Ben King’s bike is his vehicle — for work and play.
While in Blacksburg, King, a past Virginia Tech student, wouldn’t hop in a car to make the 150-mile trek to his home near Charlottesville, Va.
Rather, King would ride his bike.
“That’s my favorite big ride,” he said. “It’s kind of cool to just get on your bike and go doorstep to doorstep.”
But that trip is practically nothing compared to the excursions he now embarks on in places like Copenhagen, Denmark and Beijing, China.
In 2009 during his sophomore year, he left Tech to pursue his cycling career — a move that has seemingly paid off for King.
The 21-year-old is now a professional cyclist with Team RadioShack and recently took home an international award for best rider under 23 years old.
King recently ended his season at the inaugural Tour of Beijing last month and is back at his home in North Garden, Va., where he is reflecting on his past and road to the future.
The start of a dream
For King, cycling is a family affair. His father Mark was a college runner who hurt his knee and transitioned into cycling, competing in elite races along with King’s uncle Dan. King’s younger brother Jake is also a cyclist.
“I started cycling with my dad when I was 14,” King said. “He just got me into it recreationally, and I was homeschooled, so I had time to do it during the day.”
Joking that he didn’t have the coordination for other sports, King said that while he was at Monticello High School, he was active in several endurance sports such as cross country, swimming and track in addition to cycling, at which point he began to see major success.
In Virginia Beach for his first race, King was hit by a van before the race. After being knocked into the air and having his bike destroyed, he grabbed his father’s and finished the race.
When he was a senior in high school, King captured two national championships while racing with the Hot Tubes junior development team, winning both the Junior National Time Trial and the Junior National Road Race in 2007.
College brought with it a new series of changes in King’s life. In 2008, during his freshman year at Tech, King signed with Kelly Benefit Strategies, a leading domestic cycling team.
King’s life was split in two. During the week, he was a college student majoring in business marketing, and on the weekends, he was flying to California to race professionally.
Despite his hectic lifestyle, King still enjoyed his time at Tech. He joined the VT Cycling team, which became an outlet for his passion in Blacksburg.
“(Training with VT Cycling) actually gave me a good jumpstart to my first season as a professional,” King said. “They were pretty stacked that year, so it was a ton of fun to ride with those guys.”
King made a strong impression on the team and is listed as the “International Ambassador” for VT Cycling on its website.
“Everybody loved to hang out and talk with Ben because he was a genuine guy and was not conceited about how fast and good he was,” said Justin Crawford, the vice president of VT Cycling. “He just enjoyed hanging out and riding like the rest of us.”
Maggie Berrey, a graduate student studying human nutrition, foods and exercise, has been a close friends of King’s since their junior year of high school. She said King, herself and two of their friends called themselves the “four musketeers” at Tech.
“He’s just a fun guy to be around,” Berrey said. “He roomed with one of my best friends from high school. We hung out all the time and did everything together. We were in Lee and they were in Pritchard, so you could literally see their window from our window.”