Race Report by Clara Honsinger
Preface: Nationals was cold. The morning of the UCI races it was 8° fahrenheit and didn’t get much above 20°. My toes still have chilblains but I can finally feel my fingertips. As a result of the cold, not many photos were taken by Tonkin or I. What appears below is scrambled together from the internet, as well as original drawings by Annalisa Fish, the bike fit and PT magician of EndurancePDX (she’s also my cousin).
Nationals is a big deal. A lot is on the line with a good result at nationals. For some riders it’s the season’s Grand Finale and for others it’s a Worlds bid. For me, it was an opportunity to demonstrate my skills and show that I am competitive with the other top U23 women in the nation. But under all the pressure, you still have to treat it like every other race of the season. You eat the same meal the night before, you reread the same email Coach Kendra sent for motivation, you go through the same pre-race checklist in the morning, you drink the typical three cups coffee and you anxiously swap your numbers to a different skinsuit 45 minutes before the race. When you toe the line, you wear the same cheesy smile and tell the same stupid jokes that you’ve told at every starting line before to try to ease your nerves. And when the whistle blows, all that is left is for you to demonstrate the hard work and training of an entire cyclocross season.
I don’t want to bore you with the redundant race report details, so I’ll keep this brief. While first and second were minutes away, the race for third was fierce. One minute I was in third charging through the the frozen ruts, the next I was picking my bike up and scrambling in tenth but when I finally crossed the finish line I was in sixth, only two seconds behind fifth and thirty seconds behind third. It was a very large gap to second, but that final podium spot was definitely within my reach. With another season of bigger races, better training and less school stress (seriously, it’s hard to study for O-chem and physics the morning before a race), I’m confident that I can make the jump up to third.
For many of us ‘cross racers, Nationals marks the end of a long race season. Now begins a time of rest, skiing, and long, melancholic blog posts about what a crazy-fun season it has been, our goals for next year and, lastly, saying our thanks to those who supported us. Again, I’ll keep it brief: a huge thank you to Coach Kendra of Wenzel Coaching for keeping me rolling in form this season and to Sellwood Cycle Repair for working on my filthy bikes because I had to get home to study for my exam the next morning. Also, shout out to Team S&M’s Michael Wilson for an impressive 2nd place finish in the master’s race and for working the pits like a boss. Finally, thanks Team S&M for being the radist bunch of jerks out there. I can’t wait to do it all over again next year.