counts for something.

Keeping Feet Dry and Hands Warm: 
On the mountain bike, I’m a huge fan of riding in trousers, especially on the dank, cold days. They’re not waterproof, but they are windproof, at least on the front, with good ventilation. Pants need thick enough fabric that they hold a tiny pocket of air against your legs. They keep puddle splash off of my shins and keep more stuff out of my shoes. Plus, they look way better than tights and make a lot more sense than shorts in the winter. I also ride with an extra set of regular weight gloves in a Zip Loc bag, and use trail shoes with a thick flap over the laces, like the Shimano ME7. I hate riding with thick gloves on the MTB, so I keep a few extra dry pairs around and just plan to get warm on climbs and not linger too long at the top.
For cyclocross I just deal with being cold. It’s cyclocross! Usually no gloves and definitely no shoe covers. It’s race pace, so warmth usually isn’t an issue. I warm up in similar stuff to what I wear on the road.
On the road bike wind resistance is way more important here since speeds are so high, so wind chill is a HUGE factor, even on mild/warmer days. For cold/wet conditions, I wear neoprene booties and gloves, with good wind-proof coverage on my arms and legs to keep circulation working…otherwise the warmest gloves or shoes do nothing. My faves are thick Overshoes by Endura, and “Glacier Gloves” if it’s wet, or thick wool gloves if it’s cold and dry. A little neck buff is also good – keeping the back of your neck warm makes your whole body feel warm.
Best Tires to run:
MTB: Very personal preference, but if you live in a wet, soft ground, rooty place like I do, I’m a big fan of a tire that has aggressive, wide-spaced knobs, but can also run well at low pressure for deformation and traction over roots. This season I’ve been a fan of the WTB Vigilante 2.3, soft compound in front, hard compound in back. Depending on what I’m riding, I run anywhere from 14-18psi front, and 15-19psi rear. For reference, I weigh around 155-160 kitted up with a ~30lb bike.
Cyclocross: Very conditions dependent, but I’ve been doing well with the WTB Cross Boss 35c at around 24-25psi front and rear. For less sloppy days, I’m a fan of the WTB Riddler 37c – fast rolling center for road transfers (training) with aggressive side knobs that hook up on turns.
Road: Something thick and very puncture resistant, because the worst is changing a flat on the side of the road with cold hands. I run the WTB Horizon or WTB Nano 40c so that I have options to go off-road or deal with winter crap on the shoulder of the road.
Best Winter Snacks:
Hmmm…well, CLIF product is my go-to, especially the chocolate-peanut-butter bars, but to keep it toasty and pleasant I’m also a fan of:
bear jerky
landjaeger sausage
Costco muffins…the poppyseed or maple nut
Sin Dawgs by Dave’s Killer Bread
For really big, gnarly rides in the cold, I’m a huge fan of the Mountain House freeze-dried backcountry food. bring a camp stove and enjoy an almost real food meal.
A little flask of rye whiskey for the summit
A thermos of hot tea or coffee with something in it to warm the fat furnace, like butter or coconut oil
Random tip – Ride with a 3-pocked “XC nerd” jersey so you can put your phone in one of the pockets and use your body heat to keep the batter from dying prematurely in the cold. 

Winterized: Part 4

We’re back with Winterized, our guide to making riding in the winter slightly less crappy, and it’s the solstice! That means we can officially celebrate the shortest day of the year along with the first official day of the winter. Bittersweet, that one. We still have a long ways to go before we dig ourselves out of the dark, frozen days of winter, but at least we can take solace knowing that the sun will start to set later and later. When you’re trying to squeeze in those after work rides, every single minute counts.

Name: Hannah Bergemann
Kona gig: Bad Ass Ripper on the Kona Supremes Team
Bike of choice: Honzo AL/DL to keep her Process nice and clean during the gritty months.
How Hannah gets Winterized:

“Good lights are super important for me in the winter as it gets dark so early. I use an 850-lumen bar light and 1000 lumen headlight from Light and Motion.

I recently bought some waterproof Fox gloves that are awesome! They aren’t super thick or heavily insulated, so they breathe and allow you to retain dexterity, but still keep your hands dry/warm. The Kona winter gloves are also super warm for really cold days.

Smartwool wolly-bully socks for toasty feet

Packable rain shell (mine is an Outdoor Research Helium jacket)

Also kinda random, but my roommate bought me some special “sports detergent” for washing all my gear because it gets extra wet/smelly in the winter.

I normally ride clipless pedals, but sometimes will rock flats when its super cold or snowy as the clips get clogged with snow or freeze.”

Name: Aaron Hogg
Kona gig: Kona Graphics Master
Bike of choice: Honzo ST
How Aaron gets Winterized:

“Because we have fairly mild extremes in Christchurch winter riding isn’t bad,  but I do usually spend a lot more time trail building.

