April 18, 2019
Can a bike race change your life?

How the CCC brought Worthy Brewing to Bend
by Heather Clark

Roger Worthington competed in the Cascade Cycling Classic for the first time back in 1990. He remembers that year well. He would go on to enter the CCC at least two dozen more times,  but it was his debut with the iconic Central Oregon stage race that was most memorable. Or perhaps, least unforgettable.

That’s because in 1990, Roger finished dead last.

Anyone familiar with Roger Worthington — the tenacious and energetic founder of Bend’s Worthy Brewing Co., title sponsor of the 2019 Cascade Cycling Classic — knows that the man has a fierce will to win. According to Roger, flailing in his home state would not stand.

A native Oregonian who was living in Dallas at the time, Roger returned to Texas following his disappointing result, and resolved to improve his climbing.

“I found a hill in Dallas and did it 100 times a couple times a week,” he recalls.

The following year, Roger returned to the CCC and won the highly-competitive masters race — the first of many times he or someone from his team, Labor Power, would claim the top spot on the CCC podium.

Roger credits the Cascade Cycling Classic with helping him become a more complete bike racer, and in many ways, it ultimately changed his life.

“The CCC led me to buy a house here, build a business here, and live my life here,” he says. “Not only was it instrumental, it was pivotal in my decision to locate here.”

Decades later, and the Cascade Cycling Classic remains close to Roger’s heart. In addition to its title sponsorship, Worthy annually brews a special golden ale, Captain Nimrod’s Pound-Flail Ale, a tribute to both the race and to Christopher Hipp, a mentor and cycling teammate of Roger’s who died the day before the 2009 CCC.

In recent years, Roger and Worthy Brewing have also sponsored the race’s “Most Hopped Up Rider” jersey, an award that was bestowed on a stage’s most aggressive rider. He explains that the Hopped Up Rider recognition was in part to acknowledge that professional cyclists are among the world’s most gritty athletes.

During his three decades as a participant and sponsor of the CCC, Roger is still as passionate about the Central Oregon stage race today as he was when he first towed the start line in 1990. His Bend home includes a shrine to the Classic featuring years of event posters, and he says he’s committed to keeping the race thriving for years to come.

“It’s truly an iconic event,” explains Roger. “It’s the Tour de France for pro-am riders — a spectacular and challenging race, that brings out the best in an athlete. I love that fact that it brings the community together and showcases the best we have to offer in Bend, Oregon.

“We are committed to doing whatever we can in perpetuity to keep the race alive,” he continues. “I’m so proud of what (race director) Bart Bowen and the CCC Youth Foundation are doing to get young people involved. And who knows, maybe 30 years from now those kids will be opening a business here because their lives were transformed by this race like mine was.”

April 16, 2019

Creating cycling opportunities for kids the goal of the CCC Youth Foundation

by Heather Clark

Here at the CCC, we’re proud to announce the inclusion of a 3-day stage race for boys and girls ages 15-18. Surprisingly, junior stage races around the country are few and far between.  It’s our firm belief that bolstering racing and riding opportunities for the next generation is key to the cycling’s future.

Our commitment to young people is driven by CCC Race Director Bart Bowen, who for years has been supporting young cyclocross racers’ bid to compete at Cross Nationals with the annual CXmas Fund, and in recognition of his own pathway to cycling as a youth.

Bart grew up ski racing in a small town in New Mexico. His 9th grade English teacher, an avid cyclist who biked to work everyday, encouraged Bart to take up cycling given his relatively compact stature.

“I knew nothing about cycling,” recalls Bart. “He had all these bike magazines in his classroom. He was just a guy who loved to ride.”

Galen Farrington would go on to help Bart purchase his first bike, coaching him and other young men through high school. (Remarkably, four of these riders including Bart, would go on to become national champions).

Bart credits his teacher’s ability to recognize his talent, and nurture it, as the catalyst for a successful professional career.

“I was able to see the world racing my bike,” he says. “Cycling gave me a perspective that’s much different than had I stayed in my hometown of 5,000 people.”

Fast forward a decade, and Bart, now retired from professional cycling and father to two boys (ages 16 and 14), is the race director for the Cascade Cycling Classic. When he agreed to take the helm of the race, he knew he wanted to provide that same inspiration for kids in Bend.

In tandem with being named race director, he founded the Cascade Cycling Classic Youth Foundation (CCCYF) to reach kids in our community who face financial barriers to riding or racing.

“One of the reasons I moved to Bend was because of the CCC,” says Bart, who won the pro race in 1993. “I knew I wanted to raise my kids in a community where there’s a professional bike race and they could see what I used to do. I think it’s an inspiration for kids to see it. The next step is to get kids to participate. Not just as a spectator, but thinking ‘I can do this’.”

