Women’s Cycling Interview: Industry Insider Karen Bliss
Former professional cyclist Karen Bliss is now involved in several aspects of the industry — from marketing for Fuji Bikes to advocacy on both the local and international level as a member of the Philadelphia Bicycle Advocacy Board and the UCI’s Women’s Commission.
Name: Karen Bliss
Hometown: Hilltown, Pennsylvania
Work: VP of Marketing for Advanced Sports, Inc. / Fuji Bikes
What are some of your earliest memories about bikes? What brought you to the sport of cycling?
As a kid, my bike was my ticket to freedom. I rode to school, to swim practice, to friends’ houses, and later to work. I traded in my Schwinn for a Kabuki when I was in high school because I wanted to start riding for sport. I did my first century with my dad when I was 16. In college, I joined the Penn State Cycling Club to meet people and learn how to race. After graduation I wanted to travel, and bike racing — hopping from town to town and then country to country – was the way to do it.
What do you love about bike racing? What is it about bike racing that motivates you to put in all the hard work and endure the suffering that goes along with it?
The same thing that I loved about it as a kid: the sense of freedom. Add to that: the feeling of accomplishment, the exhilaration of performing really well, being really fit, getting to go to so many different places around the world and meet so many different people.
Where do you enjoy riding your bike the most?
The roads around Trexlertown, Penn., and the Lehigh Valley Velodrome are great for riding.
What advice would you give an aspiring cyclist?
Two things: Get a bike that fits. Being uncomfortable is one of the biggest deterrents to getting on the bike again. And, join a club. Cycling is social, plus you learn more when you ride with people.
What advice would you give someone who wants to start racing? What advice do you give to women who are new to riding a bike?
See above. Plus, just know that there are so many specialties within the sport, from road to track to mountain bike to cyclo-cross. You can pretty much find something that you are good at and that you will love.
What is your biggest cycling goal?
I am no longer a professional cyclist. I work in the bike industry. Now, my biggest cycling goal is to get more people involved in the sport, especially women.
What cycling accomplishment are you most proud of?
Being able to support myself while I was traveling around the world and competing at the highest level of the sport. Not only did I get my “10,000 hours” in (which helped me get a job after I was done racing), I learned a lot about myself and what I was able to do if I really set my mind to it. I wasn’t the best athlete out there, but I feel that because I put 100 percent into training, and mostly because I persevered, I was able to accomplish some really great things.
Other than race results, what kind of impression do you want to leave on the world of cycling?
That I helped the sport grow. And, that I had a good time doing it. Bikes are fun!
What is your favorite non-cycling activity?
What kind of offseason vacations do you take?
If you weren’t a cyclist, what would you be doing?
What non-cycling athletes or teams do you root for?
Not really a sports fan, although I do love watching the Olympics.
What’s your favorite TV series?
House of Cards, Shameless, True Detective, Orange is the New Black
If you were on the Price Is Right, what would your dream Showcase Showdown be?
A wine cellar, fully stocked!
- Get to Know the Women of American Cycling - Jun 13, 2014
This Article Updated December 3, 2014 @ 08:18 PM For more information contact: