Cloquet has a mountain bike champion
Q-and-A with Zeb Wehr
November 15, 2019
In his first season as a cross country mountain biker, Zebulon (Zeb) Wehr not only won three of the four races he competed in, he became the first-ever individual state champion for the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton (CEC) mountain biking club.
After finishing eighth in his first race, the Cloquet High School senior cruised to three straight victories and two titles. Wehr finished his season at the state meet in Mankato winning his race, and was crowned Minnesota High School Cycling League Division 2 JV2 state champion. Additionally, Wehr's combined race scores for the year earned him overall-first place in the JV2 division. He received that award at the statewide year-end banquet in Minneapolis.
This was no fluke. Wehr had been training for this since the beginning of the summer. Hundreds of hours of hard work along with sweat-filled workouts and biking through grueling conditions such as rain and cold weather paid off.
It was also not Wehr's first time mountain biking. Over the summer, Wehr focused on downhill mountain biking and started with the cross country team when the season started. Downhill is similar to cross country mountain biking except it is all downhill and the races are much smaller. There are lots more rocks and drops in downhill, but the kids take the chairlift back up to do the trails again, so there's little to no uphill.
At the end of the year, Wehr's coaches posted a photo of him, noting that Zeb had gone from "not liking to climb hills to climbing the podium."
The Pine Knot News got a chance to sit down with Wehr last week to discuss his exciting first year as a cross country mountain biker.
Q: What contributed most to your success this year?
A: My hard work and also my team. Just being there to practice with me. My dad is a bike mechanic, so him working on my bikes so I didn't have to. And him preparing my bike for me and making sure my tire pressure was good and all that. But I'd say my hard work.
Q: Who has supported you throughout this process?
A: My parents, my mom and dad (Jared and Pam Wehr). They just pushed me and all that. You know the team supporters, but mainly my parents. They supported me by just being there and driving me to the races. Just knowing that they're there, it helped a lot. My dad even told me "You know what, Son? You're going to win state." Also, my head coach, Matt Haglin. He and I texted each other every day and he just told me to keep up the hard work; he said it'd all pay off.
Q: What made your transition into cross country mountain biking so easy?
A:I guess the wrestling (Zeb has been wrestling since he was in kindergarten and is a three-time first-team all-conference wrestler). I always thought that having that better conditioning and having that endurance helped. Also, I guess I just had confidence, I just kept telling myself that I'm built for it. I did a lot of downhill mountain biking before, you know, downhill trials, that comes into play.
Q: Why did you start cross country mountain biking?
A: My cousin Josh Whitebird has been telling me since last year to get involved in mountain biking. Then, this summer, he ended up coming over and saying "All right let's go to Spirit Mountain," and that's how it all happened.
Q: If you could hang out with any three people, who would they be, and why?
A: Fabio Wibmer, because he's my favorite downhill biker and he does crazy stunts. Rickie Fowler, because I like his style and he's my dad's favorite, so he got me into him. Russell Wilson, because he seems friendly and I like the way he supports the community, you know like the cancer foundation, and he goes to little kids' hospitals and does all that. That's what I would do if I had a lot of money.
Team biking growing in Cloquet
Pine Knot News
2019 was a good year for the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton mountain biking team. In its third year of existence, both the high school and middle school teams won their first trophies ever -for third place.
Since the mountain bike team's founding in 2017, participation has almost doubled from its original 15-member team to more than 36 student-athletes. The members come from throughout the region. As the name implies, many riders are from Cloquet, Esko or Carlton; however, the team reaches out to any sixth- to 12th-grade cyclists in the area. The mountain bike competitive season runs from August through late October, although the team starts riding local trails three days a week in early July.
While racing is not required, most of the team's cyclists compete. The National Interscholastic Cycling Association, an organization that runs the many leagues across the United States, hosts seven different races across Minnesota and Wisconsin. In accordance with NICA rules, the team may race in only five of the races, allowing for two bye weeks. Each race has several different categories, including middle school, freshman, junior varsity and varsity. Middle school racers - grades 6-8 - race one lap, which is usually around four miles long. Freshman racers go two laps, and junior varsity racers bike either two or three laps. Finally, the varsity, comprised of the best riders on the team, must ride a total of four laps in under 90 minutes.
Want to get involved? more, email the team at [email protected]