Dec 13, 2022
In this week's episode, cycling journalist and former CyclingTips Editor-in-Chief Caley Fretz joins Randall to discuss cycling’s changing media landscape, the economic headwinds facing professional journalists, emerging models for supporting quality reporting and story-telling, and how the meaning of cycling changes as one pedals through life. Also: press-fit bottom brackets, hookless road rims, and too-stiff components and frames.
Join The Ridership
Links to Caley's work:
The Road to Nairo’s House: https://cyclingtips.com/2018/01/the-road-to-nairos-house/
The Teaching Toe Strap: https://www.velonews.com/news/road/the-toe-strap/
Tales From The Tour: The Rest Day Pose: https://cyclingtips.com/2018/07/tales-from-the-tour-the-rest-day-pose/
Automated Transcription, please excuse the typos:
[00:00:00] Craig Dalton: Hello and welcome to the gravel ride podcast. I'm your host Craig Dalton. This week on the show, I'm handing the microphone off to my co-host Randall Jacobs. Who's got veteran cycling journalists, Kaylee frets on the pod.
To discuss some of the challenges and opportunities facing cycling journalism. You may know Kaylee from his work as editor in chief, over at cycling tips. And prior to that over at Velo news, both publications have undergone some downsizing of late.
The economic headwinds facing professional journalists. Our strong, particularly in the cycling world. If we want to have quality reporting and storytelling. A new model needs to emerge. I don't know where this is all gonna end up, but
I was super excited that Kaylee agreed to join Randall on the podcast. To just get his perspective and to get into some good old fashioned by geekery. Before we jump in we need to thank this week sponsors from thesis and logos components
As many of you know, I'm a long time it's thesis. OB one rider for a limited time thesis is offering $500 off a thesis, OB one with access custom wireless shifting, and your choice of high-end carbon wheels.
It's a bike that I can personally attest, stands up to every other carbon bike out there on the market at a really great price. One of the things that I've always appreciated about thesis is that they allow. A unique level of customization. So if you want size appropriate cranks down to, I think 160 or 165 millimeters, you can do that. You can get your stem size, you can customize everything.
Based on a free one-on-one consult. So go check out thesis.bike, or contact. Hello at thesis stoplight to get started. I also want to give a shout out to logos components. Logos just receive huge recognition from bike packing.com and was awarded the gear of the year award for the wheelset category in 2022.
You might recall an episode. We did a while back on how to choose a gravel wheel set, where Randall went through detail by detail on the design considerations When constructing a carbon wheelset I encourage you to listen to that as it provided a lot of riders with reflection on what they were looking for and what all the different things were, all logos wheels are built on proven open standards with non-proprietary components and with a manufacturing precision. That rivals anybody in the industry, the wheels are backed by Logus is five-year warranty, lifetime at-cost incident protection. And a US-based warehouse and support team to keep you rolling for many years to come.
So head on over to logos components.com and use the code community free shipping all one word to take advantage of a free shipping offer. With that business behind us I'm going to pass the microphone back over to randall and his conversation with kaylee frets
[00:03:06] Randall R. Jacobs: It's been quite a bit. I think I last saw you at Sea Otter. How have you been? What's going on in your world?
[00:03:11] Caley Fretz: Well, I'm unemployed as of November 15th. I mean, yeah, let's just, we can get that one right outta the way. Right. I was part of the layoffs at Outside Inc. To be somewhat differentiated from Outside Magazine for anybody out there. I mean, outside Inc. Does own outside magazine, but it also owns lots and lots of other things.
Yeah, myself the editor-in-Chief of Venu as well and two of the CT staff, two really core CT staff. Matt, our managing editor, and Dave Rome, one of our tech editors and, and kinda a legend in space. We're all let go on the same day on November 15th. So I am currently super fun employed and I think after we chat today, I'm probably gonna go skiing cuz it's snowing up in the mountains right now.
And so I'm, I'm somewhat enjoying myself. But, you know, fun employment brings with it some level of stress as well, . So that's, that's how I'm doing right now. Yeah.
[00:03:59] Randall R. Jacobs: Well, and I appreciate you sharing. I think last we rode together. You were still living in Boulder and you've since moved to beautiful Durango. When was that move?
[00:04:07] Caley Fretz: That was shortly after we had our, our first child. My wife grew up here and, and we have grandparents here to help with childcare and all the rest. And we just wanted to get off the front range. No offense to the front range. There's too many people and there's fewer people here. And I can go skiing 18 minutes from here, from my door, and I can't really complain about that.
[00:04:27] Randall R. Jacobs: Housing costs are probably a little bit less bonkers out that way as well. I was in Denver and particularly Boulderer lately, and it is nuts.
[00:04:34] Caley Fretz: it's a little bit better here, although not as, Not as good as it was four or five years ago. It, it, it's a zoom town, right? So in the last couple years it has, it's gone up like 28% or something ridiculous in, in 2021. We love it here. It's amazing. Durango, the bike community here is, is unbelievable.
The mountain biking is unbelievable. And there's nobody that, you have not as many people to share all the trails with. So I, we like that bit of it as well.
[00:04:59] Randall R. Jacobs: Very, very cool. And so let's just dive into, cuz, cuz I've been curious share a bit about your background. So I, I've only known you as, you know, in your role as, as a journalist and editor at Cycling Tips. But how do you end up on this path?
[00:05:13] Caley Fretz: Oh I mean, how far back do you want to go? I, I, I started racing mountain bikes at 12 or 13 years old. My dad was a cyclist. My dad was, I think one of the founding members of the Penn State cycling team, collegiate cycling team back in the day. So I grew up around bikes and I grew up around bike racing and watching the tour and all these things.
And yeah, started racing when my family moved to Burlington, Vermont back in the day at Catamount Family Centers. Anybody who, yep. Very, very northeast connection. That's where I, that was all my youth. Yeah. Any, any any new
[00:05:45] Randall R. Jacobs: and, and your dad is still in Vermont, if I recall
[00:05:48] Caley Fretz: Yeah, yeah. He he actually just retired, but he, he used to run a small like sort of children's museum aquarium thing called Echo on the, on the waterfront in Burlington.
And yeah so, so grew up, grew up racing, grew up around bikes, and went to school out here in Colorado. Mostly to ride by bike to, to ma major in bike racing, pre primarily . Much to my parents chagrin, I would say. And let's see what it, what would've been like junior year, summer in between junior and senior year of, of college.
Shout out to a friend of mine, Brian Holcomb, who's still in, in the bike world basically came to me and was like, Hey, you should, you should be an intern at Be News. And so I did that and I, and I, I became an intern at Bean News and worked the summer there. And Ben Delaney was the editor-in-chief at the time, and Ben was, Ben was kind enough to bring me on in a, in a kind of part-time capacity that fall.
and then it kind of just went from there. So, so yeah, a couple folks who were still floating around the bike world, I, I owe a lot to at this point. Ben and, and Brian and Zach Vest, who was sort of one of my first mentors and has been a, a marketing manager at Niner and a other, a Scott and a couple other places recently.
Math yeah, and just kinda worked from there. So I was a tech editor at sort of tech writer at Be News for a couple years, tech editor at Be News for a couple years. And then kinda worked my way into bigger and broader beats basically, and, and kind of stepped into the racing space a little bit more.
