Nina Machnowski Tackles 100-Kilometer Bike Race

By on June 6, 2017

Nina MachnowskiThis past Saturday, June 3, Nina Machnowski and her dad Stephen participated in the Mohican 100, a 100-kilometer mountain bike race in Ohio. Machnowski, who is a rising sophomore at Verona High School, was one of only three riders under 18 in the pack of 650 cyclists that crowded the starting line in downtown Loudonville, Ohio, a rural town midway between Akron and Columbus.

“The race announcer told everyone over the speakers about some famous racers that were there, like Jeremiah Bishop, Christian Tanguy, and Dylan Johnson,” Nina Machnowski said. “Surprisingly, he also brought to everyone’s attention that there were three 15-year-old juniors racing–me, racing for Team Pedal Montclair, and two other guys. One of the boys was near me, to the left at the start. No time to chat though. It was time to put my race face on. And just like that, the race started.”

The Mohican 100 is what mountain bikers call an “ultra-endurance” race, and for good reason. The 100K race course, which equals just over 62 miles, took riders through four counties as they climbed more than 8,000 feet. (There’s also a 100-mile race option.)Nina Machnowski

“The time between the second and third aid station felt the longest to me,” said Nina. “It was 20 miles until aid station #3, so I did have a while to think things through. I settled into ‘the zone’ and tried to control my heart rate in order to pace myself properly. This was when the really long farm roads began. And when I say ‘long’ and ‘big’ climbs, I mean long and big. But I knew that after every climb there was a descent, since they were all rolling hills. On one of the farm roads I saw two women on a quad driving down, and as I got closer I noticed that they were just little girls, probably only around 11 and seven years old. It took me a second glance to process this, since I’m not very used to seeing this. What a different way of life I thought to myself.”

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“When I hit 30 miles, I couldn’t even believe that I was only halfway done,” she added. “But I knew that I could do it. I almost went in a deep, dark place. I could sense my eyes falling to my front wheel and thoughts that shouldn’t be there creeping into my head. I was able to push them away, though, and remembered what my NICA coaches had said about looking ahead. I looked up again at the trail and moved over that mental obstacle. I just kept hammering nutrition down, whatever I grabbed from my back pocket. I’m strong enough to finish this I reminded myself. I’m doing this for a lot of people. I sprayed water over the back of my neck. I’m here to prove something. I shifted into a bigger gear. I’m here to make a point. I’m here to make history. And I kept riding.”  

(NICA is the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, which is the parent organization for school-age bike teams. Machnowski, who is 15, also races with the Essex Offroad Mountain Bike Team , a squad of 25 middle and high school students from Bloomfield, Caldwell, Cedar Grove, Maplewood, Montclair, South Orange, West Caldwell and Verona. )

And make history she did. While her dad finished 52 out of 273 men in the open/pro 100K men’s race with a time of 5:50:26, Nina finished only one hour later, taking 16th place in a field of 52 women. Nina’s moving average was 8.9 miles per hour, compared to 10.5 mph for her dad.

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Nina Machnowski

“For the last 10 miles, I hammered back and felt suddenly awesome,” Nina reflected. “I could hear the announcer through the woods, and I could not believe it. The arch at the finish was finally within view. I was in tears. Everything was a blur; people were cheering, the announcer spoke my name, and my dad was there to hug me. I was the youngest woman to ever attempt and complete the Mohican 100K, and I didn’t just complete it. I destroyed it, finishing in just under seven hours. I put my body through something so absolutely draining, so uncompromising. But I did it. I did it. It was over.”

Nina Machnowski

Nina Machnowski, with her dad Stephen, who also raced.

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One Comment

  1. Kevin Ryan

    June 6, 2017 at 9:23 pm

    Congratulations to Nina and Steven on their accomplishments.

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