While professional cycling is most certainly an occupation for my colleagues and me, it is work in an entirely different capacity than the majority of jobs out there. Cycling is an all-engrossing profession that consumes so many aspects of our lives, from … well, consuming and therefore what we eat to fuel five-hour training rides, to the amount of rest and downtime that directly influences our performance at work; there’s the virtually non-stop aspect of travel and operating out of a suitcase, as well as the facet of work that results from moving one’s entire life to seemingly the opposite end of the globe to pursue the sport — and job — that we love.
The progression of cycling in my life has been relatively straightforward. First were my days in elementary school riding a bike with friends simply in the pursuit of freedom, then years later I was reintroduced to cycling — this time as a sport — during my time in college. Amateur and then professional racing followed this chapter of my life all across North America, which has segued now into professional cycling at the pinnacle of the sport on a global scale. Throughout this progression, cycling has always brought me a great deal of enjoyment and simple joy.
At the end of the day, I still love my job. The feelings are very similar to the pleasure that was first elicited when I started riding decades ago and then when I began training regularly as a racing cyclist more recently. I still embrace that sense of freedom and love the adventures and world travels that cycling has allowed me. I recognize that my profession is a relatively unique one and it’s something I really embrace and feel privileged to have.
Pardon the randomness of this next statement, but stay with me here. Removing all of the sporting aspects of my life, one of my absolute favorite moments in life are the two-to-three minutes just prior to landing an airplane as I return home from a race or event. All the headaches and banging my head against the wall in the airport are quickly forgotten in these brief seconds. Gazing out the window the ground below is near enough to recognize my favorite training roads, the punchy climbs that I’ve toiled over countless times, and the best coffee shops where I’ve downed my share of unctuous caffeinated goodness.
I can sometimes actually see my house or apartment, I recognize town centers, and see the landmarks that I’ve ridden by time and again. It’s a surreal vantage point — look closely enough and I can see people walking and cars driving, but it’s just far enough away that it somehow seems like a miniature toy village and somehow not real, like watching an episode of the Truman Show.
I’ve lived all over the globe, from New Hampshire to Vermont, North Carolina and Colorado, California, Spain, and Switzerland. I’m spoiled to have experienced this many amazing places, but every single time I’m in a plane in the final approach, I anxiously stare out the window and experience the same nostalgic (or maybe just plain crazy) feeling. I don’t know if you will experience this same wistful sensation that’s elicited when I do this, but I recommend you at least give it a try and request the window seat on your next flight home.
(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.