After spending a few days hanging out with my family in the wilds of Northern Washington, I closed in on the hotel at which a huge number of American and Canadian Kona dealers would be present. For three days I flitted back and forth between ‘official business’ and ‘official debauchery’ as I split my time focusing solely on all that Kona had available for me, and then catching up with a number of friends and enemies alike, (generally in the wee hours of the morning, and usually on one side of a bar or another.)
All in all I think I did a pretty good job at wearing both hats, but at the end of my time there, was covered in Bellingham’s finest dirt and drenched in my own booze sweats. I’ll let the AHTBM readership make the decision on whether it was a pass or fail.
Due to the fact that I have a metric chitt-ton of fodder to get through, (regarding Kona’s launch, as well as a bunch of other stuff, which we’ll eventually get to today), the report will take at least a couple of posts to cover. So with that said, let’s get down to business.
On the first night in town, the hotel was the site of a meet and greet between dealers, reps, and Kona Bikes’ management. Since I knew I would have ample time for my compatriots to tire of my nonsense, I quietly lurked around the meeting room and snapped off a bunch of shots of bicycles.
Like for example, the updated and carbon version of my last year’s sweetheart, the Hei Hei Supreme;
For days when tarmac might be the surface of choice, they showcased their new Red Zone, which can either be a whippy little road rail;
Or if you prefer, comes with these cool thread-on fender mounts for rainy day slogs;
If the devil truly is in the details, then this bike is the Anti-Christ.
Anyway, I continued on;
This here bike was called the Dr. Good, and along with its counterpart, the Dr. Dew, they featured this super bomber looking basket which we were told was capable of carrying one can of open beer and a baby human being at the same time, with no damage to either;
Beyond that, and a huge array of all of their other very pretty steeds, I had to snap a shot of my favorites, the Minute and the Ute;
The crowds were starting to swell, so from that point, I buggered off with my old friend Suzy to enjoy some food, have some drinks, and then get completely sideways with Sam, Jess, and Dylan who are all in some way, shape or form involved with Transition Bicycles, which as near as I can recall, looked something like this;
I don’t know what these drinks were but they came with a shot of something that you dropped in them, tasted like an Orange Julius, and resulted in a long and swerveful walk home during which time I found this;
I recall very clearly standing in an abandoned parking lot, staring at the sampling of buffalo wings on the ground. What I didn’t recall until the following afternoon while looking through my photos was my response;
-Seemed perfectly reasonable at the time.
Anyway, a few short hours later, the lot of us were to converge on an array of trails at Lake Padden that I haven’t ridden since a race I did there in 1998 or so. As I stated here previously, the one bike I was looking forward to riding the most was the Kona Rove and hungover or not, I was gonna give it my worst.
Before I was able to get to that however, and after a full four hours of sleep, I took on a load of breakfast and partook in the seminar-styled introduction detailing not only the full line of Kona bikes, but specifics regarding their partnering with both Shimano and SRAM.
At one point while floundering through all of the specs and details they had provided us to read, I glanced up at SRAM’s power point presentation and noticed that they had a projection which included a number of specifics regarding the company, one of which said something along the lines of ‘2,600 EMPLOYEE’S WORLD WIDE‘.
As I choked back the urge to point out that there was no apostrophe in ‘employee’s‘, (is anyone from SRAM reading this? If so, for the love of god, please make a fix), I concluded that while I may be a glazed mess of fuzzy headedness, I at least was still on my game as a punctuation nazi.
At the seminar’s conclusion, I meandered back to my room to take a nap, as well as to get my riding gear together.
Upon our eventual arrival to the meeting spot at Lake Padden, the field was buzzing with activity. Riders getting ready to ride and the Kona work force pulling out all the stops to ensure that we could;
Finding a Rove big enough to suit my fancy, I took off into the woods, and immediately felt at home;
As I figured, I wasn’t sold on the disk brakes, but didn’t let them hinder my good time. The nearly baldish WTB Freedom Ryders I assumed would send me ass over tea kettle in any number of the technical descents, which actually lead to the biggest surprise. They gave enough cush for the push, and provided ample traction in spots where I guessed they’d have none. The bike itself handled surprisingly similar to my beloved Dirtbomb, and if I was an actual journalist, I would compare and contrast all of the individual angles, lengths and dimensions between the two, but I’m not so I won’t.
Suffice to say, it was a complete ripper on which I had no reservations descending a number of sections I watched folks on fully suspended bikes walk down. A bit more time on it would have been grand, but from my limited perspective, Kona nailed it with the Rove. I suspect however, that photos of rad getting would be preferable to a bunch of wordy wordage, so here’s a dose of that;
Once I got an hour and change’s worth of hot laps on the Rove under my belt and shot off a few photos, I returned to base camp and snagged one of the brand’s Satoris;
The closest thing I know to this bike are those made by my former employer, but it had been some time since I had thrown a leg over one of those, so back into the woods I rode. (If I’m not mistaken, which I usually am), it features a slightly slacker head tube angle than last year’s model, which I personally found lead to a bit of a challenge in keeping the front end grounded on steep climbs.
What I had trouble with on the climbs however, it more than made up for on the descents. I barely touched the brakes on the biggest drops and could simply lean back and let the bike do the work. I’m still of the opinion that a full suspension bike isn’t necessarily the right choice for me simply due to the fact that I thrive on a hardtail’s responsiveness when ascending, but like last year, I can certainly see what all the hubbub is about in as far as all this double boinger frenzy is concerned. I emerged from my time on the bike with a huge smile on my face and some new found confidence.
Now we’ll get into a whole array of other matters, but come back on Wednesday and I’ll see if I can’t conclude my saga and go into detail on the third and final bike I rode, a nearly all nighter at Bellingham’s famed ‘serial killer bar‘, tweakers with balloon sculptures, and the final attempt at first losing, and then reclaiming my mind.
In less than a week’s time I will be assisting Geno at One One One Studio with our show of Shellac Of North America posters/silent auction;
Which will be followed by their twentieth anniversary show at First Ave. later that evening.
For those not in the know, Shellac is not only one of the greatest bands in my world, but three of the nicest fellows you’d ever want to come across to boot;
The above clip was taken from the Chicago edition of the music documentary series ‘Burn To Shine’ and is, as far as I understand, the only official footage of the band that exists.
Anyhow, once the hangovers from the previous night are in full swing, it’s time to load up our AHTBM Shop Bikes and get across town to the first ever Coaster Brake Catastrophe;
We will assuredly put the ‘catastrophe‘ in catastrophe.
So there you have it. Portland Eastians? Open up and saw ‘ahhhh’. It’s gonna be a good one.
Speaking of variations of Portland, this time being that of Minneapolis West, DPow! from Portland Design Works sent an email about a very important milestone;
Those are some fine and decent people over there and I am excited by all that they have accomplished.
Of course while we are on the topic of accomplishments, I am very proud to announce that tomorrow is All Hail The Black Market’s THIRD YEAR ANNIVERSARY! Can you believe that crap? I mean, talk about falling into a Peter Pan lifestyle. That really is something else… If there was some way I could climb through the computer and offer a hearty handshake and high five to the literally tens of people who visit the site regularly and occasionally trade up their hard earned cash at the store, as well as the advertisers who have foolishly seen their way to maintaing a presence here, I absolutely would.
In all honesty, doing this for a living is a dream I never knew I had, but these last three years have been among the happiest in my life and I have no one to credit for it but y’all, so from the bottom of my heart, thank you and I sincerely hope that the enjoyment gained from our little slice of the internet is mutual.