Portland had two competitors in the sport’s biggest race of the year. Former Sellwood Cycle Repair employee and local legend Clara Honsinger nabbed 11th in the women’s field, and Portlander Felipe Nystrom rode for Costa Rica as the sports first-ever Latin American competitor. He finished at the back of the pack, but for him, just getting to the race was an important victory.
Sellwood Cycle’s Brenna Wrye Simpson was there to support Honsinger and other racers as the only female mechanic at the event. There was also a sizable contingent of fans from Portland, including several members of the Grouptrail Cycling Team. Another face in the crowd was legendary Oregon bike race organizer Mike Ripley of Mudslinger Events.
According to Boling, Saturday and Sunday started out as very cold mornings but temperatures rose to almost 60 degrees and sun as the day wore on. The course was fast and dry with long uphill climbs and lots of technical turns.
“The venue [Centennial Park] was massive and saw huge crowds of people from all over the USA and World,” Boling reported. “The home crowd would often break out into chants of USA-USA when an American racer passed. Lots of excitement in Arkansas for bike racing among the locals with this being the first viewing of Cyclocross for a lot of spectators.”
Sponsored by Wal-Mart, the event also served as a marketing vehicle for the Fayetteville area, which thanks to heirs of the Walton fortune, has become arguably the most bike-centric area in the country. Bike companies and influencers are moving their in droves to take advantage of the amazing network of paths and off-road trails as well as a very bike-friendly leadership from government and the private sector.
Check out more of Mark’s photos below: