UPDATED: Kickstarting a New Book—Why We Ride


We’re into the final 24 hours of my Kickstarter campaign and I’m pleased to say it has gone very well. Pledges from good folks like you have helped me meet the pledge goal of $20k (and even surpass it). The book “Why We Ride” is now a reality. If you haven’t already joined the party, I hope you’ll stop by. We’ve got ribs on the barbecue and some great beer out back.

On behalf of my entire family, thank you.

Go directly to Kickstarter HERE.

Writing about cycling is a necessarily topical endeavor. From the latest gadget to the doping scandal du jour (année?), writing about cycling means keeping up with the times. I launched Red Kite Prayer with a mandate that centered less on the ‘who, what, when, where’ of traditional journalism than the ‘why’ of cycling itself. I’ve been more interested to publish good writing than to make sure we are the first to publish 300 words about the newest brake set out of China, but then that’s only because I believe that my job isn’t to provide data as much as it is motivation. You can find plenty information out there, but it’s harder to find work that helps remind you of why we stick with cycling even after Lance and the appearance of ghost bikes at an ever-increasing assortment of intersections.

We call those pieces that feed the jones and keep the off-the-bike demons at bay “evergreens.” For me, as a writer, they’re what I live for. They stand outside the typical focus of articles you’ll find on other sites during a given week. Evergreens matter because they find those opportunities to say something true about cycling, something that will be as true in five years as it is today. There’s a good chance it was true the year you found cycling as well. That chance to transcend time and get at experiences common to us all results in a far more satisfying experience for both writer and reader.

Such a book represents a pretty lofty goal. It’s not one I set out to swing at; it took a few years to realize I was circling this particular quarry.

I’ve wanted to pull together a number of my posts into a single volume for some time. While I talked to some publishers about releasing the volume with them, I realized that no one was going to be interested in offering a short run of hardcovers, an option I thought was important to present to my more dedicated readers. I’d been looking at ways to self-finance the printing of the book when I ran across Kickstarter. It seemed the perfect way to marry my desire to offer the collection to readers in both paperback and hardcover formats while hopefully realizing enough profit to serve my larger goal, which was to build a nest egg to move my family into a home in Santa Rosa.

Then the Deuce happened.

By “happened” I mean a couple of things. First, my wife’s search for a job in Sonoma County, which is essential to any move we wish to make, was put immediately on hold when we found out she was pregnant. You may wonder why we were even trying to get pregnant while she was in the middle of a job search. The easy answer is that because she was 41 and I was 48 at the time, we weren’t exactly sure how successful we would be. As it turns out, we’re crazy fertile, at least together.

By “happened” I also mean the Deuce’s NICU adventure. No one planned that, much less wanted it. My wife’s insurance coverage with Kaiser is pretty good, but in the inevitable calculus of health care, the interaction of deductible, co-pays, coverage limits and caps, the Deuce’s real-world value makes the sum the Beer Fund covered look like chump change.

Which brings me to the deeper why for the Kickstarter campaign.

The Beer Fund that my friends Robot and Eric put together following my crash last fall was a stunning outpouring of support. It re-ordered my world and taught me things about community I’d have learned no other way. Six months later and I need help, again.

But I can’t rely on charity. I can’t. That’s a well I drank from once, if reluctantly. I won’t permit myself to do it a second time, at least, not in the same year. But Kickstarter is different because it isn’t charity. The principle Kickstarter works on is patronage. It’s a way for a community of fans or followers to provide financial support that goes beyond simple commerce while still receiving something meaningful in return. It’s a way to further an artistic endeavor by a method that works for your wallet.

In what seems an unlikely event, should the Kickstarter campaign actually earn more than we need profit-wise, whatever is leftover will go toward that aforementioned dream of a nest-egg. One of the reasons we cut the Beer Fund off after only 24 hours is that we had earned enough to pay what turned out to be nearly all my emergency room bills. Ultimately, we were within a couple hundred bucks. Robot and I were of the same mind, that realizing a profit off of your kindness was untenable. Think Lance Armstrong flying on private planes at Livestrong expense distasteful. And that, dear reader, is why it’s so important for me to offer you something in return, something fun, something lasting, a concrete expression of both my gratitude and work.

