Q&A: Ted King to race Leadville Trail 100 MTB for World Bicycle Relief

Ted King may be retired from the UCI WorldTour peloton, but that doesn’t mean his work is done.

The 33-year-old former Cannondale rider will race Leadville Trail 100 MTB Aug. 13 in Colorado to raise funds and awareness for World Bicycle Relief, a cause he’s been supporting for more than seven years.

“Racing Leadville has always been an interest of mine,” King said. “I got into cycling thanks to fat tires and suspension, but have been stuck in the [WorldTour] life for the past decade, which doesn’t offer time to spend 100 miles at a go on the mountain bike. This being my first year of retirement, I’m pumped that it worked out to race with the awesome WBR team we’ve built.”

King rode as a domestique alongside former teammate, now world champion Peter Sagan, at the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia, among others. He retired after his 2015 season saying he was ready to “tackle a new phase,” and turn his interests to social, environmental, health and other causes related to the bike.

What he’s up to now

One of those causes was getting bikes to people who need them in developing countries, such as rural Africa with World Bicycle Relief.

“I believe in their cause, making the world a better place through the bicycle, and it’s something I continue to stand by,” King said.

With Leadville, King wanted to raise enough money for 10 bikes to send to developing countries, or $1,470; he already has managed to double that, and he’s still going.

King is offering donors a chance to win a disc-equipped Cannondale CAAD12 outfitted with SRAM and a donut ride with him, dubbed Ted’s Excellent Donut Adventure.

They can also get a limited edition Velocio kit.

“What makes Ted a standout ambassador for World Bicycle Relief is his personal commitment to the organization,” said Katie Bolling, World Bicycle Relief development director. “He’s not looking to put his name on something – he’s looking to use his platform to change the world. Ted is always up for creative, fun projects that move our needle. This time it happens to be a 100 mile mountain bike race.”


We asked King about the retired life, his strategy for Leadville and his favorite donut:

CI: How did you get involved with World Bicycle Relief and why is it important to you?

TK: I’ve been involved with WBR from early in my pro career. I’ve been a SRAM athlete for nearly my entire career, and I caught wind of it through their affiliation.

I truly believe that the world will be a better place if we just all rode bikes. We would be a healthier civilization with fewer societal ills. There would be less traffic, we wouldn’t be killing the environment at a frightening pace, and we would just operate with a cooling relief of stress day to day. So I believe in the power of the bicycle and that’s WBR’s message.

CI: You’ve been retired from the UCI WorldTour circuit for a little over a year now. Do you ever have racing withdrawals?

TK: I have been saying that come July I’ll start missing bike racing again. Turns out, July came and went, I watched some Tour de France, but I didn’t miss a thing. I’m really embracing retirement from the racing side of things. I recognize that bike racing is such a small facet of bike riding, so I’m pleased to fit into this new niche of bringing stoke to bike riding in general.

I’m doing a lot of events, leading camps, a few races (I won Dirty Kanza!), some product launches with my terrific sponsors. I’ve also launched a company, UnTapped, which brings a taste of my home in New England to the world of sports nutrition. Plus, it can be used in all aspects of life. Every day is new and exciting and it definitely keeps me on my toes.

ted king kids

CI: How much has mountain biking been a part of your life/training, and how much have you focused on it over the last year?

TK: I got into this two wheeled sport on a mountain bike in my late teens. I did some racing but eventually migrated to the road side, obviously. Over the past five years, I would do a single mountain bike race per year in the early fall, off-season.

But now in, umm, “retirement” in any given week I’ll ride three different bikes — a road bike, a mountain bike, and the Cannondale Slate jack-of-all-trades bike. I love mixing it up, and now living just at the base of Mount Tam in Marin [County, Calif.], the birthplace of mountain biking, there is so much amazing terrain.

CI: You said Leadville is a bucket-list race for you – what is appealing about it to you, and what is your strategy and goals going into it?

TK: Ha, strategy. I think the strategy is to ride as hard as you can, full stop. I like big, lofty adventures. I love spending a lot of time on my bike. I still enjoy the element of challenging myself…and suffering. But in a race like this, it’s at your own hands, not the will of the peloton.

I watched the end of Leadville once when people poured across the finish line and there’s an emotional wave. I hadn’t even participated, and it was moving to watch the passion of the crowd. We’ve built an awesome team.

Joe Dombrowski is my pick for the win with his current WorldTour fitness. Timmy Duggan is a former teammate, plus he and Craig Lewis and Laurens Ten Dam are all really good friends. We’ll definitely have a good time.

CI: After Leadville, when you go on the donut ride with the winner of the donation contest, what kind of donut will you be eating first?

TK: Maple! Maple old fashioned to be specific. 

CI: Why should someone donate to World Bicycle Relief and support your Leadville berth?

TK: Because bikes are the answer. Bikes are awesome. Bikes are freeing and allow the world to heal. And because hopefully there’s a place in their heart seeing that uplifting someone from a place in need, even if it’s across the world, makes the world a better place.

King’s World Bicycle Relief donation page