by Drew Coleman
It was a real blessing to have our National Championships in the Pacific Northwest this year and get the nation reacquainted with our brand of cyclocross.
While it had been an uncharacteristically dry fall in Oregon and Washington, the weather delivered the goods before and during the event. We have a rabid fanbase that likes to keep cyclocross edgy and fun, and I think that vibe really showed strongly. The organizers and builders put together a masterpiece track that was a true test for our nation’s best riders—the champion had to be good in all facets of the discipline in order to win.
Furthermore, for me as a photographer, not only did it provide wonderful angles, picturesque spots and drama, the key features were easily linked together through pathways, and with a little hustle, one could shoot from five to six positions per lap.
Every National Championship has special storylines. For us in the Northwest, there was the excitement of having Washington’s Courtenay McFadden and Oregon’s Clara Honsinger listed amongst the pre-race favorites, and they didn’t disappoint.
McFadden’s start was inspiring and lit up the crowd on her way to a 4th place finish, while Honsinger, true to form, methodically powered her way up into the lead early in the race, cleaning the course as a partisan crowd flashed “fatheads” of her image and her teammates and chanted her name on the run-ups.
By the penultimate lap it became clear that, barring a mechanical, she would dislodge Katie Compton as the women’s champion, and that is exactly what happened. As I was staying with Team S&M all weekend, it was a particularly emotional moment for all of us, and the celebration that ensued was wonderful. Clara rode beautifully and, as a very similar rider to Compton, I believe she’s a worthy successor.
I have spent the last two seasons chasing the national scene around the country so it was special to have Nationals a short drive up Interstate 5 in Washington. I am hoping that it inspires the West Coast promoters and USA Cycling to create a racing block here so that riders can again experience all that the West Coast offers.
Our 2019 National Championships came off with rave reviews from riders, fans and media and it was a wonderful weekend of cyclocross. I look forward to Chicago 2020!