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Ted Talks Gravel | Essential Gravel Racing Tips From Ted King

Ted Talks Gravel | Essential Gravel Racing Tips From Ted King


– Ted King, we’re here in your home
state of New Hampshire. – That’s right, welcome to town. – It’s so great to be here, and I couldn’t think of
a better place to be, where the asphalt ends
and the dirt road begins. – Love it. – It is the story of your career I think. – I think there’s some truth to that. (dramatic music) – [Jeremy] Ted King is a
retired pro tour racer, who famously shepherded Peter Sagan to wins all over the world
when they raced together. He now is a pro gravel racer. He’s won the Dirty Kanza 200 twice. While we’re here I had
to hook up with him, and get some tips on how
to ride gravel like a king. (upbeat music) – It’s fun because you
don’t have to count calories like I did in a previous lifetime. You want to be sure that you’re on top of hydration and nutrition. You’re putting in 250 to
300 calories per hour. I don’t want to die up here. And then I realized that
all the guys have kids, or have families, and they
don’t want to die either. (upbeat music) (explosion) (upbeat music) – Ted, thank you so much for taking us out on your local roads. This is amazing. It’s super pretty right
now with all the foliage. – Foliage is kicking, we call this peak. – Yeah, it is super peak. I’m not far away, in Massachusetts. Let’s talk about that for a second, both being New Englanders. – Yeah buddy. – Not from England, like
many people on the show, but from New England, it’s
pretty cool to be out here. We’re practically born for gravel. There’s so many dirt roads. – I completely agree. I mean it’s super cool
right now living in Vermont, where there are literally more dirt roads than there are paved. Yeah, it’s a blessing. – Yeah, so we’re here for your ride, which is the King Challenge. – So, we benefit the Krempels Center, the Krempels Center is
a 19 year old operation, started by David Krempels, but it is a organization
that benefits those with acquired brain injury. So, often from trauma,
or stroke, or tumor. So my dad had a stroke in 2003, and he’s been a member of this community, and in effect, it’s where you go once you have passed all the therapies, so it really is, you know,
in cycling we love community, and that is, that’s really what the Krempels Center is all about. (upbeat music) – Couldn’t help but, obviously, for nine years I’ve been
wanting to come out, but always this falls during cross season. – It is a busy time of year.
– So I haven’t been able to come out, and I thought
this year we’re coming out, and we’re going to do a video, not only because we’ve been talking a lot about gravel on GCN, and all the… When we started doing this, these bikes were not at all designed for what we’re doing, but
now these bikes are like, these bikes are made
for this type of stuff. I just wanted to pick your brain on it, give the people some tips from, well I said before but, a king of gravel. I mean, you, we have to play that up. We have to, that’ll be
the last time I say it, but we have to. – [Ted] I love it, I love it. – So you’ve done some pretty long events. Let’s talk about some of
the events that you’ve done. – Yes sir. – Dirty Kanza is one that’s on my mind. That is, for anyone that doesn’t
know, 200 kilometers long. – [Ted] 200 miles, my friend. – I’m sorry, 200 miles long. – Accurate.
– So it’s 200 miles long. – [Ted] Yes. – Let’s talk about that for a second. – Aye aye aye.
– How is that, how is that different than
say like a Paris-Roubaix, or like a grand tour stage? How is DK different than that? – So, 2016, there I am in my first year of retirement from road racing, and on a whim I was
asked to do Dirty Kanza, and I knew I had a
handful of characteristics that would suit me. I know how to ride long distance, I know how to ride on rough terrain, I know how to do a bunch of things, but you don’t collectively know how it all comes together,
like something like DK. So, you know, I went in
as best prepared I could, but all of the sudden
you’re self supported. It’s not the world of
the world tour anymore. How does it compare? Ah, well let’s state the obvious ones. It’s a longer effort than
any grand tour stage. It’s a longer effort than Paris-Roubaix. You’re, you got to go
into it expecting to do at least a 10 hour day. It’s totally a race of attrition. Being self supported is
a really cool attribute of all of these gravel races. – [Jeremy] How are you preparing for that? Obviously we know that you
own a nutrition company. – [Ted] Oh. – But what is it like to prepare for a 10-plus hour race nutritionally? Let’s talk about that. – It’s fun because you don’t have to count calories like
