Wait and See

In 2002 I got a loan from my father as well as one from my mom, emptied my 401k and sold four bikes. Totaled, it would have been a downpayment for a modest house, just not in LA. Why? Because I was stuck in my life.

I was one of the editors for a magazine called Bicycle Guide for a few years in the late ‘90s and was on assignment in France when the publisher pulled the plug. The magazine had weathered a few lousy years and seemed to be making a turnaround when they killed it, 10 months before Lance Armstrong won his first Tour de France. After that, the whole road market experienced a turnaround even a Mini Cooper could admire.

Once home, I moped. The world didn’t make sense to me. The magazine had a readership of 100,000, give or take. There were advertisers. And the publisher had a bloated payroll filled with executives that fought over just how cheap to be. I figured a lean operation could unite the loyal readers with good content. And the lean operation could offer reasonable ad rates to reach those readers.

But in 1999, paper was passé. There was this thing called the Internet and people were willing to throw money at me to the tune of six figures for an operation that would have no identifiable revenue stream. A magazine? Was I out of my mind?

I told one potential investor: “I don’t want to cut paychecks for a year, I want to be cutting them ten years from now.” I should have taken the money and had fun running a cycling web site until the money ran out, but my moral compass wouldn’t let me. Damn magnetism.

I had dozens of meetings with potential investors that went nowhere, so finally I did the one thing everyone said not to do: I invested my own money.

Which brings us back to why. I was stuck in my life because I needed to take the best swing I could at this, and I felt like I hadn’t made every sacrifice I could to make this dream real. So I launched Asphalt Magazine with a partner and a handful of freelance contributors.

Plot spoiler: It failed. (Not that you didn’t already know that).

The fault rests with me. I wasn’t the right guy. I wasn’t a tough enough manager, wasn’t a slick enough salesman, wasn’t a guy who could run on two hours of sleep. I’ve got a garage full of magazines and no regrets. That said, my greatest shock came when I approached the industry for advertising. A number of companies told me point blank: We’re going to sit out the first year and see how you do.

WTF?

Which brings me to peloton magazine. Brad Roe, Tim Schamber, Ben Edwards and Adam Reek are industry vets. Peloton magazine is not just the best independently produced magazine the bike industry has ever seen, it’s the best, period. I heard from any number of Asphalt readers who swore that my magazine was the best bike mag they’d ever seen. I’m telling you on no uncertain terms peloton is superior. From running on time to negotiating a killer distribution deal before a single magazine had been produced, they have delivered in every way you can.

But as a new publishing company, they need to prove that they can make it without the muscle of an entrenched publisher behind them. In short, they need subscribers. I can guarantee you that bike companies have told them what they told me, that they’d wait and see. Why they do this defies explanation. It’s like going to the polling place and not voting because you want to see if your guy actually gets elected.

Brad and Tim have given me more latitude as a writer and photographer than anyone has ever given me—except maybe myself. It’s an uncommon event in a writer’s life that you’re encouraged to rise to an occasion, to deliver the smartest, bravest work you can. To paraphrase Spock, my first, best, destiny is as a feature writer and columnist, and Brad is giving me rope enough to hang myself daily.

I believe peloton is an unusual magazine, one that comes along maybe once in a generation.

I’ve reviewed and recommended a great many items and experiences here at RKP. I’ve never requested anything of you, the readers. That you all read, which is proving to be an increasingly rare activity in this world, has been enough for which to be grateful.

To those of you who have already stepped up and purchased a subscription to peloton, thank you.

To those of you who have purchased a single copy of peloton on the newsstand and liked what you read, please subscribe.

To those of you who have yet to see an issue of peloton, if you like exciting content about your favorite sport and want to see stories of unusual origin, features that go unexpected places, take a chance on Brad’s brainchild.

Each new subscription tells the industry that you’re hungry for content beyond race results. Brad, Tim, Adam, Ben and the rest of the crew have stepped up for the cycling community in a big way. They’ve put previously secure jobs and their families on the line for this. Don’t wait. Don’t see. A subscription is a small risk in a dangerous world. One that will be rewarded with each new issue.

These guys burn with a holy light for cycling and after reading a copy, it’s my belief you won’t want anything so much as to go for a ride. And isn’t that what a bike mag should do for you?

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43 comments

  1. randomactsofcycling

    I’ve yet to see this in the newsagents down here in Sydney. I like that there is an option to subscribe to print and digital and even though there would be a lot of gear that is unavailable in Australia, I like to read about it.
    We are blessed to have RIDE magazine produced here in Sydney. When it hit the scene I stopped renewing other subscriptions. It’s the business, but there is always room for more quality.

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  3. Souleur

    thanks Padraig.

    Pelotons first issue was refreshing, articulate, intelligent. All things I look for in my ‘reads’, yet something that is becoming increasingly rare in our social/cultural times.

    I don’t want a clif note of how a $7000 bike rides, as if that compels me to consider it further, and I don’t want a cheap sold out editorial of a product that is prim and proper as to not offend the one offering a substandard product. I want the truth, I want details, I want innuendo.