Became, I think it was like think it was senior editor or whatever the title was at the end of my, my Bella News tenure which was 2017 which is when Wade Wallace got in touch from cycling tips and he was actually just looking for a person to fill a somewhat similar role, kind of like a features writer do a bit of everything kind of writer.
And I loved the idea. I loved cycling tips. I loved the brand. I loved everything that stood for, I loved the fact that it was kinda an up and comer and I had been at Villa News long enough that I was just was looking for a change basically. And so I, I jumped ship from one to the other, from Helen News to ct.
Remained really good friends with lots of folks at, at vn particularly guys like Andrew Hood who had done a bunch of Tour de France with and things like that. It's like no hard feelings in that, in that jump. Just wanted something new. And within about a year of that for a number of different reasons Wade had promoted me to editor-in-chief at ct.
So that was around 20, mid middle of 2018. And it was an interesting time kind of from a business perspective cuz it was near the end of a period when, when CT was owned by bike Exchange in Australia and we were about to be purchased by Pink Bike. And with all of that happening and then in particular with the purchase from Pink Bike we got a bunch more resource and really could expand into what I think most people probably know, cycline tips as now or maybe we'll say six months ago what they knew it as up, up until quite recently.
And yeah. I'm trying to think this, there's not my time. My my time as EIC of, of CIP is, is obviously I think what most listeners out there would probably know, if not of me, then you at least know CIP and you know what we were trying to do there.
[00:08:52] Randall R. Jacobs: I know how much grief there is out there for, that core team having been broken up. A lot of people, myself included, who value the perspective that you bring to the industry. It's not simply you know, flipping press releases which, you know, there's a place for like, there's, you know, some people that's, they wanna see what the press releases are but doing really interesting journalism.
One of your colleagues Ian tralo, he's done some interesting pieces on Central Asian despots in their role in cycling and on the Afghan women's cycling team. And the controversy with how the UCI was prioritizing getting certain members of that team and the organization out of Afghanistan when the US was backing out.
Like, this is not your standard bike industry journalism. And that's an angle that I think is going to be very much missed in the vacuum that's created by your departure and the departure of others from that team.
[00:09:42] Caley Fretz: Yeah. It's a sad thing. I think the overwhelming emotion for a lot of us is, is just sadness because we spend a lot of time building this thing and a lot of time and energy and effort and, and yeah. No blood, but probably some sweat and tears in there. And yeah, and it feels that's just sad. You know, I. I enjoyed my time there tremendously. I enjoyed working with people like Ian, with James Huang, with Dave, who got laid off alongside me. It was just a really, I can't say it was massively surprising giving a number of things that I can't actually talk about. But I I, oh, I am still very saddened by it.
Yeah, I mean, it's not gonna be what it was because a bunch of the people are gone like that, that, that I can say . Yeah.
[00:10:28] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah. Now, remind me, when did James join the team? Because he, he's someone I've admired for years
[00:10:33] Caley Fretz: yeah. He, he joined a, I think about 18 months before I did. So when, when bike exchange, when, when Wade first sold a, a large portion of cycling tips to bike exchange that was sort of the first. Let's say capital infusion that, that the company got. And a lot of that was used to pick up kind of high profile folks, particularly in the United States which is what's sort of their next, the next market that, that Wade wanted to go after.
So that was, they picked up James and they picked up Neil Rogers in the us as well as some other folks like, like Shane Stokes in the uk or Ireland, I believe he is right now. Yeah, so, so that was all a little bit before I got there. And part of my, sort of what they asked me to do, what Wade asked me to do when, when I became editor in chief was to figure out exactly how to best use people like James, who do phenomenal work.
I mean, I, I, I maintain to this day that the three-person team, the three-person tech team that, that we had at Zeman Tips over the last year which would be James and Dave Rome and Ronan McLaughlin in Ireland as well. Was the best anywhere in cycling media? There's no, there's no question in my mind about that.
And so basically trying to figure out how to steer that talent was one of the big things that I was tasked with doing over the last three, four years.
[00:11:44] Randall R. Jacobs: Well, and you know, when you read a review from any of those team members that you're, you're getting it straight you know, for better or for worse for the brands that are at the mercy of, of that team. But honestly, it keeps the industry honest. And I recall early in my career in the bike particularly James' writing be being something that I referenced constantly.
And in fact, when I was at one of the big players, if I needed to make an argument, I would oftentimes grab an article from someone like him to bring to the argument like, no press fit is not acceptable. And we're gonna spend the extra money and add the weight, and we're gonna tell a story about how a two piece thread together is a better solution.
And honestly, it's a solution to fix what was broken when you went, you know, but that's, that's a, that's a, a hobby horse that I think we've all been riding for some time.
[00:12:29] Caley Fretz: love hearing that though. I, I genuinely love hearing that because I mean, oh, first of all, James would also love hearing that. He'd be very proud of that fact. I think and yeah, like we, we know that that was the case, right? I mean, we, we the three of us have been making a, a podcast called Nerd Alert for, for, for the last year and a half or two years or whatever.
And I got a fair number of, of Less than pleased emails off the back of, of that podcast. Cause we were quite honest in our assessment of what we thought was happening in the industry. And in particular, like I haven't been a tech editor for. Eight, nine years. I'm just a cyclist at this point. But Dave and James are so deep inside it and think they spend so much of their lives thinking about that stuff that yeah.
You, you can't ignore their opinions, right? You absolutely can't ignore their opinions. And I think that's, that's a testament to one, the fact that they do their research. And two the fact that they've been right a number of times. And like over the years, I would say that CT is, was known as the anti press fit media outlet, right?
Which is like, there are worse things to be associated with, I think, than hating on creaky bottom brackets. Like, who, who wouldn't wanna hate 'em? Creaky bottom brackets. That makes perfect sense to me.
[00:13:33] Randall R. Jacobs: Well, and it, and it's deeper than just a creaky bottom bracket. It's detracting from this experience that we are all so passionate about. And so, I think that having someone out there who has influence saying no, this is not the way it should be. Hear the arguments and, and, you know, let a case be made.
Hey, you know, come on the podcast and talk about why you think press fit is, is the best way to go about it if you really wanna make that case. But yeah, it's an approach that I, you know, I, I'll take you up on it, but I, I'd probably be on the same side with you on more or less every issue with the exception of maybe a few nuances here and there.
But yeah, actually let's have some fun with this. Other stuff other than press fit bottom brackets that would be your hill to die on.
[00:14:15] Caley Fretz: well. So actually Dave Ro and I so reminder, Dave Ro and I were both just recently laid off. And so our free, we, we are free to do whatever we want. I don't have a non-compete or anything like that. Right. So, we've kicked, we've kicked off a little podcast and.
[00:14:28] Randall R. Jacobs: What is it called?
[00:14:29] Caley Fretz: It's called,
[00:14:29] Randall R. Jacobs: do people find it?
[00:14:30] Caley Fretz: well at the moment it's called the redundant placeholders because we have no idea what to call it.
