Out-pedaling his older brother wasn’t a defining moment or a transformational moment for Eric Haas, but it did help.
Two years younger than older brother Drew, Eric out-cycled his brother in a mountain bike race a little over a year ago.
From there, Eric has found another gear. The 16-year-old, junior-to-be at Koshkonong Trails School in Cambridge has been a mainstay in the top-three mountain bikers in the Wisconsin Off-Road Series races for Category 3 (Male) throughout the summer. For his efforts, Haas finds himself atop the standings despite only having two first-place finishes in the seven WORS races this season.
“We were on our way to Lake Geneva, we were talking about strategy and Drew asked Eric if he wanted to ride together to work together in the race,” Rick said. “Eric said yeah and Drew goes, ‘You wouldn’t be able to keep up with me anyways, so don’t worry about it.’
“That was all he needed.”
As the race started, Eric was behind Drew. Maintaining pace, but still behind. Then he made his pass and held off his older brother.
“I was like, good luck with the rest of your race,” Eric said.
Drew currently works for Trek Bicycle Corporation in Waterloo, so he wasn’t exactly demoralized by the loss.
The success and competition that started as a friendly, brotherly competition has grown. As it grows, the hope is that the sport in Cambridge and the surrounding area will continue to grow as well.
Around the state, the sport is growing. Cambridge has one of the 56 teams in the state that compete in the Wisconsin High School Cycling League, which is affiliated with the National Interscholastic Cycling Association.
“The goal is to get as many kids to enjoy the sport as a lifelong, healthy habit as we can,” said Rick Haas, one of the primary coaches for the Cambridge cycling team. “One of the big things we’ve been able to do is be a school-affiliated club. We aren’t an official sport, but we can give out varsity letters to the kids who earn them during the year and we can hang posters in the school to attract more kids to riding.”
The high school season consists of five races throughout the state. The first race is in Eau Claire on September 8. The final race is the state championship hosted at Trek Trails in Waterloo on October 27.
One of the best tools to recruit is to see peers succeed. Hopefully Eric’s success in the WORS Cup translates to success in the high school league which should help draw more attention to the team.
“You just have to get people to try it,” Eric Haas said. “If they try (mountain biking), it’s really fun and they’ll want to keep doing it.”
To hang onto the lead in the circuit, he’ll need to find a way to beat Ben Dohlby. The 15-year-old from Pewaukee has beat Haas four times this summer, but due to his absence from three races this season, he lacks the points to lead Haas in the overall standings.
“He’s just so fast,” Haas said. He said he can catch Dohlby when the trails get tight and the more skilled, technical riders have success, but in the openings, Dohlby excels with his acceleration.
As he prepares for the high school season which had practices begin in mid-July, that’s the next challenge.