Friday, January 13, 2023

Friday News And Views

Trek Travel social media post showing new gravel vacation options
Trek Travel Goes Gravel:

Trek Travel did a social media campaign and email blast to subscribers concerning its new options for gravel vacations. Trek Travel has mostly been all about road biking getaways and they have done a few MTB based vacations as well.

The gravel options are mostly split between Europe and the U.S.A. The new destinations include Girona, Spain, Bentonville, Arkansas, The Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, The Swiss Alps, The Tuscany district of Italy, and Vermont, U.S.A. 

Prices vary from $1799.00 - $3600.00 USD. You can find out more by visiting the Trek Travel site.

Comments: Well, you knew it would happen someday- Curated gravel trips for those folks who want to try it out and see what the fuss is. Honestly, I don't have an issue here, and to be clear, I think this is a great option for the person who wants to experiment and see what gravel cycling is all about without having to spend 5K+ on a bike, gear, and accessories to check out the scene. I see this as an especially attractive option for those who live in very urban areas that have little access to gravel/back road cycling. 

Also, having had worked at a Trek dealer for many years, I have heard a lot of good things about Trek Travel. So, if Trek Travel has managed to uphold its standards, I would expect that this would be a great option for certain folks.

Guitar Ted Productions Podcast News:

A new change in the back ground of the podcast has occurred with the creative control, business, and distribution aspects of the podcast now fully under my control. My assistant and co-host of the podcast is N.Y. Roll. Besides this, a slight tweak in the name will be noticed, but otherwise nothing else should be different from what you've heard before. (Assuming that you have listened at all, of course.) If you are new here or if you have never listened to the podcast, here is a LINK to the Spotify GTPP site. The podcast is also available on Apple, Google, and Podchaser. 

The Guitar Ted Productions Podcast should be releasing episodes about twice monthly throughout the year. The plan is to cover the gravel scene and interview interesting race directors, athletes, and industry folks. By the way, we should have a sponsor (working on that) but we are always interested in episode sponsors, news, and interview requests. Just contact me @ for comments, questions, or suggestions. 

The latest episode of the Guitar Ted Productions Podcast published just this past Tuesday and is an interview with Iowa Gravel Series director, Chris McQueen. 

You can check it out HERE if you'd like to listen to the episode which runs a bit over an hour in length.

Thank You!

Former Outside Media Journos To Start New Media Company:

I noted a call for applicants to look into employment for a new cycling oriented media company were pushed via social media over the past week. The end of 2022 saw a lot of cycling media get laid off and terminated by a few notable companies. This left a lot of mainstream cycling media journos out in the cold. 

The announcement was followed up by this post on Substack which details what the vision for this new cycling media outlet is. Apparently, this will be a "membership based" entity. The aim is to provide, "...the best damn cycling media and community you’ve ever seen.", according to the Substack post. 

Comments: So, a modern-day equivalent to magazines? Without a way to attract new readers via a "digital news stand exposure"? Seems to be similar by the sounds of it. The author of that Substack seems to think that, "They underestimate the audience." Detractors and pessimists, I think is what that refers to, but there is a reality to the situation here that must be considered. 

That being that our media choices are now spread across so many format choices that it is bewildering. We have hundreds of choices across social media, both written, audio, and visual. That was not the case even ten years ago. That's only going to make another choice harder to push on a national scale. Also, it isn't as though there won't be "free" to access media focused on cycling anytime soon. So, given the choice of perusing a thought piece on a particular facet of cycling at a cost, and digesting a three minute read with easy to understand cliche's and slick images for free, I'm going with the latter as being more popular and more importantly, easier to find. 

The author warns against "fluff" and AI generated content. I'm not so sure that we haven't been getting spoon-fed, AI generated content for years already, to be honest. It doesn't seem to faze many folks and I'm betting that continues into the future. The danger with a smaller, community driven, paid for media is that it becomes insular and self-satisfying. You'll have to keep that money coming in so you'll have to give those subscribers what they want, not necessarily what they need. Or, probably even more importantly, any way of reaching beyond those pay-walled borders to build that audience into something more than a cycle-clubhouse. 

Salsa Cycles Timberjack XT Z2 (Image courtesy of Salsa Cycles)
Salsa Cycles Announces New Spec/Colors On Timberjack Models:

The Timberjack from Salsa Cycles continues on into 2023 with three model levels and a frame set. The range-topping bike is the Timberjack XT Z2 featuring an unusual choice in a fork, the Marzocchi Z2 Rail at 130mm of travel. 

There is also a choice of wheel size with both 27.5" and 29" wheeled models on offer. Prices range from $2199.00 - $2899.00 USD. For more details see Salsa Cycles

Comments: The Timberjack, which appeared in 2016 as a 2017 model, used to retail below 2K. Let that sink in for a minute.... 

Of course, you have the Rangefinder, which will be your entry-level hard tail and probably still available at sub-2K in some form, but seeing a rather unremarkable hard tail bike with an aluminum frame retailing at well over 2k is a bit jarring to these old eyes. It is another reminder that cycling, at least in terms of using new equipment, is pretty exclusive and getting worse every year. 

I am sure the Timberjack is a fine bicycle, and I am in no way disparaging it, but I only am dismayed by the incredible leap prices have taken in ten years. Salsa Cycles is not the only example here. That said, I'm sure income levels haven't kept pace, and so how do we justify this? I don't have the answers... 

Sorry about that rabbit trail.... Anyway, there you go. New Timberjack bikes. 