So if you search it, I think any of the, any of the podcast platforms, if you search redundant placeholders, able to find it, you can also find it on, on any of my social channels. I'm at K Fretz on everything cause I'm the only person on the planet with my name. So that's very handy. Anyway David and I were talking about like, okay, so if we were actually literally talking about this yesterday, which is why it's funny that you bring up bottom brackets.
Like if, if the bottom bracket the anti press fit bandwagon was the one that we were leading before, what's our, what's our new thing that we get to hate on? And we've actually decided that one of the things that we're most interested in pushing, and if you listen to the episode from this week, you would, you would hear this is bikes that are too stiff and just stuff that's too stiff.
So specifically Dave, this, this week brought up the topic of of handlebars that are just like, Way too stiff. Right? Just, just ridiculously stiff. We were talking about the, the 35 mill trend on in mountain bikes, which I hate. And like, I've got a, you know, I've got a giant, I've got a giant trail bike with 170 Mill fork, and then I wanna stick like a, just a two by four in my hands.
I don't really understand why I want to do that. And I've ended up with like, like more sort of hand cramp and hand pain on this bike than I've ever had previously. And it's got more travel than any bike that I've, I've had previously. So that, those two things don't really line up in, in my head, right?
And, and so Dave and I were basically talking about pushing, pushing back on this need for for stiffer and stiffer and stiffer and stiffer all the time. And the fact that a lot of us don't need that, or really don't want it either. Not only do we not need it, we really don't want it because it makes the broad experience worse.
I told a little story about how one of the best bikes I've ever ridden was a not particularly expensive mazzi steel frame, steel fork, steel frame. Then I put a pair of zip 3 0 3 carbon wheels on, so nice, nice light stiff wheel set with a somewhat flexi bike, flexi fork, flexi flexi frame. But it rode like an absolute dream, you know, 27 2 post it might have even had, it might have even not had oversized bars.
I can't remember. This is, this is like eight, nine years ago now. And I loved it. I absolutely loved this bike. It, it, it got up and went when I asked it to, and I think the wheel set made a huge difference in, in that. But then it, it cornered like an absolute dream and it was comfortable and it was, it was just beautiful.
And it was a, a not particularly expensive steel mozzie, right? Like . So that's, that's, that's the that's the high horse upon which we find ourselves now. The fight for less stiff. Bicycles, I think is what we're gonna go after next.
[00:17:06] Randall R. Jacobs: Well, and you can kind of take that a step further, talking about steel frames, for example. If you get a steel frame, even a, a pretty decent steel frame at say o e m cost is going to be quite a bit less than a monocot carbon frame. And you don't have all the tooling costs and everything else, and you can change the geometry if you need to without having to retool.
And those bikes are gonna be inherently more affordable at the same time. And unless you're an elite racer who's having to sprint off the line or so on, you know, you either spend less money for an equivalent bike that suits your needs well and is comfortable, or you spend the same money and you put it into say, better wheels.
You don't get the cheap out wheels with the three Paul hubs that fall apart and in a year and what have you. Yeah, that's one I'll join you on.
[00:17:46] Caley Fretz: So that, so
[00:17:47] Randall R. Jacobs: right. So I'm joining the battalion. What?
[00:17:50] Caley Fretz: That's what we're pushing from
[00:17:51] Randall R. Jacobs: I've got another one for you. And, and this, this one I don't think you'll disagree with cuz we talked about sea otter hooks, bead hooks. So bead bead hooks on any real wheels that are marketed for use with road tubeless.
[00:18:05] Caley Fretz: I, yeah. I, I don't feel like I am, I, I like having this conversation with James or Dave around because they know the actual technical reasons. You, yourself probably in the same boat. You know, the actual tech technical reasons why this is, this is a, a terrible idea or a good idea, I guess if, if you're talking other direction.
I just know that as a, essentially, like I am kind of just a consumer these days, right? Like I said, I, I, I have not been a tech editor. It has not been my job to follow. Bicycle technology for close to a decade now. So I'm basically just a, a, a heavily invested consumer who pays, you know, quite close attention, right?
And as a heavily invested consumer, I cannot figure out if my wheels and tires are going to kill me at the moment. And I think that that is not really an acceptable way forward. I don't , I don't think that that should be allowed in the cycling space. And I, and I, every single time I say that, I get a bunch of hook list aficionados coming back at me saying that, oh, it's quite easy.
This works with this and this. I'm like, yeah, but I, I, as a person who does not want to go through a bunch of like charts to figure out what tire to run, I don't want that. Just put hooks back on my rims. I don't care about the 40 grams or whatever. It's, I just don't care.
[00:19:14] Randall R. Jacobs: Well, would you like some more ammo for those arguments when they come up?
[00:19:17] Caley Fretz: give me more. Am.
[00:19:18] Randall R. Jacobs: All right. So, so first off the, it used to be the case that it was a substantial, you know, a reasonable weight penalty and higher cost that is substantially mitigated by new forming techniques for the bead hooks and mini hooks that you can create that have the same impact resistance as hook list, add about five, maybe 10 grams per rim at the high end.
And cost, yeah, the cost is a little bit higher, but, you know, insurance premiums aren't cheap either. And if you have a single incident, that's gonna be a problem. So, you know, it was an obvious investment when we made that choice for any wheel that we're marketing for use with anything, say smaller than a 34.
Plus you get the compatibility with non tules as you well know. But the other part is you think about the fact that there are compatibility charts that exist, right?
[00:20:05] Caley Fretz: I don't want
[00:20:06] Randall R. Jacobs: that
[00:20:06] Caley Fretz: in charts.
[00:20:08] Randall R. Jacobs: yeah. It, it's like if that is the case, then maybe the tolerances are too tight and it, it's actually, I'll tell you from the inside, it, it's actually worse than that because any good company is going to check every single rim for its bead seat circumference, right?
So those are pretty easy to get within spec. And then the tires, the tires are not all checked. To my knowledge. They're kind of randomly checked. So, okay, now you, now you could have a variation. You only need one. That's not to tolerance, but let's say both of those are in are intolerance. Well, now you have the.
and if the tape is too thick or too thin, or someone puts two layers on, they replace the tape or whatever. Maybe it was intolerance initially, but, and then you change it and you know, you do two layers. Now the bead is too tight, it wants to drop into the channel and then pop over the edge of the, of the hook.
And so it's just not good. It's just all sorts of not good
[00:21:03] Caley Fretz: I hate it so much. It's just, yeah. Yeah. I mean, I, I, I always, I was cognizant when, back in, when we were making the Nerd Alert podcast that, you know, we didn't just want to complain about things. Right? Like, we didn't just want to tell the industry that it was, it was doing things wrong. Cuz most of the time this industry does great things and they build lots of amazing bikes that I love to ride.
There's just a couple things like this that are like, what, what are we doing? Like, is, is this, is this the beam counters? Is it the gram counters? What counters are, are causing ? This particular, it must be the bean counters at this point. But I hate it either
[00:21:42] Randall R. Jacobs: Bean counter. And then, then also the, the marketing hypers. Right? So there's a new thing. Hopeless is a new thing. Car, car wheels don't have hooks. Why do bicycle school wheels have hooks? Well, you know, because it's 110 p s i that people are sometimes putting in there. That's why
[00:21:57] Caley Fretz: car wheels have 33 Psi . Yeah. It's like a mountain bike tire. Yes. Well, I, we agree on that point. And I, I think that that is one that we will continue to complain about. And I will just continue to be annoyed that I, that I can't feel confident in what I'm writing without doing a bunch of, of searching and Google searching, and I don't want to have to do that.