I did in a previous lifetime. You’re counting as many calories as you can possibly take in. Yeah, I mean over the course
of a 10-plus hour day, you want to be sure that you are on top of hydration and nutrition. You’re putting in 250 to
300 calories per hour, for at least 10 hours. It is brutally hot in
Kansas in early June, so you got to be on top of your hydration. – [Jeremy] Ah. – Drinking at least a bottle an hour, often one to two bottles per hour. So, yeah things that
you can’t have a hiccup, or else you’re going to find
yourself on your back foot at, you know, hour six,
– Sure. – with many, many, many more hours to go. What I really like to emphasize is eating real foods, to be honest. I mean I think, you know
there’s nothing better than going on a sweet ride, and linking it together
with a coffee shop. Go and eat like a brownie, a muffin, a cookie, a scone.
– Yeah. – I have choked down too many pieces of sports nutrition in my life, to really have any desire
to do that anymore. Hydration, I definitely
say drink, drink, drink, and then when you think you
need to drink some more, definitely drink some more. I mean, electrolytes are key. That is the way to really
maximize your hydration. If you’re in a pinch, and you don’t have them handy, water is going to be better than nothing. But, a lot of these gravel races are in the heat of the summer. They’re in the heat of humidity, and you are expelling an
absurd amount of fluids, so you got to be ahead of the fluids. – What about when you get into the race, you’re at the mile 75, there’s a rest stop with water. What is the protocol? Is it gentleman’s agreement? Everyone pulls off to the side,
– Ooh. – and grabs water? Does someone keep going, and you guys all look sideways, and you like hunt that
person down that didn’t stop? Because you guys can’t hold 200 miles worth
– Correct. – of water on your bikes. – Correct. You know, that’s a really
interesting question. That is, that is what we see in this changing state of gravel. I like the races that you find yourself in the right group, and then
you can have that agreement to say, “Guys, we’re going to stop here.” – Right. – You know, your headset’s loose, I got to pee, and Steve here on the left needs to grab some water. Like, as long as you
have that good community, you don’t want somebody to have a bad day as a result of a mechanical, as a result of not being hydrated, so… – You want guys to, you want guys to win with their legs. – Exactly.
– But hydration’s a tough one, man. It’s in the middle of that. – It is, so, right. I mean, you want to also be smart, be aware, be aware of
where the feed zones are, be aware of the distances that you’re going to have
to go between feed zones. – So you really made a name for yourself after the pro tour,
now coming into gravel. It’s booming, it’s literally booming in the U.S. at least, and globally. I mean, you were doing a race in Iceland? – Yeah, yeah, yeah. That was-
– Let’s talk about that for a second, how long was that one? – That was, it was 200K, so 120 miles. – Desolate. – Desolate. We literally raced out from
an already desolate town, and raced around the volcano called Hekla. – Was it cold there? – It was not cold. It was late July. It was windy, kind of like today. It was overcast, it was raining, it was snowing, it was sleeting. We literally saw everything
over the course of the day. – We had Oliver go over
for GCN, and he did it. – Yeah.
– And I think it was, I think it was a bit challenging for him, not being a gravel star. – [Ted] That was a doozy of a race. – He had a lot of things to say about it. Would you consider yourself to be into the kind of the nasty conditions, like the bad stuff? – Yeah, I mean, honestly
going into DK this year, for example, this is the first year we see a lot of world tour guys coming over, from EF, and Trek, and… And I was really looking
forward to the crap weather, because I thought it
becomes a big mental game as much as anything.
– Yeah. – And I figure, you know,
if it’s pouring rain, the mud is turning to peanut butter. – That’s very cyclocross of you, Ted. – Oh my lord, right? Thank you, I appreciate. That’s a good, it’s a good homage to New England crappy weather. What I tell a lot of
people, lot of friends, world tour buddies who
are getting into it, I say at some point, over
the course of the day, you’re going to be in a
very, very dark place. – Yeah. – So you just have to anticipate that. You also have to anticipate
random stop signs, and stuff like that. – Yeah. (light music) Let’s talk about your machine here. – We got a Cannondale Synapse. This is effectively
Cannondale’s cobble bike, so this is the bike they’re
racing in the spring classics. What’s funny about gravel is
it’s often one bike fits all, but then, you know,
