Prinner Report: Junior World Championship Trial

Hey guys!
This is the rider report you’ve all been waiting for…drum roll…Junior World Championship Trials!!!  This was perhaps one of the most important races of my career as a junior racer, and I had my sights trained on it all winter.  I think this event is what kept me half-sane during all those lonely, gut-wrenching computrainer workouts at the bike shop.  As long as I knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel, and a purpose for all those workouts, I didn’t feel like all that effort was for nothing.  My #1 incentive happened to be located in Nashville, Tennessee this year.  Believe it or not, my goal had nothing to do with square dancing or cowboy boots, but instead a time trial and a road race within the country/western capital of the U.S. 
                After an 8 hour drive from Chicago to Tennessee, I was feeling surprisingly unfatigued (haha, that’s not a word).  I think it may just be my love for travelling, and the excitement of being in a new place I have never been before.  Whatever the case may be, I was psyched for a shot at qualifying for Junior Cycling World Championships, which will be held in Moscow, Russia, from August 7-9.  The winner of the road race and the TT automatically qualify for the event they won, and the rest of the Junior National Team is decided by nominations. 
Saturday I arrived at the first event of the Soto Classic; a grueling 6.2 mile TT along a well-known road called the Natchez-Trace.  Now I must mention the quality of Nashville’s roads, seeing as though I am a cyclist and pavement is my workplace.   Most of you can imagine the roads around Chicago;  some are so bad, you begin to wonder whether or not the government hired a squad of chimpanzees to lay the road, and a blind elephant to patch up the pot-holes.   Sometimes I feel as though a 20 mile ride ends up being one or two miles longer with all the swerving I do.  Nashville, on the contrary, has some of the smoothest roads I have ever experienced, like roads that have never been touched by a cars wheels.  I could ride for miles along the Natchez-Trace and not spot one flaw on the perfect asphalt.  In fact, it’s almost a little bit creepy, like I accidentally rode myself into the Twilight Zone without realizing it.
But I digress—I could go on for days talking about pavement, but I don’t like to bore my audience with details, especially those non-riders out there who right now are going, “IT’S JUST PAVEMENT FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!”  They wouldn’t understand.
So anyway, I spent a good hour preparing and warming up for my time trial, riding over the course again (checking one last time to be sure there weren’t any pot-holes) and talking to my ABD buddy Jenny Busch.  As it so happened, Jenny had spent numerous summers doing research in Nashville, Tennessee, and knew the place so well she could scout out the nearest Mom-N-Pop Country-Fried Biscuits-N-Gravy Pancake House with a blindfold on.   I think all Southerners just have a built-in radar for these restaurants.  Northerners, on the other hand, are more likely to flee when they see such places.  In any case, given the closeness of the racecourse to Jenny’s home, she decided to drop by and support me in my endeavors.  I find that supportiveness and friendliness tend to be natural traits of ABD team members, almost like it’s inborn.  And if it’s not, then we are quick to convert those sinners. 
I felt that it was to my advantage that the course was 10K (6.2 miles) because that also happens to be the distance of a certain indoor event we all know quite well.  Since I’d been doing the indoor TTs for four or five years (see, I’ve even lost count), I already had a good idea of what type of effort I could do for that particular distance.  From the time the clock started running I visualized myself once again on one of those awful computrainers, and tried to block out all the nerves that could possibly cramp my style.  I knew focus was the key—every ounce of my attention was trained on the effort at hand, losing sight and letting up for one moment could cost seconds.  I was flying; I made sure to spin out in my junior gears in the downhill and max out my watts on the uphills, judging to be around 270-300 watts as I would have done on a computrainer.  After the midway point I felt even faster as I estimated that my gap was closing to my minute-man, and I passed one girl several minutes ahead of me just before crossing the finish line.  It wasn’t until much later that I finally saw my time.  At first I was appalled to see I had made 2nd place with a time of 16:20 right behind 1st place Coryn Rivera, but then even more shocked when I saw I had lost first place by one second.  It’s always the most painful when the gap to a victory is just marginal, but seeing as though it was the closest I have ever gotten to Coryn’s time, I felt some degree of satisfaction. 
After making several trips to the hot tub the night before, I arrived at the road race the next day feeling fresher than I had expected.  The race was to take place over a grueling hilly 55-mile course accompanied by a scorching sun.  Within the last two miles was a monster of a hill that had to be over 10%, and the terrain seemed to just keep going up and up and up.  If Hideaway Hill is Dr. Jekyll, then this hill must have been Mr. Hyde. 
Well anyway, the race began with about 12 girls and nothing really happened for the first several miles of the race.  We rolled along as if we were on a nice Sunday group ride, looking around at each other to see who would make the first move.  Coryn Rivera attacked first on a sharp downhill, and as soon as the group rolled up on her, Kendall Ryan counterattacked.  Since it was only the first few miles of the race, everyone sat up, not bothering to put in an effort to chase.  Her gap continued to increase steadily as the miles wore on, but no one wanted to cooperate in catching her.  We finally hit the first major hill of the race, and the group immediately split, leaving five of us off the front with Kendall still ahead.  I wasn’t surprised at who made the cut; Kaitie Antonneau, Jackie Kurth, Anna Young, Coryn Rivera, and me.  All four I had expected to end up with at some point in the race.  For a moment or two, we attempted a chase, but it was short lived seeing as though nobody really wanted to take the chance of pulling their competitors and then being attacked.  Both Coryn and Kaitie attacked several times, and eventually Coryn and I managed to gap the other riders with roughly 20 miles to go.  We worked together to try to catch Kendall, but by that time she was so far ahead that our efforts really got us nowhere. 
With just two miles to go, we hit the final hill, and Coryn and I tried numerous slow-motion attacks (seeing as though we were only hitting about 10 mph at most).  It ended up coming down to a sprint, where Coryn outsprinted me for second, and I took third.  I’m glad nobody took any pictures of that finish because I’m sure I looked like a mess with salt stains all over and gel caked to my bike.  My coach, Mike Farrell, had told me to eat 4-6 gels during the race.  The result was not pretty, especially during the latter part of the race when a considerable amount of gel ended up on my hood/brake lever/fork/cables, etc. 
After the race Jenny Busch took my family and I on a tour of downtown Nashville.  Believe it or not, girls actually dress like Taylor Swift, complete with cowboy boots.  I ate chicken fried chicken, and to my surprise, it was delicious.  Unlike Chicago, downtown Nashville had hardly any traffic, and didn’t purposefully try to run any pedestrian/cyclists over, unlike Chicago where we suddenly become moving targets.
Despite all the fun I had over the weekend, it wouldn’t have been made possible without Jenny Busch’s and my parent’s assistance, Rob Jungle’s wheels, and the support of ABD.  Now I just have to cross my fingers and hope to make the National Team.
Is there anyone on the team who knows Russian?
Thanks for reading,


