The three Bader Boys, (from left) are right at home on their bikes and on their home track: Emerald Valley BMX in Eugene. Maricel Teague/Special to The Chronicle
After competing in local, regional and national BMX races for up to 10 years, amassing shelves and boxes full of trophies, cups and medals, Creswell’s three Bader brothers – Zane, 15, Sage, 13 and Ace, 11 – are set to ride onto the world stage. Zane and Sage have qualified to represent Team USA in the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) BMX World Championships, to be held July 23-27 in Belgium.
The brothers qualified for Worlds by competing at the USA BMX Spring Nationals, held March 15-17 in Albuquerque, New Mexico and designated as a Worlds qualifier.
”They were taking the top eight from each age group, from the Florida (Feb. 22-24) and the New Mexico qualifiers,” Zane said, ”so you had to make it to finals. Every race had 40 or 50 kids, and you had to go through the quarterfinals, the semifinals; once you got to finals, you automatically qualified.”
Ace, who suffered a broken arm in June right before the Utah nationals and a broken leg four days after the Worlds qualifier is determined to join his older brothers at Worlds in 2020.
”I barely missed it – I was like an inch away this year,” he said. ”Next year, the world championships are in Texas, so I really want to make it.”
If they do well enough in Belgium, Zane and Sage need only cheer on their brother to join them: ”If you make it to the main race in Belgium, you automatically qualify for next year’s Worlds,” Sage noted.
To celebrate their accomplishment and help raise funds for their trip to Belgium, the Bader boys are hosting a Bike Swap Meet and Barbecue from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on June 15 at Emerald Valley BMX, across from the Autzen Stadium parking lot.
”It’s the boys’ home track, so they’re very excited to be helping the boys,” said their mom, Hannah Bader. ”They’ve seen them grow up on that track over the last 10 years.”
The swap meet is not limited to BMX bikes: individuals may bring bike parts, gear and/or whole bikes of any sort to buy, sell or trade.
At about 12:30 p.m., after the regular 11 a.m. Saturday BMX race is finished, the fundraiser’s ”Fun & Funky” races – including dress-up, sidehack (three-wheeled ”sidecar” bikes) and relay – jump contests, a raffle and more will begin.
Kids must be members of USA BMX to ride in the regular race, but a free one-day membership is available to new racers. Registration is from 10 to 11 a.m.
”It’s a really good opportunity to try out BMX and help us get to Belgium,” Zane said, adding that businesses such as Hutch’s Bicycles in Springfield and Northwest BMX in Salem have also stepped up to help.
”We’ve had a really good response from companies,” Sage said.
The Bader boys are all Expert-level riders who train daily. But while USA BMX has Novice, Intermediate and Expert amateur classes (after 10 wins, a Novice moves up to Intermediate and advances to Expert after 20 more wins), UCI – the international governing body of BMX racing and the umbrella organization of USA BMX – simply uses age categories.
”Now that we’re all Experts (Ace captured his 20th Intermediate win earlier this year), we’re trying to shift our focus toward more national and even international races; we mainly only ride in local races now to train, not race,” Zane said. ”It’s harder for novices and intermediates under UCI because they’re racing against experts.”
Qualifying for UCI Worlds signifies that ”gear-shift” in the brothers’ competitive focus: this year’s goal is to place in the top eight in their age groups at Worlds; next year’s will be to requalify for Worlds while pursuing national ranking.
”They take all the points you get from nationals to determine your national ranking within that age group,” Sage said.
These newly ”Worlds”-class BMX racers are also ”world class” in their community-mindedness and entrepreneurial spirit, and while maintaining a rigorous schedule of homeschooling and training, the Bader boys are upping their game there too. Their new website, www.extrahappy.me (coming soon) will feature updates, email list, product sales and more under the smiley-face logo they designed with the smile extending far beyond the face’s contours.
”You see smiley faces everywhere, so this kind of symbolizes going beyond, being above average, being different – going outside your comfort zone, outside your box to be ‘extra happy,’” Zane said.
The spin-art greeting cards they’ve been selling for years to fund their racing will be available on the website, ”and it’ll be a platform for us to try out our other ideas,” Zane added.
Among those ideas is a nonprofit that would bring their ”extra happy” message – and a percentage of profits – to seriously ill children or children with disabilities.
”We want to personally connect with kids and talk to them about what they love to do and encourage them and spread happiness to them too,” Zane said. ”’Extra happy’ is a way of thinking, a mindset: you see so many people who aren’t at their maximum potential because they don’t go outside the box.”
”It hurts more to lose and know you didn’t train than to train and win, or train and lose knowing you worked as hard as you could,” Sage added.
To keep up on their racing and entrepreneurial adventures, follow Zane, Sage and Ace on Instagram @BaderBoysA2Z.
WHAT: Bike Swap Meet and Barbecue, a fundraiser to support Zane and Sage Bader’s trip to compete in the UCI BMX World Championship this July in Belgium.
WHERE: Emerald Valley BMX, 2715 Leo Harris Pkwy (across from Autzen Stadium parking lot) in Eugene.
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 15
MORE INFO: Regular racing begins at 11 a.m., with ”Fun & Funky” fundraiser races following at 12:30 p.m. Bring any kind of bike parts, gear, and/or whole bikes to the track to buy, sell or trade. Individuals are responsible for watching and selling their own items.