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Sustainable Trail Building – The Matty Shelton Interview

Words by Stephanie Ignell

Trail building is one of the most important, yet underappreciated aspects of our sport. While some truly respect the hard work and passion that goes into building a trail, there is much more bikers can do to understand and appreciate the vision and effort that goes in to creating our favorite trails. This effort involves more than just taking a shovel or hoe and hammering it in to the ground. Trail builders also have to look at the type of soil, drainage capability, and land use regulations. Without considering these factors, a builder could potentially spend several months or years putting in a trail that will only last the first initial few months/year and then either erode away from over use and/or environmental impacts (e.g., washed out), or get torn down because of land use violations.

 

Matty Shelton doing what he does best. Photo Credit: Kona

I interviewed Kona’s very own Matthew Shelton, or more commonly known as Matty, to discuss the issue of sustainable trail building and his history as a trail builder, including his work on Kona’s new trail project – Devil’s Cross. Matty’s experience contains many highlights, some of which are good and some that provided valuable learned opportunities. Here are three that stand out:

Top lesson – Always get agreements in writing.

Top Work Highlight – Retallack build mission with Freehub Mag and the Treelines crew. Two peak to lodge trails in as many years.

Top Highlight all-around – Community building.

Matty has been building trails for a total of 14 years and counting. His passion to build trails came from a desire to “create a ride experience that was more in line with current trail design and bicycle capability.”  If we look back to 14 years ago, many trail builders taught themselves the craft as trail clinics and sponsored volunteer days were few and far between.

 

Matty working on a cedar bridge on Devil Cross

 

Matty described the need for innovation:

“Trail design, at the time, was focused on past ideas of what riders wanted to experience and lacked the opportunity we needed. These trails didn’t meet our needs as riders, so we tended to work on our own projects, away from the experienced builders. Once we moved on from our projects, we found builders that were after the same type of trail experience; it led to a more focused and educated approach to building. You want the work to last, function as designed, and remain safe. We sought out the builders on the hill that could collaborate and offer experience as well as attending IMBA build clinics and trail summits that offered training in design, build techniques, and advocacy outreach. You need all three.

 

Shuttling up to the dig site on Devilcross.

 

 

This interview provides insight into what sustainable trail building entails, the legal restrictions and implications involved with trail building, and an example of sustainable building in action with Kona’s new trail, Devil’s Cross.

What does sustainable trail system mean?
The functional definition is a trail that requires minimal maintenance and creates minor impact on the surrounding ecosystem. The more encompassing definition takes into account political support, land access, and community size.

What environmental aspects do you have to take into account (e.g., soil composition, water runoff, etc.)?
You have to account for all of these things well before you put tools to the ground. Looking through USGS maps for soil types, topography, and drainage zones are the top three on every builder’s list.

 

We are so grateful for all the trail builders out there who make such awesome trails in our backyard

 

How does this impact your trail design?
For the most part, environmental aspects are very positive to the overall trail design. Taking notice of the potential issues before they manifest cuts down on build time and more importantly the maintenance aspect, which basically defines the notion of a sustainable trail. These areas of focus also give credibility to projects in the eyes of land managers who will likely be involved in the building process.

Why does accounting for environmental impacts matter when building a trail (e.g., longevity)?
Minimal environmental impact is, very simply put, the most efficient way to build a trail. It always leads to a better final product in the way the trail is routed, built, and ultimately maintained.

 

Matty oversees the shuttle rig situation… how many bikes & people can we fit in one truck?

 

How does land use laws and regulations impact trail builders and users, both from a trail building aspect and gaining access to lands available?
Land use laws, especially liability laws in the US, are extremely restrictive to recreation opportunity. These laws affect mountain bikers and builders more heavily than other user groups, as they are have to be rewritten to afford even the potential opportunity for a multi-use or bicycle trail system to be permitted. The notion that a properly built bicycle trial is no more impactful than a hiker trail is still a foreign concept to many land owners and environmental advocates. Bringing these concepts to a larger audience and educating lawmakers, landowners, and other user groups will increase access and building opportunities. It is worth noting this effort is moving forward in Washington State with the help of Evergreen, WMBC, and other advocacy groups at a faster than normal pace.

 

the Kona Supremes “working” hard on Devil cross

 

Are there any other environmental/sustainability factors that impact trail building?
There is one that we cannot control. Bicycle trails are almost exclusively sharing space with trees in the Northwest. These trees are a resource to be harvested by public and private entities and provide needed funding for schools and roads here in Washington. While these timber farms are held to a certain level of sustainability, it is hard to deny the devastation of a clear cut. It is even harder to deny the level of hypocrisy of the claims by land owners that ‘bicycle trials’ need to be closed due to erosion or impact on surrounding areas when they share the same space with clear cuts and logging roads.

