Ben King, US Pro Road Champion – See His Race Report

Posted: September 24, 2010 in Cycling, News, Race Reports

photo borrowed from Pez Cycling

Ben King road away from the best pros in the U.S. and stole the US Pro Road Race Title.  He will be wearing the stars and stripes for the next year.

Here is his race report:

I counted myself one of the twenty odd riders who had a prayer of upsetting the cycling celebrities until I attacked in the first mile of the race. Too much coffee? Too much techno and dancing in the room with Taylor? Suicide. Scott Swisanski, Daniel Holloway, and I would bake into the asphalt and be crispy road kill when the field overcame us. We didn’t concern the peloton, and they gave us an enormous 17 minute leash. Suicide attacks have value in a team dynamic. When a select few caught us from behind, I could help Phinney- my only TLS teammate- or one of the RadioShack guys. My job was to delay that catch as long as possible. That’s why on the third of four times up Paris Mt. I left Swiz and Holloway. I felt guilty for violating the unspoken early breakaway code- stick together as long as possible- but our time gap had fallen five minutes to 12 minute in one lap. Those were my minutes, and I hated watching the field take them back. My style is to go out with a bang. Fight to the death. People on course seemed to think I could win, but they don’t know how these things work. With 50 miles to go, I would get caught. Regardless, I tried to match their energy on my bike. Each lap they cheered harder, more shirts came off, people holding “Go King!” signs for Ted King (http://www.iamtedking.missingsaddle.com/) began shouting “Ben King.” I took a beer feed from a fan the third time up Paris Mt.- I’m trying to steel Lance’s Michelob sponsorship- and the next lap they had a keg for me which I ignored.

Alone there is less to think about. Solo, there is no second place. You either win, or you don’t. At the top of the climb I had 9 minutes. I paced myself like a marathoner to certain check points. I told myself, “try to make it to the start finish again.” Announcer, Dave Towle, stirred the crowd into a frenzy. At sign-in before the race he asked me if I could make the selection. I said, “Either that, or do something crazy.” My coach told me to be patient. Then he told me, “everything you do is a time trial.” These thoughts and the people behind them brewed in my head. My dad and sister, Hannah, on course. Keep it going for them. I prayed and thought, “God must have something to do with the situation I’m in.” Keep it going for Him. At the base of Paris Mt. for the last time, I lost only one minute to the chasing pack. At the top of the climb, the gap was 6:25. Is that enough? I tried to do the math, but my brain stalled. My legs began to cramp. I tasted salty. I focused everything on turning over the pedals. Four cruel four mile circuits around the start finish waited. I labored onto the first circuit with just over three minutes advantage. Like a marathoner, I had paced myself to these circuits with nothing left to complete them. My legs cramped. I disintegrated in front of 80,000 people. The road blurred. My hearing blurred. Lactic acid filled in for the oxygen I needed. People leaned over the barriers and yowled with enough passion that veins bulged in their beet red necks and foreheads. It was a glorious nightmare.

Three more laps. Half an hour in the fire. Quitting never occurred to me, but I feared a loss of consciousness. Then the RadioShack team car pulled alongside me. They saw my agony. From the exhilaration in their voices, I know they wanted to pedal for me. The intensity of the pain felt unjustifiable. Jose Asevedo, the director, talked me through it. “They take thirty seconds from you per lap. You start the last lap with two minutes and you win.” Sports physiologist, Allen Lim, rode shotgun hyping me up. “You deserve this. This is for the jersey. Its yours. You’re making history. This is history!” History sounded pretty important to me at the time, and I visualized this moment as history to remove myself from it. I rounded into the finishing straight with 500 m to go, zipped up my jersey, and put my hands over my head.

It’s never been about winning for me. I said in my L’Avenir blog that I don’t do it for love of the sport. Its about the people. Reporters called this “the most inspiring human drama” they’ve ever seen in cycling. It didn’t start so inspired, and I think part of the reason it was inspiring is that I interacted with the fans throughout the race. When I won, we won. We did it.

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