Words and thoughts by Clara Honsinger

“Hey there, you’re Clara, right?” called a tall and lean fellow with a trim, grey beard who was standing by the course as I fixed the tape at Corn Cross last weekend. “I remember racing with you in Klamath Falls a few years ago. My name is Jeff. How’ve you been doing?”

That race was KFCX Moore Cowbell, based in a city park of the rural southern Oregon town of Klamath Falls. The 2017 iteration of the race happened last weekend, but the time I raced it with Jeff was four years ago. It was my second year racing, my first race outside of the beginner field, and I carry many memories from that race. I remember the cheers and the heckles as I chased Jeff and the other riders across the wet and sloppy course. I remember the thrill and excitement as I slid through the tacky mud and skidded across the slippery grass. I remember the broad smiles and gracious high-fives after we all crossed the finish. I remember feeling at home when surrounded by the local ‘cross community.

This last weekend at Corn Cross, I had the same folksy sensation; that emotion of familiarity and comfort. Jason and I camped that night under the event tent at Liepold Farms, hidden from the light drizzle that finally began. We woke to race volunteers rushing to set-up for the incoming racers and, after coffee, we got to work applying the final details to the course. As the parking lot filled, we greeted the local faces and introduced ourselves to those we had never met before. When the races started, so did our heckles: the gentle sass and nips to inspire an attack or a smile in a rider. Soon enough, it was time for my own race. I toed the start line with the same excitement and anxiety that I do any race. And when the whistle blew, I dug in with the same determination that I carry into all my races. But when I crossed the finish, I was greeted with high-fives and smiles that I only find at our local races.

Similarly to most local cross races, Team S&M CX is built upon the Oregon Cyclocross community. We know our sponsors personally and are maintained by our Pacific Northwest based roots. Personally, as a member Team S&M, these local ‘cross races, such as Sandy Corn Cross, KFCX, Southern Oregon Outlaw CX and Cyclocross Crusade, are so important to me because they have given me a thriving community and have helped me develop as an individual. From these races, I have learned to be humble in success and gracious in losing. I have learned to continue working hard even if the result seems insignificant. I have learned to heckle my teammates and to cheer on my competitors. And I write this now as I am in Iowa to race Jingle Cross, which makes me think that as I travel to larger races and immerse myself into the greater cyclocross community, how proud I am to represent Oregon Cyclocross.

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