Why is trail building so important to the sustainability of our sport?
The importance of trail building is three fold.
Without trail work there is no riding opportunity, no progression, and that will lead to fewer and fewer opportunities to expose new riders to the sport.
Trail building bridges the gap between user groups. Everyone builds trail. Equestrians user groups, hikers, trail runners, cyclists, even motorized user groups; they all need trails and building them together creates trust, acceptance, and more trail experiences.
Well executed trail systems are quickly being recognized as huge revenue generators for local economies. This revenue is sustainable and does not require the vast expenditure of resources to generate profits compared to harvesting timber, mineral extraction, and all the infrastructure required for those activities. Trails are good business!

 

Devil’s Cross build day. Photo Credit: Kona

 

How did the idea to create/remake Devil’s Cross (DC) come into play?
This was purely a ‘look at the map’ scenario. The slope that DC covers has no other trails in the area and, once completed, will connect the top of the mountain to the existing north side trails on Galbraith mountain. This trail was more about the concept of connecting the trail system together than specific trail features or even one trail. The WMBC T.A.P. program was our opportunity to get involved, so we adopted DC.

What is the history behind the trail before Kona took it over?
My understanding is that it was once an uphill moto trail. It was really good to burn up since it is all sandstone and, unlike Super Cross, it didn’t become a rutted out water slide. Once moto users were not allowed on Galbraith, some adventurous folks took it over as a bike trail and cleared it every couple years (maybe 10 years).

 

Loona the dog oversees all the trail work

 

What was the driving factor behind the trail (i.e., the visions for what you wanted)?
We wanted a top to bottom trail experience that had connectivity to the rest of the hill. One this project connected the system, other trails could filter into Devil Cross and back to the central hub.

How did you account for environmental aspects when designing and building the trail?
The same concept the old moto riders used, we tried to follow the ridge line and stick to rock the best we could. Always avoiding riding through or across drainage and sensitive slopes. Trail construction was mindful to the slope and dirt composition. The dirt holds up good to tires in this zone, but any water funneling or pooling can be devastating over time with so much sandy/loamy dirt composition.

What part of Devil’s Cross are you proud of the most (can be a couple)?
Staying true to our vision and not forcing or going through with a design that did not fit the landscape. Denying the devil on your shoulder is tough!
Are there any future plans/revisions in the works for the trail?
All trails see revisions. We do hope to include a few features on the trail that fit natural terrain, reshape a few corners, and replant areas that were impacted by logging and trail work. Fresh ferns on trails feels good.

 

It’s always a dog party with Kona. Especially Matty’s dog Seabass or “Bass” (the white one giving you the eye). Photo Credit: Kona

 

At the end of the interview, Matty made a statement that I think all mountain bikers should understand:
“One big point to realize. None of this land is yours or mine, it is the land owners. Building trail correct and in coordination with landowners is the only way to move our sport forward.”

Respecting landowners and keeping an open discussion with them is one of the most significant ways to create a sustainable future for mountain biking. Sustainability is not just about the environment, it’s also about our community and advocating for multi-use trails in recreational areas. Understanding environmental factors, taking into account the local ecosystem, considering the type of trails bikers want to ride, engaging our community, and cooperating with landowners and Regulators all contribute to the sustainability of our trails and sport.

A huge thank you to Matty Shelton for sharing your knowledge and expertise. You do amazing work and the Kona Supremes greatly appreciate all that you do for our community and our sport!

 

Kona work day crew led by Matty Shelton and Trevor Torres. Photo Credit: Kona

Supremely Nuun Kind of Day

The Supremes are #blessed to have some rad sponsors supporting our bad behavior and trail side antics. From applauding our podium hangouts to post race high fives, Nuun Hydration has been with us since the beginning. So this past Sunday, The Supremes hosted a private demo with the employees based out of Seattle to say thanks!

The Nuun Hydration Crew: Ray, Tyler, Peter, Mason & Ben (who works for Miir)

 

After getting the guys set up on the New G2 Process 153 29’er at The Kona Bike Shop we stuffed all the bikes and bodies in various cars and trucks to get to the South Side of Galbraith. After a few Supremes logged online to get in on the season pass for the 2018 Cascadia Dirt Cup, we were on our way! (season passes sell out quick, we had to make sure and get our spots!)

Right when we started cranking the pedals you could feel the positive vibes and contagious energy coming from our crew. Once the little flask of bourbon came out I knew we were rolling with the right people.

 

We meandered our way to the top of Galbraith Mountain for the grand tour of the classics that featured Evolution, Das Auto, Prison Love, U-Line, and Atomic dog/Radical Dragon.

We turned those boys into full blown Woo Girls by the end of the ride! Dirt splattered faces and fat grins accompanied by friendly banter made for a perfect mid-winter shred.

Until Next time! We had a blast

With Love, The Supremes

Roam Bike Fest 2017


This past weekend the Supremes soaked up the sun at the first ever women’s mountain bike festival hosted in Sedona, AZ. So many brands came together to supply 150 women the opportunity to ask all the questions and demo all the bikes. Roam Bike Fest gave women the space and opportunity to just own it and shred like a boss.

Photo: Katie Lozancich

The festival made sure that that all the ladies could ride from sun up to sun down with organized group rides and shuttles. But if the legs were begging to burn, the ladies could take off right from the festival location and ride some of the most iconic trails in Sedona.

