USA Cycling hosted the 2019 Marathon Mountain Bike National Championship on Saturday, May 11 at Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Texas. Nina Machnowski, a Verona High School junior, and her dad Stephen participated in the 45-mile race among more than 400 mountain bikers from every state but Alaska and Hawaii.
Competitors were separated by age group. Nina Machnowski took third place, finishing the race in 4 hours 38 minutes, averaging about 10 mph, while her dad took 16th place in his age group, finishing in 4 hours 5 minutes. Both race for Team Pedal Montclair/Pivot Cycles. Nina also races with the Verona Offroad mountain bike team, a squad of middle and high school students, and her dad is one of the team’s head coaches.
The 45-mile course offered technical climbing, sweeping corners, creek side flowing trails and punchy climbs, with just shy of 3,000 ft. of climbing. Riders made 3 trips through the start/finish area at the Mack Dick Group Pavilion, heading out on 3 slightly different loops. Dark clouds and rain had been muddying the trails over the previous days and delayed the start of the race from 10 a.m. to noon.
“Racing in the mars-like canyon of Palo Duro was a truly unique and fun experience,” Nina Machnowski said by email. “The sheer expanse of the canyon was a spectacular sight. One obstacle I didn’t expect during the race were the flopped-over cacti that were like landmines as I carved around the turns. It took a few miles to become accustomed to the desert/shrub-land terrain but once I got the hang of the hard-pack clay singletrack, I felt like a rocket on my Pivot Mach 429SL. My favorite trail was Lower Comanche, a vertical shale descent with ultra tight switchbacks. It was absolutely exhilarating riding on the edge of the canyon and looking down at where I was only half an hour ago. Thank you to Pedal Montclair for making my bike race-ready and Pivot Cycles for making the most capable bikes out there.”