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by Justin Young, Peace Coffee Intern and Bike Apostle

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with both Jennifer Nowlin and Michael McBurney of the Peace Coffee Racing Team and ask them a few questions about cycling, Peace Coffee and what motivates them.

Jennifer is off to a great start to her mountain biking season competing in the Minnesota Mountain Bike Series, which is now underway. At the Freewheel Frolic in Inver Grove Heights, MN, Jennifer finished 6th place overall in the expert (CAT 1) class and 1st in her age group of 19 to 35 years old. She followed that result with another 6th place overall in the expert (CAT 1) class and 2nd in her age group at the Life Time Avalanche in Afton, MN. She is a Radio Frequency Engineer (say that 10 times fast!) involved in technical sales and manages a team of sales engineers for Verizon Wireless. She is married and has three boys (5, 3, and 1 years old). Jennifer originally hails from Milwaukee, WI, where she worked in a family-owned construction business.

There are few mountain bikers in the Midwest brimming with potential like Michael. With two races under his belt this season on the Minnesota Mountain Bike Series he is turning some heads! At the Freewheel Frolic, Michael finished 17th overall in the expert (CAT 1) class and 1st in his age group of 15 to 18 (oh yeah, did I mention he is only 18?). The following race, Lifetime Avalanche at Afton Alps, he finished an astonishing 4th place overall in the expert (CAT 1) class and 1st in his age group again, while riding faster than last years U23 National Champion by nearly a minute. Michael is a high school student at Roseville Area High School and will be a senior in the fall of the 2010-2011 school year. He is a multi-sport athlete competing in Cross Country Running, Track and Mountain Biking. He also plays the piano and viola. He is a very charismatic and energetic and tries to live life to the fullest by making the best of every opportunity.

JY: Tell us about your experience racing with Peace Coffee Racing (PCR).
JN: I began racing with Peace Coffee in July 2008 as an expert racer. Peace Coffee is the only team I have been affiliated with since I began racing. I have enjoyed getting to know my fellow teammates immensely, the support from Peace Coffee people & families and the strength of the team overall.
MM: PCR is really a fun team to be a part of! The team is really supportive and is full of fun and friendly people. I so enjoy the teams sharing of after race victories, mishaps and the camaraderie.

JY: What is your most important accomplishment racing with PCR to date?
JN: Finishing top 20 in Chequamegon 40 in 2009.
MM: I would have to say that my most important accomplishment would be last year’s race at Spirit Mountain.  This was by far the best race of my racing career.  Not only was this my highest placing race overall, taking third, but I was only 2 mins, 51 sec behind the winner Brendan Moore.

JY: What motivates you?
JN: Adrenaline High – I am an extreme sports junkie. Stress Relief. Hanging out with good people.
MM: I am motivated by the fact that this sport could potentially turn into a career. There is no better job than racing your bike for a living. Not to say how much fun cycling is. I like to dream big!

JY: How did you get into the sport of cycling?
JN: Kevin Flanders invited me to join him at a Buck Hill race in May of 2008. We rode a warm up lap - I crashed hard and came out of the woods covered in blood & dirt. I still rode the race and took third. I came home that night and told my husband I was hooked and that we were hiring a babysitter for Thursday nights. I raced one MNSCS race in Sport and then jumped up to Expert after joining Peace Coffee in 2008.
MM: It was all my dad. He started at me at a young age, first in the Burley and then on the Traila bike. My first epic ride was when I was 5 years old. I was on my 20” Target Saber Tooth bike and we rode the trail from Duluth to Carlton and back. Dad was so energetic about cycling and always made sure that I was having fun while starting out. Thanks to him, cycling has become one of greatest parts of my life.

JY: What were your interests in joining PCR?
JN:I wanted to join the team that Kevin and other biking friends I had met were racing for. I do not drink coffee, but enjoy the Peace Coffee business model and the passion the company has to produce a unique, high quality product.
MM: My dad was on the team and had gotten to know a few other guys on the team.  The team does a lot of team rides and seemed to be a great start for racing.

JY: What are your racing plans for this season?
JN: Race three big races this year. 1) Lumberjack 100 2) Ore to Shore 3) Chequamegon. Learn, attempt to train a little bit and learn.
MM: I am doing all the MNMTBS and some WORS races.  This year I plan on getting out to some of the national races as well.  I will just be trying to get as much racing as I can in this season.

JY: Where are a few of your favorite places to ride for fun?
JN: Hillside – love that course. Theo – 10 minutes from work.
MM: For fun I ride at Lebanon Hills, Wirth Park, Afton Alps, Mammoth, Milaca, Murphy Hanrehan, and Elk River.

JY: Where are a few of your favorite places to race?
JN: Hillside – constant single track, no break. Redwing – fast & fun. Border Battle @ Whitetail Ridge – WI fun!
MM: My favorite courses would be Memorial Park in Red Wing, Mt Du Lac, Spirit Mountain and the Jail trail in St. Cloud

JY: Other than mountain biking specifically, do you participate in any other sport? 
JN: Broomball – another crazy, fun sport. Snowboarding & wakeboarding.
MM: I run cross country and track for the high school.

JY: What is one interesting fun fact about you?
JN: When I was in 1st grade I was driving skid loaders, at age 11 a 966 Loader, age 12 a D7 Bulldozer, and at age 13 a compactor, road grader and other various pieces of equipment.
MM: I use cycling as cross training.  I was able to place well in the State Cross Country running meet. My CC coaches discovered the benefit of cycling and now encourage me to ride more and run less. 

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