The crew here at Sellwood Cycle Repair is a fun-loving bunch. As much as we’re happy to spend some of the nicest days of the summer here in the shop getting everyone else’s bikes ready to ride… Well, we need to get away and do some riding ourselves. It’s this, and a hefty supply of ice cold beer that keeps our fun-loving status in check.
This last August our good friends at Kona gave us the amazing opportunity to test ride the then unreleased 2018 Kona Process bikes. Erik rented out the entire Columbia Gorge Riverside Lodge and the shop took a couple of days to hang out, ride bikes, and unwind.
Most of us split into two separate groups to ride from the shop out to Stevenson. One group too a longer, more circuitous route, the other took the Scenic Highway out through Cascade Locks, and everyone found more than a little challenging dirt and fist-sized gravel on the Washington side. You know, a standard Sellwood “Road Ride”.
We arrived at the Lodge, dipped our dusty legs in the river, cracked open a couple of beers and heckled each other. Like any good coworker would. The Lodge, by the way, is amazing. Made up by several small cabins, each with it’s own shared hottub and a view of the river. An awesome ride destination from Portland (no gravel mine-field required)
A bit later in the evening we had our first look at the new Kona Process bikes.
The mandatory Wheelie Test, was… well, mandatory.
The next morning was an early breakfast accompanied by ample amounts of Stumptown Coffee. All of which enjoyed on our respective back patios overlooking the Columbia River. This is how all days of mountain biking start, right?
From there we piled into a few rigs and headed up to the Falls Creek Trailhead.
Pro Tip: When prepping for a solid day of mountain biking you can never have too much bling.
After getting ourselves geared up, and dropping off a couple of cars at the bottom of the trail we got cozy for the trip to the top of the trail. Seriously, who doesn’t love shuttle runs?
Finally at the top of the trail we were fitted to our own 2018 Process 153 for the day. Miles, manager of our Kona demo fleet for the day, had it all dialed in helping those of us who needed it set up our bike. In truth the new 153 has a very straightforward and intuitive setup. You’d have to ask each one of us what our thoughts were on the overall ride quality, but the consensus was the bikes were a stiffer, lighter, more capable pedaling ride than last year’s Process, yet didn’t skimp on the fun bits the Kona Process is known for. A long-legged trail bike that has no trouble getting airborne when you want it to.
For those interested in a really thorough review on everything the new Process lineup has going on: Pinkbike has a great writeup detailing the practical and technical changes. Check it out!
There was weirdly more climbing on this “shuttle run” than first anticipated, but everyone was game to tough it out. We think in the corporate world this is known as a “trust exercise”? Don’t quote us on that. Mike actually busted his ass getting the demo route and logistics sorted out for this trip. Which we appreciate.
Trails were also a bit (lot) dustier than we might normally have in a Pacific Northwest summer (yay, climate change!), but we emerged through the fog of dry earth victorious!
Also there’s a creek throughout worth jumping into, and if you hit it at the right time you can make new dog friends. Bonus!
Back at the lodge for the night we regrouped, made solid use of our riverside hot tubs, and made progress on our beer supply.
We spend a lot of time together as a group (most of us at least 40 hours a week, every week) and our little getaway brought us all a little closer together. Some might call it a “welcome respite”. In fact it’s not possible to write about mountain biking, beer, and creek jumping without using the words “welcome respite”. So there you go. We used them. Twice! You’re welcome.
But really, thanks to all of you who had to deal without out smiling faces for a couple days while we disappeared on our own bike retreat. Because of that you can swing by our shop anytime and ask any one of us our personal thoughts on personally riding the new Kona Process. That knowledge alone is worth it.
On a more somber note: For many of us this was our last trip through the Gorge before it was hit by the (still burning) Eagle Creek Fire. As of this writing the full effects of that fire are still not known, and the sad ramifications are likely to extend for many years to come. Even worse that the Gorge is not the only region in Oregon dramatically affected by fire this year. We’ve spent countless miles pedaling, hiking, and camping all across this great state and can’t say enough about the boundless support these small communities have given us as we pass through. If you can, please take a moment to find your own way to give back to them while they struggle through these difficult changes. Multnomah County has a page with a number of organizations to help get you started, and we welcome more recommended resources in the comments below. Thank you.