The CCCYF is comprised a four-member board of directors, and Cascade will serve as a key fundraising event. The board members plan to partner with existing Bend organizations, such as Bend Endurance Academy, Mt. Bachelor Sports Education Foundation, and the Boys & Girls Clubs to make bike racing and riding more accessible to young people.

“We want to give them an opportunity that leads to adventure,” says Bart. “There’s a lot of kids who don’t have these opportunities because it’s so expensive. When I listen to my kids tell me what’s fun about racing, it’s about being with their friends and working as a team,  whether they won or not. The goal of the foundation is to create more experiences like that.”

CCC Youth Foundation president, Susan Keys, a retired OSU-Cascades Associate Professor of Public Health, was drawn to the Foundation after reigniting her own passion for cycling when she moved to Bend.

“I became an athlete at age 60,” she says. “I really got into cycling after working with Bart, and seeing what opportunities existed for someone my age to be transformed into a cyclist. I

I think that that same philosophy  can pertain to what we’re trying to create in this community for youth.”

The Cascade Cycling Classic Youth Foundation board of directors are:

Susan Keys, President

Chuck Kenlan, Secretary

Cliff Eslinger

Anthony Broadman

Find out how you can help a young person discover a passion for cycling. Click here to support the CCCYF.

April 11, 2019

The Cascade Cycling Classic is back and reimagined for 2019

6 changes in store for the upcoming race
by Heather Clark

Following the 2017 race, the Cascade Cycling Classic — at the time North America’s longest-running stage race — was in jeopardy. The event’s title sponsor had pulled out, and the organization that had run the event for many years decided to focus its efforts elsewhere.

Central Oregon’s iconic bike race that for decades had drawn America’s top cycling talent and inspired legions of youngsters to take up bike racing appeared headed for the history books.

Thankfully, Bart Bowen had other ideas. Bart is a former professional cyclist and two-time national road racing champion who moved his family to Bend more than a decade ago to open a cycling studio and coaching business.

In reviving the CCC, Bart knew the race needed a makeover.

“We wanted to make it a more grass-roots, community-centered event,” he explains. “Cascade will still attract the top American teams to compete in our beautiful backyard, but we’re also adding ways for anyone who rides a bike to be part of the event.”

Changes for 2019 Cascade Cycling Classic include:

A new date: As Bend’s popularity as a tourism destination grows, hosting an event at the peak of the summer season was becoming increasingly difficult. By moving Cascade to the week after Memorial Day, we alleviate pressure on community resources.

New courses: Due to the earlier spot on the race calendar, we must say goodbye to the McKenzie Pass stage. In its place is the new Painted Hills Road Race, which starts east of Prineville and will take riders along some gorgeous scenery through the John Day River canyon. The decisive Awbrey Butte Circuit Race has been redesigned for better spectator viewing. And the fan-favorite Downtown Criterium has been moved south by a few blocks. The new, more undulating and technical crit course will set the stage for a more unpredictable race, and give us the opportunity to pair the crits with a day-long activity-packed cycling festival for the whole family.

Equal payouts: This change didn’t require much discussion. Men and women will be awarded equal prize money at the Cascade Cycling Classic.

Enthusiastic local sponsors: A testament to their commitment to this long-standing event and to the youth foundation it supports, Bend businesses have rallied around the CCC to help make it a success. We’re grateful to the local folks at Worthy Brewing, as well as Pacific Power, Bend Surgery Center, HydroFlask, Thump Coffee, LOGE Entrada, COPA and many others for their generous support.

More opportunities to ride: To be sure, we love watching the pros battle it out on our favorite Central Oregon roads. But new this year, the CCC will feature more ways for the Bend community be part of the action, including a gravel grinder, family rides, a high school race, and events geared toward young children, just to name a few. Click here to discover all the ways you and your family can participate.

Focus on young cyclists: In tandem with a re-envisioned professional and amateur stage race for Bend was the creation of its beneficiary, the Cascade Cycling Classic Youth Foundation (CCCYF). Governed by a 4-person board of directors, the Bend nonprofit supports cycling programs for children and teens — promoting community engagement, cycling safety and both recreational and competitive cycling opportunities.

We are thrilled to bring you the 2019 Cascade Cycling Classic, and we invite you to get involved! Join a community ride, volunteer, host riders in your home, or sign up to race yourself!

April 5, 2019

We were thrilled to sit down with US Cycling legend Greg Lemond to discuss what makes the 39th Cascade Cycling Classic and its pairing with the CCCYF so unique. Mr. Lemond’s special perspective on this sport aligns so well with what we’ve been brewing up here in Bend, Oregon for the past twelve months.