What's Cool In Road Cycling

PEZ Turns 7!

I looked up from the blur of organizing content, travel plans and race coverage for the weeks ahead, and almost missed it… perhaps the most important date of the year here at PEZ – our birthday! Yup, it was right about this time way back in 2002 that the PezCycling shingle was hung in cyberspace…

In the realm of important birthdays, “7” falls in that easy to forget zone between 5 and 10, but that makes it no less important. It’s now official that I’ve been doing this website longer than anything else in my life… with the exception of the always lovely and eternally supportive Mrs. Pez. For me that’s a long time, considering I’ve had a few careers along the way and just passed into the second half of my 5th decade of my own existence.

It’s also important because given the current economy, never in those 7 years has there been more uncertainty in the cycling industry.

Actual photo taken by my 3 year old daughter.

I certainly couldn’t let the date go by without some sort of announcement, even if it’s just a reminder (and maybe mostly for me) of what can be achieved if you give it enough time, make some smart choices along the way (or at least avoid too many dumb ones), and stay on path.

One of my favorite bits of wisdom goes:
People over estimate what they can achieve in a year, and under estimate what they can achieve in ten years.

Back in the days of BP (before PEZ) those words were with me constantly. Many of you regular readers know by now that I started this website from my own position of considerable uncertainty.

I was an unemployed marketing guy unable to find work. Although I’d worked in the cycling biz before, I had limited contacts in the industry. Although I built the website, I had no content and no idea how I was going to get it. And although I knew what kind of content and flavor I wanted to create, I had no readers to validate that any of this was of interest to anyone besides me…

The details of our early days have been documented and digitized for all to see, and after 7 years of survival, growth, and earning our spot in the sport of cycling, my general feeling has evolved from amazement that we’ve made it this far (although I never forget it), to a belief that we’ve earned some credibility by delivering our “consistently unique brand of cycling entertainment”. And with that comes a responsibility to our readers, our advertisers, our sport, and ourselves.

Reader emails are a great thing, and although I don’t have time to answer ‘em all, we do our best to reply and at least forward them to the intended PEZ-Crew recipient. One thing we’ve seen time and again though, is readers asking our advice on a range of issues from tech and what bike or wheelset to buy, to what’s the best way to see a stage of a Grand Tour, to where the best riding is, or where to buy that cool double strapped mussette I sport on many of my course scouting expeditions.

It tells me we’ve come to be respected as a somewhat knowledgeable source in many facets of the competitive cycling arena. In reality, we may not have the answer to a specific question, but we’ll almost always have an opinion.

So given the current economy, no epistle from the editor would be complete without some view of the times. We’re in the unique position to talk with many manufacturers during our daily duties, but also in touch daily with actual consumers (that’s you readers!) who are collectively responsible for the growth and decline on all brands.

Through the winter and the Q1 of 2009, the brand guys have been cautiously optimistic – of course it’s only March, and although many dealers have placed their orders in hopes of biz continuing, none of us will really know until the Spring days bring on the spending that so often signals our desire as cyclists to enjoy a great summer of riding – be it on a new bike, dressed in new kit, or even just a new set of pedals.

I did, however, just the other day, learn from one of my clients that dealers of his imported cycling products have been “killing it” in the past couple months and his orders for Spring are now flying out the door. Sure this is a sample of just one, but I think it’s telling a bigger story, that is:

Just because the economy sucks, we’re not gonna give up our love of cycling, or the things that make it great for us – like a few new purchases to bring in the new season.

The cycling industry’s biggest vulnerability is if everyone just turtles and does nothing – no spending or buying of any kind.

Our audience grew considerably again in 2008 so we now have even more to offer advertisers, and although some advertisers have cut budgets and reduced their exposure, many have made the decision to stick with programs that work to reach people like you – by using their ad space on this site and others to remind you of the great products they’re still making, so that when it comes time for you to make that purchase, their brands will be top of mind and on top of your list.

The road may be constantly uphill… but at least the look ahead is bright.

It’s hard to deny how something new always makes you go / feel faster, and just plain makes riding that much more fun. So do yourself a favor – head on down to your local bike shop and buy something – anything. You’ll be helping yourself to an invigorated cycling experience as the days warm up, but you’ll be helping a lot more people than you know…

We’ll keep on doing our part. No lay-offs or firings here! (Okay, I know most of the Crew have day jobs… but we also plan to be at all the big races just like last year – recession be damned!) We’ll also be continuing our detailed evaluations of some great cycling gear and products, and in addition to serving our tech-loving self interests, it’ll also be with a more acute awareness (and responsibility) to help connect our readers with the right products – so that none of this come to and end. And hopefully I’ll even be back in the not too distant future writing this annual announcement for our 10th, 15th and even more anniversaries.

It’s like I said before, stay on the path, make the right choices, and give yourself enough time, and we as cycling fans – and consumers of fine bike gear, can achieve a lot. And with enough of us working together, we should need a lot less than those 10 years…

Thanks for reading – !
Richard Pestes
– Publisher

Milestones – Some Hilites of PezCycling News
• 2002
Feb – PezCycling News Launched
July – After slow but steady traffic growth, readership declines during Le Tour, Pez Ready to pull plug.
Aug – Pez Gets Vuelta creds, Al Hamilton spends 2 weeks taking photos of Spanish podium girls – Daily Distractions are born. Traffic takes off.
Sept – Tech N Spec & ToolBox sections are added.

• 2003
Jan – Trek becomes first to send a bike for review, the 5900.
Feb – Phil Liggett grants us interview.
June – First custom Pez Socks arrive from DeFeet.
July – Pez gets TDF Creds – joins press caravan in France.

• 2004
Jan – Lance Armstrong grants Pez 15 minute exclusive interview.
Feb – Advertising revenues sustain meager existence. (Search for ‘real job’ called off.)
April – Pez goes to Spring Classics, rides pave.
July – Readership goes over 140,000 – sets record.

• 2005
Jan – First custom Pez kit arrives from Upland Sports Group and Bergamo Clothing.
May – Pez covers our first Giro, drinks much grappa.
July – readership cracks 200,000 mark- new record.
Aug – Completes trifecta of Podium Girl interviews from Giro, Tour,and Vuelta
Sept – Pez rides with Lance, gets dropped at Tour of Courage.
Oct – Interbike: More manufacturers want to meet with us than we have time for!

• 2006
Jan – Baby Alessa arrives 4 weeks early – Pez starts women’s team.
April – PEZ rides with Greg LeMond at Tour de Georgia.
April – We begin our most complete season of race coverage, featuring PEZ-Crew at almost every major European race.
July – 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.
Sept – 5.1 million page views served – new all time high!

• 2007
July – 350,000 unique readers follow our Tour coverage – the new record.

• 2008
Feb – Pez Turns 6! Starts 7th year of reporting ‘what’s cool in pro cycling’.
Dec – Readership grows to 325,000 unique readers per month.

• 2009
Jan.1 – PEZ launches redesigned website.
Feb – PEZ Kit gets redesigned – new “Mondrian Pez” look unveiled.

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

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