Take one of the fastest cross-country racers in North America, a Top 10 World Cup downhill racer, and a Red Bull Rampage podium freeride superstar, plop them way up high in the middle of the mountains, and let the battle rage. Kona Team riders Spencer Paxson, Connor Fearon and Graham Agassiz met on the top of Retallack Lodge’s Reco Peak, each with their own hand-selected model of 2016 Kona Process all mountain steed, and prepared to see who could tally the most points over 16 kilometers and 6,000 vertical feet of singletrack bliss. With points awarded for cross-country power, downhill steeze and freeride flare, the goal was to see what Process-to-athlete combo would emerge the winner. Would it be Paxson on the 29-inch wheel, shorter travel Process 111? Fearon on the super-capable, 27.5-inch wheel, mid travel Process 134, or Aggy on the burly Process 153? And who might get a hold of the Rasta-hued 26-inch wheel, park-oriented Process 167? So many questions, so much stress. With a mountain of singletrack ahead of them, who will emerge victorious at the first ever Kona Process Challenge?
Spectacular September days in BC’s super-bueno Selkirk Mountains. With wilderness for far as the eye can see, Aggy, Fearon and Paxson take a break on Retallack’s all-mountain epic, which follows ridgelines and into forest for 16 kilometers off the top of Reco Peak. Photo Blake Jorgenson
Fearon and Aggy dropping in off the 8,300 foot summit of Reco Peak. Located about an hour’s drive north of Nelson, BC, which lies in the south-central part of the province, it’s easy to see why Retallack has quickly become one of the top backcountry mountain bike destinations on the planet. Photo Blake Jorgenson
Unlike a lot of the surrounding peaks, which are granitic and extremely rocky, the mountains around Retallack feature tons of sweet, blue-tinged dirt, a result of the vast amounts of shale in the area. Here Aggy leads Fearon through an alpine shale/dirt dream. Photo Blake Jorgenson
It would be hard to find a more dramatic singletrack drop-in this perfect anywhere. Photo Blake Jorgenson
In an effort to bag as many points as possible, Aggy chucks a massive natural singletrack sender. “That’s about as big as I’ve ever gone on a trail bike,” he would later say of the 40-foot plus sender. “But the 153 took it all no problem.” Photo Blake Jorgenson
Watching Fearon rail his 134 all week was a show of insane bike skills. After a season spent grinding it out on pitted downhill tracks the world over, you could tell Fearon was in love with the freshly minted trails of Retallack. Photo Blake Jorgenson
Retallack’s signature all-mountain trail drops over 6,000 feet of vertical, but has over 1,000 feet of climbing. About a third of the way down the trail, the boys battle it out up one seriously scenic ridgeline ascent. Photo Blake Jorgenson
Kona had an all-time crew capturing the action, Leo Hoorn and Matty Miles of Sherpas Cinema behind the cameras, with Retallack’s summer ops manager (and freeride legend) Mike Kinrade, Retalllack owner, Phil Pinfold (on the binoculars), and shoot director, Mitchell Scott (resting peacefully in the meadow) looking on. Photo Blake Jorgenson
World Cup XC animal, Spencer Paxson, digging to put some distance on the boys (all in good fun of course), with Reco and its cascading ridgelines in the background. The trail basically contours the landscape from the peak to the boys. Blake Jorgenson
Connor was all style all the time. “This is by far the best place I’ve ever ridden,” he kept saying. And that’s saying something. Photo Blake Jorgenson
The crew heading up into another September sunset. Fall is an incredible month in the Kootenay region of BC, with crisp temps, beautiful fall colors, and lots of high pressure. Photo Blake Jorgenson
Paxson dug deep all week to keep him and his 111 in the mix with two of the best downhill riders on the planet. The boy from Bellingham did real good. Blake Jorgenson
Photographer Blake Jorgenson not only captures action like a boss, he as an incredible eye for nature moments.
It’s not all heli’s and packed lunches (well it’s mostly packed lunches). Aggy, Spencer and Connor push up for “Another One.” Photo Blake Jorgenson
Aggy has been to Retallack a few times for Kurt Sorge’s Fest Series, but on this trip, rather than hitting monster sized jumps, he got to settle in to sweet ol’ singletrails. No one on the planet can shred them sweeter. Photo Blake Jorgenson
After an age of duking it out, the boys can feel the lodge. It is one of the best parts of the post-ride appeal at Retallack. Great food, small games, hot tubs, and beer, glorious BC craft beer. Photo Blake Jorgenson
Back in the 1800s they mined silver and tin up in these hills, now they dig for dirt. Photo Blake Jorgenson
The action mounts as Aggy takes Paxson on the inside on one of numerous double berms sprinkled throughout the fast-growing trail network at Retallack. Photo Blake Jorgenson
No matter how fast Aggy goes, the beard is always there. Always.
Fearon getting all Star Wars on tables in the woods right at the finish. Photo Blake Jorgenson
Of course, riding off the top of a giant peak in the middle of nowhere wouldn’t be complete without high-fiving Jackson Pinfold at the bottom. Yes, the future rides Kona. Photo Blake Jorgenson
About Retallack Lodge:
Retallack Lodge is pioneering a new segment in destination Mountain Biking. It’s backyard is home to a spiderweb of epic DH singletrack, All-mountain Enduro and Freeride descents. As a guest you will wake in a private luxury lodge to spectacular alpine views of the Selkirk Mountains. Your days will be spent with a small group dropping into perfectly groomed, super-flow MTB riding.