Early last week I decided I wanted to try racing Super D with the vast majority of The Path Race Team at the 2015 KMC Winter Series Round 3. I only have my Kona Taro hardtail 29er for a trail bike at the moment and wanted to give it a go; I’ve been riding my Taro all over in the last 6 months, and I feel very confident on all sorts of trail terrain with it.
The 2015 KMC Winter Series XC Race 3 in Fontana, CA was a great day on the bike.
The wind that had plagued round two was non-existent and temperatures were a nice spring warm. Fifteen seconds before the start of the race I realized I still had my knee warmers on, and temperatures were far too high to desire extra warmth. With no time to spare, I decided I would have to race with toasty warm knees.
At the start of the race two riders from the same team took control of the pace. By the end of the first lap myself and one other rider had established a commanding lead. Having recently put a dropper seat post back on my Kona King Kahuna hardtail, I knew if I could get in front of the other rider before the long descent I could put a gap between us. My plan worked, and by the middle of the second lap the other rider was a safe distance behind.
This weekend's SoCal Enduro Series Race #1 at Vail Lake was a blast and I'm super stoked on how I did. As the first Enduro race of 2015 in Jr. Expert category, I was pumped but I went into it knowing I'd have some tight competition. And I definitely did.
At the top of Stage 1, I was just telling myself to just keep it clean and smooth as this stage was the most downhill-oriented and technical. I ended up pinning all my lines the way I wanted, and having a clean run put me into 1st place by 4 seconds.
Stage 2 was the most brutal stage of all. It was a 1.9 mile stage that had a few little climbs but a lot of full-gas pedaling. Towards the top, I just couldn't get my flow down in some sections and that really messed me up. After Stage 2, my placement dropped from 1st down to 4th with 14 seconds behind 1st place.
This is a custom MTB wheelset build for a customer who wanted something stiff and light for trail riding. I suggested he go with DT Swiss 240 Center Lock 28h Hubs and NOX Composites Teocalli Carbon 29er rims for his particular riding needs.
The finished wheelset with rotors weighed in at just 1620g. Contact Us to order a set of your own custom wheels!
Bike for Bender is a local California non-profit organization that was founded in memory of Robert Bender, who lost his fight to cancer at the young age of 26. Proceeds from their annual hosted events benefit many local community groups, including High School Mountain Bike League Teams, Boy Scouts of America, fallen riders, cancer research institutions, as well as efforts to improve and develop local trails and cycling pathways.
Here are two ride perspectives from two of the participants from The Path Bike Shop staff and race team, congrats to all for toughing it out!
Race #4 at Casper's Wilderness Park was held on October 18th. It was a perfect day of racing to end a fantastic race series.
Here's a recap by Luke Wronski, Kona Grassroots rider and employee of The Path Bike Shop:
"The final Non-Dot series race at Casper's Wilderness Park could not have gone better. I was feeling great on the King Kahuna. I went out strong and managed to maintain my pace for the duration of the race. I finished 1st in Expert Men class with 2nd place 11 seconds back. The win at Casper's was also enough to clinch the win for the series overall. This race reaffirmed my decision to focus a bit more on XC for the 2015 season, and be more selective with the Enduro races I choose to participate in."
I built up a Kona Process 111 29er after many long rides on several other bikes. Three of my other favorite bikes are the Kona Process 153 29er, the Kona Hei-Hei 29er, and the Santa Cruz Nomad 27.5 Carbon. The reason for not building one of those last three models is because none of them can double as an XC bike and an Enduro bike quite the way the Process 111 does. They may handle in similar ways, but none of them have the ability to climb long ascents like Motorway, haul a$$ down steep descents, plus cruise over the Main Divide's dual-track the way my Kona Process 111 can.
Also, I like to manual a bike. When I need to pick up the front end, the Process 111 is King...and it's a 29er! It's got 111mm of plush rear travel on stiff 430mm chainstays, the standover of a DJ bike, and a 68-degree head tube angle. Plus, it's backed up for life by Kona. That's my bike. The components I chose for the custom build just sweeten it's handling and performance.
Race Report by Luke Wronski, Kona Grassroots rider and employee of The Path Bike Shop
Race #2, the Whiting Ranch Time Trial was a painful event. The course was a 20-minute race up a climb they call "Dreaded Hill" down a flowy singletrack, and out to the finish line. I decided to race the brutal mostly climbing time trial on the Kona Process 153. I wanted to see how good I could do against a field of 20-lb hardtails. Despite the extra weight, I still managed to finish 5th!
This weekend's OC Classic Race #1 at Aliso Woods with Non Dot Adventures was awesome! After a week of being sick I was skeptical of how well I was going to do. In addition, this was my first XC race of the year, so I had no gauge on where my fitness was at.