you can really nerd out on the nuances, and that’s what
I have the privilege to do. So, tomorrow for example
is largely a road ride, with a little bit of very tame gravel, so a bike like this is largely meant for pave, and traditional paved roads. This is also the identical bike, this is the bike that I won SBT Gravel on. So going to an event like that, 140 miles long, I know it’s going to be a whole lot of gravel,
of a variety of types, but overall it’s tame, so, you know, you don’t
need a knobby tire. What we have going on here,
pretty traditional gear ratio. Two-by up front, 11 speed in the rear, whereas the gnarlier gravel races, you’re going to want to have
a lot of tread on the tire. You’re going to want perhaps even bigger, or easier gear ratios, and that’s where you might go with, as we call it, mullet protocol. Mullet protocol is business up front, party in the rear. So, one-by, 44 tooth front. Eagle in the back, 10-50 gearing, so you can just spin on up anything. Iceland is a perfect example of that, where you’re going to have a
lot of short, steep pitches, so you want to save-
– Volcanoes. Mainly volcanoes.
– Exactly, volcanic ash. You want to save your legs
over the course of the day, so spin to win. I’ve always been a high
cadence kind of guy. – What about tires? What are you doing for tires? These, you said these were 32s, but these look pretty big to me. – These, if I said 32 I misspoke. These are actually a 35, which is super cool that you can fit this on a traditional road bike. – Yeah.
– So, tubeless 35c tires. These are by the good folks at Rene Herse. – [Jeremy] When would you say like, “Okay, I need to get a knobbier
tire, or a semi-slick?” There’s every kind of tire that
you could imagine right now. – [Ted] That is the truth. That’s probably the
number one question I get, when I am going to an event. Ted, what pressure are you running, what tire are you going to run, how slick is it, how knobby is it? Given that these tires are tubeless, and virtually all tires that I’m doing in a gravel run are tubeless, you get so much grip just
by running lower pressure. So, slicks are awesome in most events, so long as it is dry. Once you know that there’s going to be either some wet, or muddy, or a little bit gnarlier conditions, that’s when we’re going to
go with a knobbier tire. – You ride the tire that
matches the condition, in theory, right? If you know it’s going to be super muddy, you’re thinking okay, I
better ride this tire, but it’s not going to be as efficient, so it is always that
kind of like that seesaw, of like, eh, do I give a little here, because it’s going to be
slower if I have to push it, but it’s going to be, it’s
going to be a lot safer, because there’s tons of
big rocks, all that stuff. – I agree. You’re going over super long distances, so there’s typically
not a ton of cornering. I mean yeah, gravel
events can be 20 miles, they can be 220 miles. In the shorter events, that’s where they might
get a lot more technical, and that’s where you’re
going to want to have some chunk on your tires,
some knob on your tire. – Yeah.
– But, I think there is often
a lot of over analysis that goes into tire. I think having a tire with tread, when you’re going to need
to do a more technical ride, that’s great. And then on more straightforward rides, like people look at this
all the time and think, is that going to be enough, and I say absolutely, especially
with that lower pressure. – [Jeremy] Yeah. – I am a huge proponent
of tubeless in gravel. You want to have some
good sealant in there. I have been riding with, what
do you call these things? Plugs? – [Jeremy] Yes. – That’s a new attribute to
my repertoire that I have going on in the saddle bag.
– And so, tell me about what happens with a plug. You’re riding along. (whooshing) You’ve got, the sealant’s
going everywhere. But the sealant’s
– You see the sealant. – supposed to seal it. – Every once in a while
you’re going to hit something that is going to be bigger
than what sealant can seal. So, you quickly pull to
the side of the road. You, I highly recommend you have your plug in your back pocket ready to go. Pull it right out, boom,
stick it into the hole, and then hopefully that plug
is going to seal your malady. What you want to remember is, as you stick the plug in, and it continues to leak air, why don’t you flip that tire over, so the sealant can seal where
there’s now a plugged hole? – Whoa. – Get going again. While we’re on topic, – Yeah.
– It’s important to have your CO2s handy, because you probably lost
some air at that point. – Yeah.
– But, let’s go through the
contents of my saddle bag. You got a tube, you got your plug, you got tire levers, you got a tool, and I don’t know, a little bit more CO2, just in case you got
