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Photo of Karen O'Connell

480Karen O'Connell

Downhill MTB

Team: Dirt Corps

Sponsors: Troy Lee Designs, Dirt Corps, Trek, Greggs Cycles, Fox Racing Shox, Deity, Smith Optics, FiveTen, SixSixOne

130 lbs
Quincy, MA
Seattle, WA
How did you get into Mountain Biking?
One summer during college I was invited to go mountain biking while working in Tahoe. I thought it would be new experience, but it was exactly what we did as kids – riding our bikes in the woods as fast as we could. Who knew? I was immediately hooked.

How old were you when you started riding?
I started racing DH when I was 37 years old.

Where did you grow up?
South Weymouth , Massachusetts.

How did you first get introduced to TLD and/or Troy?
I went to a DH clinic, and so many of the riders looked professional. Then, at my first race, I saw all these professional looking people again, and was surprised to see that they spread across all the categories and age levels. When I looked at the labels, it was TLD all day.

How long have you been riding for TLD?
This is my 3rd year riding for TLD, so since 2010.

Which TLD products are you using?
D3 Helmet, Moto Shorts, Ruckus Jersey, GP Women’s Jersey Airway, LPS 4600 Shorts, Air Gloves.

Do any athletes/riders influence or inspire your style?
Jamie Rees is a local pro woman who has worked incredibly hard to become recognized nationwide and represent the USA on the international stage. She inspires me to work harder and lay it down on race day.

What do you like to do when you're not riding?
Planning my next ride, playing with my 2 year old boy, sleeping. Wishing I was trail building with the team.

What bands/music are you into?
I like women with guitars and Eminem. Doesn’t make sense to me either.

List 3 goals you have for the upcoming season:
1. Get healthy and stay healthy
2. Improve pumping and jumping, show it off at Sugar Showdown Freeride Competition
3. Defend 1st place DH at Beacon

List a few highlights of your career:
1st place Pro Women, All Gravity Series 2012 – Beacon Hill
NWCup series winner, Pro Women 2012
NWCup series winner, Cat 1 Women 2011

What's your favorite race/event and why?
I love racing the Beacon Hill race in Spokane. It’s the first race of the season, it’s two races in two days (I love that format! Two shots!) and the courses are loaded with features. It’s one of those weekends where you get a true gut check on how you spent your winter and how much you can expect yourself to sack up for any given set of jumps or drops or rocks.

What's your idea of an epic day riding?
An epic day is any day with no time restrictions, loamy dirt, flowy trails, steep pitches, and some gaps or drops I cleaned for the first time.

What's the best thing about being a Mountain Bike athlete?
I appreciate the physical aspect of the sport - the falling down and getting back up. I like knowing that I will fall and get back up every time, even when it hurts and I’d rather not.

If you weren't a Mountain Bike athlete, how would you want to spend your time?
AT skiing can be fun. Still can be both technical and adrenaline inspiring.

If you were running things, what would you change about the industry?
More bikes available for demo-ing. Side-by-side demo-ing on real trails at bike festivals. More bike festivals!

Who would you like to thank?
Kat Sweet! She taught me so much about DH and racing and also got me onto the team, Team Dirt Corps. Thanks, too, to the guys on Dirt Corps – Jim, Matt, Ryan. They have supported me since forever.

Any words of wisdom?
Get a tow-in! Follow someone you trust.