KJ Phillipps - Saddle Slinger
Throughout the next few months, we will be highlighting the women of Contender Bicycles - and their journey to completing the Grodeo, a 92-mile gravel event in northern Utah. Meet KJ Phillipps, one of our sales associates and biking bada**.
WHO IS KJ PHILLIPPS?
I’m KJ! I’ve lived in Utah my whole life and I love it! After I finish my undergrad in business at the University of Utah, I’m planning on going to law school. Growing up my family and I would spend the weekends in the Wasatch, outside. My favorite things to do in my time off are: hiking with my dog, long grueling climbs on my mountain bike, and shredding the gnar at Snowbird.
WHO ARE YOU AS A CYCLIST?
When I started riding, I was a sophomore in high school. My dad has been riding bikes his whole life and when he heard there was an MTB team at my school he signed me up. No questions about it. I was the only girl on the team for the first year. It was intimidating doing something new and being the only female on the team. I felt added pressure to do well and keep up with my male counterparts, but I was lucky enough to have a supportive coach and teammates that made biking really enjoyable for me. I grew to love the sport for myself. When I toed the line for my first race I was SO NERVOUS but after the first pedal stroke it all went away and during the race, I even caught myself smiling! My race career continued throughout high school and I was lucky enough to podium a lot of my races. High school racing led me to more competitive events like ICUPS. Before the pandemic hit, I was training to compete at Nationals in Winter Park, CO.
But then I got burnt out of racing. I feel like not a lot of people like to talk about burnout and the mental health side of racing. It’s easy to compare yourself in the sport and lose motivation. I did not want to ride my bike anymore. So, I took a year off of racing after I graduated high school. Instead, I coached for a local team and worked at the shop. It was really difficult not to be where I wanted physically and not find as much joy in riding my bike, but taking the time off was the best thing I could have done for my mental health. This past year I have been riding again and rediscovering a love for bike riding and not just competing. I have especially enjoyed riding with the other girls at the shop where we can challenge each other and just have fun. I'm excited to toe the line again at the Grodeo!
WHO ARE YOU AT CONTENDER?
At Contender, I am a sales associate and Sofia’s right-hand gal with merchandising and apparel. I love working in the outdoor industry surrounded by people that share the same passions as me. Recently, I enlisted in the Utah National Guard and just got back from boot camp. I’m super excited to be back in the mountains!
WHY THE GRODEO?
The ENVE Grodeo is a super awesome way to support local business! The Grodeo is an event sponsored by ENVE which is a local brand in Ogden, Utah. What better way to celebrate bikes than participating in a local race like this with some of my best friends!
WHAT ARE YOUR GRODEO (AND LIFE) GOALS?
I want to be part of the movement in the cycling world that creates a great space for women to get into, enjoy and excel at cycling. It’s important for females to be involved and show up at an event like the Grodeo. This sport is for everyone at every speed, and the sport needs role models to show other girls and women they can be a part of it, too. More than anything, I think cycling is about challenging yourself and having fun. The camaraderie that comes with the sport is electrifying. It’s so fun to find a group of friends to have fun with and push each other. I hope I can bring that type of energy to this sport and to the Grodeo. I hope young girls will see themselves in the women racing and working in the industry and not be afraid to show up.