How the Cascade Cycling Classic brought Worthy Brewing to Bend
April 18, 2019 | Curtesy of Heather Clark, CCC
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.”