(quick note: I had asked Masha to do this PRIOR to her absolutely wrecking fields last weekend. She was not asked because she’s done so awesome recently, she was asked because I have seen her at FBF and Veselka on a couple Tues nights and thought she was a relatively unknown interesting personality in the area)
Name: Masha Schneider
Category: Cat 2
Race Age: 28
Current Team: Unattached
Day Job: Software Engineer at Google
How did you get into cycling: I went to college in an old English town with a large car free center, where you could get almost anywhere by walking. Though, some things were just a bit out of reach, so I bought the cheapest bike I could find for £90 and a basket for groceries. The only thing missing was tassels for my handlebars. It was really heavy, didn’t really shift, and eventually the brakes mostly gave out too, but I loved the 10 extra minutes of sleep I could get in the morning and the freedom it gave me to explore. My commute was also my first foray into Cat 6 racing before I even knew that that was a thing!
How did you get into racing: After coming back to the states and starting to work, I realized that I missed that old beater of a bike so I bought a road bike and really enjoyed it. Then a year or so later I was shopping for a saddle in Westwood and the owner of the shop asked me if I raced and if I wanted to. I was on the fence, but why not? I ended up at the women’s clinic where I got it handed to me, but I was hooked.
Favorite local course and why: In NYC most definitely FBF. The evening starts with a game of Frogger down Flatbush Ave, where not only cyclists ignore the traffic laws. The race itself is slightly different every week but always hard. As you’re going around the airfield dodging potholes, random piles of unspecified stuff, or mini lakes if it rained, there’s not much room for mistakes. Follow the wrong wheel, go on the wrong side of the grass or accelerate too late and you’re now in the ever expanding list of people DNFing. Then after hopefully 12 laps around the course and a layer of black dust on every exposed part of my body, I meet up with my friends and we ride back on Flatbush. It’s not as hectic on the way back; we have critical mass against the dollar vans and other sketchiness. Most Tuesdays we end up in Veselka (ed: Thanks Tom!) for post race drinks and food with FGX and others. Nothing has done as much for my racing or my city riding skills as going out to the end of Brooklyn Tuesday and Thursday nights.
Greatest achievement in racing: If I had to pick one race, I’d have to say Bear Mountain last year. I was still a 3 and I went into the 3/4 race with the silliest goal, get the QOM. Anyone who knows me knows that even though I enjoy suffering up a hill, I’m no climber. Somehow I held off all of the climbers to get the QOM, the Sprint and the win without breaking away.
Worst Memory of a race: After doing the women’s clinic in the park I decided to do the Tour of Catskills because a 3 day stage race with lots of hills is obviously the natural progression after 3 laps in the park. That year it was in the mid 90s during the stage with Devil’s Kitchen and I started climbing, went way too hard and blew up spectacularly. I didn’t know at the time that I was only about 2 minutes from the top, but at that point I felt really cold, shaky and my vision was going dark. So I got off and sat on rock for a bit until a random spectator walking toward his car happened to come by. He had a gallon of water, took one look at me and asked if I wanted it poured on my head. It was like being reborn!
Goals/Aspirations: I want to try other forms of cycling like track and maybe cross. With cross, I’ve never learned how to do a flying remount on the bike, so during the only cross race I’ve done, every single time I got over the barrier I put my leg over the bike clipped one foot in then the other. The upside was that I got offered a lot of beer for that performance, so maybe there’s not that much incentive to do better. Track also seems like it would be a lot of fun once I learn how to stop.
What is the most fun thing you’ve missed out on for a bike race: I can’t think of any one specific thing. Mostly I don’t usually stay out late on weeknights because I train before work.