Friday Group Ride #147


It’s the Christmas season and with that comes a myriad of changes to our routines. There’s the change in traffic; with so many people out shopping, it makes it seem like there are twice as many people on the road both when I’m out for training rides and later in the day when I try to run any errand. There’s the fact that it’s mid-December; with the planet approaching the winter solstice almost everyone in the Northern Hemisphere is experiencing colder temperatures on rides—and you all fortunate enough to be in the Southern Hemisphere and headed into summer can do us all a favor and try not to rub it in. Let’s not forget all the gifts; with Christmas comes the opportunity to get stuff we want, not to mention the chance to express our love for others in the form of the gifts we give them.

We’ve talked here previously about who you would like to give the gift of cycling to. The rich array of answers was fascinating as much for the why of how you chose as for the who that you did choose.

I’ll admit, when I was a kid, I was much more focused on the getting than the giving. I didn’t put much into the giving and so the dividends—that sense of pleasure you get from seeing another person light up when they receive your gift—were pretty insignificant. It took a while to realize that the more I put into it, the more I got out of it.

This year, the gift I’d most like to give isn’t cycling, it’s learning. I’ve already given my son cycling this year; I’m glad I didn’t wait until his birthday or Christmas to give him the gift of cycling—we’ve had so much fun, I feel like I got Christmas back in April. So now I’m trying to figure out a way to afford an iPad mini for him. He’s becoming more interested in computers but if we give him free access to our iPad, we will never get access to it again. Still, I have this feeling that an iPad can’t top having given him a bike earlier this year.

I don’t think of RKP as a place where I give. I do what I’m naturally inclined to do—write—and then I have the good fortune to have a bunch of people stop by to read my work, not to mention the work of others, work that I publish because I think it’s pretty terrific.

But this FGR is going to be a little different. What do YOU want? I don’t mean what gear, what destination, what win—I’m wondering what it is you’d like from RKP? I’ve got designs for next year, things I’d like to do more of, ways I’d like to expand our content. But I’m curious, if we were to give you a gift of content (perhaps even something else?) what would you like to see us do more of; what new areas of content would you welcome?

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  1. Adam

    I want Robot to get the Pulitzer. Put another way, I really don’t want much to change but here goes.
    Stories about great local bike shops all around the country always interest me – each shop is a satelite of cycilng passion in the community.
    I loved the framebuilders pieces you did for Peloton. More of that with more pictures.
    I want more manufacturers to realize that you are doing the best product reviews on the web, and to send you truckloads of kit. Specialized and Zipp clearly see the value.
    I love bike kit and details as much as anyone, but the reason I come back here is for those articles that I can forward to my wife and say, ‘look, see, this is what I’ve been trying to explain for years…other people feel cycling in their soul.’ Keep those pieces coming. They’re special and could fill a book one day.

  2. armybikerider

    Local shop stories would be cool….any sort of region-centric intel always interests me. I find it fascinating to learn how other people in different parts of the cycling universe approach their passions.

    I’d like to see pieces on industry personalities. Bios of racers, industry leaders and indie builders I think would be cool.

    A historical series would be interesting, featuring reviews of past races and behind the scenes information on the great races and racers.

    I’d like to see the pieces get longer. I love to read Robot’s writing, but always find myself wishing there were more words. In fact a general increase in creative fiction would be welcome.

    While I respect the gear reviews, I find myself neglecting that section of RKP. For any number of reasons I would not be sad to see that disappear.

  3. Rich

    I would like to see a little travelog. Great local bike shops and great rides in the U.S. Some Gravel road stuff. Maybe written by you or by guest writers from their home town.

  4. SusanJane

    I love the history of riders, racers, personel, and race routes. More of that for sure! It would be nice to get some analysis of this as well, especially context. Facts and figures are so relative. Steel bikes and drugs and dirt roads are so different than carbon fiber and blood doping/epo and smooth pavement. I can’t afford to buy the coffee table books on the greats so I’m partial to hearing about them as well (career as well as specific races).

    I also love the inside of the legal and political aspects of what’s going on in cycling—press releases just don’t get past the smoke and mirrors most of the time. This is the main reason why I visit RKP every single day. No lie.

    And I must admit I enjoy the personal stories of suffering and family because they are the other more “real” side of cycling. Personally personal stories and interviews on pro riders don’t interest me as much—these are so canned most of the time because they give hundreds of these a year.

