Last week started off the first of our 2016 fall Kona women’s clinics with a basic bike maintenance course. The big storm made for some great weather for hunkering down in the shop and working on bikes. We worked on a variety of techniques in the clinic, covering things from flat-tire fixes to chain maintenance and more essential repair skills.
We have two more clinics coming up this fall. On November 9th and 10th we are having a 2-part suspension clinic ($75 per person). The 9th will be a suspension theory lecture explaining the basic parts of your fork and shock, how it works, and how to adjust it perfectly for you. The 10th is a hands-on clinic to learn how to and perform a lower fork service, (normally around $100 total) and we will include the seals for you in the clinic!)
The last clinic will be a drivetrain maintenance and cable & housing replacement clinic ($60 per person). We will go over how to remove and clean the drivetrain to prolong the life of your bike and components during the wet and gritty winter months. Space is limited for both of these clinics, so sign up soon! The deadline for the suspension class is Nov. 1st to allow time to order the proper seals for everyone. Register in the bike shop or via email at email@example.com. Hope to see you there!
The 2nd to last stop for the CDC Enduro series landed in my backyard Bellingham trails in the Chuckanut Mountains. I was especially excited about this race because I am very familiar with the trails in the course and it’s so close. The Chuckanuts are typically known for being wet, rooty, and loamy but… the weeks prior to the race saw little rain and high temps, which caused the trails to be insanely loose and the dirt to resemble moon dust.
Despite rough conditions and hundreds of racers flying down the trails, they were still a blast to race on! The first climb up Fragrance Lake Trail brought us to the summit for stage 1 on Upper Ridge Trail. Upper Ridge’s name is fitting as it meanders along a ridgeline with exposure on both sides. Lots of rough root sections and rock rolls make it a fairly technical trail, but it lacks the steepness of Lower Ridge Trail. After finishing stage 1, a quick transfer around Middle Ridge Trail brought us to the top of Lower Ridge for stage 2. Lower Ridge displays the same technical rocks and roots that Upper Ridge has, but also exhibits a fair amount of steep sections and tight corners. It also has decent exposure on the rider’s right side that shows awesome views of Baker in spots.
After finishing stage 2, we transferred up Salal Trail and Huckleberry Trail to the start of Raptor Ridge for Stage 3. Raptor is a hiking as well as a biking trail, so it’s full of tight switchbacks and long, leg-burning pedal sections. Being the trail I had ridden the least, this was the most challenging trail for me and a very different style than I’m used to. In a tight tree section in the middle of the trail, I clipped a bar and spilled into the bushes. Luckily, I got up unharmed and still managed a decent time for that stage, but I was definitely a little shaken up.
The final transfer brought us along North Lost Lake Trail where we could see Lost Lake between the trees down below us on the left, then we took a sharp right hand turn up Rock Trail. Rock Trail is a steep hiking trail that displays some of the amazing, giant sandstone boulders of the Chuckanuts. Did I mention it’s also ferociously steep and involves carrying your bike up many flights of stairs to get back to the summit. Once back at the top for the final stage, we were all exhausted, with the longest and most demanding stage yet to come. Although the Double Down and Double Black Diamond stage was easily the longest and most technical stage of the day, it was definitely my favorite! It starts off with a fast downhill section that leads into some wide switchbacks. Being so dry and blown out, it was fun to fly around the corners kicking up dust in all directions. The trail is full of fast, root-filled sections that are much more intimidating in the wet. After finishing Double Down and crossing a road, you head into Double Black Diamond, which starts off with a rough entrance to a root drop. Another rock drop follows shortly after with a sizable rut in the landing. Most of the corners on this trail were full of ruts, dust, or both, so it was challenging to ride fast and stay in control at the same time. I reached the bottom with my legs on fire, aching hands, and a huge grin on my face.
After turning in my timing chip, I was stoked to see a first place time in the expert category, and only a few seconds behind the pro ladies! Home-trail knowledge and hard work definitely paid off, and I’m already excited for the final race at Tiger Mountain next month!
Huge, ginormous thanks to Kona Bicycle Co, The Kona Bike Shop, Stoked Roasters, Dakine, 2nd Wind Sports, The Dirty Harlots MTB Race Team, Dirty Fingers Bike Shop, and all my friends and family for all the help and continued support!
