10 Athletes of the Year: #5 Ted King

Each January, Vermont Sports Magazine publishes the profiles of 10 Vermont athletes who have made our state proud in the past year. Even with race schedules cut short, travel curtailed and being isolated from training partners, these athletes pushed through the year of Covid-19 and showed how you can stay motivated, stay fit and stay on top of the game. Here’s our annual salute to 10 athletes Vermont should be proud of.  See a full list of 2020‘s 10 Athletes of the Year in alphabetical order as well as links to previous years’ honorees. 

Ted King’s 2020 DIY Challenge
This past year could have been a major bummer for Ted King. In 2019, he and his wife Laura started what quickly became one of the most popular events on the gravel racing circuit, Rooted Vermont. The Richmond, Vt-based event brought together both top cyclists and local amateurs in a celebration of all things Vermont: gravel riding, good beer and some of Ted’’s own UnTapped maple syrup – a business he helped found with members of the Cochran family and a few other Vermont locals.

It sold out. It was scheduled to happen again in 2020, but, like most of the events on race calendars, it was sidelined by Covid-19.
That didn’t stop Ted. He may have won a lot of races in his years as a professional cyclist, Tour de France competitor and the king of gravel, but since retiring as a pro and moving to Richmond in 2018, his focus has been as much on getting other people out cycling and, in particular, gravel riding, as it has been on his own riding.

Like a Tour leader dragging the pack in his slipstream, Ted launched DIY Gravel to pull other riders into celebrating the biggest gravel events that were canceled by riding similar courses on their home turf. The season began with Rasputitsa on April 18 and ended on October 24 with the challenge to ride Big Sugar, a 100-mile ride through the dirt and gravel roads of Arkansas’s Ozark Mountains. As part of DIY Gravel, there were results to log, Strava routes to post and prizes to win. More than 3,000 people participated, checking in from around the world.

Then Ted upped the ante for himself. Over the past six months he did three insanely difficult rides. In July, as his tribute to Dirty Kanza (the 200-mile gravel race across Kansas that is now known as Garmin UnBound),  he did a 310-mile ride traversing Vermont on a diagonal on trails and old roads, using a route mapped out by Joe Cruz, the bikepacking authority from Pownal. He did it in 23 hours.

Ted called it his hardest ride ever. “I love that ride because it’s something of an evolution of me and my cycling career. The route is a riff off the paved 200 on 100, but unlike that route which is entirely paved, this one links Canada to Massachusetts on 90% gravel roads, class 4 roads, and nothing but chunky terrain the entire way,” he said.  “Any point to point route is an undertaking, but this was just something of a next level, all-day ride.”In early November, Ted King set a new course record at the Arkansas High Country Race. He rode the 1,000 miles of mixed surface with 80,000 feet of climbing in the Ozark backcountry in 4 days, 20 hours, and 51 minutes.

Ted was looking for a way to start off 2021 on the right foot. ““Why don’t you ride the 200 on 100,” his wife Laura suggested, referring to the border-to-border ride down Vermont’s Route 100. As he noted on his Instagram account, “I could think of a two hundred reasons to say no, or 206 to be exact, but none of them were enough to eliminate this kind of type 2 fun from my January 1.”

Opening photo courtesy Ted King.

See a full list of 2020‘s 10 Athletes of the Year in alphabetical order as well as links to previous years’ honorees. 

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