Two Days in the Alps on Kona’s All-New 2016 Precepts
To showcase the breadth and depth of Kona’s Precept Platform, we headed deep into the Swiss Alps, the heartland of up, down and all around mountain biking. With trails that wind through every type of challenge and vista, it was the perfect place to capture the pure, all-mountain essence of Kona’s 2016 Precept 120, 130 and 150.
Our shoot started with a well-organized plan. Take a super fast enduro racing Irish brother and sister, put them on a plane to Switzerland, get them on board our Precept range, then set them free. The mountain though, had other ideas. On what would be the third shot of the trip, Kona Super Grassroots rider Leah Maunsell went down. It was an awkward bail that left her with a cleanly broken wrist. Time for a plan B.
It just so happened that Leah’s chaperone, sponsor and fully converted fat bike rider Garry Daveron was on hand to step up. The question was, could he remember how to ride a “normal” mountain bike? The answer was a resounding yes.
After getting Leah back from hospital, we awoke the next morning to a light drizzle that soon turned into a heavy snowfall. Extremities begin to freeze and once grippy roots relinquish any and all traction.
The trails in and around the Crans-Montana resort are massively varied, with roots, rocks, pine needles, and ball-bearing sized pebbles around every corner. Want a bit more excitement, just add water—or in our case, snow.
Kona’s in-house filmmaker, Joonas Vinnari knows a thing or two about the cold. Born and raised in Helsinki, the Finn came prepared for the wild fall weather that can often hit the Alps in September.
Outside of the Crans-Montana Bike Park boundaries we found ourselves sharing the trials with a multitude of users, from horse riders and walkers, to ski-pole-totting mountain runners, and just about the entire Swiss Jeep Club.
When fingers and toes went numb, we retreated to our chalet’s outdoor fireplace for a quick warm up.
The clouds and snow didn’t stick around though, and the sun soon pushed through, revealing what was hidden from us earlier in the day—a high-speed ribbon of Swiss bliss singletrack. Paralleling a high mountain stream, the ride was pure natural flow, punctuated by the perfect amount of tech.
Crans-Montana had invited some of Europe’s leading graffiti artists to cover up every bare bit of concrete on the hill. Literally every mountain building (and there are a lot of them) had a coat of fresh spray paint, with some amazing artworks on display.
As much as we wanted to find more hidden graffiti, one epic hike-a-bike was calling our name. It didn’t look that steep from a distance, but riding up this thing just wasn’t happening. Bikes were shouldered and the awkward pelican case housing the drone was reluctantly dragged to the top.
We’d been promised an epic backcountry descent off the back, but the previous day’s snow had hidden any sign of trail. When we did eventually find it, it was under a foot of snow and then half that again of sticky mud.
Lunchtime in the Swiss Alps is all about cheese and sausage.
The sun had been out all day, and what looked like a black ribbon through white mountainside earlier had changed dramatically after lunch. The snow was melting fast and that meant staying on track was becoming a whole lot easier. The flipside was the trail had become a veritable river of smile-inducing mud.
Not only did Joonas have to look out for his own low-flying drone, he had to contend with angry eagles.
Alpine rocks gave way to high-speed alpine meadows as we descended out of the slush zone. The Precept 150’s were on fire, bobbing, weaving, and boosting along surprisingly technical trails.
This is what alpine riding on 150mm travel bikes is all about.
When we spied this piece of track we decided a little detour was in order, that was, until the cliff above us started spitting out diner plate size pieces of shale as the snow continued to melt.
After traversing across the top of Crans-Montana we performed a bit of a loop and headed back mid-mountain. This traverse kept us on our toes and offered insane views. At times it was fast, others it was steep, the whole time rocky as hell.
Did I say that the traverse back across mid mountain was good? Well it was, much better than taking those stairs way up in the cliff that is for sure.
The traverse puts you back at the top of the Crans-Montana Bike Park proper where you have a couple of classic European bike park options down. Berms, tables, and even more berms await on the intermediate trail, while the black advanced trail is a rugged, steep and raw descent that would have your hands shaped like a claws after only a couple of runs.
We opted for a little of both.
Kona would like to thank Marilyne at Crans-Montana Tourism as well as the Crans-Montana Bike Park. We’d like to thank our athletes Leah and Jonathan Maunsell, and Garry Davoren for stepping in to fill Leah’s shoes and spending a few days on a narrow tired bike. You know you love it.