The Kona Unit Story

During the week leading up to the Singlespeed World Champs, the Bike Vegas bike shop had their own challenge for everyone.  Head into the shop for a clue, find the secret location where the jester is hanging out with a pack of cards, collect one of said cards, and hold onto it with your life.  The comp ran for four days, with a bike given away for each of them at the event after party.

With a comp like this I reckon half the fun is finding the card, and holding onto it hoping you’ll win.  Hanging out at the final draw I was hoping like crazy. Although when the 10 of diamonds was picked, my whole world became fairly surreal!

There were four of us standing at the front of the after party and we would now need to drink two beers in two minutes to prove our worth.  The cans were opened and I stared at them in fear and anticipation.  With the jitters building in my body, I got down can one with surprising speed, only a few seconds off the boys.  Steadying myself for can two, prepared for it to take a little longer, I began to down the fizzy local ale learning there were only 30 seconds left to scull.  In a word (or four), I was in trouble.

I  ran out of room to store the end of the second can, so I placed it on the table in front of me and began holding on to my stomach, trying to smile, but fearful of what lay ahead.  The noise around me grew as someone poured a beer on their head and someone else finished their second can like it was water.  I’m not sure what the third person did, they must have been behind me.  I motioned for a bucket and was directed to the back corner of the large marquee.

The microphone let everyone know I was having a vomit now, and as I opened my mouth it was with surprise and total delight that the longest, loudest burp that someone of my size and stature will ever muster in a lifetime filled the space around me.  Not a spew in sight.  Thank you beer gods, I owe you one.

This is the story of how I came to win a Kona Unit.  It’s a 20” model with 29” wheels, meaning the seat sits at about the level of my armpit.  It has rigid forks and cable disk brakes and looks virtually indestructible for wet weather riding making it perfectly suited to someone spending a winter in New Zealand.

I found myself trying to think of uses for such a steed back home in Sydney (even if it could be put in the oven and shrunk like a Twisties packet), and found myself instead thinking of how I was looking for a bike like this recently, when Rob Parbery built me a singlespeed out of spare parts in his garage instead.  In fact, this whole trip to New Zealand for me had been characterised by other people’s generosity, be it with transportation, trail guiding, equipment to ride with, fork servicing, bike modifying, dinners out, managing and trading work loads at home, the list is endless, and people – especially mountain bikers – surprise me often with how kind they are to other riders whenever one person can help another experience what they both enjoy so much.

For the above reasons I decided to leave the bike in Rotorua.  A bike was auctioned earlier in the week for Canteen and raised $1000 for the organisation and Dean Watson from N-Duro – the SS Worlds organising crew – is keen to do this again.  The way I see it, if there’s someone out there with the energy and connections to make this happen, then that makes me feel like a pretty special person too for being involved.

Thank you to Bike Vegas for supporting this competition with so many bikes and so much enthusiasm.  Thank you to Dave Joy especially who insisted I didn’t walk out the shop door without a set of custom riding kit (in women’s sizing too, can you believe it?!), and my very own limited edition beer glass and carry bag.  Every time I use this stuff it will make me feel proud to have spent time with such a great community of people.  I’ll post details of the auction when I hear about it so stay tuned.  Aussie riders might want to keep in mind that the currency conversion will probably mean enough left over change to cover freight.  Or, at the very least, there will be a bike waiting for you next time you cross the Tasman for a ride.