Prinner Report: Quad Cities (and Not So Radio-Ready)

Hello ABD,
        Even though school has gotten pretty crazy in the past two weeks, I still managed to find time to travel to the Quad cities, and then Nashville Tennessee for some major hard-core racing.  I’d like nothing more right now than to just sit and vegg out since I only have two days of school left, but I figure these reports are too important to hold out on any longer.

        Two weeks ago I hopped a ride with Sue to drive down to race the infamous Melon City and Quad City criteriums.  I was really looking forward to upping my results for this weekend since the best I’ve ever done was top twenty, and even then that was only when I wasn’t busy crashing myself out on every available corner.  The field was just as tough as ever with several pro-elite teams scattered throughout.  Meredith Miller from team TIBCO was there, as well as Amanda Mill from team Lipsmackers.  I also noticed how many of the teams had radios strapped to their ears, and thought about how cool it would be if Sue and I had earphones like that.

Jessi Prinner speaks into radio, “Pssst, Sue, are you there?”

Sue: “Yeah, I’m here”

Jessi:  “Sue, I’m riding about five riders back on the left.  Now I just move up one spot.  Now I just blew my nose.  The lady next to me has some really cute gloves.”

Sue: “Jessi…”

Jessi: “Oh no!  This lady just cut me off.  Okay, now I’m turning…”

Sue: “Jessi…”

Jessi: “Alright, I’m still on the left, about four riders back now.  Someone drew a smiley face on the road…oh wait, maybe it’s a frowney face…”

Sue: “Jessi!”

Jessi: “What?”

Sue “I’m right next to you”

Jessi: “Oh, right.  Oh!  You’re the one with the cute gloves!”

No, now that I think of it, that wouldn’t work out.  Sue and I would probably just end up talking about the weather and telling each other “Knock knock” jokes when we really should be focused on racing. 