    Finally I need RPK because it tells me what the other sites and mags don’t. You fill important gaps as well as provide depth that no one else does. Please keep this as your goal and I’ll be back every day.

    I may only be a cycling fan but I’m committed to learning and enjoying what this sport has to offer. RKP rocks!

  5. Scott

    You guys do such a great job I feel guilty asking for anything more, but I will. How about a classic gear bit or old vs new equipment? Always fun to root around in the basement/garage and find stuff that was awesome back in the day and realize it still is awesome! Or to think ” how did I ever ride with this junk!” Thanks for the great site!

  6. James F. Duncan

    Like to see cycling’s underdog, women-athletes, everyday cyclists, artisans- featured relative to the energy and change and fresh air they are bringing to cycling. Thanks!

  7. Running Cyclist

    I feel guilty asking for more, but more please. You guys do an incredible job and your team is mind blowing in its ability to articulate feelings we all have, but are often unable to articulate ourselves. The insight to the industry, the races, current events, the questions posed on the FGR. I’m not sure I would change anything, so I’m just asking for more of everything. And thanks for a great year!

  8. Ryan Hedemark

    I heartily second the earlier wish for MORE. It isn’t possible to put words to how much I enjoy everything that Patrick, the Robot, Mrs Pelkey & Wilcockson put on RKP. The only thing harder to describe is the disappointment I feel when I reach the end of a post or when I drop by to find nothing new to read. I even sometimes re-read posts in those times. In short, everything on RKP is unique & wonderful. I only wish there were more frequent posts & more of such a great thing!

    1. Author

      Everyone: thanks for all your kind words. It means a lot to know that RKP really matters to you readers, especially on a day like this. Keep the feedback coming, please! It’s been terrific to hear echoed some ideas I’ve had and find out how much you dig what we do but you just want larger servings. This is really gratifying to hear. Thanks.

  9. Mark

    Love this site, I only discovered it a few months ago, now I can’t wait to see in my inbox another post! I have also gone back and read tons of older posts, very inspirational. I am about to head out on another wet Sat am ride on the West coast here that I was inspired to do by a post a few weeks back calling us to not stop riding purely because it is wet. I am taking my new R5 out for its first run, I bought it based in part on the review I read here and the R3 review also, that is how I discovered the site so please don’t stop the equipment reviews, they are amazing!!

    Keep up the great work guys,
    Merry Christmas!

  10. Devin

    I love stuff like “A New Alchemy of Speed” – a reminder that I can be fast (compared to some). I like hearing about others’ experiences with racing, the love/hate relationship that many of us have with that (back to the speed issue!), and in the end, how it’s simply a joy to just get out and ride. Even better are stories about riding in new places, long rides with friends, coffee stops along the way, and swapping stories over a beer after. I love that stuff, I love those experiences, and I love hearing other people’s stories along those lines. And anything about custom bikes!

  11. westridge

    I honestly can’t think of anything I would want you to add….. But I’ll work on it. What I would like to say is Thanks. When a friend or family member asks why I am so “obsessed” with riding I end up sending them a link to RKP because you and your crew express the feelings and explain the whys so much better than I.

  12. Jan

    I want to add my voice to the general praise of what I read here. I like that you folks discuss different topics around cycling, and that I can’t predict what will come up when I click over, but I know I’ll find it well-written and interesting.

  13. Emil

    Ahh, there’s nothing more I could possibly ask for. You make me smile, laugh, cry, think, and help me love this wonderful sport more each time I read RKP.
    Thank you!

  14. tinytim

    Staying on the topic of artisian and handbuilt, perhaps a consistant column show casing US builders of frames and cool parts. I like the smaller guys like Paul componets, Sycip, Hunter, and White Industries. Staying on the same vein of handbuilt, maybe an adjunctive column for excellent microbrew. You could rate and eval top beers from the current best brewers in Ca. Heres a couple to get started: Russian River Brewery, Lost Abbey, Green Flash, Moonlight, Lagunitas. The best beers from these places are not released in stores so someone will have to physically go to the breweries and gives us the beta. This is the perfect time to tie in a awesome local ride-write up, custom part eval and general all around beer indulgence, (all of the above listed builders will totally take you in and show you the secret stash of local single track, kickass gravel rides and dirt jumps). Easy, three birds with one stone.

  15. Pat

    How about a few touring stories. Please, not the cross country or across Europe stories, but the experience of you, your friends, co-workers, or guest writers on short tours around your home town. Family tours, like short one night camping or motel tours, would really be neat. Some touring bikes and bags tips and stories would also be interesting. Other than that, RKP is my favorite cycling web site.