[00:22:15] Randall R. Jacobs: Nor should your average rider need to rely on that in order to be safe like that. That's the part that I find kind of, kind of bonkers.
[00:22:23] Caley Fretz: Average rider doesn't even know to do that. That's the problem.
[00:22:26] Randall R. Jacobs: yeah. True. And the la the last part of that is why do the tire pressure recommendation charts kind of go to 70 proportional with the weight and then they just kind of taper off. You know, that that also kind of tells you something about the confidence in this you know, particular combination of tire and rim and, and pressure and so on.
But all right. Should we, well, I guess we hop off this high horse then. That was good fun. I could do this all day. So you mentioned Ben Delaney, and he's an interesting person to bring up because he's a, a mutual acquaintance. Also somebody who's writing, I've been reading since my early days in the industry and also somebody who has been trying to figure out how to navigate the changing landscape in cycling media, which the business model for, for media in general has undergone a dramatic shift. And in his case, he's has his new YouTube channel and is doing freelance work for certain publications and is making a go of it that way.
But how would you describe the industry dynamics as having changed during your time in the media side?
[00:23:29] Caley Fretz: Oh, I mean, I would say I was relatively insulated from it personally for a long time. And until I kind of reached a, a, a level of management, so to speak, that it became my problem , I didn't spend a whole lot of time thinking about it. Yeah, Ben was unfortunately the, the, the, the victim of a, an outside layoff a, a while ago.
So he's been making a solo go of it since I think May or June of, of, of last year. Or this year, 2022. And yeah, like his, his he's experimenting and, and it's, it's good to, I like watching him trying to figure this out, right, because I feel like he's kind of doing it for all of us at the moment and, and trying to figure out exactly, you know, various ways to, to make this thing work and. He is, got his, his YouTube channel's. Great. I mean, I watch it all the time. I'm actually gonna be on it sometime soon. I just, just recorded a thing with him picking our favorite products of the year. I think I went in a slight, I think I went in a slightly different direction than, than probably most of his guests.
Cause my favorite product was bar Mitz for my cargo bike. So slightly different place than, than probably a lot of folks he's talking to. But the, the media as a whole, I mean, it's rough out there. It's rough out there, right? Like I have spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about this and trying to figure this out over the last couple years as has like weighed my former boss at C T E before he left over the summer.
As is everybody, I mean, frankly, like as is Robin Thurston the CEO of outside, right? Like he is genuinely trying to make this thing work. And at the moment as layoffs kind of. It's hard, right? It's really, really hard to, to get people to pay for something that they haven't had to pay for historically, you're, you're trying to put the genie back in the bottle, right?
That's what we are trying to do. And it's really, really, really difficult. And then, frankly, it's one of the things we were most proud of at Cycline Tips is that we did have this core, hyper engaged audience that was willing to pay us for, for what we did. And not only just pay us for like, the content that they had access to, but pay us for the whole community that we had built.
Right. I mean there, there's a, there's a Velo Club, which is the, the sort of membership program. Atip, there's a Slack group for Velo Club which I, which I'm concerned about right now. But that group of people, couple thousand people not, it's not the entirety of the membership. It's, it's like sort of the most hardcore of the membership, I would say.
And it's a couple thousand people. It's sort of like its own little private forum, right? And, and they support each other and they ask each other questions, and they ask us questions asked, past tense, asked us questions. You know, when, when, when they had a tech question, they, they, they ping James and they had a racing question.
They, they would, they would ping me or they would ping Matt e or something like that. And they would also just answer each other's questions. And they've built this, this incredible community there. That for me, underpins any successful, particularly sort of niche media or, or, or, or vertical media business.
Because those are the people that not only are they giving you money to, to keep lights on, but they're, they're your, they're your biggest advocates, right? They're your, your most important advocates in the space. They're the people that, that tell their friends. They're the people that get other people signed up.
They are, they're more important than any marketing spend you could, you could ever possibly utilize. Right? So that, that was one of the things we were really proud of the last couple years. And I think that that is a model in some ways for, for, for going forward. So, you know, like I said, I'm, I don't have a non-compete.
I can start anything I want right now and, and I, and to be, to be very blunt, like I fully plan to I think that,
[00:26:54] Randall R. Jacobs: think you absolutely should at this. You clearly have an audience that that misses your voice and that values what you brought to the table.
[00:27:00] Caley Fretz: Yeah. And, and I would say it like, honestly, it's, it's even, it's less my voice and it's more like Dave Rome and Matt and like the rest of the crew because I, I, I do like to put, you know, put the folks that that were writing day, day in, day out for ct, like, well ahead of anything that I was doing. But I, I did spend more time than they did thinking about how to, how to build a media business.
And so, yeah, I, you know, we wanna, we wanna, we wanna do something here. That there's it's only been a couple weeks since we were, we were. Let go. So we're still figuring out what the details are. But like I said, you know, we've already kicked off a little podcast. We know that there's a lot of people out there that are kind of waiting for this.
And we will, we will just try to give them what they want, I guess. I mean, my, in my mind, the, ideal sort of media entity of the future and I, I've used this term a couple times with, with Dave in, in talking about these things is, is essentially an aggregation of niches or niches if, depending on which pronunciation you prefer.
So rather than try to go really broad and talk about a little bit of everything, which, which tends to be kind of the model across most of cycling media, I prefer a concept where you, you essentially allow editors to. To dive into their, their interests and their strengths. Right? You know, you take, you take Dave Rome and you say, Dave, you love tools.
You're real weirdo about it. But we appreciate your weirdness and we, we, we embrace it and, and do it. Like, tell me everything you can possibly tell me about tools, because I'm pretty sure there's an audience there. And even if it's not that big, even if it's a couple thousand people, if they are hyper engaged with you, a couple thousand people in a recurring membership model, recurring revenue model is enough to pay Dave plus some, right?
And then you sort of, you take that concept and you, and you expand it out. And yeah, it's, it's, it becomes the basis by which you can build a, a, a media entity. That I think is, is sustainable. Not none, nothing I'm saying here is wholly original, right? Like this is the broadly the direction that a lot of different media entities are going.
Anybody sort of follows that world. There's, there's like, there's a new politics site called S four that is essentially the same rough concept, right? You, you dive headlong into, into particular beats. You provide a ton of depth in those beats. You hit the, the audience, people who, who really care about that particular topic, and you pull that group in and then you do the same thing over here and you pull that group in, you do the same thing over here, and you pull that group in.
And there's for sure people that care about more than one obviously. But you really, like, you focus really deep on each one of these things. And that's the, that's the, if I could build something and, and I, you know, like I said, I, I intend to try, that's the concept. I think that that makes the most sense to me from a. from a business perspective, from an editorial perspective, from from every perspective I can, I can think of, basically.
[00:29:59] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah, so I've had folks like Russ Roca from PathLessPedaled. On the pod. He has a YouTube channel you may or may not be familiar with, but that's become his livelihood, right. And he has sustainers through Patreon. He doesn't do endorsements and things like that.
