ex-Pro Ted King's new diversity in training

Preamble:
Good luck to all the TR folks racing DK200 this year. May you only roll over smooth stones, your water bottles stay full and your final NP bring you happiness :slight_smile:

Actual topic. I found this comment about how Ted King’s training changed from his prep for 2018. I recall the benefits of being a well rounded athlete and beer being mentioned at least once on the TR podcast.

from Velonews.com:

King said his personal aspirations at this year’s Dirty Kanza could be shaped by his recent decision to move from California to Vermont (he is a New Hampshire native) to help oversee his maple syrup company. Rather than pedal long miles during the winter, King instead hiked, shoveled snow and went cross-country skiing to stay fit. He filmed a YouTube series to document his unorthodox training.

King estimates he has 30 percent fewer miles in his legs than he did in 2018.

“I’m setting power numbers that I haven’t seen in some years, which I think could be attributed to the diversity of training,” King said. “I’ve been eating really good and drinking delicious beer. I’m rested and recovered.”

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Probably rested and enjoys life as a whole now. I’ve been watching those YouTube videos. He’s still a beast and he’s done some gnarly rides over the winter.

Off topic-I might be the minority but I find it kinda annoying pros are starting to migrate towards these amateur races. I understand it’s good for the event but, they have their own races they can do and I like the idea that anyone can win in these lesser events (obviously they still need to be incredibly fit but you’re not gonna beat a World Tour athlete). Pete Stetina destroyed it at the BWR and is now doing DK. Maybe I’m looking at it wrong. Maybe if they have enough mechanicals and it ruins their race someone can then say they beat a World Tour racer.

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Continuing the OT, but the transition of gravel riding/racing into the mainstream is likely to continue. It may have started as a fringe of people taking their bikes off-pavement and doing small group rides. Those rides morphed into bigger ones and eventually races.

There is still a grassroots feel to many gravel events, but their growth is undeniable. Good or bad, the leads to more equipment and gear choices, more events, and more people. Among the increase in people will come the addition of fitter and fitter riders.

We are seeing gravel take on aspects of the racing series (road and MTB) where more tactics and related aspects are expanding. This follows the ebb and flow of things like MTB in the past. It was all small scale with brews at the finish. Gravel is quite similar, and it’s not a stretch to see where this is all headed.

For better or worse, I expect to see larger organizations taking more hold of the marquee events and turning some of this into more of a “professional” environment. I think we can still keep many of the smaller events more along the lines of the origins, but those will likely need to be “new” and different events than the big name ones that are turning into the big events (along with all that entails) that we have seen in other cycling disciplines.

Good and bad of it all, so it’s hard to know how to take it in the grand scheme of things. The transitions we see happening now don’t take away the ability of the purists to keep riding as they do. But some of the events they helped build are becoming something different.

There are likely ways to handle and possibly control these changes. But it relies heavily on each event promoter and how they choose to progress. Growth requires changes, and stabilizing requires a different level of effort.

Change is a constant, and with the growth in gravel, it is likely to happen fast over the next couple of years.

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As a fan of professional cycling, I’m a fan of anything pro teams can do to generate more interest and attention. Pro cycling is flimsy enough as a business model already, so anything they can do to make the entire enterprise more viable is good in my opinion.

It would be a different story if world tour teams show up with full squads and go full “Sky train” on the field, but I think that’d defeat the point of the goodwill they’re trying to build by doing these events in the first place.

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I think that is more likely than not, to happen in the next 5 years. At least for some of the biggest events DK, BWR, Crusher and others like them.

I didn’t mention it above (out of fear), but I suspect we will see involvement from the larger sanctioning bodies in the near future. I suspect that it’s only a matter of time before one or more of them get their fingers into these “independent” events. It hinges on the organizers again (as I hinted above), but things like the DK buyout are a signal to a future that may not be welcomed by many.

time to expand the company from Maple Syrup to Beer? :beers:

Fixed? :stuck_out_tongue:

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Do any of these events have any real money attached to winning? I find it fascinating how bigger teams are being drawn into these events without money, it’s definitely a case of exposure for sponsors being a big thing (i.e. cannondale bikes being attributed with winning so people go out and get a c-dale gravel bike).

Well, hope the World Tour teams don’t start sandbagging these races. That’d be very unchill.

