Meet Kayle Leogrande who quit cycling for nine years and is now
enjoying a revitalized cycling career with his new team Rock Racing.
Kayle Leogrande happily pulling on the green jersey at the Redlands Classic
Photo © Lyne Lamoureux
The 2006 USCF Elite National Criterium Champion Kayle Leogrande of the
Rock Racing team is easy
to recognize, look for a
soft-spoken family man always ready with a smile for his fans. Oh and if it helps,
his body is covered in tattoos. I met 30-year old Kayle Leogrande after the Manhattan Beach
Grand Prix where he successfully helped his teammate
Rahsaan Bahati win
the sprint and managed to get third place.
Leogrande was quite successful as a junior rider and was part of the US National team
but quit cycling. Just when most junior riders were signing on to become professionals, Leogrande
quit the sport of
cycling at the age of 18 to become a successful tattoo artist.
After a break of nine years, he came back
not only to cycling but to winning again with the crowning title of
UCSF Elite National Criterium Champion in 2006 while riding with the Kahala LaGrange amateur squad,
and now feels "really lucky, blessed, everything is good.
Everything else is just icing on the cake."
During his absence from cycling, he built up his expertise as a
tattoo artist, and now owns his own studio with 10 employees, and can now focus on riding his bike again.
"I am able to ride my bike at my own leisure and since I worked so hard to get where I am with the studio."
He started riding again in 2004, and when asked about what he missed about racing,
he replied "everything". "Every winter I would see
the riders on their training rides, and I would say, it's not too late I can do it again,
all I need is a couple of months to get in shape."
But before he knew it, it was nine years off the bike.
In 2007, he joined the new team Rock Racing, a new US Continental team, with Rock & Republic as
their title sponsor. Being on a team with good and stable sponsor made a huge difference
as it took a lot of pressure his shoulders not wondering how he would get to and from races for example.
"All I have to do is concentrate on training so that makes all the difference in the world.
I feel really blessed to be on a team that takes care of that for me."
Leogrande has had a good year in 2007, he finished second in the Redlands Classic criterium and won the
green points jersey, continued with second place at the Smith Barney Classic, in Spartanburg part
of the USA Crits SE Series.
He followed that with the win at the San Pedro Grand Prix and now the
third place finish while helping his teammate win at the NRC-rated Manhattan Beach Grand Prix.
"I've had a good year, it just keeps getting better and better."
His personal goal for 2007 is to defend his National Criterium Champion title in Downers Grove in August.
Hoping to repeat his 2006 victory, he is going to Superweek
(International Cycling Classic) in late July to train and
get his form ready. Of course, he will assist his teammates also present at Superweek
as "we want to do good as
well and perform and win."
Kayle Leogrande working hard at Manhattan Beach Grand Prix
Photo © Thien Dinh