Biking Competitively: Nina Machnowski

Virtually every kid learns to ride a bike, it’s a rite of passage.  But how many wind up riding competitively in Texas, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and Virginia?  One VHS senior has. 

Because VHS is a relatively small high school, we often don’t appreciate the diverse and fascinating interests which our many peers have. One of these is the biking accomplishments of senior Nina Machnowski.  

Nina has been biking as long as she can remember, but she started cycling seriously when she 11, competing in local races. Since then, she has competed in many races, including the MTB Marathon National Championships in Palo Duro Canyon, Texas last summer, in which she placed third.  She also competed in the Big Frog 65 in Tennessee, Wilderness 101k in Pennsylvania, and Shenandoah Mountain 100, her first ever 100-miler, in Virginia.

Her dream race is the Absa Cape Epic in South Africa, an 8-day stage race with over 400 miles and 51,000 feet of climbing.

Her favorite place to bike is at Mahlon Dickson Reservation, in New Jersey; however, she has been to other beautiful places that she loves, including Shenandoah National Park, Palo Duro Canyon, and the Black Hills of South Dakota. Nina says there’s nothing like biking in the woods, giving you the opportunity to appreciate nature and recharge.  

Nina’s favorite part of biking, however, is the community, which she says is one of the most supportive and friendly she has ever encountered. Even in such a competitive sport, fellow bikers will encourage her to keep pushing, as well as help whenever necessary. 

The most difficult part of biking, according to Nina, is not burning yourself out. It can be difficult, she says, to avoid overtraining before a big competition.   She also says the endorphins one gets from racing can be addictive.  

Nina is a strong proponent for biking; she believes that “Anyone can do it! It’s an extremely healthy non-contact sport that will teach you mental and physical toughness as well as other lifelong qualities.”

Perhaps one of the most impressive things about Nina’s illustrious biking career is her sponsorship. Through the help of her local bike shop, Pedal Montclair, as well as her professional social media, Nina was able to catch the eye of her favorite brand, Pivot Cycles. Pivot sponsors athletes worldwide and their philosophy is to grow the cycling community by being all-inclusive. 

In addition to her sponsorship and national race success, Nina also has quite a local presence. New Jersey is currently fourth in the NICA and continues to climb. More and more people are striving to become competitive bikers like Nina and are working hard to reach their cycling goals. In Verona specifically, there was no major cycling presence until recently. There is now a Verona Off-road team; before that, Verona kids had to be a part of the Essex Off-Road team. Now with a growing Verona and New Jersey presence, cycling has become an accessible and fun sport that allows kids from sixth grade to high school seniors like Nina to stay healthy and have fun with a non-contact sport.

As for the future, Nina plans to continue cycling for her entire life. Her dream college would be one with an official biking team, giving her the opportunity to find people with whom she can train and build friendships. For now, we are proud to have such a great biker and great influence right here in Verona.