At the start of the race I made it my goal to stay with my Path Bike Shop teammate Josh who's been really strong all year. We broke away at the first climb up Meadows, which is a brutally steep climb. Our plan was to establish a big gap early on in the climbs and descents, in order to not get caught in a power battle in the flats. We maintained our lead for the three laps of the race. After completing our final descent down Rock-it we had a two mile false-flat to the finish line. At this point I decided to go for it for fear that if I waited we would be battling with guys who are fare more adept on the flats than Josh or I. I led the race for 3/4's of the final two miles, but along the way another rider had managed to bridge the gap and was now siting on my wheel. He managed to out-power me at the line for the win.
All in all it was a fantastic day of racing. I couldn't be happier with my 2nd place finish out of 18. My time would have been good enough for 3rd in pro. I was also stoked to see such a good turnout for the event (180 total riders)!
The Shop's Kona Hei-Hei 29er was the perfect bike for this technically challenging XC course.
Andrew Vollmer (Cat 2 - 14 & under) placed 2nd in XC at the Kenda Cup Series Race #5 at Bonelli Park. Here is Andrew's race report:
"For Kenda Cup #5 at Bonelli Park, it was my second XC race of the weekend. I came back from a little race in Los Olivos as a warm-up for Kenda Cup. The entire time I was at Bonelli I couldn’t wait for the race to start because my legs felt so good. After the long wait I was on the starting line and anxious to race. Finally, we were off and a lead group of a 17-18 year old racer and the leader of my group quickly formed. Knowing it would take a little bit of luck to beat the leader of my race, I was happy sitting in the chase group of me and two others. Once we hit the climbs I made sure I was leading the group because I wanted to drop the kids behind me. I managed to drop one but the other one wouldn’t budge! So, I asked if he could pull, but he didn’t want to work so I just pushed it on the second lap and dropped him on one of the first climbs! Now I was just had to keep him away. I was solo for the rest of the lap and was happy with the result of finishing second out of six for Cat 2 14 & under. I also made a 3-4 minute gap on third place!"
Our young DH ripper Ryan McGarrity (Beg Men 10-11) placed 1st in DH at the California Golden State Series in Fontana.
Members of the Kona Race Team - Barry Wicks, Kris Sneddon, and Spencer Paxson came out to The Path Bike Shop Tustin location last Thursday March 20, 2014 for a meet and greet with our friends, customers, staff, Path Bike Shop team racers, and Relampago team racers. Then it was off to Santiago Oaks Regional Park for a mountain bike ride. We had over 25 riders join in the fun! Ian and Jeff sported matching shirts and beards for the occasion.
The ride was followed by the all important recovery drink...at the Tustin Brewing Company.
Thanks to Kona Bicycles for your continued support of our shop and riders.
What makes this build so special and so interesting? All controls are on the left side! The brakes work separately from each other: rear brake on the bottom, front brake on the top. Jesse (sales and mechanic here at The Path Bike Shop) worked out a great solution, making the seemingly impossible possible.
Our junior racers are ripping out at Fontana in the 2014 Southridge Winter Race Series! Race #2 in the series was last weekend, January 25-26. Whether it's downhill or cross country racing, they're out there getting the job done. We're proud to have these two talented racers out there representing The Path Bike Shop. Great job guys!
Jarod Hanson Jr, DH racer for The Path and Kona Bikes, has placed 3rd back to back for the last 2 downhill races in the Expert 18 & Under race category.
"I had a blast this past weekend at Fontana for the Winter Series Race #2! There was a technical/expert split up on the top half and then the rest was a lot of sandy berms and flat turns. Before my run I was watching the pros go down the tech section. They were trying to go too fast and they kept crashing. So at that point I realized for my run I had to slow it down so I could keep it rubber down. My run was great I felt really smooth! I had a small bobble in one of the sand berms but that was it. I couldn't be happier! The new kona supreme operator felt so good! It's super smooth and stable through the rocks! It also corners like no other. I can just pop in and out of all the turns, it felt really good! I want to say thanks to The Path Bike Shop and Kona Bikes for setting me up on the new bike I feel that we are going to have a solid season and more to come!"
Andrew Vollmer, XC racer, is on a roll in the series as well; he placed 6th at Race 2 in the Sport Men 18 & Under category.
"Southridge Race #2 was super fun and I was stoked with my race times. There were about three times as many people racing today in Sport Men 18 & Under than the first Southridge race, however I increased my time by two minutes and got 6th out of 21. My chain unfortunately fell off at a crucial point before the finish, losing my spot in 5th place. But the competition was fierce and I was happy to place up there."
Andrew keeps doing us proud in this 2014 race season. He placed 3rd in the Sport Men 18 & under class at the Southridge Winter Series XC MTB race on January 11, 2014. We're looking forward to seeing Andrew at Race 2 in the series, which is coming up this weekend.
