Fresh out of college in the spring of 2006, I jumped straight into the wonderfully unique world of professional cycling. Around the same time I began writing a blog as a method of keeping in touch with Mom and Dad. Day by day, my readership grew to include a broader swath of friends and family, and now with as many as a few thousand hits per day, it’s at the point where I have no idea who the target audience is anymore. At its heart, I believe this blog retains its essence of a means of keeping in touch with more family and friends than I could maintain contact with using just email.
With the exception of those people who very inadvertently stumble upon my writing here at IamTedKing (as I’ve duly paid note), there is a good chance that by reading this now you are a) a follower of the cycling world and b) English speaking. Therefore, there’s a good chance that you know Pennsylvania’s own Mike Friedman, aka “Meatball.”
Mike and I raced against each other in ceaselessly entertaining Eastern College Cycling Conference, but at that time I think at best we would be classified as acquaintances. However, the cycling world is small, so now many years later he and I just recently found ourselves in the same car en route to the same destination. To get an idea of what makes my clock tick, Mike simply asked me, “So Ted, besides biking what do you do?”
… a brief silence followed as I thought about an appropriate response.
You see, I knew my answer wasn’t going to be interesting to him, because the vast majority of cyclists are in fact quite boring. Instead of bragging about my night job being a superhero who fights crime under a masked veil of mystery, my answer was something like, “Well Mike, I really enjoy cooking. I like reading and sometimes really mix it up with crossword puzzles. I’m pretty passionate about my coffee consumption. I like a fine wine, but more often than not I’m equally satisfied with a cheap alternative. Ahhh, I also am really good at checking the internet.”
Small talk ensued, and as expected Mike agreed that yes, cyclists in general share many of these interests and are therefore pretty bland.
In the days since then, I’ve really poured some thought into Mike’s (unintentionally?) philosophical question – mostly because no one wants to be classified as boring, but also to validate to myself that I’m not wasting my time away. Don’t worry for a second about me though, because I’m perfectly satisfied with myself and more than pleased with how I occupy my time. However, I recognize that cycling – like any professional sport – is very fickle. There are few guarantees, not least of which is a lengthy and successful (err, highly lucrative) career. Time is fleeting, yet my mantra is LIFE IS AN ADVENTURE! So when my cycling career is over, I will happily turn the page to a completely new chapter and begin an entirely new escapade.
So enters a potential bump in the road in the form of a job interview. I will allow you to safely assume that I don’t have money bursting from my lycra, and therefore chances are good that I’m going to pay a visit to potential employers in my post-cycling career. While tooting my horn in the interview, however, I don’t think bragging about my ability to do crossword puzzles while cooking delicious meals will get me as far as I’d like.
So I present unto you a list of LIFE SKILLZ – yes, with a Z so you know I’m very serious – of things that I both enjoy and that I am very good at in the event an employer asks me what I do… err did, besides ride a bike somewhat quickly. Moreover, these are skillz that I possess thanks to a large chapter of my life being dedicated to cycling.
1. As mentioned before, I’m really good at the internet. I think the correct verb is “interneting.” Thanks to countless hours staring at a computer screen I’m technologically savvy. Twitter? Yup, I Tweet. Heck, I upload pictures, Direct Message, and sometimes even Re-Tweet. Facebook? Puuuhlease! I was on Facebook back in 2003 when it actually meant something. (It meant you went to an expensive private college in New England and you could stalk that hot chick in your Spanish class, much like… well, like an actual incoming freshmen facebook allows you to do). I seriously bet only a half dozen of you have been on the ol’ FB for six years, like this old chap! Linked-In? Yup, I’m on it, although still not quite sure why. Oh, and MySpace? I saw through that fad from the moment it went public. Sorry, it ain’t cool.
Plus I blog. See here.
2. There’s a balancing act to be played during the job interview where you don’t want to come across as a conceited prick, while at the same you don’t want to sell yourself short. Lesson number two is about modesty. There are tons of great quotes that deal with pride, humility, and humbleness, but perhaps none greater than the great Ted King who once proclaimed, “Humility is a product of being a professional cyclist from a country that couldn’t care less about professional cycling.” Very well said, if I do say so myself.
In reference to being an American racing in Europe, I think Mike Creed nailed it when he said something like, “You will knock your head against the wall again and again, but eventually you’ll make progress.”
After growing up with typical American sports, my first road race wasn’t until I was 20 years old, so racing against these dudes who have been on the bike since the age of three makes for an uphill battle (pun intended). I get my teeth kicked in time and again at the races, but I love it. I’m making progress, slowly but surely, but unequivocally I love this sport.
3. Efficiency is something employers are always looking for, and I have my hand raised high in the air to show the boss-man what the picture of efficiency looks like! This noteworthy attribute is perfectly exemplified if you follow me on a stroll through town. Rather than making four stops throughout town – say the market, the post office, the coffee shop, and the bank – I streamline my trips into one. Heck, I’ll wait days on end to make sure I have enough things on my to-do list that stringing the right shops together makes a venture out-and-about worthwhile. This is a lesson thanks to cyclists’ opting to exert themselves as little as humanly possible. Oh and you should see me do the dishes! Water is scarcely used. Lights? Don’t even get me started… but those aren’t cycling related. Next!
4. Throughout life, people often open their mouths and spew nonsensical madness without giving it the slightest bit of thought. If that’s a good way to describe you, then I offer a quick summary of the correct order of operations here: think then speak. Never in my life have I been able to simply sit and think (and coincidentally pedal) with such fluidity and congruent ideas as when I’m training on a bike. This attribute of not inserting my first in my mouth will go a long way when in the business world.
5. To expect the unexpected is a good way to navigate your life. As a cyclist, weather plays a big role in my life, so even though I’ve turned a bit soft given the opportunity to train in some pretty extraordinary locations – Vermont, Santa Barbara, Asheville, Boulder, the Portugues Algarve coast, the Alps, the Pyrenees all quickly come to mind this year alone – I’m still a tough New Englander at heart. What I’m getting at here is I’ve learned to be prepared for all weather circumstances. I’m pretty much like the post office where neither snow, nor rain, nor hail will prevent me from training. To this end, I need to pay tribute to Weather.com and my keen ability to know what the weather will actually be when they’re forecasting something else entirely. In my experience, Weather.com is not only wrong more often than not, but they’re about as wrong as wrong can get. I can’t tell you how many forecasted sunny days have ended in rain, or predicted dank foul days that have actually been stunningly beautiful. Long story short, be prepared people.
So that’s a start for some LIFE SKILLZ. I think the Z also lends itself nicely to being a catchy book title. Hmm, maybe I’ll write a book when I’m finished cycling too…