Hannah & Amanda went down to Tiger Mountain in Issaquah, WA for the Sturdy Dirty Enduro, and answered some questions for us about the event and their experience. Part one was here, with Amanda’s answers. Below are Amanda’s questions and Hannah’s answers.
A: The Sturdy Dirty was your first all women’s enduro, correct? How was the experience compared to the races you participate in like the CDC?
H: Yeah! It was such a cool experience to race with so many ladies! Racing and riding with other girls really motivates me to try new features and ride harder. The entire event was so rad; the volunteers, the aid stations, the race course… I’m already excited for next year!
A: What was your favorite stage and why? How did the weather conditions change the way you rode the trail?
H: My favorite stage ended up being the final stage called Predator. It’s considered one of the toughest trails at Tiger because of its consistently steep grade, slick roots, and chunky rock gardens. I managed to have a solid run despite the slick conditions, and the hecklers yelling at the bottom (wearing fairly revealing costumes in the pouring rain) were awesome!
A: How do you handle race day nerves if any at all?
H: I will often watch some of my favorite biking videos the night before a race to get stoked. Having a teammate to ride the whole race with definitely helped with nerves! Being a female only race helps take away some of the competitive edge that usually comes with racing.
A: What bike did you race and why?
H: My Process 111! The 29” wheels help me maintain speed and roll through gnarly sections with confidence. The short travel helps with climbing efficiency, and the Kona Process geometry makes this bike so playful and fun to ride! It’s hard to ride this bike without wanting to hit every little jump and root on the trail that I can find.
A: What is your favorite piece of gear?
H: For this race, I was grateful for my Dakine pads because I took quite a few slams and walked away without any injuries. My mountain hardware jacket kept me dry in the mud and rain. I recently got a High Above hip pack that I’m super stoked about, and it was awesome to race in!
A: Care to share what your favorite trail side snacks are during race day? Did you get down on any waffles at one of the aid stations during the race?
H: The aid stations at the Sturdy were pro and served everything from waffles, to jello shots, to chicken wings. I think my favorite was the s’mores station and the tacos at the end!
Hannah & Amanda went down to Tiger Mountain in Issaquah, WA for the Sturdy Dirty Enduro, and answered some questions for us about the event and their experience. Below are Hannah’s questions and Amanda’s answers. Part two coming soon will be, you guessed it! Amanda’s questions with Hannah’s answers.
H: You raced the sturdy last year at Tiger Mountain, how was it different? Better or worse than last year’s event?
A: Going into last year’s race I didn’t really know anyone with the exception of the faces I recognized from attending a pre-ride and a trail day. I think that contributed to the massive amount of anxiety I had going into the race. After the race last year, I left with a pocket full of phone numbers of ladies to ride with which turned into a solid crew to shred within the Seattle area. Having friends to catch up with and a teammate to ride with made this year’s event a lot more fun.
H: Last year you also raced Beginner class, and this year switched to Expert. What inspired that decision? How was racing Expert in comparison to the Beginner category?
A: I registered for the beginner category because I’d never raced before and I had no grasp on where I was in terms of riding ability. I ended up winning beginner -which was super exciting, with plans of racing Sport the following year. The move to Bellingham, WA is what inspired the decision to skip Sport and move into Expert. I love the trails on Tiger and I know them quite well and wanted to make sure that if I travelled the two hours South for the race, I would be able to ride all the trails. Sport cuts out riding all of the new trail called Predator and that’s my favorite one!
H: Do you plan to do any more races this season? Enduro? CX? Cross-country? What races?
A: I do! I’ll be signing up for a couple more XC races to torture myself. I have a few enduros that I would like to check out like the Capitol Forest and Tiger Mountain Enduro, that is a part of the CDC series and I am really looking forward to the CX season this year with plans of racing the entire MFG series in Seattle.
H: Conditions were absolutely nasty this year for the Sturdy, how did you combat/handle the conditions and weather?
A: It was such a sloppy day on the mountain. My main goal was to just survive. All the ladies were in such good spirits though and it was fun to see all the women covered in mud, laughing and having a good time. I felt pretty badass just being on the mountain and being surrounded by stoke even with the gnarly weather.