Photo: Brenda Ernst

It was so exciting to talk with women from all over the country retelling stories of hunting down the black diamond trails with other ladies and encouraging one another to try something new. The new trail/new feature domination gave the festival a special kind of buzz that was intoxicating – or maybe that was the free flowing margaritas out of the barrel of fun? Who really knows…

Photo: Brenda Ernst

The point is Roam Bike Fest was the most perfect way to close the summer chapter and welcome fall riding. Here are a few pictures of the fun and some words from the Supremes that were in attendance this weekend:

Photo: Brenda Ernst

“Roam fest is an incredible event that will boost your confidence and inspire you to follow your passion. Being surrounded by so many strong, beautiful woman was such an amazing experience. My favorite part of the event was seeing my mom gain the confidence to shred some red rock, giggling the whole time. Whatever your ability level on a bike there is no doubt you will have a blast at roam fest! “ -Mic

Photo: Brenda Ernst

“To say The Roam Bike Fest was epic doesn’t even quite cut it. Between the amazing scenery that Sedona has to offer, meeting some of the most inspiring women I have ever met, and getting my ass kicked by the technical descents; Roam Fest created an unforgettable experience. One of my favorite parts about the trip was rolling up on a group of guys (who probably thought they were pretty cool) with, no joke, over 10 ladies and showing THEM how to get rad and shred the shit out of the trails. The festival was an amazing experience and I am excited to show up and throw down for Roam Bike Fest 2.0, East Coast style.” -Steph

Photo: Katie Lozancich

“RoamFest was a unique and amazing experience–where else would you get to be part of a mountain bike festival for women, organized by women, and hosted by women. I am leaving this event feeling inspired by all the incredible people I met, and excited to stay in touch with my new friends across the country! The riding in Sedona was spectacular, the venue was beautiful, and the good vibes were off the charts.” –Delia

Photo: Katie Lozancich

Many thanks to the awesome photographers, Katie and Brenda for the amazing photos! You can check out more photos and follow them at

https://www.instagram.com/blernst/?hl=en

https://www.instagram.com/katielo.photo/?hl=en

Also… Huge, ginormous shout out to the incredible Ash Bocast and Andi Zolton for all of your hard work, time, and energy to pull off this event. And for inviting us to come party down with you guys, we had a blast!! Cant wait until next time!

Love,

The Supremes

CDC Final Race Report at Port Angeles

After summer fires raged in Washington this September, the original final race venue near Mt. Rainer had to be relocated to Dry Hill in Port Angeles, WA. The Race Cascadia crew did an amazing job at rolling with the punches and organizing an entirely new venue on short notice. In fact, this race ended up being one of the most well-organized and smoothest races we’ve attended so far, and Dry Hill has become one of our favorite places to ride!

Photos: Chris McFarland

For this Blog Post, the four of us that raced wrote a little recap of the weekend:

Hannah –

“We scored an awesome camp site at Salt Creek Campground on the beach outside of Port Angeles on Friday night. After some heavy rain all night we reluctantly left the warmth of our tents to catch some shuttle laps early on Saturday morning.

Camp spot shot

The shuttle vehicle was a Uhaul pick up truck, and the shuttle system worked flawlessly. We all piled into the back with our bikes which kept them all safe, was efficient loading and unloading, and could carry around 20 people per trip!

The Uhaul shuttle rig
I had a blast racing both downhill and enduro in the same weekend! The DH trails were fast, loose, and chunky with lots of jumps and doubles to send making for some exciting racing. I snagged 5th in the downhill race on my Process 153 CR.
racing DH on my trusty process 153 Photo: Eric Mickelson
The venue, dirt, course, and trails were all amazing making for an awesome weekend and great end of the season. Delia and I rode together all day (singing Fleetwood Mac along the way) in the enduro and finished only seconds apart!
starting the climb with my best racing buddy (hint it’s delia)
finding some flow on stage 3
My favorite stage was stage 1 which was fast and full of doubles and sweet berms. Stage 2 was rocky, steep, and greasy, while stage 3 was dry, rooty, and dusty!
Finding some doubles on stage 1

Despite a nasty climb in the middle, stage 4 was also a favorite, it had some epic, loamy singletrack at the end that had me grinning the entire way. I was stoked to finish the season strong, without crashes this race, and to take 3rd for the overall for my first year racing pro.”
– Hannah

 

