Ginny Jeppi is a high school senior preparing to take on the TS3 3-day stage race in just her second season of mountain bike racing! Follow Ginny’s journey in this series of articles and wish her luck on Twitter!
Nothing feels better than the top step of the podium. This past week I earned the spot on top of the Cat1 Open Women’s podium at the Greenbrier Challenge AMBC, MARC, MASS, and MD State Championship race. It was amazing to know I was the first in my class to cross that line. It took a lot of work to get there though.
The week before Greenbrier was the race at French Creek State Park. After coming off of a good placement at the Iron Hill race, I was excited to test my skills at French Creek and see if my placement was just a fluke. Last year, French creek was my favorite race even though it was raining and I had a cold. I was pretty stoked to get a chance to race on the rocks because they are the same kind of Pennsylvania rocks I will be facing at the Trans-Sylvania Epic and at Bear Creek. I had planned to get to the race early to take pictures for my photo series project for my digital photography project at school. I decided to do my project on the race of Tommy Steinebrunner, a super fast and promising junior racer. As it turned out, I was too late to catch the start of his race, but I still took some good pictures for the project! To take the pictures, I had to stand in the buggiest place I had ever been. I started to think, “If there are bugs in hell, this is what it is like.” After taking the pictures, I congratulated Tommy on his win and prepared for my race. I had a pretty good start in the race and went into the woods in a good place. I spent the first lap and part of the second battling with a group of three other girls for position. I eventually pulled away from them and won fourth place! This meant my placement at Iron Hill was not a fluke. One of the best parts of my race was when I was climbing a technical uphill and some guys pulled off the trail to let me climb it because they could not. That felt so good.
Since the race was on a Saturday, I had the opportunity to ride the next day, on Mother’s day with my mom on our mountain bikes. So to do this I decided to go to Greenbrier on Monday to ride. The next day I did a tough ride at the McKeldin area of Patapsco State Park. On Thursday, I did a ride that on Strava had to be named, “Terrible Tire Trouble with Tommy Terrific and TR.” Three of us got flats on that ride.
After the ride Thursday, I focused my efforts on Sunday’s race. I found out before Sunday that I was leading the MASS series for Pro/Open Women. This provided me with a little extra motivation. I went to Greenbrier earlier on Sunday to help out my Twenty20 team mate in the endurance race. I love going to bike races because of all the people I see. I saw some friends I had not seen in a while, like Sam O’Keefe, who also races for Twenty20. I cheered on Tommy in his race, which he won, and got ready for my race. I stood on the start line as my calf was marked with my race number. I am not sure the sharpie “36” will ever come off of my leg, seriously. I looked around and I was pretty confident for this race. The Pro class was a separate race, and I knew the course pretty well, so I knew if I had a chance of winning, it might as well be there. I had a great start and went into the woods in second position. I pulled away from the group on the first lap of four, and kept my lead for the rest of the race. I even passed one of the girls in the pro race who started in front of me. As soon as I came across the line I rode straight over to my mom and hugged her as I laughed saying, “I did it.” Yes, I still am a high school student, I wanted to hug my mom after winning.
I was so stoked to have my first win in the Cat1 Open race. Nothing felt better than standing on top of that podium as they put a gold medal around my neck. Well, maybe walking over to the race promoter and getting a check felt just as awesome. If I had to pick a time to start winning, this may be the perfect one because it is just in time for the TS3.
It is funny how Greenbrier always seems to be an important place. When my mom raced mountain bikes, she had her first big win there, when she won the State Championships, and even passed a few Pro Men. Last year, Greenbrier was the first USAC mountain bike race I had ever done, it qualified me for nationals, and I met some people who turned out to be pretty important. This year, I had my first big Cat1 Open win. It seems like Greenbrier came at the perfect time! Now I cannot wait to prepare for the Trans-Sylvania Epic this weekend!