Monday, September 29, 2008

October's Featured Rider: Karen Eagan

The East Coast gravity scene has been going off this year. There are races nearly every weekend from Vermont to New Jersey, West Virginia to New Hampshire, and the freeride parks are some of the best in North America. Karen Eagan has experienced the evolution of riding and racing in the Northeast, and she spends plenty of time on the podium. She's also involved with riding at the community level, giving presentations for local Boyscout troops and leading women's clinics for the Northeast Mountain Bike Association. Karen is currently attending college to become a dietitian technician, with goals to work in the health and wellness industry. We think this Massachusetts ripper deserves a bit more recognition.--FF

Name: Karen Eagan
Home: Lowell, MA
Age: Chronologically or in spirit? 38 and 25 respectively.
Favorite type of riding: Naturally aggressive terrain is my first love, but I've recently fallen for the sweetness of groomed technical trails and courses.
Why you ride: It is invigorating, liberating, euphoric, and it makes me feel alive!
Sponsors: Vitamin Water, Back Bay Bicycles, Fox Racing Shox, E13, Reef, Nixon, and Highland Mountain Bike Park, NH

How does a preschool teacher who's in her late twenties and from a city like Lowell, MA get involved in competitive gravity cycling? She watches a segment on OLN depicting a happy couple on holiday meandering down a hillside with stunning mountain views, and she thinks, "That looks like fun!" After ordering her first bike through the Jeep accessories catalog (yeah, for real--one size fits all), she hits the trails. Literally.

Since then, I have been extremely fortunate to have had opportunities to learn from many diverse riders in the cycling community. I truly owe my competence as a rider to the various groups of cycling enthusiasts who have welcomed me into their cirlces throughout the years--including the individuals who continue to offer their instruction and guidance, as I still have much to learn! The community has been instrumental in providing the support, inspiration, and encouragement I needed to develop skills and confidence, and to discover my potential as a rider and as a competitor. Without these folks, I'd still be doing lawn darts on my super-sized Renegade!

Four years ago, I worked on Ride Like a Girl, a short video featuring Greater Boston female riders. It was filmed for a NEMBA video awards fundraiser. The film took home a first-place award and has served to inspire a number of female riders in the community. The film can be viewed in Volume 1 of the Northeast Mountain Bike Report. I've also worked on segment development and as a correspondent for the Northeast Mountain Bike Report.

I think one of the most important lessons I've learned is to not lose sight of why I do what I do. Riding is fun! Racing is exhilerating! It's all about the rush of the perfect run, the high of pushing my limits, and the unparalleled camaraderie of fellow racers and riders. In the end, it's more about personal satisfaction than a results standing. It's about leaving the trail or course with no regrets, having given it my all. My advice is to set realistic personal goals, keep at them, and take pride in your accomplishments, no matter how small. Most importantly, in the words of a very dear friend, don't forget to "have fun and make friends" along the way!

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