Mickey –

“The Port Angeles race was the smoothest run race I have participated in. The race course was set up perfectly so that the sport class could race one side of the mountain while pro/expert did the other and then we flip-flopped. This way, we all finished around the same time and didn’t have to wait in line for the stages.
The trails were fast, loose, and super fun! It was awesome to come at the bottom of a stage, breathing hard, with a huge smile on your face. Hanging and laughing with the sport class ladies made the climbs manageable.
Despite the uphill sprint in the middle of it, stage four was my favorite stage of the day because you finished the last couple minutes weaving in and out of the trees in woods laced with beautiful tacky dirt from rain the day before. You ended in the staging area where you could grab some hugs and high fives before heading back up the road.”
– Mic
Mick takes 2nd!
Delia –
“After some rain for the downhill race on Saturday, we arrived at the enduro race on Sunday with tacky trails and greasy roots, which are my favorite conditions!
Hero dirt
Mickey headed up the road climb with the sport ladies to stages 3 and 4, while Hannah and I made our way up to start on Stage 1.
We ripped down the jumps, stayed upright on the loose entrance to Dante’s Inferno, and finished feeling stoked about the rest of the day. Steph and the expert ladies were beginning their pedal up to stage 1, so we joined forces to make it up the hill again.
Stage 2, also known as the Cat 2 downhill course, was running super fast after a little rain on those loose corners. I had a moment of excitement when my Garmin broke loose and popped off my handlebars halfway down the trail, but decided to let it go and come back for it later! Hannah and I regrouped and made our final pedal up to Stage 3, on the “dry” side of Dry Hill.
We were relieved to find the the roots weren’t too wet, and each had clean runs down the trickiest trail of the day. Next was one more easy pedal up to stage 4, during which we amused ourselves by listening to Fleetwood Mac and posting silly videos to Instagram. Stage 4 was the longest run and the stage with the most pedaling, but we got stoked and dropped in. I pedaled my little heart out, and was very thankful for my new Kona Process 153, which pedals so well I forget it’s a trail bike sometimes!
We finished, exhausted and full of adrenaline, and discovered we had both made it on the podium, just 4 seconds apart.
Pro Enduro podium
For me, this was the highlight of my season. I had some serious doubts about myself and my skills this season after having some bad crashes and disappointing results, but I finally had a race where I had fun and rode well, and felt like I actually belonged in the pro class! It was also amazing to see all of my teammates make it on the podium at our final race of the year–congrats to Steph for 3rd in Expert and Mickey on 2nd in Sport! Yeah ladies!!!”
– Delia
Steph –
For the Expert Ladies, it was all about having a good time and hanging with your friends. The weekend started out with shuttle lap after shuttle lap in the back of a dark Uhaul with, no joke, 20 other people.
I got to pre-ride with the lovely Michelle Warner and Julie Baird. On race day, at the start of the first climb, I ran into my fellow Supremes Hannah and Delia, and was able to pedal up with them to stage 1 – which really set the tone for the day. Rarely on race day do I get to ride with the other Supremes outside my category. This theme continued when I saw them again at the next transition to stage 2. After stage 2, which was slick, greasy, and fast, I ran into the Mickster and got stoked again to start the pedal over to stage 3 and 4. Stage 3 was still dry and loose despite Saturday’s rain, and the climb in the middle of stage 4 was exhausting.
However, at the end of the day, it felt good to stand on the podium in 3rd for the Expert Women after starting the season in Sport. Looking back at the season, racing the CDC allowed me to progress on my bike and meet some amazing people that Im now lucky enough to call friends! As Michelle (friend of the supremes and fellow expert race) put, “I race because I’m pretty much paying money to make friends.”

– Steph

Everyone landed on the podium this race (including Brooklyn who couldn’t make it, but took 3rd in the overall for Sport). Mickey took 2nd in the enduro, and 2nd for the overall series. Steph got 3rd in the race in expert after catting-up this season. Delia and Hannah both landed on the podium in pro taking 5th and 4th and finishing only a few seconds apart! Hannah snagged a solid 3rd place in pro for the season.
We can’t thank the Cascadia Dirt Cup enough for hosting such awesome events, and all of our sponsors, fans, friends, and fam for all of your help and support this season! Thanks to Chris McFarland and Eric Mickelson for the AMAZING photos and for being such awesome humans. Huge shout-out to Nuun Hydration for keeping us hydrated, The Kona Bike Shop for helping us fix many broken bike parts, and Kona Bikes for making amazing bicycles!
With love,
Hannah, Mickey, Delia, Steph, Brooklyn, & Amanda

First Women’s Group Ride

Our first Kona Supremes women’s group ride went down last Friday, Sept. 8th!

After completely taking over the South side parking lot, our squad of 25 ladies pedaled up the roads and trails to the top of Unemployment Line.

Mickster, Steph, and Hannah led the lady train down Galbraith’s classics U-line and Atomic Dog, stopping once or twice to session some jumps 😉

After chasing the light down back down, got to share some beers back in the parking lot.

Thanks everyone for coming out! We will be hosting rides the 2nd Friday of the month this year, and hope to see you all at the next one on Friday October 13th!

 

-Hannah & the Supremes

Biking, Grief, and Getting Through It

My younger brother, Jackson, would have been 29 on September 11th, 2017. He passed away on April 9th, 2016 after a long battle with drug addiction. This is my story of the day he died.

Delia, Jackson, and Lewis the Cat (around ’93 or ’94)

I will never ever forget that spring day last year. I had been anxious about that Saturday for a while, because I was trying to become the first woman to finish the King County Classic, an all-day, self-supported (besides for a mid-day Domino’s delivery to the Tiger Mountain parking lot) mountain bike ride in the greater Seattle area hosted by the local fast guys. I knew I could ride my bike all day, I just didn’t know if I could hang at their pace or keep up on the downhill. My only goal was to finish and not get dropped. Little did I know how hard that day would be.

