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Jenna Rinehart on Her Return to Pro Racing, Women's Elite Cycling, and the 2024 Life Time Grand Prix

Jenna Rinehart
Photo by Taylor Chase - LifeTime Grand Prix
Jenna Rinehard is a Minnesota-based professional off road cyclist. She finished the 2023 Life Time Grand Prix in 6th place overall and also just recently claimed her first pro gravel win. Here we catch her for a Q&A on her 2024 outlook, claiming a spot at Gravel Worlds in Belgium this October, and much, much more.

Follow along with Jenna Rinehart's season @jzrinehart

How did you get into professional offroad cycling?

My local ski area, Mount Kato, had mountain bike trails in the summer and I did my first ride at age 15. I entered my first race that summer and quickly fell in love with the sport. I spent many years racing the MN and WI off road MTB series. I went to my first National level race the summer after graduating high school. That opened my eyes to professional level racing and seeing really fast women crushing it. I worked my way through the ranks and got my pro license at age 21.

You just took your very first pro gravel win at the Highlands Classic after getting left in the dust with a dropped chain in mile one. How the heck did you pull that off?

Haha yes I made things a bit more challenging for myself by dropping my chain and losing the field so early in the race. I tried to not panic and keep a positive mindset. I really didn’t think I’d see the front of the race again but the course looked fun to ride so I could at least enjoy it and hopefully pick off some riders.

I stayed on the gas and sent it on the downhills and after the first aid station I started to see some riders up the road. I continued to pick off riders which was really motivating and by the last big climb of the day I’d made it up to the top 2 riders. I got a bit of a gap on a twisty downhill with just under 10 miles to go and decided to go for it.

I just held off 2nd place by under 30 seconds for the win. I’m a bit shocked and thrilled to pull that off!

You rode the Life Time Grand Prix in 2023, what was that experience like?

I had taken a long break away from the top level of the sport to run our bike shop so when I jumped back in I wasn’t sure what to expect. I ended up having a way more successful season then I could have imagined. I also got to know a lot of the other women which was super cool.

It was so fun to race in a strong and deep women’s field.

Unfortunately, that can be harder to find when doing more local races but the fields are growing and hopefully more women get inspired to come out and jump in the races. The equal opportunities LifeTime Grand Prix has created for Pro level racing is really cool to be a part of. The sport, especially for women, is in such a better place than when I used to race at this level.

You're now in 6th place for the 2024 Life Time Grand Prix after the first round. What are your hopes and expectations for year 2?

I learned so much after last season which I think definitely has its advantages. I learned so much about myself and what I’m capable of, nutrition, equipment choices, and how the courses ride. Most of these events were brand new for me last year. I’m excited to take all that I learned and apply it to the races this year. The season is super long and anything can happen.

I know there will be ups and downs to deal with. It’s hard to set certain result expectations as there are several new riders in the field this year and it seems to keep getting stronger each year. I just hope to apply what I learned last season and put forth my best effort.

You won a sprint to earn 2nd place at Mid South this year. How did that feel to take that spot in the final seconds of the race?

It was an incredible feeling. I think that might have been the first sprint I have ever won haha! Last year I tended to fade towards the end of races and lose spots. This year I have really been working on my race nutrition and I think this really helped me. I felt so strong all the way to the end.

You earned a spot at UCI Gravel Worlds in Belgium this October. How does that feel to have that on your horizon and what's your outlook for 2024 as a whole?

It’s super exciting to have qualified for a spot at the World Championships! I had the opportunity to go to the Mountain Bike World Championships when I was younger as a U23 rider. After taking a long break from competing I really didn’t think I’d find myself in this position again, especially being a bit older and at an Elite World Championships.

It’s an incredible honor to be able to represent the USA against the best riders in the world. I’m really just looking forward to the entire season and super grateful to have this opportunity to compete at this level again.

How does living in the north with a cold snowy winter for half of the year impact your ability to compete on the world gravel stage?

It definitely makes for some challenges at times. Especially when trying to get ready for some of these early Spring races. It can be hard to get the long days in. But there also are some positives to it as well. I believe it can make you a bit tougher. Riding on snow also gives you good bike handling skills and is similar to mud without the messy cleanup afterwards. The season is long so sometimes having a little slower start can make you feel fresher and stronger at the end of the season.

I don’t like to ride inside so I spend most of my time outside on my fat bike. I run studded tires and ride a lot of gravel roads and some single track. The wider studded tires help me feel a bit safer and the slower speeds keep you warmer than a gravel bike. That being said, I did skip out on winter a bit this year and spent some time getting in some big training days in Arizona. This helped a lot as I started my season earlier than I ever have before with several races in March.

You own a bike shop? How do you bring your love of the gravel community into the bike shop experience?

Yes, I co-own Nicollet Bike and Ski shop with my husband. I love to help others get into the sport and share my experiences with them. We host both weekly and monthly gravel group rides. We put on a yearly gravel event called the River Valley 100. It’s August 25th and we have a 100k option or a shorter 26 mile route. The 100k is not a race but more of a spirited group ride showcasing some of our best gravel. I also have created a list of our best gravel routes on our website with Strava links people can follow.




Plan a New Gravel Adventure

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