Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern
Most days Jill Kintner prefers two tire treads over her own two feet. She fell in love with the family hobby of BMX biking at age 10, and won the National Bicycle League's National Title only a decade later. She then steered into four-cross mountain biking, leading her to a career in downhill racing where she continues to compete across the globe today. We caught up with this badass biker to hear all about her extreme biking, professional training and race-day preparation.
Congratulations on taking 4th place in the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships earlier this month! How did you train?
Thanks! Yeah, this was a good course for me. I tend to gain time on most of the other girls when there is pedaling, just from having efficiency and power from my BMX days. I also raced in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa last year, so I knew what to expect as far as the speeds to push for and how hard the sprint in the middle was going to be. Even still, downhill has so many variables that we have to train to be balanced, powerful, focused and fit to attack a 4-5 minute race in changing conditions. Red Bull helps get me dialed in by improving my reaction speed and increasing endurance. These benefits plus specific training programs and intervals really help me prep for all of downhill's variables. Training for this particular race was focused on intervals and timed recovery from a max effort. I have a section of road near my house marked by two mailboxes 20 seconds apart that caused me a lot of pain.
What are your favorite parts about the training process?
Riding, or trying to figure out how to get better and seeing it work. My least favorite: taking vitamins.
What do you find to be the most challenging when prepping for a competition?
Physically, I enjoy challenges so the harder the workout, the more entertained I am. I find monotony to be the most difficult part of anything. Being outside and riding makes me the happiest, but I’ll do whatever I have to do to get better.
How do you calm your nerves before a big race?
I like to sit somewhere and remember the days that were hard that got me to where I am. When practicing at home, I pretend that I am at a World Cup with all the best people, and when I'm at a World Cup, I picture being at home by myself pushing as hard as I could have, so it's all the same.
What is the most difficult obstacle you've come across thus far, and how did you face it?
When my dad passed away, that was the hardest thing I have ever had to go through in life. He was a key player in my success and my biggest supporter. I was lost and went through a lot of emotions trying to fill the void. It doesn't really get filled, but I have dedicated a lot of what I have done for him and what he taught me.
Do you have any pre-race or workout songs that help you get in the zone?
Usually I just listen to a couple of Pandora stations. Snowboarding music is really quite good for working out—sort of an indie dance station or hip-hop. My favorite artists: Ratatat, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, Muse, Macklemore, Kid Cudi and Kanye West.
What are you looking forward to most now that your competition in South Africa has come to an end?
I still have two more world cup rounds to go: Norway and Austria. But after that, I am getting married, so we are gonna party it up and have a month off!
Now You Tell Us: If you could try a new extreme sport, what would it be?