Kona Wozo in Ireland: A Microadventure - Video

Feb 9, 2017 at 15:54
by Kona Bikes  
A Local Microadventure
Bikes, beer and a break from life.
Words by William O'Connor, photos by Michal Dzikowski.

Microadventure: an adventure close to home; cheap, simple, short, and yet very effective.

This story begins at my house, in a small village in the west of Ireland where bank holiday weekend biking plans are being made. My usual plan involves packing a van, a motorway dash, service station food and a late night drive home. Our rule of thumb states that the time spent on the bike should be at least twice as along as the journey. So a two-hour drive should equate to a four-hour bike ride. A big day out on the bike might involve hitting the road the night before to conform to this rule.

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Lately, however, I'm on a newfound quest to make my biking life more adventurous by taking inspiration from the British explorer Alastair Humphreys and his idea of a micro-adventure. A micro-adventure, in Humphreys' world, is an adventure that is short, simple, local, and cheap. By this reckoning, my usual weekend biking routine fails to measure up. It lacks adventure. It isn’t local. And it seldom works out cheap.

So working from this premise I started with three basic principles. Firstly there should be no cars involved. Secondly, there needs to be camping involved. Thirdly, and possibly most importantly, the mountain biking has to be worth the effort.

Kona Wozo in Ireland A Microadventure

This quest for adventure had been sparked a couple of years ago by my purchase of my first fat bike, a Kona Wo. Living in the west of Ireland official bike trails are very limited yet the Atlantic coastline - more recently christened The Wild Atlantic Way - is a landscape calling out to be explored. My fat bike opened up trails and areas previously ignored because of the type of bike I normally rode. No matter where you end up the fat bike will allow you to have fun and link sections of interest together.

I had just taken delivery of my new fat bike... a Kona Wozo. This is a fat bike with trail ambitions, an evolution of the Kona Wo that started me on this journey and a bike that just might be a match for my now-neglected full suspension bike on more challenging terrain. This adventure had to involve some good trails to have a blast on and see how a fat bike would ride the more technical and fast trails.

A plan started to unfold.

Kona Wozo in Ireland A Microadventure

Deciding that this trip deserved company, I pitched the idea to Garry, my biking buddy, and local bike shop owner who had input to the design of the Kona Wozo. I plotted a route, linking various roads and bits of trail I had ridden over the years.

So the day came and myself and Garry headed off out my driveway to embark on this bike-packing micro-adventure. Bikes were loaded with gear and we were giddy with the thought of the 24 hours ahead.

On the road, we quickly settled into the natural rhythm of pedaling and banter. Ten minutes out from the house and the frantic life at home was quickly slipping away. As we came through Kilchreest, a small one-pub village (that’s how we measure the size of a village in Ireland) we passed the window of a small rural shop. I had passed this little shop numerous times in the van on the way to a local gravel grind and had always wanted to call in.

Kona Wozo in Ireland A Microadventure
Kona Wozo in Ireland A Microadventure


The shopkeeper and a local farmer were inside chatting. It was a small room with basic wooden shelves stocked with everything from blue rope to beef nuts to porter cake and bread. A definite slice of nostalgia. A bit of chat and the inevitable checking of family lineage until ‘sure I knew your father well’ said the farmer, declaring his sadness when I mentioned my father’s passing two years previous and his sincere apologies that he hadn’t heard sooner.

On a bike, the pace of life changes and stopping at a small shop and taking time to talk to local people, though strangers, seems perfectly normal. A simple pleasure that now passes us by in the blur of a car window.

The route sees us cross the Slieve Aughtys, an upland in the south of Galway County. It’s an area off the beaten path and sees few tourists or visitors. The route is a mix of small country roads, gravel trails, and singletrack.

We were aiming for the small lakeside village of Mountshannon (this one a three-pub village making it a 'good size' of a place). We needed to start covering ground and put a push on. Little gems of trail are unearthed along the way by way of small sections of sweet forest trail or classic gravel descents. It’s a magical time, a landscape of golden yellows, burnt oranges and amber browns. There is nothing subtle about this landscape. It's a feast for the eyes.

Arriving in Mountshannon I thought it would be rude not to reward ourselves with a quick pint. This is where things quickly deviated from the plan. It was a small country pub. No TV, open turf fire and one of the aforementioned little grocery shops attached. Seven locals sitting at the bar. The sight of two fully loaded fat bikes being wheeled into the pub immediately spun the locals around on their bar stools.

Kona Wozo in Ireland A Microadventure

Garry was assured the bikes were fine in the pub and would be watched as we had our dinner across the road. Upon our return to the pub, Garry was in shock. The bikes were gone. In their place were two old high nelly bikes fully loaded with our gear. The bar erupted in laughter. The locals had switched them and had been awaiting our return.

The next few hours were spent chatting, explaining the weird bikes and laughing with an incredibly welcoming and open group of people. A few more pints, and a whiskey or two and it was time to go get some sleep.

A little fire and a huge starry night sent us off to bed. The pints always help with sleeping and I was almost instantly asleep. However, as I have discovered previously I was almost as quickly in need of the toilet.

Kona Wozo in Ireland A Microadventure
Kona Wozo in Ireland A Microadventure

The morning came. I was feeling sore from the previous day’s ride and fuzzy headed from the socializing but it was a fine dry morning so stoves were lit and coffee was quickly brewed. That was about all that happened quickly but eventually, we hit the road.

We spent the morning grinding out the distance on tarmac to get to the trails but these quiet country roads are a pleasure to ride. There is always something over a wall or around a bend to catch the eye and not much by way of traffic to intrude.