    I found a nice mix of that in Peloton, and will subscribe.
    Well done to all who work on it!

  4. mtbchick

    well said. peloton is my first cycling mag subscription. I am incredibly fortunate to be affiliated with such an amazing group of people- writers, visionaries, cyclists, friends.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Sophrosune (& everyone): Take a deep breath. RKP is going nowhere (er, not going away). I’m just a freelancer for the mag. If for some reason RKP were to end (& I can’t imagine why that would happen) I’d give you readers a real heads-up rather than try to slip out the back door.

  5. cendres

    Having subscribed nearly 2 months ago, I have to say I’m disappointed that I haven’t received issue #1 yet, to say nothing of #2. I keep hoping, but no joy so far.

  6. BikeRog

    I bought the first issue of Peloton. It was a beautiful, well-produced magazine with stunning photos and good writing. But it lacked editorial direction, and seemed to be all about everything and nothing simultaneously. I saw the first issue as a very good-looking lightweight. Nevertheless, I realize these kinds of comments might be unfair–sort of like reviewing a restaurant on opening night, without giving it an opportunity to find its groove and get its chops down.

    I’m generally a very positive person. I also admire Padraig’s writing and his stance on almost all things cycling. So he convinced me. I’m going to assume that Peloton will mature, grow, and improve–finding its editorial direction as it goes–and yes, I will subscribe.

    Your impassioned plea worked, Padraig, at least it did with me. I’m eagerly awaiting the next issue.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Everyone: Thanks much for the comments and the faith you’ve placed in me. I really believe in the team behind this magazine; that’s not to say anything against the others, I’m fundamentally a magazine nut. These guys have my heart, and while it’s true that I’ll succeed in some way if they do, that’s not why I wrote the post.

      I received an e-mail from Brad saying there’s been a spike in subscriptions today. To every one of you who ordered: thanks much.

  7. Jason

    Very anxious to see Peloton in person. Me thinks I have a trip planned to the newsstand tomorrow. I am entering the 3rd year with my mag, trying to bring attention to my cycling passion (endurance mountain bike racing/riding) I know the hard work, that goes into such an endeavor. I hope that one day we will be neighbors on the newsstand, but I have a lot of work to do before then.

    Good luck!

    Jason


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Heard from Brad this evening. Today’s subscriptions were quadruple their average. Thanks to each of you who signed up; you really turned out in terrific force.

  8. Caesar

    Had a chance to peruse Peloton the other day. Finally… content! Just placed my order in. Thank you for making this magazine happen.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Caesar: I’m glad you like it, but I can take exactly zero credit for the fact this magazine exists. I took my shot. I’m just a contributor on this, but as such, I consider myself really fortunate.

      Mark: Brad and Tim have a refined sense of irony, but I don’t think that was at work when they selected those photos. They are both just very cool images. I’m sure you’ll dig it … and thanks for the good words.

  9. mark

    Sounds like I need to go find a copy of the current issue. My brother just informed me that there’s a photo of me from cyclocross nationals. Sharing a page with KFC, no less. I wonder if the juxtaposition of one of the worst male masters racers with the best female elite racer was intentional. I’ll give the current issue a good read, a subscription card will inevitably fall out, and if I like what I see, I’ll fill it out and send it in. Everyone starting a new venture should be so fortunate to have someone advocating for them from a position of credibility.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Take a bow people, you just gave peloton its second biggest day of subscription sales. Yesterday was tops.

      This is really terrific. I knew I was taking a real chance when I wrote the post, but your response … well I can’t quite put how I feel into words.

      Thanks.

  10. Jim D.

    I got a free 1 year online subscription from the good folks at Competitive Cyclist. Liked what I saw. So.. I decided to subscribe to the paper magazine.

    Good luck.

    Jim D.

  11. Rod Diaz

    Just received my copy of #2 (first I’ve got). So far, very happy with the quality of the paper, photos, and writing. I wish I could get #1

  12. michael

    I got a free digital subscription via Competitive Cyclist. The first issue “ma laisser sur mon appetit” as the french expression goes. Not knowing what to expect I was somewhat disappointed by the whole – flashes of brilliance here, lack of rigor there. It was a somewhat shotgun spray approach, though again to be fair it was just the first issue.

    After perusing issue #2 I actually went out and purchased one on the newstand. The beer review is one of the finest pieces of journalism I have ever read in a cycling mag. The Merckx article was also fantastic. I could have done without the multiple pages of product mini-reviews/suggestions however. Every other mag does this, don’t need more of the same. I found the bike reviews to be very good, much more in-depth than most.

    So will I subscribe yet? Not on partially blind faith. I suspect that I, like many, are still waiting to see a general overall editorial theme develop after 5-6 issues to see where the journey goes.

    So far I see glimpses of what could be – and I like what I see.

