Three Years

When I launched RKP on July 2, 2009, I was apprehensive. I knew it was the right thing for me to do, but I wasn’t certain that many readers would follow me from Belgium Knee Warmers. I’d been working behind the scenes to develop a logo, design the site, court a few advertisers and start amassing content.

In another, concurrent, life my wife was pregnant with our son, who was born later that month. I look back on that time with a certain amount of amazement, like I wonder what the hell I was thinking trying to do both those things at the same time.

Seemed like a good idea at the time. And the funny thing is, because you’re reading this now, it must have been. I’ve been pretty honest about my goals in the past, but given the events of the last eight months or so, they warrant some repeating, especially as a fair number of you are new(ish) here.

My ambition, modest as it was, was to have the ability to write about cycling without the influence of a publisher or advertisers who think that good editorial can be purchased. I also thought that I could manage to get paid something for this work by selling some advertising to builders and companies who trusted me enough not to interfere with my work. I never thought RKP would be particularly sizable, traffic-wise, so in my mind, the reasonable hope was that it might provide a portion of my income, along with the work I was doing for Road Bike Action and a few others.

Fast forward three years and almost all the work I do is for RKP and peloton magazine, a publication that didn’t even exist when I launched RKP. It’s been a strange turn of events. Stranger still is that RKP is publishing work by John Wilcockson, Charles Pelkey and other talented contributors like Whit Yost. I swear to you, I didn’t see that coming. To have dreamt such a development would have been the height of hubris in my book. It’s worth mentioning that companies that realize new success often forget the people who helped them get there. It means a lot to me that Robot continues to be my most trusted confidant (aside from my wife) and one of the most important voices here at RKP.

Our growth hasn’t been without some ripped jeans. We still haven’t sold a single ad for Pelkey’s live updates; that he shakes the tip jar during his coverage is something I’m actively encouraging. I aim to do right by him (and Patrick O’Grady as well). And our reception by various bike companies is pretty varied. Specialized trusts our work enough to invite us to the rather exclusive intro of their new TT helmet; meanwhile I can’t get Trek to return a phone call (it’s not an uncommon problem, I’m told). I’m not offended, but I hate the appearance that we’re showing Specialized a certain favoritism; I actively want to do content on Trek, and many others. The fact is, you can only date the girls who will actually go to the movies with you.

We’ve gotten a few nods; some public—the Outside mention—some less so. On the way to the airport as I was leaving Press Camp, one of the event’s directors, Chris Zigmont, told me that he doesn’t really think of RKP as a blog, that he views us as a mainstream cycling media outlet. While I maintained that we will remain a blog because we value the interactivity with our readers, I was really gratified by what he said.

So it is that on our third birthday I have to acknowledge that RKP is both exactly what I wanted and something entirely other than I envisioned. I set out to publish a blog that valued quality writing about cycling. We are absolutely that to this day. I just never considered that we’d be bringing you so many stellar voices. That they trust me enough to see their work published here, and that you readers keep coming back, gratifies me every day.

Thanks for reading.

,

36 comments

  1. P Poppenjay

    Congratulations, Padraig, as you celebrate three years of dedication in achieving goals and jumping many hurdles along your path.
    Your commitment to RKP has gained you many followers and you have remained true to your commitment to yourself and your readers.
    The best is yet to come, Padraig.
    I know you to be a man true to your word and aims.
    Your accomplishments in these three years are a tribute to the man you are and your devotion to good, honest work.

  2. Hautacam

    Happy Birthday RKP and boom shaka laka! Your living-room party rocks. I only follow a couple of web portals and this is ALWAYS the first one I go to. I also spend the most time here online.

    PS(i): Trek, get with the program. I may be in the market for a carbon bike in the near future and a review from RKP would definitely factor into my purchasing decision. I am right in the fat part of your favorite road bike demographic. So step up, you brand-swallowing behemoth! Send Padraig something sweet to test and give me a reason to roll half a mile down the hill to the ginormous Trek dealer here in Seattle. You know the one.