I don't think he's doing any sort of sponsored episodes or anything of that sort. And he's been able to make a living. And there are obviously plenty of YouTuber influencer types who may have less scruples about promoting things and things of that sort.
But who I'm curious, either within bike or, or outside a bike what projects do you see succeeding in the model that you could imagine emulating or building upon? Because I've seen a bunch of attempts at it and it's, it's a really tough nut to
[00:30:43] Caley Fretz: it's a tough not to crack. I, I would say that the biggest and most obvious is the athletic, which was just purchased by the New York Times for something like, I think it was 425 million. Now, so the sort of caveat around that is that that's probably less than they were actually hoping for. This is a, a VC funded media entity that, that primarily covers ball sports.
And their whole thing was you take, you, you, you essentially apply the beat reporter model of like a local newspaper. You know, you, you, the, the, the Denver Post for example, will have a Broncos beat reporter. Then all they do is talk about the Broncos, right? And, and they're even allowed to kind of be fans of the Broncos a little bit.
They take that and they apply it to every single ball sport. So both types of football, you know, baseball, basketball, all the rest. And they apply a beat reporter to every major team. And sometimes more than one beat reporter to, to really big teams. You know, like if we're talking English, English Premier League you know, Manchester United has a couple different writers on it.
Aston Villa has probably won, right? So, but, but, but even so, if you're a massive Aston Villa fan and you just want your Aston Villa News, you can go, you know that the athletics gonna have it cuz they have a person who is dedicated to your team and nothing else but your team. So you can also get like, okay, well I want some broader, I want World Cup news, I want, I want the Manchester United news.
I want the Ronaldo news, but I really want my Aston Villa guy, right. That is essentially the same model that I'm talking about where like, I believe that people really want Dave Rome's tool. They probably also care about lots of other things that, that we will write about. But they really want Dave room's tool stuff.
And that's probably the thing that's actually gonna get them across the line from a, from a membership perspective, right? Is that deep, deep, deep love of this one thing that a content creator they like is talking about. That's the kind of thing that, that, that moves the needle in. So yeah, the athletic is, is kind of the biggest, most obvious example of this kind of working.
They made I think some strategic areas early on in the way that they pulled staff together that made it quite an expensive organization to run. And I think that's part, probably part of the reason why they didn't get quite as much cash for it as they thought. But still building a media a media entity from nothing in the last, I think it started five years ago or so.
I remember sitting at a Tor de France press buffet with some of the. The British. So at the time it was, you know, sky Era. A lot of big name British sport writers, sports writers were coming over the tour, and a couple of those guys were talking about job offers from the athletic and actually like how insanely well paid they were going to be
So I think
[00:33:13] Randall R. Jacobs: And the, these are full, full-time positions. We're not
[00:33:15] Caley Fretz: oh, yeah, yeah.
[00:33:16] Randall R. Jacobs: Just shifting everything to freelance. Like so
[00:33:18] Caley Fretz: No, no, no. These are, yeah,
[00:33:20] Randall R. Jacobs: models Do.
[00:33:21] Caley Fretz: no, I mean, I don't, I mean, perhaps they're contractors or something, but like, you know, the, the, these individuals are writing a, a story a day most of the time about the particular beat that they're talking about. A story every other day, depending on the, on the, on the writer probably.
But anyway, yeah, about about five years ago. So you see, you know, you've got a media entity that's only about five years old and just sold to the New York Times for half a million or whatever it was, or sorry, half a billion.
[00:33:43] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah.
[00:33:43] Caley Fretz: a pretty, that's a success story in my mind. And shows that the. The model can work, I think. There's no guarantees and that's a scale that I don't really have any need, want, or desire to come anywhere near. But I do think that the core essentially value proposition of membership that they, that they showed worked, can work elsewhere. It can work in cycling, can work across endurance media, I think.
[00:34:12] Randall R. Jacobs: Well, and again, with my kind of very cursory understanding of the space, they were required by the New York Times, which itself went through its own economic model crisis and had to make the switch to a paywall. And the quality of the content was sufficient that they're, they're making such large acquisitions, so they must be doing something right. They're, they're not the failing New York Times. As some folks called them a few years ago. I think there's also something to be said for consolidating quality and having the interaction of the sort that you did at at cycling tips, not just through Velo Club but also just the comments section. It, it was a very unique space and your team was in there.
Interacting and the, the nature of the communication that I saw, the way that your readers were engaging there, it didn't seem hierarchical at all. It was a conversation with, with you and your team and that that was very, very cool to see. And that was something quite special that I think is more a consequence of the people involved than of the particular platform as special as cycling tips was.
And I was one of the early readers that was, those are my racing days when it was literally just the blog and it was pointers on how to train. It was the cool thing at the time. And. Actual cycling tips. Yeah. That name was, was a direct, directly correlated with the contents. But I don't know if I've shared this with you, but in addition to the podcast, which is founded by Craig Dalton we also started this Slack community called the Ridership, which also is bit over a couple thousand members, and also has these like healthy dynamics. We call it a, a community of Rogers Helping Riders. And that was directly inspired by what you guys do at Velo. like saw what you were doing over there was just something that wanted to emulate, found inspiring saw a place for.
And I'd be curious one of the things that Craig and I have talked about, is some form of shared platform that's somehow democratically governed. Where content creators and those who are engaging with their content who wanna support them and so on, can all meet and having that be something centralized in the sense that it's all meeting in the same place, but decentralized in terms of the governance structure, and then maybe even set up as a non-profit. I'm curious if you've had any thoughts around that sort of thing.
[00:36:35] Caley Fretz: Yeah, I've actually sort of played around with similar ideas. We, yeah. In this, well, and again, in the sort of couple weeks that I've been thinking about, really thinking about this now we thought through, so, so ironically, one of the things that. There's been a fair number of complaints around with outside was was essentially like web three and, and NFT stuff.
However some of that technology would actually make something like what you're talking about potentially work quite a bit better. Again, I haven't spent, we, we didn't go too far down this, this, this rabbit hole cause we feel like getting something off the ground relatively quickly is, is, is a priority.
But I agree that, that something platforms work, right? Like that's essentially, that, that's all YouTube is, is just a platform for other people to, to, to put content on. They monetize it over top. They give you a cut, they take most of it. That's a, it's a pretty good business actually. So like could you do that for endurance sports, perhaps? Probably. Are there enough? Are there enough really high quality individual content creators out there to make that work? Probably, maybe like, are, are there enough Ben Delaney's, who would love to probably work with a platform that, that increased their visibility?
But, you know, in, in exchange for a cut of whatever he's making, probably. I mean, that's essentially the, the deal that he's made with YouTube, right? Like we were saying. I think there's something there. I don't, I think it'd, I think it'd be incredibly difficult to, to get off the ground and would almost have to be quite organic and you'd have to be kind of willing to, to sit on it and let it grow for quite some time or, or sit on a bunch of investment money and, and do it that way.
Which I don't necessarily have the time for at this point in time, but I like the idea. I really, I like, I genuinely, you know, I've, I've had a lot of conversations with other people in, in bike media over the last couple weeks because for obvious reasons, people giving me a ring. They're saying a lot of 'em are saying basically like, Hey, I'm sorry just checking in on you.