H: You rode the Process 111 at the Sturdy, why did you choose that bike, and how did it perform for you?
A: I picked it because that Process 111 is so fast! It climbs well and just rips on the down. Having the bigger wheel was awesome in the wet when I didn’t want to leave the muddy ground and had to roll over stuff. It was the perfect weapon for the day except the grittiness took its toll on my drive train.
H: Do you have any pre-race rituals or superstitions to ensure a good race?
A: My pre-race ritual is to talk positively to myself. I have to remind myself that I am capable and as prepared as I can be. Self-love is key to being successful at anything you do but I think when it comes to racing bikes, it’s easy to start doubting yourself and your ability. The night before, when I can’t sleep, I just replay videos of myself accomplishing a new feature or just a really good rip with friends. Leading up to the race I just shower myself with internal thoughts of love and positive mantras. Being calm and sure results in a good and safe time on the course for me.
H: What was your favorite stage of the race and why?
A: PREDATOR! Coming off of all the other stages, I had to laugh about the conditions and loose riding. I was having a hard day on the trails just trying to hold on and keep the bike upright; along with everyone else, of course. Predator was the last and most technical stage and I was starting to dread it a bit. When I was at the top preparing to drop in, I told myself to be aggressive and breathe. They said go and I put down my most solid run down Predator ever. Near the bottom, Predator has a rock exit that shoots you across the road to the lower half and that’s where everyone watches and cheers. Coming over the top and down that rock and hearing all the “fans” going wild made me emotional! It was so awesome to see how many people came out to support such a great event for the ladies. I still get excited thinking about it.
H: Are you going to let me beat you next year or what??
A: Haha, oh man! I think the weather and knowledge of the trails played out in my favor on this one. We should set up a bet for the next one!
When Brandon offered me the Tomahawk to check out, i have to admit i wasn’t too sure about the tire. The center tread looks way too timid for much, and that makes the outer knobs stick out like a sore thumb. In fact, with the dramatic shape of the outer knobs, the tire looks more gimmicky than anything, and reminds me of the WTB Weirworlf, which is not a good connotation.
For the sake of knowing what’s up with product, I did agree to test it out, especially since I saw that we’d be stocking them on a bunch of the 2016 Konas. I slapped it on the back of my Process 111DL, and scooted out. For a tire that has so little tread in the center, i was impressed at how well the tire hooked up. It’s even worked well in muddy conditions, though it wouldn’t be my first choice for technical climbing. The small center tread can slip on wet roots, but really only in out of the saddle steep climbs.
The Tomahawk weighs 850 grams, which puts it a bit lighter than the Maxxis High Roller, and a fair amount lighter than the Maxxis Minion DHF. It’s heavier than the Maxxis Ardent, but the Tomahawk outperforms the Ardent in every category. It’s worn well, holding up a little better than some Minions I’ve had in the past.
After a number of both muddy and pretty dry rides, I am happy enough to keep the Tomahawk on the back of my bike, and will likely keep using a Tomahawk after this one wears out.
Dirt Jumping can be intimidating. Navigating the line choices and trying not to get in the way of other riders can be stressful but when you start to get the hang of it, it’s so exciting!
If I’d have made the solo adventure to Burlington Bike Park, I would have been so lost but I’ve successfully created a regular crew of women always ready to throw down and show me how it’s done. I’ll admit, the last few sessions became a little frustrating as I wasn’t “making a rainbow” or “scooping dog shit” and casing every single jump.
This last session however, was the breakthrough I was looking for. My good friend Angi Weston and Val Thompson invited me to join them for them for a few hours at Burlington and of course I tagged along (I’ll take just about any opportunity to join in on a lady shred). We strolled into a full house last Thursday. It’s a popular spot to escape the rain and get rad. The Burlington Bike Park has a great progression of different lines for the beginner all the way up to the flip throwing pro. With the foam pit and awesome pumptrack, this is the best place to really focus on specific skills.
Anyway, I started to warm up on the pump track before moving to the outside line. This beginner line has a nice roller to pump for speed at the beginning with three easy table tops to clear before rolling into two berms to the end. After rolling and pumping through a few times, I was ready to get airborne. Frustration started creeping in due to not clearing my back wheel. Even with Angi’s tips I just couldn’t bring it all together! I made it up in my mind that I was going to hit that line over and over and over until I cleared it. Try after try I was still hitting my back wheel.
