We’re not sure if they planned on this, but Kona’s latest video is almost a perfect complement to the news of their acquisition. You see, Kona just announced that they were joining the Kent Outdoors family, which was formerly known as Kent Watersports. And here we have an inspiring mashup of a ride on the new 2022 Kona Sutra and a packrafting adventure through France.
Kona Europe’s office is based in Monaco, surrounded by never-ending riding opportunities. Romain Barrez—the rider featured in the Sutra video—joined us a few months ago to handle our EU aftersales service. Like everyone here at Kona, Romain is a rider. He’s traveled from Vancouver, BC to Los Barriles, Mexico on a Dew! Beyond that, Romain is a true fan of the outdoors. We all know those Friday lunches at the office where we talk about our plans for the weekend. One such Friday, Romain was tempted to either go cycling or kayaking, but couldn’t choose. This is where the idea of the packraft Sutra video came from.
The Verdon is a famous outdoor destination in France: beautiful emerald lakes surrounded by mountains linked together by some of the most scenic roads you could imagine. The Verdon is just between the French Riviera and the French Alps. For those of us living on the Mediterranean coast, the Verdon is a great escape when the temperature gets too high or when there are too many summer tourists.
What started as a post-lunch joke ended up as a proper challenge. We found a French company that makes super light and foldable packrafts that work well for bikerafting trips because you can fold them up and carry them on your handlebars. The next challenge was to find the proper set-up to carry all the gear for a 3 day/2 night bikerafting trip. From carrying the paddle to the tent and all the gear, we turned the new Sutra into a proper pack mule.
Starting in Nice, grab a coffee at Café du Cycliste and then ride north to Entrevaux. The ride is about 80 km. If you want to avoid traffic, there’s the option to take the train to Saint Martin du Var. Entrevaux is a nice medieval village built by Vauban, and it’s definitely worth the stop. Entrevaux is the entrance of the Colorado Niçois, AKA the Gorges de Daluis. With red rocks and vertiginous cliffs, this scenic route that goes across Guillaume and Valberg (two top spots for enduro and DH) is insanely beautiful. You can find info here. The cool thing about this itinerary is that it’s a loop that will bring you back to Entrevaux.
From there, you can ride up to Saint André les Alpes or Saint Julien du Verdon. The Verdon is one of the most iconic places for water sports. You can either take it easy and just cruise on the lake (canoe, paddle) or choose something more challenging in the river. With all of our equipment, we chose the “take it easy” way on the Lac de Castillon. We spent the night close to the lake. We chose dispersed camping, but there are plenty of other options if you want to have a bit of comfort. What’s next is really up to you. The riding possibilities in the area are endless. Add two solid extra days and you can head back to Nice via Grasse. The area offers an impressive number of small and quiet routes, far from traffic. Here’s what a full 4-day trip could look like.
If you’re interested in the route we took for the project, you can find it here.
The Sutra is a legendary touring workhorse. It doesn’t complain, provides a comfortable riding posture, durable parts, that classic steel feel, and somehow doesn’t break the bank. We’ve taken that same winning formula and added modern updates while maintaining its hardy, durability-forward nature. STI 2x integrated and reliable 10-speed Tiagra levers complement a wide-range GRX drivetrain and a lauded Tubus lowrider front rack. A slightly relaxed geometry update creates big-day comfort without slackening things to a state of lethargy. Ride anywhere, ride far, ride a Sutra – now modernized
The Gear List
- 1 Packraft on the handlebar
- 1 tent under the top tube
- 1 sleeping bag in the saddlebag
- 1 small inflator (USB-charged, to inflate the packraft)
- 1 camping stove
- 1 pot
- 1 Bialetti Moka coffee maker (if you know, you know)
- 1 small bag of coffee
- 1 mug
- 1 power bank
- A few bags of freeze-dried food (more for an emergency as there were a lot of bars and bakeries on the route)
- 1 rainjacket from Café du Cycliste
- 3 pairs of socks
- 3 t-shirts
- 1 technical pant
- 1 short
- 1 bib
- 1 Insta-360 camera
- 2 tubes
- 1 OneUp tool
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, soap
- 1 headlamp
- 1 beanie
- 1 human
- 1 Kona Sutra