That's a wrap for this week! Have a safe weekend and get out to ride if you can!

8 comments: said...

In regards to Wade Wallaces substack post I think you need to look at the Team (yes capital T) that CyclingTips built and was then dismantled by Outside, Inc. The Tech Team of James Huang, Dave Rome and Ronan McLaughlin was hands down the best in the industry. The writing and real journalism of Iain Treloar was something not seen in a cycling publication/website in a very long time. Caley Fretz is a super competent editor and writer in his own right. I used to pay for paper Velonews back in the day and was the one cycling journalism website I felt paying for was worth it. There was also Matt de Neef, Jose Been, etc at that company until Outside ruined it. Wherever that group ends up is where I will gladly pay money to subscribe to. Based on the now disappeared Forums section of I am not the only one who feels that way.

Guitar Ted said... - Thanks for your comment. First of all, I want to make it clear that I am not saying any of those seven people, (and others not mentioned) are poor journalists. Quite the contrary. What I am saying is that I just do not see what Mr. Wallace has in mind as something that is feasible in this economy.

Let's run some numbers. Many of these fellows lived or live now in the Boulder, CO area, or on the Front Range. I checked and the average income for a wage earner in that area is a bit under 50K and a bit less than 110K, depending on what source you look at. Let's say that any of these seven journos, (eight if we count Mr. Wallace), needs to make 75K a year to make things work out for them.

75K x 8 = $600,000 just in salaries that you would need to generate annually to support eight journalists at that income level. (I've no idea if that's too much, not enough, but it probably is "average")

What are you willing to spend per year for that journalism? $25.00/year? If that's a good deal, then you'd need to have 24,000 subscribers to that "channel" . Sounds doable, but keep in mind, this money only covers salaries. It doesn't keep the website lit, get you day-to-day expenses, or supplies. Maybe ad dollars get you over the top. But I don't know many advertisers that are going to throw any kind of significant cabbage at an audience of 24,000 people.

Maybe I'm all wrong here, but those numbers don't add up for me. Not when, say, "The Athletic" sells subscriptions for a buck a year when they are "on sale". (True- if you aren't looking they nab you for about 72 bucks per year, but even then, that's a deal for all the journalism they provide.)

The NY Times is $64.00/yr. Just as an example.

Outside, the company that ditched most of these guys? $24.00/yr. That's where I came up with the example for these bike journos.

And Outside gets, according to Google, 500,000 digital subscribers.

If they couldn't make it work for those bike journos at 24 bucks a head with 500,000 subscribers, yeah.....

Good luck with that. said...

Well as an accountant myself I can't technically say your math is wrong....but your approach/assumptions are all off. There will still be add revenue you need to figure in. Plus as a CT subscriber it was $48 a year so you can halve your subscribers # listed above. As a global website that focused on us English speakers mostly I think hitting at least 30-50K subscribers is pretty doable.

Blain said...

The cyclingtips subscription was $79/year. I hope the new venture can find enough subscribers to make it work. I'll be a subscriber, and there'll be plenty more, based on the online response to the cuts. It'll still be a challenge, and I think GT's estimates are too low on costs. Once you factor in 'burdened' cost (tax, insurance, equipment overhead, workers comp) you probably need to double the salary to be in the right ballpark. Plus the other costs you mentioned.

Guitar Ted said... - my approach/assumptions are all wrong? I addressed ad revenue by saying "maybe that gets you over the top", but again- Unless the numbers of subscribers is big, and the demographic is right, those ad dollars are going to be hard - or impossible- to land. They could live off their reputation for a time, but in the end, there has to be demonstrable return on investment for continued ad revenues.

I come at this from having knowledge of advertising in retail going back to the 1980's. So, I am aware of how it works.

Your subscription rate is in conflict with the following commenter's example. That is not an uncommon thing either, as many digital subscription models are set up to be this way. Like "The Athletic" example I gave, or Strava's, as you nay have noted of late concerning their price hikes. So, it is hard to draw any hard conclusions, that is why I also felt that comparisons to Outside's subscription price was more "average".

Hopefully you are correct about this new venture drawing enough subscribers and adverts to make it. I am not at all convinced they will.

Time will tell....

Guitar Ted said...

@Blain - I mentioned that I wasn't sure my estimates were too low, right on, or too high. But your comment would seem to indicate that I am being too kind.

Yes, I agree this won't be as easy as Mr. Wallace seems to make it out in his Substack post.

Blain said...

@GT - noted, and your case was difficult as it stood.

I must've had a later/more expensive subscription, but the rate difference is noteworthy. It'll be interesting to watch, in any case. I've been wondering how much the subscription floated the costs vs the ad revenue. said...

GT- Where did I saw you were wrong? I said you were "off". You make some very base assumptions and as I pointed out your assumptions are not correct for your base calculations, a few of those staff live in Colorado, many others live in Australia, France, UK, etc. One would also believe that Wade has a much better idea of what his product has historically brought in for revenue. I don't think I am incorrect in saying that CT was the premier cycling website for racing, European continent based for the most part, with an additional heavy focus on Aussie and then American and British viewpoint coming in there too. Cyclingnews used to be the best but has gone significantly downhill the past 3-4 years. Velonews has been a mess/joke for at least 5+ years now. I do believe you greatly underestimate the audience across the English speaking countries that is hungry for a quality news source for racing, tech and interviews. I've followed your website for at least 8-9 years now and I,as politely as possible,say that the European race scene and its audience is probably not exactly your area of expertise.