to gas up the old jet. – All right Ted, so
let’s talk about pedals, because I’ve seen you at
different gravel events. Sometimes you’re riding road pedals, sometimes you’re riding
mountain bike pedals. This is somewhere in the middle. What makes you pick one versus the other? – So, what we got going on here is a Speedplay Pave pedal. This is a pedal that Speedplay created for the gnarly fields of northern Belgium. Basically if you’re going
to be getting off your bike to avoid a crash or something, when you’re racing through Belgium, and you need to step off your bike into stuff exactly like
this, you can reengage. So, this is an opportune pedal for a gravel race when
you don’t anticipate getting off your bike for
more than about two steps, but beyond that, if you know that there’s a river crossing, if you know there is going
to be a whole lot of mud, or really averse terrain, that’s when a mountain bike pedal is going to be more in your wheelhouse. – [Jeremy] Got it. – Any sort of running
event, up something steep. I don’t know, running is part of your former cycling repertoire. Running’s hard, so I don’t
do a whole lot of that, but in those events, I know
that I want to be reaching for a mountain bike pedal. (dramatic music) – You also did a ride that you
called the James Bay descent. – [Ted] That is correct. – [Jeremy] What was the
temperature of that? – Well conveniently,
-40 is where Fahrenheit and Celsius overlap. – Okay.
– And on day one, it was -40 degrees. – Disgusting. – That is a vicious, vicious cold. That was also the day that
I got frostbite on my nose, and I realized that you
can’t let your nose, or any skin be exposed for that matter. – Oh my gosh. What a, hang on, bring it there. So what did you wear? – You know, it turns out your body is something of a furnace. So, as you’re riding, you
wear very, very little. I would wear a nice Velocio shell, with a thermal long sleeve under that, but truth be told, so long as you’re moving, you’re producing so much heat, it’s not until you stop that
two down jackets would go on, and all of the sudden you’re like, okay, now is time to not freeze to death. – Seven days long. – Seven days. – And, it was, how long
was it, 600 kilometers. – 500K.
– Okay. – But when you’re riding a fatbike, and your max speed is
somewhere around 10K an hour, it takes a really, really long time. It was gnarly. It opened my eyes up to bikepacking, to what -40 degrees feels like, what it’s like to be
in polar bear country. Laura really, really wants me
to come home from this trip. I don’t want to die up here, and then I realize that
all the guys have kids, or have families, and they
don’t want to die either. – In that type of
environment, what do you eat? Because it seems like everything
would either be frozen, or it’d be like astronaut food. – Yes, well you actually do do that. That’s, so we can work
backwards from there. Dinner is camping meals,
where you have a bag, and you pour boiling water in it, and that is your meal. And it turns out the three
cheese macaroni is delicious. You know, you are fueling
throughout the day. You’re riding, throwing
in a whole lot of sugar, a whole lot of carbohydrates, so a lot of un-tapped maple syrup, cookies, trail mix,
chocolate, peanut butter. Eh, peanut butter would begin
go get a little bit frozen, so you put that under your jacket. You got to create your own water, so you’re boiling water in
the beginning of the day, you’re making coffee with that hot water. You got your oatmeal in the morning. Pretty rudimentary living. – [Jeremy] How did you keep
your water from freezing? – You have really nicely
insulated bottles. – Okay. – That, if you fill them up, I think they’re about yay big, then you’re going to get, as soon as they are beginning to freeze, that is when you basically run them dry, and then by then it’s
basically the end of the day, and you’re ready to setup camp. – And off-camera you were joking that, or maybe it was on-camera you were joking that you were going to do it again? – The crazy guys are going to do it again. The invitation has gone out. Coincidentally, they’re
thinking of doing it in March, and March is when my wife
is due with our first child. So,
– That’s – I probably won’t be going on that trip.
– A blessing. – Yes.
– On a couple of different fronts. – Exactly, exactly. (upbeat music) – That is some gravel
tips with the king, Ted. Thank you very much for your time today. If you guys like this video, please give it a thumbs up. If you want to check out other
great gravel videos, Ted? – You’re going to want
to click right over here. – And, if you want to subscribe to GCN, you know how to do it. All right Ted, let’s get out of here. – Let’s do it, fun riding.

