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Karen Eller

Date of birth : 14th April 1968     

Hometown : Garmisch Partenkirchen, Germany

Career highlights:

3 time Transalp Challenge Winner in 1999, 2001 and 2003

Transrockies Challenge Winner in 2004

BC Bike Race Canada 2005

2nd place at Marathon World Cup Alp d’Huez 2003

2nd place at Red Bull Bike Attack Lenzerheide 2002

2nd place at Enduro Race Willingen

Many Marathon results


Mountain biking (trails and enduro), freeskiing, ski mountaineering

Short biography:

I was born and raised in Munich, Germany. Skiing was my first sport as a kid and I competed in national races until the age of 15. I still love skiing and have since then completed a training to become a ski instructor of the DSLV (German sport instructors association).

I studied Business and Economics at the University of Hamburg and also spent a year studying Business in Houston, Texas. Back in Munich, I worked for an advertising and then a film production agency. But I missed sports and nature too much so I decided to follow my passion, mountain biking, and to do it for a living. Therefore, I worked as a sport model during many years so I could afford to be a professional mountain biker. I even appeared as a mountain biker in a commercial spot for Nutella! I participated in many marathons and stage races like the Transalp and the Transrockies, and grabbed many good results.

When I stopped competing professionally, I wanted to do something for female mountain biking. I wanted to put a team together, but not a competitive team for contests, just girls who love biking and enjoy riding together. So I approached my sponsor SCOTT with this idea and we put together the Contessa Team.

Aside from all of this, I founded my own mountain bike company, together with my boyfriend Holger. It’s called “Die Rasenmäher” (the lawn mowers) and we organize bike camps, riding workshops, etc. I am also the author of the book “Mountain biking for Women” published by Delius Klasing.


Athletes talk

How and when did you start biking?

I got my first road bike when I was 13. My dad pushed me over many Italian passes and showed me how to have fun on a road bike. Since then, I have always been into bikes and so has my whole family. In ’82, as I was studying in Hamburg, my brother convinced me to try mountain biking. I participated with him in my very first race – a hill race in Austria – just for fun. And I won! I competed in the German cross-country Cup and then switched to marathon. I have always liked long races like marathons and stage races. At the beginning of my racing career, I was on rather small teams: Team Marin, then Proflex Racing Team. But after a few years on the bike, I got my first real sponsor with Cannondale who supported me on the races. In 2001, I joined the Team SCOTT and since then I have been really happy with them!

Who were/are your idols on and off the trails?

Honestly, I have never had idols on the trails. Actually, off the trails neither. I have always believed in myself. But I must say I have a huge respect for all the female alpinists climbing the highest mountains on earth. I really admire them.

What does biking mean to you personally?

It’s my life, my boyfriend’s and my kids’! Biking and being in the mountains, in winter as in summer…

What aspect of biking thrills you the most?

I really like trails, challenging trails and technical trails. I don’t like big jumps and drops: it’s just not my thing and will never be. I also like riding uphill, as long as there’s a good trail to ride down!

How do you manage to combine family/friends and job?

I have always been good at organizing my life and my sport. I wanted to make a living as a mountain biker and I believed in my dream. When the kids arrived, I knew it was important for my own satisfaction and happiness to continue with biking. My boyfriend has always supported me and we share the job, be it taking care of the kids or managing the business. Still, it’s all about good organization and flexibility. The kids are the best thing that could happen to Holger and me; they make you realize you shouldn’t focus too much on yourself or take yourself too seriously.