Ted King was one of the first Pros to get on Strava and has been an integral part of our community ever since. We’ve hosted him at Strava HQ; he’s led rides with us, provided an inside perspective from the Tour de France, and even passed along nutrition advice. He has been transparent in his training and racing, sharing daily activity with creative titles, giving us a glimpse into what it really means to be a pro. The “Let Ted Ride” Strava art is a good display of how the Strava community has followed his journey and rallied in his support. For all he’s done for cycling and Strava, we’re very grateful.
After 10 years of professional racing, Ted King is retiring. Here’s what he has to say.
When the email reminder dinged into my inbox a few months ago I was taken by surprise. “Register now for your TEN YEAR college reunion!” Ten years. Whoa. That was the abrupt, electronic reminder that I’m zeroing in on a decade since I took my hard earned economics degree from Middlebury College and did the most obvious thing possible: I turned it into a career as a professional cyclist. With a convenient break in my race schedule coinciding with reunion weekend this June, I am excited to return to the lush, Green Mountains of Vermont where I found the sport of cycling which has forever shaped my life.
Middlebury College lies in the heart of Vermont. Straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting, the bucolic campus is situated atop a rolling hilltop with the ancient Appalachian Mountains, blanketed in stunning foliage much of the year, climbing directly from the edge of town. Offering a classic liberal arts education, classes range from philosophy to biology to architecture to the arts. I arrived as a freshman a completely blank slate — a tabula rasa.
Freshman year, I adopted my brother’s bike and started dabbling in cycling. Quickly moving up the collegiate ranks, I soon found myself balancing elite cycling with a full course load, also thrown into the mix included harsh winter weather and four years of having fun. I chose classes based on when they would let me out the door to ride. Pro tip for aspiring cyclists in frigid climates: opt for morning classes. You can be riding by noon when the temperature peaks in the high teens. You’ll be provided with four hours of daylight before the sun sets and it’s time to defrost and go hibernate in the library.
Upon graduation, most of my econ classmates were destined for Wall Street and a lifetime of finance. In my four years of college I only ever had one professor ask me with a hint of consternation, seeing it as a dead end pursuit, why I was chasing the sport of cycling. With a successful collegiate cycling campaign plus a college degree in my back pocket I knew the window to chase the dream of a lifetime on two wheels was small. I already had a late start at the sport, but saw this opportunity as now or never and I charged at it.
Ten years of professional cycling later, fast forward to the present. I’ve raced in world champions, Giros, Tours, and cycling’s biggest one day monuments; I’ve tackled the sport’s most hallowed roads and storied climbs; I’ve called Switzerland, Italy, and Spain home, and I’ve spent countless race days traveling through five different continents. I’ve seen cultures, learned languages, and through each day’s highs and lows, I’m lucky enough to call every day an adventure hatched out of a dream.
Every day has personal reflection, and with recent heartfelt conversations with friends, family, and colleagues, with no shortage of thought, and still with a tremendous amount of love and gratitude for the sport, I’m ready to announce my retirement from professional bike racing at the end of the 2015 season.
It’s said that you don’t know what you have until it’s gone (at which point, apparently they put up a parking lot), which is why I’m consciously embracing every pedal stroke, every training session and race day, every searing interval, and every time I pin on a number. I’m taking mental pictures — and snapping plenty of real photos too — knowing that the brief instances that comprise the work day of a professional cyclist are finite.
I want to leave it all out on the road this season and not miss a single aspect of this adventure.
The bicycle is a medium. For those of us lucky enough, it’s a means to a profession and livelihood, but for everyone who steps over and pedals a bike, it’s a method of expression. It’s both an input of and outlet of emotion. The bicycle has the power to eliminate a nation’s dependence on oil as quickly as it can eradicate heart disease; it is among the most powerful tools for uplifting people towards social equality, and is the pillar of childish joy unlike any single thing on the planet.
I’ve been saying it for years, with enough patience the bicycle can save the world.
That’s why I’m excited about the blank slate that I have ahead of me. The conclusion of this season will mark the end of my professional road racing career, but the beginning of a new phase of my life — which will definitely involve the bike. Because I’ve literally lived this sport day in and day out for the past decade, the friendships and relationships I’ve built in to this business are among the strongest one can find anywhere. With events and organizations like the Krempels King of the Road Challenge, World Bicycle Relief, the Dempsey Challenge, Best Buddies Challenge, the 200 Not On 100, the HUGS ride, Dirty 40, and many other — in addition to starting a sports nutrition company, UnTapped Maple, with a distinct flavor for my New England roots — I don’t see this as an end, instead I view it as a new chapter.
Whether at these events or others, I’ll see you out on the road.
Follow Ted King and wish him a strong 2015 season. He can retire from racing, but we’ll always have a place for him on Strava.
Photos from Gruber Images.