What's Cool In Road Cycling

PEZCycling Turns 6!

Can you believe it? Six years of publishing PezCycling, and I’ve now tied my record for longest ‘job’ of my career. Okay – so I use the word ‘job’ loosely, it is full-time time, it provides a decent living for my family, but I guess the big difference is how much fun this gig really is.

It’s a constant source of angst around the PEZ household – and readers who travel for work will know what this is like – finding the right moment to tell your family that you’ve got a trip coming up… to somewhere like California, Italy or France… and that they can’t come.

But just because I’m going to chase a bike race, ride my bike, and see the countryside, doesn’t mean it’s not ‘work’… It is work, really. Mrs. Pez knows this on an intellectual level, but the fact that I love doing this stuff so much kind of frames it as a ‘working vacation’… or something like that.

My two crowning achievements…

It was just over six years ago, in February of 2002 that I pressed the ‘go’ button and PezCycling news was on the web. I had no idea it would turn into such a popular pro cycling ‘entertainment’ source, or that I’d consider this the biggest success of my life (okay maybe second biggest after creating a beautiful daughter with Mrs. Pez…)

That humble beginning seems a long time ago, and as busy as we are now that racing season has begun, it bears a brief look back to appreciate some of what makes this gig so great, and why I consider myself so lucky…

Working on the web – in the virtual office space that is PEZCycling, is great for a lot of reasons – no comute to the office, seeing my daughter throughout the day, flexibility to schedule ‘gear tests’ as quickly as the sun appearing from behind a cloud… but one thing it lacks is a water cooler to meet work mates and share stories, ideas, and just bs. That office socialization is what I missed most when I started working on my own.

But I’ve come to see this in a different way. Firstly, my adjustment to a solitary work space went just fine… and I even found I’m way more productive than before. But what’s really stood out are the relationships – both friendships and professional – that I’ve discovered through committing myself to this for the long term, and I suppose by being consistent in what we produce and how we conduct ourselves.

When I first rode with Gary and Rob from Upland Sports a couple years back, they were clients. But riding with them at ToC this year was more like riding with buds… just another one of the cool things about working in the cycling industry.

While conversing around the digital water cooler will never replace the real thing, I’ve had more than a few yuks enjoying the emailed banter that gets going amongst PEZ-Crew and clients from time to time. And as I settle into what the research guys call ‘middle age’, I’m also aware that making friends at this stage of life is a completely different animal from that in my college days.

Blame it on the family-centric focus that comes with marriage and kids, but most us in similar situations have only time for family, work, and if we’re lucky – a few hours a week to ourselves… which I’m willing to wager most of you spend on your bike, like me.

What suffers are our friendships… I’m still in touch with my core buds from college days, but we rarely see each other. Now the guys I ride with on the weekends, and the guys who work with me on PEZ, have morphed into my ‘new’ friends. Good thing for me I’ve got a stellar – albeit salty – crew of cycling-istas who’ve joined this online venture.

But that’s the thing about cycling… it attracts a certain kind of Joe, and special type of bloke… and through the personal suffering that our style of riding presents, to the deep passion we all share for bike racing and riding, the connection is undeniable – and not affected by the physical distance between us.

I guess that’s we’ve gathered such a large and loyal following of readers… you guys (and gals) share the same passions and sufferings we do. Our meeting place is your laptop, or cubicle, or pda… and we’re all connected by our love of cycling.

The PEZ audience continues to grow – 256,661 of you logged into the site in February – that’s up 25% from a year ago. Whoa. But way more impressive to me are the roadside hellos we get at bike races wherever we go… I’ll tell you it’s an amazing feeling when a reader steps out and says hello. It’s proof that real live people read our stuff!

Regardless of the current turmoil amongst the sport’s top ranks, I’m not giving up on cycling. I may have lost some respect and even interest in some events, teams, and riders, but I haven’t stopped loving cycling. And that is why the sport will survive – because I know I’m not alone in this belief.

So I am looking forward to another season of racing, because each race is a chance for the good guys to step up and take back control of the sport. Sure it’ll take some time, but if I was a ‘glass half empty’ kind of guy, PEZCycling would never have made it out of the hangar, let alone off the ground. And we’ll be here to fight the good fight and support the riders and teams who are making a difference.

Thanks again to everyone for continuing to read, to the squadra-PEZ who make us PEZ, and of course to our sponsors who go to their bottom line to step up and support our efforts- and the many of you who I now count as friends.

So let’s get out there and ride… and when you get a little time from family, work, and life’s more important things – we’ll be here to keep you “Pez’d”.

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
Readership continues to reach new levels, including highest ever Giro and 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’.

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

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