Very Fast Learner
Young Monterey Peninsula pro cyclist Logan Loader takes to international races quickly.
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Compared with most 23-year-old people, Pacific Grove-born-and-raised Logan Loader’s face is stern – even toned – with determination. He squints as if he were Clint Eastwood and the other guy’s going for his gun.
The look could be caused by the fact that he just spent close to nine hours – nine – cycling on his road bike chasing a scooter going 50 mph on Highway 68, with a stomach filled only with plain bread and coffee.
It could be the fact that he’s got to drop extra pounds to become lighter and faster before his next road race.
It could be the knowledge that as he was cycling, his bike was sending information to his USA Level 1 cycling coach, Monterey’s Chris Burnham, who will analyze Loader’s performance and soon have more grueling challenges to complete.
Or maybe he’s just thinking about the 2013 road cycling season that starts this month, his first with new teammates at Cash Call Mortgage Cyling.
Loader started his career as an adolescent, but the inspiration for it came even earlier: His mother bought him his first bike on his second Christmas. Later his uncle, an avid mountain biker, would take little Loader on daily rides along 17 Mile Drive. At age 5, Loader knew he wanted to become a pro.
“I would wake up and go cycling throughout the day, come home watching races on TV, then go to bed and dream about racing,” Logan recollects. “Cycling was the only option for me.”
After years of dreaming – and training up to 35 hours a week on the bike and another 10 in the gym – he won a junior race at Canada’s Tour de l’Abitibi, catching the attention of a French development team which offered him an opportunity to cycle in Europe. Having never left the continent, Loader decided to drop out of high school, sell practically everything he owned, and move to France with a suitcase, all at the ripe age of 17. Two years later he became pro – though most people don’t hit those elite ranks until 25 – with Erik Saunders’ Mountain Khakis squad.
“Cycling is their life in Europe, everything is about cycling,” Loader says. “Every professional in the U.S. could lose 10 pounds.”
Now, after winning 17 international races like the Grand Prix de Grasse and Criterium de Monaco, riding for the Sprinter de Nice French, working with U.S. Olympian Freddy Rodriguez and getting comfortable with a second language, Loader continues to look home. He just rented a house in Seaside. But you won’t find any trophies there.
“The races I’ve won in the past don’t matter,” Loader says, adding he gives his grandma his awards to shelve. “I’m constantly looking forward to the next race.”
For all of the intensity, though – he just celebrated his first win of the season in the Cherry Pie Criterium in Napa Valley – Loader’s got a looser side.
“Training in the morning, following a steady and strict diet, cycling again, monitoring my weight, all comes natural for me,” Loader admits. “The hardest part is not taking myself too seriously.”
He doesn’t seem to struggle with that, thanks an impulsive, almost unpredictable, character. One night Loader could be back in Monterey drinking coffee outside of East Village talking to people he just met. On Tuesday Karaoke night at Britannia Arms, there’s a chance he might be walking down Alvarado Street about to meet his 50-something friend “The Captain” who sports an all-white suit topped with sunglasses (whether day or night) and a sailor hat. Or he might be cruising down Highway 1 in the BMW he just bought, with his new bulldog puppy Sniper at his side. (He bought both car and pup with a cycling allowance his contract forbids discussing. )
Loader’s girlfriend Majorie Abel moved out to California from South Carolina two weeks after they met in a coffee shop, so she’s got a little spontaneity to her as well.
“He’s not just a cyclist, he’s Logan Loader,” she says in her southern accent. “His demanding career doesn’t bother me at all really. It’s the wild part I don’t like.”
Like many 20-somethings, he has his occasional night out and recalls a night spent out in Vegas until nine in the morning.
“I am a professional cyclist, but I’m still just myself,” Loader says. “Whenever I’m back home, I still hang out with the same people I’ve always hung out with. I’ll probably still hang out with them no matter where my career takes me.”
Wherever that place may be is difficult to predict. But it’s pretty certain he’ll be getting there by bike.