Cycling talent on display in Sunday’s Salisbury Criterium

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Steve Huffman
Pat Raines said members of Team Mountain Khakis work to recruit some of the nation’s best bicycling talent.
And then the team fully expects ó and even hopes ó that they quickly move on.
“We’re not trying to horde talent,” Raines said. “We want to be a revolving door.”
Members of Team Mountain Khakis will be participating in Sunday’s Salisbury City Park Criterium. Sunday marks the third year for the spring criterium, which follows an almost-mile-long course that circles the park.
The event kicks off at 8 a.m. and continues until 5 p.m. with races for riders of various ages and skill levels.
Raines lives in Cary, though he said Team Mountain Khakis is based in Winston-Salem. He said the team is made up of older (those in their mid- to late-30s) and younger (late teens to mid-20s) riders.
The idea, Raines said, is for the older riders to take the younger talent and help them realize their potential.
“We’re almost like a trade school,” Raines said of Team Mountain Khakis. “We’re giving these young guys their first shot while giving something back to the sport that’s given us so much.”
Raines said five members of Team Mountain Khakis (the name is of a Jackson Hole, Wy.,-based clothing manufacturer that has a sales office in Charlotte) will compete in Sunday’s Salisbury race.
He said one of the riders who’ll be competing is 19-year-old Logan Loader, a cyclist that Team Mountain Khakis recruited from California a year ago.
“We saw him at a camp last summer and thought he had tremendous potential,” Raines said.
He said team members train an average of 20 to 30 hours per week, a pace that translates to about 20,000 to 30,000 miles per year.
Raines said two Team Mountain Khakis riders have moved on to U.S. national teams, made up of some of the most elite riders in the country. He said the goal of team members is to help younger riders reach the level of riding enjoyed by the likes of Lance Armstrong.
“We want to help them reach the Tour de France level,” Raines said.
Asked if most professional bike riders are in fact “professional,” capable of making a living off what they earn from riding, Raines laughed.
“That depends upon your definition of the term ‘professional,’ ” he admitted. “It’s hard to make a living at it. It’s hard to devote that much time to it. Lots of times, their parents retire them.”
Raines said the Salisbury City Park Criterium enjoys a reputation among members of the cycling community as staging one of the better races in the Southeast.
“I think Salisbury is becoming a race that a lot of riders look forward to,” Raines said. “They do a nice job of staging things. They put a lot of work into it.”
Charlie Brown, one of the organizers of the local race, said he’s always proud to hear racers from outside the immediate community brag about the work that he and his cohorts do in preparing for the race.
Brown said Sunday’s race should include at least 350 riders. There’s no charge for spectators.
“It requires a lot of planning,” Brown said of the festivities. “We should have good weather, and that’s a big part of it.”