As Clara Honsinger neared the end of the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships course in Lakewood, Wash., last December, she knew she was on the verge of a huge upset.
Racing as a member of Sellwood Cycle's Team S&M CX, she'd already traversed miles of winding turns and drops, running up steep, muddy hills with her bike lifted on her shoulder. With one-and-a-half laps to go, she had a substantial lead, but one slippery turn could cause Honsinger to crash.
"I was like, I have no idea if I'm going to win or not," says the 22-year-old Oregon native, "but I'm definitely in it to get the win."
When she crossed the finish line, Honsinger became cyclocross's first new national champion in a decade and a half—ending the 15-year reign of Colorado's Katie Compton.
Raised in Ashland and now living in Corvallis, Honsinger started racing full time while living in Portland and working as a mechanic at Sellwood Cycle, whose owner, Erik Tonik, encouraged her to join the team. She'd train by biking to work from her home in St. Johns, detouring through Forest Park's steep Firelane trails.
After winning the national championship, Honsinger's name made headlines in cycling publications around the country. But while she was bursting through the final sprint, Honsinger says she was mostly just thinking about her team.
"I'm there as the athlete, the person riding the bike, but a lot of work goes into logistics and planning," she says. "When I crossed the line, I was like, 'We did this.' My bike functioned perfectly, I had everything I needed. I just went out and rode my bike."