What’s in a Name?
The work you see on Red Kite Prayer had its beginnings on another blog, Belgium Knee Warmers. BKW was created to comment on the passions of a few devoted cyclists. From arcane details of race preparation to the best way to wash a bike, the contributors to BKW wrote about their knowledge and experiences.
BKW had a few simple rules:
- Be positive. There are plenty of haters and cycling has more than enough to comment on that is worthwhile and upbeat. Give the reader a reason to feel good about what they read.
- Make it universal in experience. Blogs are characterized by personal writing about the most mundane details. No one cares about how many flats you had today. We chose to write about how having a flat unites all cyclists.
- Make it universal in location. Racing magazines generally focus on Europe while the product magazines focus on Southern California. Both are amazing places, but we wanted to write in a way that made the landscape of cycling reachable no matter where you live; maybe those cobbles and mountains are just down the street from you.
What we wrote was just for us. When we started, the readership of BKW and the contributors to BKW were one and the same. Each post was an electronic conversation about our loves. Soon enough others began to tune in. Frankly, BKW was in part an experiment to see if good work alone would gain readers. We often hear how the Internet democratizes all content, that it’s impossible to tell quality from crap. BKW proved that truism false.
As the readership expanded, so did BKW’s subject matter. From doping analysis to the frustration that comes with burnout, we reached into the cyclist’s psyche and came back with insight to spark conversation. We’ve never been the last word on a subject, but we endeavor to move the conversation forward in new ways.
The surprise came when we realized that pieces that would have been rejected from any of the print magazines were getting traction with readers. The industry listened. We worked hard to cultivate relationships with companies doing great work in an effort to bring you a fresh perspective. But because BKW wasn’t a “commercial” media company, we missed out on opportunities to bring you stories we found interesting.
I (Padraig) decided to launch Red Kite Prayer for a simple reason. I knew companies wanted a chance to associate their brands with quality content. Put another way, there was a chance to get paid through ad revenue—paid without needing to compromise a single principle, discard a single value.
So we publish what we want and we’ve found that the only pushback we ever receive comes from you, the readers. We’ve achieved editorial autonomy while still having fun. I tell people that and they ask me how many unicorns I own. “All of them,” I say.
And that name? It came from a bit of code I liked to use with friends. My favorite moment in a race comes after passing the banner for the final kilometer—the red kite—and at some point you’ll see every rider look straight down. That look says something of their effort. Whether it’s Cavendish on his way to his sixth win of the week or some guy about to finish DFL on a mountain stage of the Giro, nearly everyone does it. It unites us; that look says volumes about how we each have something in reserve, how going hard is more than just legs, how our greatest efforts teach us about ourselves.