Maybe Jessi Prinner was drawn to the speed, the grace, the precision she saw in competitive cycling. Maybe it was all of that set against the picturesque backdrop of the French mountains and countryside.
Prinner, 18, doesn't remember the exact "why" behind her attraction to the sport. She does recall the "when."
Contact information ( * required )
"I watched the Tour de France one year when I was 11," Prinner said. "I just really liked the way it looked and I really wanted to try."
So Prinner emptied her savings account to purchase a $2,000 road bike and, as she says, it was "all downhill from there."
The South Elgin athlete began racing competitively at age 12 and has won countless titles at local and national races.
One such event is the Winfield Criterium, a race organized and sponsored by Athletes by Design Cycle Club, a group for biking enthusiasts based out of Prairie Path Cycles, 27W181 Geneva Road in Winfield.
Prinner first came in contact with the club while riding along the Prairie Path with her mom and stepfather, forming a relationship that would remain strong seven years later.
For many professional cyclists racing in the annual Winfield event, the criterium's location is a testament to the community.
"It's in my hometown," said Mike Ebert, Athletes by Design Cycle Club team and event director. "One of the courses is actually around my parent's house. It's always fun to race at home."
He began cycling competitively as a kid and has gone on to compete in races in Europe, as have a number of previous club cyclists.
"It's a great event. It's well run and it always draws a decent amount of spectators too," Prinner said of the Winfield Criterium.
The group strives to create what Ebert calls "a community of riders focused on development and helping younger riders who want to take the next step into the pro ranks."
For Prinner, the efforts of Athletes by Design have helped not only in terms of training but also monetarily.
"ABD has been really supportive with supplying me with equipment and new bikes," Prinner said.
She competes with the U.S. National Team, traveling throughout Europe and most recently to China.
"Racing over there is so much harder than it is in the U.S.," she said. "Once you come back you just have so much more experience and fitness than you did before you left."
Prinner is a 2011 graduate of Streamwood High School. The South Elgin athlete will attend Midwestern State University in Texas on a cycling scholarship this fall.