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Ohio Technician Turns Racing Dreams into Reality

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Eric Lease is a Field/Service Technician for Columbia Eric LeaseGas of Ohio (COH) in Northeast Ohio. He spends his days with his friends and family and has enjoyed working for COH over the past 10 years. But what many don’t know about Eric is that he has been regularly competing to pursue his dream of becoming a professional dirt bike rider.

“Riding and racing dirt bikes is something that I just grew up with,” said Eric. “It’s a hobby, passion, and my life’s dedication.” Eric started riding dirt bikes when he was six years old in his hometown of Salem, Ohio. A neighbor, who was already a professional rider, got Eric interested in the sport and his hobby quickly turned into something more serious.

“I’ve always just loved to ride, especially when I was younger,” said Eric. “I was always looking for new races to compete in and every minute of free time was dedicated to the sport. If I wasn’t racing, I was practicing.”

Eric’s passion for the sport began translating into success early on in his career as he started climbing the A class amateur dirt bike rankings. By 2006, Eric was the second ranked amateur rider in the nation and was competing in races across Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

However, Eric’s early success came to an abrupt stop in 2007 when an injury left him sidelined from racing. Soon afterwards Eric joined COH as a Field/Service Technician following in the footsteps of his father, an M&R Technician in Northeast Ohio with over 30 years of experience.

But being out of the sport that he loved was something Eric just couldn’t accept.  

In 2015, Eric began the process of getting back into racing and reclaiming his former ranking. Eric was determined more than ever to achieve his goal of becoming a professional. “I got back into the sport a few years ago and just started picking up where I left off,” said Eric. “I began competing in any races that I could find nearby or in Ohio. Competing and racing just feels natural. I guess you could say that, for me, racing it’s just like riding a bike, you never forget how to do it.”

Eric has competed in a number of races in the past few months in pursuit of his dream. More recently, he competed in, and won, a 24 hour Ironman race in Andover, New York. Eric entered the day-long event with over 30 other individual riders and finished in first place. “That was probably one of my more memorable achievements,” said Eric. “When you compete in the race by yourself they call it the Ironman. We started at 10:00 am on a Saturday and rode to 10:00 am on Sunday. I finished with 28 laps, riding for a total of 21 hours straight. I just kept doing laps and focused on how hard I could push my body and my bike. I wanted to win.”

On Sunday, September 3, Eric finished atop the 250 A Eroc series of races - a goal he had long been working to achieve his entire lie. “Finishing in first place was dream come true,” said Eric. “After being away from the sport for so long and finally getting back into it and finding success – it means a whole lot.”

Eric’s recent success has also attracted the interest of a local motorcycle store. Andrews Cycles, a motorcycle wholesaler in Salem, has approached Eric about a possible sponsorship deal. “It’s humbling to have someone approach you about a possible sponsorship, said Eric. “Recognition from others and those in the racing community is a huge honor.”

Eric now has to decide if he will pursue his dream further and move up to the pro class rankings or remain in the current A class. Either way, Eric plans to continue riding for the rest of his life.