iamTedKing: Playing catch-up, on the bike and off

Everyone has his own way of killing time on the lengthy drive that we've just begun to the start of stage 6.

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Everyone has his own way of killing time on the lengthy drive that we’ve just begun to the start of stage 6. Maybe I was a bit hard on Thor back when he and I were roommates at Tour of California; I got a kick out of his story where he traveled an entire season with the same unread book in his suitcase, so he’s currently engrossed in a novel. Others catch a last-minute nap, plug away at games on their phones, or mindlessly listen to music. I was fully stumped by a crossword puzzle before I gave up and started this blog entry. (Anyone know a five-letter word for “Bactrian beast”?)

After three road stages and one time trial through Missouri’s surprisingly rolling hills, we have apparently finally reached middle America as I type this. Out the window there is nothing but seemingly endless fields of corn and a sinuous convoy of cars with full bike racks.

For a little variety from the typical pasta and chicken provided by the race, we opted for a local Mexican restaurant for last night’s dinner. There were two other teams, two or three tables of race organizers and officials, plus a smattering of fans who loyally follow this tour from start to finish. Making eye contact is inevitable and we smile, nod, or wave, knowing immediately that we clearly we aren’t the only ones seeking a change of pace.

Both the guys in the bus as well as the people ahead and behind us on this road to the start are an integral part of our family throughout this week.

With just two stages to go, everyone has settled into a routine here in Missouri. The familiarity with the faces of our competitors, friends, and fans from start to finish is somehow reassuring. The same smile and nod from dinner takes place in tandem with brief conversations throughout each day, both at the start with fans of the race and with our fellow racers during the stages themselves.

While it is most certainly still a worthy challenge, this race seems more casual than in years past. The race dynamics have allowed for more of this time for friendly banter. For me, it’s great to catch up with friends and former teammates whom I haven’t seen in a year or more. These too have been my family in the past and once again are part of my extended family this week.

Another 10 miles or so on the road to the start now and the guys on the bus are starting to get a bit antsy. With yesterday’s time trial pretty decisively indicating who is deserving of a yellow in this tough, week-long stage race, today should be a fairly standard controlled race. This should therefore allow more casual talk with friends, family, fans at the start and friends on the bike.

Bring on stage 6.

Editor’s note:

This year Ted King is making his professional European racing debut with the Cervélo TestTeam. After getting a taste for the European peloton with the U.S. espoir national team in 2005, King returned to the United States for three successful years of domestic pro racing. The 26-year-old is a native of New Hampshire and despite his affinity for hearty servings of coffee, he is slowly adapting to the smaller European portions. Slowly. His diaries appear sporadically on VeloNews.com; between the scanty portions we serve up, you can follow Ted at www.Cervelo.com/team and www.iamTedKing.MissingSaddle.com. Those of you content with 140 characters or less can track his activities at www.twitter.com/iamtedking.

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