Let me tell you about the American bike racer Ben King
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  1. #1
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    Let me tell you about the American bike racer Ben King

    Cool article in WSJ..........doubt the link will work but...https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-hum...=hp_lead_pos10
    So I tuned the Larrivee, drop D, then DADGAD.

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    Quote Originally Posted by proclaimer888 View Post
    Cool article in WSJ..........doubt the link will work but...https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-hum...=hp_lead_pos10
    It doesn't. Care to share?

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    Let me tell you about the American bike racer Ben King.

    He’s 30 years old. Raised in Charlottesville, Va., where he still trains on roads he considers among the best in the world. King is competing this week at the Tour of California—a seven-stage men’s race, with a women’s edition that began Thursday. King won a stage at the Tour of California a few years ago, and he’s already finished second in a stage at this one. Wherever King goes, he’s usually in the mix.

    “He’s a guy who’s always going to be there,” says Bingen Fernandez, one of King’s directors at his team, the South Africa-based Dimension Data for Qhubeka.

    Ben King is probably never going to win the Tour de France. That’s not a dig. He’s a phenomenal cyclist, one of the best the U.S. has produced, especially over the past decade. But King has to pick his spots. He keeps multiple jobs. Sometimes, he’s the worker bee, what cycling calls a domestique—protecting team leaders by riding in front, blocking headwinds, and trying to control the race.

    Other times, King gets to take a flier on his own. This is when it gets fun. A talented breakaway specialist, King will ride away from the main pack, often in the early going, hoping to disrupt the action and maybe get a shot at winning. Breakaways are a high-risk, low-reward business. They’re romantic, but lonely and painful, and seldom work.


    Ben King in action during the 2018 Vuelta a España. PHOTO: YUZURU SUNADA/BELGA/ZUMA PRESS
    Last summer, in Spain, King made two breakaways work. They happened at the Vuelta a España, the three-week stage race in Spain that ranks among the sport’s most prestigious events, right up there with the Giro d’Italia, and that French thing they do in July. For U.S. cycling, King’s double win was a really big deal. It had been a half-decade since an American rider had taken a pair of stages at a Grand Tour. And this wasn’t just any American rider. It was Ben King.

    Cycling fans admire King because he comes from the guts of the sport. Professional bike racer can first appear to be a stylish, even glamorous occupation, but it isn’t. It’s harsh. It’s cruel. You sacrifice. You suffer. You crash and get hurt. You battle for contracts and job security. King’s experienced all that. Those Vuelta wins were affirmations for a humble rider who’s done it the hardest way.

    “He never quits,” says King’s former coach, Jim Miller. “And you love it when the guys who never quit finally get their day.”

    The second stage win really showed King’s mettle. On the final climb to a mountaintop finish, King found himself leading the race solo, but he was furiously chased by the talented Dutch pro Bauke Mollema. Mollema seemed to be gaining. King seemed to be fading. If you were a Ben King fan, it was like watching one of those scary movies, where the villain’s running up the staircase carrying an ax. King’s parents, Mark and Christine, bolted out of church back home in Virginia and sped home to catch the final kilometers.

    “I don’t think I’ve ever pushed myself that hard,” King says.

    He hung on, impressively. At the finish line, King pointed to the sky and kissed his wedding ring—he and his wife, Jenna, were married in 2017—and then got off his bike and promptly crumpled to the ground, exhausted. Winning a second stage proved that first Vuelta win wasn’t a fluke. It was a brilliant exclamation point.

    “To see it all come together, it validated all the fighting Ben does,” Jenna King says.


    Ben King reacts after winning the ninth stage of the Vuelta a España in 2018. PHOTO: YUZURU SUNADA/BELGA/ZUMA PRESS
    Jenna King, who has covered cycling for NBC Sports, was familiar with cycling’s itinerant life, and its culture of suffering.

    “I just remember thinking, ‘Why would anyone want to do this?’” she says. “That hasn’t changed. Now I am closer to it, and I see the work he puts into it—he’s half-alive when he comes in from a five- or six-hour ride.”

    “I just think I’m very driven,” says Ben King. “[I’m] committed to what I am doing, when it isn’t fun, which is something that’s gotten me in trouble in the past, because I have a tendency to overdo it.”

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    King has been public about his struggles in the sport, recounting his battles with an eating disorder early in his career, and how his Christian faith helped guide him out of that crisis. That faith remains a guiding force of his career.

    “I know he feels closer to God when he’s in those deep, dark moments,” says Jenna. “It’s a way that he worships.”

    “I can compete with freedom, because I know I am already loved and valued,” Ben King says.


    Once among its phenoms, King is a cycling veteran now. It’s been almost nine years since his breakthrough win at the U.S. road race championships. This summer he’s hoping to be part of the team Dimension Data selects to participate in the Tour de France. He says the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo remain a “huge career goal.”

    “If I’m winning races or helping teammate win the biggest races, I can see myself doing it for a long time,” King says.


    Cycling fans admire Ben King because he comes from the guts of the sport. PHOTO: YUZURU SUNADA/BELGA/ZUMA PRESS
    At the same time, King acknowledges the stresses of the job. His father, himself a former racer, admits he sometimes regrets introducing him to the sport.

    “It’s so brutal,” says Mark King. “Even the lifestyle…They live a monkish lifestyle.”

    It’s true: cycling can be a rough gig. But now Ben King’s experiencing the fun part, and those who know him are thrilled.

    “The thing with Ben is, he’s a really smart guy and he has options,” says Jim Miller. “He could come back to the U.S., get a great job, certainly have a less painful life, and be successful. But this is what he’s doing for now. To see him get that reward…it’s incredible.”
    So I tuned the Larrivee, drop D, then DADGAD.

  4. #4
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    2018 Vuelta a Espana stage 9
    So I tuned the Larrivee, drop D, then DADGAD.

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    Good stuff. Like Lawson Craddock, Tejay VanGarderen, and Joe Dombrowski, etc., people thought he was going to be the next great American GC rider. It hasn’t turned out that way (for any of them really), but he has found a nice niche in the pro peloton and has had a nice career. He’s a likeable guy and someone that’s easy to pull for. Hopefully, guys like Sepp Kuss and Neilson Powless take the American GC game to the next level.
    Every climb has its end, for verily with difficulty there is relief...

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    Every climb has its end, for verily with difficulty there is relief...

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