Ben King has been a pro cyclist for a decade and lives outside of Charlottesville. He has won grand tour stages, been the US Pro Champion, and was in the breakaway for four hours when Richmond hosted the World Championships. We caught up to him last week when he was stuck in an airport on the way to an 11 day training camp in Spain.
CBC - How has becoming a father changed your approach to training?
Ben - Becoming a dad has changed my entire world! My wife and I are both more tired and more energized than ever, but he keeps a smile on our faces. Cycling is my job, so make training a priority but when I’m not at traveling, it’s nice that I can be flexible with timing as long as I hold myself accountable to the work. While I’m out there in the cold I’m focused on doing a job my little man will be proud of, and I get to look forward to getting back home to my family... babies make excellent hand warmers after a long winter ride!
CBC - Second, congrats on signing with Rally. What are your expectations for the upcoming cycling season? Are there many domestic races on your calendar?
Ben - I look forward to riding with Rally this year. I hope that I can play a part in advancing the team and animating races. But my personal goals haven’t changed. I want to win more races! It’s exciting to ride for a true North American team. Ironically, my program will have me spending more time in Europe than any other season of my career. On the flip side, when there are big races in the USA you can count on Rally to send their “A” squad.
CBC - Speaking of training, you've spent plenty of time in some of the world's best areas for cycling. Spain, Italy, France. You've ridden everywhere. How does Virginia stack up as far as amazing places to train?
Ben - Central Virginia is my favorite place in the world to train. I love the blue ridge mountains. They have everything a cyclist needs to reach the top level and never get bored of the roads.
CBC - What are some of your favorite road/gravel loops out in the Central Virginia region?
Ben - Most of my big rides are unscripted. I head towards the mountains and just turn up whichever climbs are calling. Usually, I start out climbing Afton mountain by one of the few routes up.
CBC - We love talking gear here at the bike shop. What are some of your favorite pieces of kit or equipment over the last year or two that you just can't ride without?
Ben - I don’t leave home without a tube, pump, and multi tool, and my phone, the basics, I know. Other than that it depends on the ride! A lot of preparation goes into fueling for big days. I like a high calorie drink mix, a gel or two, and some real food in my pockets. This time of year I like good socks, a neck gaiter, and anything wind proof.
CBC - Speaking of gear, we love your nature photography. What are some of your favorite areas to photograph animals? Do you ever take a camera with you on the bike?
Ben - Thanks! I take most of my photos from my bike. When I have easier days, instead of riding to a coffee shop, I bring my camera and ride to a lake or place I’ve scouted out or seen something interesting. The bike is the best way to see the world... and spot critters. If you want to follow on Instagram I started an account, @bknaturephoto, for my photography and @bking137 for my cycling.
CBC - Lastly, just to put it into perspective for some folks out there - how many kilometers do you typically put in over the course of a busy year?
Ben - It’s usually 30-35,000 km. (18,000-21,000 miles)