An Interview with Ted King - After the Dust Settles Part I

I recently sat down, per many people’s request, to interview Ted King again, this time on American soil after having just ridden his first Paris-Roubaix.

It goes without saying that most, if not all, of us have dreamed of riding Paris-Roubaix. While Ted’s first go at it didn’t end as he had hoped it would, he was still willing to relive it for our reading pleasure.

Part II of this interview will post in the next day or so, where Ted shares how being home differs from life as a cyclist in Italy, his watts on Strava and how jacked up he is for the Tour of California.

cycloWHAT?: Hey-O.

iamTedKing: Yooo hey. Just a heads up, my phone is connected to my computer as my modem. So we might have these temporary lapses of incommunicado.

cycloWHAT?: Ick.

iamTedKing: Because it’s good, but not quite perfect.

cycloWHAT?: Actually, it hasn’t been bad.

iamTedKing: That’s what she said.

cycloWHAT?: You glad to be home?

iamTedKing: Yes, I’m happy to be home. It’s a very good mid-season refresher.

cycloWHAT?: What was the first thing you ate when you got home?

iamTedKing: It’s horribly cliche, but I went with a Starbucks. Apparently Europe is growing on me, because I went with a small and found it entirely too big. Then I went out to dinner with my Mom and bro-man, Robbie, on the way home from the airport. Coincidentally (or ironically) we went to an Italian place. Again, the portions were a bit large for my taste, although still quite delish.

iamTedKing: By the way, I’m doing a crossword puzzle right now. 5 letter word for “Easily flimflammed”. I’m unaware what flimflammed means.

cycloWHAT?: That’s mildly insulting.

iamTedKing: I don’t know how, but okay. cycloWHAT?: Can we revisit Paris-Roubaix?

iamTedKing: Go on…

cycloWHAT?: You were nervous, obviously, and you were assigned to Daniel Oss…Race day, did anything change during the pre-race meeting?

iamTedKing: No, not really. Same plan as we discussed before…Do you remember when you asked if I was getting cocky? Reminder: I had just said that Flanders was arguably the most nervous I had been for a race, but in truth it unfolded pretty well and I was pleased with my work there. So then I went to Roubaix all high on confidence, yada …yada…yada… Remember that? Well part of that is true. Yes, I was anxious and ready to get the race rolling, but compared to the week before at Flanders, I was really surprised with how calm I was.

cycloWHAT?: I think you should just take us through the race, from start to finish.

iamTedKing: Once the gun fired (or however we start races these days. Flags dropping, whatever…) it was an attack festival. It was nuts. Still, I wasn’t nervous. It was just a flat-f#$k-attack-session for three hours.

cycloWHAT?: From the gun??!! Really? I would have thought it would have rolled out somewhat slowly, considering what everyone knows looms in the distance.

iamTedKing: Look, virtually every team is told to be in the breakaway, so you have 25 or whatever teams, each trying to send 1-4 guys off in the break. It’s mayhem. I look down and see that we’re averaging 50+ kph for the first hour. Then another hour of the same. Yowza.

cycloWHAT?: Wow. Is that tactic result-driven or is it, for most of the early attackers, solely about “TV Time?”

iamTedKing: Both. TV time is huge, but it’s also a big advantage to be in the breakaway for tactical reasons, as we saw. Add to the mix teams who know they won’t finish a single rider, and the “TV Time” is all the bigger.

So we carry on a bit longer, probably 2.5 hours into the race after the first cobbled section and I saw some dude crashing in front of me. All I saw was lots of colors, lots of dust, lots of bikes bouncing around in a manner that bicycles should not bounce. I did this incredibly, awesomely, awkward unclipped, sliding, ghost-riding crash into it. I ended up hitting the pavement pretty hard on my left side, in addition to tweaking my knee with that aforementioned awesome sliding technique - which I do not recommend - just like old school Batman, “CRASH BANG BOOM BIFF!”

cycloWHAT?: Good way to pull the ol’ groin, for sure.

iamTedKing: I heard someone yelling pretty ferociously, obviously in pain, but meanwhile I collected myself and pedaled away, albeit painfully.

iamTedKing: I later learned someone shattered his forearm in this crash and have to assume it was “Mr. Yeller.”

cycloWHAT?: What a cry-baby. Where was your teammate, Oss, at this point?

iamTedKing: About 3 wheels in front of me and to the right, but he avoided it. Wisely.