Here is Andrew's race report:
"Today I raced the first XC race of the Winter Series for Southridge USA in Fontana. I competed in the Sport Men age 18 & under category and had a great time. At the beginning of the race my legs were not warmed up, but I caught up to the two leading riders on an uphill. On the first downhill of the race I unfortunately had a little spill on a sandy corner losing the 2nd place rider’s wheel. On my second lap I could see 2nd place in my sights but followed a racer from a different category off the track. By then 2nd place was far away and I settled with a 3rd place out of 8, but two of my good friends took 1st and 2nd and I was the youngest in the category, so it was all good!"
With the opening of Snow Summit Bike Park and my first trip to Whistler Bike Park I was able to ride more downhill then the previous two years combined. I have found my love for downhill again and am really excited to race with The Path Bike Shop for 2014. After a few different injuries and three years away from the local race scene I plan on stepping back into it full strength and getting on that top step.
I raced Sport last weekend at the 2014 Southridge Winter Series Downhill Race 1 to see where I lined up with the rest of the group since I’ve been away from downhill racing for three years. I placed second, and only out of first by three tenths of a second.
Two summers ago I changed bikes from my 2008 Kona Stinky to a 2011 Kona Operator and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on a new Kona Park Operator frame soon. Lastly thanks to my lovely wife Tashina for always supporting this crazy mountain bike obsession.
Photo: courtesy of Thomas Stees
One of our newest sponsored racers, Andrew Vollmer, did us proud yesterday. He took part in the first race of the new SoCalCross Fever Cyclocross Race Series on Saturday December 28, 2014. Andrew placed 2nd in the Junior Boys 10-14 race class. Keep it up Andrew, great job! We're stoked that you're out there representing The Path Bike Shop.
Here is Andrew's race report:
"Today in cyclocross it was a crazy race. The location was Irvine Lake and I pre-rode the course three times trying to figure out which bike to use, the cross bike, or the mountain bike. I eventually figured out the mountain bike would be the best choice for the course due to all the hills and sand.
While I was resting in the truck waiting for the race to start I noticed my bike had a flat, fifteen minutes before the race was to start! We quickly fixed the flat and I got to the race line just in time for the start. After four laps of the sandy and rough course I finished in 2nd place, losing to the national track champion by mere seconds.
This was a fun race and I am ready for tomorrow’s cyclocross race and will be wearing my The Path Bike Shop kit once again...after my Mom washes it."
The 22nd Annual Southridge Challenge was held on November 23, 2013 in Fontana, CA. Our longtime staff member Luke Wronski was out representing The Path Bike Shop at the Super D race in the expert category. Way to go, Luke!
"Fontana went well today. Super-D course was fun and had a good turnout. My race run was clean, no major mistakes. I ended up 3rd out of 16 in expert. Felt good to get up on the podium. My 2014 Kona Process 153 felt perfect and I had a bunch of people asking me about it!"
The 2014 Kona Process 153 is, to quote one great rider, "…a game changer!" The legacy of Kona trail bikes includes classics like the King Kikapu (4-inch), Dawg (5-inch), and the Coiler (6-inch). Having ridden each one of those bikes, the Process 153 has some, proverbial, big wheels (errr…shoes), to fill; maybe that is why it rolls on 27.5" wheels?
"This was one of those epic once in a lifetime races. Not because I won a race on my home trails, but because of how the ride was shaped between myself and a rider I hope I can be like in 20 years"
We started fast, up and down Puma ridge, then we took turns pulling one another through the flats of Willow/Egret to the dam, trying to put a gap between us and rest of the field. I pulled away from Gerrit (my friend and riding buddy) a bit when we got to the first climb, then even further as we moved up Coachwhip (1-mile climb). Knowing that Gerrit was much faster than me on the technical descents, I tried to move quickly down Chutes and maintain my gap, but he eventually caught me in the middle of the Roadrunner single-track and we were once again right alongside one another.
My 2013 race season so far has been consistently inconsistent. Thank goodness my bikes have shown me the support a true stable of loyal steeds can show. I figured the race season started back in March with the Keyesville Classic. But it was just a tease. Plagued with sickness and injury and one family event/issue/crisis/etc/etc after the other, I would not be able to develop any kind of exercise/run/ride/etc routine (and you can forget about Mr. Circadian too!). As always, racing was and is just for fun and even though there wasn't time to train, there was always time to race! It's just the pain you put your body through that takes a bit of will power (that we all have) to get over it and keep the passion of pedaling ever so prevalent.
From Catalina to Big Bear, I participated in rides and races, content on being a weekend warrior until all the "more important" details of life would cooperate with my life. And what do you know, I'm back! I've been messing around with a dangling carrot in front of my face for 8 months (and Mr. Tani...I'm sure you know what I'm talking about) and I think I might be able to find my pedal stroke again. I got a bit of a reality check at the Over The Hump MTB race on June 18th. I know where I need to be...ON MY BIKE.