To start, it might be worth pointing out that these entries are being written via BlackBerry, so I apologize for their sometimes-rambling nature. Also for more immediate thoughts by yours truly, I’m on Twitter at @iamtedking.
In years past, during particularly race-heavy times of the season, I go into race-and-recover mode. For example, there’s not sufficient time to train between a four-day stage race backed up by a five-day race. So, for the sake of my well being and performance, I complete a race, chill out and spin a little and then go to the next race as fresh as possible.
The Giro, however, I’m finding to be quite another story altogether. With 24 hours in a day, it’s simple second grade subtraction to calculate the number of hours we spend recovering from each Giro stage:
24 hours per day – Number of hours racing that day = Number of hours spent in recovery that day.
Here’s a quick run through of what I mean. Once we finish the stage, we immediately jump onto the team bus, grab a recovery shake and shower, chuck on compression tights and we are whisked off to that night’s hotel.
Upon arrival, we find our suitcases already in our rooms, and the soigneurs are ready for a solid hour of massage with each rider. Next, it’s dinner time, where Chef Willy has prepared an award-worthy, super-nutritious meal, followed by getting horizontal in bed, watching a bit of (incomprehensible to me) Italian TV and then as much sleep as possible; eight to ten hours is typical. In the morning, when another spectacular meal by Willy awaits us, we then kit up, board the bus and are off to another day at the races.
Literally every non-racing hour of the day is somehow related to recovery. Days like today, with eight uphill kilometers directly from the start and a 25km mountain-top finish make these big hours of recovery not just enjoyable, but entirely necessary.
Great food, sleeping and lounging in bed for double-digit hours, an hour of massage daily, plus I get to race my bike… I know what you’re thinking: Ted, you’re living the sweetest life ever! Well, yeah put that way, I would be hard pressed to deny that it’s plush.
In truth, however, there’s a lot more to it that’s less than glamorous. Take, for example, bidding bon voyage to family and friends for 10 months out of the year; that’s less than fun. I lived below poverty level for my first three years of professional racing, so I’m obviously not in it for the money. A quick look at the next two days of the Giro shows that we have nearly 500km of hard, hard racing on the immediate horizon. That’s two days of intense suffering which will complete only the first of three arduous weeks of racing.
So why do we do it? Rather than speaking on behalf all professional cyclists, I’ll stick to the opinion of those I know well – namely, me! I’ve been running this question through my head a lot lately and I think the answer is quite simple, if not entirely corny. Why do I do it? Because I love it.
Plain and simple, I love cycling. There is something inherently pure about the sport. Seeing who can suffer the longest, putting mind over matter and grunting it out kilometer after kilometer, mountain after mountain, day after day, makes for a beautiful sport.
Having grown up participating in just about every sport under the sun at some point in my life, never have I seen the amount of passion for the sport among athletes as I have among cyclists. Unlike other sports, we don’t just “play” it, we live it. So no matter the suffering, the pain, the sacrifice, (or pleasure of recovery), I love what I’m doing right now and will continue as long as I can.
Sent from my wireless BlackBerry
Editor’s Note: This year Ted King is making his professional European racing debut with the upstart Cervélo TestTeam. While first 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. King, 26, 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 will appear on VeloNews.com every few days during the Giro, alternating with diaries by Columbia-Highroad’s Michael Barry. When he’s not racing the Giro, you can follow Ted at www.Cervelo.com/team and www.iamTedKing.MissingSaddle.com.