I put thousands of miles on my Jake the Snake before calling Kona to ask if my bike was really named after a reptile. Turns out Jake Heilbron (aka Jake the Snake) is one of the owners of the Bellingham, Washington-based company -- and a darn good cyclocross racer to boot. I also discovered my bike was one of the more practically named Kona products. "Sometimes there's not any reason for the names," says Cory Blackwood, Kona's Advocacy Guy and Sales Rep. "Things just come up through random conversation."
Here's a quick look at six quirky -- and sometimes offensive -- Kona monikers.
Over the past six months, I’ve been in charge of testing 56 bicycles, with the goal of picking the best bikes on the market for 2011. I’ve plowed road bikes to 10,000 feet in swirling New Mexico snowstorms, spun down back roads and dusty singletrack in Tucson with dozens of enthusiastic bike testers, and steered bikes—much to my back's displeasure—over the Flemish cobbles. And I’ve ridden some damn good bikes.
Sadly, my legs (and my garage) have more capacity than a magazine, and we couldn’t find space for a handful of notable bikes. So over the next days and weeks, I’ll be reviewing a few more of this season’s noteworthy bikes, starting with the breathtaking—in performance and price—Serotta Meivici SE. Happy reading and riding.
Serotta Meivici SE
$8,395, frame and fork; $11,386 as tested
THE SELL: An exquisite piece of custom-made, high-speed art. THE TEST: With carbon fiber as common—and nearly as cheap—as aluminum these days, you might wonder why a bare Meivici SE frame and fork costs more than most premium race bikes. The answer is the labor: Serotta hand-places each layer of carbon, varying the thickness and stiffness throughout the frame to match each owner’s size and riding style, a process that takes some six to eight weeks to complete. The lugs, which come in multiple sizes, add to the customization. Think of the Meivici as a bespoke Brioni suit amid the racks of Hugo Bosses and Ralph Laurens. “It oozes class, with a ride to match,” one tester said. You can build it up however you please, of course, but ours came adorned with Campagnolo Super Record, the 11-speed groupo with, in our opinion, the best ergonomics and shifting on the market (except perhaps Shimano Di2)—“This drivetrain is a revelation!” a rider exclaimed. The Eurus wheels are as stiff and fast as they are sleek, and it all adds up to a ride that’s neither too stiff nor too plush, but approaching perfect. THE VERDICT: Mother of God! 16.1 lbs (56); serotta.com HANDLING: 4.6 RESPONSIVENESS: 4.7
The World Ski and Snowboard Festival wrapped up recently in Whistler, BC, in the usual nine-day riot of partying, skiing, and celebrating the newest, most talented, and most dedicated innovators, athletes, and individuals in the ski industry. The Olympus Pro Photographer Showdown is among the most highly anticipated events of the festival, with 6 coveted final spots for pro photographers to show off the enviable world they see through their lenses.
This year, the audience was treated to the work of Re Wikstrom—the first female finalist ever in the showdown, selected via the anonymous submission process from amongst the almost 50 hopeful entries, including the most well-established names in the business.
Wikstrom maintains a focus on big mountain skiing but shoots whatever else her athletes dream up; her subjects ski-base, slay big lines, huck cliffs, jib, mountain bike, hula-hoop with whiskey bottles, and whatever else that goes with the skiing lifestyle. Oh, and she shoots almost exclusively with female athletes.
Photo: Rachael Burks in Alta, UT backcountry
This week, Wikstrom took some time to chat about how she got her start, what it is like to spend the winter on the road, ending up with about a week to prepare a slideshow for one of the biggest honors in ski photography-and what her work means to others.
The WSSF show went by in a blur- I have no idea where the time went. It seemed to be really well received-there was a lot of cheering. MTV Canada interviewed me, and a few magazines, and I had other requests for TV show interviews. It was amazing. To have my work chosen without being on ski movie shoots, or quite as much travel and exotic shots from all over the world as the other finalists yet was huge.
I don’t know if everyone picked up that it was all women in the action shots of my show.
My high school photo teacher convinced me to go to school for photography. I’d been skiing since I was 3. I got a Powder Magazine subscription when I was 12, and the photos really resonated with me. I thought, ‘Man, that would be an awesome, amazing job!” So I knew I only wanted to shoot ski photography.