On the next go I I pumped into the first tabletop hard and came into the second one hot and then, Click! I sailed off the jump scooped my toes and drove the front end right into the landing. I was so shocked I totally messed up the rest of the line! After coming out of that run I couldn’t even talk about it. My crew was cheering me on and I had a full on buzz. That feeling may rival the way I felt when I got my first trail bike. Maybe.
I hit that line for the rest of the night feeling like such a queen and a badass. Look out big jumps, I’m coming for you.
Oftentimes I use my time riding alone to think of ideas. Being alone on a mountain bike trail, especially one I’ve ridden a bunch is a great time to take a mental step back from mountain biking and think of other things, so it’s a great time to go over things that have happened, or plan things I want or need to do. Things to write about, like this column, are a perfect example. Sure, maybe I’m phoning in this idea, as I’m literally writing about thinking about things to write about. But hey, this is my space and I think I have a bit of a point here, kinda sorta.
I mentioned in this post about how music is great to take a step back and let your body do a bit of the riding. This is true and good and valuable information… except when it’s not. I was out riding one day, thinking of ideas of things to write, and was having a day with what i felt were some really cool ideas. Not this one, but some good stuff. I think i started to pay a little more attention to the ideas and not enough to the trail, and I clipped a root with my front tire, with sent me flying. On The Cabin Trail, of all places. Cabin is certainly not the most challenging trail, and one I’ve ridden many times.
After I dusted myself off, I appreciated the lesson that even a more basic mountain bike trail will kick your ass if you aren’t paying attention. Biking keeps you honest, and occasionally you have to pay for trying to multitask, even for an ADD dork like myself. Mountain biking honestly isn’t usually the extreme sport that inhumanly talented and fearless riders like Graham Aggasiz show, at least not for me, but it’s still a bigger risk than a walk in the park. Except for the time I tore a tendon in my ankle walking with my kids, but that’s another matter.
So, I’m new to the cycling industry or “green” as my coworkers say. I started cycling about three years ago and but really jumped in just little over a year ago. How I got started is a common story–I met my current boyfriend and he just so happened to love bikes and got me started.
The first bike that ever made me drool was on the showroom floor at Second Ascent in Seattle, WA. It was the electric blue 2015 Kona Process 134. It looked fun! The guys behind the counter chatted me up and convinced me to take them up on a demo offer. Those guys hooked it up! Knowing the The Kona Bicycle Company was out of Ferndale, I wanted to ride at Galbraith. It was typical Washington weather–pouring rain and soggy–but being the stubborn person that I am, I went anyway. That bike drastically changed my riding goals, let me tell you. I never new that jumps and drops could be so fun and I quickly realized that I was a much more capable rider than my steel, hardtail 29’er made me feel.
I was grinning like a mad women, covered in mud and soaked to the bone. And I loved it! Truth be told, I wanted that bike so bad that I was considering taking out student loans to purchase it. Not the best life decision I would have made but hell, I really wanted that bike.
Anyway, Christmas rolled around and that wonderful boyfriend I was telling you about surprised me with that damn bike. My eyes turned into faucets I started crying so hard from the pure stoke. Game on.
That’s how I was introduced to Kona as a brand and because I fell for the 134 (and have a really loud mouth) I landed this job with Kona.
I recently sold that bike to a new-to-town woman from Kentucky and now she is off having her own bonding experience. As much as I really enjoyed the playfulness of the 134, I have moved on to the beloved Process 111. I really didn’t like the bike the first few times that I took it out. Ripping down a steep trail, I felt like the bike was going to fly away from me. It wanted to go SO FAST. Well, I gave it a second chance and decided to just hang on. I quickly realized that the 111 has less room for error than the 134 which means go time right when you start pedaling. Aggressive riding, that’s what the 111 requires for a ticket to ride. It’s making me more aggressive, anyway, and aided me in breaking bad habits.
The Process 111 has 120mm of travel in the front but I am curious to try out 140mm in front. This could get me into some trouble but I think I’m ok with it. I’ll have to report back. Time to go ride my bike!
