Friday Group Ride #359

Friday Group Ride #359

It’s Padraig here; I’m pulling through for Robot, who is on the rivet with real-world duties.

When I was a kid, I had three ways to learn about my hobbies: books, magazines and catalogs. I was a geek of a higher order, so you wouldn’t believe what I could learn from a catalog. If I’d studied textbooks with the same diligence I applied to catalogs, I might be a doctor. Alas, I’m driven by passions.

Because my tastes were always very contemporary, books were generally useless, always two or three years out of date by the time I ran across them. Of course, catalog were produced only once a year, so by the time I’d digested one, I was left waiting months before the next came out. Yeah, I was the kid who had his mom drive him to the store the day the new Estes model rocket catalog arrived at the hobby shop.

But I couldn’t learn as much from catalogs as I could from magazines. So magazines were my primary source of stoke for my hobbies. My love of Skateboarder is a big reason I went into magazine publishing after finishing my graduate work. Feeding stoke has always been a big source of motivation for me. That’s a general I’ll follow into any battle. 

Our media landscape is very different these days. We’ve got a billion TV channels, plus Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and who knows what else. We’ve got as many web sites as there are people in China. There’s a YouTube channel for every passion on earth that’s legal. Hell, my kids watch some kid play with toys. It’s billed as a review. Thpppt. And then there’s sound. We’ve got podcasts being launched like rockets from Korea, only not all of them flame out instantly.

When you’re not on your bike, how do you stoke your bicycling jones? Obvs you still like to read. Thank heaven. But how many videos do you watch? Do you listen to podcasts like The Paceline? If so, whose? And when/where do you listen? Finally, is there a length that suits you?


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  1. Craig P

    I read websites ( like yours and others ) and magazines – Peloton and Bicycling magazines. I’ll admit I don’t particularly like podcasts. Just not my favorite compared to reading – and checking out bike porn pictures of new bikes !!

  2. Kyle V.

    I almost never watch videos. Occasionally I’ll pull up a video on how to do something but I don’t watch reviews or general news. I love podcasts. In the cycling realm I listen to The Paceline (of course), The Cycling Podcast, VeloVoices, The Warren Cycling Podcast, The Peloton Brief, Life in the Peloton and occasionally listen to Ask a Cycling Coach and The CyclingTips Podcast if the topic is interesting. I listen to these mostly on the bike since I spend so much time on it training and commuting but I also listen to them when I’m alone and doing things around the house. As for length, if it’s a general news type podcast I think 45min-1hr is a good length. If the topic is really specific and getting into the details of something (examples would be The CyclingTips Podcast or Life in the Peloton) 1-2hrs is a good length.

    Since you’re looking for feedback I’d also put out there that I don’t listen to the Redwood Empire podcast and it simply comes down to the fact that it was billed as being region specific and since I’m never in that part of the country the information doesn’t do me much good.

    Other podcasts I regularly listen to: NPR Morning Edition, Marketplace, Make Me Smart, Freakonomics, The Tim Ferriss Show

  3. Mark Young

    I prefer print myself. I have attempted to listen to your podcasts, but generally get distracted (kind of like listening to a book being read).

  4. Paul

    Videos: I always watch the GCN show. I’ll sometimes watch the “Last 10 kilometers of X’ videos, depending on how the race sounded. Usually watch or listen to videos while getting ready in the morning or cleaning.

    Podcasts: Lately, just the Cycling Podcast, used to listen to many more like the VeloCast and the FredCast and training podcasts. I usually listen while walking the dog. Headphones help me stay patient with her meandering. Good dog, but when an eighty pound dog stops or slows or changes direction, you’re stopping too.

    15 minutes to an hour seems best to me, it’s not often that i feel a podcast should be edited shorter. on the other hand, there’s a video series called The MMA Hour at 4+ hours, just No.

  5. Fausto

    Just picked up a Geo magazine from the early ’80’s in which they did a story on cycling. Even with all the online pictures available now compared to then, it was thrilling to see the pictures I so fondly remember. Learned skateboarding (and ramp building) from Skateboarder/Thrasher/Action in the 70’s-80’s. Learned Punk Rock from them as well. Studied the pages of Cream to learn about the music you couldn’t always find on the radio. Cycling was harder, finding the Euro mags was very tough and the american rags didn’t cover racing. Velo News was it and you studdied every picture, result, etc. to learn more. USCF had their mag which was not as good. To your point, now their is a video channel for everything, which is fine.
    Peloton and Paved where the only mags that were different than their web prescence. Still spend hours a day trolling for news, pics, shopping bike porn. Addicted to it still.

  6. Lyford

    RKP. The Velonews Fast Talk podcast for training info. Bike Radar and Bike Rumor for new stuff. Cycling News and Velonews for pro racing. Steephill for race video and information. Cycling News and/or the Tour Tracker app for race live text. Occasional copies of Velo or Peloton. A few books, such as “Mountains” by Michael Blann.

  7. Katherine

    “Books, magazines and catalogs” were also my holy trinity as a kid. I find myself going through phases and turning to print once more to help me distill the chaos. When I first got into mountain biking 6 years ago, I gobbled up videos as a way to stoke my internal flame and learn by observation. Now, I’m content to get my video media at the occasional outdoor film festival; I don’t need to watch that stuff every morning, anymore.

    Ultimately, low-tech is somehow comforting. For me, part of the joy of riding is that it’s generally low tech (minus my GPS and with respect to engineers). Paging through a physical magazine on the train in the morning is much more focused and peaceful than flipping screens on a tiny iPhone.