When I moved to Utah after interning at Powder and Bike during my last year at RIT, I had my doubts about making a living from ski photography. But I thought, well you don’t know unless you try. It was dumping everyday, and just wanted to ski and shoot photos. I turned down a job at the Olive Garden because they wanted one day shift from me. Eventually I got a job at Backcountry.com, where I now work in the creative department.
It was always all about ski photos. I didn’t start out planning to focus on women, and first and foremost a photo needs to be a good ski photo. But I didn’t like the way women were portrayed and thought they needed a better voice. My whole theory is not rah-rah, in your face girl power. I’m just trying to go out there and do something.
High school girls have contacted me to do class reports on photographers, and they chose me. How rad is that? I hope I’m making a difference, and that my work can help inspire women to push past their limits, and live beyond what social norms dictate. There’s so many awful images put out there; that’s all some women think they have to aspire to.
Pro guy skiers approach me and want me to shoot photos of them…which is a great compliment.
Photo: Molly Baker skiing in the Alta/Snowbird backcountry
How did I prepare for the Pro Photographer Showdown? Well, first I got really nervous, which helps a lot…..[pause]. I was traveling a lot this winter so I couldn’t really prepare in advance. I spent about a hundred bucks downloading potential music tracks from iTunes. Then, all of a sudden I realized I only had about a week to learn professional film editing software, choose the music, drink a lot of coffee, not sleep, and work at Backcountry.com during the day. But-- I did the whole thing myself, so I am pretty proud of that.
I don’t know what [the Showdown] means for my future. It was a huge boost to my confidence to be selected, and it has allowed me to reflect more deeply on my work…but you’ve got to keep putting yourself out there.
Photos (from top): Re Wikstrom; Rachael Burks in the Alta, Utah backcountry; Molly Baker in the Alta/Snowbird backcountry.
The Former Governor of New Mexico May Be The Most Unique Presidential Candidate in The Field. We Hereby Endorse His Campaign Trail.
Last week, I joined Gary Johnson, the 58-year-old former governor of New Mexico and aspiring Republican presidential nominee, for a run down Tuckerman Ravine, on Mount Washington in New Hampshire. Johnson, who formally announced his White House bid on Thursday, April 21, wanted to ski Tuck’s as a way to “unwind” from two stressful days campaigning in New Hampshire, and to provide a chance for media to see him in his element, which might often be described as “lethal mountains.”
Whatever you think of Johnson as a politician (fiscally conservative, socially tolerant Libertarian who supports legalizing marijuana and same-sex unions), there’s no disputing his badassness as an outdoor athlete. He summited Everest in 2003, has completed several Ironman triathlons, and has won his age group at the grueling Breck Epic mountain bike stage race. He loves to ski, and he rips expert terrain like a pro. I’ve tried to keep up with Johnson on his home turf at Taos, NM, and it’s not easy. “I was kind of a ski bum ski instructor when I was younger,” he told me on our way to Mount Washington. “I’ve been trying to convince myself that there’s something better in life than skiing, but I can assure you, after years of looking, there isn’t.”
Johnson takes skiing as seriously as he does everything else he’s applied himself to—running state affairs, building a construction company, climbing Everest—and the day we visited Tuck’s was serious business. I was the only “media” to make the full climb with him (the only other two to make the run were Mike Babcock, a lawyer and Johnson campaign volunteer from Manhattan, and Ryan Hunter, a friend and competitive freeskier from Park City), and all I can say is I was glad I brought my ice ax: the headwall was damn steep and frozen solid.
Between presenting slideshows and speaking to audiences during a recent tour of Europe, Dean Potter found the time to take a leap from the previously unjumped Forcellino lookout near Lecco, Italy. Potter wrote on prAna's blog that Fabio Palma brought him to the spot, which sits at nearly 1,300 meters on the Pian dei Resinelli plateau.
Dean's wingsuit feats will make another appearance at tonight's Sports Emmy Awards in New York; Sender Films is up for Best Camera Work for "Fly or Die," the First Ascentepisode chronicling Potter's solo of and subsequent BASE jump off the Eiger.