I’ve come up with a number of different rewards so that there are options to fit anyone’s bank account.

Believe me, I’ve struggled with this. I’d hate for it to seem like I was profiting off my son’s personal calamity. What I’m attempting to do is profit from my work to pay for my son’s personal calamity; there’s quite a difference between the two. One I’m okay with; the other makes my skin crawl.

Check it out here.

, ,


  1. Sam Findley

    In. But I want to know what level pledge one would have to make for which you would paint the text of “there will be chaos” on your chest and ride naked through the streets of DC (is that “the Conconi” level?)

    1. Author

      Sam: If I can wear a Speedo, I’ll do it for everyone who pledges at the LeMond level. But my wife says, “No Speedo, no ride.”

  2. Adam

    I’m in! Hope everyone gets on board, would love to see this project go ahead. Better get the bubble wrap ready, you’re gonna need it to post to Down Under.

  3. Sebastian

    Pixilated…I do not think that word means what you think it means.

    Spell checkers always suggest “pixilated” when you type “pixelated,” but it’s a totally different word. I personally stick to the e and let the spell checkers be damned. Not trying to nitpick, I just happen to be on a personal campaign to eradicate all well-meaning-but-erroneous uses of this word.

    (It’s in the description of your $10 reward.)

    Evil spell checkers aside, I’m definitely backing this! Thanks.

  4. Hautacam

    At what level does one have to contribute to forever buy out the words “incent” and “curate” in product reviews? I could be motivated.

  5. Alan Canfield

    I was going to ask why you didn’t just go with a print-on-demand publisher, until I read the entire post. Kudos for supporting the small print shop. I am sure the final product will be excellent.

    I was impressed with the amount of work that went into The No Drop Zone and I’m sure this book will not disappoint.

    1. Author

      Alan: Thanks for the kind words for “The No-Drop Zone.” This will have a bit more … personality. And to add a bit more background to the question you almost asked: The paperback will be POD and we’re limiting the letterpress edition to what seems a reasonable edition size for a one-man shop. I’d like to think it’s the best of both worlds.

  6. Sam Findley

    I really, really hope you make the funding goal, as I really, really need the motivation of good cycling prose right now, being laid up with a stupid cracked rib. Believe me, if I had the funds, I’d pledge “Lemond” easy (just so long as no bubble wrap was involved in the aforementioned “speedo ride”).

  7. Andy

    My brother-in-law graduated from RISD in 1072. Boy do they turn out so fine artists! I’m really looking forward to both the content and the physical proiduct.

  8. Bobbo

    Patrick, I am happy to contribute to your project and continue to pray for your son. I’m sure others have already suggested this, but many people do not know that you CAN negotiate your bill with the hospital. Give it a try, most hospitals will work with their patients.

    1. Author

      Bobbo: That’s certainly on my to-do list, but we can’t do it until we have a bill from Kaiser and that’s something we are still sweating the arrival of. After the feature a couple of months ago on the cover of TIME magazine, I have a much clearer understanding of what can be negotiated, but I’m also clear they need to send us a bill first. Believe me, the raw math on the Deuce’s stay suggests that even the gross take on the Kickstarter won’t cover all of our bill.

  9. Harold

    Sorry it took me a bit but I am finally in. Hopefully Van Looy and me help to bring it home. I also shared via Twitter and Facebook and encourage everyone else to do the same.

  10. Pingback: Show #139 – April 20, 2013 | OutspokenCyclist

  11. FodFod

    Proud to sneak in at the last minute! It is a real joy to be part of something big like this, both for your family and for the book. Can’t wait to read and display “Why We Ride” in a place of prominence! Allez!

  12. Tom in albany

    In for $55 because ‘There Will Be Chaos’ is just plain true when you are raising a family! And I like stickers!!!

Leave a Reply to Bobbo Cancel reply

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