“Photos from the King County Classic on the day Jay died”

After surviving the first 40 miles (about 2/3 of the ride) and feeling pretty good, we got to a rest point at the radio towers on Tiger Mountain. I saw a missed call and text from my dad—“Call us ASAP”. My dad never texted me. Instinctively I knew that something was horribly wrong, and began to feel anxiety rising from the pit of my stomach. I debated ignoring the message until the ride was over, but I had to know. I called back and my mom answered, telling me what I had been terrified I would hear for years. My brother had overdosed and he passed away at some point in the night.

“Up on Tokul East before our last few laps.”

In shock, I hung up the phone, sank to the ground, and started shaking. One of the guys noticed and asked what had happened and I shared my devastating news. This group of 20 guys—most of them acquaintances or strangers, gathered around me, offering comfort (and a beer), and asked me about my brother. I will never ever forget the kindness and compassion I received at that dark moment from a bunch of biker guys I barely knew.

After I had somewhat collected myself, someone asked, “what do you want to do?”. Realizing that there was nothing I could do to change what had happened, nothing to be lost by continuing, and still wanting to stubbornly achieve my goal, I said “I want to f-ing finish this ride.” And I did. My friend rode behind me for the next 20 miles, making sure I didn’t crash and reminding me to eat and drink. I don’t know if there is a good way to find out your sibling has died, but being able to just focus on pedaling through the woods for a few hours before dealing with the fallout was just what I needed.

 

“After finishing the Whiskey Off-Road 2016, with my BFF since 7th grade, Tiffani.”

Over the next few weeks (and months even), cycling and my grief continued to be intertwined. I raced my first big pro XC race, the Whiskey Off-Road, three weeks after Jackson’s death, and after spending the pre-ride sobbing at the side of the trail, just reaching the finish line was an accomplishment of its own. I came back to my weekly Wednesday night short track series in Seattle and my “bike family” gave me big hugs and offered support. I leaned on my friends in the cycling community and went for long rides to talk things over and escape into the forest.

“Wednesday Night Worlds bike family (Tricia and Courtenay).”

Some days I didn’t feel like training or riding, other days I went out and rode as hard as I could to try and deal with the loss. For me, grief was both emotionally and physically exhausting. I battled horrible insomnia and a fog in my brain that never seemed to go away, yet I kept riding as therapy and as an outlet and had my best season of XC and enduro racing. As fall rolled around and cyclocross started, the grief became less of a sharp constant pain and more of a dull ache, and I finally started to feel like my normal, happy self once again.

“Racing down Predator at Sturdy Dirty 2016 in full zombie-grief-mode”

Every big ride, every climb, every mountain I summit, I think of my brother and the things he will never get to do or see. It’s a reminder to me to enjoy each and every moment on this beautiful earth, both the good and the bad, and experience as much as I can for both of us.

the necklace I wear for Jackson on all my adventures ❤️

We all go through tough times in our lives, but I’ve certainly found that heading out alone (or with a good friend) on the trails or pavement can provide some clarity and comfort. Things change, people come and go, but my bikes are always there, waiting, ready to help work through whatever life has thrown at me.

-Delia

 

2017 Chuckanut Enduro Race Report

Ready to tackle the home-turf

 

The Cascadia Dirt Cup found itself in our hometown of Bellingham this weekend for the Chuckanut Enduro. Per usual this time of the year, big holes, blown berms, and moon dust can be found on most all of the trails in the Chucks. “Slow is fast” was the theme for the day, keeping it calm and in control served to be the best strategy for a fast time. Having a hometown race was awesome for having local trail knowledge and less than a 15 minute drive to the trailhead.

 

eyes on the prize. Photo: Patrick M.

 

Mickster lookin pro and holding her speed. Photo: Patrick M.
Mickey and Brooklyn rode sport class which raced on Two Dollar for stage 1, Upper Ridge for stage 2, and Double Black & Double Down for stage 3.
Brooklyn Bell keeps her eyes up through the bench cut. Photo: Eric Ashley

For stage one, they pedaled up the fragrance lake road to Two Dollar trail. Two Dollar is one of the few pedally flow trails in the chuckanuts. It has a few long climbs that are one of the most challenging parts of the trail for racing.

 

All smiles 😛 Photo: Patrick M.

 

Steph raced in the expert category, Delia and I raced together in pro, and sadly Amanda had to sit this one out with a sprained ankle. Our course consisted of stage 1 on Upper Ridge, stage 2 to Lower Ridge, stage 3 on Raptor Ridge, and stage 4 on Double Black and Double Down.
Steph Dawg stays focused on the climb. Photo: Patrick M.
For the Pro/Expert course, we started climbing up the Fragrance Lake Road to the top of the mountain. It was a fairly long but consistent pedal with only a few steep climbs. We then started stage one on Upper Ridge. This trail descends down the chuckanut ridge and is full of awkward root moves, rock rolls, and one nasty steep but short climb. Being so dusty, this trail was one of the most challenging trails of the day. Delia had a clean run, but I hit the ground twice sliding out in the loose dust losing my glove and water bottle but without any injuries.
Staying high on the root line, trying to clear all the dust. Photo: Race Cascadia
Steep, rooty climbs make Delia smile for some reason. Photo: Eric Ashley

Stage two started at Lower Ridge. This trail is similar to Upper Ridge, but a little steeper and faster. It has some tight fast sections that justify some narrower handlebars. This trail is one of my favorites, but was tough to race in the dry conditions. I went off trail once but had a better run than stage one. Delia managed another clean run and came out with a smile on her face. If you’re ever out riding the chucks, this trail is definitely worth checking out!