    All that said, after years of subscribing to most of the big print magazines on both sides of the aisle (road and mountain), I am starting to feel that every issue is the same, with only the products being reviewed changing. Admittedly, I don’t know how many more years I can read the same variation on an opinion, about another MTB trip to British Columbia, another training tip for becoming a better climber. Sometimes, a big feature story filled with good journalism (OK, I have a print journalism degree so I’m a tough crowd) does pop up and slap me around with unexpected joy, but they are few and far between.

    I tip my hat to Adventure Journal. Each issue usually has one bike story, but I find myself equally fascinated by the climbing, surfing and mountaineering stories that have nothing to do with my own personal outdoor pursuits. They are great stories of humanity, history, adventure, advocacy and everyday life. Even so, most of the people and adventures talked about are “extraordinary.” It’s like walking around a fine art museum observing the beautiful specimens. Maybe your “12 year old could do that” but they sure aren’t famous.

    I want to mention one of the stories that has stood out to me for about a decade. Bicycling did a story way back about the urban poor who rely on bicycles to get everywhere and do everything: undocumented immigrants, in particular. It followed their lives, their preference for full-suspension mountain bikes, the shops and communities that keep those machines running and the infrastructure that failed them daily. Lines that stood out to me: “They would not believe that bikes exist costing $5000 or more.” “He rode because it was faster and therefore safer than walking. When you’re walking, it’s easier to get beat up and robbed of the cash you earned at work that day.” More of these, once in a while, at least, would shake things up a bit.

    1. Michael

      I remember that article too, and think about it sometimes when I am out riding at dawn and see others riding on the sidewalks. When I am riding in to work at that hour, there is a wordless camaraderie… That was a worthwhile article, and yes, another article on how to climb faster is of no interest! I do miss some of your writing, Katherine.

      I read Bicycling some, RKP frequently, Bicycle Times too. No podcasts – I can’t think of a time in my life when I could stick buds in my ears and listen to something. I am never in the car longer than five minutes and the radio hasn’t worked in this decade anyway, and I am working when on planes. Stop in for a coffee at the local bike shop some mornings for a chat.

    2. Author

      Thanks for that Katherine. I’m right there with you. I recall that Bicycling feature as well. Hope we see more of your work around at some point.

  8. Alan

    RKP (duh)
    Inner Ring
    Cycling Tips
    Velo News
    Dirt Rag IN PRINT
    MTB Action
    Bike Radar
    Bicycle Times
    MTB Mag
    MTB Review
    Occasionally a few others pop up on the list (Outside, Bicycling).

    Wow, I read a lot….,

  9. Pat O'Brien

    Before I start, I do not work for the Adventure Cycling Association. But, I am a member, and I read the excellent magazine and Cyclosource Catalog, read their on-line articles, get and use their “Bike Bits” and “eDigest” emails, and watch their videos especially Patrick O’Grady’s bike test videos. I bought my touring bike, a Soma Saga, based on his written and video review. I also read RKP and occasionally listen to the Paceline podcast. That’s all, easy peasy.

  10. TomInAlbany

    Bike Radar


    Real live people: I’m kinda surprised you didn’t mention this one. Maybe you were media focused?
    There are a few folks I know that are really good references for stuff either because they’re early adopters so get the skinny first, or because they are really good about explaining why they like and don’t like things.

    That’s pretty much it. I’ll google reviews of things now and then.

  11. Jeff

    For those who haven’t (yet) taken to podcasts, try listening when it’s hard to be distracted by shiny objects. For me, that’s while doing chores or driving.

    I can read for minutes on end. If the material (and time of day) is right, maybe even hours. But sit me down in a chair to listen to a podcast and I’ll be zonked before the third minute starts. That, or looking at my phone.

    Cycling Tips
    Real Talent with Phil Gaimon
    Crosshairs radio
    Myerson Line
    The Forward (yep, I admitted to it)

    I’ve got JustGoBike in my queue, but haven’t listened to it yet.

  12. Geoffrey Knobl

    podcasts – rkp’s podcasts, some from velonews though I’m still angry at them for cutting lots of writers several years ago
    vodcasts – gcn, wondering if I should watch thevegancyclist
    web – rkp, cyclingnews, pezcyclingnews, velonews sometimes, cyclingweekly, cyclingtips

  13. Oldster

    As a kid in the 80’s whose first love of bicycles was of the BMX variety I could not wait for the next months edition of “BMX Action” and “BMX Plus!” Methodically poured through every issue front to back many times. Kept all of them until I was “too cool” for that stuff in college. Wish I had them now.

  14. Toddster

    Couldn’t agree more about print. As a kid who fell in love with cycling in the early 80s I couldn’t get enough information. I thought I was the only one who horded catalogs and studied them cover to cover until they were worn out. I still have stacks of old catalogs from Nashbar, Branford Bike and the famous Bridgestone paper series. I miss the anticipation of getting a catalog in the mail and finding out what new parts were available or what new pantograph Campy came up with and would be unattainable for me. I learned the important numbers and letters like 531, 753, SL and SLX. The magazines were incredible and I read Bicycling, Bicycle Guide, Bicycle Racing Illustrated, Winning and on and on… I would wait months for a mag to come to my local bike shop and read it over and over until I had practically memorized it. I so miss that sense of surprise and wonder today. I travel now for work and am constantly searching for a good cycling magazine to read. I think this is the reason I’m attracted to RKP. You all bring back the “soul” of cycling, just as these mags and catalogs did so many years ago. Keep it up!

  15. Mitch Hull

    Bicycle Quarterly in print and Off the Beaten Path blog. Also Lovely Bicycle! Blog

    The Outspoken Cyclist and Pedalshift Project podcasts

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