Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Meet the Family

We're all in the business of bikes.  Designing them, building them, selling them, racing them...

On any given day, it's 5AM and Brent Van Eps is up and ready for another day of making things happen at the Montrose Bike Shop in Montrose, CA.

On any given Fall weekend, Dorothy Wong is also (probably) up at 5AM getting ready to put on another round of the SoCalCross Prestige Series.

And at any given bike race, Barry Wicks is the Icon and I'm the Other Guy.

This last weekend in particular, the Icon and the Other Guy went on an ambassadorial race trip to experience the people and events behind this particular piece of the cycling scene in Southern California.

In three well-spent days, we got to know the people behind a great bike shop and better understand what it is that gives a Kona bicycle its value.  It's the people along the way, from start to finish, from concept to design to testing to showroom floor to trail.  From the people who make them AND the people who sell them.  At Montrose Bike Shop (MBS), it's Brent Van Eps (manager), J.L. (owner), and mechanics and operators Lisa Mycroft, Will Katzman, and Dillen Maurer.  They opened up their doors to us, shared good food and beer, and took us on a bike ride along the roads and trails in their back yard.  Brent even lent us his spare couch  for the weekend, and after getting to know the crew, we headed out to the race course on Sunday to meet the community and try to deliver a good show in the MBS installment of the SoCalCross Prestige Series - Turkey Trot Cross!    

Located off Honolulu Ave., MBS has become a strong outpost for Kona Bicycles

Brent (far right) and the crew invited Barry and I on the weekly Saturday morning group ride, a real "Kona-style" road/dirt medley - everyone welcome, road bikes, 'cross bikes, mountain bikes...

A punchy little route through the hills around Montrose and Glendale

Some of the SoCal riders might be afraid of temps dipping below 70 deg, but they aren't afraid to take the skinny tires on less-beaten paths

Montrose shop master Will Katzman let it all hang out on the rock garden section at the bottom of the unorthodox road bike descent...

He'd have definitely cleaned it if he were on a Kona...

MBS is a proud Kona dealer and specs a full line-up from touring and road to mountain and 'cross

They're pretty good at ping pong, too.  Barry Wicks v. MBS and Dave

Kids make us feel like heroes, and it's cool to think that we might be able to impart the same feeling in them, even just for a little bit, at things like "Kiddie 'Cross".  Here, Barry accepting a high-five after being schooled by this kid on his 20".

at the clinic we taught dismounts, remounts, and wheelies...

even the dogs race 'cross in SoCal

time to deliver...

Thanks to everyone who we met along the way who made this trip such a fun reminder of what it means to be a part of the cycling world, and the Kona family in particular.

Friday, November 8, 2013


After reading the article in Dirt Magazine about Chris Mandell and the new Process line-up from Kona Bikes, I came across the following quote from David Attenborough, and found it quite poignant.  The context is Mr. Attenborough's discussion about the Olduvai stone chipping tool, and the relationship between between Homo sapiens and the tools they create.

"This object sits at the base of a process which has become almost obsessive among human beings.  It is something created from a natural substance for a particular purpose, and in a particular way, with a notion in the maker's mind of what he needed it for.  Is it more complex than was needed to actually serve the function which he used it for?  I think you could almost say it is.  Did he really need to do one, two, three, four, five chips on one side and three on the other?  Could he have got away with two? I think he might have done so.  I think the man or woman who held this made it just for that particular job and perhaps got some satisfaction from knowing that it was going to do it very effectively, very economically and very neatly.  In time, you would say he'd done it beautifully, but maybe not yet.  It was the start of a journey." - David Attenborough, A History of the World

It's cool to think about the bicycle this way - not simply as tool comprised of metal and carbon tubes and rubber, but a greater-than-the-sum-of-its parts combination of function, creativity, and artistry.