 

Goggs were key for handing the dust. Photo: Patrick M.
Photo: Patrick M.

 

Stage 3 brought us to Raptor Ridge. This trail was in better shape than the others as it gets ridden less often. It’s super pedally and has some tight switchbacks and straight-away sections. I had a much better run and took 3rd for this stage despite it being one the trails I’ve ridden the least in the chucks.

 

waiting in line for stage 3 on raptor ridge

We hike-a-biked up the Rock Trail back to the top for stage 4. This one I was most excited about as it’s one of my favorite trails in town.

 

the rock trail is a steep but gorgeous hike

 

It was insanely loose and dusty, but like always insanely fun! I had a clean run up until near the end where I had a washout on a loose corner. Despite so many crashes, I still came away with 4th on this stage and 6th place in the overall.

 

Trying to stay centered on a dusty Double-down corner. Photo: Chris McFarland

Delia was stoked to finally have a smooth race without any crashes, slips, or mechanicals! Steph Dawg had a great race and landed 5th for her first expert race. Mick and Brooky B absolutely crushed their home turf and took 2nd and 4th in the sport class. Getting to ride with so many awesome people on home trails was such a good time, and we were all happy to walk away from this race injury-free. Shout out to our local, hometown shredders Bonnie Burke for taking 2nd in Pro, Chelsea Hawkins for taking 3rd in Expert, Matty Hoff for 4th in Hard Tail Open, Donny Alison taking 4th in Pro, and Spencer Paxton for 5th in pro!

Expert women podium!  Photo: Chris McFarland

We have one more race left to go for the season down at Ranger Creek on September 16th. Stay tuned to our social media pages and in the bike shop for upcoming events. We have some group rides, clinics, and other events in the works for the fall that you won’t want to miss!

With love, Hannah B. and the Supremes

 

2017 Honzo AL/DL Review

 

 

I’m 20 and a student at WWU in Bellingham, WA. I have been mountain biking for about 4 years now starting in my hometown of Hood River, OR after I received a hand-me-down, full suspension bike from my dad. My favorite types of trails are steep, technical, and have plenty of jumps to send. Having started mountain biking on a 160mm full suspension and spending my time in Bellingham riding the ever-capable Kona Process, I was very skeptical about the idea of hardtails as aggressive and capable downhill bikes. I always assumed they were for XC trails and riders, or for the crazy few who like the challenge of not having rear suspension. My friends and coworkers at Kona argued my assumption saying I couldn’t hold that opinion until I rode the Honzo. After some convincing, I agreed to take one for a spin… and after a few months and many rides, I haven’t given it back yet.

Height: 5’7″ but I have long-ish legs

Bike Size: Medium
Weight: ~150
Fork pressure: ~72

Kona designed the Honzo as an “aggressive” hardtail, meaning it loves to descend just as much as it likes to climb. The Honzo features a long front center which provides the bike with stability at high speeds. It has a low bottom bracket and short chainstays for a lively, responsive, and playful ride. It also has a slack headtube angle of 68 degrees to inspire confidence on steep and technical terrain. It comes stocked with a 120mm Yari Fork, Sram NX drivetrain, and Shimano hydraulic brakes. The only thing I changed about this bike was adding a Maxxis Minion DHF 2.3 to the back in place of the stock Maxxis Ardent for extra traction on rooty PNW terrain.

I will admit, I was pretty skeptical at first about how this bike would ride. I hadn’t spent hardly any time on a hardtail mountain bike unless you count my 26″ dirt jumper. I anticipated that it would climb well but hold me back a bit on the descents.
For my first ride, I pedaled up the ridge trail on Galbraith mountain. The ridge trail is a steep and technical climb trail that the honzo handled effortlessly. The ridge trail features tight switchbacks littered with roots and rock rolls to grind up. I sometimes noticed the length of the bike on tight corners, but the entirety of the climb was a breeze and had me wanting to keep on going. It had good traction and low-speed stability for grinding up steep slopes, and the 29″ wheels provide rolling efficiency on all terrain.

The climb-ability of this bike was impressive, but I was still skeptical about its descending capabilities. I was honestly expecting calm and careful ride back down to the car. I put the dropper seat down, but had to also drop the seat post height down more because my long legs require the seat post to be out quite a ways when I’m climbing. I started down one of my favorite trails on Galby called SST. It has a little bit of everything from flowy berms to jumps to rocky chutes and steeps. I was surprised to feel immediately comfortable descending on the Honzo. I was expecting to skip some of the normal jumps that I hit on this trail, but the Honzo had me wanting to hit every jump and feature I could find.

