For this week’s Gear Chat we have a quick chat with Karen Hill, who many of you will know from the Victorian and national xco/xcm racing scene. Karen is on a roll this year with regular appearances on the podiums at the national xco races, the highlight at this point of the season being a 2nd at Mt Taylor and 4th & 5th placings at Stromlo, Pemberton and Thredbo.
This new found drive and success this season has ignited a desire in Karen to strive for selection for the 2018 Commonwealth Games to be held here on the Gold Coast in April, 2018. To make this a reality Karen has set up a fundraiser on her website where you can donate to help her achieve her dream of racing at the Commonwealth Games, here in Australia. For further information and to donate go to:: Karen Hill Racing

Karen Hill Age: 28
Bike(s): Rocky Mountain Element & Rocky Mountain Vertex
Years racing: 3
Top 5 results:
My National XCO series results this year – 2nd at Mt Taylor , 5th at Stromlo, 4th and 5th at Pemberton and 5th at Thredbo.
Three events you’re excited about this season:
Only 3??? I have so many
I’m really looking forward to National champs (the course is so much better this year) and the Cairns World Cup; I dnf’d a couple years ago and I’ve improved so much since then and ready to tackle the course again. Oceania’s in Queenstown; I’ve never been and I’ve only heard good things.


Photo – Russ Baker

You’re heading out for an epic five-hour ride, what do you take?
A lot of food
What is your main cycling goal in the forseeable future?
I am aiming for the 2018 Commonwealth Games team. My main goal this year is to check out the racing scene overseas and get some experience racing world cups.


Photo – Russ Baker

What is  Karen Hill Nutrition?
Karen Hill Nutrition is an online membership based nutrition service I have started. My aim is to help people achieve their goals of performance or health through nutrition. Working online allows me to work from anywhere in the world.
How important is it to incorporate a nutritional plan with your training program?
A nutrition plan can be the difference between winning and losing. There is no ‘one size fits all’ Nutrition plan. A good plan can support the rigours of training by optimising all aspects of your nutrition (e.g. nutrient intake, meal planning, hydration, nutrient timing and supplementation) in order to gain an edge over your competition by:

  1. Improving training quality
  2. Speeding up recovery between sessions
  3. Improving adaptations to training and breaking through plateaus
  4. Maximising power to weight ratio
  5. Gaining strength
  6. Making weight for competition
  7. Improving immune function

Set the suspension hard ‘n’ fast or soft ‘n’ slow?
Not too hard but not too slow, somewhere in the middle.
What is the most underrated/least flashy bit of gear you use and couldn’t do without? A good mechanic
Favourite bike of all time?
My Rocky Mountain Element- I took a bit of convincing to get a dually but it was the best decision I’ve ever made.


Photo – Russ Baker

Favourite bike accessory?
I haven’t used it yet but Im looking forward to getting my hands on a Wahoo element bike computer. I’ve never been great with technology but I’m really loving all the data from training.
Favourite bike technology?
My Stages power meter – it’s a great training buddy
Number of gears? 1×11
What does a road bike mean to you?
I like to ride my road bike sometimes; I don’t mind commuting on it and racing some road crits. But I actually feel a bit sorry for my road bike, it generally gets a bit neglected.
You get a new mountain bike. What parts do you swap straight away?
When I got my Element, we swapped everything from Shimano to SRAM XX1, Guide brakes and RockShox rear shock and forks.
I’ve partnered with FE sports this year and I’m really looking forward to using Astute saddles. That is one part that is always swapped out straight away.


Photo – Russ Baker

Any custom tricks on your bike?
I ride a small frame so swapping the rear shock from Fox to RockShox meant I could fit a drink bottle.
What are you most anal about with bike setup?
I don’t think I’m anal enough. When I get a new bike I set it up the same and make any adjustments when riding until it feels perfect.
What’s the worst mechanical you’ve ever had?
A flat tyre. I have been pretty lucky so far I haven’t had any really bad mechanicals, which surprises me because Im mechanically terrible (although Im slowly learning). Ive never even broken a chain.
What’s the worst crash you’ve had?
I haven’t had any really bad crashes (does that mean I don’t ride hard enough?). The worst was one new years eve riding at the You Yangs with my coach and I crashed on a rock and took a little chunk out of my shin.
What would you love to see invented?
More girls that want to race mountainbikes competitively in Australia

To keep up with Karen’s progress : Karenhillracing
To donate to the Games Dream :Donate
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