    TBC

  13. Bill Pinney

    So Padraig -

    Any chance that you’d sell some old copies of Asphalt???!! I never saw a copy, and I’d be interested in getting some. Feel free to contact me about this via my email -

  14. Sven Nijs

    @randomactsofcycling
    I don’t expect you’ll see Peloton on newsstands here in Sydney.
    I subscribe to Ride and agree it’s a great magazine. I also now subscribe to Peloton (electronic & hard copy) thanks to a blog piece by Jered Gruber and am certainly glad I did.
    I let my Rouleur subscription lapse for it and have no regrets so far.

    I can see others commenting that they’d like to wait and see where it’s going before committing to it. Remember that it may well be that if you don’t commit then it’ll go nowhere. Sometimes you just have to have faith and lets be honest, even for international subscription it’s not a lot of money.

  15. John Jorgensen

    I will find one, read it and then subscribe. But memories are long. For me the first bike mag I subscribed to was the Two Wheel Trip. A charter subscriber, I was young, the money was dear. I got the first issue, no more, not even the second which I did not buy as “why buy it when one should be in the mail”? It’s decades later, but money is dear again. Oh, I should not forget I did get a poster of the first cover art, I pulled that down off the wall later feeling a bit bitten.

    Memories of that first issue, a story, Me and my Schwinn in West Egg. A flopped neg that placed the drivetrain on the left hand side of the bike and a story about the 1972 Olympic trials. I wanted that Blue Masi Special track bike in an image of velodrome infield. I bought my own Masi Sprint bike 3 years later, built for me. So, I guess it was not a total loss, just not cheap.

  16. Fournwi

    Definitely will subscribe. Some of my most enjoyable bike reads include the mags you’ve sited – Bicycle Guide, Asphalt, & Road – with many of the writers/editors you list (including yourself). Thanks for the heads up.

  17. Garrett

    Just subscribed. I’ve seen the magazine in person and was impressed. The upside to the world going digital is that the remaining print might only be the best.

  18. MattyVT

    Peloton is the the best thing to happen to cycling since the wheel. My wife got me a subscription for Christmas after I spent hours pouring over the copy of issue 1. As a non-cyclist she can even respect the magazine for what it offers- great writing, exceptional photography, minimal advertising and a genuine reverence for the sport itself.

  19. Steve

    Patrick,
    I used to be a subscriber to Asphalt. It was the best thing to come out since Bicycle Guide (the early and middle years) and I was very sorry to see it go.

    Seeing your name attached to Peloton was a big selling point for me and I have enjoyed your writing so far. Nice job on the Priorities article, couldn’t have said it better. Also really liked the articles about Epic Wheelworks,Specialized tire testing, Assisting Lance and King Liu.

    Now the nitpicks; While I like pretty pictures, the Shutter section seemed overdone. And although I appreciate the talent of Manny Pacquaio…in a Cycling magaine? Huh?

    Pat, there are lots of other magazines, websites and blogs covering the racing thing. I would much rather see more materiel aimed at the average cyclist but with high quality writing and content. And how about some real-world road tests of bikes and other equipment like some of the British and Australian magazines or similar to the kind of testing Backpacker does. Yes, I know that is all pretty expensive to pull off.

    Perhaps some interviews with frame makers (and there are lots), a Where Are They Now section with guys like John Howard, George Mount, Rebbecca Twig, Eric Heiden and Inga Thompson. And is Maynard Hershon still writing?

    Last, I appreciate the audio and video segments on the web site and hope you will continue and expand that.

    Thanks for all your efforts so far and all the best.

  20. PasoWinemaker

    Years ago I enjoyed Winning, Bicycle Guide, Asphalt…

    I just picked-up Peloton at the our local newsstand – You’ll have another new subscriber – me.

    Well done!

  21. PasoWinemaker

    Padraig,
    BTW, Re: Peloton’s “Priorities” – Ha! Imagine that… suffering through 5+ hours riding with me did, in the end, deliver a positive outcome after all. Your skillful wordsmithing yielded yet another enjoyable read. Cheers!!!

  22. Armybikerider

    Finally saw a copy of the magazine on a trip to Philly. Love the general layout….the cycling content rocked….and I really like the paper stock. My only gripe is the irrevelance (IMHO) of equipment reviews. With so many online forums full of riders that own and use gear I can find real world owners and get all the advice I need at a glance.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      If I may offer a polite defense of gear reviews (partly because I’m about to post one), at least some members of the cycling media have a significant range of experience as riders and racers. Ben Edwards, the tech editor for peloton, is a former Cat. 1 and knows quite a lot about pushing equipment to its limits. I only know a handful of riders who aren’t part of the cycling media who have in-depth experience with more than five bikes. I know Ben has reviewed dozens of bikes; in my case, I’ve put more than 200 miles on more than 60 bikes, and more than 1000 miles on more than two dozen. What makes a reviewer valuable is their working knowledge of the many options out there.

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  25. Sydney

    I came across Peloton during a trip to the grocery store and had to buy it as soon as I flipped a few pages – the photos are not only beautiful, but are shots you would frame for inspiration. It is expensive for a magazine, but, for me, it was more like buying a “book” of well written, unique stories and articles.

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