The very first feature at the top of the trail is a gap jump into a tight berm that leads to a long sender jump that I cleared with ease. The rest of the ride followed suit; I was hitting all the same jump lines I do on my full suspension, even making some hard-to-clear jumps with the improved rolling efficiency of the hard tail. It was surprisingly confidence inspiring and insanely fun.

After hitting the bottom of the trail I pedaled back up to a less familiar trail; Air chair and Oriental Express. These trails feature more technical rocky and steep lines than SST. I noticed myself being more selective about my line choice in the rocky sections, but the Honzo didn’t slow me down at all. I felt just as fast and confident as I did on my full suspension, even on trails I was unfamiliar with.

My second ride was a bikepacking trip with Amanda, Zach, and Mitch. Amanda and I loaded up the Honzos with frame bags, saddle bags, and handle bar bags to hold cookware, sleeping bags, hammocks, coffee, beers, and burritos. We pedaled from town a few miles to the galbraith trails. Even with the added weight, the Honzo climbed with ease. We set up camp, caught an amazing sunset, and woke up early for sunrise coffee. I was able to stuff my sleeping bag into a backpack for the descent to get rid of my saddle bag and drop my seat post down. We were smiling ear to ear the entire 10ish mile ride down and back to the bike shop.

I’ve been riding the Honzo for a few months now and have taken it to most of my favorite trails in Bellingham. I’ve had a blast riding long XC routes in Mazama, WA and descending technical, rock-filled trails in Squamish. This bike made me reconsider my opinion of hardtail bikes, and I feel like I have yet to find the limits of this bike. The only thing I would change is add a longer seat dropper than the stock 125mm post. I like to be able to have the seat as low as possible when descending for better maneuverability, and I would need a 150mm dropper. I would recommend the Honzo AL/DL to just about anyone from a brand new mountain biker looking for a less-expensive first bike to an experienced downhiller or XC racer looking for a hardtail to complete their quiver.

looking forward to many more miles on this bike!

-Hannah B.

Save the Brown Pow: Part 1

Save the Brown Pow Part 1: Why the Environment Matters
Words: Stephanie Ignell Photos: Matt Roebke

Too often in the mountain bike world I have heard comments like, “climate change doesn’t directly affect mountain biking,” or “environmental stewardship doesn’t matter to customers who are buying bikes.” These statements suggest that mountain bikers are apathetic towards environmental ethics and regard it as inconsequential. While climate change impacts may not be as drastically noticeable in mountain biking as it is in other sports or industries (i.e., snow sport), there are very real and impending negative implications to our sport. Some of these impacts are already happening, like the continual drought in the Pacific Northwest and other geographical regions. But to understand why this is so important, you need to understand how climate change impacts our ecosystems.


Many scientific models call for a significant increase in average global temperatures. For example, according to a report from the USDA on the North Cascades and Washington (2014), the Pacific Northwest (otherwise lovingly labeled the PNW) may experience an average warming increase of 2.1oC by 2040. This change will directly impact various ecosystems throughout the PNW, including systems pivotal to the continued longevity of our sport.

One impact is the increased vulnerability of our hydraulic systems, more specifically the hydrologic changes in the PNW’s watersheds. Many access roads and bike trails cross streams or rivers that will be subjected to flooding, snowpack changes, higher winter soil moisture, and the increased risk of landslide occurrences (USDA 2014). This impacts not only our access to trail systems, but affects the sustainability and longevity of the trail itself. While trail builders do an incredible job of creating and designing non-erosive drainage, increased flooding and higher precipitation during the fall and spring can cut off trail access and damage its integrity. The excessive amount of fallen trees and debris blocking sections of trails and roads this last fall and through this winter provides an example of what can be expected in the future.
Another main impact will be the degradation of forestry ecosystems. The projected high temperatures and increase in drought leads to higher tree mortality rates by increasing plant diseases, pests, insects, weeds, and, not to mention, wildfire occurrences.

This point has been driven too close to home recently with several wildfires impacting communities across the PNW that have not only threatened forests, lands, and trails; but even impacted our air quality in such a significant manner that participating in outdoor activities could cause temporary, or even significant, health problems. Not even a few days ago our beloved Chuckanut Mountain in Bellingham, WA caught on fire and we are still waiting to see the extent of damage that occurred in this popular recreation area.


These disturbances decrease the resiliency of our forest’s ecosystem and ultimately lead to the degradation and changes within these systems. Risking the integrity of these systems affects our ability to maintain and create existing and new trails; this may inevitably lead to a decrease in the quality and abundance of trails available to bikers. Furthermore, the decreased resiliency of forest ecosystem may cause regulatory agents to limit or ban recreation activities because of its fragile state. Mountain biking already experiences push back from regulators over the concern that biking may damage protect lands. The degradation of forest ecosystems will likely only exacerbate this problem
Lastly, climate change greatly impacts the quality of our soil. Higher temperature and lower precipitation events lead to a significant reduction in soil moisture throughout the summer months. What does this mean? It means that beyond soil degradation, increasing vulnerability of forest ecosystems, and decrease in vegetation growth, our beloved brown pow becomes dust – literally.

This synopsis is not an extensive description of climate change impacts, nor is it meant to be taken as a scientific literary piece. Rather, this is the ramblings of an educated, concerned mountain biker who believes that, based upon these facts (yes, facts), most of us fellow bike lovers care a great deal about what happens to our environment. If nothing else, advocate to keep the brown pow, well, brown.

This is the first article in a two part series about bikes and the environment and the importance of sustainable trail building and supporting your local trail builders. Next up we get to discuss the importance of Sustainable Trail Building and supporting your local trail builders.

If this article has peaked your interest and you desire to learn more about these vulnerabilities, please take a look at the link below to see the USDA report released in September 2014 on Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation in Washington’s North Cascades Region.
https://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/pubs/pnw_gtr892.pdf

-Steph

 

Capital Forest CDC Race Report

Last weekend the Kona Supremes (minus Amanda-conda and Steph-dog) headed down to Capitol forest in Olympia for their 3rd race in the CDC series. This race snuck up on us. July has been filled with multiple Squamish/Whistler trips and also a crazy wedding. Somehow the Supremes all managed to pull this one off.

the wildflowers were everywhere around capital forest

 

Stage 1. Capitol Peak Trail.

Stage 1 was the start of the race for Expert and Pro, and the second stage of the day for everyone else. It was the beginning of the never ending pedal that took us to some towers at the top of the capital forest area. The stage started with a fast, loose and gnarly rock garden section. A few tires were sacrificed during this part of the stage, and in the race, Delia took a hard slam. She ended up with bad bruises, deep scrapes, but is tougher than nails and was able to finish out the race with Hannah, and bham friends Forrest, and Harrison.

Getting some quality first aid from the volunteers at cap forest.

 

This stage also had a couple of super punchy climb sections. There was one that was so difficult that I got off my bike. After each punchy climb section I had to convince myself that I was okay and calm down.

Delia rallied through her injuries and finished the day strong!

Stage 2. Lower Twin Peaks.

This stage was a nice continuation of stage 1. This trail was a little faster than stage 1 which was a plus. While waiting in line some little boy told me there was a big rock roll. This was not true and I was deeply disappointed.

All smiles after a gnarly crash on stage 1. Delia is one tough chica!

 

Stage 3. McKenny Trail

Stage 3 was reserved for Expert and Pro racers, although it wasn’t the hardest or most technical trail of the day. It did add quite a bit of extra pedalling to get to the start and the trail itself was quite pedally also. It had one fast steep section at the very end that was one of my favorite parts of the race.

catching some air off a roller in stage 4. Photo: Rob Topol

 

Stage 4. Little larch.

Stage 4 started with a climb up a short road and up a short little climb trail. This stage was fast and flowy, also the steepest trail (which was not very steep 🙁 ) There were a lot of fast corners that I wish I would have known where they were. Next time I’ll actually pre-ride the race course.

The dirt was fast, dry, and loose

There was also a couple of forks that were necessary for getting a fast time on this stage. The fastest combination was left right left, but I forgot this mid run and just choose the path that looked most fun. On the first split, there was a skinny log ride that bypassed some berms and was definitely the faster line, but was super awkward.

Delia keeps it low over the rollers. Photo: Rob Topol

 

Stage 5. Green Line Trail.

After Micks and I finished Stage 2 we made the long traverse over to the other side of the mountain for Stage 5. This trail is one of the longest stages that I have raced so far in the CDC series. It is about 2 miles long and has 3 brutal uphill climbs. The key to this trail was keeping focus. The trail itself wasn’t hard but keeping pace for that length of time is incredibly hard. This trail brings the endurance in enduro.

Delia finished strong with some battle wounds.

Results!

All of the supremes who made it to this event managed to get a podium finish. Brooklyn got 4th and mickey got 5th in sport, while Hannah managed to get a spot in 3rd in pro. Delia despite going to gnar-town during this race, placed 4th for pro. And mean while…. Steph-dog was recovering from a crash and having some safe wholesome fun paddle boarding, while Amanda was also recovering from a crash and getting ready for the annual Kona product launch in Squamish, BC 🙂

Brooklyn took 4th and Mickey snagged 5th but had to leave early before awards

 

Hannah came in 3rd and Delia took 4th despite her gnarly crash and injuries… did I mention she’s tougher than nails?

 

We immediately went down to the creek and spent some time cooling off and cleaning out the battle wounds.

For me this race wasn’t really about the competition because I rode blind. I had a lot of fun spending time with the other sport women. I got a chance to connect with the Bell Joy ride team that weekend. After the race the girls from the other team invited me out to Stevens Pass to ride. It was unbelievably rad to ride casually with girls that are usually my competition.

We are all very much looking forward the the next race on our home turf in the Chuckanuts on august 27! Hope to see you there!

Huge thanks to Chris, Eric, and Rob for the photos, to Nuun for keeping us well hydrated, and to all our fans, friends, and fam for all your support!

-Brooklyn and the Supremes