100 comments on “Ted Talks Gravel | Essential Gravel Racing Tips From Ted King

  1. Can’t watch this presenter. Is GCN the Graveling Cycling Network? If I wanted to cycle off road I could watch the mountain bike channel.Do that many cyclists ride on gravel or is it just to sell the latest trend from bike companies .

  2. Love J. Pow's rides with all these notable athletes. Keep it going, Ted is a legend from his rides with his dad, the years with Cannondale, and all the dirt race exploits.

  3. Greetings love from Northampton, Ma. Love that town,great to hear you guys are from New England. Yankee at heart.

  4. Thanks for the awesome video, being from Burlington Vermont, this a trifecta for me Vt, Nh and Mass represented, once my afib is corrected going to try to ride Ted's fundraiser. Keep up the great work Jeremy

  5. I’m enamored with the idea of gravel riding! Haven’t had the pleasure yet but really looking forward to it. This segment, Jeremy, with King really inspired me 🤙

  6. When Ted mentioned lower tire pressures what specific pressure range would he say is appropriate for gravel riding?

  7. Ted and J Pow – great combo and super interesting. And just a little irony to run across this the same day as registration opened for Rooted Vermont 😉

  8. Two legends talking about gravel riding what could be better , Ted does a great podcast called King of the ride ,,well worth a listen !

  9. That polar -bike adventure, I would like a long form documentary of something like that. (I’m never gonna do that though, I can’t function being cold)

  10. Please answer, my hands are killing me, how you do to get comfortable handlebars after an hour on a rocky road my hands hurt so much!! Please help me thanks !!!

  11. Ted is a legend and one of us. Wish I could have given 10 thumbs up! Here’s nine more 👍🏽👍🏽👍🏽👍🏽👍🏽👍🏽👍🏽👍🏽👍🏽

  12. 40 below zero. That's when you put a piece of cardboard over your radiator. No way!!! LOL 🙂
    That is the real "thing" about pros – they love the punishment. But then again, Ted King is definitely relieved with the upcoming birth of their 1st child. 🙂

  13. The top years for Ted King was on the tour of Cal. & when he and Tim Duggan got on the front man…something else to see, would've been a laugh to hold the wheel LOL tho tim duggan was a total animal on a bike…

  14. I agree with that spin to win, high-cadence stuff. I have way more fun in my smaller chain ring than sweating it out in the big one.

  15. Just curious, a lot of noise was made when 650b wheels & tires came back yet I don't believe I've ever seen folks who race (rather than ride) gravel events, use 650b. Is 650b "too slow" for racing? I don't race but I find 650×48 much comfier, and for me, faster on gravel than the 700×38 I normally ride? #reneherse #barlowpass #switchbackhill 🙂

  16. Gravel bikes are for all of us who never saw the need to pick sides. Thanks for this conversation, Jeremy and Ted, and the King bit is funny, make it a series, Riding Dirty with the King.

  17. I would have liked to given this two thumbs up – one of the most information-filled videos I’ve seen in a long time. I really enjoyed it – keep up the good work.

  18. My two favorites with a ton of knowledge, talent and the ability to entertain us. The best gravel video I have seen, hope that this means there will be more in the future!

  19. Thats some proper content right there. Ted King always comes across as a great guy and again J-Pow providing the goods as the host. GCN just keeps getting better

  20. Great vid! It was one of the best interviews I’ve seen on this channel. @Ted: Which sealant do you use for those ReneHerse tires?

  21. Ted rides in our local group ride Tues nights in Vermont often. He’s the nicest guy! So modest and down to earth!
    ( BTW bunch of us routinely get dropped by Ted )

  22. what an amazing video. I echo many of the other comments – I learned so much here. although 2:30 in the morning and I can't sleep, I want to get on my gravel bike RIGHT NOW!

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