Kona Wozo in Ireland A Microadventure

Kona Wozo in Ireland A Microadventure
Kona Wozo in Ireland A Microadventure

Kona Wozo in Ireland A Microadventure

We stashed away the bags and dropped our seats. The trails here are steep and fast and just what I was looking for to test the new bike. The Wozo really is a trail bike and the big wheels give the confidence needed to stay off the brakes. You know (or hope) they will eventually grab something and keep you pinned to the ground.

Between trail sections, Garry explained the details of the bike that he helped design with Kona that give it trail credentials. Super short chainstays, long reach, aggressive geometry. Stuff I always read about in magazines but never really pay attention to.

Kona Wozo in Ireland A Microadventure
Kona Wozo in Ireland A Microadventure

Kona Wozo in Ireland A Microadventure

We had a great day riding super trails which are a real credit to the local trail builders. The day finished as we sat on a bench high up on the hill overlooking Lough Derg and the hills we crossed to get here.

We managed to leave from the front door of my house on bikes and have two days of adventure, with the feeling of so much more accomplished than if we’d sat back and done our usual motorway trip. The idea of a microadventure, something small yet achievable by anybody, changes the way you can approach your regular spins. Adventure biking doesn't have to be far away in some exotic corner of the world. It can be found just outside your front door.

Kona Wozo in Ireland A Microadventure


About Kona:
At Kona, we're all about the freedom and empowerment of the bicycle. We have been since 1988. We still have the same founding owners. We're still populated by a staff of keen, active, impassioned cyclists. We're not big, nor are we that small. Just a dedicated group of cyclists making bicycles for people who love bikes - no matter if that love is new or long established.


MENTIONS: @konaworld



36 Comments

  • + 17
 I often head off to the mountains after work with the bike, go ride a few hrs, camp out over night up on the top,descend down as the sun rises and be back in time for work. I picked up a light gore tex army surplus bivy bag it's perfect for 1 night, there is no setup asI leave my sleeping bag and mat inside it and it fit's in a small back pack.
  • + 1
 Sham. I think I need some of that sheeeeaaat! Johnny Heff-)
  • + 20
 Great write up for your micro adventure. I'm inspired to go for a front door adventure myself now.
  • + 5
 Yeah I'm just sitting here wondering where I could go. I really need to do more of this type of riding.
  • + 9
 Sounds like fun... But how about a Back door Adventure?
  • + 9
 Fatbikes, plus wheels, big wheels, small wheels, lots of travel, less travel, slack frames, XC frames. It's just mountain biking. It's all about the adventure.
  • + 6
 This video captures what is so alluring about bikepacking. Sure, all of us like to haul ass and rail berms - but after all that, just getting out on the bike, away from crowds and enjoying a little adventure is what it's about. My kit is about 80% ready and i'm definitely going to be doing some bikepacking trips this year. Thanks for the stoke.
  • + 7
 Loving that edit, always good craic on the emerald isle.
  • + 3
 Weirdly enough, this reminds me of a similar trip to the Dingle peninsula I did with my friend 27 years ago, as I was also on a Kona, although it had no suspension at all (he was on a similar Marin). We also had tents and cooking stoves, but we were offered fields to camp in for free wherever we went; the people were so friendly (particularly the girls).

The scenery was breathtaking, and the biking was fantastic. That week converted me to a lifetime of mountain biking adventures, all over the world. I suppose the lesson is, do it soon, and you might have that trip which converts you for a lifetime.
  • + 7
 That is such a good idea
  • + 1
 Remember the old commercial where it flashes the grill of cars and their owners faces in place of the grill rapidly back and forth? Amazeing the similarity as if the car was crafted from DNA of the owner.

That is what we have here.
  • + 1
 kona does such an amazing job on their marketing and promotions, the vibe of this video and article take me back to the precept lauch video at the lost lake trails. Pure simplicity, good times and bikes that get the job done, no bs
  • + 2
 Exactly, but it fails to show the kids, and wife moaning about loam all over the kitchen floor when they come back with their durty gear. Marketing....
  • + 3
 The similarities between the landscapes and the people between Ireland and Newfoundland blow my mind. I got to travel to that side of the pond sometime soon!
  • + 1
 I failed to notice any part ofthat video where a fat bike was required. Except the part where it looks cool so dummies buy it. They got me. Haha. So far after two trips winter snow riding I can say it os the most disappointing purchase I've made so far. They took the bump bag and bar bag off for the real riding. A Kona Process with a detachable Bob bike trailer would have been great for that ride and trail.
  • + 1
 I was riding my Wozo yesterday thinking it would be the perfect bike for bikepacking. It feels so effortless to ride all day long - definitely don't need snow to enjoy that bike.
  • + 2
 I'm thinking: late night shuttle. Camp, beer and whiskey, starry sky. Next morning, drop in. Retrieve truck, go home for breakfast. Micro adventure
  • + 1
 i like it…………………………………………………………………………………….alot!!!
core values of biking with your buddy, ride on
  • + 1
 I was wondering why they were wearing kneepads and then....Mountain Biking! Fun fun fun.
  • + 1
 Kona deleted my comment! You're welcome I let you know your video was password protected! tzzzz :/
  • + 2
 Fatbikes=good times! Nice vid lads!
  • + 1
 Love those orange hope brakes. They really pop on that bike. This looks like it was an amazing time. Ireland looks like fun.
  • + 1
 I love the WoZo, I love the video, I love the pics. Great job all around!
  • + 1
 Great video, and a beautiful part of the country.
  • + 2
 Great vid!
  • + 1
 This is the exact kind of thing that i could see myself doing.
  • + 1
 I dig it, that singletrack riding came out of nowhere! Enjoyed that.
  • + 1
 This really sums up Irish trails
  • + 1
 Beautifully edited boys.
  • + 1
 Really nice write up!
  • + 1
 Nicely done!
  • + 1
 very cool
  • + 1
 If it only was a Process
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