As summer begins to come to a close, it’s a reminder that the King Challenge has become a mainstay in the New England cycling scene. This day in age, there’s a grand fondo around the corner of every town, every cycling calendar, or is the someone’s peak event, and that’s wonderful news in the world of getting people on bikes. Grand fondos are wonderful and I’ve certainly enjoyed taking part in my fair share as they’ve made the migration to the North American continent from their native homeland Europe. However, the King Challenge stands unique this day in age as purely a bike ride. Yes, it’s a fund raising bike ride, but it’s never been billed a race, an that’s not something we want it to be. We love what we’ve created with our overall atmosphere, the pace, the delicious feed zones, the camaraderie and community, and the only truly spirited part of the day is when the speed picks up to see who can make it to the post-ride beer garden/expo lunch afterwards! We’re in our seventh year and we have raised well over a half million dollars for the Krempels Center in that period of time. Which, I’ll point out, is something that continues to boggle my mind and fills me with a tremendously fulfilled, wholesome feeling.
I wrote this original post on 2011 and as much as I try to say the same thing in different words in subsequent years since then, I think these original ones are most meaningful.
The worst day of my life was March 23, 2003.
My father, Ted King the senior, a prominent orthopaedic surgeon, an avid skier and sailor, a remarkably brilliant man — and I’m not using hyperbole — the exemplar pillar of the King family woke up that particular morning suffering a stroke. The lives of my immediate family were in an instant thrown into the blender and have been forever changed.
While every day since that particular date presentes its challenges, Dad has done an incredible job piecing his life back together as best he can. What Dad calls his “A-Team”, namely the support group around him, spearheaded without question by Mom, puts a spark in him every single day. One of the best resources for help we found is the Krempels Center. This organization is aimed at bettering the lives of adults with brain injury whether it by by stroke, traumatic brain injury, or tumor. In partnership with universities and community volunteers, the Krempels Center offers programs that engage members in meaningful and productive experiences and provides ongoing support and resources to those impacted by brain injury. As cyclists we rely on community. We relate with one another, we train together, our friends and outlets are from this group. The same thing happens among those with a brain injury. This community of brain injury survivors as well as their caregivers is absolutely incredible and unlike anything I’ve witnessed ever before. Cycling community included.
It now seven years ago that I helped create the King Challenge, a full day family cycling event open to all ages and abilities this October. The entire King family is there the entire day which is impressive in its own right. With three distances for any and all abilities, a 10 mile, 30 mile, and 62 mile options, plus a kid’s skills clinic hosted by Seacoast VeloKids, face painting, a climbing wall, an adaptive ride thanks to Northeast Passage for folks with a brain injury, there really is something for everyone the entire day. Plus there’s music, food (ahem, a beer garden), and an awesome expo featuring many of my career-long sponsors, so the King Challenge promises to be an incredible event.
Hope to see you there.