Stuff like that. And we, and we get to talking about this sort of thing. And one of the things that keeps coming up is this desire to stop competing so directly with each other as bike media, right? Like the space is too small. We all do our own thing. We talk to maybe the same audience in general, but we talk to them in very different ways.
And you know, like I I I, I, I've been on the phone with editor in chiefs of, of, of a couple different major bike outlets in the last week and all have said something along those lines. And I think that some sort of collective would, would hit the same. Yeah, it would hit, it would hit the same. there, right?
Of a, of a desire to provide a space for everybody to just create really good work that they actually get paid for. Cuz that's the hard thing again, you're still talking about putting the genie back in the bottle. You're still talking about trying to get people to pay for, for something that they historically haven't paid for, or you're running an advertising based model, which is incredibly difficult.
And in part, and this particular moment is very, very difficult. I mean, you know, Robin, the CEO of outside mentioned that specifically in the letter that came along with with these layoffs is like the advertising world out there right now, particularly in endemic media, like cycling is bad. It is bad news.
You know, they're, they're looking into 2023 and seeing and seeing steep drop-offs in the amount that that is being spent. So you've run up against kind of similar problems, I think with that model. But it is certainly something that is The incentives to me feel like they're lined up for creators in a, in a model like that, right?
Because they, if done right, they would directly benefit from their, their work. Whereas, you know, something that's always kind of frustrated me in this space is like, the value of myself and, and, and editorial teams have increased the value of entities tremendously o over my career. And then they get sold and I see none of it
And so like that, that the incentive,
[00:40:24] Randall R. Jacobs: and
[00:40:25] Caley Fretz: structure is not, is not great within most of bike media
[00:40:29] Randall R. Jacobs: Yeah. It's bad enough in the tech space where there are stock options, but generally to the founder goes most of the spoils. Even though and I say this as a founder, I don't create most of the value, right? Nothing that, that I could do would get off the ground without all the other people who make it happen. And so, it's only right that there be a distribution of ownership and a sharing of the rewards if there's success, which in turn incentivizes success. In the case of cycling tips, in reading the comments it's very clear that the readership knows it. They're not there for cycling tips. Cycling tips is the bander under which all the people whose perspectives they valued. It's where those people are.
And so, your standalone brand and that of your colleagues, has value and has value in particular, if it's brought in a single place where people can interact with you as, as they had in the past it's a terrible thing to lose.
And you know, whatever the reasons for it, obviously there are economic headwinds. But it's, it's unfortunate. But there's a saying that I, I live by that seems to apply, which is change happens when the fear of change is less than the pain of staying the same.
[00:41:36] Caley Fretz: Hmm.
[00:41:37] Randall R. Jacobs: And there's nothing quite like a radically changing economic model or layoffs or things like that that make staying the same, really painful. And so whether the fear has changed or not, time to take the leap and people like yourself and Ben and others have been making that leap. I wonder you mentioned that some sort of platform would have to. Either be funded by a bunch of VC money, which honestly I don't, if you wanna end up with a small fortune, start with a big one. Throwing VC money at things is a really good way to end up with Juicero. I don't know if you recall that
[00:42:10] Caley Fretz: Oh, yes.
[00:42:11] Randall R. Jacobs: 130 or 160 million of Sandhill Road money lit on fire for a a glorified electric press for
If anyone's curious, look this up. It is. It'll, it'll make you feel that yeah, it, it'll make you question the judgment of, of Silicon Valley in a way that I have learned too from the inside over the years. But the organic piece let's, let's unpack that cuz I, I have a couple of ideas that I'd like to bounce off of you.
So platforms like YouTube, I suspect it's gonna be very hard for somebody who has an audience on YouTube or who wants to build an audience to leave YouTube. But having a platform that is essentially an a.
So if you're a content creator, wherever your content is, this is the one place where you can find all of it along with, categorized content from other players. So you want to learn about tools you have, Dave Romes YouTube videos about tools. You have his podcast about tools. You have other content creators content there.
And then it becomes kind of platform agnostic like you can be anywhere, but this is the place where you go to find it. And this is the place where you go to interact. Cuz the YouTube comments, that's not an interaction space that's largely a trolling space or, or it's a largely one directional sorts of conversation happening.
Even, even the healthiest version of it is still not a conversation. But if you have a YouTube video embedded in a a community,
[00:43:27] Caley Fretz: Mm-hmm.
[00:43:28] Randall R. Jacobs: Now all of a sudden people are in digital community together and not just over say Dave and his tool-based content or his tool focused content.
Not to say that's all he does, but using that as an example, but also Dave in community, in his local chapter, right. In his local riding community. And in the context of a place where people are also going for, James' bike reviews and you know, your Twitter de France coverage and, and things like this that's one model that I've wondered, like if there was such a platform.
[00:43:59] Caley Fretz: how, how, how do you monetize it? Is it, is it pay? Walled,
[00:44:03] Randall R. Jacobs: That's a big question, right?
[00:44:04] Caley Fretz: Well, so, so, the reason I ask is because I, I, like, I would see a couple different options, right? And, and we're getting into real sort of media theory here, but ,
[00:44:11] Randall R. Jacobs: This, this was actually part of the conversation I wanted to have with you long before all these changes. And it's something we've discussed on the pod before as well with other content creators.
[00:44:19] Caley Fretz: I, I think So I, I'll say that first and foremost that I'm, I'm not anti paywall. I know some of the, some others are in, in the media space, but I fundamentally believe that if done properly you're essentially only targeting. So, so, so I'm, I'm a big advocate of what, what we call meter paywall, which is basically you get a couple free stories in a given amount of time whatever the number is, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, whatever you want.
And then at some point you, you pay right? Now, the nice thing about that is that you know, if we, if we take a, let's take a hypothetical cycling media outlet with somewhere in, you know, we, we'll call it, we'll call it 2 million unique users a month, right? You've got 2 million people showing up at a website every month.
The number of people who are actually gonna get to the paywall that are gonna go to enough stories to get to that paywall is probably something in the neighborhood of like, Less than 5% of those people. It's a tiny, tiny, tiny number because a huge number of those people are coming in from Google.
They're, they're, they're seo, they're coming into SEO stories, they're coming into, you know, how to bet in my disc brakes. And they're, they're in and they find out how to do that and they're out. Right? And that's the only interaction you have with them. And they're useful from a page view perspective if you're monetizing that.
But they're not particularly useful from a membership perspective cuz who's gonna pay to get one story, right. That, that's, that doesn't make any sense. So you're really only trying to monetize your super users. So your super users are that 5%, the people that actually end up hitting paywall. And part of the reason why I'm not anti paywall is because those people that, that, that small group of people that is coming back day after day after day after day, they value you. And if they truly value you, they should pay for you. , like, I don't have any problem with, you know, we put a ton of time and energy and effort into this and it is our jobs. And we need to get paid. And if people, if people appreciate what we're doing enough to come back every single day and they're not willing to pay for that, then as far as I'm concerned, they need to look at themselves and, and, and ask why.
