The Arizona desert all lit up

For the last six years Kona has been the title sponsor for the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo, what has become one of the most revered 24-hour events in North America. For this year’s event – our last as title sponsor – we invited 15 of the world’s top mountain bike journalists to join us for four days of riding, racing and reviewing Kona’s high grade offering of 29-inch wheel cross-country and all-mountain bikes: the King Kahuna, Hei Hei 29 Supreme, Honzo, Satori and Raijin.

Thanks to Southwest Trekking for great guiding services during the launch

Editors from UK’s Mountain Bike Rider and Privateer, the US’s Mountain Bike Action, Bike and Bicycling, France’s Velo Vert, Norway’s Terrengsykkl, and Belgium’s O2 Riders, as well as many other great publications, packed their sunscreen, lungs, legs and puffjackets as they readied themselves to race, ride and explore the epic singletrack of Arizona in February. The goal was not only to get some of the world’s top mountain bike journalists on great trails (riding great bikes), but to meet and ride with the people behind the bikes.

Yannick Oven of France's Velo Vert

We started in the saguaro steeped trails outside of Tucson, where red earth contrasts wildly with green cactus, and every single plant is guarded with flesh tearing spines. A super fun XC warm up ride before the real pain started at the 24 Hours of the Old Pueblo, what has become one of the most soughtafter 24 hour events in North America with 627 teams.

The Arizona Trail runs through a wide diversity of amazing desert landscape

Broken up into five teams, with our pro XC riders in attendance, the Kona crew jumped into the cool vibe of this awesome event. In the end, with our pro team of four finishing second (one rider had the flu), and a press/pro mixed team finishing fourth, we all got to watch Cory Wallace win the solo category, putting together 18 laps of the 16 mile course in 24 hours. “An oldschool hardman,” Andy Waterman of Privateer Magazine called him.

Old School Hardman Cory Wallace lifts his stock King Kahuna after the win

After a beautiful desert day (and surprisingly warm desert night), and the dust had settled on many miles of rolling, twisting desert singletrack, we had a little more in store for our media friends: a huge all-mountain descent off of Mount Lemmon. High in the Catalina Mountains, the group railed sandstone singletrack down to Molina Basin.

High above Tucson on the upper flank of Mount Lemmon

All in all it was an great time. The mountain bike industry is in very good hands with the extremely professional and talented journalists who report on our sport. Of course, we’d be remiss to say our House of the Big Wheel 29-inch wheel XC and all-mountain bikes did a darn good jobs themselves. But we’ll let the journos be the judge.

Patrick Means of Sellwood Cycles

All photos by Sterling Lorence.

Many thanks to: Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, Epic Rides, Southwest Trekking, Galleria Foods Catering and all the Kona staff.

Here’s the bikes

2012 Hei Hei 29 Supreme

2012 King Kahuna

2012 Kona Satori

2012 Titanium Kona Raijin

2012 Cromoly Honzo