MARQUETTE - Tyler Jenema crossed the finish line of Superior Bike Fest's Presque Isle Circuit Race Sunday to the excited screams of his father Kent and sister Ashley. Kent and Ashley jumped up and down, hands extended as Tyler sprinted for the finish line.
No, Tyler didn't win the race. In fact, he finished fifth.
But the 23-year-old Negaunee High School product was racing in the weekend's premiere division of the Superior Bike Fest, the Pro, 1 and 2 Category, and was the only local rider in the field, so the Jenemas' excitement was probably appropriate.
Team Priority Health member and Negaunee native Tyler Jenema rides up Main Street while competing in the Men's USAC Pro, 1, 2 Twilight Criterium of the Superior Bike Fest Friday evening in downtown Marquette. Jenema placed 13th in the race. (Journal photo by Andy Nelson-Zaleski)
Tyler said he was happy with his finish, but as a member of Team Priority Health, he was a little disappointed with not having a teammate atop the podium.
"It's an elite field, so that's (fifth-place) good," he said. "But we always like to get a win for the team, so it's kind of a bummer we didn't get a win today.
"But to bang bars with them (the pro riders) for the winning field sprint, that's pretty cool"
Tyler's role on the team is that of cycling domestique - a rider who works for the benefit of the team - so he's not accustomed to finishing high in the field, more commonly he's working hard within a pack to get the win for a teammate.
"The only thing you really see is the results at the end of the day, but really, a lot of the domestiques end up doing just as much or even more just to keep them (the winners) out ahead of the pack," Tyler said.
He does have a few high finishes this year, though, including first place in the Fisk Knob Time Trial for men's 20-24 division. Last year, he was fourth in the ICEman Expert men's 19-24 division and third at Psycho Cross in Hawthorne Woods, Ill.
With Team Priority Health racing nearly every weekend, the recent Ferris State University pharmacy school graduate said road biking has become a lifestyle for him.
"We're an elite squad," Tyler said. "The majority of us are either going to school or have jobs. By no means would I say we're weekend warriors. We train 20 hours a week. It's basically a full-time job in itself."
"Just to be selected to a team like this is cool," Kent, 51, added.
The hard work paid off for Tyler during the Superior Bike Fest, as he finished 13th in the omnium points.
For Tyler, the weekend's races were quite a homecoming. As the lone Yooper in the field, Tyler received a special introduction during Friday night's Twilight Criterium, in which he finished 13th.
"It's priceless to have my family here supporting me, too," he said. "So it's good to have a good performance for them."
"It's pretty cool to be his dad and watch him in these races, too" Kent added.
Even though he's enjoyed helping Team Priority Health teammates, the role of domestique isn't what Tyler wants to do forever. In time, he may have a team of riders working to get him the victory.
"It's like anything. It takes a team effort, and you've got to be willing to work in that position to get up to the guy who actually is winning and has a team working for him," Tyler said. "It's all about paying your dues."