Nurit Engelmayer, 14, recently finished the Israeli Cross Country Mountain Bike Championship, ahead of her age group by 7 minutes and 40 seconds, becoming Israel’s 2010 road and mountain biking champion among 13- and 14-year-old girls.
The Modi’in resident, who moved from Manhattan with her family in 2006, is the daughter of Annie and Jay Engelmayer and the granddaughter of Jerusalem Post columnist Marilyn Henry and Jewish Standard columnist Shammai Engelmayer, rabbi of Temple Israel Community Center-Cong. Heichal Yisrael in Cliffside Park, and of Roslyn Engelmayer of Manhattan.
“I’m on a team called 500 Watt,” Nurit explained. “We’re eight kids who are competitive bikers. I started biking for fun when I was 11 – I was getting bored with gymnastics and wanted something new – and then I got more serious and started competing.”
Atop her Merida mountain bike, she rides six days a week, between 30 and 150 kilometers (18 to 93 miles). She also goes road biking using a lighter-weight cycle with thinner wheels.
Though she did well in the July 16 competition, she was not satisfied with her performance. “I started, and then 200 meters later I fell and I was really angry and got back on my bike,” she related. “I had a whole plan in my head to start fast – that’s how I normally do it – but falling meant I wasn’t in front of anyone.”
However, it took Nurit just 2 more kilometers to regain her lead. “I caught up with a woman in the 19+ category, and she kept cheering me on; she really helped me continue.”
The competition was organized by the Club Masters Cycling Federation in cooperation with the city of Haifa, under the aegis of the Israel Cycling Federation.
Having won every ICF-sanctioned race this year, Nurit is in line to become Israel’s first representative in her category to the 2011 Junior Olympics. “My coach is interested in sending me but I have to see if Israel wants to send me,” she said.
The incoming ninth-grader, who feels she would not have discovered her passion bicycling in New York, wants to continue winning Israeli nationals in road and mountain biking with an eye toward a career, perhaps in coaching.
“I definitely am stronger than I ever was physically, and mentally. I can deal with a lot more pain and I’m more motivated,” she said. “When you’re at your limit and can’t continue, you can tell yourself you are fine and you can go on. Most sports depend on your mind and not on how strong you are.”
Nurit’s personal slogan, “Anything I can do I can do better,” applies not only to her bicycling ability. She also speaks three languages: English (her father’s native tongue), Hebrew (her mother’s), and Hungarian (her maternal grandparents’), and is a serious reader, writer, and runner.