The Death and Life of a Great American Stage Race : Cascade Classic 2019

There’s a particular type race on the domestic calendar that inspires a mythical following. Ones that inspires people to trek cross-country to toe the line, to use superlative phrases such as “best race ever” with absolute sincerity. Races that motivate training stimulus in a way no other office park crit could even hope to. As riders, we all have these favorites, they’re why we bust our asses in training.  Whether they’re stage races or crits, we seek out these events not only for a chance at success, but to experience the unique challenges of their course designs, soak up the adventure in exploring a foreign vernacular, or take in the opportunity to be a part of a race a history that spans generations, hoping to leave a mark.

The Cascade Cycling Classic is one of the greatest of these races.

With a postponement last year, many were doubtful if the legendary race would make a comeback. We’ve become trained pessimists when it comes to the shrinking of the race calendar. We’ve watched in sad silence as many of the awe inspiring races of the past have drifted away, despite the best intentions of the promoters.

This is what made this years resurgence of the Cascade Classic that much more special.

With a complete redesign in courses, the promoters hoped to use the gap year to re-invent the race, in a model that is sustainable for racers and spectators. Shorter circuits punctuated by gravel segments, queen stages that took us deep into the stunning heart of the eastern Oregon landscape, swirling neighborhood crits, there was a familiar excitement to this years race, but the stages were nothing we’d ever seen before.

Some were afraid that the redesign of the stages would kill the heart of the Cascade Classic, but it is safe to say that after 5 days of racing through rain, hail, and welcoming sunshine, on some of the most unique and invigorating stages we’ve seen in a long time, there was nothing lost in the 39th edition of the Cascade Classic. We were treated to a fuller look of the high plains of Bend and beyond, through stages that spanned geologic timezones, or focused on intimate community developments. It was clear that in this years race, the spirit of the Cascade classic has been kept alive, burning strong for another generation.

In a time of doubt in American cycling, this year’s edition of the Cascade Classic should serve as an encouragement to racers and promoters who want to grow in this sport. With focused new energy and respect to the spirit contained in the history of the sport, cycling and racing as a whole can adapt and grow in a way that will continue to inspire generations of cyclists to come.