Jessi's Hillsboro Report

My trip down to Hillsboro indeed brought back many interesting memories. I could again envision myself age thirteen laying by the side of the road getting a back rub from my mother just 10 miles from the finish line, crying tears of pain as all the cat 4 women I had worked so hard to drop slowly passed me again. Another image, a year later, of a dark, dreary, freezing wet day shivering at the start line with 20 other juniors (I was the lone girl of course) and riding by myself for hour after hour after being popped from the pack.

All these past memories of the hilly road race only left me in a quandary at what today’s fresh, new Hillsboro experience might bring.

The day started at chilly low temperatures, and after circling the small loop in town twice I was forced to resort to jumping jacks as a final desperate attempt at a warm-up. This year was the first year I would be riding with the big girls, the catty 1,2,3s, and I wanted to prove myself as a persevering rider with greater potential than they could have ever though possible. As of this moment, I just looked like a scrappy teenager doing jumping jacks in the middle of the road.

As I looked around, I calculated my chances of victory. If there are 30 riders in a bike race and one rider is dropped per mile for 44 miles, what is the probability of Jessi winning the bike race? I’ll give a free powerbar to anyone who can figure that one out.

Today’s race would definitely be no cup of tea; just looking around I could spot prominent names of some of the most ruthless women in the Midwest. Sure, I’d competed against a few of these strong women here and there, but today it was as if the Prominent Name Convention had come to town and every single prominent name in the Midwest decided to show up.

I was still yapping my trap off to Sue as the starter whistle blew, and I scrambled to get my feet clipped in as the race began. It only took about 4 miles into the race for the attacks to begin; I guess Prominent Names don’t like to stay together that often. None of the attacks lasted longer than a minute, or gained more than a few feet. For the first time in my life I used my brain, and figured that if the Prominent Names’ attacks weren’t working, than mine probably wouldn’t either, so I became a wheelsucker for most of the first lap.

You know the saying "When the going gets tough, the tough get going"? It goes something like that. Well, the same applied for this race. The race soon turned into Café Ride Gone Wild with attack groups catapulting themselves at every opportunity. Everyone knew this was the moment of truth: this was the decisive moment of who would make the break and who would get whisked out into the empty cornfields of Illinois, forced to take the scraps left behind after the riders up the road got first dibs on podium. The terrain turned to a grade steep enough to deliver the final blow needed to splinter the pack. Just seven of us came out together. And I was one of them.

The paceline began immediately, all of us working together swiftly and efficiently to insure no stragglers clawed their way back on. I could name every face in the pack and match at least one first place victory with each face as well (except one gal from St. Louis).

The race continued on this way for the rest of the first lap and the entirety of the second lap. Near the end of the second lap, another lady somehow conjured up the Herculean effort to ride herself back into our group, increasing the number to eight. After so many miles of such brutal pacelining, I was beginning to fatigue, and each hill I would fall back farther and farther.

Finally, as the last hill loomed overhead, I scraped together what little power remained from the far reaches of my being, and stood up in a mad frenzy to just stay in contact with the other riders in the group, knowing there was just one mile to the finish line. It was to no avail, though, because I quickly became gapped by five who hammered their way out of my reaches up the road. My mind momentarily flickered with disappointment because there were only five paying places in the race, and it was disheartening to ride 44 fierce miles only to finish just out of money range. I still continued my relentless struggle up the hill with the other two dropped women, never abandoning hope of some miracle.

And then, as if God himself had answered my prayers, the most amazing and spectacle of the twenty-first century occurred right before my scrappy little eyes. One of the ladies dropped her chain. And then there were four little Indians. I ascended the top of the hill and shook my legs out as I scorched down the descent into the cobbles. I paced myself with the other two women, barely noticing the battering cobbles jarring my teeth, knowing I was clinging to my last chance at a podium finish. The final turn came and I sat patiently behind in third position, knowing how long the final straight was. Lady 1 and Lady 2 slowly ramped it up, eyeing each other side by side. As the pace quickened and they started to sprint, I got boxed in as Lady 1 sat in front of me with the curb to my left and Lady 2 to my right. It was not exactly the ideal situation in the final moments of a race, but I slowly backed off and kicked it into high gear as I sprinted around both of them sliding right into 5th place.

And with that I think it’s safe to say that in the course of just 3 hours the once scrappy teenager doing jumping jacks in the middle of the road has just graduated to the title of Prominent Name.

Until next week…

-Prominent Name

(Jessi Prinner)

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