PEZ Turns 5!

I’m slightly late with my annual birthday greeting, but that’s only because we’re busier than ever turning out the news that won’t make you snooze. Yes friends, it was just over 5 years ago – on a gray day in February actually, that I launched this ambitious venture called PezCycling News. And oh how far we have come…

In 2001 I was unemployed, couldn’t find a job in my chosen career of marketing, and quite honestly, if my job interview luck wasn’t so bad, I’d never have had the good fortune to continue plugging away at PEZ to create the job I really wanted (but never dreamed I’d have).

• The thing about doing what you love is that no matter how hard the climb, just can’t help but smile when someone whips out a camera.

But when you do anything for 5 years it’s worth noting. And in spite of us going the usual ‘a bloc’ to keep you entertained, every once in a while I stick my head up, take a breath, and look back to see how far we’ve come.

Real Life At Le Tour
One story I like remembering is my first trip to cover Le Tour in 2003. As the year began our readership had grown to a level that was of interest to advertisers, and I had enough clients to create a steady (but small) stream of income. In a rare moment of looking further than 1 week ahead, it occurred to me that I’d need someone at this historic Tour. (Up to that point we’d only covered the race from afar.) Of course, with my name hanging on the site, it was a no brainer that I’d have to go… and I set about overcoming my biggest hurdle – convincing Mrs. Pez that indeed a 2 week trip to the Tour de France was essential to my business growth, and that no, she couldn’t come. (She was invited of course, but when I showed her my crazy daily schedule, she wisely opted out.)

TDF ’03: Check out the PEZ ‘Fishing’ hat – only two in existence.

Never having covered the Tour as press before, I thought – hey – I’ve been there twice, how hard can it be? You pick up your creds, check out the starts and finishes, talk to riders, ride your bike, file some reports… no probs. What a learning experience that turned out to be. The reality was something different entirely. I’d neglected to factor in the French’s love of antiquated rules and general “can’t do” attitude. I’d never tried to get around France “in a hurry”. I had no idea that driving yourself could be so exhausting. 2003 was that summer of infernal hear across Europe, and as I didn’t have much budget, I rented the smallest, cheapest car I could – which meant my a/c consisted of windows rolled down at all times – even bombing down the autoroute at 150kmh. The buffeting inside that car was quite something. I learned that at Le Tour, riders avoid the press like the plaque. And I discovered that much of France simply did not have internet (and wifi was non existent).

This was also in the days before PEZ-Kit, and I had almost nothing with my logo on it. One of my new suppliers had promised a quick and dirty jersey with our ‘rider’s and world stripes’ logo on it, but when it arrived a few days before my departure I was aghast to see the blue had printed as purple, thus rendering my logo something more akin to the Gay Pride flag.

Look at me! Climbing the Tourmalet in 2003.

I figured since I’d be concentrating on reporting the stories of Le Tour, I didn’t want the worry of dragging along a super nice bike, since I expected to be leaving the bike unattended outside of press rooms. So I took an old courier bike (a ’91 Rocky Mountain Blizzard), which essentially completed my look as a cyclo-tourist, but did nothing to enhance my desired image as a pro-peloton insider.

I learned a lot on that trip and returned home exhausted but with more excitement for the sport than ever. It took almost 2 more years, but our custom PEZ kit eventually became reality, and today I’m working with DeRosa on our project bike for the Giro – no more riding clunkers for me! Yup things have certainly changed.

It Was A Very Good Year
2006 marked our most complete season of race coverage ever, with the PEZ travel budget hitting a record high (even exceeding my year’s salary as a bike courier bake in ’85) – we had Pez-Crew at almost every cycling monument from SanRemo to Lombardia, all the Grand Tours, the Worlds, and a lot of races in between.

Our readership continues to grow each month – in February 207,000 of your tuned in to read over 4.3 million pages. That makes you the second largest audience of any pro cycling specific website based in North America – and I’ll bet you are top 7-8 in the world. And perhaps even more importantly, you continue to click on our sponsors’ ads, and use our tech reviews to guide your next purchase. Our sponsors love you and are happy to pay us to show you their ads. Needless to say – that means a lot to me and the Crew as it allows to keep doing PEZ…

I owe a huge debt of thanks to all the guys on the PEZ-Crew, whose efforts make us as complete and diverse as cycling site as you’ll find anywhere. This would not happen without ’em.

Finally, thanks to everyone for continuing to read, and for sending us your emails – we do try to reply to everyone, but admit that some days it’s hard to get everything done.

For 2007 I promise to continue providing distinctly different content that is entertaining, fun to read, and informative. Our focus remains top level Euro racing, and presenting the many sides of the sport we don’t normally see covered elsewhere. If you’re a PEZ-Fan, you’ll agree that cycling is pretty much one of the most fun things you can do… and I say reading about it from the comfort of your own cubicle should be the same.

So let’s get out there and ride… and when you get a little time from family, work, and life’s more important things – drop on in and “Get Pez’d”.

Milestones – Some Hilites of PezCycling News
Feb 02 – PezCycling News Launched
July 03 – After slow but steady traffic growth, readership declines during Le Tour, Pez Ready to pull plug.
Aug 02 – Pez Gets Vuelta creds, Al Hamilton spends 2 weeks taking photos of Spanish podium girls – Daily Distractions are born. Traffic takes off.
Sept 02 – Tech N Spec & ToolBox sections are added.
Jan 03 – Trek becomes first to send a bike for review, the 5900.
Feb 03 – Phil Liggett grants us interview.
June 03 – First custom Pez Socks arrive from DeFeet.
July 03 – Pez gets TDF Creds – joins press caravan in France.
Jan 04 – Lance Armstrong grants Pez 15 minutes exclusive interview.
Feb 04- We have Lift off – advertising revenues sustain meager existence. (Search for ‘real job’ called off.)
April 04 – Pez goes to Spring Classics, rides pave.
July 04 – Readership goes over 140,000 – sets record.
Jan05 – First custom Pez kit arrives from Upland Sports Group and Bergamo Clothing.
May05 – Pez covers our first Giro, drinks much grappa.
July05- PEZ TAV (Tour Assault Vehicle) gets yellow card for speeding.
– readership cracks 200,000 mark- new record.
Aug05 – Completes trifecta of Podium Girl interviews from Giro, Tour,and Vuelta
Sept05 – Getting dropped by Lance at Tour of Courage.
Oct05 – Interbike: More manufacturers want to meet with us than we have time for!
Jan06 – Baby Alessa arrives 4 weeks early – Pez starts women’s team.
April06 – PEZ rides with Greg LeMond at Tour de Georgia.
• We begin our most complete season of race coverage, featuring PEZ-Crew at almost every major European race.
July06 – PEZ has men at all Le Tour stages for first time ever. PEZ readership scores all time high of 250,000 unique readers during le Tour.
Sept06 – 5.1 million page views served – new all time high!

• Wanna know how we got this far?… read the brief story behind PezCycling

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