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Racers of Cascadia - Kim Hardin



Heather: How did you get into the sport of Mountain Biking?


Kim: I used to paddle whitewater professionally, and when I was 22, I suffered a shoulder injury requiring surgery. After the surgery, I developed a severe case of frozen shoulder, which prevented me from lifting my arm above shoulder height, thus hindering my ability to paddle for a while. Naturally, I turned to mountain biking for exercise, missing the competitive aspect, and eventually began racing bikes, leading me down that path. In 2016, my husband Nick and I embarked on international racing in the Enduro World Series. We signed with Santa Cruz/Juliana in 2017 and gained momentum from there, competing in various locations including Italy, Colombia, Chile (twice), Madeira, Whistler, and many more. However, we had to pause our racing endeavors due to injuries and the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, we focused on navigating the challenges, particularly with our restaurant, KickStand Coffee & Kitchen, ensuring its survival through the pandemic. Last year (2023), I returned to racing for the first time in three years at Post Canyon and felt like I was reemerging. Balancing my passion for racing with the responsibilities of operating our restaurant, KickStand Coffee & Kitchen, has become my present-day reality.



Heather: How long have you been racing?


Kim: I began my bike racing journey in 2014, participating in the Oregon Enduro Series, and subsequently advancing through the ranks to compete in events such as the Cascadia Dirt Cup, Big Mountain Enduro, and eventually the Enduro World Series. My initial experience with the Cascadia Dirt Cup was in 2016, and I believe I continued racing through 2018 before taking a break and returning to competition in 2023. You can find more details about my racing background at http://www.meetthehardins.com/about.html.




Kim coming in hot on stage one, Dirt Surfer. Mt Hood is in the background.



What sort of riding is your favorite? 


I LOVE riding fast - of course fast flow trails. More recently, I've been enjoying the process and progression via big, fast jump lines!



How has it evolved for you? 


When I first started riding, it was a way to diversify my physical activities alongside paddling. However, it gradually became my primary form of exercise following my surgery, and eventually, it presented itself as a new challenge as I delved into mastering a new skill. Pushing myself to go faster and farther became a personal challenge. With my background in human physiology, I began training myself and Nick rigorously. We committed fully to this endeavor, aiming to maximize our fitness and speed. The experience proved to be quite addictive, and although we don't compete as frequently anymore, we continue to train intensively.


 Riding serves as both an escape from work and a pursuit of our personal passions. It's life encompassing, for sure.  We live & breathe everything two wheels, with pretty much every day revolving around how and when we are on bikes or motos. I don't think we've taken one vacation without bringing at least one bike each.




Kim’s work truck and her EVIL Following enduro bike. 



What does your training look like, and how far out from an event do you start? 


When we're actively competing, our training regimen includes rigorous gym sessions and extensive road biking and mountain biking sessions from October to March, leading up to our first race typically scheduled for late March or April overseas. Once the race season begins, our focus shifts more towards maintenance rather than intense training. Nowadays, while we still prioritize staying in top physical condition for our rides, our training approach has become a bit less rigid. We allow ourselves more freedom to enjoy the company of friends and family and to have fun on our bikes, while still maintaining a solid training routine.



What do you like most about racing the CDC series?


During our full-time racing stint from 2016 to 2018, Nick and I participated in the entire Cascadia Dirt Cup series. However, we had to pause our racing endeavors for a while due to injuries and the pandemic. One of the aspects I've always appreciated about the Cascadia Dirt Cup is its laid-back atmosphere and the sense of community fostered by Cam, the organizer. He puts in considerable effort to give back to the local communities at each race stop and ensures that everyone, including racers and volunteers, feels welcomed. Additionally, the race venues themselves are pretty cool!




Mt Hood lookin’ good in the distance as seen from a berm on Dirt Surfer, Stage One.


Tell me about a difficult situation in regards to racing, and what you did to overcome/adapt to it. 


Oh boy, there's been so many times - getting a concussion & dislocating a few ribs in my first euro EWS back in 2016 - I was super banged up, barely made my transfer times, and double cramped after the last stage on the liason back to chip in for the weekend. It's impressive how deep you can dig, and what that little fire inside of you can do sometimes. 2018 - EWS Manizales, Colombia - it poured for two days before the race. Practice was a sloppy mess, but with THICK freeze thaw like mud. In practice, everyone's bike was packing up to the point where the rear wheel wouldn't even spin in the frame. Race day was somehow worse - it poured rain all day. From leaving the venue, we pedaled for 6 hours in the pouring rain, and pretty much drug our bikes through mud all day - it was super frustrating & depressing, having flown so far, and put some much time and energy into the race to barely be able to pedal the tracks. At some point, it became funny, and we embraced the suck. I think in those moments, you start to learn about your inner strengths, and how much fight you really have. At the end of the day, I wasn't proud of my result, but was pretty darn proud of not giving up. 




Womens Pro Podium! Kim is up on top, starting off the season with a bang.



Kim is sponsored by Evil Bikes, Chris King, PUSH Industries, Smith, Ion Bike, Dumonetech, Kickstand, and Schwalbe Tires.



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