Clydesdales get some respect in Oregon. © Dave Aldersabaes, Ironclad Cycling

Clydesdales get some respect in Oregon. © Dave Aldersabaes, Ironclad Cycling

The Clydesdale Cyclocross Champion of the Universe Race, 12/12/09 Bend, Oregon

by Stephanie Chase

The majority of cyclists are mere mortals; people who wince when they feel pain, grunt when things get tough and have been known to accidentally spit on themselves even though they’re not riding into the wind. Then there are people who do all of the above but get paid to race their bikes. We call these people professional cyclists. But there is a certain category of cyclists, a minority that has only recently been recognized by the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association. For years, maybe eons (which I’ve been told means a “long, long time”) these cyclists have done everything the mere mortals of cycling have been doing but with certain handicaps. In a sport were efficiency equals “speed” and spandex equals “tight,” the Clydesdales of the world have squeezed and wheezed their way over hills and barriers, and broken many flimsy carbon bike parts in the process.

Clydesdale podium at the Oregon State Championships. © Shane Young, Oregon Velo

Clydesdale podium at the Oregon State Championships. © Shane Young, Oregon Velo

In 2006, the Cross Crusades, the largest cyclocross series in the United States, probably the world and definitely the galaxy, gave the 200+ lb men their own race. In fact as USA Cycling and the UCI don’t recognize the Clydes as an “official” category, race promoters have gone above and beyond these official “governing” bodies and their “rules.” On December 12, at 8 pm in Bend, Oregon, spandex will stretch and the ground will shake during the first Clydesdale Cyclocross Champion of the Universe Race. Shimano is rumored to be making a Universe Champion’s jersey and National’s race director Brad Ross has been using radio signals from his RV to send invitations across the Milky Way. But earthlings are invited too, as long as they’re not those skinny racers who always win.

2009 Oregon Clydesdale Cyclocross Champion Aaron Coker. Photo: Courtesy Stephanie Chase

2009 Oregon Clydesdale Cyclocross Champion Aaron Coker. Photo: Courtesy Stephanie Chase

Reportedly some of those skinny racers have been itching to surpass this national and world champion b.s. to claim the “Champion of the Universe” title. However, WADA ruled late last week that the inclusion of Chris Horner as Levi Leipheimer’s extra “weight” constitutes doping. For plan B, the svelte Astana/Radio Shack riders are rumored to be on a hamburger-induced training regimen to gain a combined 140 lbs (or 1 “Contador”) to race the Universe Championships. Bradley Wiggins (barely 1 Contador) is apparently sourcing a bike made of dark matter to make sure it’s heavy enough to meet the weight while Magnus Backstedt (1.64 Contadors) has been steadily doing thigh crunches and drinking skim milk on his farm in preparation.

In attempt to provide the most intense competition, Ross (approximately 1.4 Contadors) even has launched into negotiations with Fausto Coppi to come back from the dead and race. Current world champion Niels Albert has refused to come to the race because he’s afraid of being eaten. Ross himself plans to mount up after a pre-race preparation of donuts laced with bull testosterone and drizzled with a frosting made from the sweat of Eddy Merckx. Eddy can still work up a sweat after all these years.

Clydesdale champ Greg Hudson Clydesdales get some respect in Oregon. © Dave Aldersabaes, Ironclad Cycling

Clydesdale champ Greg Hudson Clydesdales get some respect in Oregon. © Dave Aldersabaes, Ironclad Cycling

There will be local competition to offset the intergalactic caliber at the race. In the few years that the Clydes have thrown off their (large) cloak of invisibility and come out of the (large) closet, there have only been two champions of anything. The 2009 Oregon Clydesdale cyclocross champion Aaron Coker (HP Chiro), weighs approximately 1.75 Contadors, enjoys Michelob Ultra low-calorie beer and has broken seven bikes in four and a half years. Greg Hudson (The Royal Family), around 1.847 Contadors, has only broken one frame but eats wheelsets like they’re candy. Apparently these dudes are into tight pants because they both played college football before turning to cycling. Not surprisingly, both of these guys have a pretty good sprint on them and are excellent drafts (both of them will detest that latter statement). Some benefits of all the bike and component breaking has come in handy; Hudson has recently paired with Veloforma bicycles to form Corsa Concepts, a wheel company that is Clydesdale-approved.

If you love both mud and regularly win arm-wrestling contests against your cycling friends, you too could throw down in the mix for a chance to be the greatest in the universe. For more information on the races in Bend, check out the ‘Cross Natz Guide.

As for the Clydes race, just remember it’ll be at 8 pm, Deschutes Brewery on December 12. Just listening for the sound of the earth shaking.