Sofia Blackburn - Apparel Ace and 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. Introducing Sofia Blackburn, our merchandising and soft goods manager.
WHO IS SOFIA BLACKBURN?
I am originally from Grand Junction, Colorado. In 2017, I moved to Salt Lake City to start school at Westminster College. I spent two years at Westminster studying neuroscience and plan on returning to school in the fall. Outside of my time at Contender, I enjoy spending time pedaling, snowboarding, and playing outside with my friends and puppy.
WHO ARE YOU AS A CYCLIST?
When I was a kid I absolutely loved riding my bike, but as I got older I got more involved with soccer and other sports. I lost the passion that I had for pedaling. There was a period of time when I absolutely despised riding bikes. When I moved to Utah, I started to get back into riding. Cycling really clicked for me when I got my first gravel bike (Juliana Quincy) in the summer of 2021. As a mountain biker, I ride pretty leisurely and for fun. But on my gravel bike, I find myself wanting to push myself much harder and try new things while still enjoying almost every moment of it. Competing in a mountain bike race doesn't interest me much, but I've already been eyeing lots of gravel races for the summer of 2022!
WHO ARE YOU AT CONTENDER?
Between the hours of 9am - 7pm I am the merchandising and soft goods manager and a sales associate. I began working at Contender in the fall of 2019. I work hands-on with our vendors to ensure we have the best cycling apparel not just in Salt Lake City, but all of Utah.
WHY THE GRODEO?
When I began at Contender, I was the only female (besides Alison) on staff. It was intimidating, especially being so new to biking and knew little about the industry. Honestly, there were a lot of days I felt like quitting, but I was ambitious. I learned as much about bikes and the bike industry as I could.
There are now four women working at Contender in various positions and they all do a great job in their area of expertise. I feel as though I can speak for all the women on staff when I say we take a lot of shit from people who question a woman's place in the industry but here we are, an all-female team representing our shop. We’re here, recognize us and treat us the same way you’d treat a dude. It's certainly nerve-wracking but to show up to an event as an all-female team in a male-dominated industry feels uniquely empowering.
While the Grodeo is “not a race,” it’s an experience I wouldn’t dare pass up. Who wouldn’t want to spend 92 miles in the saddle with two of their best friends and riding partners?