Have you met Laura King? A 12-year triathlete veteran turned gravel lover, she's the co-founder of Rooted Vermont and is the Director of Mill District Velo.
In 2020, Laura welcomed her daughter Hazel mere weeks before a global lockdown. Leading up to Hazel's birth, Laura shared how she had readied herself for the massive parenthood identity shift. Little did Laura know at the time; she and her husband would experience this life change under the shadow of a global pandemic.
With 2020 in the rear-view mirror, we recently caught up with Laura to check in on the second year of motherhood, the million-dollar question of balance, and what she’s most looking forward to this summer.
Q: What's been the biggest surprise shifting into the second year of motherhood?
Laura King: The biggest surprise for me is how I underestimated the degree to which I enjoy introducing my daughter to new experiences. Her delight is also my delight. We recently took her on a MacRide (a baby seat that fits on the top tube of our bicycle) and she came along with us on a 12-mile ride. I was on cloud nine watching her feel the wind in her face and experience the thrill of speed. It was so fun to show her something that we both enjoy and love so much.
Q: Last year, you figured out how to do van life with an infant – which was already very impressive. Now that Hazel is a toddler, what’s van life like now?
Laura King: There are far more upsides to van life with a toddler than downsides. I was nervous about how van life would go on our most recent trip now that our daughter is mobile and not sleeping half of the day. She was a true champ and sometimes has more patience for the long days than I do! While Ted could drive all night, I felt like the driving limit with young one should be around the eight-hour mark— or at least parked and deployed around Hazel’s seven o’clock bedtime. I feel like a good way to limit stress is to prioritize rest and some structure. Or maybe that’s just for me too. I like having some wind down and relaxation time after our daughter goes to bed.
The only real downside is just the amount of time it takes to pack, unpack and deploy our home on wheels. It’s a tight space with a pack and play and a passenger seat for the car seat. If it was just the two of us the space would feel much more luxurious. That said, when we go to sleep at night I can’t help but smile and feel like it’s a really fun experience to be on the road with the freedom to go anywhere and having the two people I love the most along with me. I’ve learned a few tricks along the way like a sound machine and blackout shade for the pack and play!
Q: How do you balance racing, training and being a mom and partner?
Laura King: I made some decisions in the past few years career-wise that were a good fit for my personality and lifestyle pursuits. I really enjoy working a non-traditional schedule—sometimes that means working early mornings, evenings and weekends, but it also means having flexibility and freedom. I don’t call my riding “training”—riding a bike is so much more than that for me. While I absolutely love to push myself and I have a very strong drive and will, I also need time on the bike for my clearest head, quiet brainstorming time, catch up with friends and my “me” time.
Both Ted and I are planners—we share a calendar and when one of us wants a long training day we try and accommodate. I go out of my way to prioritize my ride during the day, I do that strategically around Ted's schedule and work obligations. If the schedule is tight, I get up earlier. We’re also creative with our plans, recently we went to visit Ted’s parents. Ted rode 180 miles on his bike while I drove Hazel and I rode 180 miles in return.
We’re also lucky to have a strong support network of community and friends. Our dear friend Beth watches Hazel during the week—Beth’s mother watched Ted and his brother when they were children. They say, “It takes a village,” and we certainly feel that. Our most recent van travels involved racing together due to the contributions and help of our cycling community family.
Q: What are you most looking forward to this summer?
Laura King: Rooted Vermont (our gravel cycling event) is hosting 100 women in our little town of Richmond, Vermont, for a women’s cycling skill clinic weekend. I’m very much looking forward to that and am humbled by the community efforts to make this event what it is and so impactful.
I’m looking forward to seeing friends and family again as things open up post Covid. My family has only seen Hazel once and I’m about to visit them all again soon in Seattle.
Finally, I’m excited to host Rooted Vermont in August! Kristin Motley (co-director) and I put in so much work year-round to make this event one that stands out and we can’t wait to see those efforts come to fruition.
Q: If you could summarize your first year as a cycling mom in five words, what would they be?
Laura King: Audacious, determined, energizing, crucial, fulfilling.
Q: Pro tips for families out there looking to live that traveling-King-family lifestyle?
Laura King: We tag team the organization and planning, and there’s a lot of it. Leaving town for a while and managing our stable of bikes, wheels, gear, turning mail off, monitoring our house, finding driveways or places to park, childcare on the road—it’s a lot more work than it looks on Instagram. Having a great network of friends and family around the country has certainly made it easier.
Saris is excited to support Rooted Vermont on July 30-August 1 and we hope to see you there. We're proud of their efforts to listen to, advocate for, and support athletes historically underrepresented in cycling. We invite you to attend the Saris Women's Forum on the event weekend (you do not have to be a race participant) for an opportunity to learn, network, and connect with other like-minded women and girl identifying persons during Rooted Vermont weekend.
Come find us at the event and claim your limited edition Saris bandana!