National Champion!

Photo by Don Lipps - Display case at Nicollet Bike shop. The caption reads, "Jenna (Zander) Rinehart 2006 U23 national Mountain Bike Champion - Sonoma, CA ~ 12th 2006 U23 Mountain Bike World Championships - New Zealand ~ 2nd 2006 U23 Pan American Championships - Brazil"
Photo by Don Lipps – Display case at Nicollet Bike shop. The caption reads, “Jenna (Zander) Rinehart 2006 U23 national Mountain Bike Champion – Sonoma, CA ~ 12th 2006 U23 Mountain Bike World Championships – New Zealand ~ 2nd 2006 U23 Pan American Championships – Brazil”

When asked, Jenna is willing to help explain some of the cycling world and her experience in it.

“Mountain Biking is an Olympic sport. There are also world championships, world cup races, national level races, and national championships,” she said.

“There is a professional level category of women racers called U23 (Under 23) for up-and-coming riders,” she said. “In 2006, I won the U23 National Championships.

“Winning that, I got to go with the US National Team to the World Championships which happened to be in New Zealand that year and placed 12th. That same year I went to the Pan American Championships in Brazil. Very cool experiences representing the US, and fun to be a part of that team.”

In 2006, Jenna placed second in the Pan American Championship.


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Growing Passion

What started Justin and Jenna Rinehart on their journey to become accomplished racers and owning a bike shop?

“When I was 14 or 15, I met a friend who was into riding, so we started riding around town a lot,” Justin recalled.

“Once I did a wheelie and my chain broke. I thought, I need a new bike! My friend introduced me to Nicollet Bike Shop. From that day forward, we started riding together more and more. We rode two to three thousand miles every summer. He also introduced me to another friend, Brady, who now works here.”

Jenna related her cycling beginnings. “Mount Kato is what started my passion for riding. I lived and breathed skiing growing up. In the off season I’d look for ways to stay in shape. I had seen that Mount Kato offered mountain bike trails in the summer, so I checked it out.

“The first time I rode my bike there I walked way more than I rode. It’s not easy,” she said. “I loved it! I loved being in the woods. I loved the adventure. I loved the thrill that was a little like skiing. I loved that it had endurance but also required skill. I also explored road cycling and some triathlons. I’ve fallen in love with all of cycling now.”

Adventures of the Young Competitors

“Jenna and I met during high school while we were both on the downhill ski teams,” Justin recalled. “We started officially dating when I was a freshman at Minnesota State, Mankato and she was a senior at West High School. We will celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversary this coming January.”

“We acted like we didn’t know what there were saying because they were yelling at us in French!”

“One summer, being young and not having much money to spend on our racing careers, we had to get by as cheap as possible. Jenna and I spent a month on the road racing out west with a friend. Jenna and I lived out of my Dad’s 6’x10′ enclosed trailer behind our friend’s dad’s truck. For a month straight, he slept in the back of the truck, we slept in the trailer with all our bikes.”

“We met a lot of great people and got to travel to a lot of beautiful, cool places and totally would do it again,” he said.

“I’d do it again in an instant,” Jenna said. “It was an incredible way to see the country. I don’t think we ever paid for camping once that summer! The next summer our friend got an RV, so we upgraded, but that year there were six of us traveling!”

“The second summer I think we paid for camping one time in Lake Tahoe,” Justin said. “Another time we plugged into a grocery store in Quebec to cook dinner. When they came to chase us off, we acted like we didn’t know what there were saying because they were yelling at us in French!”

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Don Lipps
A long-time resident of Mankato and North Mankato, Don is a veteran web developer. Don and his wife, Tina, have 5 grown boys and one daughter-in-law.