With a tap of my finger I find the 11-tooth cog and in a final burst of speed I sprint around EJ driving the scooter just centimeters in front of me. A half-minute later and now fully gassed, I slowly coast to a stop, catch my breath, and thank EJ profusely for finding the time, after what sounds like another legendary Interbike, to motorpace me before I head off to Australia and the world championships tomorrow.
I roll away, eventually finding my rhythm for another two hours, finishing out my last-hurrah training ride before tomorrow’s departure. In these two hours it begins to dawn on me the number of times I’ve uttered those words, thank you, especially within the past week to make this world championships a reality.
There’s Billy, for example, down at the bike shop, who worked without complaint until nearly midnight to make my bike work flawlessly for my final week of training (although I know he enjoyed the additional Trois Pistoles thank you gift for his fine literal 11th hour work). Just last week, I thanked Craig and Courtney for their superb hospitality, Bobby for her door-to-door pre-race chauffeur service, Kaycee for a great massage despite a two-year absence, as well as RayRay for driving my support car during nationals. However, it begins to extend beyond that; I thank him again for lending an ear, being a great training partner in addition to being a remarkable friend.
As the kilometers click by — some of the final of the entire year — my mind continues to spin out names of people on the receiving end of my thank yous. While this final preparatory week is merely one cog in the wheel, it’s amazing the number of people who have been instrumentally helpful over all of the years.
In addition to his indefatigable support that takes him around the world, I thank Robert for keeping me well fed during my time at home in New England (it’s technically carbo-loading, right?). Similarly, I have Jack, Craig, Mike, and Josh to thank for keeping my American coffee stores up to snuff while living overseas.
I can’t thank my family enough for their unparalleled support, but I can certainly try. I thank Mom for enlightening me to what it truly means to be patient without complaint. (People also claim we look alike, so I thank her for her stunningly good looks.) Dad, I thank you for inspiration. I thank you for your endless encouragement and the dogged public relations campaign to keep all of our friends, family, neighbors, and seemingly everyone else up to date with what I’m doing throughout the world.
Robbie introduced the sport of cycling to me, so in this regard I’m eternally grateful. Heck, he’s probably the best brother a guy could ask for to boot.
I thank Joao for his friendship, generosity, and being the consummate teammate. I have Keith to thank for patching me up during my untimely yet often memorable trips to the pavement. Alex is an amazing sports director and I thank him for truly caring about his athletes.
This list extends first to dozens and then well into the hundreds. One way or the other, the number of people for whom I’m thankful is nothing short of extensive. I’m not one to issue insincere thank yous, so if you’ve heard me utter this phrase, rest assured I mean it with gratitude and authentic thanks.
Indirectly, although important all the same, I suppose I have to thank the Middlebury College admissions department for accepting me to your fine institution of higher learning. Four years in Vermont’s Green Mountains, where I was first presented with the sport, I also acquired the ability to harden up thanks to my fair share of hours logged in the frost-bitingly cold conditions. This is a perfect example of someone, something, or somebody for whom the thanks are sincere albeit indirect at the time.
For me, cycling is not a destination. I certainly don’t look at my career and say with smug satisfaction, “I made it!” Rather, cycling is a journey and a globe-trotting adventure. Similarly, this journey is not a result of one event, one experience, nor one Big Bang. Rather it’s a collection of people who have helped make this ride possible, because as I’ve come to realize now more than ever, without them I’m nowhere even close to where I am today.
I’ve been told time and again (and again) that I should write a book. I trust that eventually that will be in the cards for me and if that’s the case perhaps this is the first draft of the ever-expanding acknowledgements section. If you do not find your name in the above list, please don’t feel slighted, as the ultimate list of people worthy of thanks and praise truly is virtually endless. Next week will be my first world championships and it’s been an awesome ride getting this far. Yet, it is with a decent amount of humility (and for that I have the entire pro peloton to thank) that keeps things in perspective and makes me hungry for more.
Thank you and be sure to enjoy the ride.
(Related: All Ted’s columns)
This year Ted King is in his sophomore year with the Cervélo TestTeam. After getting a taste for the European peloton with the U.S. espoir national team in 2005, King returned to the United States for three successful years of domestic pro racing. The 27-year-old is a native of New Hampshire and despite his affinity for hearty servings of coffee, he is slowly adapting to the smaller European portions. Slowly. His diaries appear monthly on VeloNews.com; between the scanty portions we serve up, you can follow Ted at www.Cervelo.com/team and www.iamTedKing.MissingSaddle.com. Those of you content with 140 characters or less can track his activities at www.twitter.com/iamtedking.