    PPS I am hereby copyrighting the “PS(i)” thing unless someone else did. E-ritchie has ATMO, I get PS(i). So there.

  3. Matthew Zullo

    Congratulations on three years and keep up the good work. I click on your site almost everyday. Great stuff. MattZ

  4. randomactsofcycling

    Congratulations Padraig on the ever more successful RKP. I continue to read and comment as often as I can and I continue to enjoy the unique perspective your site offers.

  5. michael

    Merci et chapeau Padraig. Votre dévouement et passion est contagieuse. Longue vie à ce superbe site.

    i.e. – this site fucking rocks. Thanks for the journey thus far and for the roads yet to come.

  6. Doug Page

    I love RKP, and especially your posts, Pagraig. I told my son once, “Don’t waste your time on a woman who doesn’t like you. Concentrate on the ones who find you appealing.” He is in a very happy relationship now and has thanked me for the advice.
    Good luck and God speed.

  7. mwmike

    I subscribe to RKP on “Google Reader” (RSS feed) and never miss an article. Recommend others do the same. Thanks.

  8. Nelson

    RKP has turned into a morning ritual. Sometimes with coffee before work, some times with GU before a ride. I read RKP more than I do the news. Congratulations and keep up the great work.

  9. Adam

    Congratulations.
    I have mixed emotions on this anniversary as I remember logging into BKW and seeing the new logo and link and feeling like a death had occurred. Glad the quality has only increased.

    I too don’t think of this as a blog, but the best cycling writing on the web.

    Specialized do seem to be leaders in realizing the value of non-traditional information sources. Not that Trek cares about what I think, but I imagine I’m not the only one who trusts reviews written here over any other publication. Lack of advertising and actual thought behind the reviews being the key drivers.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Wow. Thanks everyone for the very kind words. I really couldn’t do this just shouting into the void. Having readers like you all is a very necessary ingredient in producing our content. And you all keep us sharp.

      Adam: My departure from BKW was both difficult and reluctant. However, I was unwilling to continue to do work of the quality we delivered for free. It was easier once I saw some of the nasty responses to my post making the announcement. I got a chuckle out of the guy who criticized me for not showing more loyalty and gratitude to Radio Freddy for “sponsoring” me. What would be truly terrific is if Radio Freddy had the bandwidth to final post here a bit. Alas, he’s a very busy man (that’s always been the challenge for him), and he needs to be if Velosmith is to succeed. It’s a fine place.

  10. Big E

    No, no Padraig. Thank you. I followed you over from BKW like a lot of other people for your insight and eliquent pros. It’s much appreciated. Keep up the excellent Quality!

  11. Robot

    I should take a moment here to thank Padraig for giving me his hard-won audience to write for. And thanks everyone who reads for carrying us along this far.

  12. rashadabd

    I definitely dig what you are doing man. It’s new and refreshing content that I can count on and is often written from a perspective that is closer to where I am coming from rahter than a constant stream of what’s happening with the pros. Keep up the good work.

  13. Harold Woodley

    I love RKP. Congratulations on three years. Capital-F TREK. (Not necessarily in that order…but that’s just me.)

  14. Max

    Great stuff.
    There is a slight chance that this blog is really a sneaky corporate scheme pretending to be grassroots. Somehow I doubt it.

  15. jwbond

    I currently ride a Trek, but was considering a Specialized. I think that I just made up my mind what my next ride will be..

  16. Eto

    Keep up the wonderful work. As a recent devote’ (one year), I am sorry not to have discovered RKP sooner. There are always the archives I suppose. I think there is a novel or two worthy of your insight, talent and dedication!

    Eto

  17. PeterLeach

    I’d like to add my congratulations – and birthday wishes – to RKP.
    ’tis one of my favourite online destinations.
    I offer my own red kite prayer on each ride I do :-)

  18. Big Mikey

    Three years old? Why, I remember when you were this big………they grow up so fast…..