  16. Jesus from Cancun

    I love RKP the way it is. I could think of a couple other things I like to read about, but there are other pro racing sites that already cover them.

    RKP is my only daily stop, this is where I click to see what question is the Explainer going to answer, what is Robot going to make me think about, what story or experience is Wilcockson going to write about, what did Padraig ride and love, or what did he not go so crazy about. Every time I click here, I do it thinking “surprise me”.

    You are doing a great job and I would say, it’s not broken, so…
    But I would ask for only one thing: Please, do your best to keep Charles Pelkey giving us the Live Updates at least for the 3 big ones. I know he also has to “lawyer” to pay the bills, but I hope you can find the way to keep us LUGgin’.

    Thank you for a great website!

  17. Dano

    How about a few stories on guys that just ride together. Year after year. They’re not a club or team – just guys that hang out on their bikes. They may not even know each others last (or even first) names but they are friends through cycling.

    May be an interesting character or two out there.

    I very much like this site and the words that are printed here please keep it going.

  18. Pat

    I had no idea that Charles was still doing the live updates from the tours. Hot damn, merry Christmas to us. Thanks Mr. Pelkey and RKP, and their sponsors.

  19. Kublai

    Stay out of racing results and similar articles, they aren’t needed. Be upbeat, but not Pollyannaish. Continue to offer wonderful articles about cycling passion. Motivate us to feel the wind in our face. Help us find the ultimate places to ride, and not just for their grandness, but also for the small moments that make them special. Product reviews we can trust. What should be my next bike and why (I buy one every 6-8 years). Profile people that have changed the face of this sport for the better. 2013 could be a watershed year, emphasize the importance of clean sport and reward those that are living the truth, not a lie. If you tackle doping, don’t just target Lance. He’s the poster boy, but cleaning up the sport is much broader. JW’s articles this year made it clear that journalists played softball on this issue in the past, promise yourselves and us never again!

  20. Hoshie99

    I’d be interested in more lifestyle / travel articles and cycling as adventure and a touch less on racing. And although PED use no doubt was a large topic this year, it would be nice to cover other aspects of the racing side of the sport in 2013.

    Lastly, in fall, since I have been bitten by the cross bug, a touch more cowbell would be great.

    Thanks for the excellent blog.


  21. Brad

    Patrick and colleagues,
    Hard to imagine something better, but I know that somehow this will happen. Why? Because you are a Learner, and Learners ask questions like: “How can I make this better?”
    Personally, I’d like to read more articles on rides. Maybe one of yours, maybe a colleagues, maybe a faithful reader that has enough literary skills to do most of the work and photogs, with you as an editor.
    I’m convinced your readership has some inspiration on tap, and is willing to give.
    All that said, I’m not sure what good looks like for this idea.
    All the best for the holidays,

    1. Author

      Everyone: Thanks for all your input. It’s been terrific to get so many suggestions, especially as there are a few among them that I’ve already had in mind. All I can say is, stay tuned.

  22. Dustin Judice

    Padraig, your reviews of equipment over the year have been quite amazing, especially the one about the Zipp 202’s. You managed to to convey an opinion about a product that I had a lot of trouble verbalizing my opinion on and that is impressive. Keep up the good work with that and it would be great to see some venturing off the beaten path of mainstream product lines.

    As for something a little different, are you familiar with the Velocast guys over in Scotland? I’ve been listening to their podcasts for quite a few months since one of my cycling friends pointed me out to them because of the whole Armstrong business. Scott O’Raw was one of the panelists at Change Cycling Now, and maybe it would be interesting to do an interview with them or get together for some sort of collaboration? Just a thought and good luck to RKP next year, I eagerly await all the new articles next year.

    1. Author

      Dustin: Thanks much. I definitely dig the guys at Velocast. They are doing good work. It would definitely be fun to collaborate with them in some way.

  23. The_D

    Features on random-seeming amateur Cat 3/4 teams. Photos and tales of people with jobs and families and limits on the talent/youth needed to progress much further, but who make sacrifices to live their slice of “the life” out of pure love of the sport. Racing scenes, training plans, overall philosophy, race tactics, learning curves, hardships, limits, victories, life.

    Elevating Joe and Jane Racer could be racing’s antidote to backlash at the pro level. If anyone’s eye and voice could do this engagingly, it’s RKP’s.

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