Do you ever just have a really crappy ride? Don’t lie, you do. With my currently diminished riding schedule, many of my days riding aren’t what I feel they should be. Climbing hurts more than i feel it should, and descending doesn’t have the same flow that I’m used to. This time of year, trails are luckily pretty empty, so I can pedal up the hill nice and slow, with headphones in to keep me motivated, suffering on my own.
A couple weeks back, I was heading up Galbraith and just wallowing in my anguish. It was cold, my asthma was bugging me, and most of all I was just out of shape. I had headphones on, but nothing was clicking. As I got a bit higher, things started feeling a bit better, but still just not quite right. I wandered around in the middle trails that are relatively flat, trying to get my human legs again. I finally felt a bit better, or at least good enough to continue climbing.
Then, something happened. As I started to descend, my ipod kicked in with Revolve by the Melvins, and all was right in the world. Now, I don’t always ride with music, but sometimes it’s the best thing going. The great thing about listening to music while riding is that it can do two totally separate things: One, it can help set some tempo or rhythm for you to focus on, which can keep the pedals moving at a decent clip. Two, it can distract you from your riding. I realize that sounds negative, but sometimes that’s what you need. More often than not, your body and brain know well enough what to do, and your conscious thought can screw things up. A good song can help with that.
If you’re ever looking for an opportunity to have a different sort of ride, put in some headphones and ride when and/or where you won’t run in to too many people, (or just use one ear) and and see how it works for you. It’s not always the solution, but can be a hell of a lot of fun!
Smash…Boom…CRASH! I jump up from my bed, which is currently situated in the back of our Honda Element. I roll over and see that the clock on my phone reads 4:45am. I fumble around for my headlamp, and turn it on to look around the campsite from the inside of my car to see my cooler completely thrown from the picnic table it was on and four raccoons rummaging through the ice and beer cans for the tubed meats, hummus, and veggies that were left from the previous night’s meal. This would be far from my last encounter with the infamous raccoons of Larrabee State Park…
I’d recently accepted a job with The Kona Bike Co. and upon moving to Bellingham, I was temporarily homeless until I found a place for Katie, Hank, Grace and I. I chose to post up in the state park partially due to its proximity to the Chuckanut Trails and its sweet $12 a night price tag. Seeing that it was only for few weeks I knew I could dirtbag it in our car, so I built it out with a bed and packed it with all our camping gear. I spent my days splitting my time between Kona USA in Ferndale and the new space on State Street that we were turning into the Kona Bike Shop. After long days in the shop I found my escape to Larrabee afforded me the ability to reflect on the day’s events as well as my new home. The raccoons had other plans.
One night after a long night ride in the Chuckanuts I was back again at camp, getting my fire started for dinner. I was sitting a top the campsites picnic table having a beverage and watching the fire grow when I heard footsteps and then felt a presence in my camp…A raccoon had climbed up the table and sat right next to me. I couldn’t believe the tenacity of these wild animals, fearless and ready to wreak havoc on anyone and anything in sight. I scared him off and went about my business. After dinner I placed the cooler on top of the Honda in hopes that it would deter the little bastards from disturbing my night’s slumber.
The Honda began to move, shake, & crunching sounds came from the roof late in the night, I was once again woken by the raccoons trying to get after my goodies. I turned my headlamp on and looked out of our sunroof only to be greeted by a bunch of glowing eyes. This time they had made their way up and onto the roof of my car and were frantically trying to get into the contents of my cooler. I knew I was one of very few campers staying at the park this time, so I turned on my cars alarm on hopes to get the little turds to scurry…of course this would work, right? Wrong! With all my efforts exhausted I was left lying there in the back of my car, listening to the attempts of the relentless raccoons as I drifted back off to sleep.
The next morning after my 50-cent shower I ran into the park ranger and I asked her about the raccoons; she just smiled and laughed. Apparently the park is known for the fearless creatures and even has commemorative “I survived the raccoons” pins for sale at the ranger’s office. I also learned that the campsite that I had been staying at the past week was located within a few feet of a culvert where the Raccoons lived. I immediately made a reservation change to a site on the other side of the park. I spent my remaining days at Larrabee free of any more action, but I will never forget my time spent there with my furry little friends. I can say whilst opening the bike shop this was just one of my many adventures, so hold on tight and stay tuned as I will have more to share with you sooner and later.