To your second point, I’m not sure what these organizers gain by opening the door to the governing bodies like USA Cycling and the UCI. At the very least, I’d hope these organizers understand how much leverage they have over the governing bodies at this point; USA Cycling needs gravel, gravel doesn’t need USA Cycling.

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Insurance. Insurance through USA Cycling is a huge benefit for these events. A new local gravel event gave our team four free entries to push it on social and such. A larger gravel ‘race’ gave us a huge discount to bring some people from our road team.

It’s definitely sponsor driven.

I think the EF riders doing Kanza and Leadville are driven primarily by Rapha’s desire to produce content around the team. In the US market, Kanza and Leadville have way more name recognition/attention than a lot of european world tour events.

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I don’t claim to know for certain that these changes will happen. But a look at the history of MTB, and the more recent genesis of Enduro racing (started from small groups “taking MTB back” from the DH & XC control, that is now at world cup level events) and it seems like an eventuality to me.

In many ways, I hope it doesn’t happen. There is a purity that still exists in many gravel events and I think that is the big draw for many. If it turns into the same “racer” event focus like other disciplines, I see it as a loss. Those changes don’t mean everyone must head that way, but the overly competitive nature of some other disciplines seems to be a factor in turning off some people from the sport and more low-key events.

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Totally agree.

The other thing with these events is how lucrative they have to be for organizers. Not that I know what it takes to organize, but they charge a large fee, no prizes, I’d imagine with being on gravel roads there are probably not a lot of permits/police details needed like in road races. Take Gravel Worlds for example, $80 entry fee and there are 494 people signed up, that’s already almost $40k. Now I know they donate money to local causes, and I’m not sure what other costs they might incur, but there’s no support. I’d almost rather just download a prior year course and just challenge myself any other time I’m in town. For organizers more profit focused, these gravel events have got to be a cash cow compared to doing road races/crits.

The Panaracer team tried to do it to some extent a couple years ago and caught some blowback for taking gravel too seriously, if I recall correctly. Seems like that horse is out of the barn now though- everyone’s excited about the EF guys coming out.

Regarding the prize money- the race in Steamboat this year has a $28,000 purse: https://www.velonews.com/2019/05/from-the-mag/gravels-big-year-dirty-kanzas-sale-big-cash-in-colorado-and-worldtour-participation_494267

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I think it’s cool that Ted is advocating diversity in training. Too many people take cycling WAY too seriously and forget that this is a hobby to keep mentally and physically fit.

Doing a “race” on the same day on the same course as a pro and seeing your time against theirs is really neat.

My BWR experience was enhanced by being in the lineup with current and former pros.

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Pretty sad to see pros ruin gravel, it was only a matter of time though. Now you can’t register for anything, have to race against world tour level pros, and gravel took cyclocross bikes with them. Ugh.

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The thing I’ll say is that EF Education First/Trek Factory showing up to Kanza will have zero impact on the experience of 99% of the participants. Their goals will still be to either just finish or finish as fast as they can–they weren’t going to be at the pointy end anyway. For the folks at the front of the field, then it’s a bit of bummer potentially.

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Wow, that’s some disdain pointed in what I see as the wrong direction.

  1. I had to choose from over a dozen events in surrounding states when picking my gravel events this season. Many could still be entered right now, in the closing weeks before the events.

    • The general beauty of gravel is that there seem to be a growing number of events, at least in my area.
    • I don’t think pro’s are the ones to blame for entry issues, rider caps, and tight registrations. That is more due to the simple popularity of the events themselves, as far as I see anyway.
  2. You can race against whoever shows up, not just the pros.

    • If you are looking for podiums, hopefully the organizers will make appropriate categories (pro vs joe along with age groups) so there is a fair distribution. That relies on the organizers more than anything.
  3. Many CX bikes have actually returned to a more CX based design ethos with the advent of dedicated gravel bikes.

    • In the early growth of gravel, many CX bikes porked up to fit bigger tires, different gearing and/or geo’s that were less CX focused.
    • In their latest redesigns, Trek and Specialized have taken their CX bikes back to 33c tire width design and more race-like geo and frame stiffness.
    • They can do this since the CX bike no longer serves as a gravel bike, since they have a better one with all that comes with it.
    • If anything, CX races should welcome the growth of gravels bikes, as it leaves their bikes to be the single purpose race weapons they had been for years prior to the gravel boom.
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Do pros have their own gravel races?

Strade Bianche is probably the closest thing to a gravel race for the pros, although the cobbled classics are in some ways spiritually similar.

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