The Pro’s Kit: Ted King
In our new series, we go behind the scenes with some of the world’s best. Each interview covers the nuts and bolts of how they do what they do — their favorite gizmos, gadgets, gear; what they read, watch and listen to; and the hacks and habits behind their mental and physical health.
Last week we looked at what’s in the toolbox for cyclist @ianboswell. This week we get into it with the king of gravel, Ted King. Ted is one of the first people we interviewed in a deep-dive podcast where we talked about his transition from world tour pro to gravel king, starting UnTapped and the move to Vermont with his wife, @laura.
Ted is hot off his FKT at the Arkansaw High Country Race where he rode 1,020 miles and climbed 80k+ feet in 4 days, 20 hours, and 51 minutes — making for a serious self-supported bikepacking adventure.
Boys in the Boat; Riding in the Zone Rouge. NYTimes.com.
Authors: Malcolm Gladwell, Laura Hillenbrand
Podcasts: Stuff You Should Know, How I Built This, This American Life.
Music genres: Good 90s rap, modern hot country.
Marvelous Mrs. Mazel, SportsCenter
Netflix comedy: Aziz Ansari, Mike Birbiglia
Nutrition: Your approach or anything unique about your philosophy?
My nutritional philosophy is real food. So whether it’s real foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner or UnTapped for all my on-the-go nutrition, it hinges on being real.
I find focusing on the macro-nutrients really hits home for me. There’s a lot lot of junk found in the minutiae. Sports scientists will tell you all day why supplement X, Y, and Z are necessary. There’s nothing really glamorous with glitzy labels about real food, but it works universally.
Nutrition and hydration strategy for events?
I use UnTapped exclusively. I’ve stuffed down too many gels and bars that are like taffy to care for anything else. Mapleaid is always in my bottles, packets of maple on the go, waffles, and then there are frequent bakery stops to supplement.
Mind: Is there anything you do for mindfulness or to maintain your mental health?
On occasion, and rarely often enough, when I’m really being hit hard I just close my eyes and focus on breath. It can literally be 60 seconds or less, but when life is overwhelming, taking those mindful few seconds helps tremendously.
Sleep: rituals/habits? Do you nap?
Making morning coffee for me and Laura is a pretty strong habit that happens daily without fail as the very first thing in the morning. Grind coffee, heat the water, Aeropress, boom, done.
I aim for 8 hours. I probably get closer to 7 daily, but we can investigate WHOOP for more detail. I nap maybe once every three months. If I had all the time in the world, I’d be psyched to nap daily, but that’s just not in the cards. My naps are 20 minutes or less. Quick and easy.
Strength and Mobility: How much, how often and what type?
In an ideal world, I spend 10-20 minutes in the gym daily. It’s probably closer to every other day, but I focus on core and then throw in lots of other movements, lunges, squats, push-ups, pull-ups. I’m doing it more reliably through the cold winter months when I spend more time in the gym, but year round I find it tremendously helpful.
Recovery: Do you have a strategy or ritual, and/or health metrics you watch?
I check out my WHOOP score multiple times daily. Morning recovery, after any workout, hard or easy, before bed, I really value the information found there. It’s all encompassing, resting HR, sleep quantity and quality, and then their special sauce, heart rate variability.
Anything about your approach to training, mindset, nutrition or life that you might not have mentioned?
I still place a high priority on training, rest, recovery, and everything around movement in my life, but the athletic monk-like lifestyle happened to me before 2016.
When I was a professional road racer, it was all-encompassing, 24/7. These days it’s fitness with a good real-world perspective on life in general. Maybe it’s “Ted King, bike rider” these days, as opposed to the previous “Ted King, bike racer”.
Gear: Favorite items in your Kit?
Oh geeze, a toughie. Here are a few!
I love my gravel bikes and mountain bikes, but I’m still a roadie at heart, so my SuperSix EVO by Cannondale.
Rene Herse Snoqualmie Pass tires are wide 44c slicks which can conquer pretty much anything.
I could list ever pair of ROKA glasses as favorites, but GP-1x are so impossibly light that I call those current faves.
Saris H3 is the hardest working trainer out there. Everything I want, nothing I don’t, absurdly reliable.
Anything AXS by SRAM puts a smile on my face. Their new 10-36 rear derailleur is outstanding, if looking for particulars.
Velocio’s LUXE bibs is their standout product among a list of standout products. (And if looking for a second favorite, as a New England company, they make amazing adverse weather kit, head to toe.)
WHOOP. I’ve mentioned WHOOP at least once here and that’s because I love it.
And the Zipp 303S wheelset gives you the trifecta: light, affordable, durable. Normally it’s “pick two”, but now you can pick all three.
Your go-to bike for each discipline you do, and anything unique about gearing or setup that might be interesting to readers?
As a gravel aficionado, the SuperX is my go-to steed.
I go back and forth between 1x and 2x, I love them both, but let’s go with the saucy mix of SRAM Red plus SRAM Eagle 1x. Plus a set of Zipp hoops and Rene Herse rubber.
Your favorite road and gravel tires and tire pressure?
I ride all bikes, so lots of variability here, from silky smooth road to chundery road to tame gravel to gnarly class 4 to just straight up mountain biking.
The narrowest tires I run are 32c Stampede Pass by Rene Herse, which I run around 60psi. I will use up to their 650x48c Switchback Hill and I’ll run them at 30psi +/- 5lbs.
Are you partnered with any causes?
I helped create the King Challenge. That’s an annual fundraising ride that benefits the Krempels Center, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of those living with brain injury. My dad had a stroke in 2003 so this is very near and dear to my heart.
I’m good friends with Farid Noori who has spearheaded Mountain Bike Afghanistan. I’m proudly on the board of that organization which especially is targeted at empowering youth and females to get into cycling.
I’m a long time World Bicycle Relief ambassador. Anyone who’s message is the Power of the Bicycle speaks my language!
- How to Ride Zwift
- Winter Training Tips
- How to Pack and Prepare for a Gravel Race
- @laura’s Guide to Van Life with a Bike and Baby
Follow Ted King
- On Prokit, @iamtedking; Laura King, @laura
- Ted’s podcast, King of the Ride
- Ted’s website
- Ted and Laura’s gravel event, @rootedvermont; website
Questions for Ted? Ask him in the comments!