BY SHAIN GILLET
Clipper Sports Editor
SYRACUSE – Douglas Cheney of Syracuse has been riding competitively since he was a teenager.
Now, at age 44, Cheney is currently riding a wave of success that is earning him some respect in his circles.
Cheney recently won the Red Line Cup National Championships for the western U.S., held in October, and preceded that win with another at the U.S. Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships in New Mexico.
“It’s really awesome to be recognized as a national champion among my friends and family,” he said of winning the Red Line Cup. “Some realize how big it really is; it’s like the Super Bowl of mountain biking. The only event bigger than that is the U.S. National Mountain Bike Championships.”
But things aren’t always easy for Cheney, as costs to compete in the events, in combination with a lack of sponsors, comes mainly out of his own pocket.
In his six total trips so far, Cheney has had to cover about $4,500 worth of expenses in order to compete.
His trips include two made to southern Utah, two to California, and one each to Wyoming, Idaho, and New Mexico.
“At my age, I’m not going to have anyone pick me up and give me free bikes and what not,” he said. “There’s a Layton bike shop called ‘50/50,’ and I’m on their team so I could get my parts and bikes for cost.”
Without the local shop as a sponsor, however, Cheney said it would be difficult to race due to the cost of parts, upkeep on his bikes, and so on.
“There’s no way I could afford to do these sports if I had to pay retail for my bikes and parts,” he said. “There are vendors at all the events I go to that sell last year’s models, professionals that get more free parts than they know what to do with ... I think I pay around 25-30 percent for my bikes and parts compared to what bikes and parts actually retail for.”
Right now, his current employer, Brendell Manufacturing in North Salt Lake, also doubles as a sponsor, as Cheney said, “in a weird way.”
“If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be able to do this,” Cheney said. “I have been there long enough that I have more than enough sick and vacation time to not only compete, but be able to show up early and practice.”
They even allowed him to work through some injuries during his racing career. While competing in a race in 2010, Cheney broke four bones in his wrist and broke his right elbow.
He missed roughly three months of work, and upon his return to racing, broke five ribs, his collar bone and a shoulder blade.
Cheney spent another week in intensive care, but still retained his job.
“Not only did they not let me go, they hired temps to cover for me until I was fully healed,” he said. “So in a way, I consider them to be the best sponsor I could have.”
He does it all for the love of racing, however, and will continue to do so under his own tutelage.
“I’m my own coach, trainer, nutritionist, mechanic, etc.,” he said. “I just love to race.”
As of press time, Cheney confirmed in an email sent to the Clipper that he was asked to ride for Extreme Bicycles in 2014. He hasn’t decided whether he will ride with them or not.