Ep. 61 - Ted King, FKT on the ARHCR
From 2006 to 2015 Ted King was a professional road cycling before switching to gravel where he took 1st at the DK200 in 2016 and 2018. Earlier this month he completed the 1,000+ mile Arkansas High Country Race in first with a time of 4 days, 20 hours, which was good enough to snag the FKT set by Jay Petervary in June of this year.
The ARHCR is no walk in the park either. It may be easy to have your guard down when you see that the highest point on the route is only 2,745 ft. elevation, but in the words of friend and route creator Chuck Campbell "The valleys are low and the grade is steep". I got to preview a portion of the route in February and I got a first hand taste of the steepness. The route is littered with sharp grades going both up or down. There is very little flat sections, in most cases you're either going up or down.
On Oct. 31st 2020 twenty ultra-endurance cyclist started from Fayetteville, AR. Racers can choose to go either CW or CCW, but regardless of which direction you go there is still 1,037 miles and over 80,000 ft of climbing through the Ozarks and Ouachitas in NW Arkansas. Of the 20 that started only 7 finished, which in itself is a testament to the toughness of this route.
This was Ted's first attempt at an ultra endurance bikepacking event. He didn't have much experience bikepacking either, but that didn't stop him from signing up to tackle a very challenging course. Like many of you, I followed his dot closely to see if his wealth of experience in other disciplines of the sport would transfer over, or if the local Andrew Onermaa would be able to keep the crown away from King. In the end Ted would ultimately grit it out to win by beating out all previous FKT's, but for much of the race Andrew was on his heels never taking the pressure off. He recorded a video shortly after scratching that's worth watching. If you want to know how hard it is, this video scratches the surface of what it takes to compete at a high level against one of hell of a professional cyclist.
Ted, congrats on your FKT, welcome to bikepacking! I can't wait to see what you set your sites on in the future.