        Anyway, the race was a total of fourteen laps, which may not seem like much on paper, and wouldn’t be if the course was flat, but fourteen laps sure seemed like plenty by the end of the race.  Everyone, of course, attacked on the hill, and I even managed to get a small break going with three other riders for one hopeful moment.  Nothing got far, though, and the move was shut down within half a lap, as it was too easy for the field to gain ground on the downhill.  The course itself is unique in the fact that it has a weird shape that squiggles through a park, with a steep, fast downhill, (at the bottom of which lies a speedbump) followed by a steep, slow uphill.  From past years I learned that the first rider to the top of that hill on the last lap is almost guaranteed victory, because by that time everyone is so gassed that an actual sprint is almost nonexistent.   So my plan was to be first up that hill.  It’s too bad about 30 other riders had the same plan in mind, because by the time the last lap came around, everyone was gunning for the front, and one rider (Meredith Miller from TIBCO) already had a significant gap up the road.  So the rider mentioned ended up winning the race, while I got neatly boxed in on the left with my last time up the hill.  Pooling together everything I had, I used my sprint to loop and dodge around a minefield of scattered riders, all jockeying for position towards the top, and finished with a respectable 8th place.

        The next day I crossed over the Mississippi River into Rock Island to race the infamous Quad cities criterium, also known as “Rage in the Cage”.  The skies looked threatening, and for a while the forecast predicted thunderstorms for my race, but by the time my start time arrived, the clouds were looking less bleak, almost as if they decided to stop crying for a while to watch the Pro women 1,2,3s race.  From the moment the whistle was blown, the race took off in a frenzy of attacks and counterattacks.  Team Lipsmackers coordinated their moves well, one right after the other.  I made sure to stay positioned near the front to be ready in case any major breaks developed, and tried several failed attacks before one break finally stuck.  The group consisted of six heavy-hitters, including Meredith Miller, Amanda Miller, Catherine Walberg, Kristen Meshberg, and Toni Bradshaw.  This power group consisted of the right recipe for success, and each of us pulled through consistently and worked together like a well-oiled machine.   At first, I thought the break wouldn’t survive seeing as though it was only halfway through the race, and our gap lingered at about 20 seconds for a few laps.  Then, Meredith Miller took a crazy strong pull for about half a lap and our gap instantly increased, and it was all uphill from there.  By the end, we were roughly half a lap ahead of the field, and as we rolled by the center barriers I could peer over the spectators and see the actual pack rolling by as we rolled by.  I could probably have thrown a waterbottle to one of them they were so close. 

        With under ten laps to go Meredith Miller began her brutal attacks that tore apart our breakaway, but none of them actually succeeded.  With just two laps to go, we were all together, and as well rolled though start-finish, a gambler’s prime was called for $60 on the next lap.  It’s no coincidence they call these primes “gambler primes”, because in order to win one you have to sprint on the bell lap, which is risky considering you could get gassed with just one lap to go.  I took this risk into consideration during the whole 2nd to last lap, and debated the worthiness of the risk.  But hey, $60 is a lot of money to a junior like me.  I thought of all the things I could buy with that money; a pair of shoes, a helmet that was on a super good sale(not that I would need one or anything), a hamster, a pair of head phones, 60 songs on iTunes, 60 snickers candybars, an iPod stereo that I could turn up really loud…the possibilities are endless.  So, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, I went for the gambler’s prime.  I really don’t think anyone else even tried for it, because when I looked back, I had a huge gap between the break and me.  And then I thought:

Gap + 1 lap to go = VICTORY!

So I floored the gas pedal and figured, “Hey, I already took one risk today, might as well take them all!” For almost an entire lap, the gap stayed, and just as I rounded the second to last corner, the group came roaring by me with Meredith Miller winding up her sprint and Kristen Meshberg hot on her wheel.  Meredith took the sprint, and I, feeling like dog chow, took fifth place.  Not bad, though, considering I stepped up from 18th, to 5th in one year, a huge jump considering the size and strength of these races.  Not only that, but I made podium as I was awarded the “Most Aggressive Rider Award” for burying myself at the end, and got an interview with some radio announcer (he was taping my voice, so I’m worried parts it might show up on the radio).  Overall, I’d say Memorial Day weekend was a success, and definitely one I’m adding to my race resume.

That’s all for now…
-Jessi Prinner