Life During Lockdown: Ted King

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Ted (@iamtedking) got a late start into bike racing — while in school at Middlebury College in Vermont — which may partly explain why he’s still so passionate about bikes in his post-professional racing career. You probably know him from years of racing around the world, including in the Tour de France as a teammate of Peter Sagan. But more recently Ted became a leader in the @peterabraham/gravel-cycling-why-its-exploding-cdca3ab3b85e">gravel cycling explosion, co-founded UnTapped athletic nutrition business, started the Rooted Vermont gravel race, and is now a father. I really appreciate Ted’s thoughtful approach to bikes and his general stoke for riding and the outdoors. He lives in Vermont with his family and shared with me what he’s been up to lately.

Give me some highlights and lowlights from your first month and a half in lockdown mode.

Our daughter was born on March 8 which was about a day or three before the world seemed to go into lockdown. We’re blessed with a happy and healthy baby girl in our house which makes for a new normal unlike many! Hazel is amazing and this mandatory hunkered-down time has been a massively positive experience since we don’t have typical jobs with maternity/paternity leaves.

Another highlight is the DIYgravel initiative I started. It’s quite simple, just taking my race schedule for 2020 and asking people to join in their own way from around the world. I have my sponsors on board and we’re awarding prizes. We have about 2,000 submissions in two weeks, so it’s taking off in a way that I didn’t necessarily expect. It just shows how much people around the world want to be part of something.

The only lowlight is wishing I had more time. I’m busier than ever, for sure partly because of Hazel, but it’s just a more hectic time than ever in my life which has me wishing there was more time in the day.

How have you grown personally and professionally during this disruption?

Oh man, what lessons aren’t there to be had when you become a parent?! Love, appreciation, gratitude, patience. The timing is just wild to become first time parents amid a global pandemic.

Professionally all of those lessons translate across as well. Probably the sense of feeling too busy and trying to harness that patience is the biggest thing. Just accepting that there isn’t enough time in the day is sometimes as good a lesson as ever. That’s what tomorrow is for.

Has your relationship with bicycles and your community changed as a result of having no races or group rides on the schedule?

I think when all events are being slowly removed from the calendar, it’s a good time to examine why you ride a bike (…assuming you ride a bike) in the first place. There are plenty of folks who are driven to events by the competition and therefore they need the intervals and structure and hard intensity at this time. That’s a-okay and a fine motivation. I love competition, but with an event calendar that’s all the more nebulous, something like DIYgravel is purely about being out and about. It’s about riding for the sake of riding, not for the sake of the fastest time to the finish line. I’m riding a lot these days and appreciating the freedom and ability to get out, now more than ever, especially seeing that otherwise basic right being taken from people given the pandemic.

Can bicycles create positive change in the world during a crisis like this?

Assuming you’re riding safely, socially distanced, and within local ordinances, I’m seeing more people drawn to riding gravel than ever before. Out on my rides, I see more people riding, walking, and just out and about taking in a nice afternoon. I have friends who own bike shops and they’re busier than ever, selling new bikes (gravel!) or giving service to bikes that haven’t seen the light of day in years. There’s a pace of life found on the bicycle that just slows the rest of life down. It’s how to reset and get ready for a new day, a new challenge, a global pandemic, or just your next Zoom meeting.

Bikes are awesome.

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Peter Abraham

I help brands & athletes find their voice and build a community.
Cycling, Running, Trail Running, Gravel Biking, Surfing
Los Angeles, CA

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