So that was virtually the beginning of the end for me. I chased for a while, breathing an inordinate amount of French countryside in the process. I caught the peloton but I was basically useless. That was a big punch to the gut; to know that I was back in the race, but basically already out of the race. I was in a lot of pain. One or two cobbled sections later and I bowed out.

Day: Over.

cycloWHAT?: What are those cobbles really like?

iamTedKing: European racing is a big caricature of itself. I can’t put it to words. Should I say, “They’re hard. They’re really rough”…? Because that doesn’t even begin to do it justice. My brief slice of Roubaix was a 3 hour criterium on some of the roughest roads I’ve ever ridden. I’ve ridden a lot of cobbles in my day, but that’s a whole new ball of wax… as my Grandpappy might say.

And I don’t yet know my stance on the conditions. I can’t imagine that race in the wet, but seriously, the dry conditions were like racing on a lubricated layer of talcum powder. There were sooo many crashes.

cycloWHAT?: You should yell, “Hold your line!” I learned that somewhere.

cycloWHAT?: When you got in the car, you were obviously disappointed. Do you watch or listen to the rest of the race?

iamTedKing: Yeah, I got into the car with one other teammate. Then a few more loaded in later. That race is a race of attrition (among other gnarly factors) so that it’s whittled down to the front group(s). That is to say, the cars become very full of filthy, dusty riders.

cycloWHAT?: How does the team management treat you after you get in the car? Are they forgiving of the crash or are they disappointed or frustrated or both? Is there compassion for your situation?

iamTedKing: They treat you just fine. They don’t go around high fiving you and saying, “Great job.” Similarly, riders don’t go around showing bloody knees and bruised elbows lamenting our injuries. They know you want to do better. Cycling is rad like that. It’s all so self-motivating. Anyone can kick and scream and yell all they want to get a rider pumped up, but at the end of the day, the rider wants to win the frickin’ race.

cycloWHAT?: Sort of a “Rubbin’s Racin’” kind of thing…

iamTedKing: Ricky Bobby. “If you ain’t first, you’re last.”

cycloWHAT?: Do you want to do it again?

iamTedKing: Roubaix? I will do Roubaix again. I will prove myself worthy.

cycloWHAT?: Looking to next year, knowing then what you know now, what do you expect from yourself in Les Classiques?

iamTedKing: To win everything, naturally.


iamTedKing: Sorry for the brief delay. I’m up at altitude and everyone says, “DRINK DRINK.” I just peed for like 90 seconds. T’was delightful.

cycloWHAT?: In your mouth?

iamTedKing: Nope, haven’t perfected my aim. You’re gross, by the way.

cycloWHAT?: You have to lay upside down against the wall. Google it. Monkeys do it.

iamTedKing: So, 2012 classics…I just want to do better. I had a decent campaign this year. It wasn’t anything extraordinary, but considering we only did Wevelgem, De Panne, Flanders, and Roubaix, I can say I’m satisfied with the whole campaign. Sure, there’s plenty of room for improvement, but I was pleased with a good part of De Panne and Flanders especially. Take that as my first go at the classics, give me another year of experience, and anything short of a win there would just be a surprise (that final bit is called sarcasm, but you get the point).

cycloWHAT?: I do. You should show your entire team my Fitchburg video before Flanders next year and tell them, “See guys, that’s how we need to do it!”

iamTedKing: I love Fitchburg. Except this year it’s just a crit. That’s what I call CRAPPY

cycloWHAT?: Not for me…

iamTedKing: It’s still just a crit, right?

cycloWHAT?: Yes, which is ideal for me…Because last year I…well…you know…

iamTedKing: Won? Niiiice.

cycloWHAT?: You a-hole, you haven’t seen the video?

iamTedKing: No, do tell.

iamTedKing: You did win, right?

cycloWHAT?: What?! Of course I did!

iamTedKing: Bitchin! I thought you were saying you got pimped on the line or something.

cycloWHAT?: I don’t get pimped on the line.

iamTedKing: Ahhhh, now I see why you’re pumped. Fitch’ Crit 2011. DelinksWHAT?! Good stuff. Now go away.

Ted King Paris-Roubaix