I have opted for the ghetto classic of plastic bags over my socks when it has gotten really bad but usually, I’ll just bung a thermal base layer on.
I tend to ride my Honzo St far more over winter as there is less stuff to get mud & grit into.”

Name: Scott Countryman
Kona gig: Kona Enduro Athlete
Bikes of choice: Process 153, Honzo, and Esatto
How Scott gets Winterized:


Winter is pretty mild here in northern Arizona so I’m lucky not to have to deal with anything too harsh. But here are some of my tips:
  • Preheat your shoes and gloves. Keeping your shoes and gloves inside where is warm is pretty obvious but if you can get them up to body temp before going out into the cold you will be much happier. I’ll put all my gear on ~20 min ahead of time to start warming them up and instead of wearing my gloves for that time I’ll slip them under my jersey so they still get body heat.
  • Get studded tires for your mountain bike. When it is cold and snowy out I find it much easier to motivate myself to romp around on the mountain bike with studded tires than to ride the trainer or go to the gym or try and find dry roads for a road ride.
  • Get a climbing gym membership. Rock climbing is an excellent cross-training activity for mountain bikers in the winter. The indoor gym is warm and dry and it is a fun, safe workout that you’ll want to come back for over and over.

Name: Richard James
Kona gig: Bikes and Buddies
Bike of choice: 2009 Kona Stab Supreme
How Scott gets Winterized:

  • The best way to keep your feet dry and warm is some Seal Skins socks They are the best socks EVER!  RRT £24.99
  • For the UK cyclist, they want a good glove that lasts but does not break the bank. Anything made by Endura is a winner.  The (Endura Strike glove) is the one I use.
  • As for the tyres, Schwalbe Marathon plus for MTB/Hybrid bikes and Durano Plus for road bikes. Very good kevlar tyres run about £34.99- £41.99 each. Food is an easy one. Clif Bar (peanut butter) is amazing. They taste great and give you a long-term energy boost like porridge.  Clif Shot Blocks are great for a short-term term boost.
  • Something that riders can do that makes a big difference is to clean their brakes after riding in wet conditions. Clean the breaking surface of the wheels and pads on a weekly basis. Then, if they have time, sand the rims down a little bit with some wet and dry sandpaper. This will make the pads last longer and stop the brakes form making a horrid squeaky noise.
  • They could also help to stop rust/corrosion by spraying GT85/MO94 or any other good oil on the mechs, cables and shifters. This would help to keep their gears running better for longer. It will also keep their repair costs down. Just be sure not to put oil on any brakes.

Winterized: Part 3

Welcome back to Winterized, our unofficial guide for how to make riding in the winter suck significantly less. We’re taking tips from Kona employees and athletes on how they manage to stay warm and dry(ish) in the dark, dank months. So, grab a toddy, stoke your fire, and check out the next iteration of Winterized!


Name: Trevor Torres
Kona gig: Warranty Service/Demo Manager
Bike of choice: Honzo with Maxxis Minions
How Trevor gets Winterized:

“I like to wear insulated gloves 40 and below.  Not waterproof as they always end up soaking from the inside, but ones with high breathability.
I also like to have a bin with dry warm clothes, towel, and shoes for after the ride.”

Name: Lacy Kemp
Kona gig: Communications Manager/New Kid on the Block
Bike of choice: Process 153 CR/DL
How Lacy gets Winterized:

“I ride a ton in the winter-mostly at night, and mostly alone, so no one hears me complaining about my numb hands. Speaking of numb hands, I’ll start with that. Apparently, I have terrible circulation, so keeping my hands and toes warm is a huge challenge. My saving grace has been Hot Hands Toe Warmers. I use them in my shoes (on the top of my toes) and shove them in the backs of my gloves when things get super cold. I prefer the toe warmers because they are flatter and have an adhesive so they don’t slip around. These things have turned what would have been a miserable day into so many good rides. Buy them in bulk from Amazon for the best deal.

Living in Bellingham means we have a lot of wet to deal with. Getting a good fender setup can be critical to both your vision and keeping your bike cleaner. There are lots of cool companies, but we have a new local company I’m excited about. Ground Keeper is by a Bellingham’s Keely Shannon, who is also part of the brains behind the super artsy Made Rad by Tony name. So, my Process looks awesome even when it’s muddy outside, I’m supporting a local business, and my face and bike are happier.

Another thing I do is deflate my tire pressure juuuuust a wee bit on those super wet days. I’m still learning what pressures work best for me, but with my Minions front and rear, I’m tinkering with around 19ish PSI. I’m a light rider so it’s definitely helpful when the tires grip the grease a bit better with softer rubber.

Lastly, if I’m riding with a pack, I’ll often take an extra jersey and pair of gloves to change into at the top of a climb. Nothing sucks more than dropping into a big descent with a sweaty, cold jersey and wet hands.”