Right? Like, all I'm asking for is, is, you know, eight bucks a month or whatever to continue doing so that, so that you can do something that you do every single day that you enjoy, that you, that you gain information and entertainment from inspiration from even. I think that that's a pretty reasonable trade off.
I don't really have any problem asking the super user to do that. I think that there are other paywall versions of a paywall that, that I, that I don't agree with, sort of philosophically, I don't agree with paywall in a hundred percent of content. I also think that that just ruins your discoverability and it, it, it doesn't allow anybody
[00:46:49] Randall R. Jacobs: was, I was gonna say, is
[00:46:50] Caley Fretz: Yeah.
[00:46:53] Randall R. Jacobs: thing or is it more just practically like, you're, you're gonna cut off all the channels for discovery?
[00:46:58] Caley Fretz: Both. Yeah. I, I, it, it realistically, yeah. Like I said, your discoverability goes to zero. People can't tell that you make good content. I have kind of a similar issue with the, the like premium content model. So you, you know, you give away your, your crappy stuff for free and the really good stuff you gotta pay for, like, I don't like that either.
Cause why then anybody's strolling around your website, it's gonna be like, well, it's the only thing is I can read are crap. So why would I pay for the, i, I don't know that
[00:47:23] Randall R. Jacobs: poor, it's a poor pitch.
[00:47:24] Caley Fretz: It's a bad pitch. So, so I have issues with that. I also just like philosophically, you know, the, the sort of fully hard pay wall that you can't read anything without paying beyond the discovery of discoverability problems.
I just kinda have issues with that because like if we do write a, how to bet in your disc brake so they don't make noise story. Like, I want people to be able to access that, right? Like, then I don't have to listen up. people's loud disc breaks. You know, like people, I, I have no problem sort of providing that much content to somebody for free.
And I think that the fully pay well in that is, is, is isn't great. But again, I I'm not against paywalls in general. Meter paywalls I think work quite well. They yeah, we know that they're effective. They can be incredibly effective, particularly if you have this sort of requisite essentially story volume to make them work and, and sort of audience size to make them work.
So given that like the, the sort of concept that you are talking about, paywall seems like a, like a, a, a good way forward because again, you're sort of avoiding the avoiding the need to, to chase advertising dollars constantly. And this is, this is gonna be somewhat a reflection of what I'm thinking for, for.
For myself going forward, obviously you're avoiding, you're, you're avoiding chasing advertising dollars incessantly, which, you know, I'm not against advertising either. I think the right advertising partners can be, can be crucial, right? They provide lots of actually value to an audience at some point, right.
You know, the fact that you get bikes to test the fact that you have a good relationship there. Those, those are all valuable things. So not, not anti advertising either. I'm just more anti, constantly chasing every single cent you can possibly get out of advertising. And the, and the sort of the, the, the extra resource that, that very concept requires.
And so yeah, some sort of like membership driven thing lines up with the sort of ethos of what you're talking about, which is very community driven. We know communities are willing to invest in their own space where they can be a community. And so that would make sense as well. And if you start to do things like add too much advertising to something like that, then you do the incentives start to shift.
Cuz you start working for the advertisers instead of working for the community. And that I think goes against the whole ethos that you're talking about of the sort of communal thing. So that would be my, that would be my 2 cents on, on, on how to build something like that. Like I said, it is a concept that, that we played around with and I've played around with in my head for, for some time actually.
I personally, again, it's more of a, more of a time issue for me than anything. Not that I don't think it could be cool and don't think it could work. I just think that the, to build that community would take quite a bit of time. And also figuring out the precise method of paying. So the other roadblock that I, that I came across when I was thinking through this was the precise method of paying content creators in that scenario, it's quite complicated.
Cause are you paying them? Are you paying them by page view? Are you paying them? Is there a tip jar? Is there some sort of, of, you know, rank voting system when people sign up, like, I like these three creators and I don't like these three, and so the top three get, get my money. And the, and the other three don't.
That starts to create some perverse incentives toward bad content as well, right? And, and essentially that's the, that is the YouTube problem. The YouTube problem is that YouTube is incentivized for clickbait. It's incentivized for garbage content, , because that's, that's the stuff that gets picked up.
And think about, think about your average, like YouTube headline or YouTube sort of, title card. Versus what you would find on a, a site like cycling tips these days. Right. It's a dramatic difference. Like we, we would have to change headlines depending on whether it was going on YouTube or going on on the site back in the day.
Cuz YouTube is incentivized to be like all caps and exclamation points and somebody crashing in the title card and all these things that we kind of hate because that's what you end
[00:51:25] Randall R. Jacobs: Kaylee, Fritz destroys X, Y,
[00:51:27] Caley Fretz: Exactly. So after the monetization question, how do you actually split up that money with the content creators?
It's a, it's a, again, I like, I love the, the idea, I love the concept, but the sort of those particular decisions. Be crucial to success and crucial to it actually working for the people that, that you, that you know, that you want, want, would want it to work for. And it'd be hard. It'd be really hard. I I don't have the solution to those questions, which is why I, again, thought through a lot of this and, and thought through a similar concept, not, not identical but a similar concept and, and basically came to the conclusion that in the near term, a a slightly more traditional model is not the worst thing in the world, right?
Like, build really good content, pay people for it make people pay for it. , that's essentially the, that's the, the, the three part business plan of most membership driven media entities these days. Does that all make sense? I feel like I went in a bit of rant there.
[00:52:31] Randall R. Jacobs: Not at all. Not at all. And in fact, it's a conversation I'd like to continue cuz I have a few ideas that probably we, we don't want to dedicate a whole episode to just this conversation. But certainly appreciate you pulling back a curtain on the sorts of questions that you as an editor in the space and an editor for one of the most respected publications in the space and for good reason, providing that perspective in the sorts of things that you are thinking about from this new Vantage point is very much appreciative.
So thank you for that. I wanna go in a completely different direction. What are the pieces that you've written that you most enjoyed or found most challenging, or that were most meaningful for you as a writer?
[00:53:08] Caley Fretz: Hmm. Internally at cycling tips. We called them riddles. It was a, it was a coin, a term that I intro coined for his little, the little essays. Right. There's a couple of those that I, that I really enjoyed writing and, and liked writing. It's just sort of the pure act of, of, of sort of language, basically like playing with language.
Which is still fundamentally like why I started doing this to begin with is cause I really enjoyed doing that. And the last couple years have stepped away from writing almost entirely. Not entirely, but almost entirely. And, and so when I did get a chance to write, it was always, it was always meaningful and I, and I liked it.
That tended to be at things like the Tor de Frances where, you know, I would essentially send to myself cuz I, I wanted to go cover the to Frances again. I had plenty, plenty, plenty of, plenty of talented, talented writers that, that reporters that could have gone instead of me. But at some point you pull the boss card and I'm like, I'm gonna the tour
So, so yeah, there's a couple pieces on that front. Actually one of the first pieces I ever wrote for segment tips it's, it was called The Road to Niro's House. And it was about a trip that my wife and I and two friends took to Columbia. And it, it, like half the photos are broken on it now. It's, it's, it's from like 2017 like 6,500 words of a trip around Columbia and all the sort of things that, that riding in Columbia.
