The endurance racing community is full of inspiring personalities. Some race for results and the thrill of competition, while other push themselves for the challenge with a Zen-like approach. There's no right or wrong answer to which type of athlete is better, and what makes it even better is that the endurance scene seems to be growing with both types more now than ever before. Enter Karen Jarchow ; a rider new to the scene that is in it for the stoke of new trails, experiences, and challenges.

We caught up with Karen after the True Grit to get the low-down on what she's all about.

RoE : So Karen, what’s your deal - you seem to have come out of nowhere on to the endurance scene. 

Karen : POOF! Just like that, here I am! Haha - Well, this is my 5th year racing mountain bikes and I guess it has just taken me this long to figure out where I fit in. I had a somewhat rapid trajectory into racing at the "professional" level, but once I was there I found I had a lot to figure out. You know, that constant battle of work and play. My goals have always been to make these two things blend together. I have jumped off so many bridges (figuratively speaking) trying to make this happen, and with anything good it has just taken awhile for me to find my way. For me, endurance racing seemed to fit quite nicely with my life's reality with reasonable entry fees, tangible locations & time of year. Most importantly endurance racing provides courses that are not only challenging both mentally and physically, but are also in cool locations that introduce me to rad people from all over the states!

What are you looking forward to most this season?

This season I am most looking forward to having fun from the first race to the final race, and everything in between. I just added Telluride 100 to my schedule, and I'm really looking forward to a challenging distance in such a beautiful place. 

Tell us about your training - have things gone well so far this year?

This is my second year being coached by Lynda Wallenfels. We learned a few things last year that have really improved my training this year. Living in Colorado, I just need to be outside. Over the winter I did very little indoor pedaling, a lot of cross country skiing, alpine touring, yoga, strength training, swimming, trips to the desert and the occasional HTFU outdoor freezing ride. Repetition and monotony are the death of me, so LW kept me doing a variation of things I love with strategic structure woven in when needed. 

True Grit was your first big event of the season. Did things go as planned?

True Grit was a fantastic race! The course is a true mountain bike course that you need to be on from start to finish. My goals leading into the race were to follow LW's guidelines and most importantly have fun. I'm finding I can push the pace a little more this year without fading or blowing up making for an overall great race. I didn't have enough spark to stay with the local trail ninja Joey, but I happily finished second. 

You’re on the road a lot. How does that factor in to your training?

My boyfriend Jeff Kerkove and I do quit a bit of traveling between racing and working events for Ergon Bike, but my training isn't really dependent on one particular place. My bike and yoga mat are with me pretty much wherever we go, and I have no shame in a little airport flow. The only challenge we can sometimes run into is finding healthy options for food. Then there's always the challenge of riding too much or too hard when we have the chances to ride new trails leading up to a race. We definitely break that rule a lot, but the payoff of a new trail, view and experience far outweighs holding a little extra fatigue.  

Whats new this year on the sponsorship front - you’re running privateer with some big sponsors!

New on the sponsor front this year is BH Bikes, Castelli Cycling Apparel, Limar Helmets, Elevated Legs, Pearl Izumi MTB Shoes, and Yoga Off Broadway. Sponsors who continue to help a sister out are Ergon Bike, Xpedo Pedals, Smith Optics, Handlebar Mustache, Osmo Nutrition, Continental Tires, Yeti's Grind, and LW Coaching. It takes an army, does't it? 

As you can see I have been extremely fortunate to have some great partners since day one. This is the first year I'm given the opportunity to showcase the ones who have always stood by me and the recent ones who truly believe in me. Basically, I'm just a girl on a bike who wants to share the stoke with the world. I'm not going to be at World Cups or vying for an Olympic spot - I'm kind of just your average endorphin junkie who wants to push personal boundaries and share that experience with friends.

What's next - what's your next big goal event?

Being back in the mountains, we have quite awhile before our season really gets kicking. My next big event is one that I help produce here in Eagle on May 16 & 17th. The Firebird 40 at the Eagle Outside Festival is May 17th and I am thrilled to be able to race on our backcountry trails. Competition in Colorado is always stacked, so it'll be a great first event of the year to see all your fast friends in one place. 

Karen chose her BH Lynx suspension bike for True Grit which is a technically demanding course. While it can be done on a hardtail, Karen's finishing time of 4:01 for the 50 mile is proof that suspension bikes can be a huge advantage over the long haul. 

BH Lynx 4.8 : Full Suspension 29er

  • Fox 120mm Suspension 
  • XX1 Drivetrain (32T ring at True Grit)
  • XTR Brakes
  • Mavic Crossmax SL Wheels
  • Ergon SMR3 Saddle
  • Ergon GA2 Grips
  • Xpedo Ti Pedals
  • Continental X King 2.2 front tire
  • Continental Race King 2.2 rear tire