By R.E. Wagner
Off-road cyclist Nina Machnowski left New Jersey behind this past June to compete in her latest Ultra Endurance Race located at Ohio State’s Mohican 100k, 62 miles.
“I have some experience riding longer distances – before this race, the longest I’d ridden was 45 miles for the Steward 45 in 2016,” said Machnowski. “I have also raced in the Hampshire 50k [31 miles] and rode for six hours at the Cathedral Pines, Something Wicked event.”
For this 15-year-old Verona resident, the Mohican 100 was a milestone in her career for distance. Beating her original long distance record by 17 miles, Machnowski crossed four counties of rugged terrain filled with farmland, steep climbs, and some unexpected conditions.
“Ohio’s terrain is surprisingly different from New Jersey’s,” recalled Machnowski. “I had a total of 8,000 feet of climbing from the rolling hills. When the course turned rocky and wet, I was able to gain an advantage over other competitors by making passes on lines they wouldn’t ride.”
To prepare, Machnowski shared that she relied on long hours of training both on and off the bike to see her through the race.
“All winter and spring I made myself weekly training schedules that consisted of intervals on the indoor trainer, long and consistent outdoor rides, and floor exercise that improve stability and core strength,” explained Machnowski. “I really didn’t start to get of my comfort zone until around mile 40.”
In addition to her prep work, Machnowski eats a balanced diet, ensuring she gets adequate nutrients as well as taking multivitamins and B12 supplements.
The healthy lifestyle has paid off. Machnowski finished the Mohican 100 in under seven hours and placed 16th out of the 52 females competing. When asked what helped keep her focused during the long ride, Machnowski gave a nod towards family support as a key component.
“My family were a big help getting me mentally prepared,” said Machnowski. “My parents showed me a lot of videos and interviews of professional ultra-endurance races with experience. My dad helped me plan out my aid station and nutrition strategy. I went over the course map and we took educated guesses about which sections would be worth pushing the pace and which ones to use for recovery.”
For Machnowski, the most difficult part of the race was a mixture of circumstances and patience.
“The hardest aspect was really the bottleneck at the beginning when we had hundreds of races in the first single track section,” said Machnowski. “I had to emotionally manage that I couldn’t pace as fast as I wanted to and understand this is to be expected in an event this size.”
With this impressive milestone under this young sophomore’s belt, Machnowski shared that she has no intention of stopping now and was enthusiastic about her future as a long distance cyclist.
“I am definitely looking forward to more Ultra Endurance Races soon,” she said. “I am considering riding 100 milers in the future and am looking forward to racing at more ultra-endurance races like the Crotched Mount 100k in New Hampshire.”
On June 25, Machnowski participated in the Lewis Morris Challenge, part of the Hudson to Highlands Mount Bike Race Series. Racing against women ages 15 and up, Machnowski won the race, giving her the title of N.J. State champion.