Particularly in 2017 meant sort of keeping in mind that that, you know, a relatively large and disastrous war there only kind of wrapped up around the 2010 mark depending on who you ask . So I, I, I really enjoyed that piece. And then, yeah, like these, these little riddles, you know, there's a couple that I've written over my career that I that you tend to write them in 20 minutes, right?
Because something just hits you in the head and, and you just, I mean, you just get it out, but it, because of that, it's, they're very pure. I think. I wrote one about the toe strap that my dad would use to attach a sock full of Tube tire, co2, you know, flat fixing implements underneath his saddle.
Right? And he would, he would strap this thing underneath his saddle with a, with a strap, like a tube sock underneath his saddle with a, with a, with a tow strap, like a leather tow strap. And, and I, and I wrote this story about how, like, you know, I just remember when I was 12, 13 years old. And you know, my dad is obviously a much stronger cycl cyclist than me at that point.
And just like, you know, trying to stay on his wheel with this like, toe strap dangling in front of me as like the, you know, I'm just, I'm just, I just need to stay on the tow strap. Wrote a piece about that at some point that I, that I ended up, I, I really liked. And it was meaningful to me because of my, my relationship with my dad is like very tied into my relationship with cycling because we grew up doing it together and, and still ride together when we can and things like that.
There was one about eating Castle and Carcassone during a rest day, Tor de France that I liked. Again, these, you know,
[00:55:59] Randall R. Jacobs: Castle in Per,
[00:56:01] Caley Fretz: Castle is is like a,
[00:56:03] Randall R. Jacobs: I'm, I'm, I'm not so
[00:56:04] Caley Fretz: is like, is like a meat, like a meaty stew thing you know, white beans and, and, and some, some meat. And Carcassone is a town in southern France with a big kind of world heritage site castle over top of it.
And it's always hot as hell there. They often have restage there at the torque. It's always hot as hell. And I have yet to find a hotel or an Airbnb there that has air conditioning. So you're always just like baking, you know, second rest day of the Tor De France. You know, I, I think I was sitting in a cafe.
And I had a couple roses like you do and, and eating a castle, which is also hot. So I'm like, I'm hot eating a hot castle and just watching the world kind of go by like the sort of Tor de France rest day world go going by and, you know, like Greg Van Ama coming up and, and stopping at a red light. I'm this, I've wrote the story a while ago and I'm trying to remember what I even talked about.
You know, Gregory, he came up and stopped at the red light while a bunch of amateur cyclists like blew right through it. And he's like, nah, I'm gonna stop the red light, the proper professional cyclist. Yeah, just , just, just silly, silly stories like that that stick in my mind. And interestingly, like I, I finally, they tend to stick in, in reader's minds when I, when I got laid off.
Those are the kind of stories that people were sending me being like, Hey, I love this when you wrote it. Thanks for everything you've done, kinda thing. Which is, yeah, I mean, as, as somebody who creates things for a living, when you realize that people actually read them. And liked them. That's a, that's a pretty special thing.
So, yeah, rode in Niro's house
rest day, something at a Tour de France. I can't remember what the headline was. And I think it was called the teaching Toe Strap, which was actually Avenu story back in the day. Those are probably three of my, three of my favorites.
[00:57:42] Randall R. Jacobs: You know, I, I have never been much of a writer. I barely got out of undergrad and grad school, largely because I struggled with the thesis papers for each. So, writing has always been a challenge for me too much for perfectionists with not enough of a honed mastery of the skill.
But there is something, that I get as a product creator, you know, there are the things that you create because you have to create them. Now there are things that you create because you just have to, like, you, you have to feel your own reasons. And when people resonate with that it's just immensely gratifying.
And, you know, I've appreciated your work and the work of your colleagues at cycling tips during your tenure there. And you definitely built something special there. So excited to see what you do in this next chapter.
[00:58:22] Caley Fretz: Thank you. Thank you.
[00:58:24] Randall R. Jacobs: So, you already hinted a little bit at this, but what does the bike mean for you? What role has it played in your life? Why, why do you care so much about this, this two-wheeled vehicle?
[00:58:34] Caley Fretz: hmm. I, I mean, it's changed so many times for me. I think that, that, that's, it's almost an impossible thing to answer cuz you, you could ask me that as a 13, 14 year. You know, showing up in spandex to, to high school and getting lots of weird looks, and it would be in a very different thing to me then as, as it did when I was, you know, 20, 21 and, and, and, you know, weighing up a quote unquote professional contract for $3,000 a year and live in a van to, you know, the middle of my VE era to now where, you know, like the bike that I rode more than any other bike in 2022 was a cargo bucket bike.
That, that I ride my daughter to her to, to daycare in every single day. You know, I I, I, I've rode that thing 2,700 miles in one year, three miles at a time, . So like,
[00:59:31] Randall R. Jacobs: So with your daughter in it half, half the
[00:59:34] Caley Fretz: yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So, like, you know, they're, they're, they're, and back every
[00:59:37] Randall R. Jacobs: quality father daughter time.
[00:59:39] Caley Fretz: Totally. They're, they're back every morning.
They're back every afternoon. And, and yeah, quality father, daughter time, and you know, one of the most, sort of enjoyable half hour of, of my, of my day. So, so, yeah. It's almost an impossible question for me to, for me to answer at this point other than like, it's, they're the, they're the through line for everything in my life since I was 10.
You know, that it, it's just that's the, the thread that holds it all together, right? That, that, that it was the thing that made me weird in high school. It was the thing that, that consumed me in, in college to the point of probably the detriment of my actual grades. It was the thing that, that, that provided me a, a, a step into what has become a very enjoyable career.
And now it's a thing that, that yeah, that I use to, to just get my daughter around, which is, which is like, Special in its own sort of indescribable way. So yeah, I guess that's the answer. It's the, it's the thread. It's the thing that holds all the other things together, basically.
[01:00:40] Randall R. Jacobs: It reminds me of a quote about marriage, which is , I've been married many times. It just so happens to have been to the same person.
[01:00:47] Caley Fretz: Yeah.
[01:00:47] Randall R. Jacobs: this reinvention, this new relationship to ostensibly the same thing. I can very much relate to that with the bike as well.
But but yeah, it has been a delight being able to finally sit down and have this sort of nearly focused quality conversation with you, Kayleigh, and wish you the best with your future endeavors. And let's absolutely keep in touch. Maybe have you back on when you have, the next thing that you're talking about.
[01:01:09] Caley Fretz: Yeah, talk to me in January. That's what we're looking
[01:01:13] Randall R. Jacobs: good, amigo. All right. Take care of my friend.
[01:01:15] Caley Fretz: Thanks.
[01:01:16] Craig Dalton: Big, thanks to Randall and Kaylee for having that conversation. Super fascinating subject matter. When you think about the economics of cycling journalism. And how consumers are willing to pay for it. I hope every listener of the podcast here, values cycling journalists. And find ways to contribute to their ongoing efforts to cover the sport. We love.
If you're interested in connecting with myself or Randall or potentially even Kaylee. Please join the ridership. It's email@example.com. That's a free global cycling community where you can connect and talk about all the things you love. About gravel cycling. If you're interested in supporting the podcast, ratings and reviews are hugely appreciated. So if you enjoyed this episode, please go to your favorite podcast platform.
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