    Congrats, my man. You and the team at RKP have made something special in the world, and it’s good to see you realize the fruits of your labor.

    Chapeau, and keep up the good work.

  19. patrick

    OK, the Tour is over. What did you say? :)
    I came to RKP some time last year after seeing it praised in other places, including Outside. Now it’s where I go first. And thanks for bringing Wilcockson on, and giving Pelkey a place to do his LUG. They just help complete the atmosphere you’ve built as ‘the Cycling Blog that Enriches’.
    On the advert front, I have used your reviews to influence my purchases. In June I purchased Assos, based upon your words. They live up to your praise, giving proof to your piece. Thanks!
    And also thank you for the fine work you do on all of RKP! You are a Master Craftsman, I’ll be coming back for more!

  20. David

    I like what you are doing, I was first attracted by your refugees. I will keep this in mind with my purchasing dollars and being vocal about it.

    Thanks

  21. The_D

    Thanks for providing a reliably well-appointed oasis of thought and good cheer. Here’s to much continued success.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Everyone: Thank you for your very kind words. It’s so great to know that what we do resonates with you and I’m modest enough that when someone tells me that one of our reviews influenced a purchase, it makes me smile.

      And to those of you who have made purchases that were guided by ads here on RKP: THANK YOU. That can’t possibly happen too often. It means a lot to know that you’d spend your dollars with a company that has taken a stand on quality content, and every company advertising with RKP has said they are here because they value our content. I tell prospective advertisers that we may not have the biggest readership, but we have the smartest.

      And for what it’s worth, our advertisers tell us that they value the intelligent conversations found in our comments. You yourselves deserve to take a bow for attracting the industry; I’ve had a few product managers tell me that reading the comments on RKP is valuable market research.

      Regarding Trek: I didn’t mention them to shame them and I really don’t want any blowback against them. I mentioned it purely to dispel the concern I have that our editorial might seem biased. I’ve devoted a lot of pixels to the big, red S (and with good reason; they are a truly amazing company). Trek is doing some really fascinating work that I’d love to have a chance to write about, but this is a reminder that RKP is neither Bicycling nor Cyclingnews. These things take time.

  22. Jonathan

    Congrats on the three years. Discovered you shortly after you hung out the shingle, and was always worried that you weren’t going to make it: I’m very happy that my concerns were unfounded.
    I love the work you guys do, and even enjoy the articles that aren’t entirely relevant to my interests.
    Well done Padraig!

  23. Patrick

    Well done, congrats to all!

    Speeding up to my son’s third birthday in early August, I can appreciate the feeling of anxiety during July 2009. I enjoyed an internal sigh of relief earlier this week during a vacation visit to what I believe is one of the most visionary accomplishments for cycling in recent memory, Boulder’s Valmont Bike Park. Walking around the park to check out the various courses, my son became vehement about taking the stroller down the slope-style track. It almost made me teary-eyed with satisfied joy.

    Now to build a similar park in my neighborhood, hopefully it won’t take 15 years to achieve like VBP.

  24. Greg Sonnenburg

    Congrats on 3 years. I read your work on BKW and was always impressed with your writing style and knowledge of the sport. (Those two; IMHO, do not always coincide in the same writer.)
    I always go here for in depth analysis on the sport. Many thanks for that effort. I always look forward to Robot’s take on riding as well.

    Here is to many more years of RKP.

    Greg

  25. David Cady

    I just wanted to say congratulations and thank you. I’ve been a reader since the Belgium Knee Warmer days (I bought my Assos 851 jacket because of a glowing review there by Radio Freddy. Love it.) There are many good cycling sites out there; Red Kite Prayer is the best. Bravo!

  26. Robert Borchert

    A belated Happy Birthday to RKP! Sir Charles Pelkey steered me to your pages, and I must applaud you for everything I see here. It’s an absolute breath of fresh air, pearls of wisdom woven throughout, by folks who aren’t afraid to “call ‘em as they sees ‘em!”

    I agree, your advertisers definitely have my support. I am certain RKP will grow!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>