Indie Hops loves white water, packed snow, hot lava, big trees, glistening sweat and hopped-up, foamy malted beverages. In short, Indie Hops loves Bend, Oregon, home of not only excellent craft beer, gourmet food, clean living, river rafting, and upbeat hipsters, but also the greatest and longest running stage race in the U.S., the Cascade Cycling Classic.
The six stage pro men's and women's races starts on July 20th in the historic Old Mill district and ends after 5 days. This year will be 31st annual running of the bike racers. The pro men's field filled up last week at 180 but the field was extended to 200, the largest men's field ever at the CCC. All the big guns will be here. Last year, two former Tour De France legends, Oscar Sevilla and Francisco Mancebo, took the top two spots, followed by Jeff Louder, Rory "Skro" Sutherland and Chris "Scarecrow" Baldwin.
Already this year Indie Hops was the title sponsor of both the Dana Point Grand Prix and the Mt. Hood River Cycling Classic. I'm a big fan of playing as hard as you work. Well, actually I'd prefer to play harder. To play hard as a cyclist, you need to take care of your mind and body. Minding the internal engines means carefully choosing your alcoholic lubricants. That's why I try to stick to a one-beer-a-day routine, not because more than one is bad, but because self-deprivation both sharpens the discipline and makes that daily medicine all the more coveted and delicious. One brew, and it better be packed with hops, barley and all the good stuff that makes a great day sublime.
The Cascade Classic occupies a special place in my heart. I first entered the masters race back in 1993 when I lived in board-flat Dallas, Texas. The final climb up to the Mt. Bachelor ski resort just about did me in. I got last. Next year, I found the highest peak in Dallas, an overpass over I-35, and did about 60 intervals a day on it. The next year I came back and won it. That taught me this: losing can make you insane. The will to win can even make you even crazier.
The criteriums in downtown Bend are another big draw. The City blocks off the entire business district and the restaurants set up tables that touch the race course barriers. Nothing motivates you during a race quite like the sound and smells of happy campers dining on grilled salmon and imbibing pints of stellar home-grown brews from the likes of Deschutes, Silver Moon, Bend Brewing and Ten Barrell.
Last year, I confess I got carried away. After my race, I joined my good friend Splinter Wren on the microphone to help with the play by play in the pro race. The excitement, the crowds, the action, the non-stop blathering all conspired to spur me to drink more, which was fine and dandy, except I had a race the following morning. With a few clicks to go, I cramped bad and cursed myself for enjoying life too much. This year, on the stage, I'm bringing a recliner and a few gallons of water.
For more information about the race categories, the stages (with cool maps and elevations), the Mt. Bachelor Ski & Education Foundation (I love these guys!), please click on http://www.mbsef.org/CascadeCyclingClassic/. See you at the races and support your local breweries, especially those that support local hop farmers, contribute to hop research, demand the freshest aroma hops, and brew with the fattest, oiliest and most natural hop pellets on the planet -- brought to you by Oregon's own Indie Hops!!
July 13, 2010
The 31st annual Bend Memorial Clinic Cascade Cycling Classic will be held July 20-25, 2010. It is the longest consecutively run elite stage race in the country and has attracted most of North America's top cyclists and teams over the years. The quality of the race courses, the beauty of Central Oregon and the fun atmosphere of the race has made it a perennial favorite and has the competitors returning year after year.