Lemond and his litigation, the new and improved cyclingnews, and more
- Laurent Jalabert, on when he knew it was time to retire from racing. ‘I was seeing the asses of riders I’d never seen the faces of.’
- I’m an avowed Greg LeMond fan no matter what. He was my #1 teenage hero and nobody can take away the thousand ways he inspired me back then. But it gives me the creeps in a big way to see how many lawsuits he’s gotten himself tied up in. His courtroom fight with the Billionaire’s Boys Club aka the Yellowstone Club has gone on for years, and given how Yellowstone just filed for bankruptcy it’s not looking like a good outcome. His Lemond Fitness company is embroiled with the monstrously huge Brunswick Corp. And the Mother of all Battles is upon us -- a surrogate, perhaps, for the bike race we all would’ve loved to have seen -- between LeMond and Armstrong, parallel with Lemond v. Trek.
It takes a certain sort of personality to end up in court on so many fronts. And that’s not a compliment. My #1 hero….I wish for his own sake that he’d aged a little more privately and peacefully. We’ve been in the crosshairs of BSNYC in the past, and it’s always in good fun. But when you open yourself to treatment like this (scroll down a bit) it’s a sign of something dark. I imagine that Lemond is pathologically competitive. After all, you don’t have palmares like his unless you’re hard-wired that way. (It’s always healthy to check out his race resume, BTW, to see how amazingly complete he was as a racer.) I wonder if the courtroom is the only outlet he’s found to channel that competitiveness in middle age.
- The greatest city in the world. The greatest sport ever. Help New York City figure out an economically sane way to put a velodrome in the city by giving them some survey answers.
- If we created a subscription option to Rouleur magazine, would you sign up? 4 issues a year, ~$20 a pop (which would include shipping). The cover price (and therefore the sub price) may increase b/c of an increase in paper costs. But we’re basically saying a year subscription would cost roughly the same as the cover price x4, which would include the shipping, and you wouldn’t have to go through the hassle of placing an order every 3 months.
- The extent of my first-hand doping knowledge is thus: (a) In college I attempted to be a good Samaritan during the off-season by donating blood (for use in other people for medical purposes) (b) A few years later, in an effort to ward off that fuzzy-headed somnambulance that cloaked me after the 3rd hour of long road races, I stuffed half sheets of NoDoz under the elastic legbands of my bib shorts. I don’t recall the dosage. I don’t recall if I ever researched the legal limit for caffeine. I don’t recall ever successfully ingesting the tiny pills because in my brain-addled state I couldn’t push them through their foil backing or, if I could, I ended up dropping the little fuckers on the road. To put it another way: when it comes to doping, I’m no expert.
- Doping expertise can be yours by visiting here. The drinking game fodder there is vast. My recent fave is Kirk O’Bee’s excuse for having a Floyd-like T-E ratio and traces of anabolic steroids in his blood: ‘…[It] resulted from a special training regimen recommended by [my] coach, which involved dietary supplements and exercise.’ I don’t think we’re talking multi-vitamins and Tae-Bo.
- Portland, Portland, Portland…Twice in the last month or two it’s been impossible to stay silent here in the What’s New section on the city’s torrid love affair with itself. And twice it’s been a write, delete, write, delete and I ended up with something I admire for its restraint and detest for the same reason. And then this link was sent to me, which represents the most hubris-laden Portland propaganda I’ve seen since this showed up in the mail. Maybe it’s a calculated effort to irritate people and thereby staunch this year’s tide of hipsters from moving out west?
- Cat 4 to Cat 1 in a single season. Racing in the Giro at 20, burnt out by 23. A good interview with a guy we really like a lot.
- It’s been a couple of weeks now. What do you think about the new format of cyclingnews.com? We’re looking at it from two perspectives:
As a reader, the good news: We prefer familiarity, and since we could navigate the old cyclingnews site blindfolded in order to find whatever we wanted -- old, obscure news; race calendars; tech stuff, etc -- we were worried that the sections & sub-sections we most often sought out might get hidden away beyond our interest to hunt them down. Thankfully, we’ve been able to find the links and we’re getting accustomed to their new locations. In short, the navigation structure has proven to be sensible & easily-learned.
Another piece of good news: James Huang commands ever-increasing attention and respect and, for now, he’s still on the payroll. He is last man standing when it comes to cyclingnews’ superstar journalists.
As a reader, the bad news is all over the place. As has been well-documented all over the ‘net, when cyclingnews rolled out the new site in mid-June, the news itself reverted to mid-April for an entire afternoon and night. It showed a lack of testing, pre-planning, and organization.
In addition, as of this writing RSS is still not in place, nor are email alerts. Here is reality: Many of us don’t spend our day mindlessly surfing in front a computer. If you are in the NEWS business, then your goal is to deliver news in the fastest way possible that gets maximum eyes on your news organization. RSS segmented into different sections (news, tech, race results, interviews) is the biggest no-brainer ever. We’re talking about a good idea circa-2006. Even better would be an option to sign up for email alerts per section. The name of the game is to drive traffic to the site -- RSS and email alerts are the 2 cheapest & easiest-to-implement ways of doing so. Pretty please quit plugging your anemic forum and use your energy to deliver us news in a non-stone age fashion!
Lastly, more than any other purported news site, more ‘above the fold’ real estate is reserved for non-news graphic crap than I’ve seen anywhere else. Ads crowd out the content. The grey-black rectangle with its scrolling photos and headlines screams ‘ignore me!’ since what dominates is the pool of grey-black itself and dated photos. BIFF THE GREY-BLACK BOX! When I go to a news site I don’t want artifice -- I want easily-located news content.
As an advertiser, the good news: Umm….ahh….
The bad news: Different-size Competitive Cyclist ads are getting doubled up on the same pages, thereby halving the value of these impressions for us. This wastes real money. And the coding of the news pages is screwy, with the ad spaces themselves literally covering up news content. If I’m a reader looking for news it makes me hate the advertiser. As an advertiser, this is not good.
At the end of the day, here’s the most critical thing: In the first 6 months of 2009 our referred revenue from cyclingnews.com (i.e. purchases that occur when someone clicks through our ads there and buys something from Competitive Cyclist) has decreased by 40%. During the same period our velonews.com referred revenue has increased by 50%. Mind you, we always run the same ads simultaneously on these two sites, so it’s not a function of the quality of our ads. Our conclusion based on the money trail is that the shenanigans in the Bike Radar era has driven massive traffic from cyclingnews right into the hands of velonews.com. This is terrible news for cyclingnews, and it suggests that some sort of change had to happen. That change, of course, is their site redesign. We’ll give it 3 months. If we don’t see a reversal of the revenue referral trends by the end of the summer then I think it’ll be safe for all of us to agree: In the post-Gerard Knapp era, cyclingnews has freefallen from being the undisputed heavyweight champion of English-language cycling journalism to its new existence as an outlet for Journalism Lite. There are too many great online news sites now. Those who traffic in puffery will pay a heavy price.