Name: Joey Melweski
Kona gig: Warehouse Manager
Bike of choice:Process 153 CR/DL
How Joey gets Winterized:

“What I like to do to make winter rides more enjoyable:

1. Happiness is a warm rum. Depending on the ride, I’ll fill up a flask with a hot toddy or hot buttered rum.  Not only do they taste amazing, it warms up your insides, acts as a hand warmer and gives you some liquid courage!

2. Leave a towel and extra set of clothes in your car. Just knowing they are there when you get back to your car can make a ride more enjoyable.

3. Extra gloves. If it’s cold and rainy, the last thing you want is cold hands. Bring an extra set to change into before you drop in.”

Name: Matt Hoffmeyer
Kona gig: Kona Bike Shop Manager
Bike of choice: Honzo set up as a steel singlespeed or Honzo CR DL.
How Matt gets Winterized:

Things like how to keep your feet dry and hands warm…. Merino Socks when cold and damp. Showers Pass Waterproof socks for the really cold & wet rides.

The best tires to run…Past couple winters I have been a big fan of the Schwalbe Magic Mary Front and Rear, but this year I am giving the Maxxis Shorty a try.

The best winter snack is a flask of bourbon

I like to use Gore Tex Shorts & Jacket. I currently have 7mesh shorts and would recommend them to anyone.

Just get out there. Once you do you’ll be stoked and have fun. Rope as many friends into your ride, and make it happen on a regular basis.


Winterized: Part 1

Let’s face it. If you live north of the equator there’s a decent chance you’re stuck in this weather phenomenon we call, “winter.” Perhaps you’re a skier or snowboarder and have hung up your rubber shoes in favor of wooden plans. More power to you. But, for those of you who just can’t quit your bike, we feel you. We feel you because we still have sensation in our fingers from years of trial and error of keeping our bodies somewhat temperate in cold(er), nasty weather. In fact, we have so much wonderful advice for you that we’re launching a series of posts called Winterized. Winterized features tips from Kona employees, partner and pro riders on how to best survive the winter. So grab a cup of your favorite toddy, throw another log on the fire, and soak in the advice. We’ve suffered so you don’t have to.

Name: Kevin Rutherford
Kona gig: Canada Sales/Small Parts
Bike of choice: Process
How Kevin gets Winterized:

Fall/winter is my favourite time to ride! I generally ride my Process all year long, regardless of weather and I run Minions year round.

The key riding gear I find is:

  • Warm, semi-lined base layers
  • Moto/DH/long legged pants to keep my legs clean, and avoid the mud ‘tan lines’
  • RaceFace Agent jacket
  • Bag for wet gear after the ride. Anything from a garbage bag to a dry-bag to keep the slop contained and the car dry

A couple dream gear additions would be:

  • 5×5 pop-up canopy for changing underneath
  • Mini pressure washer, either battery or cigarette-lighter powered

Name: Pat White
Kona gig: Long-time Product Manager and floral verbiage connoisseur
Bike of choice: Roadhouse and Hei Hei AL
How Pat gets Winterized:

Fenders (road) Open lug treads (MTB)
Microfleece helmet liners

Name: Molly Joyce
Kona gig: Inside sales support,
Bike of choice: Honzo
How Molly gets Winterized:

  • Best Drink: Thermos with hot Skratch Green tea electrolyte mix.
  • Snack: 100% pure Maple Syrup – the electrolytes and low glycemic sugars give you a more steady boost of energy and it just tastes like the holidays. Untapped has them in shot size packets, or if you are more wary of lots of trash, then a hip flask with maple syrup in it – just make sure you refrigerate it after your ride so it doesn’t go bad.
  • Mucky Nuts fenders.
  • A vest (Troy Lee Design, Giant, Pearl Izumi etc)– keep the core warm for sure!
  • A bandana wrapped around your neck – great for keeping you warm but more importantly for protecting your face on the bitter cold descents, and blowing all those runny boogers out.
  • Hand warmers: again, a good trick for warming up your hands if your fingers are frozen.
  • Studded tires! Mob around the trails or your frozen streets with nobby, studded tires! The most fun commuting around. Schwalbe Marathon Winters and the Ice Spiker are all rad.

Name: Kevin Thornton
Kona gig: Graphics
Bike of choice: Whichever one has fenders
How Kevin gets Winterized:

Just like everyone else, I’ve tried every type of clothing, layering, combination possible and nothing stops the rain from getting me wet. But there is one thing I swear by…gore-tex socks that I wear inside my shoes. Not the boot things that go over the shoes…those are a hassle. In my experience…dry feet = warm feet = nothing else matters.

That’s it for round one of Winterized. Stay tuned to the Cog over the coming weeks for more cold weather riding tips!